If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, or even just a relaxing holiday, Santorini should definitely be on the top of your list. It was named as The World’s Best Island by the BBC in 2011, and for excellent reason: not only is it awe-inspiringly stunning with a rich interesting culture, history and architecture, but it also offers a range of interesting activities for any kind of visitor.
Things You Need to Know Before Heading Out
Santorini is a Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea and is the largest island in the archipelago that has the same name. The island is a remnant of a volcanic caldera, formed around 3,600 years ago, the result of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in known history. It occurred at the height of the Minoan civilization, and what remains now is a deep crater in the sea, a giant lagoon surrounded by sheer volcanic cliffs on three sides, with the main towns perched upon the crest. The major towns comprise of Pyrgos, Oia, Emporio, Fira (Phira), Perissa, Therasia, Kamari, and Imerovigli and are built upon the outer downward slope of the island.
The scenery upon approaching Santorini is extraordinarily striking because of the vividly white architecture contrasting with the deep blue sea. The stone houses are whitewashed with a variety of volcanic ashes which are utilized as colors. What’s unique about the place, other than the brightly colored houses, is that deep beneath underground, the extensions of the houses are dug at an angle into the adjoining volcanic rock. These insulated rooms are ideal for their coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter, and for storing the island’s famous wine. The climate in Santorini is mildly hot during the day, cooling down at night. The island is dry, somewhat similar in weather to parts of California, with summer temperatures between 25-35 degrees.
Stay and Bask in the Island’s Luxury
Santorini is the perfect place to go on a honeymoon, and fortunately there is no dearth of accommodation, since it boasts a large number of hotels—luxury and otherwise. If you and your new spouse are looking for something simpler, the island has plenty of quiet little villas for renting.
Galaxy Suites, located in the traditional village of Imerovigli, is just one mile from the capital, Fira, and is easily accessible by bus, taxi and car. The hotel has two swimming pools which look out upon the sea, and its honeymoon suites are some of the island’s best, with queen size beds and handmade mattresses. The rooms are decorated with a mixture of the traditional Greek and modern styles, and each suite has its own private terrace with an outdoor mosaic heated Jacuzzi, and a magnificent view of the caldera.
Avant Garde Suites – If you’re in the mood for something with a modern twist, then the Avant Garde suites in Akrotiri are a good idea. These nine deluxe suites sport funky, signature design furniture and fun gadgets, including a personal laptop and my favorite—a sound bar comprising of DVD/CD/Radio/iPod and iPad charger and headphones. Most of the suites have their own private jacuzzis and large balconies. The hotel offers a panoramic view of the sea, and a romantic candlelight dinner under the stars looking out at the night lights of the caldera. This hotel definitely does justice to its name. Its location in Akrotri is very convenient for the more adventurous couples that wish to explore the town’s many ancient sites, or visit the nearby Red and White Beaches.
Other top hotels include the Four Seasons, Aria Suites and Astarte Suites.
Those with a more modest income will also find that Santorini does not lack in quality accommodation within a reasonable price range.
Private Villas for those with Deep Pockets
As for renting a private villa, the Athena Luxury Villa is hidden in a pleasant, quiet neighborhood, but close enough to Fira for convenience. With its stunning views, white marble floors and beautiful artwork it possesses an idealic, romantic atmosphere. Old Oia Houses, located, of course, in Oia, are just the right fit for a couple on honeymoon. They were restored in 1990, and are a family run business. In the heart of the village, they are located in the region neighboring the remains of the medieval castle of Saint Nicholas. They are traditional in their design and decoration, but meet all the modern needs, with satellite television and air conditioning. These houses present a very cozy and peaceful environment, and allow the visitors a true taste of Santorini.
Eat, Pray, Love and … Must Dos in Santorini
If you’re looking for things to do on Santorrini, you’ll find that the island not only has a multitude of restaurants to sample the local cuisine, but a whole host of engaging activities. Visiting the open air cinema in Kamari is thoroughly enjoyable. Three different movies are shown every week, with snacks and drinks available coupled with the lovely ambience. There is a bus stop nearby, and it is within walking distance of the beach.
Amoudi Bay – The Amoudi Bay in Oia is a must see, with excellent fresh fish to be eaten after a long hike, and a wonderful view of the sea throughout the experience. Because of the island’s volcanic soil, the beaches, though not always sandy, are worth a visit simply because of their unique colors. The sand or stones are made of solidified lava and come in a variety of hues like the White Beach, Red Beach and the Black Beach, etc. If you’re interested in wine, Santorini is famous for its old wineries and the special way of storing its wine. Wine made from red, pink and white roses is a specialty, but the excellent vino santo dessert wines are not to be missed. I would advise you to even take some back home as they can be pretty addictive.
Ruins of Akroitri – On a personal note, the ruins in Akrotiri were my favorite attraction. Whole streets and squares have been unearthed, along with artifacts, buried in the volcanic ash. It reminded me very much of the ancient city of Pompei in Italy, which was also buried beneath ash after a volcanic eruption. An interesting fact—it is believed by many that the eruption that formed Santorini was the inspiration for Atlantis.
The Caldera – One thing you don’t want to miss on your honeymoon in Santorini is a tour of the caldera. The boat tour takes you from one end of the bay to the other stopping by some beautiful places. Stop by the lighthouse and explore the sea from a vantage point, walk hand-in-hand through the narrow alleyways of Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea, and marvel together at the majestic beauty of the volcano. Then dive deep into a warm sea for an experience that you want to share with the one you love and cherish forever.
Nightlife – Looking for a little excitement for the evening? Santorini has some of the best parties in the world. Savor the bacchanalian nightlife at beach parties that start as early as the afternoon. All beaches start throbbing with life come evening but the best parties are definitely on the Perivolos. Discos, bars, live music, rock – you will find so much variety it will make you giddy.
In short, Santorini is a place worth seeing at least once in your lifetime, especially with the person you love most in the world. A honeymoon indeed is the perfect opportunity to share the experience.