Sunny Santorini

So I have really been kind of slacking with my blog posts lately, but what I am learning is that I don't want to miss being present in my life... SO, instead of always sticking my nose in my computer or on a device, I have really been craving time with family and friends this summer more than anything. So I am just getting around to sharing some travel info from our next stop from our trip to Greece- today I get to share all things about SUNNY SANTORINI! After our wonderful stay on the island of Paros, we did some island hopping and hopped on over to Santorini for four days. AND, yes of course it was a magical stay!

Transportation: If you read my post about Paros, you saw that we decided to take a short plane ride from mainland Greece to that first island stop. However, in between the islands, it was more time and cost effective to take a high speed ferry instead. I was a little worried about what these ferries would be like based on ferries I had seen in the past, but these things are like their own little village on water. Restaurants on board, drinks, comfy seats (if you pay for the upgrade), you name it! I would suggest booking your ferry travels prior to getting to Greece because it's easier to just get dropped off at the port and get right in line to catch your ferry...because let me tell you, the ports are absolutely insane and crowded with people, and it gets very confusing where to go and what to do! Another thing you might already want to have booked before you go on your trip is transportation to your hotel from the port that you will be traveling to. We just thought that we'd get a taxi at the port in Santorini, no problem, BUT WHOA, they really just try to gouge you with the prices if you do things last minute! So moral of the story: BE PREPARED- always check if your hotel has transportation available to you, and have somebody waiting for you at the port! I have also been trying to give you guys some info about driving and whether or not I would be comfortable renting a car in the areas that we visited- AND, let me just say, I would NOT feel comfortable driving in Santorini at all! Its steep, narrow, and winding roads are insane...and, the island is SO crowded with tourists. Take that suggestion with a grain of salt though, I personally just would not chance it!

Hotel: After my brother-in-law, our trip planner extraordinaire, did research on Santorini, he found that staying in the actual Oia area is really crazy and busy with lots of tourists! Everyone, of course, wants to go to Oia because of the amazing sunsets, which is why Oia is the most popular location on the island. However, we are not into the party/crowded scene, and we enjoy our downtime- SO, we actually booked a hotel in neighboring Finikia, which is only a ten minute walk up a little path to all of the action in Oia. The Ambelia Hotel was a perfect pick for us because of the proximity to all of the activities in Oia, but when we were ready to chill we could walk back to our room in this little neighboring village and relax away from the noise. The family that owns this hotel was just so sweet and welcoming, and it kind of felt like a little home away from home. The rooms basically felt like little caves built into the mountainside, which was a really cool experience too! Any view from those amazing mountainsides, in any location in Santorini, is absolutely amazing. Plus the breakfast at this hotel was so DELISH! We begged the owner for her breads/cake recipes! YUM! One warning about Santorini in general: PACK LIGHTLY!!! Since everything is built into the mountainsides, you (or the poor hotel workers) have to drag your luggage up and down VERY steep paths to get in and out of the hotels. It's kind of insane! You definitely get a good workout without even trying because of all of this up and down business!

Hotel ambelia
Our rooms at The Hotel Ambelia- built right into the mountainside, SO COOL!
Hotel ambelia Santorini
Pool view from The Hotel Ambelia on top of the mountainside.

Restaurants: There are obviously SOOO many restaurants to choose from in all of the different locations on this island as well, so I am only going to highlight my top three picks once again..

