Santorini, was recently awarded the top island in Europe by Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2017. Famous for the traditional white volcano cave homes and iconic blue rooftops, Santorini may appear at the surface as just a destination for couples to enjoy, especially on their honeymoon. That used to be my impression as well – until a recent trip. Just a 45-minute flight from the capital Athens, I was pleasantly surprised to learn Santorini is much more than just a romantic getaway.
What makes Santorini the ultimate destination for solo travelers, friends, group travelers and families? You can have just as much fun as all the couples. You can enjoy everything from cooking classes, wine tastings, and sailing while experiencing the area’s world famous sunsets.
If you want to stay where all the action and scenic views are, I recommend staying in the picturesque town called Oia. Whether you are interested in staying in a hotel or an old-fashioned volcano home – Santorini offers a wide variety of accommodation options for visitors.
I stayed in the most stunning accommodation from Airbnb that was a two bedroom, two bathroom home with a private pool called The Volcano Cave. You could see the cruise ships, yachts and boats embark on the Aegean Sea from every room in the home. The daily breakfasts and service by the family owned-home exceeded my expectations. The owner Panos and his brother Kostas were very attentive as hosts. They provided timely shuttle and excursion options for first-time visitors like me.
For all the foodies out there, there are endless choices for authentic Greek food. I had the most incredible Greek salad along with breathtaking views of Santorini at a restaurant called The Red Bicycle. I still dream about that salad to this day. For the most delicious coffee and (of course) views, definitely make a stop at Meteor Cafe. You are bound to encounter visitors from all over the world as you sip on your drink and look out at the blue Aegean Sea. Additionally, there was another restaurant, Karma, that was always packed with people. Now, I understand why. Besides the luxurious outdoor seating décor, the traditional Greek dishes at Karma could satisfy any foodie. Karma’s menu includes everything from gemista, lamb chops, octopus to feta with honey. For dessert, you can treat yourself to a sweet mpaklava.
Adventure seekers can enjoy many activities on the island. If you are looking for water exploration, you can take a sailing or yacht tour around to the island’s different beaches. I enjoyed an all-day sailing trip by Sunset Oia Santorini Sailing that included a stop to the Red Beach and the Hot Springs where you can indulge in a volcanic mud bath.
To end every night, there are plenty of places where you can catch Santorini’s incredible sunsets. Many locations in Oia or Fira have popular viewing spots. However, make sure to schedule ample time ahead to save a spot as tourists from all over the world arrive early just to watch the sunset. Situated just above the scenic Kastro Walls in Oia, Kastro Restaurant, offers one of the best places to eat and watch a sunset in Santorini. Plan to book a reservation well in advance as the restaurant is always packed.
If you have yet to visit, definitely add Santorini on your travel itinerary. No matter whom you travel with, Santorini is bound to take your breath away.