Santorini aka Thíra, Greece, a glamorous and stunning volcanic island in the cyclades group of Greek Islands (the archipelago of over 2000 islands, south part of Greece) Where the familiar picturesque scene of many famous movies i.e. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Crater of Life was filmed. A place where is famous for it’s romantic views, gorgeous sunsets from Oia, the serenity of Thira, home of its active volcano around (a live active bomb), a small yet fiery city of Fira, deemed Santorini an isolated unique paradise from the rest of the world.
When we talked about Mediterranean and Aegean sea, we often think of their beautiful weather and stunning beaches! Here in Santorini, there are naturally fantastic beaches such as Kamari – the black pebble beach, white beach and red beach etc… I would say a must visit if you are in Greece! I visited this beautiful country with brother Ryan, his wife Ashley and my childhood crazy buddy Melano. So, I am going to share what are the things to do in Santorini, Greece! 🙂
Perhaps a NO for driving around Santorini
Driving around the crescent-shaped Santorini, the precious gem of the Aegean can be daunting for many people! Driving in Santorini, or any Greek island can be a little frightening. The roads are quiet in general, and virtually no congestion or jams. The narrow and curvy cliffside road, the bad records of Greek drivers and poor signage and quality of roads, sort of prevented people to drive in Santorini. However, the bus service in Santorini is pretty good. Traveling in Santorini with a HUGE bus on a small cliffside road can be quite an “interesting” experience! haha
Tip: The road between Imerovigil and Oia is really dangerous and scary. Never try this road if it’s too misty! There is another option by using a secondary road along the far shoreline but you will compensate the beauty of admiring this island from an elevated height! 🙂
The Santorini Caldera is undoubtedly one of the most natural wonders on mother Earth! A violent volcanic eruption that occurred 3500 years ago changed the topography of the Mediterranean coast! The caldera is composed of overlapping shield volcanoes forming a basin of 4 miles in diameter wide which caused by the collision of African plate tectonic underneath the subplate of Eurasian tectonic plate – Aegean subplate. The scientists and archaeologists linked this to the myth of Atlantis.
Coming here to see the beauty of the geography sight was a real visual treat! Thousand years of history of rock formations on this amazing geographical site, just blew me off. Nothing can express it better than seeing it yourself! 🙂
The North West part of the island, lies a little beautiful and picturesque village of Oia! This village is literally living on top of an impressive cliff and guaranteed an awesome view of the volcano Palia, Nea Kameni and Thirassia island. The traditional village with gorgeous cute little blue domed churches, charming houses with sun tanning balconies, narrow streets filled with taverns, cafes, sourvenirs shops made me realise “oh god, I’m really in Greece now!” haha
The village is located on the top of the hill at 150 meters elevation from the sea level. Here are some snapshots of how beautiful and charming this village is. The population of this village has reduced tremendously to a couple of hundreds due to a major earthquake is 1956.
In my opinion, Oia is a very charming and romantic village. If you are on a honeymoon trip, don’t go to Paris! It’s NEVER EVEN NEAR ROMANTIC in PAris! Argh! Come to Santorini instead, it’s truly a beautiful place where romance can be found! haha opps I mean, romantic ambiance can be found! haha For singles and solo travelers, who knows you might meet the special someone here in Oia! 🙂
Homes of Santorini
The beautiful charming Greek houses is built on the steep slope seaward side into the caldera. The idyllic and serenity of the village captivated my heart the moment I was there. The complex white washed blue domed churches, and beautiful greek cycladic houses and cave houses sets the location in providing the most excellent view over the caldera.
