When you think of Greece, what comes to mind? Ancient cities? Whitewashed homes and churches with brightly colored roofs tucked in the hills of its numerous small islands? The deep blue crystal waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas? Well, good, you’re on the right track. But, seriously, that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to experiencing this place. There is SO much more to this incredible country. The culture, the people, the food, and let’s not forget that it is the birthplace of Western civilization as we know it today.
With its ancient and modern attractions, its captivating coasts and landscapes, Greece is officially one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting.
We had an amazing and jam-packed 4-day trip to Greece; spending one day in Athens and three days in the beautiful Santorini. We met some of the kindest people and ate, no joke, THE best food I’ve ever had. If you’re having trouble figuring out your next vacation destination, I’ll help you. Go to Greece!
Now that we’ve figured that out ☺, there are a few things you need to know about Greece.
The Greek islands are some of THE most popular vacation destinations in the world (especially during the summer months). That being said, it’s important to factor in crowds, time, transportation, and accommodations when planning your trip. You obviously want to get the most out of your travels, so I’ve compiled a short description of our experience, and some tips and recommendations that may help you along the way.
We spent our first day in Athens. Our flight to Santorini flew out of the Athens airport, so we figured we might as well spend a full day there. Although it was a very short stop, we made the best of our time. We saw some amazing sites and ate some incredible food. Luckily, a lot of the popular sites and ancient ruins of Athens are within walking distance of one another, so we were able to cover a lot of ground in one day. It’s a fun and beautiful place, so if you are flying from Athens to Santorini, I would recommend spending a day or two in the city.
Getting to Santorini from Athens:
The fastest route to Santorini is a 45-minute direct flight from Athens. However, there is a second option via ferry. The ferry would probably be pretty fun, but it takes about 5 hours to reach the destination. So, if you’re short on time like we were, I recommend taking the quick flight. *So little time, so much Greece!
Once you arrive at the Santorini airport, you can either take the bus or a taxi to your destination (if you are not well versed in public transportation, the bus system is a bit intimidating). We actually opted for a third option. Our kind Airbnb host arranged a car to pick us up at the airport. If possible, I highly recommend this. The bus system can be confusing and the line for a taxi at the airport was super long.
Staying in Santorini:
As one of the most popular and romantic places in Greece, it can be quite expensive to stay in Santorini, especially during the summer months. So, we opted for an Airbnb over a hotel and we were very happy that we did.
We stayed in Oia and absolutely loved this small town. While the towns of Imerovigli and Fira were amazing, in my opinion, Oia has the best views and it’s conveniently situated within walking distance to pretty much everything.
Just a tip, no matter the town you decide to stay in (as they are all pretty close to one another), it’s really important to figure out the distance between your place of stay and the main roads. Considering the homes here are built into steep, volcanic rock, many require climbing over 100 stairs to get there. If you have even moderately heavy luggage, that could be a pretty intense walk to say the least. Talk to your hotel or Airbnb host beforehand to either get help with carrying your luggage, or advice on the best route to take.
As mentioned before, we stayed in the popular and quaint town of Oia. The location and views were absolutely perfect. The sunset was just unreal. Oia is also home to some of the most picturesque architecture in Greece. This includes the well-known and iconic turquoise topped churches that often come to mind when picturing Santorini. Although the town is small, there’s no shortage of delicious restaurants, boutiques, and shops to choose from.
Things to do in Oia:
To be honest, walking around and exploring the town of Oia was probably our favorite part of the trip. It seriously seemed to just get better and better at every turn. It’s no exaggeration to say that every road and alley were truly majestic in their own way. Not to mention the photo opportunities. I’ve never experienced such picturesque scenery and buildings. Maybe it was the lighting? Maybe the unique architectural design? Maybe the whitewashed houses with bright and contrasting colored roofs? Probably a combination of all three. Plus, just walking around the town allowed us to experience a glimpse of the beautiful culture of Santorini. Oia has an all-around laidback atmosphere and, for us, was surprisingly easy to navigate.
We took a 5-hour cruise with Sunset Oia Sailing Cruises and it was a blast. We set sail around the numerous Greek islands and got a brief look at the exquisite landscapes that Greece holds. The boat also stopped at various locations to allow us to cool off with a dip in the Aegean Sea. The temperature of the water was perfect! The cruise also serves you an authentic Mediterranean styled lunch. It was actually pretty tasty! If you like sailing around beautiful islands while occasionally cannon-balling into the warm, Agean blue seas, I definitely recommend this sailing cruise.
If you are up for a little walk, we recommend cliff jumping off the coast of Oia. Have a light lunch at the bottom of the bay then walk up the path to the jumping point. It was seriously SO fun. You should definitely swim out a bit so you can see an outside view of Oia from the water.
If you are tired from a long day of cliff jumping and swimming in the sun, we recommend grabbing a gelato and watching the sunset in the historic lookout of Caldera Oia. Watching the sunset here is a local tradition, and it brings everyone from the island to one spot to watch the multicolored masterpiece of a Greek sunset. It’s simply beautiful. Because almost everyone on the island heads to the lookout at sunset, we recommend arriving an hour or so beforehand to get a good spot.
Our time in Greece was wonderful from start to finish. The people were too kind, the landscape and architecture were too beautiful, and the food was too good (seriously though, I couldn’t stop eating!).
Although Santorini experiences a high volume of tourists and it can be pretty expensive, if you travel right, it’s totally doable. We highly recommend the town of Oia for a truly amazing stay. If you enjoy long walks on picturesque paths, narrow streets and dreamlike sunsets, spectacular views and charming houses, then we think you need to visit Oia, Santorini. It’s simple. It’s beautiful. It’s unforgettable.
Σας ευχαριστώ, Ελλάδα!