Dress: J.Crew | Shoes: Joie | Sunglasses: Karen Walker | Watch: kate spade | Earrings: bought in Greece
Where we stayed:
After a lot of research, we rented a villa via AirBnB in Oia, the most picturesque of little towns with amazing sunsets every night. When we arrived at Villa Matilde, the stunning view pictured in these photos greeted us. We've had excellent experiences with AirBnB in Paris and New York, and we were similarly pleased with our accommodations this time around. Our host was friendly and helpful, and she had a friend who acted as a porter to help us carry our bags and get settled on the island. The house was clean and charming, and a maid came in daily to make beds, refresh towels, and do some light cleaning. We had initially wanted to book a smaller place and were disappointed when our top choice was taken. Because it was the end of the season, our host was willing to negotiate a bit on the cost of this larger apartment to make it more feasible for just two people.
We pre-scheduled a transfer from the seaport to our villa and from the villa to the airport on our way out. This was easy and hassle-free, especially given the crazy crowds at the seaport as hundreds of people made their way off the ferry. We worked out a price ahead of time through Maria, our AirBnB host, which was nice as the cabs and minibuses on the island don't seem to have meters or set pricing. Oia is visible from Fira, where our ferry docked, but it takes 45 minutes over winding mountain roads to get between the two.
In hindsight, I would recommend renting a car if you are up to the challenge of driving. There is a bus system around the island, but during peak times, bus queues are very lengthy and buses are crowded.
What we ate:
We were fortunate enough to find some outstanding restaurants in Oia, all easily walkable from our villa. Our first night, we ate at Fino, a restaurant that specializes in big gourmet-tiki cocktails and contemporary cuisine. It was a nice change of pace from traditional Mediterranean fare, and it was cozy, intimate, and not overly crowded. We particularly enjoyed the eggplant soufflé and tuna tataki starters.
On our second evening, we had the pleasure of dining with one of my favorite bloggers, Fran of Franish, who happened to be in Santorini at the same time we were. Fran and her family were just delightful, and we loved our dinner at Floga with its upscale Mediterranean food and ocean views. (Update: see the obligatory blogger meetup photo and what I wore here!)
On our last evening in Santorini, we made our way down to Katharos Lounge, an out of the way spot which is actually on the water as opposed to on a cliffside, with a beautiful view of the sunset. They don't serve a traditional dinner, but they do small plates to share, which is one of our favorite ways to dine. If you can, snag a table on the oceanfront patio at sunset and watch Santorini work its magic while enjoying your meal. You could also go swimming at their adjacent beach during the day, with snack and drink breaks on the patio at your leisure.
Quick tip: finding good restaurants is always a fun challenge when traveling--I've found that checking TripAdvisor and reading through reviews there is a great way to refine the search and make sure we'll have a good experience while dining out. As someone with food allergies (tree nuts), I also make sure to look for reviews about how a particular restaurant accommodates dietary restrictions.
What we learned:
As I said above, I think this island is truly one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world. The downside is that many, many other people feel the same way. Even at the end of the season, Oia was very crowded, and there was a nearly-constant stream of tourists marching through the narrow streets and past our villa to catch a glimpse of the lovely view. We were happy to have our own private outdoor spaces to enjoy the beauty without the crowds, but venturing out of our little bubble meant joining the masses eager to see Santorini for themselves, especially at sunset. We found that the early morning was a great time to take photos and explore the island without the hordes of tours from the cruise ships that would come in daily.
Crowds aside, I felt very sad to leave Santorini and am hoping we'll be able to make it back sometime in the not-too-distant future. Cheers to gorgeous sunsets and bubbly Greek wine!
I'm excited to share more photos from Santorini and a quick guide to Athens in upcoming posts. Hope you enjoyed this installment of my Travel Guide to Greece!