As most will know from my white and blue pictures on Instagram, I recently visited Santorini. It was my first proper holiday in well over five years and it was completely incredible. Not only was it my first time in Greece, it was my first time being a bridesmaid. We all went for a week and made the absolute most of it. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the island was and how different it is to anywhere I’ve been before. I’d researched a lot of places online and these were my favourite must-see spots in Santorini.
Must-See Spots in Santorini
Based near the airport, Kamari is on the East of Santorini. The main strip of bars and restaurants are along the coast and the black pebble beach. It’s a much flatter part of the island if you’re not wanting to walk up hills every day to get to your hotel. Although there’s a lot of places to go to drink & eat, it’s much quieter and cheaper than in Oia or Thira. There are some ancient ruins nearby which you can get to via public bus for a couple of euros. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to visit but would love to go next time.
A big group of us stayed in Hotel 28, Kamari for the week and it was so beautiful, quiet and out the way from the main town. It’s not a large complex, but there are a lot of great amenities and is an adult-only resort. The pool is surrounded by loungers and there are big beanbags that you can have on the water. The bar isn’t too badly priced. The draught beer and wine are around €5 and you can get some lunch for about €12. They do an incredible steak and caramelised onion sandwich!
Our stay included breakfast each day, and although a little limited, it was lovely. There’s a choice of a few different hot items like scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon. They also have cold meats, cheeses, fruit, Greek yoghurt, cereals and spinach or feta pie.
It surprised me that the hotel was only 3 stars but I’m assuming this is down to what facilities they had. There’s no fixed restaurant, only the pool bar with light lunches and there’s no gym on site. If you stay, you can use the facilities over at their sister resort though which is about a 10-15 minute walk away on the beach.
After arriving early afternoon and spending our first day by the pool, Sabbia Nera Trattoria was the first restaurant we tried in Kamari. It’s on the main strip on the seafront and is an Italian restaurant that infuses the flavours of Santorini into their dishes. I adore seafood, especially when it’s so fresh so I went with a calamari dish. It was baked and came with a lemon sauce and salad so, in my naivety, I ordered potatoes on the side. When it arrived, the calamari was huge! I could barely finish that let alone the extras. It was only around €14 so incredibly well priced, I don’t think you could get anything close to that in the UK. The drinks are also really reasonably priced, and they loved giving out free shots! Something to bear in mind is that if you just want house wine, it’s cheaper by the glass than by the bottle.
Myself, the other bridesmaids and Leah when to King’s Cafe Restaurant later in the week for some lunch. Again, it was right on the seafront and actually had a private beach that was for people using the restaurant and bar. I was yet to have a Greek salad so went for a Santorini style one which came with anchovies and was incredible. We also shared some halloumi with roast aubergines and tomatoes. No matter how much I’ve tried, you really can’t beat how fresh they are here, back in the UK. They had some pretty amazing cocktails too and they were around €10-12 but so good and quite big.
Oia is where you will find the famous ‘three domes’. Despite the amount of research I did before going, I didn’t realise that there were only three main domes that are always photographed. I think I had assumed that the whole island had them but they don’t! Oia is on the North Side of the island and was at the top of my bucket list. I really wanted to walk from Thira to Oia but time and heat got in the way. One thing I’ll say is that the bus system is half decent in Santorini so if you want to keep costs down, use the bus for €1.80 a time.
So the obvious; one of my biggest must-see spots in Santorini was the gorgeous blue domes. We walked up and down the main streets but they were nowhere to be seen. We saw a few people taking some pictures of the view and some bells and alas, we walked around the corner and there they were! If I had known they weren’t everywhere, would have done a quick Google search, we could have gone to see them straight away.
The area around them is mainly residential or private balconies so I couldn’t get quite that ‘Instagram perfect’ shot that I’d seen online. You can get some really nice ones though that do just the job perfectly. If you go to the left instead of the right where the domes are, you can get some gorgeous shots of the side of the island. It’s a shame we didn’t stay past sunset that day to get some nice pictures of the town all lit up.
The day we went to Oia felt like one of the hottest at about 29C. This could have just been because we were walking around site-seeing and it was just after midday though. Just after lunchtime, we all met up at a restaurant called 218 Degrees, which is situated right on the cliff in the middle of Oia. The view there was incredible and the food was delicious. I’ve been really surprised by the price of meals in Santorini, it has been much more affordable than I thought. As it was hot, I decided to stick with a bulger wheat salad and then got a side of calamari in an oily dressing which hit the spot perfectly.
Thira is the main town on the West of the island. It’s where all the buses embark from if you’re taking advantage of cheaper travel whilst you’re there. It has gorgeous winding streets, lots of bars (cheap and expensive), restaurants and plenty extra to see and do. We went on a sunset boat cruise from here and it’s where you see the famous donkeys travelling up and down the side of the cliffs. I really didn’t like the idea of this as I’d seen online that they weren’t treated well so we opted for a cable car down to the bay. It is walkable but it’s quite far and steep in the heat.
