Santorini had been on my bucket list for a while. I’d been dazzled by photos of mountaintop villages topped with whitewashed houses and churches with sky-blue dome roofs.
I’m happy to report that Santorini exceeded my already high expectations. I visited Santorini with Topdeck as a part of their #Ultimate49 campaign, and ticked off an item from their curated list of 49 bucket list items from around the world! Now, just 48 left to go…
As a solo traveler I am usually a bit hesitant about tours but Topdeck knows their demographic (18-30 somethings) and caters to them well. Even though we had a jam-packed itinerary, there was plenty of free time for me to explore on my own. Sometimes you just want to go get lost and wander for a while, and they certainly accommodated for that!
Aside from the itinerary, the people I met on my trip were the biggest highlight. We all became so close while we were on the tour that we were one big family by the end.
But I digress…
Without further ado, here is a quick lowdown on where to go and what to do while you're in Santorini.
1. Watch the Sunset in Oia
I’m not exaggerating when I say that the sunset in Oia is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Vivid pinks and oranges stained the sky as the sun sank out of sight. You'll get around 15 minutes to snap some Insta-perfect photos, so make the most of it!
In Oia, watching from The Castle is the most coveted spot, but make sure you get there early—crowds gather quickly.
But there are plenty of lookout points all over Santorini that let you bear witness to these magnificent sunsets, so if you don’t make it to Oia for the sunset, don’t worry, you’ll still get to watch the spectacle.
2. Wander Through Fira
Fira is the capital of Santorini and is even more beautiful in person than it is on Instagram. The narrow streets wind through endless whitewashed houses topped with blue-domed roofs. It is utterly magical.
Check out the boutiques, ride a donkey and take in the spectacular views out over the Aegean Sea. If you needed something to make all of your followers on Instagram jealous, this should do the trick!
3. Hike a Volcano
The whole island of Santorini is part of a volcanic archipelago, which means your vacation destination is actually one giant volcano! Don't worry though, there's a better chance of you winning the lottery three weeks in a row than a volcanic eruption.
When you’re ready to stretch your legs, hop a boat to the famous smoking volcano next door and get hiking! The hike isn't that challenging, which is a blessing, given the intense heat. Once you get to the top, enjoy the panoramic views of the sparkling water below and then come back down.
4. Marvel at the Black and Red Sand Beaches
Because Santorini is a volcanic island, some of its beaches are different to those on the other islands in the Greek archipelago. In addition to white and golden sand, there are a handful of beaches on the island with either black or red sand. Check out Kamari Beach, Perissa Beach and Red Beach for something a little out of the ordinary.
The beaches in Santorini might not be traditionally picturesque but they are beautiful in their own, unique, way. Beware that the black sand can become unbearably hot, especially at midday. Don't attempt to walk across it with bare feet!
5. Eat Your Body Weight in Greek Food
Greek food is incredible! The ingredients are as fresh as can be and the portion sizes are more than generous. Indulge in creamy feta, warm pitta, tangy tzatziki and hearty moussaka while you’re on the island. That’s what I did and I don’t regret a single calorie of it.
6. Go Scuba Diving
While Europe isn’t known for having the best diving in the world, there are little pockets of beauty across the continent. The ocean bed around Santorini is one of them.
Though you might not find coral and tropical fish while diving around Santorini, but you will find plenty of shipwrecks, which are just as exciting! There are dozens of dive shops around the island so drop in and book a trip if you fancy exploring this underwater wonderland.
A trip to Santorini means spending lots of time outdoors. If you're looking for a vacation with sunshine, beaches, hiking and swimming then Santorini is the one. The weather is beautiful, the food is beyond description and there are about a million infinity pools. What else do you need?