I was told that the houses were all painted in white lime water so rainwater will smoothly flow down and be collected for other usage. Another explanation was during the Ottoman empire rule of Greece, the Greeks were not allowed to raise their white flag, hence in defiance of the rule, the Greeks in Oia painted their house, complex and churches in white with blue domes giving the Oia a sort of elegance. Smart aye? 🙂
Coming here, just makes me wanna bring my family here and possibly migrate! LOL Neah, it could be a bit boring to stay Santorini for too long. It’s beautiful but I’m just a city boy! haha
Kamari Beach & Navy’s Cafe
According to tripadvisor, this is one of the top – must visit beach in Santorini. I was really excited and we took a bus from Fira, the capital of Santorini to this beach. On the way in the bus, met some new friends from Australia. I saw a poor old man standing and squeezing in the bus and no one gave their a seat to the old man, hence, I gave up my seat to him! haha The Aussie girls commented I’m such a gentleman! LOL That’s how I got to know the Aussie girls I met on the bus. Oh sorry, I got carried away, yea anyway, Kamari beach is a coastal village on South East part of Santorini. Once a fishing village now a famous and unique beach destination. 🙂
The Aegean waters were stunning and gorgeous. Super calm, clean and warm. This is a great relaxing beach, well not really a beach because literally no sand but black pebbles and rocks. haha Do bear in mind, this is a volcanic island, that’s the reason why we felt the waters were warm and black sand were a bit hot. Strange feeling but unique experience. You don’t get this anywhere else in the world.
When we were at the Kamari beach, it was not about stripping down and jump into the sea. We were not at the right season! haha It was still spring time, and there was cold breezy wind all over the island! haha Hence, we checked ourselves into the Navy’s cafe for some snacks, coffee and WIFI! haha That was the first time I got connected to my family via the wifi from Navy’s cafe. A tip for travelers – there is free wifi there, only need to purchase a drink! 🙂
The modern capital city of Santorini. Fira aka Thira which also means Santorini. Thira was the name used during ancient time. Fira was built on the edge of 400 meters high into the caldera of the central western edge of the island. Same fate with Oia, the city was mostly destroyed by the major earthquake in 1956, but slowly recovered, now becoming one of the most visited tourist destination in Greece! 🙂
One of the icon in the city – The Greek Cathedral Mitropoli in Fira! How could you miss taking a picture with this iconic cathedral that was built for the arrival of King Otto in 1842.
Fira is the most busiest and commercialise part of the island. I honestly prefer Oia more than Fira, I could feel more “Greece feeling” in Oia than in Fira. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular experience in a unique city like Fira. I mean, which city in the world can boast having such amazing view of the volcanoes and caldera? I guess only in Santorini! 🙂
Greek Food in Santorini – Nikh Restaurant
Disclaimer: I am NOT promoting this restaurant. I had an amazing vegetarian spaghetti. A little expensive but the specially made vegetarian spaghetti was great for me. My friends told me their non vegetarian meal was not that impressive! BUT, the trade off was the view! It was AMAZING, SPECTACULAR and ROMANTIC (if you are going as a couple). Visualise this, amazing view + beautiful girl + physically in Santorini + sunset at the caldera + dining at elevated sea cliff = 100% ROMANTIC!. haha… sure increase your chances if you propose here! 🙂
There are better restaurants offering equally stunning view too, but I guess this was utmost the most convenient and centralised one in the city.
Cable Car or Donkey Ride
Accessing to Fira is mainly by road. I am now recommending 2 other very interesting way of getting up or down to Fira.
Number 1: Donkey Ride
Take a cute little donkey ride from the port or the top of Fira (vice versa) and go through the “exciting” Z-shaped footpath. It’s much slower as compared to the cable car, but definitely a more “relaxing” way of getting up/down the city! haha Fear of height? try it, you will be even more fear of height! haha
Number 2: Cable Car
The donkey ride is a boring ride for boring people! haha Anyway, I didn’t do the donkey ride, instead, I did the cable car! haha BECAUSE… the steep cable car was like no other in the world! Apart from the one I took in Cape Town to Table Top Mountain, that was considerably the most steepest cable car ever for me. haha Yea, if you know me, just another excuse for me not to ride the boring and poor little donkey! haha 🙂
What people usually think about Santorini? The first thing that people always relate is the sunset. The island is famous all over the world for its amazing sunsets! When we were leaving the beautiful island, Santorini putted up a spectacular sunset to bid farewell. We couldn’t bear to say goodbye to this beautiful island paradise! Till next time…
“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark