Its hard to imagine a better feast for the senses. Santorini only 18 km in length, really packs a punch with black sand beaches, sunsets, wine, food, cave like dwellings and an uninterrupted ocean view. The island is volcanic and the surrounding islands form a caldera submerged in water. The last eruption was in the 50’s – luckily there is no immediate worry about ending up in hot water.
The main towns are Fria and Oia that have thousands of hotel and restaurant choices. You can splash out in luxury or stay cheap and cheerful, anything goes. Fira is a lot bigger and has the famous Santorini donkeys that take visitors up and the long and steep mountain all day for those arriving by ferry, cruse ship or boat. There is a cable car for around 5 Euros if you don’t want to walk or brave the smell of donkeys. In contrast Oia is on the north and has all the sights that you see on post cards, like the churches and bells. Both towns are truly beautiful but there is more on your doorstep in Fira if you are planning to stay a few days.
There are long paths to stroll along in Fira as you wind up the mountain and looking down you can see all the countless infinity pools for all the resorts. Restaurants are hidden in every little crevice but the good ones are hard to find, like always. Add these to your hit list to try the best places: Selene, Koukoumavlos, Sphinx, Ambrosia,The Bone, 1800 or more here.
On the south of the island there are vineyards and beaches – also worth spending a few days there have the convenience of waking up and rolling onto the beach. The beaches have black small pebbles and that makes it really hot to walk on barefoot if not impossible.
Like most greek islands there are the usual beach clubs but the ones on Santorini are a lot more low key and you could quite comfortably bring your own lounger, instead of paying the typical 15 euros a day for your prime position. There are also some great local restaurants or tavernas on the other side of the beach to get your daily dose of mediterranean fish, calamari, hummus, moussaka, chips and ice cream.
The Santorini wineries also have some delicious and crisp wines that you don’t find so easily else where. This is because the vines are used to growing in extremely harsh windy conditions. They also have deep root systems to tap into underground water reserves.
Hire a car for a day or two to see the north and south of the island. You can also rent ATV’s, although quite dangerous they are easy to park in the narrow streets and what most visitors do. You can usually bargain down the price of renting one a few Euros but don’t be tricked into paying them to fill the ATV up with petrol for you. You can drive around the whole island on a quarter tank of gas and there are plenty of stations to fill them up quite easily. There are busses but they are not that frequent.