A Short Guide to Santorini, Greece, Because of Course That's Where You're Vacationing This Summer

Blue Rooftops in Santorini, Greece

I fully blame Alexis Bledel for my Santorini obsession. In fact, I've been planning my Greek vacation since the first time I saw her riding up those old Santorini steps on a donkey in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when I was roughly 10 years old. I will admit: At that time, I tried to model every other part of my life after that movie, too, and not only tried to find a pair of magical pants, but a group of friends that would fit into them as well. But although I've (sadly) let that part of my dream go, my aspirations of living on that little Greek island for a summer remain. And that's exactly what prompted me to plan my honeymoon in this place that's almost too perfect to be real.

I had a lot of ideas of how Santorini would be in my head before I visited, and almost none of them were anywhere close to reality. But with that said, I wouldn't change a single second of my trip. No matter where you stay or what you do on the tiny island, you can't help but be happy. And since the moment I left, I've been planning my next trip back. Ahead, you'll find a guide on how to do island life right when you finally make it to the picture-perfect island that is Santorini. Don't be surprised if you never want to leave.

White Walls in Santorini, Greece

How to Get Around

Traveling there: Luckily I live in New York, so getting to Santorini was relatively easy. We took a nonstop eight-hour flight from JFK to Athens, and then took a 30-minute flight to Santorini from there. You can also take a ferry to the island, but apparently it's a several hour-long journey which was a hard no for me.

Getting to your hotel: If you're just going from the airport to the hotel, I would recommend having your hotel arrange a car to pick you up. Someone was waiting for us when we arrived to the airport, and it was about a 20-minute drive from there, in Kamari, to where we were staying in Perivolos.

Exploring the island: You have to be pretty brave to drive in Santorini. The roads are barely big enough to fit two cars (and in some spots, actually aren't big enough), and many parts of the islands just have small roads on the sides of cliffs with no lights. No thanks. As an alternative to renting a car, many tourists rent four-wheelers, which are everywhere, but I was too chicken for those, too. Instead, my husband and I chose the bus (which our hotel bartender later told us was a bad idea, but whatever). It was (maybe?) two Euros, and took us straight to the capital of Fira. It was clean, completely safe, and relatively easy to figure out, so I would highly recommend it if you take the time to study how it works beforehand.

Santo Miramare Hotel in Santorini, Greece

Where to Stay

I only stayed in one hotel, so in the interest of giving a knowledgeable recommendation, I'm only going to talk about that one. But don't get me wrong—I wouldn't have stayed anywhere else. Our hotel was called Santo Miramare, and was located in the town of Perivolos. If you're looking for a beautiful beach vacation, this is one of the only areas you can get it on the island—and this is hands down one of the best places to stay.

The hotel has its own beach area, bar, and restaurant, which makes it tempting to never leave the premises. Not surprisingly, we got to know the bartenders pretty well, and by the end of the week we were almost as sad to leave them as we were to go home. The rooms were just as dreamy as the hotel itself, and we had a balcony overlooking the pool area and the beach. Looking back at pictures of our perfect little spot still makes me shed a tear.

While I would argue to no end that this is the best place to stay, I am also fully aware that it's not for everyone who visits Santorini. If you want a serious nightlife scene or just access to a town with actual stores and things to do, you won't find it in Perivolos—the only things to do are eat and walk along the ocean (although I'm not sure what else you could want). For a classic Santorini trip, you might want to consider Oia or Fira instead. But if you enjoy peace and quiet more than the average person, Santo Miramare will do you well.

Sunset Boat Tour in Santorini, Greece

Things to Do

Eat at Sea Side by Notos: Considering I think of myself as sort of a closet foodie, I'm ashamed to admit that we didn't have the most comprehensive food experience. I blame it on the lack of access to transportation, but regardless, we didn't do much fine dining. However, we did go to Sea Side by Notos, and I'm so glad we did. Located right next to our hotel, it's one of the only fine dining restaurants in the area. And just like everything else in Santorini, it was heavenly. We made a reservation online, which, to my knowledge, is required. When we arrived, they gave us a table so big we would've had to shout to talk to the people nearest to us. It also didn't hurt that it was open air and facing the ocean, so we were fully blissed out before we even started eating. 

Take a Boat Tour: If there's anything you do in Santorini, it should be this. Looking back, I honestly wish we did this more than once—it was that fun. The company we used picked us up from our hotel in the morning and drove us (and several other people from around the island) to the Ammoudi Bay where our boat was located. We chose a sunset tour, so it started in the afternoon and ended when the sun set. When we first took off, we headed to the hot springs at the volcano, and they let us off to just swim around. That's when you realize that you definitely should have worn your old swimsuit. Once you leave there, they drive you around to various other pretty spots on the island, like the Red Beach, and they let everyone off to swim and snorkle. And when it's over, they drive you back to Oia, where there are seemingly hundreds of boats just driving straight into the incredible lavender sunset that the island is so famous for. While they do serve dinner and unlimited wine on the boat, I would recommend bringing snacks—it's a long ride and you're swimming a lot of the time, so your appetite will be very real by the time they serve food. And don't forget to wear an old swimsuit, a towel, and a warmer jacket. You'll start out sweating and end the night shivering from the wind from the boat and your wet hair. My guess is that all the boat tours are fun, but the sunset ride is unmatched in my book.

Have you been to Santorini? I want to hear your recommendations, so give me a shoutout in the comments below!

Anna BuckmanComment