Here’s something we can all agree on: The prettiest volcanoes are the ones that don’t go boom. (Sorry, Etna!) And if a volcano happens to be underwater, then it tends to go up a notch in our book. To wit: The submarine volcano in Santorini is one of the best in the world and its caldera is responsible for some of the most awe-inspiring photographs ever taken. You may think we’re exaggerating, but that’s probably because you’ve never stood before it. Let’s rectify that.
Where to Stay
So, you’ve found yourself on the island with the most beautiful sunset in the world and a unique underwater crater. (Fortunately, not super active anymore.) For an out-of-this-world experience, aim high. ARCHouses is located at the highest point of the village of Imerovigli and its panoramic views should be in The Guinness Book of Records. Well, if there was a record for the most “Wow’s ever uttered in a day.” From the exterior, the hotel maintains traditional Cycladic lines but proprietor Flora Nastouli (an architect by trade) has injected the interior with pops of modern vibes. We feel like the locals should start a new phrase: Shoot for the moons of Jupiter, you may just land in Imerovigli.
Imerovigli, tel. 22860 23258
If you’ve followed our advice and chosen Imerovigli for your stay, then you have another option. The Altana Traditional Houses & Suites’ infinity pool is probably the highest pool on the island. So, not only will you get to show off those dives you’ve practising but you’ll also have access to a view that the most beautiful postcards in the world are envious of. The building itself is a living monument dating back to 1883. It was completely renovated a century later and became the first modern house of the time. We feel like we’ve forgotten something. Oh right, did we mention that each room comes with a private jacuzzi?
Imerovigli, tel. 22860 23240
Confession: There’s a secret recipe for the perfect hotel. It’s not enough for it to be faithful to the Cycladic architecture of the island, or to have an infinity pool overlooking the caldera. While The Perivolas Hotel has all of that, the secret to its success lies in one detail: It was originally designed as a private home. Fortunately, the owner came to his senses and now offers rooms to rent, so you can enjoy home comforts with the added bonus of watching the sun as it dips into the sea. Stash your watch and mobile phone away: Time passes differently here. If at all.
Oia, tel. 22860 71308
Where to Eat
Don’t worry: Unlike the Sphinx at Thebes, the Sphinx in Fira will not make you solve a seemingly unsolvable riddle. The “puzzle” is tres simple: balconies overlooking the caldera and Greek cuisine made with products from Santorini and the surrounding islands. Chef and owner George Psychas handpicks not only the goodies from his organic farm, but the fresh fish you’ll find on the menu too. With over 150 bottles of Greek and international wine in the cellar, the only puzzle you may need to solve is this one: “Which wine should we try?” We recommend sipping on a bottle or two of Theran; made from local vineyards, of course.
Fira, tel. 22860 23823
Fish Tavern Katina
You might not know this, but submarine volcanoes have a great advantage: they make fishing a relatively easy affair, as the the crater attracts some of the most delicious sea creatures. The hard part is knowing how to cook them properly. “Fish tavern Katina,” the oldest in Amoudi, has found the perfect recipe for all fish of the caldera and the lobster is so famous, that, for some, the “best sunset in the world” becomes attraction number two. Make space for squid, traditional “fava” beans and the “pseftokeftedes” aka fake meat balls actually made of tomatoes. Do not make the mistake of not ordering them.
Amoudi, tel. 22860 71280
Sea Side by Notos
The indecision struggle is real. Yes, even in Santorini. Do you want a traditional tavern next to the sea, or a gourmet restaurant? Or maybe a lounge bar with sofas and cocktails? At St. George’s Beach you don’t have to choose; Sea Side by Notos has it all. Chef Tassos Bacharides takes traditional Greek recipes and “remixes” them. Before you dig in, order a cocktail directly from the beach and watch as the paparazzi flashes go off. We know you’re awesome, but they’re actually there for the celebrities from around the world that frequent this spot.
Perivolos, St. George Beach, tel. 22860 82801
Where to Read
As you may have already guessed, you can’t do anything in Santorini without bumping into views of the caldera. That includes reading. The only bookstore in Oia is called “Atlantis Books” and a few years ago, The Guardian named it as the best bookstore in the world. You’ll find rare books, a haphazard layout, a cute cat and shelves that reach the ceiling. Right at the top, is a small terrace with volcanic-views. This year, on September 11, the Caldera Arts & Literature Festival will take place on that very terrace. Read our interview with proprietor Craig Walzer and don’t be surprised if you immediately book tickets for a quick getaway.
Oia, tel. 22860 72356
Where to Splurge
The folks at “Atlantis Books” don’t only offer rare books by the likes of John Steinbeck, but they’ll also reveal local secrets of Santorini. They told us when they’re in dire need of a sugar fix, they go directly next door to patisserie Melenio. And they’re not alone: All of Santorini passes through here to procure a few (dozen) chocolate truffles. Another crowd-favorite is the millefeuille. Whichever you prefer, pack some to take home with you. It’s the only way to keep the withdrawal from Santorini symptoms at bay. Well, until next time.
Oia, tel. 22860 71149