♥ Santorini’s official name is Thira
♥ White houses with blue domed roofs became about after a law enforcement from military government to repaint all houses white and blue in representation of Greek Flag colors.
I don’t think I have met (or heard of) a single person who hasn’t fallen in love with Santorini at first sight. Of course, there are some contradictory opinions about its popularity and authenticity, and I can’t agree or disagree with all of them. But it certainly doesn’t change the fact that Santorini is one of the most photogenic and extraordinary places on earth.
Santorini – the most popular of Greece’s Cyclades Islands, was formed along with the other Cyclades after a larger landmass and was destroyed by a volcanic eruption centuries ago. Nowadays, it is one of the most photographed islands in the world.
It is breathtaking to walk the towns of Fira and Oia. Most visitors choose to visit these towns, because of their lively and busy cobblestone streets, although it is their stunning views of the blue-domed white houses and notorious sunsets that compel travelers to stay. And it never disappoints. Nothing beats the narrow winding passages, unique cliff-side restaurants and bars, friendly faces of locals and stray cats basking in the sun. Santorini sets the perfect mood to fall in love.
TIP: Imerovigli – a more laid back part of Santorini that equidistant distance between Oia and Fira, isn’t nearly as busy but shares the same gorgeous views.
Cafe and bar hopping is so much fun in Santorini. While enjoying an enticing Greek or Mediterranean meal, you can admire the views of Caldera from different angles. The best way to soak up the energy of Santorini is to enjoy a few cocktails and delicious food in one of the many cafes overlooking the volcano. How about Franco Bar?
⇒ Street food: gyro, souvlaki and koulouri are the most popular street food in Santorini
Well, enough about views for now, so let’s see what else you can do on the island. To start with, you shouldn’t rely only on your feet. Hailing a taxi is a great way to get from point A to point B, but we opted for the most adventurous type of transportation – we rented a quad, which helped us see the outskirts and gorgeous beaches of Santorini in one day. Renting a quad or ATV, was very quick and easy, as was our ability to manure it and find parking space. In fact, one of the first things you might notice will be the prevalence of quads around the island. Ease of use and the ability to park almost anywhere are good reasons for this, but so is the fun factor! Quite honestly, I underestimated how much fun they are to ride.
The jaw-dropping views of Santorini are not all you need to see. Be sure to make your way over to the other side of the island. It looks nothing like the cliffs of the Caldera side, instead, it’s flat, desert-like and is home to great beaches. I should emphasize that if you want to visit Santorini exclusively for a relaxing beach vacation, you could be a bit disappointed. Santorini doesn’t have the turquoise water and powdery white sand beaches you might expect. They are much rougher and the waters are not calm. Notwithstanding, the beaches are indeed one of the main attractions, and beach-hopping in Santorini can be a great way to spend a day. In one day, we visited a white sand beach, red sand beach and a black sand beach. Where else can you see that?
Not one person leaves Santorini without buying a few hand-made souvenirs: whether it be decorative plates, paintings, or anything in between. For ladies, I guarantee you will want to go dress shopping. All shops will have a variety of white dresses, pants and shirts that are representative of the island.
When to book: book your hotels early (6-8 months prior) if you travel May through September. Hotels are very small and fill up very fast and you might end up with a hotel not suitable for your dream vacation.
When to go: the peak season to travel to Greece is May through October. While May and June are the perfect months to visit the island, the Mediterranean sea will be rather cool. July and August are peak months to travel, as the temperature is high and the island is busy with tourists. Europeans typically vacation in August, making it the busiest time of the year. During September and October the temperature starts to get more comfortable, and the sea is still very warm. The time frame from November through April is quiet time. I mean very quiet as most restaurants, bars and shops will be closed for the season.
What to expect: Santorini is not a beach destination. Even though the beaches are unique, the place to be is on the opposite side on the Cliffside. Most hotelrooms face the volcano and have a pool. The food is great and inexpensive and most bars and restaurants have mesmerizing views.
How to get around: Most of the town of Fira (the Caldera) is walkable. The streets are for pedestrians only and are very winding. Some of the other visit-worthy towns are Imerovigli and Oia that are a bit of a hike from Fira and as beautiful.
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