‘Santorini is a heaven on earth’, people worldwide would agree on that. My husband (the best and greatest of all times) organised this trip for my birthday. He couldn’t have made me happier.
Everyone knows the pictures of white houses and blue church domes carved into the rocks of the Caldera. Due to its popularity, Santorini hasn’t developed to be one of the cheaper destinations in the past years.
The season slowly starts in May but the hotspots of the island were already crowded. The island probably wouldn’t survive lower prices.
Santorini – most beautiful island of the Cyclades
Not that I’ve already seen the other islands of the Cyclades. We just can’t imagine there’s an island prettier than Santorini.
Santorini belongs to the southern Cyclades archipelago and is located in the Aegean Sea. The other islands are called Thirasia and Aspronisi which are also part of volcano’s edge. Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, the volcanoes are located in the middle.
The Venetians gave the island its name in the 12th century after the early Christian basilica ‘Santa Irene’ in Perissa.
The island has a little bit more than 17.000 residents. People on the island mainly live from tourism and wine production.
Xenones Filotera – dream hotel in Imerovigli
Our accommodation for the week was ‘Xenones Filotera’ in Imerovigli. It offers an amazing view over the Caldera, Oía and the opposite island Thirasia. You can also see a little bit of the Skaros Rock and the volcano.
The rooms are large and clean, the pool is perfect (as it was still heated in May) and the staff is super friendly. I’m serious with the last one. They always apologise, even when there’s no reason for that.
There’s a lot to do on the island but with a pool and this view and people serving you drinks, we definitely had to spend some time here. Furthermore, Jan took his ‘Schwimmbrezn’ (swimming pretzel, it was a farewell gift from his former colleagues) on this trip and we think it perfectly fits the Santorini surrounding.
Breakfast buffet offered a huge variety and there was more than enough for everyone here. Enjoying this view every morning while having breakfast was the true luxury for us. Priceless.
Dinner in the hotel was delicious (though not really cheap), too. The sunset god didn’t like us this evening. Of course, we’re complaining about first world problems here.
We really enjoyed the hotel having a parking lot, which is not always the case with Caldera view hotels. This leads us to the next point.
Rental car on Santorini
We definitely recommend taking a rental car. You’re flexible and busses don’t come along as regularly as you would wish. Taxis are too expensive to use them regularly. (Example: Oía to Imerovigli 20€)
Driving a car in Santorini means you have to be patient. The streets are narrow and it’s already busy at the beginning of the main season. You have to share the little space on the streets with the many coaches, at least at the main tourist attractions. I don’t want to think about the situation during the busy season in July and August.
Main places on Santorini
This is a short overview over the ‘main places’ on Santorini. All of them are located on the Caldera side of the island. This is where the surreal life takes place. Despite Firostefani, you can find bars and restaurants everywhere (probably also there, but we actually don’t know).
It’s pronounced ‘E-ah’. Anytime you see pictures of Santorini, you can be sure that at least 95% of them were shot here. The little town with the white houses, blue church domes and the Caldera view seems absolutely surreal. The blue-white gives you the feeling of being in heaven on earth. Just with too many people. I imagine heaven more like an emptier place.
The Caldera view convinces from all sides. The only thing we wouldn’t do is booking a hotel here. As beautiful and luxurious as it is, you rarely have privacy here. Anyone can watch you at your private pool. Everyone sets foot in the hotel area as it is often not obvious where it starts. These hotels are just too expensive for this lack of privacy.
That’s where our hotel was. It’s definitely more peaceful than Oía and offers a great view over the Caldera to Oía. You can also see the Skaros Rock and the Volcano Islands.
There are a few restaurants here which will make your life here even more pleasant. But more on that later.
For us, this was the least interesting place on the island. But it was worth a short photo stop to see the famous church with the Caldera view.
This town is the second famous and therefore touristy place on the island after Oía. Many cruise ships stop here to spit out thousands of tourists each day which at first besiege the alleys of Firá before they head to Oía.
Firá is perfect for finding restaurants, have a drink or just stroll around. We loved the Catholic Church of ‘John the Baptist’. It’s worth having a short look at it.
The real celebrities of Firá are definitely those poor maltreated donkeys. Day after day they have to carry people over the 580 steps. At the beginning of our trip, I thought I will do this kind of tourist thing here. Then they were standing in front of me and I felt so sorry for them. If you want to go down or up, just use the cableway or walk. Poor animals.