I arrived in Santorini well after midnight. I was staying in Perissa, a beach town known for its black sand beaches and about 13km from the center. The main two spots in Santorini are Fira & Oia. Oia, is filled with honeymooners and known for its epic views. Fira is the capital of the island so it draws more of a crowd and tends to have more nightlife. I didn’t book my hostel till the night before (in high season) so my options had dwindled but I wound up being happy that I was away from the hub in a hostel called Santorini Breeze.
One of the employees told me about a hike up to Ancient Thira which was only a 15 minute walk away and a 45 minute trek up hill. I set out to do it early one morning as to avoid the mid-day sun. It was a good plan until I realized that I went the wrong way up the mountain. A bottle of water and 45 minutes later I could see the trail across the way. If you are doing this hike, the trail is to the right not left. Also, Ancient Thira is closed on Mondays.
Once you are at the top of the mountain, you can head back down the way you came or walk down the paved wind-back road to the beach town Kamari. The sea was a very welcomed sight after the hike (esp if you are sweating out shots of Raki from a night out with some locals). I had an amazing lunch of a halloumi salad and a freddo cappuccino. I spent the day on the beach on a sun-bed under an umbrella – free with my meal. When I was beached out, I took the boat taxi (5 Euro) back to Perissa. Dream city.
Another day in Santorini, I took a boat tour. A five-minute walk from my hostel, I caught a bus that brought me to the port. It started off at the volcano across from Santorini. There you hiked up to the top where you could smell the sulfur. After you got back on the boat and went to the hot springs – or thermal as they would put it they are only about 26 degrees celsius. Be sure to cover your face with a mud mask while in the hot springs. After we sailed to another island that had lots of restaurants. You could climb to the top (25 minutes) and see the town. It has two small restaurants – but a great view. While I was exploring the baron streets the restaurants at the top of the mountain filled up so I headed back down to eat at the windmill restaurant. I sat right on the water, not many people near, had a gyro plate and a cold drink.
The final stop on the boat takes you to Oia the tip of Santorini where all those amazing sunset pictures come from. You have to walk another 20 or so minutes to the top. After a day in the sun and a few hikes earlier, I was spent so I thought I would pay the 5 euro to ride a donkey top. Within two minutes I was freaked out and convinced a stranger to help me off. (Ed.s Note – I’m still not an animal person.)
I explored Oia and fell in love with the shops. Especially Atlantis Books, a bookstore founded by a group of friends and filled to the brim with underused quotes and a well curated section of books. They even had a section where you could get a shot if your purchased a book from the works of Jack Kerouac or similar.
The edge of the island fills up quick and early when it comes to getting the best shots of the sunset. I found a restaurant towards the end, by the windmills, where I was able to watch the sun slowly drop with an Aperol spritz.
Another place of note – I had dinner at Elli’s Restaurant in Fira. It was a bit away from the main tourist hub but the food was delicious and the local wine even better. Also this was my sunset view and I didn’t have to push a single tourist to get it.
For me two days in Santorini was just enough. I was ready to be in a less condensed and touristy spot. But the views felt unreal. The airport in Santorini was packed and mildly gross but a flight to Crete would get me out of there in about 25 minutes.