Santorini is a Greek island made of dreams and technically speaking volcanic rock. It is a top honeymoon/wedding destination and to be quite honest; I can’t blame anyone for having their special day on the island. Santorini is incredibly picturesque. But for those of us who are not planning on a wedding or honeymoon anytime soon, Santorini is also a great European destination that allows you to take in spectacular sunsets, soak up the rays on their many beaches, eat amazing Mediterranean food and get sick off the Greek version of moonshine, ouzo. This Greek island is small enough that you can get from one side to the other but large enough to keep you from feeling cramped. I’ve visited Santorini 4 times, twice by myself and twice with friends, and I could probably visit 40 more without ever getting bored. I’ve come up with what I feel is the perfect way to spend a day in Santorini if you are looking to visit the island, but you are doing island hopping of other Greek islands or if it’s merely a layover. I’ve got you covered.
ATVs are a popular mode of transportation on the island. Rent an ATV in Fira which is the Old Town and centrally located. It's a great starting point.
It is around 40 minutes away on the ATV and you will find a lighthouse with spectacular views. There isn't much to do at the lighthouse besides take in the view and snap some photos while you are there. After spending about 20 minutes at the light house, hop back onto the ATV and head to the closest beach near by which is the white beach. It is easily accessible and there are plenty of lounge chairs available to rent.
The red sand beach doesn’t seem like much when you first arrive at the parking lot. There are a few small food vendors and some artists selling jewelry near the parking lot and when you look around the “beach” looks underwhelming until you realize that the actual red sand beach is a small hike away. I would suggest bringing tennis shoes along because the walk can be a little rough, especially for someone in flip flops (thongs) like I was. Once you begin your hike you start to notice the landscape change and the dirt becomes red, hint the name. As you come to the final, descend to the beach to see a huge cliff that looks like it has been carved out. The beach is directly in front of the cliff, and the view is simply amazing.
Perissa is home to the famous black beach, rightfully named because the sand is black and extremely hot. Be sure to pack flip flops to walk across the hot, black sand. Perissa has a very resort-type feel to it in the fact that there are lounge chairs everywhere and there are plenty of restaurants lined up one after another. I decided to grab a quick bite to eat that I could take with me on the beach. You can also order food on the beach if you decide to rent a lounge chair and they will bring it to you. Renting a chair is 5 euros, but you always have the option of laying your towel on a free area on the beach.
Oia is home to the Greek sunsets that are posted all over the internet, and it is the first thing that pops up when you google search Santorini. Every evening hundreds, upon hundreds of people (tourists), head to Oia to take in one of the best island sunsets. I suggest googling the time of the sunset for that day and getting there several hours before. Finding a place to park on that side of the island before sunset is incredibly tricky, and having an ATV comes in handy. There are plenty of places to stand to watch the sunset but just as the parking lots get full quickly, so do the public areas to stand. Get there early and enjoy a walk around Oia since there are heaps of lovely shops that sell anything from paintings to jewlery to clothing. There are also lots of cute hotels and resorts on the walk to the end where the sunset occurs. A lot of the more expensive hotels are on this side of the island, and you can see how some rooms have private pools that light up at night. If you’re like me and you can’t afford that life, but you like to plan ahead for when you will be able to, take a while to write down some of the names of the places you wish to stay in for future trips.
At this point, most people would call it a night and head home or get back on their cruise ship, but if you are staying in Fira (which I suggest) then know that it has a very lively nightlife. Grab a gyro and walk around the city or step into one of the many bars in the town. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to check out if you want to explore the late-night scene. I suggest Two Brothers Bar if you are staying on the island and looking for a wild night out. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
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