If you want to feel like you’re on a movie set, just take a walk around Santorini. Like the supermodel of the Greek Islands, it’s photogenic from pretty much every angle (our camera roll can testify) and instantly recognisable on Instagram.
There’s the dramatic caldera setting, those clusters of whitewashed buildings, and that blue-on-blue vista as the sky meets the Aegean Sea. Plus, the pretty steps that typify the caldera give you a daily glute workout everywhere you walk (bonus).
Grab your gladiator sandals and explore the island once known as Kallístē, meaning ‘the beautiful one’. From the sunset mecca of Oia to the volcanic beaches in the south, these are the seven hotspots that you won’t want to miss in Santorini.
Leave your heels behind and take on Santorini’s (many, many) steps in flat shoes and relaxed glamour. Here’s how to pack your suitcase for Santorini…
The Hotspot For Caldera Views Grace Hotel Santorini
It’s not quite 360° views of the caldera but it’s close enough… With the largest infinity pool in Imerovigli, Grace Hotel has a jaw-dropping vista that makes you immediately want to put your camera phone into panoramic mode. Part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, Grace is minimalist chic with a dramatic location practically carved out of a cliff.
It’s less casual poolside lunch and more like a gastronomic feast thanks to the uber-talented executive chef, French Jean-Charles Métayer – octopus carpaccio and seafood ravioli are major highlights. You’ll find the dream spot for sunsets in the Champagne Lounge which sits 363 metres above sea level.
The Hotspot For Fine Dining Lycabettus Restaurant, Andronis Luxury Suites
Ask anyone who’s been to Santorini where to go for a meal to remember and they’ll probably say “Lycabettus. Definitely.” It’s like 5-star food with a 6-star view of the ocean. Nestled on a terrace in the cliffs of Oia in Andronis Luxury Suites, Lycabettus looks like a floating restaurant from above.
While an a la carte menu is available, you’ll get the full Lycabettus experience with the Discovery Menu (9 decadent courses for 148€ per person), or get a taste of Santorini with the Greek Menu (9 courses for 185€ per person). There’s also the option of wine pairing if you really want to push the boat out – worth it with the impressive wine list that’s precisely 93 pages long.
The Hotspot For Sushi Lunches Seltz at Katikies Santorini
Well worth burning calories on the climb down Katikies’ maze-like stairs, Seltz Champagne Bar & Restaurant is like a treasure trove of sushi and cocktails. You know a lunch is going to be good when it starts with black squid ink bread.
The freshest seafood and sushi plates – one of ours came in a Santorini-style map formation – are like works of art on your plate. Choose from ‘champagne bites’ like panko shrimps with spicy mayo along with mini masterpieces from the sushi bar, like the Katikies Signature uramaki roll with fava, octopus and capers.
The Hotspot For One on One Time Gaia at Carpe Diem
It’s impossible to dine to Gaia at Carpe Diem and not feel like you’re the only couple in the world. While the heady heights of Oia is all about the bustle, in a hidden corner of Pyrgos towards the centre of Santorini, Gaia feels so intimate and exclusive you know your waiter/waitress’s name within minutes.
With just a select few tables in the restaurant and poolside, a three course meal feels more like a bespoke, gastronomic experience under the stars. Taking advantage of the island’s fresh and local produce (and wines), it’s a real Santorini gem in a dramatic setting.
The Hotspot For InstaBrunching Galini Café Santorini
The brunch spot that’s so good it usually has a queue of people – complete with cameras to capture the moment. Galini Café’s prime balcony position on the cliffs of Firostefani means you can gaze at the caldera as you sip on your morning coffee.
Serving brunch specials all day from 8am to 5pm, it’s the place to go if you want anything from Eggs Santorini (that’s fried eggs in tomato sauce with feta cheese), to superfood bowls to Dutch baby pancakes. The menu is so extensive, you’ll probably go back twice…
The Hotspot For Beach Lounging Seaside Santorini
If you don’t have a head for heights, check out the volcanic sand beaches on Santorini’s south east coast where the dizzy elevation of the caldera edge slopes down to sea level. Seaside has mastered the art of the buzzy beach club with chill-out tunes, fruit platters and seafood restaurant.
There’s just about every seating arrangement possible on the beach, from luxury cabanas with champagne, to giant body-hugging beanbags, to communal wooden benches scattered with mismatched boho cushions. Take a break from the sun in the Seaside Restaurant (right by the sea as the name suggests) offering sushi bar, seafood specialities, or oyster & champagne bar if you want to luxe up your beach day.
The Hotspot For Wine Tasting Santo Wines
Santorini gives good wine – thanks to its volcanic soil and microclimate. Assyrtiko is the (not-to-be-missed) white Greek wine grape that’s indigenous to the island.
While there are many local vineyards, Santo Wines is both the biggest and most established in Santorini so you can taste a huge selection of red, white, sparkling and dessert wines, which are ordered by dry to sweet for you to taste like a pro. Order the Santorini Assyrtiko Reserve – a dry white wine that’s been aged for six months in oak. Relax on Santo’s vast sun-soaked terrace, order your tray of wines with a side of Greek cheese and choose your favourite bottle to take home.