Santorini & Athens
Sea breezes and sunsets
Santorini was a special trip for us. Not only did we get to experience the beautiful hiking and beaches (and of course the incredible food), we were also there to celebrate the 10th anniversary of two of our dearest friends. Our little group spent six fantastic days exploring ruins, hiking coastlines, diving into the Mediterranean Sea and swimming in infinity pools. And we spent our nights enjoying slow, relaxing dinners (with plenty of wine) and absolutely breathtaking sunsets. It was a magical place to be, and I hope you get to experience it for yourself.
We spent six fantastic days exploring ruins, hiking coastlines, diving into the Mediterranean Sea and swimming in infinity pools.
What to do
When you’re making your plans for Santorini, don’t forget to schedule two days to visit Athens. We personally felt like two days was the perfect amount of time to hit the highlights. You won’t want to miss The Acropolis and The Acropolis Museum, which are the two most famous places in the entire city.
At the ruins, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and plenty of sunscreen. There is a ton of walking, and there isn’t much shade. And going to the museum will give you the bigger picture of what that ancient site was like in all of its splendor. We also visited the National Archeological Museum, which hosts too many priceless artifacts to list and is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.
At the end of the day, make sure to visit a night market. We went to Piraeus Central Market, but there are good options everywhere depending on what you want to shop for or snack on.
You won’t want to miss The Acropolis and The Acropolis Museum, which are the two most famous places in the entire city.
In Santorini, the most popular places to stay are in Oia (which is known for its sunset views) and Thera (which is known for its night life). We opted instead to stay in Megalochori, which is an ancient village and which has tons of family-owned restaurants and businesses within walking distance. To get around, we rented a four-wheeler and really enjoyed it. Depending on where you’re staying, you could get a car or a scooter — whatever you’re comfortable with.
On our first day on the island, we did the Hiking Trail Fira, which is a spectacular seaside walk with a mix of paved streets and dirt paths. You are looking at the sea and the neighboring islands most of the way, and it’s facing the west, which makes it an ideal hike to wrap up around sunset. In Oia, we visited the Byzantine Castle Ruins and walked along the main drag, taking in the blue and white churches and the infinite number of infinity pools. The next day, on the other end of the island, we visited Santorini’s other ruin, Akrotiri. Because it’s an active archeological dig, it’s almost entirely covered, making it a nice place to cool off on a hot summer day.
Our favorite beach was the Parisssa Black Sand Beach. Unlike many of the island’s other beaches, it has smooth sand. While we were there, we also visited the Isotiria Hotel, which was a sister property to our hotel. The Isotiria has the biggest swimming pool on the island, and in our opinion, the most delicious drinks.
But by far the most important thing to do when you visit Santorini is to take a sunset cruise. We booked ours through Sunset Oia, and we enjoyed a full day of snorkeling in the sea, visiting nearby islands and enjoying terrific meals. Each cruise finds its way toward the harbor under Oia as the sun is coming down, and you’ll be among a group of dozens of boats enjoying the end of another blissful day.
But by far the most important thing to do when you visit Santorini is to take a sunset cruise.
What to eat
(aka the most important part)
In Megalochori, our favorite restaurant was Tzanakis. A traditional tavern, Tzanakis has a classic Greek menu. But what made the visit so special was that we got to meet the grandfather who founded the restaurant, the father who now runs it and the son who served us and will one day take his place. We had such a nice conversation with us that they even gave us a little of mom’s baklava on the way out. It was the best we’ve ever eaten.
In Thera, our two favorite spots were Lucky’s Souvlakis and Cacio e Pepe. Lucky’s serves up the best gyro on the island, and the long line you’ll see from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. serves as testimony. There isn’t really a comfortable spot to eat inside, so plan to take the food to a nice shaded park nearby. At Cacio e Pepe, they make everything from scratch, starting with the pasta. David got the signature dish, and it was so good we almost got another one. And don’t forget to take a stroll for a little gelato after dinner.
In Oia, our favorite meal was at the Mystique. It was the other sister property of our hotel, and they have both a traditional Greek restaurant and an Asian Fusion restaurant on the property. They also have one of the best views of the sunset in the entire village. It was there that we had our final group dinner together, and there was something about the combination of the setting sun and the delicious food and the love of friends that made it an unforgettable experience.