Santorini has three main cities: the capital is Thira (Fira), then the two major ones are Oìa – pronounced Ia – and Imerovigli. I recommend to rent a car, because public transport isn’t well organized, especially if you stay in Oìa.
Santorini is an unforgettable island. Unique in its kind, whether it’s day or night its panorama takes your breath away and gives you goose bumps. I stayed in Oìa, at the beautiful hotel Aplai Dome, which I highly recommend! Santorini is famous for its wines, in fact, while traveling around the island you will notice many fields with dry land and small plants, these are their vineyards, which allow them to produce excellent red and white wines. In fact there are many trips that you can make to the various wineries, with tastings included!
Which beaches to visit?
Most of the beaches are not equipped, especially those in the North-West and South-West. The beaches that I recommend are Baxedes Beach in Paradeisos, in the North, which has a spectacular black sand. A few kilometers to the East you’ll find the beach of Cape Colombo, very nice and quiet and especially equipped with beautiful canopy “beds”.
The two most beautiful beaches, both for the sea and for comfort are Perissa and Vlychada. Both in the South of the island are equipped and maintained with great care. The sea is obviously beautiful, despite the cold water you will be impossible not to dive.
You can find beaches to visit such as the Red, Black and White Beach, but all rather inhospitable. The Red Beach is equipped but difficult to reach, if not with an impervious path, while the White Beach is accessible only by boat trip and then also stop becomes more complex. In general, you will not find beaches with fine sand, but stones or pebbles.
Where to eat
Santorini is full of places where you can enjoy great food and the view of the Caldera. If you want to enjoy the sunset while eating you must book a table and remember not to arrive late.
The first day I had lunch at Blue Sky, a nice terrace, located on the stairs just before the center, the food is not bad, but in my opinion is very commercial and touristy.
The three best restaurants on the island are: Skala, Kastro and Ammoudi Fish Tavern. At Skala the food is great and the staff is friendly. It faces directly on the main street and at peak hours is more likely to see streams of people than the view, but still worth it.
Kastro is an orange terrace literally on the sea that during the hours of sunset takes all shades of the sky, whether red or pink. The staff is polite and friendly. The price/quality ratio is excellent, and if you order more than the average tourist, they offer you typical desserts (at least with me it happened!). Not to be missed is the Mousaka Croquete!
Ammoudi Fish Tavern is located at the harbor, accessible via the 300 or so steps from the center or via normal road. Ammoudi compared to Kastro’s is much more spacious and prices are slightly higher, but the quality is excellent and the selection of fish is dizzying. Also in this case you have to book! As dishes I suggest the grilled and sun-dried octopus and Mastelo cheese with honey and sesame, as fish anything, but the red shrimps are spectacular!
If you want to try the typical desserts, go to Melenio Café, which has a fantastic terrace overlooking the sea. Finally, if you want to eat a good ice cream, I recommend Lolita’s gelateria, it is delicious and the portions are huge!
Where to buy
If you want to do some shopping, a very nice concept store is Kisira, you’ll find branded things, but also Greek brands, in fact I took some sandals made by artisans. Then, if you want shirts or dresses in cotton or linen at bargain prices, you can find them at Lino Sunset – The Earth Collection, a store that is located towards the ancient ruins of the Byzantine castle, a must-see location from which to enjoy the sunset.
Then there’s the queen of all bookstores, a place you’d never think you’d find on a Greek island. A place built for reading lovers. Atlantis bookstore was a discovery I didn’t think I could make. A jewel underground that made me remember how many things in the world there are to discover. This quirkily furnished and decorated bookstore not only sells books in various languages, but also first editions and collectible books. You will find Jane Austin’s books from 1886, the first edition of Peter Pan and The Little Prince, an emotional journey for book lovers, a journey they will never forget.