Arriving in Santorini is one memory I will never forget. The sky and the water were the bluest blues, the sun was shining brightly, and a cool breeze was blowing. Our taxi took us on winding roads through the countryside until we started seeing the famous white buildings with blue domes. From there, it was only a few minutes until we entered the main capital town of Fira and our driver pointed us up the hill and to the right where we saw a door to
heaven our hotel, the Cosmopolitan Suites, and through the door, the beautiful Aegean Sea.
I have pretty much been raving about the Cosmopolitan Suites to everyone I know since we stayed there. The management and staff thought of everything, down to the smallest detail. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Cosmopolitan Suites (or Cosmo Suites, as we called it) is truly luxurious. Upon our arrival, the concierge Katarina offered us coffee and provided us with a cell phone so that we could call reception from anywhere on the island in case we were lost or needed something. Even though we never actually needed it, it was comforting to have a connection to our hotel, especially since we don’t activate service when we travel (we stick to wi-fi).
When we were brought to our room, we were greeted by a soothing beach house playlist on our own personal iPod, a chilled bottle of wine, and some bread, olive oil, and tapenade. Katarina also offered to arrange other bookings for us, such as our ATV rental.
The hotel has only 10 rooms, so feels quite intimate. Each morning, you can have breakfast brought to your room or you can choose to eat it at the hotel’s pool bar, which offers 24 hour room service. The breakfast was divine and we enjoyed trying different items every day. My favorites were the Greek coffee, Greek yogurt with dried fruits like figs and pineapple, and the daily Greek pastries with spinach and cheese. On our first day, we also ordered cheese and omelets and had so much food left over that we bagged it up to take for our lunch.
Last but not least, the infinity pool is obviously a highlight. In fact, we booked this hotel because of the pool! (Since most of our hotels on this trip were booked with points, we decided to splurge in Santorini). The pool and views of the volcanic caldera were incredible! After a day of hiking, it was the perfect setting to relax with a bottle of wine and take a nap in the sun before heading out to dinner.
Santorini has fantastic restaurants, particularly in the town of Fira, where we stayed, and Oia, at the end of the island. In Fira, we walked to have lunch at the Classico Cafe near our hotel. The tables overlooking the water have incredible views and along with the cool breeze, it was the most relaxing way to begin our time in Santorini. I had an amazing salad at Classico and in fact, all of the salads we had in Greece were incredible! What to order: Rocket salad with fig, pine nut, and sun-dried tomato (the sun-dried tomatoes are made on the island and are so tender and fresh!), pita and tzatziki, Greek mixed meatballs
After lunch, we walked to two local towns nearby, Firostefani and Imerovigli. It is only a 30 minute walk from Fira to Imerovigli, but it takes much longer because you’ll want to stop and take pictures about every 5 feet. Santorini is so picturesque and around each corner is a view even more beautiful than the last. We picked up some local Santorini Brewery Donkey Beers for our walk to cool us off. Even though it was only April, it was still quite warm and the sun was very strong so the ice-cold beers were welcome.
For dinner, we went to check out Argo in Fira based on TripAdvisor reviews, and were sold when some diners leaving the restaurant told us that they had been in Santorini for eight days and had eaten there several times already because it was so good. The restaurant is dimly lit and romantic-the perfect place to have a honeymoon or anniversary dinner! What to order: Octopus and fava, pasturna (stuffed meat pies with fig sauce), veal and potatoes, souvlaki plate, local red wine
On our second day in Santorini, we woke up early enough to hike back through Firostefani and Imerovigli and out to Skaros Rock, the site of a medieval fortress that offered protection from pirates and the former capital of Santorini. The hike was a lot longer than it looked and involved some scaling of rocks, but was absolutely worth it for the incredible views of the island, caldera, and Aegean Sea. We only saw one other person during the hike, so it was very peaceful and special for us to share the views without anyone else around. Skaros Rock is uninhabited with the exception of a small church, the Chapel of Theoskepasti, which you can hike to or view from above.
Because it was early (both in the day and the season), we were able to see a lot of locals painting the buildings with a fresh coat of white paint and getting ready for the new season in Santorini which made us feel like we had “behind the scenes” access to the island. It was much less crowded than it is later in the summer, which we enjoyed, but a handful of restaurants were not quite open yet. That was never a problem though as we still had plenty of options! We also saw mules carrying heavy loads up the steep steps without anyone even directing them. The Santorini mules are so self-sufficient!
After returning to the Cosmopolitan Suites, we rented an ATV from Moto Center Loukas in Fira to drive around the island. The ATV was in great condition and even included a trunk with a lock for our lunch and belongings.
We drove all over the island, stopping at random spots along the way for photos or walks. We drove to the Red Beach and then ate our leftovers for lunch at the Akrotiri Lighthouse. We drove to Perissa, the Black Beach, where we had pita and tzatziki and cold frozen ice cream and coffee drinks at Aquarius.
For our final stop on our ATV adventure, we hiked to Panaghia church near Ancient Thira for more incredible views. Had we gotten an earlier start, I would have loved to hike all the way to ancient Thira (here is a detailed explanation of how to do so), but it was getting late, we were getting tired, it was extremely hot, and we had at least another hour to go. It turned out that the ruins were already closed for the day (they close at 3pm), so it was good that we didn’t hike so much further only to find out our destination was closed! Note: Hike is somewhat strenuous, especially in the heat.
For our last night in Santorini, we drove our ATVs over to Oia to watch the sunset and have dinner in Amoudi Bay, a small fishing village with three restaurants with fresh seafood. We chose to eat at Sunset Tavern and were very fortunate to get a front row view of the sunset, especially without having reservations. (Note: Have your hotel call for reservations!)
The seafood at Sunset Tavern was caught that day, so your server takes you to the window and you tell them which fish or shellfish you want and how much. Since I wasn’t sure what any of the fish were, I asked for a flaky white fish without the head. The kitchen accidentally left the head on my fish and our server felt so bad about it that he insisted on bringing us a sweet Greek dessert and shots of Metaxa, an after-dinner brandy blended with wine and other flavors. What to order: White snapper, fried prawns, fried zucchini, oven-baked feta cheese
After exploring Oia by night, we took a thrilling six-mile nighttime ATV ride back to Fira under millions of stars with chilly air whipping by us! It is another memory I will never forget. After one last night at our beloved Cosmopolitan Suites, we took a fast ferry to Mykonos, which I will tell you about next week on the blog. If you are taking a ferry to any islands, know that you don’t have to get there much before boarding time. We were advised to get there an hour early, but we could have easily arrived no more than 15 minutes early without a problem.
See you next week! Thanks for reading!
Cosmopolitan Suites, Thira, Fira, Fira 847 00, Greece
Cafe Classico, Ypapantis Street, Fira, Greece
Argo, On the steps to the old port, Fira 847 00
Aquarius, Παραλία Περισσας, 84700
Sunset Tavern, Ορμος Αμμουδιού, 84702