The white town perched on the cliff and one of the southern most islands is the famous Santorini. This island was built by a volcano, and despite the lack of green grass and trees, Santorini is one of the most unique and beautiful spaces I’ve ever visited. When at the top of the cliff in Oia or in Fira, at one angle I see the white houses, and at another angle I see the deep blue of the ocean. Santorini is known to be one of the most romantic places in the world with honeymooners filling every hotel room, watching the famous sunset over the ocean. With or without love, Santorini is still super fun to visit!
What to Eat:
There weren’t any vegan restaurants in Santorini that I could find, so I lived off of salad, fava bean dip, and bread for the time I was there. It wasn’t the best of vegan eating experiences, but Santorini is known for its cherry tomatoes and fava beans that they grow locally (one of the few produce items that grow on the island), which made the tomatoes sweet and the fava bean dip always fresh. Here are the places I went that were more vegan friendly than others though:
Avocado, the restaurant, truly honors the avocado with the fruit being painted as a large mural on the walls.. They have vegetarian and lactose symbols on their menu and many of their items can be made vegan/dairy free upon request. Featured here is the vegetable risotto with a tomato base and no cheese. They also have great salads with ripe avocados, so I recommend visiting this restaurant when you're exploring Imerovigli (perhaps on the Fira-Oia hike).
Ημεροβίγλι, Σαντορίνη 847 00, Greece
Thalami is a reasonably priced restaurant in Oia, which means the restaurant is always crowded. However, they have really delicious salad and vegetarian tomato-based pasta, and they are accommodating when you say "no dairy" or "no eggs." This makes it for a nice vegan-friendly restaurant for your time in Oia.
Oia 847 02, Greece
Passaggio in Oia offers up both a vegetarian and vegan breakfast combinations that includes orange juice, coffee, and a view of the ocean from their rooftop dining space. The vegetarian breakfast combination comes with vegetables over toast (like avocado and tomatoes) and the vegan platter comes with acai bowls, which is perfect for a hot day.
Nik. Nomikou, Oía 847 02, Greece
What to Do:
Besides the endless pictures to take across the towns, here are some of the highlights of my time in Santorini.
We took a tour of Akrotiri, the ancient city buried in volcanic ash. The city is 2000 years older than Pompei (around 1627 BC) and lived in the Minoan Bronze age. There's a lot of cool almost perfectly preserved pieces of history like a toilet, art, pottery, etc. Apparently this little city was supposedly Plato's inspiration for Atlantis. I recommend seeing this site with a tour guide, so they can explain the significance of what you're seeing.
We used Santorini Wine Adventures to take us around Santorini to taste the local wine. Santorini has unique wine because of the way their grapes grow. The volcanic soil allows the Assyrtiko grape to grow, and it grows in basket forms. The tour guide explained everything to us about the geography of the land and about the local wines. We visited 3 wineries, Gavalas Winery, Boutari Winery, and Argyros Estate. Each of the wineries had their own character, each being incredibly beautiful. Most of the wines were white, except for the famous Santorini red, which most people do not care for because of how dry it is. My favorite was the Santorini dessert wine, Vinsanto, which was super sweet, made from dried grapes. The snacks that the wine tour provided to eat with the wine were mostly cheese and meat, with some crackers and tomato paste, so make sure you eat before you go on the tour, so it isn’t just alcohol and some carbs you’re eating when drinking!
The Fira-Oia hike is said to be one of the best ways to see Santorini, and I agree. It’s a 6.3 mile hike that takes you on a path (mostly made of rocks, soil, and some concrete road) against the edge of the cliff. You’re able to see the ocean, feel its breeze, and see the white houses on the cliffs in the distance. The most common route is from Fira to Oia, but we did it from Oia to Fira and then took a taxi back. People claim this path is harder because it’s mostly uphill, but Fira and Oia are mostly on the same altitude, so I don’t know if it’s true. However, the hike was more challenging than expected because of its uphill trajectory and constant exposure to the sun (we hiked around 12pm when the sun was at its highest point, which is probably why it was so hot). However, there are enough breaks at small churches along the hike to make everything feel more fun than like work. The hike is supposed to take 2-5 hours, but since we took a lot of breaks and photos, it took us around 4 hours. Here’s the guide I used for this hike.
Places I didn't get to visit, but I've heard good things about:
Where to Stay:
I stayed in Oia, which is one of the towns within Santorini. This area is pedestrian only with homes and churches perched on the cliff, all painted white. Oia is also where the famous sunset can be viewed, since it is the southern most tip with no islands blocking the view of the sunset on the ocean line.
The other places that are popular to stay is In Fira and Imerovigli but after visiting these areas, I think Oia has the most “Santorini experience” for a tourist looking for picture perfect views and the sunset. Within Oia, I stayed in the Katikies Hotel, which was voted the best hotel in Santorini according to US News, but it’s extremely pricey, especially during the peak season. There are tons of cheaper hotels in the Oia area as well as a few Airbnb’s, but I loved my stay in the Katikies. We had our own room inside a white cove house with a small private jacuzzi right outside our door on our balcony with a view of the ocean. PS: They have an infinity pool too!