Ali’s Guide To Santorini (and Folegandros)
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All of our best travel tips for where to eat, stay and visit in Santorini and Folegandros, Greece.
For our very first year as European expats, Barclay and I decided to make the most of our time here and go big by planning one another epic bucket list trips to celebrate our birthdays.
Barc’s instant choice for his 40th birthday trip was Rome, where we flew this past March while his brother was here visiting, and celebrated by seeing all the sights and eating all the carbs. And it was amazing. We squeezed a ton into our five days there, and loved every minute of it. But by the time my 35th birthday rolled around in May, especially after a busy spring hosting 50+ days of visitors at our flat here in Barcelona, I was definitely craving more of the relaxing vacation vibe than the go-go-go trip kinda vibe. So once our schedule opened up at the end of the month, we decided to take entire week off and flew to the country at the very top of my bucket list…
…Greece. ♡ ♡ ♡
For the past decade or so, this magical country has been chillin’ at the top of my bucket list and Pinterest boards. So to finally have the chance to go there felt like a total dream come true! We decided to save Athens for another time, especially since we had just been to Rome, and focus our time on some gorgeous Greek islands instead. And when Barc asked about my hopes and dreams for the trip, my priorities were pretty simple:
- Soak up beautiful views
- Read lots of books
- Eat as many Greek salads as possible
I’m happy to report…major wins on all accounts. Oh my goodness, the country was even more breathtaking and beautiful and serene than we had even imagined. The food was outstanding. We had dozens of reading dates all week long. And by the end of the trip, we both agreed that we were heading home feeling legit rested and restored and all the “re-‘s”…which is the mark of a good vacation, right?!
Truly, Greece took such great care of us, and we loved every minute of our time there. And of course, we also gathered up lots of good travel tips and recommendations to pass along to any of you who might be planning a trip there yourselves. So as promised, here’s our big trip roundup, including a few zillion photos (all taken with my iPhone and this lens, affiliate link), plus all of our recommendations for where to stay, eat and visit in Santorini and Folegandros, Greece.
Where We Stayed In Santorini:
We spent our first three nights of the trip in Santorini, staying at the Oía Mare Villas Hotel on the north end of the island in Oía. And wow, we cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It was definitely a bit of a birthday splurge, helped along by booking in advance, plus some travel points we had saved up. But it was worth it and had everything I could have imagined in a quintessential Santorini hotel — charming little villas sprinkled all over the hill, breathtaking views of the bay, an enormous (included) breakfast buffet each morning full of every Greek dish you could imagine, and an incredibly kind and welcoming staff. Plus our room itself was all kinds of adorable and included its own little private patio, where we spent hours upon hours reading in the sunshine with our glasses of coffee and white wine. Dreamy.
That said, the moment we arrived, we realized that the biggest perk of the hotel was absolutely its location. We’d had so many friends tell us that Santorini had become ultra-crowded and noisy and touristy in the past few decades. So when we arrived there at the beginning of peak season (end of May), we were prepared for anything. But as it turned out, our hotel was located on the loveliest little cove in Oía that was wonderfully tranquil…and quiet. Even better, it also happened to be the cove where locals and tourists gather each evening to come watch the sunset. But instead of having to snag a spot on the cliff and wait it out with everyone else in the hot sunshine for hours, we were able to just walk outside with a glass of wine and watch the sunset from our balcony.
Which, by the way, was easily one of my favorite travel experiences ever. ♡
Every single night, the cove magically begins to fill with hundreds of people — perched at the top of cliffs, having a glass of wine on balconies, watching from the streets below — all there to watch the sun go down together. Then once it actually sets, there’s a huge cheer that goes up around the cove, and everyone raises a glass together to the day. It’s just so fun and delightful and magical, and a total must for anyone visiting Santorini. And for anyone staying at this hotel, it’s also extra relaxing and convenient.
Our only regret was that we had booked an extra day or two there — loved this place so much!
Where We Stayed In Folegandros:
For the second half of our trip, we decided to go a bit off the beaten path and visit Folegandros, a lesser-known island just an hour’s ferry ride away. There, we stayed at the Anemi Hotel, which we also loved. But it was definitely apples and oranges to our stay in Santorini.
First off, we figured out pretty quickly that Folegandros’ tourism season doesn’t really kick off until June. So even at the end of May, the island (and our hotel) was nearly deserted…which was perfect for the two of us looking to kick back and relax! But maybe not the thing if you’re looking for a place with lots to do. It was also knock-your-socks-off-windy every single day. Like, so much so that reading by the side of the pool was a bit of a challenge, and my hair was resigned to a permanent top-knot for the entire trip, ha. (We were told, by the way, that September is the ideal time to be there, and not nearly as windy.)
Second, we didn’t realize that the hotel was not actually in Chora, the main town in Folegandros where most of the restaurants and shops are located. With just one taxi operating on the entire island, the only way to really get to Chora was to take a little 10-minute bus there, which was no big deal and ran from a nearby stop multiple times a day. It just took a little extra planning.
That said, though, we had an amazing time staying at Anemi. The grounds themselves were absolutely picture-perfect, and also housed a surprise vineyard and basketball court and area for yoga, all of which we enjoyed. And an extravagant breakfast was also included each morning, in which guests could order as many items on their 3-page breakfast menu as they desired, including the cutest little French press coffees. We also got to know the staff pretty well in our four days there, and were so thankful for their warm welcome.
Also, a quick note about ferries getting to Folegandros! There are a variety of ferries you can take to get there, either from Athens (5-7 hours), or from Santorini (1-2.5 hours). Fast ferries will get you there from Santorini in about an hour, (€45), but there’s also a slower one (2-3h) that’s around €8, which is available only on selected days.
Alright, here are some pics of both hotels below!
Where We Ate In Santorini:
Oh my goodness, this place is a food lover’s absolute dream come true. We ate breakfasts each morning at our hotel, and then ventured out each day into Oía for lunch and dinner (plus an occasional gelato or baklava), and literally just skimmed the list of recommendations we had been given. There is no shortage of amazing places to eat in Santorini!
As you may have seen on Instagram, we indeed went big with our Greek-salad-a-thon and ordered them almost everywhere we went. All of which were fantastic. Multiple locals we talked to also told us that the best restaurants in Oía are inland (without ocean views), which proved great advice with Candouni and Karma and PitoGyros. I’d say the only meal that was a bit “meh” was our lunch in Fira, but that was mostly just due to the fact that the crowds there that day were crazy, and we were itching to get back to the tranquility of Oía.
If you happen to be near Oía, by the way, be sure to swing by Atlantis Bookstore (see below) and pick up their Guide to Santorini. It’s full of fantastic local restaurant and travel recs and only costs €5.00.
Candouni: We came here for dinner one evening with two new friends we met at our hotel (hi, Ethan and Brittany!) and had such a great night. The food was fantastic, the vibe there was lively and fun, and the staff totally made us feel like we were part of the fam. We didn’t make it in time to snag reservations outside, but the patio also looked gorgeous!
- We ordered the grilled mushrooms, grilled tiger shrimp, spicy cheese dip, Candouni salad (mixed greens, radish vinaigrette, kealotiri cheese), and white wine. We also hung out and had our first mastika — a Greek digestif — with the staff after dinner.
- TripAdvisor | Google Maps | Facebook | Instagram
Karma: This was probably our favorite dinner in Santorini. Every single dish we ordered was incredible — especially the fish and homemade baklava — and the vibe out on the patio was so lovely and chill. I’d highly recommend stopping by.
- We ordered the “gorgeous Greek salad”, tsipoura (fresh gilthead sea bream grilled with a caper vinaigrette and radish salad), gemista (stuffed tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice and herbs accompanied by roasted potatoes and a slice of feta), fava with caramelized onions, honey baklava with masitha ice cream, and house rosé.
- Website | TripAdvisor | Google Maps
PitoGyros: An absolute must in Oía. You can either order food here to go or wait in line to eat in the cute little patio across the street (<– which we did, worth it). It’s super casual, super straight-ahead Greek food, and crazy delicious. Especially those salads and gyros.
- We ordered a chicken gyro, Greek salad, politiki salad, spicy cheese dip and house wine.
- Website | TripAdvisor | Google Maps | Facebook
Roka: This cozy little place is tucked away off the beaten path in Oía, and was also completely charming and delicious.
- We ordered the Roka salad (arugula, smoked Manouri cheese, figs, walnuts, petimezi vinaigrette), smoked trout (with potato salad, aromatic herbs in basil pesto and capers), “Skioufikta” (Greek handmade pasta with cherry tomatoes, garlic, spring onions, basil and xinomizithra), sea bass (with vegetables and red pepper sauce) and baklava with ice cream
- Website | TripAdvisor | Google Maps | Facebook
Sunset Taverna: I’d say that a meal here (or anywhere down in Ammoudi Bay) is another must for anyone visiting Oía. Located right on the water, the views down there are absolutely gorgeous. And everything we ordered — especially their signature sun-dried octopus — was so tasty! Heads up, though, it’s a bit of a trek down there. And back up. ;)
- We ordered the sun-dried octopus, Greek salad, spicy cheese dip, olives, and white wine
- Website | TripAdvisor | Google Maps | Facebook
Lolita’s Gelato: The place to go for gelato in Oía! We loved it.
- We ordered various flavors, but the blueberry something and pistachio were our faves.
(In Fira) Argo: We stopped by here for lunch on our one (very brief) afternoon in Fira, and it was pretty good. But whew, the crowds bustling around the restaurant that day were intense.
- We ordered the starter sampler (fried tomatoes, eggplant rolls, fava, tzatziki, beetroot tzatziki) and the Santorini salad (greens, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, tomatoes)
- Website | TripAdvisor | Google Maps | Facebook
Other places on our list for next time: Ammoudi Fish Tavern, Catch Bar, Fino Cocktail Bar, Laokasti, Lauda, Meletini
Where We Ate In Folegandros:
Restaurant options in Folegandros were definitely much more limited than in Santorini, and we had a few overly-touristy “misses”. But let’s be real, even a “meh” meal in Greece is better than just about any Greek food I’ve tried elsewhere. So, grain of salt. :) That said, here are the places we really enjoyed! Also, as I mentioned above, the enormous breakfasts each day at our hotel were incredible.
Chic Taverne: We sat up on the patio at this cute little family-run tavern and had a great evening. Their soup of the day was also incredible!
- We ordered the zucchini soup, Greek salad and red wine.
- TripAdvisor | Google Maps
Dal Capo del Porto: If you happen to be looking for a dinner within walking distance to Ameni Hotel, we had dinner here our first night and it was pretty good! Nothing fancy, but solid Greek food. Also, if you sit outside, get ready to have some visitors. The local cats were verrrry interested in the tuna we ordered.
- We ordered the grilled tuna, spicy cheese dip, olives and capers, eggplant dip purée with peppers and white wine.
- TripAdvisor | Facebook
Melissa: We had a lovely lunch here one day on the patio, and really loved our vegetarian meal.
- We ordered the Greek salad, vegetable souvlaki, and sautéed mushrooms.
- TripAdvisor | Google Maps
Souvlaki Club: This was probably our favorite meal in Folegandros. Our server was hilarious and awesome, the patio was just lovely over lunch, and they served us some of the best pita of my life. We stayed there and read books for a few hours afterwards and loved the vibe.
- We ordered the Greek salad, chicken gyro, veggie (mushroom) gyro and white wine.
- TripAdvisor | Google Maps
Stavento Ice Cream: Our server at Souvlaki Club told us that this was the place to go for good gelato in Folegandros. It’s run by a kind Italian man who spends his summers on the island, and serves some memorable gelato.
- We ordered the cherry and pistachio gelato cones, with a pat of panna on top.
