Santorini is definitely the most iconic and well known islands in Greece. It has been on my bucket list since I was in high school and it was everything that I had heard it was including the not so good things. Beautiful, picturesque and touristy, but a place that you have to see at least once in your lifetime.
The island is a lot bigger than I thought it was, there will be three main areas you will notice when booking accommodations, Oia, Fira and Imerovigli. We stayed in the most well known village on Santorini, Oia. Oia is the place that you see on postcards of Santorini but there are so many other villages and areas to explore. I put together my highlights from our three days in Santorini including places to eat, what to do and where we stayed.
WHERE TO STAY
We decided to go the Airbnb route instead of a hotel and I am SO happy that we did! We stayed right in the heart of Oia with an incredible view at Blue Sky Suites. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of service this rental came with. Since we flew in from Athens, we were able to arrange transportation through our Airbnb for 40 euros. They picked us up and then our host John met us right away and helped us with our bags, since there are a lot of steps in Santorini. John was able to set up multiple restaurant reservations for us and arrange an ATV rental. We even had breakfast each morning set up on a little terrace right outside our villa every morning.
THINGS TO DO ON SANTORINI
This is your warning to bring comfortable shoes with grips to Santorini! We went to Amoudi Bay for dinner at sunset which was perfect. It is about a 20 min hike down to the restaurant which is steep and difficult if you are not wearing the correct shoes. It does however have the most stunning views of this little fishing village with some of the best seafood. If you go during the day and walk past the restaurants there is even a little spot to swim.
NIGHT SHOPPING IN OIA
One thing to know about Oia is it has become very touristy. The cruise crowds arrive around 10AM it gets VERY crowded in the narrow streets until right before sunset. But there is a magical time right after sunset where it gets very quiet, all the cruise crowds disperse and all of the shops are still open. This was my favorite time to browse all of the adorable shops in Oia. The shopping is pretty expensive but you will find a few hidden gems along the way.
HIKE TO SWIM BAY OF ARMENI
We decided spontaneously to do the steep but quick 25 min hike down to the Bay of Armeni. This used to be the old port and it is a hidden, quiet gem right below Oia. We made sure to wear the correct shoes and it was such a stunning view on the way down and what better way to reward yourself than a refreshing swim!
BEACH CLUBS AT PERIVOLOS (BLACK SAND BEACH)
I would highly recommend renting an ATV if you want to explore the whole island of Santorini. It is very spread out and there is so much to see. One day we took an ATV to the Black Sand beaches which are about 45 min away from Oia on the other side of the island. Once you arrive there is one road with SO many beach clubs to choose from. These beach clubs have cabanas that you can rent for the day right on the water with full service drinks, food and some have a pool. We were recommended to go to Jojo and it did not disappoint! A few others that were recommended were Wet Stories and Seaside.
On our way back from Perivolos we stopped at Santo Wines for a wine tasting. I would highly recommend this for the view and for the delicious wine. We did not have a reservation and were able to walk in for a self led wine tasting. They have tours available if you book in advance.
The castle ruins are known for the INCREDIBLE views of Oia. It is an easy walk from the center of Oia and much less crowded during the day compared to during sunset. We were able to see the crazy crowds of people gathering at the ruins even 2 hrs before sunset from our Airbnb.
FIRA TO OIA WALKING TRAIL
We did not do this since it was so hot and we decided to rent an ATV but we heard incredible things about the views. I would recommend doing it early morning or evening.
WHERE TO EAT IN OIA
Sunset at Amoudi Bay – A perfect spot to watch the sunset and eat the freshest seafood. Make sure to make a reservation and ask for the upstairs terrace for the best view.
Fino – A trendy restaurant off the main path in Oia. We went here for my birthday dinner and the food was incredible. The only downside was the portions were smaller and it was a more American menu compared to other restaurants we had been to.
Skala – We stumbled upon this restaurant on our walk back from watching the sunset and it was one of my favorites of the trip! Ryan and I sat on the rooftop terrace while the sun was still setting and the view was gorgeous. The food was so fresh and not too pricey. They even gave me a cozy wrap when it started to get chilly.
Meltini – Amazing authentic tapas spot in Oia recommended by a friend. We ate lunch here and loved it. Very affordable, make sure to get the dip trio with fresh pita.
Marykay’s Hassapiko Bar – This is basically the only nightlife in Oia but we were fine with it since the cocktails were amazing and it was always so fun! We went almost every night, the bartenders are all young and so friendly. If you are looking for more nightlife, we were recommended to try Fira.
PitaGyros Traditional Grill House – If you are looking for a cheap and authentic gyro while you are in Oia, this is your spot! It was always bustling and right across the way from our Airbnb.
Overall, the Airbnb location truly was the highlight of our stay in Santorini. It made escaping the crowds of tourists during the day so easy. We were able to rent an ATV to explore the rest of the island or step right outside of our villa and walk around Oia. If you have not been to Greece, Santorini should definitely be on your itinerary.