“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain
There are so many things to say about Santorini but I’ll start here: It was truly the trip of a lifetime. The Aegean Sea was so blue, the Greek people were so friendly and exploring on our own was the key to us enjoying ourselves. We didn’t do too much research before the trip and it worked out perfectly. Sometimes we just sat on our terrace for hours and other times we explored the less crowded parts of the island. Santorini, thank you for allowing us to explore all you had to offer! Here are my 10 activities to do on Santorini!
1. Stay in Imerovigli
I’ll be posting a separate blog about Absolute Bliss, our hotel in Imerovigli. I will say here that town has some of THE BEST views of the Caldera, especially around sunset. Imerovigli is nestled between Fira and Oia, it’s much quieter with less people. We found some great places to eat (Tasos Tavern, Anogi, Illios Bakery) and I spent hours in the local Pharmacy purchasing beauty items that I cannot get here in the US. While other people rushed to Fira and Oia for the sunsets, we had a perfect view from our balcony at Absolute Bliss in Imerovigli. Nothing was better than watching the sun go down with a glass of Greek wine on our private space.
2. Wine Tasting at Santo Winery
We zipped over to the winery on a bus one random morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the view was gorgeous and the wines were delicious. We sat out on the terrace and ordered the 6 wine flight. I wanted to taste the sparkling so our waitress brought out a complimentary glass. The flight came with cheese, breadsticks and olives. We arrived before the tour buses got there and it was perfect!
Getting there: Catch the “Red Beach” bus in Fira but let the driver know you want to stop at Santo Wines. They will make the additional stop. Catch the bus back by waving it down (yes I’m serious) at the second intersection outside of the winery.
3. Hike Skaros Rock
Skaros Rock is just outside Imerovigli and about a 5 minute walk from Absolute Bliss. The view is simply stunning and you can get a 360 view of the caldera. We hiked it early in the morning when the clouds were streaming in and it was so beautiful. It’s a steep walk down and then a narrow trail around the rock. You can walk down to the old church hanging off the side of the rock or to the top where it’s a 10 ft climb to scale the very top of the rock. Wear sneakers with good tread and go before the sun starts to bake the rock.
4. Visit Vlychada Beach
Everyone flocks to Kamari and and rightfully so but we really loved the atmosphere and the lack of people at Vlychada Beach. The rock have interesting shapes because of the wind and the water is very calm. After sitting on the beach we drove up the hill to eat at To Parasaki, a restaurant that gets it fish from the Vlychada Harbor.
5. ATV up Messavouno Mountain
On Kamari Beach P and I jokingly looked up at the mountain and said we should drive up it. It looks really precarious from Kamari Beach but we were up for an adventure and took the ATV up. It’s a steep climb with about 20 blind corners but so very cool. The view at the top is stunning, you can look down on Perissa Beach and Kamari beach on either side of the mountain.
6. Visit Ancient Thera
At the top of is Messavouno Mountain is Ancient Thera, an archeological site that is open to visitors for $2 per person. I would call first though because it was closed when we went although the hours stated it should be open. The site can be toured but it’s also the few that shouldn’t be missed. Everyone takes their time in Greece so it’s possible it opened later in the day. There is a small food truck at the top that sells waster and snacks for those who hike up the mountain, and we saw several people doing it.
7. Kamari Beach
Although crowded we had no issue getting a cabana, the fee was $5 for the cabana/WIFI with the purchase of a drink which we happily paid. Kamari was nice was an afternoon just watching the gentle waves come in and the people rock jumping. Walking around the shops left a lot to be desired, the hosts are VERY aggressive with trying to get you to sit down and eat. We slipped into a small coffee bar the to get cold frappe’s and gelato. The service and ambiance was a welcome relief to the pressure to sit down at one of the restaurants outside.
8. Couples Massage at La Maltese Estate
I couldn’t find any reviews on the spa at so I was a bit nervous before booking. Our hotel manager Sofia set up an appointment. La Maltese was a 5 minute walk from Absolute Bliss so we got there a bit early. After a drink on their gorgeous terrace we were led down to the spa and had exclusive use of the space for 2+ hours. Our session included 60 minute massage and 20 minute facials, exclusive use of the whirlpool and sauna, fresh fruit, chocolate and champagne. The entire space was immaculate and the service was so friendly! We weren’t rushed at all in fact we were worried that we went over our time but no one person in the pale seemed inclined to rush us out. It was fantastic!
9. Gelato and Book Shopping in Oia
We arrived in Oia before the crowds and enjoyed walking around the town. When the tour buses began to arrived we made our way to Lolita’s Gelato for a refreshing treat and visited Atlantis Books.
10. Walk Imerovigli to Fira
It’s a great 30 minute walk into Fira but make sure you have the right shoes! Most of the way is cobblestone which isn’t comfortable in sandals. The views are amazing and there are so many little shops and corners to explore. Every shop owner greeted us with a smile and we found great places to eat and grab snacks at.