Destination of the Week: Santorini
If we didn’t actually know it was a real destination, Santorini would be a mythical island designed for fairy-tales alone. Sitting in the middle of the sparkling Aegean, it’s best known for white-washed houses tumbling towards the sea, spectacular volcanic rocks and orange sunsets reflecting on soaring cliffs. Minoan sites, exquisite wineries, an artistic culture and fine dining experiences ensure its place at the top of the romance list and the beaches will linger in your memory for life.
What to do
The postcard image of Santorini comes to life in the village of Oia, with whitewashed houses, blue shutters and red flowers cascading towards narrow streets. When you explore Oia, have your camera ready for some of the most breathtaking ocean views you’re ever likely to see.
To plunge into the rich history of the island, visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira and the Archaeological Museum. Discover the prehistoric city of Akrotiri, the village of Emporio in the heart of Santorini and explore the volcanic hot springs.
Take a donkey ride in Fira, go on a winery tour to sample reds, rosé and whites and launch on a sailing tour to appreciate the views from the middle of the indigo Aegean. To savour the spectacular Santorini sunsets, head to the Oia Castle, Faros or Vlihada beach before dining out under the stars on fresh, succulent produce.
Where to stay
You’re in for a paradise island treat with accommodation options in Santorini. Stay in a traditional cave house, an opulent resort or a range of hotels for families, couples, singles and groups to suit any budget.
Aroma Suites (£££)
You can lap up the Aegean views from your own, traditionally decorated room at the Aroma Suites. Located in the centre of Fira, near the old cathedral church, the boutique-style hotel provides a relaxing, luxurious escape with private balconies simply made for romantic sunsets.
Atlantis Beach Villa (££)
Right on the black sands of Perivolos Beach, the Atlantis Beach Villa is quiet, yet within walking distance of restaurants, bars, taverns and Santorini’s Water Park, which is great news for the kids. The hotel offers a pool with a separate children’s area, sunbeds, a bar, babysitting services and 24-hour reception.
Santorini Youth Hostel (£)
Close to the heart of Fira, the Santorini Youth Hostel has everything you need at budget prices, including a pool, sunbeds, a self-service restaurant and a snack bar. As an added bonus, there’s even a hot tub and a fitness centre! There’s a variety of rooms to choose from, including separate male and female dorms.
Where to eat
No matter where you choose to eat in Santorini, there’ll be wine and ouzo, if you so choose. All your favourite Greek dishes will taste even better on the island, including dolmades, mezedes, saganaki and gyros. For seafood lovers, get ready to completely over-indulge in the fresh catch of the day.
You can embark on cooking lessons with the fashionable Selene brand, or visit the restaurant for a taste of the island’s culture, with views on the outdoor terrace. Try Shrimp Saganaki, Aegean Codfish or Sea Bass with Sea Urchin Risotto.
Mama’s House (££)
Following the traditional steps and using fresh, local produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mama’s House delivers for the whole family, right near the main square in Fira. Try Mama’s Stuffed Eggplant Nests, Seafood Spaghetti and home-made Panakota.
Lolita’s Gelato (£)
There’s an unwritten rule, when you’re on an island holiday, that you can eat gelato for any meal, at any time of the day. When you’re exploring Oia, visit Lolita’s Gelato and indulge in unique flavours using fresh milk, fruits and nuts to tantalise your taste buds.
Featured image source: (c) istock/thinkstock