We absolutely loved our trip to Santorini, Greece this spring. We decided this trip was so phenomenal for this one key reason: arriving at the very start of the season (mid/late April)! This meant clean streets, fresh white paint everywhere, happy and refreshed restaurant/hotel employees, and ZERO crowds. I couldn’t recommend visiting Santorini in late April enough! The narrow marble walkways apparently get crowded, hot and uncomfortable during the peak summer months when cruise ship after cruise ship arrive. There were no cruise ships in the bay during the week we were there, so we had the gorgeous towns to ourselves to wander and explore! We stayed in the town of Oia, on the northwestern tip of Santorini, and spent the week exploring the island.
· Highly recommend waking up for sunrise and walking around the town to capture sunrise magic
· There aren’t many taxis on Santorini so if you’re flying in/out and not renting a car right away, book airport-to-hotel transport (we did this one through Viator and it was great)
· We rented a buggy/ATV for one day and then a car for the next two days through Santorini Rentals By Koletsis. The company dropped the cars off and picked them up from us, which was super convenient! Driving was easy (parking in Oia was a little tough but not impossible). We loved driving around to the wineries, up to the highest peak of the island (Monastery Moni Profiti Ilia), over to the town of Imerovigli (lots of stunning 5-star hotels like Oia) and then to the black sand beaches. (Or, book a tour/driver around the island so you can sit back and relax!)
· Explore the black sand beaches in Perissa and relax at a beach bar! We found Seaside Santorini and loved it but there are SO many beach bars to choose from. You can rent a chair, sunbed, umbrella, etc. for the day and can order drinks/food all afternoon.
· Hike from Oia to Thera (or vice versa depending on which end you stay on)!
· Friends recommended taking this cooking class. They were closed for April, but it looks amazing!
· Sunset and dinner in Oia one night (at least)! Either stay in Oia (see restaurant recs below), or walk down the steep steps to the marina where there are a few more great restaurants. Oia gets more crowded for sunset/in the evening, so definitely make a reservation (we had our hotel make reservations for us because we had heard hotels get better tables… this seemed to be true).
· Wine tasting! Since we had a car and lots of time, we cruised around to a bunch of wineries. I couldn’t drink (given I was 26 weeks pregnant, sadly) but the views and experiences were fun nonetheless. Learning about how vines and grapes grow on wreaths/bushes was very interesting! A few favorite spots:
Estate Argyros – really beautiful and the tour was so fascinating! Super recommend. (Also located next to the Santorini Brewing Company if you guys need a break from wine!)
Venetsanos – great views
Gavalas – very small/local but home to the popular Santorini white wine in the blue bottle you’ll see everywhere (a great take-home bottle)
Santo Wines – great views but a very huge estate which felt touristy. No doubt they have stunning views through!
Sigalas (we didn’t make it here but heard great things! Super close to Oia)
And lastly, a few restaurants we loved in Oia:
· Ombra Restaurant at Esperas Santorini Hotel – perfect for sunset views! I am still dreaming about their pita and dips
· Oia Gefsis – have your hotel make a reservation to get best table in the corner with a view
· Roka – super quant/charming Greek house off the beaten path, we loved it!
· We went to Metaxi Mas in the center of the island (after a dozen people recommended it) and LOVED it!! It’s small and quaint with amazing food!!! Definitely need a reservation.
Until next time, Greece!