Santorini is famous for its white washed walls and blue roofs but there is a lot more to this beautiful island.
In the capital Oia is where you will find the renowned architecture that has made Santorini so famous.
None of the locals actually live in the town as all of the buildings have been made into holiday villas, hotels, restaurants and shops for tourists. It is hard to believe this as the town has such a homely feel. Most of the streets are pedestrianised letting you stroll around the maze of walkways without any worry of any cars.
As Oia is built on a cliff, the streets do have lots of steps and are quite uneven, people with mobility issues would struggle to get around the town. Due to the lack of roads and hilly terrain, donkeys are still used to transport goods to shops and restaurants.
I would recommend not staying in Oia as it is super expensive, not only for accommodation but also for food and drink, two cokes average around $15. Not only this but each day cruise ships dock at around 2pm and the town becomes incredibly busy until just after sunset.
My advice to see Oia at its best is to get up early, travel into Oia and leave as the cruise ships arrive. This way you will see the town at its quietist and out of the heat of the day.
We visited in September and it was in the mid-forties during the day. After speaking to the locals, they say that the best time to visit is April and May as the weather is a lot cooler.
Santorini has a lot more to it than the tourist spots. I would recommend exploring the island yourself, we hired quad bikes to do this. They are cheaper than taxis and as the island is only small, the road network is rather simple. Traveling the island end to end takes around 2 hours.
Emporio is the old town of Santorini. The town in the south of the island is almost untouched and has no evidence of tourism.
There are no shops trying to sell gifts or souvenirs, residents instead sit in their doorways selling crops harvested from their land.
I would definitely say is it worth a trip to Emporio to spend a couple of hours getting lost in the windy streets and experience the real Greek island life.
If you climb to the top of the hill in Emporio you will also get one of the best views for the sunset. Most tourists visit Oia for the sunset but there you are fighting for space and to get the best view. In Emporio we were the only ones stood overlooking the town. Absolute bliss!
Also on the island are a large range of vineyards and wineries.
If you hire quad bikes you are sure to ride past some at some point during the day. Stop off, take a try of the local wine and maybe buy a bottle.
Also in the south of the island is a town called Parrisa. This is the second largest town after Oia. I would recommend staying here as it has many restaurants and hotels, with a lot more reasonable price tag than Oia!
The beaches on Santorini are different from your typical white beach with turquoise water as the island is volcanic so the sand is black. Sun loungers can be hired by the day and local bars will provide waiter service of drinks. Mythos is the local beer of Greece and is served by the litre.
There are a lot of stray cats on the island, they’re super cute but I would recommend not touching them due to diseases.
If you visit Santorini you must try Greek food! My personal favourite is Gyros, it is meat dish (usually chicken or pork) served in a pita with salad and fries.
Fish is a massive part of the diet in Greece so there are many seafood restaurants with the fresh catch of the day. Most restaurants will serve a Greek salad and bread complimentary with a meal.
If Greek food isn’t your bag then most restaurants do serve pizza and pasta dishes.
The hotels generally serve continental breakfasts with bakery goods, fruit, vegetables, meats and cheeses. They tend to be basic but it is fresh!
Santorini is an absolutely magnificent place to visit.
Great food, good wine, cold beer along with stunning scenery only makes for a great trip