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Santorini: Where Every Day is Leg Day Part II

A few things to know about Santorini.


1) Most of the major tourist villages (where you take photos like the one below) are set up high on the top of cliffs.  To access the water, you can take a cable car in Fira or walk down over 170 steps in Oia.  Because these are cliff towns, you won’t have the kind of beach experience you might expect from an island holiday.  


famous viewpoint of blue domed churches of Santorini
The famous viewpoint of Santorini

2) You cannot drink the tap water.  I’ve traveled to many places where it’s like this - it’s annoying more than anything else, especially for brushing your teeth (or if you recently got Invisalign).


3) You cannot flush toilet paper; you put it in a waste bin next to the toilet.  Apparently all over Greece the pipes are too small to support flushing toilet paper.  While this isn’t something I enjoy, everywhere we stayed included daily housekeeping or we took trash to nearby dumpsters to minimize smell and overall grossness.  Restaurant bathrooms were an entirely different story…


Setting those things aside, I enjoyed the food in Greece as much as anywhere I’ve visited.  It’s easy and relatively inexpensive to get fresh fish daily.  Their olive oil and feta is in a league of its own.  And the Greek salads are abundant, healthy, and delicious.    


Rather than staying on Santorini, I would organize an island hopping boat cruise or sailing trip.  If you don’t have enough people for that and do want to spend a few days on Santorini, here are my recommendations.


Lodging: Village of Megalochori


Megalochori is a small village on Santorini and a perfect place to stay if you want some rest and relaxation, delicious food, and friendly people.  At the top of the main road is the Family Bakery that offers a great selection of sweet and savory baked goods, along with some other essentials for your stay like bottled water.  All of the cab drivers were familiar with this bakery and that was where our tour drivers and taxi drivers picked us up and dropped us off.


Restaurants and Experiences in Megalochori


Raki - excellent Fava, a specialty of Santorini


Feggera - great roof deck and delicious fish


Gavalas Winery - sample the whites and reds at one of Santorini’s oldest producers 


Activity: The Fira to Oia Hike

 

It’s a long and hilly walk no matter what direction you go, and you’ll need a hat and lots of sunblock as shady spots are rare.  We chose the Fira to Oia direction and even though it’s not the best marked path I’ve ever walked on, it was easy enough to figure out.  We started at 9am to try to be done before the worst heat of the day.  If you don’t want to go early, go later in the day.


a woman photographed at a viewpoint on the walk from Fira to Oia in Santorini
On the hike from Fira to Oia (take a hat!!)

For more information on this walk, here is a website I used for reference.


The bonus to walking the Fira to Oia direction is that you can end with lunch at the Armeni Fish Tavern.  Once you arrive in Oia, you make your way down a set of 170+ stairs near the castle to Ammoudi Bay.  From Ammoudi Bay, Armeni’s boat will pick you up and take you to the restaurant.  Once seated, they’ll bring around a cooler of fresh fish and let you pick what you want.  The food was incredible and the staff were friendly and fun.  The hike/Armeni lunch was my favorite day on Santorini.


the armeni Fish tavern restaurant in Santorini, Greece
Armeni Fish Tavern - a must in Santorini

Basalt was a great place once you’re down at Ammoudi Bay to stop for a drink and rest before the boat picked us up.  Taxis can also reach Ammoudi Bay, so we scheduled a taxi ride after lunch because going back up the 170+ stairs was not a thing that was happening after a 6 mile hilly trek.


view of Ammoudi Bay from the Basalt restaurant in Santorini
Drinks at Basalt in Ammoudi Bay

Island Tour: Highlights of Santorini


If you only have one day on the island (perhaps you’re arriving via a large cruise ship), I would highly recommend the half day sightseeing tour we took.  It’s a small island and they were able to cover a lot of ground and show us the major sights.  It also included a wine tasting at Karamolegos Winery.


And perhaps the best thing about Santorini? Abundant, friendly street cats to hang out with!


a cat walking up to a woman

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