In the dreary days of winter, I’m dreaming of where most of Europe goes during the month of August: the Greek Islands. When you marry a Greek, as I did back in 2003, you quickly learn that trips to Greece are part of the package, and no trip to Greece would be complete without a little “island hopping” while you are there. Now while there are dozens of islands that cater to tourists, one stands out as the most iconic and the most beautiful: Santorini.
Santorini is believed by many to be the lost city of Atlantis. Formed around an ancient volcano or caldera as they call it, the island is shaped like a half moon. The main town (for lack of a better word) on the island is Fira. That’s where the cruise ships dock and where you will find the most shopping and restaurants. Fira is built high upon a cliff looking above the Mediterranean with some of the most amazing views in the world. Now if you come by boat you will have two options to get up to Fira; either by cable car, or by donkey. Yes, mule. Adventurers will choose the latter, and what a trip it is. After reaching the top of the island, those who survive (to my knowledge no one has ever been injured) will certainly want to stop into the nearest restaurant or taverna as they are affectionately called, for one of Greece’s many signature dishes. These include gyros, moussaka, souvlaki, dolmades, spanakopita, or my personal favorite, pastitsio.
Once you’ve filled your belly and got some shopping done in Fira, it’s time to go exploring the rest of the island. Your first stop will most definitely be the picturesque city of Oia. Oia (pronounced “Ia”) is legendary for its iconic white buildings with blue roofs. Bring your camera because the next amazing picture is only footsteps away with the Mediterranean bounding endlessly in the background of every shot. Like Fira, Oia too features boundless opportunities to eat and shop. It also claims the most exclusive resorts on the island.
Other spots on the island are easily accessible by car, but the preferred mode of transportation for most tourists is the 4-wheel ATV. They are available for rent at a low cost of 10 euros per day and open up the entire island for adventure. By ATV you can visit the famous black sand beach of Kamari, or the red sand beach of Akrotiri. Another benefit of the ATV is being able to take the back roads for some of the most stunning drives anywhere in the world.
I hope you get to visit Santorini one day. When I’m asked by people where the “prettiest” place is I’ve ever been to, my answer is always Santorini. I hope your adventure there leads you to the same conclusion. Until next time, safe travels!