Get lost in paradise on a Santorini Greece vacation!
Keep an eye on here for more Santorini Greece vacation stories, on the way soon (plus plenty of other summer Euro inspiration).
Santorini Greece vacation
In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of what we saw…
Summer love in Santorini
A Santorini Greece vacation is something most people want to tick off their travel bucket-list in a lifetime. We stayed in an amazing place called Manos Small World, overlooking the spectacular bay, volcanic structures and plenty of cruise ships coming in and out of the port.
This lovely spot was set on Caldera cliff and just a ten minute walk from plenty of shops and restaurants. The walk into town is along the cliff with extraordinary views at any time of day. There’s also a few cool bars along the way that serve delicious cocktails, perfect for sunset.
The area was very central and easy to get on a day tour coach (as we did) that explores the island. I’d recommend it for your Santorini Greece vacation, as it’s an easy way to see the whole island, its pockets, beach bars and views. Just Google ‘Santorini coach day trips’ for options.
An obligatory trip to Oia, Santorini, for the sunset was in order too. Oia is a town brimming with whitewashed houses that are carved into rugged clifftops. It overlooks a vast caldera filled with water, and is a famous sunset spot. Oia gets very very busy coming into the sunset hours, so if you are there for the spectacle, you’ll want to find a spot earlier in the afternoon and wait there.
Santorini is almost too beautiful, and is full of Grecian charm, like Athens is. I think we definitely have a thing for islands, because this trip is up there with some of our favourites like Ibiza or Mallorca. Santorini Greece is absolutely worth a visit and adding to your Greece vacation list.
A note on animal rights
I rarely preach on this blog, but PLEASE do respect animal rights on your trip. Consider how you can support the many stray dogs that are here, as well as promote a better attitude towards looking after dogs.
To be honest, I saw some things here that did not impress me in this respect.
Additionally, rethink donkey rides – this is unnecessary and goes against animal rights as far as many are concerned. They are not there for amusement, or at least, shouldn’t be. Enjoy your Santorini Greece vacation responsibly.
Travel responsibly. We do not support riding animals for fun, here, Thailand or anywhere else for that matter.
Let us know your thoughts or questions on any of this – drop us a line in the comments.
When Alice Ross pitched this piece on beaches and scuba diving in Santorini, of course we said yes! Read her guide before your trip…
Recreational scuba diving was restricted in Greece for a long time. The government did it to prevent antiquities smugglers – diving was allowed to only some people who were given special authorisation by the authorities determined to protect the country’s marine life and remains of archaeological importance.
Fortunately, in 2004, authorities lifted the restrictions and anyone who wants to scuba dive just about anywhere in the country is allowed to do it for recreation.
Since then, Greece has quickly become one of the most visited scuba diving sites in the world. With more than 4,000 islands and 12,000 miles of coastline, the Greek seas offer an ideal place for scuba diving.
Guide to beaches and scuba diving Santorini
One of the best places to do scuba diving is in Santorini. The marine life that you can find the coast of Santorini is arguably well-known. The island’s waters, formed by a volcanic eruption that took place in the 16th century, are rich with mineral, supporting a solid range of coral and creatures.
These great volcanic eruptions have formed wonderful underwater backdrop giving scuba divers ceaseless options for wall dives and unending stops all over the volcanic islets and the caldera.
Aside from the beautiful underwater world Santorini offers, the water visibility all over the island is good! The water temperature is approximately 22°C, so make sure to wear some nice wetsuit.
Diving in the vicinity of the caldera is also possible; however, the southern side of the island is the one that offers a variety of delightful caves which you are able to explore with the help of a master diver who is familiar with the site.
If you are interested in visiting Santorini for diving, this list of four beaches where you can scuba dive is worth checking out.
…Is a very famous beach resort that should be top of your list.
It’s an organised, developed beach with a plenty of comfortable beach chairs, umbrellas, as well as other amenities, such as lifeguards, playground, and of course a shower. It’s worth mentioning that it was awarded Blue Flag award for being organised and clean.
When you reach the end of the beach is where you will find the diving spot. There are also two diving centres you can check out on this beach. Aside from that, however, you are able to pick from different water sports like windsurfing jet skiing, kayaking, and parasailing. Lastly, a wonderful water park with pools offers and water slides that cater to anyone of any age.
