I have to say I didn’t love Santorini the way I loved Mykonos. Sure it’s beautiful but it is SO touristy. I also missed the fun, upbeat vibes from Mykonos and except for one restaurant – Selene – the amazing food. The towns in Santorini are nice to roam around and walk through (I loved the frozen Greek yogurt!), but the shops are sooo touristy (Mykonos on the other hand had amazing shopping), which turned out to be a serious problem since Vueling managed to lose our suitcases AGAIN! I literally had to buy a few bikinis because I couldn’t find underwear.
With that said I would recommend staying at the gorgeous Iconic Santorini which is close enough to one of the main towns, Fira, that you could walk but far away enough that you don’t feel stuck in a tourist trap. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel; both pictures above were taken there. Note that like all hotels in Santorini there are no elevators and this one because of its gorgeous views has a lot of stairs. If Iconic is out of your budget, checkout Aressana. It’s on a hill and literally a one-minute walk into the town of Fira. They have sliding prices so if you wait until last minute to book and they still have rooms, you will get them very cheaply! Note, however, that while the hotel is nice enough you won’t get the small touches – like mouthwatering breakfast – that you’ll get a place like Iconic. You also won’t get any nice views.
Even if you’re staying at a budget hotel with no views, however, since the island is so beautiful, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get great images and enjoy a beautiful scenery.
I would avoid eating at any of the town restaurants. The food is bad and you will get ripped off. Instead look for restaurants outside of the main towns. If I can single out one that is a MUST it’s undoubtedly Selene. Located in Pyrgos it’s a quiet oasis with some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I’m not sure how they don’t have a Michelin star. Even dishes that sounded a bit odd – like vegetable desserts – were unbelievable. Nothing was basic and the mix of textures in every dish left a forever memory. The above image was a salad that included carob “dirt” bread! As well as a garlic mayonnaise that was worth every last calorie.
It’s also worth noting that everything Selene uses to make their dishes is local, which adds to their unique offering given the volcanic environment from which they source their produce. The above image is of their vegetable desserts. Trust when I say that even arugula sorbet can be delicious.
The reason it’s worth investing in a great hotel here is because the beaches aren’t that amazing to relax. They’re beautiful – the above image was shot at the Red Beach – but many are rocky and they’re usually very crowded. I would recommend booking a boat and doing a 5-hour trip to checkout the island. Since you don’t actually get off the boat on most tours – besides to swim – the Red Beach is the only one I think is worth taking a car to see (not to bathe, but just for the amazing pictures you’ll get).
Like I said, while Santorini was too touristy for my taste, you can’t deny the gorgeous views at every turn.