Greece

7 Ways To Make the Most of Santorini

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Santorini: It lives on nearly every bucket list, best island list, best beaches list in the world. And the hordes of tourists that choke the island every summer are a testament to that fact. You could duke it out for a primo lounger spot or compete for a sunset photo. Or you could skip the basics and try one of these seven things.

 

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7 Ways to Make the Most of Santorini

Frolic in the Many-Colored Sands

Red Sand Beach Santorini
Red Sand Beach in Santorini

Volcanic Santorini boasts not just a black-sand beach, but a white sand and a red sand beach as well. They are all a fair distance away from each other, so rent a motorbike and beach-hop for a day. Bus services also connect the various beaches to the major towns for those with an aversion to navigating Santorini’s vicious switchbacks and narrow roads.

Become a Santorini Wine Connoisseur

No one’s sure if it’s true or not, but rumor has it that Santorini has more wine than water. Either way, the island does turn out an impressive amount of wine. It’s most famous for it’s white varietals, of which Assyrtiko is the most renowned. You could drive yourself around the island, but it’d be much more fun to allow someone to drive you around while you catch a buzz on that sweet Dionysian nectar. Santorini Wine Adventure boasts the most popular tours, but SAFOWI (Santorini Food and Wine Tours) offers a combination of food, wine, and cooking classes worth exploring.

Get Your Spa on in a Cave

Avaton Spa Santorini
Photo courtesty of Avaton Resort and Spa

Imerovigli is a small town tucked between Fira and Oia, but it is home to a one-of-a-kind spa experience. The entire spa at Avaton Resort was built in a cave! My mom and I decided to pamper ourselves here one afternoon, hiding our (slightly sunburned) skin from the sun’s rays and getting a relaxing massage. With an incredible view overlooking the Aegean, it’s easy to lose track of time.

Hang Out with a Bunch of Asses

Donkey Santorini

Or let one give you a lift up the winding cliffside from Old Thira port to Fira town. Yes, it’s touristy and a little silly, but it’s one of the only places where you can do it, so why not? The most famous route is the Karavolades Stairs in Fira. You can ride a cable car down to the bottom, spend some time in Old Thira, and then take the lumbering, jolting ride back up the stairs on the back of a donkey.

Brave a Hot Hike on the Fira Trail

Santorini Sunset
Sunset in Santorini

Early morning or late afternoon is your best bet for this one, since the scorching Santorini sun will make any other time of day pretty miserable. My advice? About 3 hours before sunset, find the trail in Fira and leisurely make your way toward Oia. You’ll be able to get some spectacular shots of the sunset while hopefully avoiding all those ridiculous crowds in Oia town.

Dine Like You are Queen (or King) of the World

Fira Santorini Dinner
A yummy dinner in Fira

There really is nothing like a sunset dinner at Fira town. The town spills down the cliffside below, the sun sets behind the caldera and volcano, and view and food from Argo Restaurant are unforgettable. It’s an upscale, high-class way to say farewell to the sun. For some authentic Greek hospitality, don’t miss a chance to dine at Santorini Mou, just outside of Oia. The view may not be as fantastic, but the warm welcome, the live music, the hearty and authentic food, and the celebration of your nationality (they place a small flag from your home country in a vase on your table when you sit down) will leave just as strong an impression.

Get Your Thrills Cliff Jumping

Cliff jump Santorini

Amoudi Bay has a secret little swim spot that includes a perfect spot for cliff jumping. The hike to get there is a little harrowing and it can be easy to get lost, so this is not for the faint of heart. When you descend the steps from Oia to Amoudi Bay, turn to the left (when facing the ocean) and just. keep. going. You’ll eventually find a group of people sunbathing on the rocks, and it’s nearly guaranteed that someone will be jumping from the cliff nearby. Climb up the stairs, work up your courage, and go for it!

What is on your must-do list for Santorini? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!