…is a long, black sand beach with beautiful deep blue waters which is connected to and Agios Georgios Beach and Perissa Beach.
It’s another well-organised beach with sunbeds, lifeguards, umbrellas, taverns, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, bars, showers, a playground, and public toilets.
There are many beach bars playing club the latest music, DJ guest during the weekend, volleyball tournaments, and exciting events on special occasion. But of course, this is also a nice place to go if you are looking for some underwater (or even over the surface) adventures!
Located less than one kilometre from Perivolos Beach, Agios is a big, sandy organised beach.
It’s more peaceful than its neighbouring beaches, and the water is shallower.
Some small taverns offer delicious lunch. Umbrellas and sun beds can be rented if you want to relax at the beach, and there are a lot of opportunities for water sports like scuba diving.
Divers can explore the beauty of Santorini’s marine life under the supervision of master divers who prioritise safety. The locations for dives might be very local in the bay and all over the neighbouring headland cliffs or a little further afield, depending on water visibility and conditions.
Ammoudi Bay Beach
This beach is accessible by walking or riding ride down the 214 steps from the castle of Oia.
Amoudi Bay is well-known for its traditional Greek inns with fresh seafood and the astounding romantic sunsets. Once Santorini’s commercial port, Amoudi Bay has now become a tourist spot. There might not be sunbathing comforts at this beach unlike the other ones mentioned above, but the diving scene here is impeccable. Diving here is something you wouldn’t definitely find anywhere else in the world.
Santorini isn’t only about sunsets, beautiful landscapes, and majestic geometric houses in the villages.
If you take your time to explore deeper, you will have the chance to experience an amazing adventure in Santorini. If you have not experienced diving before but you’re interested, you don’t have anything to be worried about as most dive shops in Santorini offer a non-certified scuba diving course where you’ll have to engage in a brief scuba diving introductory lesson before diving down to a depth of maximum 6 to 7 feet.
Athens beckoned as the city is hosting TBEX Europe – the “Future of Travel Media” travel blogging conference, which I also attended in Dublin last year.
We enjoyed glorious sunshine yesterday – a marvellous setting for spending time in Athens Greece.
Even though I was weary from an extremely early start and a few minor airline dilemmas, I was determined to get out and explore because the next few days – aside from being busy – unfortunately threaten rain. Am hoping iPhone weather will be wrong as it often is.
After finding my accommodation, I ventured outside to take a look around, using a combination of walking, navigating the local metro and finally (as I grew confused and tired) taking advantage of the old faithful, Big Red Hop on Hop off coach, that was circling the city.
As unadventurous as it sounds, Cooper and I do enjoy participating in this kind of tour because if you’re short on time and energy, it’s an easy way to get your bearings in a city and to identify where you’d like to go back to for a better look later.
What I love so far is that Athens feels like a city brimming with character.
There are gorgeous squares and green spaces, a chic coffee and dining culture, and cool European types all over the place.
Obviously it is steeped in history. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, after all.
There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing extraordinary sites like the Acropolis and Parthenon outside of the pages of a book.
You can watch or read about the famous things to do and see in Athens in all manner of travel guides and documentaries.
For the moment, I’d like to share my personal impressions on Athens travel:
Spend time in Athens Greece: wanderlust top 7 travel
the not-so-obvious things to love about the city
1. It’s noisy and busy, sure, but I’ve found Athenians to be polite
Apparently pedestrians do not rule here, however, cab drivers consistently stopped to let me cross roads which I thought was polite.
At one stage though, I did wave courteously to thank the driver and I think he thought I was hailing a ride – oopsy!
When I was on the sight-seeing bus too, many people in cars or on bikes waved at passengers on board, and to me it came across as if they wanted us to know we should feel welcome.
2. Enjoying espresso slowly
I’m not sure what it is about Europe, but I ditch the usual lattes here and head straight for the mini hit of caffeine.
Unlike in Australia or the UK where you’re always on the go, here it is just “right” to be.
It’s almost instinctive to stop, sip slowly and watch the fascinating world go by.
I’ve spotted numerous squares where people appear to congregate over coffee for a chat – all surrounded by interesting buildings, nice sculptures and landscaping.
On the coffee note too, I read this morning that frappés (coffee, milk, sugar and water) are the thing here. It’s now on my agenda for this afternoon’s adventures… when in Rome! er, I mean, Athens.
