Santorini is Instagram magic with its white glistening buildings, clear seas and pastel coloured sunsets, it is the jewel in the crown of Greece. With a flight time of around 4 hours from Gatwick, Santorini is easily placed for a week away. The resorts of Fira and Oia are THE Instagram hot spots as they are on the West side of the Island and see the most spectacular sunsets. Howeverrrr we chose to stay on the East side in the beach resort of Perissa where you can find peaceful beaches and a beautiful sunrise.
We stayed in Perissa in the cutest villa and we were looking for a chilled out break. We did initially plan to travel over to Fira and Oia but with only a short week and limited transport options, we instead just went to Fira and enjoyed the views of Oia from a sunset cruise instead. The crescent shaped island is famous for the enormous volcanic eruption which caused half the island to be lost beneath the waves. The volcanoes still survive today and the sunken part if rumoured to be the lost city of Atlantis. This is my short guide to Perissa in romantic Santorini and beyond.
What to pack
I packed stacks of white from Zara and H&M to take advantage of the bright white buildings and vibrant flowers. I also threw in printed mini dresses from And Other Stories plus light, bright maxi dresses from Zara. It is a really casual vibe so think more boho dresses than cocktail dresses. I only packed leather flats from Dune but I wish I had taken my trainers for walking. You could pack wedges, espadrilles and sandals with a small heel if you’re going out for dinner somewhere dressy but casual works just fine!
We flew out from Gatwick with Tui and it was pretty seamless TBH. The airport in Santorini is tiny so don’t expect too much from it. In fact on the way home, you check in on the outside of the building (yes really) and then you can go and relax outside in the bar until you are called to your flight. Once there, Perissa is around 40 minutes by transfer from the airport.
Where to stay
The hot spots in Santorni are definitely Fira and Oia, they are the famous white towns on the cliff face with beautiful blue domes and cobbled streets which look out over the ocean. I have only been to Fira but it was very much a town feel and very vibrant. We picked Perissa as it had the black fine sandy beach with plenty of beach bars and restaurants but still a relaxed vibe.
We booked Atlantis Beach Villa which was small but perfectly formed. This villa has a pool and pool bar which serves food and great cocktails and is also on the beach front but separated only by a small road. It seems most beach front hotels in Perissa have their own hotel and then also own the beach at the front. So in our case, we were able to choose whether we wanted to enjoy the pool or the beach where the beach loungers and umbrellas were free of charge. You could also enjoy food, drinks and even ice cream from your lounger as they would serve you on the beach! If you wanted to go further afield, you could go and use other hotel or bars parts of the beaches but you might have to pay to use the sun loungers.
Getting around Santorini is relatively easy and there are a few ways to do it. The cheapest is the bus, these are really modern and just a few euros. They all go in and out of Fira, so no matter where you’re going, you’ll end up back here. They run, as our tour rep explained on GMT – Greek Maybe Time – which means the timetable can be somewhat advisory. Nevertheless, they are air conditioned, clean and pretty fast. We didn’t try the taxis but we hear they are crazy expensive – we’re talking 30 euros to get from Perissa to Fira which is a very expensive round trip. Hiring a motorbike or a car is also an option, and there are loads of places to visit around the island. The only note of caution is apparently parking is a nightmare in the hot spots of Fira and Oia, which is why in the end we picked the bus.
God the Greek are good with food. The beach bars and restaurants in Perissa were fantastic with a fantastic selection of salads, pizzas, fresh seafood and meat cooked on the grill. Even a lunchtime Greek Salad would be huge and super fresh, and perfect when followed by a starter of tzatziki with bread. Perissa’s sea front, all the way to Perivolos, is full of restaurants, and big restaurants at that so no matter what you fancy, you’ll find something you love. They have huge flamboyant Greek themed nights if that floats your boat. My favourite was Noma https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g635608-d3294665-r165845131-Noma_Kuzina_Mediterra-Perissa_Santorini_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html and we went back to this seafront venue as it had the right mix of authentic Greek with healthy modern dishes. We enjoyed fresh muscles, giant prawns on avocado, mushrooms in a creamy sauce, a salad of tomatoes and mozzarella plus tzatziki with warm bread and loads of white wine for around 60 euros. We also enjoyed great food at Charlina’s http://charlina.com/perivolos/ and Apollon Fish Tavern https://www.facebook.com/apollonrestaurantsantorini/ .
The liveliest place we found was a fantastic all day, and all night beach bar called Tranquilo https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g635608-d2153973-Reviews-Tranquilo-Perissa_Santorini_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html. We enjoyed many an evening under the Strawberry Moon here with dancing, reasonably priced drinks and plenty of atmosphere. I think it opened until 2am which around there was pretty late! There was also another called Wet Stories https://wetstoriessantorini.gr which also had a beach bar and had the most Ibiza style chilled out relaxed vibe with music and dancing day to night (although beware our two small beers which on the menu were 5 euros each totalled 20 euros after some kind of service charge / tax thing).
Our trip to Fira from Perissa started at around 4pm when we took the bus to Fira. The bus drops you off at a little bus station and it isn’t hard to find your way to the Instagram friendly town. I wore the world’s most inappropriate shoes for this; a pair of leather soled Dune sandals which on the hot steep cobbled streets practically turned into ice skates and I found myself skidding around to the point where I had to go barefoot. Yes dear reader, wear leather soles or trainers or something bloody normal! There are plenty of cute shops to look in, everything from hat shops to jewellery so something for everyone. Obviously went straight for ice cream and booze on the many, many bars along the coastline – just keep an eye on those prices because they like to hide them from you if they can. We went down to the old port which you access via a cable car – loved it but a little scary steep – and it is a little pricey – I think it was 6 euros just for one way each. If you are wearing appropriate footwear (lols) you can walk down and back up if you are feeling fit.
Fira’s Instagram Sunset
For the sunset, the only tip is really pick a spot. Yes it is busy, but I have to say there were plenty of options as you can simply hang out on the steps or down at the port. We chose to go in a bar as, frankly it seemed the best option. The hosts at the bar Katrin kept the menu away from us in order to keep the prices hidden so our small beer and small wine ended up costing 20 euros. However we did have a spectacular view of the most beautiful sunset, so think of it as a sunset tax! We didn’t eat there in the end but I would advise consulting Trip Advisor before you commit.
The sunset boat cruise we enjoyed was booked via Tui and had the benefit that we got picked up and dropped off in Perissa. We could also have looked to go via an alternative company so the choice is yours. If we went back, I’d probably like to have done something a little more intimate as it was rammed in a way reminiscent of an 18-30s booze cruise. I did enormously enjoy seeing Santorini from the sea as the stories of how the island was formed are brought to life by the many volcanoes. It was about half a day to sail from the port around the islands and past Fira to Oia and we stopped for lunch (pretty basic but nice) before enjoying the sunset in the middle of the ocean. If you’re a water lover – I really recommend a trip similar to this.
Santorini is famous for the sunset but over on the East side, we have the beautiful sunrise to enjoy. With the beach so close by, we set our alarm one morning for 5.50am and ran to see the sun rise at around 6am (this was June so times may vary). It was so special, peaceful and wonderful, it really reminds you how spectacular nature is.