I can check this one off the bucket list… Exceeding all dreamy, picture perfect expectations, Santorini’s beauty is simply breathtaking. Known for it’s blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings, and steep and winding stairs that ascend from the Aegean Sea, it is exactly how you imagine it to be, and more. Bright pink blooms pop against what seems to be a blue and white mirage.
We stayed at On the Rocks boutique hotel in Imerovigli. Our “cave” was built into the side of the mountain. This was the most unique hotel I had ever stayed. The staff were equally as lovely. Each morning, we were awakened by a knock at the door and breakfast delivered on our private patio, overlooking the sea. Fresh coffee, greek yogurt with honey and nuts, omelets (with feta and olives), pastries and fresh fruit.
Things to do in Santorini:
Rent an ATV and explore the island (see video below)
Visit Ammoudi Bay, located in the village of Oia
Sail until sunset (I highly recommend Santorini Yachting Club)
This goes without saying, but eat like a local!
Regardless of what the hotel, travel agents, or anyone tells you, no need to make a reservation. We visited during peak season and had no issue getting a table anywhere (with the exception of Amoundi Bay at sunset, which we still were able to grab two seats and order a bottle of wine just in time for the show a.k.a. sunset). The food was fantastic everywhere we went and everything was extremely fresh.
Funny story… We visited Ios by complete mistake. In attempt to travel from Santorini to Mykonos, we got off the boat at the wrong stop and found ourselves stranded on Ios. Apparently this happens quite often, so beware. With that being said, I consider it a blessing. Ios is a gorgeous island! We stayed the one night at Liostasi Hotel. This charming hotel was not only beautiful, but their hospitality was out of this world. Every staff member knew our names. We were treated as if we owned the place and their breakfast (included) was unbelievable. When I return to Ios, I will be staying here. Much smaller than Santorini, Ios is a party island and had a much different feel. You walk through the winding streets, literally through the middle of outdoor restaurants and pubs where bands of local seniors played their instruments and sang. Young people gathered on the village steps to drink cocktails and dance… see a bar called Steps. I wish that we had spent more time in Ios. Next time I would love to see the beaches.
Traditional Cycladic architecture, including the infamous windmills, beautiful beaches, and winding cobblestone streets lined with white washed building and more of the bright pink blooms. Mykonos is a busier, more commercial version of iOS. Pulsating nightlife, often in competition with Ibiza attracts jet setters, celebrities, gay pride festival goers, and all kinds of people looking for an exotic adventure. We stayed one night at Cavo Tagoo, visited the beaches of Little Venice, shopped amongst the beautiful churches scattered throughout the city, ate our way through the island, and danced all night in a cave to the beats of DJ Grandma Man.
We spent our first and last night in Athens. There aren’t any direct flights to the islands, so going through Athens is a requirement. This gave us the opportunity to stay at the beautiful Hotel Grande Bretagne and explore the city. We had gyros from street vendors more times than we could count and drank wine in Monastiraki Square, with the most beautiful view of Acropolis. Fortunately, on our last day, we did have the opportunity to visit before sunset. The cost is $20EU per person for just the Parthenon (extra for the museum, which we unfortunately did not have time for). When I tell you it was hot, the heat put Georgia to shame! But once we got up there, the view made it all worth it. It’s amazing that structures like this still exist today.
Do not, I repeat, do NOT wear heels in the Greek islands. Not even to dinner. Invest in some stylish flats and sandals. Wear hats, because A) hats are fabulous and B) my scalp and face burned immediately. Wear dresses, shorts, skirts, and rompers. Light flowy clothing is best. If you rent an ATV, BE CAREFUL (we saw a few nasty accidents). Be prepared to walk a LOT. Whatever you’re doing at sunset, drop everything and take it in. And do not be afraid to be adventurous. Go explore. There’s more to see than you could ever imagine.
Below is a video of our trip, produced with a combination of drone and GoPro footage. Unfortunately, aerial footage wasn’t possible on Ios or Mykonos due to high winds. Be sure to watch in 1080p HD for maximum quality.