Thanks for coming back to read up more about my Greek island vacation! After spending a few days in Milos and Folegandros, we hopped on another ferry towards the port of Santorini. I know you can find countless blogs on what to do in Santorini; however, today I’m going to focus mostly on off-the-beaten path places and activities that you should do in Santorini instead. Have fun reading and please let me know what else should be added to this list!
Where to Stay
We spent 4 nights in Caldera’s Majesty located in Imerovigli, south of the town of Oia. I’m SO happy that we chose to stay in this location because it’s not really where the tourists go. Most visitors typically stay in either Oia (for the famous sunsets) or Fira (for the nightlife and restaurant choices). but people tend to crowd it up and you have to fight for a good spot. Well let me tell you, friends, the sunsets in Imerovigli were just as beautiful! And with wayyyyy less people. Our room faced the ocean so we had first-row seats to the sunset every single night from our balcony. Stunning.
On top of the beautiful scenery, our host at Caldera’s Majesty was the best! Not only did he take the time to sit down with us and go through the best restaurants and places to go, he also gave us a cell phone to use for the week. Granted, it was an old flip phone and we had to re-learn how to not touch the screen all the time, but it was very useful because we could get in touch with him at any time.
Where to Go
Hike the path from Fira to Oia: There is a path that starts out in the town of Fira and goes all the way to Oia. The entire trail is around 9km long, but because we stayed in Imerovigli, our hike was closer to 7km. Make sure you start your day early, pack lots of water and wear comfortable shoes! It took my hubby and I 2 hours to get to Oia, but depending on how many breaks (aka pictures) you take and your fitness level, it could be more or less than 2 hours. You’ll have beautiful views of the caldera along the way as you’re hiking towards Oia. This is a MUST do if you’re in Santorini! And when you get to Oia, just take your time strolling through all the side streets. There are LOTS of tourists here (especially if you get here when the cruise ships are in), but it’s still cool to get lost in the town.
Skaros Rock: If you’re looking for some sort of physical activity, then climbing Skaros Rocks in Imerovigli is the thing for you! We could actually see Skaros Rock from our balcony, so it’s like it was taunting us to come hike it. It’s not a difficult climb until you almost get to the top. When it looks like you can’t go anymore, that’s when you know that you’re going the right way. In order to get all the way to the top, you’re going to have to do some rock scrambling and straight up climbing in order to get there. I would say it’s around a 10ft climb + another 6ft scrambling. If you’re afraid of heights, I wouldn’t recommend doing this. You’ll absolutely be rewarded with great views when you get up top though!
Don’t miss the church that’s at the bottom of the rocks too! When you hike back down, stay to the right in order to find the church. If you’re lucky like we were, there will be no one there when you go and you’ll have the whole place to yourself.
Vlychada Beach: A MUST-DO if you’re in Santorini!! This is at the south of the island and you will need a car to get here. It will look like you’re driving in the middle of a weird desert with really tall, lunar-looking rock formations (forgive my non-science-y description; rock studies were never my forte :/). Not a lot of people go here, so you will get all the space you want. When you first get on the beach, you’ll have the option of renting out beach chairs and umbrellas for 5 euros. If you’re like me and try to save money whenever you can, then keep walking. Once you pass all the beach chairs, you can lay out your towels on the ground for free! But be careful, walk too far and you’ll run into the nudists. If that’s your thing, then by all means! If it isn’t, then don’t venture too far out into this black sand beach. Either way, have a great time in this secluded area!
Akrotiri Archeological Site: If you’re a history buff, you will most likely appreciate the Akrotiri Archeological Site. There are buses that go here, or you can also rent a car to drive down to Akrotiri. We paired this outing along with Vlychada Beach since they’re both in the same town.
Churches: What else is there to say? There are literally churches everywhere you go in Santorini. While I didn’t go inside any of them (I’m not even sure if you can!), I did take plenty of pictures of them. Before I came here, any time I pictured Santorini in my head, this is exactly what I pictured. And boy, was I not disappointed!!!
Where to Eat
Taverna Tasos: Located in Imerovigli; if you veer off the path that goes from Fira to Oia, you will find this traditional Greek restaurant down the road.
Estia: Located in Imerovigli; we made this place our stomping grounds during our stay and came here not once, twice, but three times! We were sad to leave the owner on our last night! I don’t think we ever had a bad meal here.
Mezzo: Also located in Imerovigli; this was our “nice” night out option. Make sure you make reservations! We saw so many people walk up to the hostess stand hoping for a table, only to be turned away due to the long wait.
Kyprida: Found this restaurant in Oia; this was away from the main street and wasn’t too crowded when we went. Great place to take a break away from the tourists in Oia!
Theros Beach Bar: Located in Vlychada Beach. It looks like you’re driving towards nothing and then, just like an oasis, this bar comes up out of nowhere! This was such a cool and modern-looking bar; oh, and the food was great! You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas outside, or get cozy in one of their many comfortable lounge chairs. I’m pretty sure I saw multiple people take cat naps here.
The Good Heart: Located in Akrotiri; this was our final restaurant stop in Santorini before hopping on a plane. Another great place to watch the sunset! We happened to tip our waiter pretty well (I guess we were feeling happy and relaxed about the great vacation we just took), and the owner sure did notice! She gave us all sorts of free samples from their shop; jam, Vinsanto, pears, nuts, olives. We were so sad to leave!
Santorini can be really touristy, but if you hit up places on the southern part of the island, you can really get away from it all. I loved staying in Imerovigli because it’s quiet and peaceful, but if you’re looking to bar-hop at night, this might not be the best place for you. If you want to party, I think Fira is where it’s at. We had to make do with drinking wine on our balcony at night, which honestly was a pretty perfect way for us to end our vacation.
Ferry port: This port is an assault on the senses, that’s for sure! We were so lucky to have our ferry come in at the EXACT same time as another ferry, so there was double the amount of people trying to get off their ship, find a taxi or get on a bus. This is where I saw the biggest benefit from traveling with only a backpack. It made it that much easier to weave in and out of slow walkers and other confused passengers. Just be warned that this place is hectic!! Hold on to all your belongings and have a plan of attack before disembarking your ship.
Transportation: You should also look into renting some sort of transportation here, whether it’s a car, ATV or scooter. Taking the local buses is another low-cost option for you to get around town. The only thing with taking the bus is that you have to plan your day out according to their schedule and you’re at their mercy if a bus runs late or if it’s full. And if there are no bus stops, then you might miss out on a little town that you really wanted to go to. Having your own mode of transportation frees up your schedule and your flexibility so much more.
Airport: Also, know that when you go to the airport, the gate agents only check in one flight at a time. So if you get to the airport early but they’re not calling your flight yet, you’ll be waiting there along with everyone else. Once the agents are ready to check your flight, then there is a mad dash to get in line. So get your hustle on to get a good spot!
We could’ve spent at least another week in Santorini so we did the best we could with our limited time. What else did I miss? What was your favorite off-the-beaten path place that you went to?
Thank you so much for reading! Come back next week to read on about a few tips and tricks that I learned while traveling in Greece.
Au revoir and efharisto!