Beez: We happened upon this cute little cocktail bar on our last night in Folegandros and really enjoyed it! They have an impressively stocked bar full of all sorts of specialty liqueurs, and the owner loves to craft original cocktails for each guest.
- We ordered a mezcal and whiskey cocktail to share.
- TripAdvisor | Facebook
Where To Visit In Santorini and Folegandros:
As I said, our goal for this trip was really just to chill and read and eat. :) So we didn’t make it to many of the sights/activities/excursions that are so popular there with many tourists in Santorini and Folegandros. Whenever we make it back, we would love to rent ATVs, visit more of the beaches around Santorini, drive out to some wineries, and try a caldera cruise. But that said, some highlights of this chillaxed trip included:
Walking, walking, walking: Our favorite thing to do in new places is just wander and walk around as much as possible. We had a great time exploring Oía in Santorini and venturing all around Chora in Folegandros. The only part of the trip we weren’t crazy about was our afternoon in Fira. It was really hot the day we were there, the crowds were dense and pushy in the city center, and it just wasn’t our fave. So we spent most of our time in Santorini closer to Oía.
Reading, reading, reading: So many of you were asking what I was reading on my Kindle! I caught up on a few loong-form magazine articles while we were there, and also made my way through (Amazon affiliate links):
- The Jane Austen Project (Kathleen Flynn): A total fan-fiction page-turner…all about time travel. Pretty fun!
- The Signature Of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert): Pretty long (and the second half dragged), but I love her writing.
- Bread and Wine (Shauna Niequist): This was actually a re-read, and one of my all-time faves.
Atlantis Bookstore (Santorini): A gem of a store tucked away down below on the main street in Oía. We could have spent hours here, just reading all of the little handwritten book recommendation notes sprinkled throughout the store alone. Awesome vibe, awesome staff, and super-awesome books.
Sunsets in Oía (Santorini): As mentioned above, even if you’re not staying in Oía, making it up to the little sunset cove one (ideally clear) evening there is a must. Just be sure to come early to stake out a spot if you’re going to be up high on the cliff — it gets crowded!
Hiking up to the Church of Panagia (Folegandros): This beautiful church is perched on a hillside above the town of Chora, and a must if you’re visiting Folegandros. Just take the zigzagged footpath up a simple 15 minute walk to visit the grounds. (It looks farther away than it actually is.) And if you happen to be there in the early evening during the summer months, be sure to venture inside to see the church and light a candle. Just a heads up — it gets chilly up there once the sun goes down, so bundle up.
This all looks amazing!!!
Gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing!
why am I torturing myself and reading this at lunchtime???
Looks like a great trip.
Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos.
What was the name you were reading in Español?
I’m still working on my 3rd grade fiction book for practice. ;) It’s called Azucar y Canela.
These pictures are truly breathtaking! What are those GORGEOUS pink flowers that appear on the balcony of a villa, yet I think are actually growing upwards from a tree on the lower patio? I moaned out loud when I saw those! It would be great if we have them here!
Thanks, Dana! And Bougainvillea — I couldn’t get over how stunning they were! We actually just saw them growing in San Francisco last week too. So lovely. :)
We have Bougainvillea over here in the US…..I have a couple of them and they are stunning. We live in Florida, but I’m fairly sure they grow well in other areas of the US.
Greek Salas and French Fries! Nothing better …
Wow wow wow!!! It looks to beautiful for words. I cannot wait to visit the Greek Isles! Also – you don’t take a bad picture!! ☺️ Always looking beautiful!
Aw, thank you, Emily! ?
The pictures are sooooooo clear. Just beautiful. Beautiful couple too
Thank you, Janet!
Can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the pictures and narrative of your Greek adventure! The food, the wine! The accommodations were lovely. Views, views, views! Thanks so much for sharing your life with us!
Aw, thank you so much, Anne!
you brought back some very fond memories of my greek trip four years ago. the beaches were incredible, as was the beautiful blue water. Santorini and Mykonos and Crete and Athens were all just wonderfully i ndescribably fabulous!!!!!! will go there again, hopefully soon.