Also, if you’re indulging in a more traditional hot coffee, you do not need to drink the bottom part of the it.
Often Greek coffee is made the traditional way, boiled on hot sand – you need to “let the dust settle… and only drink the liquid part” [City Guide].
Certainly, the hilly streets are haphazard in design, there are cracks that might trip you up, and everything is pretty much written in Greek, but that all adds to the character of the place.
I find the streets and alleys intriguing (as long as I’m not getting lost), and I also felt somehow drawn to many of the colourful gratified walls, interestingly designed and sometimes slightly shabby (I mean this affectionately) doors and archways, as well as the residential roof gardens.
The city is full of life. Understandably Athens is a place that comes across as “well lived in”, but I feel the magic in that sentiment as I meander around town.
4. The opportunity to communicate beyond words
On the topic of getting lost, yes, my innate instinct is always to go the wrong way, but I can surely be forgiven for being a little confused during my first moments in a foreign city where the language is not my own.
I made it as far as the nearest metro station to my hotel, and from there needed help. The “two minute walk from the metro station” is pretty much accurate – but which way?
As it turns out, it may be left or right out of the station, then left or right down a street longer than I’d anticipated and right onto another main and busy road. With zero access to Google Maps, it was down to old fashioned communication to get me to my final destination.
I found the spot after about twenty five minutes and querying five people along the way.
My discovery was (and continues to be) that the locals here are not “over-sharers” of information, but this could be due to the language barrier, so keep asking questions until you understand (or find someone else to help).
For example, when I asked for assistance at the airport regarding which train to take, I was pointed in the direction of the entry to the train station. “Yes I see that, but which train, which platform?” I had to prompt. And when I arrived at my destination, the instruction towards my hotel was, “outside”. Yep, figured that out!
When I got outside however, it was the local store owners who helped me so kindly, albeit in Greek, but that made the positive end-result all the sweeter. One older gentleman managing a florist wasn’t 100 per cent on the address I showed him, so he rounded up his neighbours for clarification, and then explained to me using hand gestures how to navigate the lane-ways in order to find my accommodation. As did a couple of other people I encountered along my quest de la hotel.
During the morning, prior to arriving in Greece, I came into contact with some extraordinarily rude, grumpy and bitter-with-the-world people (either that, or they were totally not “morning people”); the locals here changed my day simply by proving to be friendly and helpful, despite a language barrier.
5. It’s an easy place to practice ‘travel mindfulness’
I noticed yesterday that I was taking everything in without much thought – ‘travel mindfulness‘, if you will.
It was all an ‘experience’; the sights, smells, quirks and charms all became part of one blissful travel adventure.
If there’s one lesson I try to pass on, it’s “don’t judge”. It comes with practice, confidence and time, and a willingness to embrace the “unfamiliar”, but I hear so many tourists of all ages complaining about this and that around the world (“too noisy”, “too expensive”, “too crowded”, “too untidy”), and I wonder, seriously, if “it’s better at home”, stay there!
There’s beauty in all things and I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed my first encounter with Athens despite being tired and apprehensive I’d get lost.
That said, if you can’t appreciate a place like this – 7000 years old, the birthplace of Western civilisation and aptly named after the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, then that’s certainly a shame.
6. I discovered a reason I should move here
During the summer it’s customary to enjoy a siesta for a couple of hours, 3pm to 5pm; eating large lunches is encouraged as is staying up late and having a good time.
If only more people in the world had this attitude, happiness might spread further, I reckon.
7. Celebrity-endorsed style
Cheese and wine are also important aspects of the culture (yes, please!) and it would be easy to simply hang out here and try all the renowned restaurants, sky bars, beach side cafes, and then dance it off in a popular club.
Alas I don’t have time, but I will let you know that I found out Ethan Hawke, Meryl Streep, Oliver Stone, Hugh Jackman, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis and Moby, among others, have all spent time enjoying a venue called Island, a cosmopolitan seafront haunt that I feel I might have to make a cameo in at some stage too.
That’s it for now – I aim to visit more of the city and of course get up close and personal with ancient bits and pieces, plus fit in some shopping (hopefully Cooper doesn’t read this far…).
If you have an Athens travel tip, please drop me a line in the comments below.
Welcome to Travel Live Learn! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London, along for the ride. Our most popular content here is about pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be.