I have always dreamt of visiting the romantic island of Santorini, Greece. I fell in love with the island after watching one of my favourite movies, ‘The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants’. The island’s culture and stunning architecture captivated me; the vibrant and romantic sunsets made me place the volcanic island on my bucket list.
Santorini, or Thira (its official name) is located in the southern Aegean Sea and is approximately 40 minutes from Athens via airplane, or about 8 hours by boat. The crescent shaped Cycladic island is actually an active volcano which was formed due to volcanic activity. Through out the years and over many eruptions, the volcano’s center crumbled and collapsed into the sea creating a truly one of a kind caldera (crater), it is believed that this is the only underwater crater of its kind.
The island is magical and dreamy; it is everything you could imagine. While it is relatively quiet, a perfect spot for a honeymoon, I recommend visiting even if you’re not on a romantic rendezvous. When my best friend and traveling partner suggested a visit to Greece, we decided Santorini had to be jammed into our island hopping adventures.
We were limited to one full day due to the fact that we got to the island late in the afternoon. So how did we manage to explore and squeeze as much adventure out of the island?
Here’s how we experienced Santorini in one day and here are a few things you must do!
- Rent a car: While it can be extremely intimidating driving in a foreign country, this is one of the best ways to independently explore and see just about everything the island has to offer. The cost of renting a small sedan for the entire day was only 40 euros and a valid driver’s license. Another option was renting a driver whose going rate was 45 euros an hour; we decided to rent a car. Driving in Santorini can be a bit hectic as there is always traffic in the city (Fira), and the island has a lot of cliffs and dangerous curves. But err on the side of caution and you’ll be fine.
- Drive to Oia: Santorini is known for its awe inspiring sunsets over the caldera and Oia (EE-Ah) is the best place to fully experience this moment. This idyllic town, built into the volcanic cliffs, is where you can find an abundance of beautiful churches, postcard perfect winding streets, tourist shops, the infamous windmills, the castle and restaurants. It is said that this is the most photographed place in Greece. While strolling the streets in Oia I met a local by the name of Nick who was refurbishing a 400 year old cave home that belonged to his wife’s grandfather. Nick gave me a brief history of the town. Apparently, before the last major earthquake, Oia was a flourishing fishing village. The homes in Oia reflect this as most of the homes belong to the fishermen. The homes at the top of the village belonged to the captains, and the homes at the bottom, near the waters edge belong to deck hands or other members of the crew. Because Oia was a fishing village, the town had an unusual amount of churches, which were dedicated to the sailors. These architectural masterpieces were built to ensure the safe journey of captains, sailors and crew. The parents and wives would erect a church to a saint on behalf of loved ones and upon their return the men would also build a church to show their gratitude.
- Ride A Donkey: I’ve always wanted to ride a donkey while in Greece. I went back and forth a few times about the act after doing a bit of research. After a visit to Oia, while heading back to Fira, we spotted a sign that said ‘Donkey Rides’! My initial reaction was to simply take a photo with the donkey, but curiosity won out! While the donkey ride takes you up a steep path and back, I opted for a mini donkey ride. It was a blast, but there were times I didn’t think I would’ve made it back in one piece. I learned from my short ride that donkeys are very intuitive creatures, or maybe it was the familiarity of walking the same route, that they knew where and where not to go. Either way, its a great experience; sore booty and all.
- Watch A Sunset: My suggestion is to capture the sun melting over the caldera in Oia if you are able to. There are many restaurants that provide great access to view; dinner and a sunset. If Oia is not an option, Firostefani is the next best choice! There are benches lined along the walkways that were made for this moment. A Santorini sunset is a memory I won’t forget; unarguably one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
- Eat Traditional Greek Cuisine: Nom, nom, nom. I have always loved Greek food. I never knew how amazing it was until I ate Greek food in Greece. Authentic food! I would recommend two restaurants that are a MUST while in Santorini. Remvi in Firostefani and Lotza while in Oia. The pita bread is a must in addition to the mashed peas, meatballs and the grilled & fried calamari. Foodgasm! My suggestion at LOTZA is the traditional Greek-style burger.😋😍🍔 It was simply a mouth full and then some. It comes with meat, slaw, rice and pita bread.
Other things not to miss.
A day in Santorini is not enough time to fully discover the entire island. If you stay on the island for an extended time don’t miss these sites.
- Red Beach
- Kamari Beach
- Perissa Beach
- Santorini Winery
- Amoudi Bay