Right?! That water! ?So happy that you had the chance to visit too! Mykonos and Crete are definitely on our list for the future!
Oh my goodness! Santorini, Greece, is one of the places I am going to someday! Love the pictures and thank you so much for all the information!
You’re going to love it! :) Thanks, Ramona!
I love your pictures and recommendations. What a lovely, relaxing week. This post really makes me want to visit Santorini. How beautiful! And delicious!
Yes and yes! :) Thank you, Joy!
Thanks for sharing! Bookmarking this for future reference. Looks like an amazing trip!
Thanks, Sara! :)
Awesome photos & the food…..making me hungry, I love good food. I am so happy for you’guys’ to be making your dreams come true. Love all of your posts …recipes are great. Thank you
Aw, thank you, Nancy!
Thank you for sharing so much beauty and love!
Thanks, Manuela! ?
Hello is it easy to get around oia to first? Like there’s always taxi around?
There are definitely lots of taxis, but we took the bus! :)
Love your site and especially love the pics of your fab vacations! I also love your pics when you are wearing soft pick lipstick – you are fair skinned like I am and it really makes you loook as beautiful as you are next to your handsome Bark! Most of your recipes I love – just not into olives and really odd things but always look to see what you have new,. Am just starting my own site and it won’t have all the wonderful pics or videos but it will have good talk and recipes from my growing up years and raising 2 beautiful daughters, It’s been fun getting started and hope to get busier and some $$ as well,. Best to both of you and look forward to your next email.
Thank you so much, Terry! And best wishes with your new site!
Wonderfull travel! I love it. Thanks for sharing
This is also on my bucket list! I will probably never get there so THANK YOU so much for the amazing pics and all the wonderful stories of the things you did every day. It was like I was almost there. I cant wait and see what you post next!! Thanks again!!! Have fun!!
Aw, thank you, Stacey! :)
Oh my! This is my dream place to visit and I have thoroughly read and oohed and aahed at every one of your descriptions and pictures. Cannot wait to make it there one day, hopefully very soon!! Amazing trip and you both look sun-kissed and completely relaxed!
Thanks, Gina! Hope that you can make it there soon! :)
So glad you got to spend time in Oia. I’ve been there just for a few hours, but it is so gorgeous. I’ve been to multiple Greek islands, but never to Folegandros. Unfortunately our visits to Greek islands have been via cruise ship, and the ships don’t go to Folegrandros (and don’t stay at Santorini long enough to get over there and enjoy some time there.
Glad that you’ve had the chance to see Santorini! Cruise ship stops are so speedy, but we loved seeing the town from the water on our ferry too. So beautiful! :)
I’m going to apologize in advance if this is a double post. I lost my internet connection just as I was posting.
Thanks for all the lovely pictures. All of those pictures of Greek salad made me hungry! What is the dish that appears to be soup with chickpeas?
Thanks, Sally! It was a Greek chickpea soup that we had one night at a restaurant in Folegandros. Very simple…but delicious!
Looks like my kind of vacation. Also, the link to the lens shows it unavailable with no restocking likely.
Oh thank you for the heads up! I’ll go back in and link to their original website.
So beautiful all around! My twins were just in Greece so I really enjoyed seeing you photos too. One day I’ll make it to some of the Greek islands and will bring your tips in tow. Curious if you had packing tips as well. Thanks!
Thank you! Hope that you can make it there soon! I just say pack layers for the windy days…and pack as light as possible. Those tiny paths and million steps are no joke with luggage! ;)
Your photos leave me breathless and in love… and hungry!! I want to replicate your trip exactly. It all looks so unbelievably lovely. Greece is in my blood (see my last name) and I really hope if I make it there someday I have an experience as wonderful as yours!
Aw, thank you! Hope that you can make it there soon too! :)
Lovely glimpse into your fabulous adventure! Thank you….
