Spectacular sunsets, cliffside suites, and live musicians serenading you at restaurants — Santorini is known for its romance factor. Couples go there to reconnect, celebrate a special occasion, or mark a milestone in their relationship.
But, is it possible to do Santorini without the romance? Australian TV stars Holly Kingston and Cameron Daddo, who recently filmed an episode of Luxury Escapes: The World’s Best Holidays, premiering every Tuesday on Foxtel’s LifeStyle channel and streaming on BINGE after that, say yes.
“Santorini has been coined by many as the world’s most romantic destination and I absolutely understand why,” says Kingston.
“But for me, the sole reason it’s gotten this name is those ultra-famous postcard-like sunsets which, admittedly, are like nowhere I’ve ever been. There is still so much more to this incredible island, though, than its glorious sunsets.”
Daddo agrees, saying Santorini is just as magical to visit no matter the reason you’re there or who you’re with. “The local food, the beaches, and amazing blue of the Caldera [volcano]… it’s heaven each and every time.”
Ahead, Kingston and Daddo share their tips for doing Santorini alone, or with family or friends, based on their recent trip.
What to Do in Santorini
“I once thought Santorini was an island where you go to lie by a pool, catch some rays, and duck into the towns for the sole purpose of grabbing a feed and wine,” says Kingston. “I was so wrong.”
Her must-dos on the island include spending an afternoon at Ammoudi Bay, 278 steps below Oia, where you’ll find a jump rock around the bay and a crystal-clear winning spot. She recommends you follow up visiting the spot with a late lunch at one of the local fish taverns — “there are many to pick from”.
“I’d also recommend horse riding on the beach or renting a kayak or jetski from the black sandy beach, Perivolos Beach, and exploring the nearby caves,” she says. “Also, escape the bustling streets of Fira and Oia and head up to dinner in the hills at the local Greek taverna, Metaxi Mas.”
Kingston also suggests you visit the old castle remains in Oia, specifically around sunset time, and get lost in the countless cobblestone streets of Fira, where you’ll find shops and restaurants. Also, visit the several beach bars along the stretches of Perissa and Perovolos Beach.
A trip to Santorini also wouldn’t be complete without a boat trip around the island. If you’re travelling with friends or family, hire a private boat. If you’re travelling solo, do a group boat trip so you can meet people.
“On a boat, you can explore the Caldera and Aegean Sea,” Kingston says. “There are so many beautiful white, red, and black sand beaches around the island to explore in a day.”
Daddo also recommends swimming around the Caldera, which he calls an amazing experience. He says he always rents a Vespa to get around and explore Santorini’s town and often walks the trails on the island’s hills where you can take in its sights.
“Late afternoon drinks and dinner at [Japanese restaurant] Nobu, [housed within boutique hotel Nobu Hotel Santorini] would be high on my list for a special evening,” he says.
Where to Stay in Santorini
So, where to stay in Santorini? If you’re doing the island without romance, Kingston says staying in Fira is your best bet. She describes it as a melting pot of bars, nightlife, and shopping, with easy transport options to beach bars and daytime adventures.
If you are doing romance, though, she suggests Oia, which she calls her favourite town on the island. “I find it lively without being overwhelming in the summer months as many of the accommodation options are slightly more spread out,” she says. “It is, however, definitely the more romantic area as the best sunsets on the island are over this side.”
In Oia, Kingston recommends Santo Pure, which she’s now stayed at twice and can’t fault. “It’s a perfect mix of relaxation while still being in close proximity — five minutes by private path — to bustling Oia town.”
The hotel is Daddo’s pick too, noting that its breakfast is almost as amazing as Santorini’s sunsets. Almost.