Santorini: the name by itself makes you travel. You can picture de beautiful white and blue villages hanging over the cristal clear aegean sea and smell the scents of freshly grilled fish. But behind the postcard views and the Instagram-worthy sceneries, how’s Santorini actually like?
First of all let’s set something straight: Santorini is gorgeous. Those pictures on Instagram don’t lie, they just don’t show the whole thing. When booking my stay in Santorini, I was both excited and really anxious. I’d been willing to go there for literally 10 years so I did my best to manage my own expectations in the weeks before visiting THE Greek island.
Where to stay: On The Rocks Santorini
I booked a 2-night stay at On The Rocks hotel in Imerovigli, between Fira and Oia, with view on the famous caldera. And that’s really where I recommend to stay! Forget about hotels in Fira and Oia, you won’t have the same value for money and the view isn’t better there.
The hotel itself is really gorgeous and so picturesque you feel like you’re walking into a painting! Noteworthy: with only 17 rooms and an outstanding service, the hotel is listed in the very closed Small Luxury Hotels circle. As its name states, On The Rocks is literally carved into the Santorini cliffs, respecting the island aesthetics with white walls, floors and stairs, and dashes of pink brought by amazing bougainvilleas. Every room has a terrace with breathtaking views on the caldera, where breakfast is served. Yes, you read that right,
room service terrace service is the standard treatment here.
The hotel is built around its irregular stone stairs, giving access to all the rooms, the pool and the bar area. But most importantly, the more you go down the stairs, the more you discover the hotel’s amazing caldera view.
When you see pictures of Santorini, it’s mostly Fira and Oia. Fira is the capital of Santorini and is located in the middle of the island. It’s a nice little town, but it is SO packed. I went there in the evening with the idea that I could come back the next morning to see it in the light of day. Once there, to be honest, all I wanted was to leave. I ate a very good pita gyros at Lucky’s Souvlakis and walked around the little town, but all I kept thinking was: is this even authentic? Or was it all built for the sake of tourism? The (cute) streets are full of shops selling crap to people grafted to their selfie stick, and you won’t find anything typical there. You got it right: I didn’t go back to Fira.
Oia is as gorgeous as they say, and even more. As you explore the narrow streets, you stumble upon breathtaking views of the blue domes and white houses. But you also come accross super matching couples and pimped women wearing heels (honestly, wtf? This city is all hills!) and dresses straight out of a Disney movie. Why? Well, for their shooting of course!
So my main recommendation for Oia would be to wake up super early (and by that I mean 5 or 6 am) and walk on the path from Fira to Oia. If you do the whole path, it should take you around 3 hours. I started my walk from On The Rocks, so Imerovigli, which makes the walk 30 minutes shorter. Once in Oia, the best view is from Oia Castle. That’s where you’ll see that Santorini skyline epic view, don’t miss it!
And that’s pretty much it. Of course I could talk to you about nice places to eat and the Red Beach or Black Beach but I won’t, because it’s all just so crowded that I don’t see the point when you have natural wonders as (or even more) beautiful on all the surrounding islands (yes Milos, I’m talking about you).
So my honest conclusion to this honest guide would be: don’t spend more than 2-3 nights on Santorini, but book a beautiful hotel with caldera view (On The Rocks really is the best option). That view is so gorgeous, and I mean GORGEOUS, that it’s pretty much all you need for 2 days. That, and a good book.
No time to read but need a summary? There you go:
- How to go: There’s a port and an airport on Santorini, it’s very well connected
- Where to sleep: On The Rocks hotel in Imerovigli
- When to go: October might be the best time to go, the temperatures are still very nice and the summer mass tourism is over
- What to visit: mainly Oia and Fira, although I pretty much hated Fira