When I was about 11 years old, I became absolutely obsessed with Greek and Roman history and mythology. I studied everything I could find on the subject, watched every movie, read every book, you name it. Above all, I dreamed of the day I would get to visit these famed, historical lands.
Now, if you were ever a teenage girl, I’m going to assume that you watched the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I can remember the first time I watched it, sitting in complete awe, as I witnessed these gorgeous, cliff-side white-washed houses with their blue-domed roofs overlooking this impossibly blue body of water. I was in love. This was when my true fascination with the greek islands began. A complete infatuation with their raw, stunning beauty to rival the obsession I already harbored for Greek history and mythology. I knew I was going, I just didn’t know when.
So… fast forward 4 years, I’ve made it to my beloved Greece, as part of a larger trip with my family to Rome, Paris, and Venice. So, alas, I satisfied my Greek history and mythology craving, walking the steps up to the acropolis to witness it in all of its glory.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the greek islands. It wasn’t that all-encompassing, raw, stunning beauty that I was looking for. Outside of the acropolis, Athens is, well, underwhelming.
Another 5 years pass, I toss my graduation cap in the air, pack my backpack and head off for the grand backpacking tour of Europe I always dreamed of. On the itinerary? Santorini. The tiny greek island did not disappoint. It surpassed all expectations.
I land in this tiny little one-room airport and take the bus to the center of town. After hopping off the bus, I immediately find this neat little restaurant called Mama’s House. (Link Below). You all, this place is incredible. Mama is something else. She is such a fireball. Friendly, hilarious, and adorable. And, man, does she make some good food. You have everything from good, hearty American breakfast food to authenic, delicious greek food. I swear, I ate there probably 6 times while I was there. I loved it. My waiter was Kostas, I don’t lie. I felt like I had stepped right into the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. It was great – truly a fantastic atmosphere at the restaurant and perfect location in the center of town in Fira. Check it out.
After my absolutely incredible breakfast, I checked into my adorable little B&B up in Firostefani. (Link also below). The room was spacious, I had a tv and good size ensuite bathroom as well as a patio with furniture. It was a beautiful little place. The family that ran it was incredibly personable and I truly enjoyed getting to know them during my stay there. I highly recommend if you are looking for an affordable, comfortable, friendly place to stay in Firostefani!
Santorini is absolutely surreal. No matter where you hike to along the island (or drive to), the scene you look down at just doesn’t look real. Everything was even more vivid and stunning than I imagined. The caldera formed by the volcano is incredibly deep, making the cliffs of Firostefani stand high and imposing above the impossibly blue water. The stark contrast of the white-washed houses against the vivid blue of the water and the green of the cliffs is absolutely incredible.
If you can tear your eyes away from the site of the cliff houses and the gorgeous blue caldera long enough, there’s even more stunning and diverse landscape across the island. The best way that I found to explore the island is by a quad bike. They’re road legal in Santorini and easily the most popular way to explore the island. Not to mention, it’s an incredibly FUN way to explore the island. You get the added adrenaline from the quad, it’s cheap to rent, and you don’t have to worry about windows getting in the way of your pictures. It’s easy to stop off and snap a quick picture of all the beautiful scenery.
I rode mine all around the island, taking it out to red beach, the black sand beaches for relaxation, and to oia for the famous sunset. Red beach is a famous beach in Santorini, famous for being – you guessed it – red. The rocks are tinged red and it’s unbelievably gorgeous. This beach is not a beach for swimming, though, so don’t bring your swimsuit and expect a relaxing day at this beach.
For a traditional beach, you’ll want to head to Perissa Beach or Kamari Beach. These are the two most popular beaches in Santorini. Both have hotels, beach clubs, restaurants, etc. I personally went to Perissa Beach and loved it. There were quite a few neat, relaxing beachside bars. Many of which have comfortable, covered chairs out on the beach for your use, if you order a drink! If you go further down the beach, there is a whole area of little shops and restaurants. A word of warning – the black sand is ungodly hot. You cannot walk on it without shoes unless you are superhuman. Bring good shoes if you plan to go to the beach and good sunscreen, as the black sand does attract the sun, hence the heat.
You’ve likely heard of the famous Oia sunset, if you’ve ever heard of Santorini. People rave about it. It’s been referred to as the most beautiful sunset in the world. People sit for hours and wait for it every day, they clap when the sun goes down. It’s an elaborate production. The sunset is stunning, absolutely stunning. Do I think it’s the most beautiful sunset in the world? Well, I haven’t seen them all, so I can’t be the judge of that, but I do think it’s overhyped. That being said, I do think it’s spectacular and worth the viewing.
I’m sure you’ll see why Santorini holds such a dear place in my heart and remains ultimately one of my favorite destinations I have had the pleasure of visiting.