Santorini is by far one of my favourite places on Earth. The perfect five days I spent on the volcanic greek Island Thira is yet to be rivalled by any other coastal destination I have visited.
How to get there?
Getting there is relatively quick and easy from Europe. I flew British Airways Economy from London Stanstead Airport in peak season for £241 return. 4 hours later I had landed at Thessaloniki airport. Transfers from the airport were included when booking with Mr & Mrs Smith. A number of budget airlines also fly for a third of the price but we were after a little bit of luxury and my generous thighs were comfortably nestled in a roomy seat that by comparison made Ryanair look like a 1970's mini. After 4 hours of gently knocking back the G&T's we arrived at the airport to meet our transfers.
Where to stay?
We booked via Mr & Mrs Smith and had the pleasure of living it it up at Avaton Resort and Spa for 4 nights. As we arrived our luggage was thankfully carried up a tiny winding white, pebbled street. When we arrived at the reception panting our way through the idyllic cobbled streets of Imgerovigli (North of the island), we were met with a glass of champagne and that view. Looking out into the endless mass of calming blue I felt all the stress of London melt away as far as my eye could see. The last time I was on a Greek Island it was a very different experience. As I cast my mind back to Malia circa 2004, 6 girls whipping their hair to crazy in love after downing some hideous luminous fish bowl. Some 14 years later I have decided Greek Island life suits me well. Once we had located our suite we were welcomed by a bunch of fresh flowers and a bottle of champagne (these people get me). Then promptly whip off our clothes, throw on our swimsuits and head straight for the pool where we arrive just in time to see the famous sunset of Oia.
I highly recommend getting the best of both worlds and staying on the north of the island. We stayed in Imerovigli so benefitted from absolute silence off the beaten track in the day, the sunset across the island at dusk and close enough that we could hop in a cab and enjoy the busy end of the town Thira for approx. €20.
What to eat?
There is no shortage of excellent and affordable Greek restaurants on the island. Most days we had lunch for about €15 per person (no alcohol). As a treat I would highly recommend Sphinx in Oia, a specialist wine restaurant with breathtaking views that did not disappoint. Dinner for two with wine set us back around €150.
I am obsessed with Greek yogurt and randomly crave it all year round. It was recommended I visit Chillbox in town. It truly did not disappoint. For me this chilled dessert is the sweet spot between ice cream and frozen yoghurt. Holding the depth and rich creaminess of ice cream but the tart acidity of frozen yogurt. Perfection!
The biggest surprise to me was just how amazing the white wine was. My first real experience with organic wine. Not only did it keep my hangover free but the local vineyards tours a well with the half day investment. Varying from €40 to €150 depending on how luxe you want to go. They tend to involve pick up and a lunch so a great way to spend the afternoon.
What to see?
The attraction of Santorini for me were the views. With my mild obsession with sunsets, these were by far the best in the world I have ever seen. Warm serenity sinking into the cool blue sea, with every shade of orange and pink the human eye can imagine.
There are a number of boat trips you can take ranging from booze cruises for €30 per person to privately chartering a yacht for anything from €1200. We went bang in the middle and chose the middle package from Sunset Oia Cruises. For €160 we were picked up from our hotel and taken to Amoudi Port where 14 of us boarded a chic yacht for the afternoon. Whilst helping ourselves all day to unlimited soft drinks local wine, beer and ouzo we set off to the famous Red Beach. This was our final dock where we jumped out for a dip in the sulphur drenched waters. Then hopped back on board for lunch as the boat docked. This was a great day for making new friends and a highlight of the trip. After 4.5 hours were made our way back to the southern port and were picked up and driven back to our respective hotels.
On my penultimate night we did the 3 hour hike from one side of the island (Imerovgli) to Oia over the volcanic tops, to watch the sunset. Now firstly if you are going to do this, take water as there are limited places to stop en route. Also take your time and stop and take in the views and the stumble upon a bunch of donkeys. This was one of the highlights of my trip and completely free!
Enjoy summer in Santorini!