Santorini is one of those magical places. The island itself is the remains of a massive volcano and it surrounds the Caldara – the heart of the volcano. The soil is black and the buildings on the island are all white. A lot of people know of Santorini as a fancy stop for cruise ships. During the summer months there are daily cruise ships making stops. However, Santorini also has a whole other side – it’s beautiful, it’s local and it is real.
We can all google the things, that we ‘should’ be doing while visiting Santorini. I have a few things other things to add to the list – a few things ‘off the beaten track’.
First off, we didn’t stay in either Oia or Fira. We chose to stay in a small village on the other side of the island at a family run hotel called Apanemo Hotel. There are buses that connect to the rest of the island, but renting a car or an ATV would probably make things a lot easier.
A lot of people rave about the sunsets, and they are amazing as well! But, do yourself a favor and wake up at dawn at least one day during your stay. The sunrise in Santorini is spectacular!
In the early morning hours, the whole island is covered in a thin fog. As the sun rises and the fog starts to disappear, you literally see the whole island wake up. At Apanemo Hotel, you have your breakfast overlooking the island and the sun rising.
If you have rented a car or an ATV, I highly recommend that you visit Anna Goodheart. We actually found her by coincidence as we were just exploring random routes while driving around the island. When we drove past Anna’s little shop, she came out and waved at us to come inside. She has a cute little store selling different local products, ranging from honey, dips, nuts, jams, wine and olives.
She offered us a complimentary platter to try out her products. DELICIOUS! Everything tasted amazing, strong flavors and so much fun trying all the local specialties.
Vinsanto is the most traditional wine of Santorini. It is a very sweet dessert wine and absolutely delicious. Its name literally means ‘wine of Santorini’. It made from crushed sun dried grapes, which makes the wine strong and concentrated. Trust me, you will love it! Although we were scared they would break in our suitcases, we brought a few bottles back home with us. We just had to share this delicious wine with our friends.
Tomato keftedes are fried tomato fritters often served with either greek yogurt or crumbled feta cheese. They are a typical island summer dish. They are made with tomatoes from the island – affectionately referred to by locals as Santorini tomatoes. It is an incredible tomato that packs a puch of flavor. This variety only grows on Santorini island.
I especially like them because they are so simple: tomatoes mixed with a few herbs and that’s it!
FIRA TO OIA HIKE
One morning we drove to Fira where we parked out car. We wanted to hike from Fira to Oia, circling a bit of the Caldara. This hike offers so many changing views on the volcano, the Caldara and the sea. We didn’t meet many people while hiking, which was a nice experience – we felt like we had the whole path to ourselves.
During your hike, you’ll come across small churches, villages and numerous viewpoints. The hike can take anywhere from 2.5 hours to 5 hours, depending on you fitness level and how many stops you make to take in the beauty of the island.
I would recommend starting early, as it gets very hot in the summer months. There is bare shade on the hike, so take your precautions, wear a hat and bring water with you.
When you get to Oia, kick back and relax. Enjoy a well-deserved lunch. Afterwards, walk the streets of Oia and enjoy its stunning beauty. We took a local bus from Oia to Fira to pick up our car. What an unforgettable day!
THE CAVE OF NIKOLAS
The Cave of Nikolas is a family run restaurant on the beach on the southern tip of Santorini in Akrotiri. They, hands down, serve THE best traditional food and has even won prices! Everything is so fresh! The current owner, Minas, grows his own vegetables, makes his own cheeses and only serves locally caught fish.