Santorini & Athens, Greece

Having returned from our trip to Greece almost two months ago I have finally found the chance to blog about it!  Looking back on our time there what I am most in awe of is Santorini’s beauty and landscape.  We had been traveling in Europe (as a family of two adults, almost three-year old and seventeen month old,) for three weeks and decided to make Santorini one of our last stops for relaxation.   We had been staying in Naples (Italy,) so drove to Rome in the morning where we took a quick flight to the island of Santorini (also known as Thira.)  I found the best airline for us to be Vueling Airlines based on flight times and cost, but there are plenty of options to choose from.

Our accommodation was booked through a company called My Blue, who I found on Air BnB.  We had a total of 7 nights in Santorini and stayed with tem for 3 of them.  Louanna, the director of My Blue, owns a bunch of her own houses throughout Santorini and is so knowledgable on the area.  We settled on her house called ‘Captains Blue,’ which features two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, fully enclosed garden and a swimming pool.  Staying at this villa is without a doubt what made our trip so relaxing and convenient.  It is only a few meters to the main street of Oia where you take in that gorgeous Caldera view.   Not staying directly on the Caldera meant that we had more space, less crowds and the cost was dramatically cheaper.  What we also enjoyed was an amazing view of the sunset!   The caldera view, though stunning, does not take in the sunset so we were happy to enjoy that every night.  When we arrived at the airport a transfer company who My Blue had organised were there to greet us.  Upon arrival at the villa we were met by a company representative who showed us around and recommended things to do, places to eat etc.  and showed us to the kitchen which had been stocked with food for the next day.  The villa was also cleaned daily and baby sitting staff was arranged for us on three occasions.  I would highly recommend anyone going to Santorni get in touch with Louanna and stay at one of her houses.  Half way through our trip we changed accommodation and stay at different, much more expensive, property which was also on the sunset side of Oia.  Although this property was larger and had a bigger pool I feel that we would have been better to stay at ‘Captains Blue’ and saved the money as we really didn’t need for anymore then what we already had.  You can find out more about My Blue here.

The best way to get around in Santorini would be to hire a car.   We hired one for the days that we needed it, (just two out of the seven and one was when we went to the airport.)  Hire cars can be dropped off to your accommodation, which makes the whole experience very convenient, and they can come with car seats.  On the day that we hired the day we drove down to the south of the island, (Oia where we were staying is in the north,) and went to a black sandy beach Perissa Beach.  Much like in Italy you can hire an umbrella and two beach chairs for about 30 euros.  As the weather turned poor, we got back in the car and drove to a well-known look out that takes in 360 degrees views of the whole island.  After the look out we drove to Sento Winery which offers lunch and yummy wine tastings.  We didn’t think the service was amazing though the view made up for it.  Another great stop if you have a car is to Red Beach, which is also down the bottom end of the island.

We spent most of our days relaxing by the pool and swimming at the beach.  I have heard countless times that there are no good swimming beaches in Santorini but I can tell you that its simply not true.  As well as Perissa Beach there is also Kamara.  Our favourite spot, which we went to twice, was the hike down from the Caldera in Oia where you can jump in the water and swim to Isle of Saint Nicholas.  Once over at the Isle you can take a big jump into the water, (if you are feeling brave.)  Another spot we liked was a pebble beach called Katharos which is just out from the centre of Oia and is really quiet.  People go there to make their own rock formations and head to the Mezze Bar for food and drinks afterwards.

When we weren’t relaxing, eating, drinking and laying in the sun, we spent our time walking around Oia exploring.  It is very busy for most of the day so if you are looking to get that gorgeous Oia photograph with minimal tourists in it, I recommend heading out really early in the morning, this is something we did not do… because kids!  When walking around some of the best little spots are Oia Castle, The Blue Dome Churches of Oia and Ekklisia Panagia latsani (the church in the main square.)  Something we didn’t do in Santori, that I think would have been lovely, is the boat trip that takes you over to the volcano hot springs and allows you to watch the sunset from the water on your return.

There is a huge variety of food in Santorni with something to satisfy everyone.  We ate all of our breakfasts at our accommodation, choosing local produce from one of the small supermarkets in Oia… cheese, breads, meats for the children, yoghurt, olives etc.  For lunch and dinner we often ate out one of the hundreds.  Below is a list of some of our favourites all linked for your ease –
Best date nightSantorini Sunsets Restaurant – Amazing food, high price tag, the best view for the Sunset, don’t take the kids.
Best family friendlyPelekanos – Great food but with a more relaxed atmosphere.
Best seafoodAmoudi Bay – This is a location not a restaurant,  there is half a dozen delicious restaurants nestled in the bay below the Caldera.  They are all epic!
Best budgetPita Gyros – perfect for meat eaters or vegetarians it’s basically hot potato chips wrapped in pita bread with delicious sauces.
Best Ice creamLolita’s Gelato – Without a doubt the best in Oia maybe even the island.  It is really close to Pita Gyros.  We went there every night!
Best DessertMelenio Pastry Shop – thing all things dessert including baklava and delicous chcolate truffles.

Advice for taking children –
– Choose a villa that suits you needs, preferably one with a small garden and pool.
– Go for Air BnB over a resort so you can get more space for your money.
– Be realistic and know that you aren’t on your honeymoon some of the tourists.
– Leave your pram at home.
– Pack a carrier instead.
– Take beach equipment like floaties and buckets, there isn’t a lot around to buy.

From Santorini, Athens was only a short 20 minute or so flight, by the time you were up in the air you were down again.  We only had two nights and one day in Athens, before heading back to Australia, so we used our time well.

Our accommodation was an apartment only a couple of blocks back from the Acropolis.  I found that what we got for what we paid was really reasonable.  I found our place on Air BnB and it had two bedrooms, kitchen, living, a bathroom and had just been renovated.  Our hosts provided enough food for our breakfasts and some pasta for our dinners too.  The local store was a short walk as well as some nice restaurants.  Our hosts also organised our transfers to and from the airport.  It really as such an easy stay and I could not recommend them higher.  You can find our Air BnB here.

As we only had one day to explore we decided to follow the ‘Rick Steve’s’ one day tour of Athens. We found this on the internet but I believe you can use an app too. Rick Steve’s has a lot of useful self taken tours including one of Pompei.  Each tour is self down and you can either do an audio or just follow his map.  I would highly recommend following the tour from start to finish as you take in all of the most spectacular and important sites like the Acropolis, Plaka, the Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Temple of Posedian and so much more.  It is a no brainer really, if you want to see everything you need to in a day use this.

Athens proved to be a great stopover between The Greek islands and Australia with an abundance of history and culture to offer.  I would definitely head back again and explore the beaches of Athens on another trip to the Greek Islands.



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