Out of everything we did, the boat trip was one of the best excursions we did. You’re able to see four must-see spots in Santorini in one fell swoop. I’m not sure what company was used for ours but there are lots available on TripAdvisor or elsewhere. We had a private boat as there were more than 20 of us which was much better. It meant we could stay in places longer and could leave our belongings onboard when we were getting off to site see.
Santorini Caldera/Nea Kameni
First on our voyage was the Santorini Caldera. This is the small ‘island’ you can see from all of the towns on the Westside. There’s a walk you can do that’s only a few Euros that goes to the centre. The caldera is a submerged volcano that was originally there but collapsed centuries below. We thought it was just a small walk up to a Greek flag that we could see but we were wrong and ill-equipped! It took us around 30-40 minutes up to the crater in the middle and about 20 minutes walk back down. Make sure you’re wearing decent shoes, Birkenstock really don’t cut it with the stony sand in parts! Bring some water too, it gets very hot as you’re walking a gradual climb.
We also visited the hot springs just off the other smaller island of Santorini; Palea Kameni. If you’re expecting clear, hot waters with soothing properties, it’s not quite as spa-like. We stopped just outside of the springs as it’s too shallow for boats. After swimming in the freezing cold to the springs, you find pockets of really hot parts. The water is muddy and slightly orange so be aware if you’re wearing light coloured swimwear. I wore the stripey one that you saw in this post. It’s a little tinged on the edges on the inside where it was against the skin but most has come out.
This is the other larger island near Santorini and is a lot less touristy. It’s where a lot of the locals live and was much more rural than the main island. Stopping off for about thirty minutes, we took advantage of the ice cream stall just off the harbour and had a very short walk. Most of the restaurants and bars were closing which was surprising as it was only around 8 pm but it’s much quieter there. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re doing a boat trip. I would have loved to explore a bit more as we only got to have a wander on the front.
The number one thing that should be on everyone’s must-see spots in Santorini is watching the sunset. We were lucky enough to do this during our boat tour in the middle of the sea. It was completely stunning and matched the sunsets I love in Florida. Once it starts to get low, it goes down very quickly so make sure you get a good spot if you’re watching it from a bar or similar. Get to a spot right on the cliff front to see it in all its glory and get those beautiful orange pictures. This doesn’t have to be in Thera, you can get some great views all down the coast from Oia.
If you’re looking for somewhere to go out for good drinks, head to Tango. A little more on the expensive side with cocktails around €12-18, the views make up for it! We got there around 10 pm and the sun was just setting and it was fairly quiet. It became more of a club as it got later but we headed back to our hotels around 11 pm. If you want something fancier for an evening, it was definitely a lot nicer than the average bar. They make a damn good espresso martini too!
Situated between Oia and Thera, it’s perfect if you want easy access to both without being too far. It’s one of the towns you go through on the walk I have already mentioned. With so many restaurants, hotels and villas here, it’s bizarre how quiet it felt. Try and stay as close to the edge of the island to get the best view of the sunset.
Mike and Leah got married at Le Ciel; a stunning, traditional white venue in Imerovigli. Although it’s not really open apart from for hiring, I would strongly recommend getting over to this side of the island. There’s actually a path going behind that’s open to the public and is one of the must-see spots in Santorini to watch the sunset from. You might even get to peak at a wedding going on!
Everything about the afternoon and evening was incredible! They got married outside under the picturesque gazebo overlooking the caldera on the terrace. The details that had gone into the day were perfect and the day went smoothly with no hick-ups. The food was amazing and the sunset was beautiful, especially as the main room has a glass wall so you can watch.
Dome Resort Santorini
For the night before the wedding, Leah, the other bridesmaids and I all stayed at Dome Resort as it was pretty much opposite Le Ciel. We had a private villa with our own pool and it overlooked the other side of the island. The scenery was beautiful and overlooked the sea, although we were on the wrong side to see the sunset. Everything inside was carved out of the shape of the building and simply was a one of a kind experience. The main part of the resort had an infinity pool so we obviously took advantage of this for some photos the morning before the wedding.
For Leah’s last night as a ‘Miss’, we went to Infinity Restaurant which was a little further down the road. The setting was amazing and for most of the night, we had private dining. You had to pre-book the restaurant and couldn’t just walk in whilst passing by. It looked over the caldera and we watched the sunset whilst eating dinner. This is one of the top things on my must-see spots in Santorini purely because it was a unique experience.
The food was incredible. Starting with a chef special of some muscles in a gorgeous dressing. I continued my obsession with lamb for my main course. I can honestly say, it was one of the best lamb shanks I’ve ever had. The meat fell off the bone and it was accompanied by some creamed potatoes with a rosemary gravy.
A little bit of a longer post than usual but I hope you’ve gained a little insight into my must-see spots in Santorini. There really is so much to see on this beautiful island and I didn’t even get to see half of the towns. I know a lot of people have recommended renting quad bikes which I’d definitely love to do next time if I get to go back.