I’m sitting at my desk, daydreaming about going on holiday. Not a rarity, seeing as I work at a holiday company and 90% of my emails are from clients that have just booked to jet off to an exotic location.
In the summer of 2016 I finally visited the island I’ve always dreamed of: Santorini. Thanks to Mumma Mia, it has been my lifelong dream (since 2008) to visit. I don’t know why I haven’t been, to be completely honest – maybe lack of money, maybe lack of time, maybe lack of boyfriend (it’s the most romantic place in the world, no?).
But anyway, I finally had money, time, and a boyfriend. All prerequisites. And during our lifelong holiday in Greece, we took a weeks break visit Santorini (and Rome and Athens, but those are for another day).
We stayed in a few places, partly to see everywhere, partly due to indecisiveness. Mostly we stayed in Air BnBs. I don’t know about other people’s experience with them, but I have had only positive and inexpensive. I think it’s a fantastic idea and makes travelling actually affordable.
For the first few nights we stayed in Karterados, which is only a 5 minute walk from Fira (Thira – the island seems undecided on spelling). We booked it as it was a less expensive area, not really knowing where it would be or how well it was linked.
On our first evening, we went for a wonder in hope of finding somewhere for dinner. We walked up an old cobbled street, filled with little market stalls and tourist trinket shops (I was already in my element, it reminded me of my favourite place – Kalkan, Turkey). As we came up the hill, we could see a faint orange glow sneaking over the hill.
Neither of us had any idea that we had actually stumbled across Fira, and one of the best sunsets on the island. We had just missed the sun disappearing into the horizon, but at least now we knew when we had to be there the next day!
The next evening we managed to snag the best spot in PK Cocktail Bar and watched the breathtaking sunset.
I think Fira is my favourite and the most beautiful town on the island. Everyone says Oia is the best, but I loved all the little shops and bars all in one place in Fira. Oia is much more spread out over the cliffs, which is beautiful, but I preferred the centrality of Fira.
After a couple days we moved on from Karterados to a hotel in Mesaria. If you want to visit Santorini, I advise browsing and finding any hotel or Air BnB that suits you. Apart from this hotel. It was an absolute find. It’s called Markizinis Suites and is located in Mesaria. It isn’t the best location – you can’t see the coast from the hotel, but it is walking distance. The staff are absolutely fantastic and breakfast is heaven on earth. The rooms are pretty lovely too.
But it’s best kept secret is its sister hotels. As soon as we arrived, our host drove us to the two sister hotels in the cyclades. They are out of this world, and the sort of hotel I (a recovering seasonaire, attempting to rent in London) can only dream of.
We visited Volcano Views and Petit Palace and were treated like we were guests of the hotels. We stayed there all day, using the beautiful pool, drinking cocktails, before showering using their facilities and eating dinner there. The sunset was spectacular. It was completely uninterrupted and the sun dropped straight into the sea.
We only stayed in the hotel one night, but the next day out amazing host drove us down to the black beaches (after driving us to our next hotel, waiting for us to check in, before carrying our bags to our new room) in Kamari. Kamari is much more traditionally touristy. To sit anywhere on a sun lounger you have to either pay or buy a cocktail (not really a problem) and there are restaurants all along the strip, selling whatever you want to eat. However I don’t think the tourists have ruined the place. Somehow Santorini has remained stunning and traditional and beautiful (how many times do you think I can say it??).
The area reminded me of Lanzarote – okay yes, a lot more classy, but with the black beaches and the mountainous backdrop. Kamari was lovely and definitely a must visit. It has a very different tone to the rest of the island, but it’s a fun place and great for some trinket shopping and cocktails on the beach.
For our last day we headed up to Oia. All the reviews say you have to see the sunset from Oia, but after the spectacular views in Petit Palace which simpy could not be beaten (and an evening playing GBBO drinking games) we weren’t too fussed.
So we meandered through the cliffs (again, stunning – I’m running out of words to say how amazing it was) and found a free pool and club, grabbed a sun lounger and fell asleep. A perfect last day to a flawless holiday.
We then had to spend 8 hours in Athens airport before heading to Rome, but I don’t like to remember that time quite so much.
All in all, Santorini blew me away. I was worried before I went that I had built it up in my mind and imagined this amazing place that couldn’t live up to my expectations. But somehow it managed to blow all my expectations out the water. I still have so many places I haven’t been to and I want to visit, and yet, Santorini is still on my list to go back to. It is my go to daydream holiday.