If you have read my Athens, Greece post, you know that my husband and I took our 2nd Anniversary trip to Greece! We spent the first 3 days in Athens, before taking a quick 45 minute flight over to Santorini for 2 full days.
With this being one of our longer trips (5.5 days total), I thought it would be best to break it up into 2 blog posts since Athens and Santorini are very different places. But, we absolutely loved the combination of these two cities and definitely recommend going in this order, if possible.
Santorini is one of the many beautiful Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, southeast of the mainland. The island spans 30 miles and it only takes about 45 minutes to drive from one end to the other.
We flew in very early to the tiny airport and were greeted by a driver that was set up for us by our AirBnb hosts. We cannot say enough great things about where we stayed in Santorini – a beautiful, perfectly located terracotta cave house, in the heart of Oia.
There really wasn’t much debate on what city we wanted to stay in for our 2 days. When we dreamed of going to Santorini, we pictured the almost all white cave houses that spanned one side of the city of Oia (the northern part of Santorini).
This was actually created by a (still active) volcano that erupted and created a ‘caldera’ on one side of the island.
Although the entire island will make your eyes drool, we knew we would regret not staying (and splurging) to stay in Oia. Keep in mind, Oia tends to be the most
popular crowded city of Santorini, which is where most of the complaints come from. Since we went during off-season (early April), we did not find it to be crowded at all (except at sunset, which is expected).
After a bumpy, but beautiful, 8 AM ride up to Oia, we were unable to check in to our AirBnb until noon. Our hosts were so kind to meet us and store our bags so that we could spend our first 3-4 hours exploring the island without lugging around suitcases.
Oia is primarily a walking-only city. There are no roads/street names, just little houses, stores, restaurants, etc all squeezed in next to eachother — so we were very grateful our hosts gave us a quick tour and pointed out landmarks to look out for when making our way back ‘home’.
I was surprised by how quickly the time we were waiting to check in went by. We just kept walking around, continuously amazed by the next breathtaking view. There was so much to see!
We eventually enjoyed an early lunch (with one heck of a VIEW) at Skiza Cafe — definitely recommend sitting on the balcony!
Topping it off with gelato from Lolita’s and more exploring 🙂
Around noon, we grabbed a few groceries from one of the local stores and then checked into our cave house. This was definitely one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed!
The famous “Castle of Oia” aka the “Sunset Rock” was only a stone’s throw away from our AirBnb. This ended up coming in handy when it came time for the sun to set. We had heard that people would start arriving to the location 2-3 hours early just to save their spot — so it was nice to be able to cook dinner and relax on our porch, but still keep an eye on how many people were trickling in.
Once it started to look almost full, we made our way over and claimed the perfect spot. Yes, it is VERY crowded (even in the off-season) but there’s a reason why — it really is the best spot to watch the sunsetting over the northern houses.
We started Day 2 with a big breakfast at home before taking a 4 hour hike from Oia to Santorini’s central city, Fira. It is fairly common for people to hike from Fira to Oia, but some friends suggested we actually hike from Oia to Fira in the morning, have lunch there, and then take the bus back. So that’s exactly what we did.
Not gonna lie — this was harder than I thought it would be. (Note: Hiking isn’t exactly an everyday activity for me). There were definitely points where I would have done anything for a cab to save us… but it ended up being SO worth it 🙂
It’s estimated that it should take 2.5 hours to make this hike if you are truly hiking — but if you are walking at a slower pace and stopping to take photos and videos along the way (like we were), it could easily take you up to 4 hours.
This ended up being one of our favorite parts of this trip. The path is prettyyy well-marked throughout the hike. There were a few times we questioned if we were still on the actual trail but it’s almost impossible to go the wrong way — considering you are walking along the edge of the caldera, following along the water, with the next grouping of white houses in the distance as your end goal. The absolute bluest water we’ve ever seen!
When we finally made it to Fira we were so excited (and a little relieved, ha). We immediately made our way to Mama’s House for lunch. By this point, we were so hungry and thirsty, and Mama’s House did not dissapoint! We loved the stuffed grape leaves and eggplant!
After lunch we explored the streets of Fira (which immediately feels bigger than Oia). We walked over to the port to see the famous donkeys that some people will ride to and from the water. (A little more sad than expected).
After 4+ hours of hiking, we decided to treat ourselves to a little foot spa… a Dr. Fish Spa! Definitely a one and done kind of experience in our opinion… but still very neat! You essentially put you feet in a tub of garra rufa fish (aka “doctor fish”) and they actually nibble the dead skin from your feet — I promise it is sanitary. Sounds bizarre… tickles a little… but your feet feel so soft afterward!
After our feet felt new, we bought 2 1.90€ bus tickets back to our place in Oia and got cleaned up for one last sunset. Although we had ZERO regrets of fighting the crowds at the sunset rock the night before (absolutely worth the view)… we decided to go a different route on our 2nd night. A route with far less people, ha.
Instead, we decided to get dinner while the sun was setting. Unfortunately, the food and drinks at the restaurant we chose were very disappointing, so we cannot recommend it. But they did have a beautiful view and it was really special to enjoy the last night of our anniversary trip together, instead of surrounded by people and their cameras.
Our final morning in Greece, we got up early to enjoy the last sunrise before making it back to the airport. Santorini was an absolute dream — we were not ready to leave.
We will never forget these 5 days spent exploring 2 of the most beautiful parts of Greece. We’re certain God spent a little more time there. Here’s to hoping we make it back again one day!
To read about our 3 days in Athens prior to Santorini –> CLICK HERE 🙂