  1. Skala: Skala is located in Oia right on the popular main street of action and shopping. It overlooks the ocean, mountains, and all of the beautiful white washed buildings. If you can get there for the sunset hour, that view is even more amazing! You definitely need to make reservations in Santorini anywhere you go, especially if you want to get a table for the sunset. Things book up quickly, FYI, so you might want to make reservations in the weeks before you even get to Greece!! The servers were SO fantastic and friendly at Skala, and they just embodied the Greek kefi so perfectly. I chose to order the yemista, rice stuffed tomatoes and peppers, and it was really tasty. At the end of our meal, the waiter brought us the most DELICIOUS piece of baklava that I have ever had! I am not a huge baklava fan (a pastry made with honey, nuts, and phyllo), BUT seriously this was the BEST I have ever tried! A lot of times in Greece, you will get a little dessert from the restaurant as a way to say thank you- BUT, if you don't happen to get the baklava at Skala, ORDER IT! You won't regret it.
  2. Roka: This restaurant is also in Oia, but it has a view of the opposite side of the mountain as Skala. The sunset from this side of the mountain is actually the best! You definitely need to make reservations here as well, if you want a table during sunset. This restaurant was super busy, which in turn, seemed to make the servers kind of stressy- so we didn't enjoy the servers here as much as some other places...BUT, the food was to die for! I ordered the pastitsada (beef and pasta in a red sauce, not marinara sauce though). It was amazing! It reminded me of a dish that my dad used to always cook for me, and it has mizithra cheese, which I love!! Of course being Greek means that every meal we pretty much eat has feta cheese, but the other Greek cheese we have a lot of in our house is this mizithra cheese! SO YUMMY!
  3. Koukoumavlos: This restaurant is actually in the town of Fira, which was about a half an hour taxi ride from our hotel. It was actually nice to see other towns on the island other than Oia, and we were very happily surprised that the views and sunset in this town were just as beautiful. If you are a foodie, and you like to try unique cuisine, this is the restaurant for you! Again, we made a sunset hour reservation weeks in advance, and the view was breathtaking. This restaurant doesn't serve the traditional Greek dishes, so it was kind of fun to try something new!
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    View around sunset on the main street in Oia.
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    The sun's starting to go down in Oia! Beautiful!
    Fira Santorini
    Views from Fira, close to Koukoumavlo restaurant.
Koukoumavlo Santorini
Sunset at Koukoumavlo restaurant.

Activities: Of course there are a million things to do in Santorini, so I will again hit my top three highlights for you all...

  1. Santorini Sailboat Tour: I have mentioned in my previous travel posts that in each place that we travel to, we like to do at least one tour to try and see as much of the location as possible. We decided the best way to see this island was to hop on a boat! We got to see SO many sites and travel pretty much around the whole perimeter of the island, which was really neat! We saw and made stops at the volcanoes, the different beaches (Red/Black Beaches), and to swim in the natural hot springs all on one little cruise. OH, and you can't pass up a barbecue and the unlimited drinks that are included, LOL! It actually only took the morning and part of the afternoon to do this tour, which was nice, because then we still had time to do our own thing at night. Another plus, is they pick you up and drop you off right at your hotel, so you don't have to waste money on a taxi either. The views from the boat were a must see!
  2. Amoudi Bay: The Amoudi Bay is in Oia, so we walked from our hotel to check it out. You have to climb down A LOT of stairs and a big chunk of the mountain to get to the bay, but it is absolutely beautiful. The water is an awesome turquoise blue- just so beautiful to see! If you trek down to the bay, it's kind of a nice little getaway from the crazy tourist traffic of the mountain tops in Oia. They also have cute little tavernas there for you to rest and eat! Definitely a site worth checking out!
  3. Oia Shopping District: Of course, if you are a shopper like me, you will enjoy just perusing the Oia shopping district. There is a LONG stretch of shops, lining the narrow paths and mountainside. You get everything from the very high end shops to the little souvenir shops. BUT, it's so fun to just mosey around and enjoy the vibrancy of your fellow tourists and scenery. The one thing I did not enjoy seeing in Oia was the poor overworked donkeys! There are people who offer donkey rides up and down the little paths, and I just felt SO bad for these creatures! It's seriously hot outside, and then they have a human placed on their back going up these SUPER steep cliffs!!! NO!!!! I just think it's so wrong, but that's just my opinion! But aside from that, I really enjoyed our time in Oia, bumming around and shopping. Who doesn't love that?!?
    Sailboat tour Santorini
    Hot springs near the volcanoes- sailboat tour.
Sailboat tour Santorini
Amazing turquoise waters- sailboat tour.
Sailboat tour Santorini
Red Beach- sailboat tour.
Sailboat tour Santorini
Volcano views- sailboat tour.
Amoudi Bay Santorini
View of Amoudi Bay from the top of the mountain. You have to climb all the way down to the turquoise waters to get there!
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Ready to shop the main streets of Oia.
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Views while shopping main streets of Oia.
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Views while shopping main streets of Oia.
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Views while shopping main streets of Oia.
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Everything is so beautiful and bright!
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Shopping in Oia.
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You see churches and monasteries mixed in everywhere between shops and restaurants. So beautiful.
Santorini
The donkeys are beautiful to look at, but I can't imagine how hard it is for them to carry people up the EXTREMELY steep mountainsides.

So there you have it folks, all of the most important information and highlights about traveling to Santorini! This island is absolutely gorgeous, and I feel like everyone should see these views at least once in their lives! I am so grateful that I got to experience the beauty of this place- definitely an item on my bucket list that I can check off! If you have any other more specific questions about Santorini, leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram (lrenzy.land). Make it a great weekend, all!

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