Thanks, Phyllis! :)
LOVED hearing all about your trip and all of your gorgeous pictures! I’m traveling to Europe this summer, but sadly not Greece! Definitely bookmarked this for future travel inspiration though :)
Thanks, Brittany! Hope that you have a lovely time in Europe this summer! :)
This trip looks amazing and so gorgeous!!! So glad you two got all your “re-“‘s :p
Us too! :D Thank you!
Are these pictures really just point and shoot with your iphone and lens or did you have to adjust for lighting, exposure, etc.? Gorgeous pics! We are going to Santorini in September so this post is perfect! Thank you!
Yep, I shoot with my iPhone and edit in an app called A Color Story. Totally recommend it! :) Have such a wonderful trip this September!
What a wonderful trip you two had!! I have often savored the photos on Santorinni on Pinterest, but you
made the experience LIVE!! How fun. I would love to go there some day. Keep traveling and sharing your
experiences-I love them!! Best to both of you. :)
Aw, thank you so much, Anita!
Santorini is the number one place on my bucket list. Your photos are gorgeous. I can’t believe you took them with an iPhone. I have an iPhone and my pictures never come out this good..
What a wonderful site.
I have actually never been to Santorini before although I have visited some of the other islands in Greece.
I love the Greek food personally so I really enjoyed reading about your experiences.
I do need to plan a trip to this wonderful island.
Thanks for sharing :)
Wow!!! such great pictures… you really captured the whole atmosphere and magic of Santorini (never been to Folegandros :(( ). You really got me with all that food pics there (and I am Greek, so that says it all). You both look great and you sure must have had a whale of time….I hope you get to have many more vacations like that….
Thank you for sharing your amazing trip to Greece. We vacationed there 5 years ago, but it didn’t compare to what the two of you did.
Thank you for posting this. My fiance and I have been talking about going to Santorini/Mykonos for our honeymoon next year. Originally, we were thinking about Napa/Sonoma, but Greece has always been on the top of my travel wish list. It’s absolutely breathtaking! And there are also plenty of vineyards/wineries to check out in Santorini!
Hey! I found your blog while searching for Santa Fe salad. We just had one in Stow on the Wold in England. We were in Europe for a wedding, we had a few days to kill and almost went to Santorini, but went to Budapest instead, saving Santorini for another trip when we had more time! I’m so glad to have found your blog on the Greek Isles! Anyway, you guys are a cute couple and I’ve enjoyed your blog. We’re having the Santa Fe Salad tonight!!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, beautiful pictures and advice!
Oh wow, thank you for sharing your beautiful trip with us. Your photos make us dream, it seems you had a wonderful time. And thank you for all the recos as well! Although I’m the opposite expat of you (European/French girl expat in Chicago), I definitely add Greece to my bucket list! Del ps: I do not comment often on your blog but love coming to visit you here and following your Insta stories, you are always so full of positive energy, love it!
Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and travel experiences!! Best to you and Barclay~ wishing you both wonderful adventure and fabulous food:)
Let me just say that I live vicariously through you! I may not be able to go many places but when I get on your blog…..I feel like I’m transported to the place you are speaking on. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful lives with us!
Oh my your trip looks devine. You and your husband make surch beautiful couple. The trip looks like fun. The food looks declious.
I loved reading about your trip to Greece. My husband and I are thinking about booking for this coming August for his 40th. Question- and this might sound like a silly question. I’m not an adventurous kind of gal- and embarrassing to admit- I don’t know how I’ll deal with all of the steps? Although in your pics the steps don’t look terrifying. Do you think someone like me will have a good trip having to walk up and down steep steps the whole week, or are they not too steep and terrible?
Hi Danielle! That’s so exciting! There are definitely lots and lots of steps in Greece, but the majority that we encountered were not steep at all. Just definitely wear comfortable walking shoes. :) Enjoy!
Thank you for such great pictures of scenery and food. Such a beautiful place. And beautiful food. Love the kitties, lamb and donkey.
I’m heading to Folegandros next week for my honeymoon and also staying in Keravostasi. I’d be curious what the “misses” were for restaurants so we can avoid them!
I have been reading out a few of your posts and i must say clever stuff. I will make sure to bookmark your blog.