Updated: Mar 5
Santorini. The Lost City of Atlantis. Paradise. Heaven. Whatever you wish to call it, you’re sure to fall in love with this magnificent place. My boyfriend Markos and I have traversed all over its beautiful landscape, finding new places to adventure every time we go. The island is alive with a sort of energy you won’t find anywhere else. From the pleasant locals, to stunning views, here are a few of my favorite things we’ve done with some tips, because, I hope you’ll get to experience this for yourself one day!
1. The Cable Car and Donkey Trail
The Cable Car is the easiest way to reach the top of the island to get to Thíra. You pay €6 to go up and another €6 to come back down. During your ride, make sure to have your camera out to take beautiful pictures as you ascend/descend. Be prepared for about a 30 minute+ wait with little to no shade (highly suggest a hat and sunscreen) until you reach the main building. The other way to travel up is the Donkey Trail. Now, you can hire a donkey to ride up the winding trail (which I DO NOT recommend) or you can walk the 588 steps to the top. This I recommend for those with no knee or lower back issues, as it is challenging. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes (I recommend tennis shoes with good tread) and plenty of sunscreen. There isn’t much cover as you walk up, just a couple of stops with a tree or two for shade. The steps are slippery due to the stones being worn over time and donkey poop. Be sure to watch out for poop piles!
I have hiked this not once, not twice, but FOUR times. Y’all… just when I think I’m in shape… It’s tough but, the view and the satisfaction of making it to the top are worth it!
2. Hike from Thíra to Oía
This is one of the most rewarding hikes I have ever done! Markos and I went on this hike the day after I found out that my PapPap had gone to be with Jesus. To say that I needed this hike is an understatement. To acknowledge what God did to my spirit on this journey still brings tears to my eyes.
This is a pretty easy hike, it’s just long. It’s an 8.6 mile (around 13 kilometers) trek that takes around 3 hours to complete. I suggest bringing a water bottle, comfy shoes, sunscreen, and a hat.
You begin in Thíra, near the Cable Car, where, if you haven’t yet, you should stock up on water and maybe fruit from the local vendors to snack on as you walk. It was pretty easy, finding our way on the trail, thanks to signs and blogs we had looked up earlier. You walk along the road and through other cities in Santorini at some points, so if you need a snack or rest there are lovely cafe’s and restaurants to sit at. Most of the hike takes place along the cliff-side and the views are breathtaking! We did this a second time when Markos’ family came onboard to cruise and we all had a blast!
When we made it to Oía, we ate at a lovely restaurant called the “Nocturna” that over-looked the water. From our overlook, we could see how far we had journeyed. The food was great and the rest after all of that walking was very much appreciated! If you’re not pressed for time (or so tired you could collapse) you can to walk back to Thíra. We had to get back to the ship, so we hopped on a bus, where we both passed out for the 30 minute ride. 10/10 would recommend this as my #1 thing to do in Santorini. *BONUS* If you have the time, check out Skaros Rock! It’ll add another hour or two to your hike. Be warned! You will have to scale the cliffside to reach the top!
3. Three Bells of Fíra (Thíra) / Mama Thíra
This is one of the most iconic places for photos in Santorini. You can type in “Three Bells of Fíra” into your Maps app or simply ask the locals for directions. As you can see from the above photo, it’s a little windy! Once you take your photos, keep going a little further until you find a sign for “Mama Thíra”. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss it. We just happened to stumble upon it. The food here was so yummy and they offered local wines. The view we had overlooked the ocean and offered a panorama view of the island. Bonus: We were lucky enough to witness a marriage proposal while we were there! After lunch, we visited St. John’s Cathedral, and the Orthodox Church. Ladies, they weren’t really picky with the dress code but, I suggest you wear something that covers the knees and shoulders. One church we tried to visit, asked for knees to be covered and, as we both were wearing shorts, we decided to be respectful and go again another time.
4. The Lighthouse of Akrotíri
This lighthouse is located on the opposite side of the island from Oía, in Akrotíri. Markos and I rented an ATV from Kostas and followed our maps app (took a couple of wrong turns but had a blast and laughed a lot) to get there. When we arrived, we realized that we had journeyed Santorini point to point! The lighthouse isn’t open to the public but, the view was amazing and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see some goats climbing the cliffside!
5. The Lost Atlantis Experience
This fun, interactive exhibit opened in May of this year (2019) and is “the first lost Atlantis museum in the world”. The tour takes you through the history of Santorini and explains why Plato considers it the location of the Lost City of Atlantis. You will start your journey by watching a 9-D movie about the history of Santorini and the volcano eruption that destroyed an entire civilization. From there, you get to explore the interactive exhibits and make your own conclusions as to whether Santorini is indeed, or is not, the lost city. It’s fun for all ages and takes a couple of hours to get through. There’s even a lava floor to satisfy your inner kid! Tickets are €12 each.
6. Zoodochos Pigi Cave
Zoodochos Pigi is this neat little cave up in the mountains near Kamari beach. We had no idea what to expect when we got here. You can walk from Thíra to the cave if you’d like. It takes about an hour and a half. I was being a baby this day (Donkey Trail climb number four) so we hailed a taxi. Once we got there, we saw that the cave was located up the mountainside. So, we began our ascent. The hike took about 20 minutes and it was super windy. We (mainly me) were being blown all over the place! There was an easy to follow path due to this being a popular hiking trail. At some points, the terrain was rocky and steep but, nothing too scary.
Once we made it up the mountain, we noticed a small church built near the entrance of the cave. The cave is an “enter at your own risk” type cave. I was a little scared to go in at first but once Markos went in and checked it out (and turned on his flashlight) I ventured forward. “Hollie the Brave”: that’s what they call me. The cave was small (Thank goodness! Nothing but spiders could jump out at me) and near the back, there was a natural fountain of spring water flowing from the mountain into the cave. It was such a quiet and serene moment. All you could hear was the water dripping. We spent a few moments in the cave dipping our hands in the water, then headed back into the light of day (Whew).
Once we were out of the cave, we sat for a bit, taking in the view, resting, and enjoying each others company. Once we had our rest, we made the descent back to civilization and got a taxi back to port. I can’t wait to come back to Santorini for longer than a few hours at a time and hike all of trails and discover all of the hidden gems, like this cave.
7. Make Your Own Ancient Pan Pipe at the Symposium
Y’all! This was such a great find! The Symposium Music and Mythology Cultural Center is located in the Megalochori Village. Nestled within the cute village, this treasure will prove to be both entertaining and enlightening. Our tour began with a walk around the property as our guide gave us the history of the location. Then, we headed indoors for an interactive performance with rare instruments. We were told stories of how the instruments came to be and to which of the ancient gods they belonged to. We even got to play some of them (My personal favorite was the Ocean Drum)! After the performance, we were led to the workshop area where we began working on our very own pan flute! Markos and I had such a great time on this adventure and highly recommend taking the time to visit! The price is 10€ for adults and 7€ for kiddos.
Well, that about wraps it up from me. I hope these tips and recommendations will help you have the best Santorini visit! If I’ve missed your “can’t miss” of this beautiful island, please feel free to comment so I can check it out next time I’m there 💙