I remember when I was six I used to religiously watch ‘Getaway’ (a travel show in Australia), every Thursday night. I told my mum that I wanted to be a presenter for the show after I saw an idyllic episode set in the Greek Islands that sparked my fascination with Europe. She looked at me with an air of concern, hoping I would aspire to be something more.
But the cascading piercing white buildings contrasting starkly against the sheer dark earthy cliffs. The unrelenting deep blue hues of the Aegean Sea, those famous sunsets that paint the sky magnificent fiery shades of orange and pink. They left an imprint on me. And 17 years on, a degree under my belt, and a decision to take a gap year later, Santorini has remained a priority on my travel bucket list.
I know first hand that often the images (whilst theoretically a thousand words) never truly capture the true beauty and essence of being physically present in the place. It is but a fraction of the sensory experience, the combination of the visual, the sounds, smells, and the tactile. Yet the images and videos of Santorini are overflowing with an air of romanticism and stillness, a calming quality that is evidently deeply intertwined into the island’s heart, and the ethos of its people.
It is no wonder the Ancient Greeks had such a penchant for all things mythical when they were surrounded by such beauty, something that can only be likened rather predictably to heaven on earth.
Santorini, actually known as Thera in Greek, is one of a chain of islands in the Cyclades archipelago within the Aegean Sea, the remnants of a tumultuous volcanic past. Today however, they are largely associated with utopian, sublime connotations of the ultimate holiday and island getaway.
A testament to her special nature is the millions upon millions who continue to flock here, hoping to bask in the gorgeous Grecian sun and soak up the magical ambience. Perhaps it is the large body of water, the seemingly never-ending sea moving onward and endlessly into the horizon as far as the eye can see that breathes the life and calm into the island’s very centre.
I am incredibly excited to satiate the wanderlust that has built up since I was a child. To get the Mediterranean salt in my hair, and the greek sand between my toes, and to embrace this slice of pristine earth.
So in honor of my impending trip to the island paradise, I am making a short but sweet list of the 5 most magical and quintessentially Greek things to get up to whilst there this European summer.
Stay in a traditional cave house
Alternatively known amongst most of us as those endearing little cave houses, these white buildings that dot the cliff edges, cascading unevenly in tiers down to meet the sea, have become an unofficial symbol of postcard perfect Santorini. There would be nothing more authentic than calling one of these home for a few nights. And even more so knowing they have largely been upgraded into some of the most luxurious of hotels around the globe by some of the best interior designers.
The crew at Luxe Nomad has hustled up great deals for some of the most gorgeous stays on the island, with up to 70% off every week from exclusive flash sale rates! Their 4 and 5 star luxury villas and hotels boast step pools within individual rooms, ornate refreshing white interiors, infinity pools overlooking the caldera and Aegean Sea (this one is at the Grace Hotel), all a far cry from the claustrophobic connotations of the original cave houses! Be sure to check them out for some amazing deals to really tie together the whole romantic and indulgent ambience of the island and most importantly, for some pristine Instagram shots that will make you the envy of all your friends and family.
2. ATV Ride
Whilst the roaring engine of an ATV might contrast the rather peaceful atmosphere of Santorini, I can imagine the life that a ride could breathe into you, wind blowing in your face, your skin gently lapping up the Mediterranean Sun. Previous travelers to Greece highly recommend hiring out an ATV or moped for a approx. 15 Euros and exploring the nooks and cranny’s of the island at your own pace and leisure. Perhaps stop by Amoudi Bay for some fresh local seafood and a quick dip at one of the many beaches, the route is yours to choose whilst revving it up on your vehicle. The alternative would be to hire a small car which for the more cautious of us, would do the job getting around just as well. Remember to be sensible, safe and lather on your coconut oil!
3. Local food
Try your hand at the local cuisine in the plethora of fancy of outdoor eating venues boasting those million dollar views with a loved one. This gorgeous spot is situated in the Andronis Boutique Hotel. Dishes such as aubergine imam, spanakopita and my favourite, Dolmadakia are delicious! As well as all that fresh seafood produce. Enjoy with a glass or two of local red and it should do the trick for your tastebuds!
The beauty of Santorini is it is multifaceted, home to beaches with sand that is white, black and even red. Take the time to explore some of the unique coastline that reflects the island’s volcanic past and present. The unique Red Beach (pictured above) is popular for its deep earthy cliffs contrasting against the clear blue of the Aegean. You can often purchase some fresh corn off the cob and a local beer from one of the local carts hanging nearby to kick back and relax on the sand.
Many a bucket list is adorned with this one. To watch the sun set over Santorini. And without a doubt, mine includes this as well. After a quick Google search, you quickly see why.
Famous spots to watch the sunset are the various bell towers of churches in Oia and Fira. Some even like to get onto a boat and watch the sunset at sea.
Sunset is my absolute favourite time of the day. I love pausing, and seeing the show the sky puts on for us, lighting up with the different shades of red, pink and yellow, as the sun calls it a day, dipping out of sight into the horizon, until it rises effortlessly to mark a new and beautiful day yet again.