There's a reason the first photo you see on my website is of a breathtaking Greek island. Santorini is, without a shadow of doubt, my favorite place in the world. I visited the island on my honeymoon in May of 2014. It was at the top of my bucket list, so I had no trouble choosing it as one of our honeymoon destinations.
Even the plane ride into Santorini is magical. The flight from Athens goes by in the blink of an eye, especially if you sit in a window seat, eyes glued to the myriad of tiny little islands below.
Santorini was five days of pure bliss. I'd go back in a heart beat.
1. THE VIEWS.
Santorini has the most beautiful views you will ever see. Because the island is a caldera (a large volcanic crater formed by a volcanic eruption), wherever you are on the island you'll have gorgeous views of the other side. We stayed in the village of Imerovigli, which is situated between Fira and Oia, two much larger villages. Oia is the town famous for its spectacular sunsets, and Fira is where the cruise ships make port. Imerovigli is the quaint and quiet village in the middle, and has the best views on the island.
Have you ever seen a photo of a beautiful island, with cute villages of pure white, perched atop steep cliffs that descend into deep blue water?
2. THE WALKS.
You can walk from village to village on the island, especially if you stay in Imerovigli in the center. The paths go along the cliff and they are the most breathtaking walks you will ever take. However, beware that what goes down must come up! The walk from Imerovigli to Fira is downhill, but the walk back is all uphill. You'll get your exercising in without even noticing it in Santorini because the walks make you forget everything but the view in front of you.
3. THE WINE.
For every country I go to, I try to find vineyards. Santorini was no exception. And there aren't too many islands with vineyards! The vineyards of Santorini are not as famous as those of mainland Europe, but they are incredibly unique and have delicious wine.
The vines grow in the “koulara” method. They are woven together like baskets and stay very close to the ground to protect themselves from Santorini's infamous winds. It's fun to see the vines if you're used to the typical big vines in the U.S.
Another interesting aspect of the Santorini vineyards is that the vines are some of the only vines in the world that are made of original European rootstock. Due to the volcanic soil, the Santorini vines are immune to phylloxera, a disease that wiped out many of the vineyards in Europe in the mid-19th century. While mainland Europe had to import American rootstock to rebuild their vineyards in the late 1800s, Santorini has been using the original European rootstock for hundreds of years.
There are many wineries you can visit. As the island is small, it's not hard to visit them all. The most common wine is Assyrtiko, which is similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. Refreshing and tasty!
My favorite of all the vineyards was Santo Winery. It might have the best view of any vineyard in the world.
4. THE FOOD.
The food in Santorini is amazing, especially if you like fish and cheese. My favorite dish was a Greek cheese (similar to Saganaki) covered in a pastry, encrusted with sesame seeds, fried, and topped with honey. I still dream about it – so good!
We also had one of my favorite meals of all time when we walked down to the fishing village of Ammoudi Bay from Oia. We ate right on the water at a little cafe called Dimitris Ammoudi. Of course, we had fish. The fish was freshly caught that morning and delicious. And just like every other meal we had there, we paired it with a carafe of Greek wine that cost about 5 Euro. Can't beat that!
5. THE PEOPLE.
The Greek people on the island are some of the nicest you'll ever meet. Almost all speak English, at least enough to get by, and are always eager to help you. Most will also chat up a storm if you let them, and tell you all about the history of the island and their families. There wasn't a moment that we didn't feel welcome in Santorini.
6. THIS BALCONY.
My requirement for our hotel was that it have an amazing balcony with a hot tub, and I got all that and more. Every morning, we had breakfast served out on our balcony. I could sit out on that balcony for the rest of my life and be in perfect bliss. Waking up was never burdensome when you walked out to such a gorgeous view.
Ready to pack your bags?
Santorini is beautiful any time of year, but I would particularly recommend going in May, June, September, or October. You'll avoid the huge crowds, and the weather will be warm enough to linger outside, yet cool enough to walk up a storm without breaking a sweat.