Travel Greece: The Greek Island of Santorini

Blue domes. Pristine white buildings. Endless vistas and sunsets.  All of this typifies our vision of the 6,000 Greek Isles.

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However, only about 227 are inhabited. Out of the islands that form part of the Greek Archipelago, no island is more iconic than Santorini.

I’m very lucky I’ve visited Santorini three times in the last 40 years. I’ve seen the island change, but like most things in Greece, it hasn’t changed much at all. Back in the day, the most common way to travel from Athens to the islands was by a long and slow-moving ferry.

As part of our epic 25th Wedding Anniversary trip, we took our adult children to Greece. After our two-day stop in Athens, we took a super quick (and super early!) Olympic Air flight to Santorini. We booked our flights online about two months before our trip. It was easy and not that expensive.

From Thira to Oia, Santorini Island, Greece.

From Thira to Oia, Santorini Island, Greece.

We also booked an apartment for our four-night stay on the island. We used and had no problems at all with our reservation using this site. Finding a place that would accommodate four adults limited our choices — this is a huge inconvenience throughout Europe — but we found a reasonably priced place in a great location within walking distance of Oia.

Atlántida's Villas

Atlántida’s Villas

Thira, or Fira, is the major city on the island and the port of call for cruise ships. This is where you’ll find the famous donkeys hauling tourists up a steep and winding mountain side. I did this the first two times I went to Santorini, and that was enough for my b… back!

Donkey ride to Fira, Santorini

Donkey ride to Fira, Santorini

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The quaint cobbled stoned and narrow walkways in Thira are lined with shops and restaurants that take you back to a simpler time.

Shops along the narrow walkways of Fira, Santorini

Shops along the narrow walkways of Fira, Santorini


But this feeling is shattered by the constant noise and presence of 21st Century ATVs you can rent to get around; vehicles  like quads and dune buggies constantly roar by.

We didn’t want to stay in this area because it’s overrun by tourism. The charm of the island is lost here. We chose to stay in Oia because this is where the iconic blue-domed homes and famous sunsets are best appreciated (besides, watching “Endless Summer” as a young girl is seared in my mind’s eye forever!).

Oia is about 30 minutes from Thira, and about 45 minutes from the airport. After landing in Santorini, we took a cab to our apartment. Taxi drivers have very fiery tempers, so be sure to agree on a price before taking one because the meters don’t seem to run in the cabs out there.

We settled into our apartment at the Atlantida Villas. Our basic (not luxurious by any means) lodging included a kitchen, a sitting area with a small dining table, one bathroom, a two-bed loft, a bedroom, and a balcony overlooking the Caldera. The location was good, and the place was simply utilitarian.

Loft at Atlántida Villas, Oia, Santorini

Loft at Atlántida Villas, Oia, Santorini


Atlantida Villas, Oia, Santorini

Atlantida Villas, Oia, Santorini

We had lunch across the street from the Villas at a typical family-owned Greek taverna. We started off our stay in Santorini with a traditional complimentary drink from the owners called Ouzo. OOPA!

Oopa! This means cheers in Greek!

Oopa! This means cheers in Greek!

The weather in May is very nice. It’s hot but not suffocating. After lunch, we followed the well-traveled walking path to Oia. Half of the way is a dirt and rocky road, and the other half is a paved walking path.

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Hotels are more expensive in Oia than in Fira. One of the reasons is that Oia has become a popular wedding destination because it’s simply stunning!

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Travelers from all over the world come to see this magical place, and you can see young couples in wedding attire posing for their (Instagram?) photos all over town.

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The shops are as unique as the city. Shoes are a very popular item to purchase in Greece. Of course, I bought a pair of sandals. You can even order a pair and have it made right in front of you!

Hand made shoes in Greece

Hand made shoes in Greece

One of our favorite shops was this bookstore. It holds some incredible first-edition books by Hemingway and other well-known authors.

Bookstore in Oia, Santorini

Bookstore in Oia, Santorini


First edition Hemmingway book.

First edition Hemmingway book.

We also visited Kamari beach, one of the more popular beaches in Santorini. It’s covered in volcanic rock!

Kamari Beach, Santorini

Kamari Beach, Santorini

Our favorite restaurant in Oia was La Scala. It’s location at the top of the city gave way to these breathtaking views!


Valle Family La Scala Oia Santorini

Valle Family La Scala Oia Santorini

They even played “Dancing Queen” for us while we dined here. Too funny!

We left the best for last. Oia is famous for the spectacular sunsets. People flock to Oia not only to see the sun set, but to witness the throngs of people waiting for the sun’s final performance of the day.

People waiting for the sunset in Oia Santorini

People waiting for the sunset in Oia Santorini

On our final evening in Oia, we decided to watch the sun peek through the clouds from the comfort of a restaurant that also gave us blankets.

Know Before You Go

  1. Cabs don’t use meters. Always negotiate your fare before taking one.
  2. Take screenshots of the routes and directions if you’ll be without cell phone service.
  3. Oia is more expensive than Thira.
  4. Thira caters to the younger tourist.
  5. Oia is 30 minutes by cab from Fira
  6. Wi-Fi is plentiful and free at most restaurants. It was included in our hotel, too.
  7. English is spoken everywhere.
  8. Walking is required.
  9. Have plenty of Euros before you get there.
  10. It’s safe and the people are nicer than in Athens

If you have any additional tips or information to add, please share them with us!



  1. Sherry says:

    This was so great to read. I have yet to go to Greece but it’s on the top of my must see destinations. I loved reading about your adventure and the tips. I haven’t heard of Oia so I’ll have to add it to my list!

  2. michelle says:

    I wasn’t able to make it to Santorini on my visit to Greece but I would love to go back and see it. I agree that it is very iconic.

  3. Lauren says:

    The Greek Isles is #1 on my list of places to go – thanks for the great info!

  4. Greece is on my list! Thanks for your great travel tips. I have a friend in Santorini right now and I am so in love with the gorgeous photos everyone takes while they are there! Looks like paradise!

  5. These pictures are great! Santorini is on my bucket list of travel places!

    xoxo Katherine

  6. Rachel says:

    So beautiful! I’m dying to visit Greece!

  7. Mackenzie says:

    Greece is #1 on my places to visit list that’s mentally in my head!!! Absolutely love this post. You have reassured me that it’s amazing as people say it is!! xo

  8. Nicole says:

    This is amazing and Greece and Santorini have always been on my bucket list! I am so glad after reading this to hear about the tourism and your suggestions on where to stay. Thank you for the review.

    xo, Nicole

  9. Greece is definitely on my travel bucket list! Great post, great tips!

  10. Ashleigh says:

    Oh how I want to go to Santorini! Your photos are wonderful and it looks like it was a great time! Thank you for sharing our tips!

  11. Ashley Steer says:

    Greece is definitely on my list of places to see! I can’t wait to be able to travel. What a gorgeous place!

  12. I would love to go to Greece one day! I am totally doing the donkey ride, too!

  13. My brother got married in Santorini. Your pictures are beautiful!

  14. I love love love Santorini! We spent a week there several years ago and I can’t wait to go back, it’s beautiful!

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