On Instagram, behind a filter, we see the vivid blue and flawless white churches that lie in the lost city of Santorini – but is it everything the serene photos promise?
As I looked over from the clifftop, I realised I’d never been to a place quite so perfect. I was drowning in euphoria.
One of 2018’s top luxury destinations, Santorini is currently leading on the list of most photographed places in the world, with thousands of snap-happy tourists going to Greece to see its beauty.
I was lucky enough to go last month, when the weather was warm and the swarm of summer tourists were yet to fly out.
We stayed in Oia, famous for the caldera, created after a disastrous volcanic eruption almost 2,000,000 years ago.
The result was devastatingly beautiful, as although it ended the city’s civilization – it created an alien paradise which will take your breath away.
After the volcano, Santorini became known as the ‘lost city’; almost a hidden wonder of the world.
Years later, people began to build on the steep cliff the volcano created – with views so beautiful you’ll be lost for words.
When I turned around to see the view for the first time, my heart sank into my chest and my eyes almost filled with tears – I couldn’t believe a place like this existed – and I was lucky enough to see it.
As I walked through the narrow village, I got a real sense of how luxurious Santorini really is. Packed with designer shops and 5* suites, there’s no shortage of cash here.
It’s restaurants aplenty, too, serving incredible seafood and steaks, along with traditional Greek cuisine.
Tip: Head through the cobbled side streets for quieter, more traditional tavernas
Whilst staying in Oia, we dined at the Canavas Oia Suites, a luxury boutique hotel, nestled into the edge of the cliff boasting the village’s most spectacular views.
The hotel’s ‘Petra’ restaurant was worthy of a Michelin star. Serving a fine dining menu and the world’s most expensive champagne – this was a real treat – and something that most of us could only ever dream of.
Tip: Don’t wear high heels, you’ll regret it. There are SO many steps and cobbles. You will fall – like me.
After enjoying an impeccable dinner, we went on the search for some late night fun.
If you’re looking for nightlife, you probably aren’t going to find much in Oia. There’s one late night bar called Meteor, which stays open until around 2am and plays some great music.
However, the booze is flowing in Fira. Located around 30 minutes from Oia, you’ll find an array of bars, clubs, and pubs to suit all ages – open until around 4am.
Murphy’s Irish bar is the place to go to watch the football, and just around the corner you’ll find a row of night clubs, perfect for those who love to party.
If you want to see Fira by day, I recommend walking from Oia. It’s not for the faint hearted – as it’s a seven mile hike- but I promise you the views you’ll see on the way are worth every step. Even if you are bright red and sweating you’re back out.
It’s an easy route to follow and you’ll see dozens of tourists taking the same trip. There’s a small kiosk around three miles in, so you can stop and get a drink if you need to.
Tip – Don’t do it with a hangover, don’t wear white trainers, and remember to take loads of water.
When you arrive in Fira during the day, you’ll notice it’s a lot more commercial than Oia – you’ll spot the McDonald’s straight away.
There’s a really nice Greek restaurant tucked away up some stairs in the centre. It’s called Parea Tavern and they do the most amazing seafood.
They even have an in-house ‘Fish Doctor’ who will debone your fish with medical precision. Take a look.
Tip: Don’t go to a Chinese restaurant called Fu Li Hua. We waited over one hour and thirty minutes to be served what can only be described as a spicy oil soup.
In Fira, you can walk down to the port where you’ll find dozens of water taxis and tour boats. From here, you can hop on and take a tour of the volcano – and it’s pretty amazing.
There are hundreds of stairs, but, if you don’t fancy the walk you can take a cable car to save your feet.
On the way down, you’ll see a lot of tourists taking a donkey ride, which personally offended me – and I’m by no means an animal rights activist.
The animals looked distressed, and the overweight Greek men didn’t really have control of them – so be mindful of a stampede.
Tip: The queue for the cable cars is really long. If I were you, I’d just embrace the walk.
When you do eventually reach the bottom, the views are sublime, overwhelming almost, and you’ll feel lost in an ocean of magic.
If you’re looking for even more adventure, you can get a water taxi to the volcano and walk to the top. You can even swim in the hot springs that lie beneath.
There’s plenty more to do in Santorini, from wine tasting to scuba diving, but I feel it’s really a place to unwind and forget the stresses of everyday life.
Whilst there, my worries vanished, I was simply entwined in enchantment.
The days spent sitting by the edge of the cliff, enjoying a cold beer in the sunshine were my favourites. But maybe I’m just a simple girl who enjoys the simple pleasures.
Santorini is a place of luxury – but in my opinion, money can’t buy the experience you’ll get whilst your there.
Make every moment count.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.