From sunsets in Oia, to wine tasting by the black sand beach, these are the incredible must-do’s in Santorini, Greece!
Located in the tiny main plaza in Pyrgos, Cava Alta is a lively restaurant serving Greek tapas. A welcome mini carafe of Greek raki is probably a good reason why Cava Alta is beloved by both locals and even travelers who are staying in Oia.
Arguably the most renowned restaurant in Santorini, Selene offers flavorful plates as edible art. Its signature presentation move is the pouring of colorful sauces that magnify each mouthwatering bite. There was a time in Greece when the focus on gastronomic cuisine was solely on the French-style of cooking, Selene was one of the first restaurants to highlight Santorini cuisine by gathering local: producers, chefs, and winemakers. Everything on the menu is a must-try!
Santorini Heights an eco-chic luxury retreat in Pyrgos. Setting itself apart from nearly 2,500 accommodations on the island, Santorini Heights has five villas that sit at 480 meters up on the mountain. Each one specifically designed to complement the natural landscape that surrounds it. Every morning, a custom breakfast is brought to the front door made from local ingredients. When hotels and Airbnb can go up to 1,000€/night in Oia, a tranquil night in Santorini Heights can be less than 200€/night.
STAY: Emporio neighborhood
Tourists will want to stay in Oia, and spend thousands of euros a night for the view of the Caldera. But real travelers will want to stay in off-the-beaten path Emporio. This village is a 15-minute car drive from Oia, but so charming with endless tiny streets. Rent an Airbnb and play with kitty cats!
EAT: Cafe The Old Barber Shop
This might just be our favorite hidden gem in all of Santorini – The Old Barbershop Cafe is snuggled between the alluring alleys of Emporio. This family-run business has a gorgeous terrace, serves up simple but delicious Greek tapas, and it makes the perfect morning cafe boost.
DO: Watch the sunset, BUT…
Most locals we met said it’s a tourist trap. You’ll learn that sunsets in Santorini is a REALLY big deal. During dusk, crowds begin to gather in Oia, around the Caldera to watch the sunsets and clap after the sun goes down. Streets are filled with crowds like sardines, and folks will over pay for restaurants seats by the window. If you were to do it once, buy a few beers and ciders, find a ledge then wait. Maybe you’ll also realize that sunsets in Santorini are just like any other sunsets around the world.
SHOP: Boutiques in Oia.
If Santorini is the only island you’ll be visiting, however, you can’t miss Oia’s alleyways that are lined with local boutiques.
DO: Rent a car!
Unless you want to negotiate prices with taxi drivers every time, renting a car is well worth it. To explore on your own and go wherever you want, especially when there are many beaches to check out.
DRINK: Gaia Wines
Pronounced, not Gaia but “yeah”, Gaia makes one of the best wines in Santorini. The island produces a small volume but fantastic white wines that are made from well-drained volcanic soil and vines that are ancient yet resistant to phylloxera (a plant louse that is a pest of vines.) Gaia is situated by the Black Sand Beach, you can do tastings of 4 wines for 8€, or 8 wines 15€. In addition to the most beautiful shade of rose, you can also try the Crazy Donkey beer here. The taste contains citrus, grapefruit, with a frothy body.
Photos: Wendy Hung
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