History, Nature and Architecture celebrate its most beautiful melange in Greece! Home to some of the greatest philosophers, mathematicians and scientists of history, Greece now sees more than 33 million tourists every year and serves as an absolute paradise!
Nikita Thanwani takes us through her magical holiday in Greece.
What comes to your mind when you hear summer?! Beaches, luxury resorts and nightlife?? For sure, my partner and I wanted to spend our summer in Greece…
Over 200 islands make up the Cyclades, a group of islands in Greece, of which the most famous are Mykonos and Santorini, which are perfect for honeymoons and other romantic getaways. Santorini is famous for its postcard-perfect sunsets over the village of Oia, while Mykonos is famous for its windmills and beach clubs.
We booked our flights from AUH (Abu Dhabi International Airport) to JTR Santorini (Thira) International Airport; flying for about 4.5 hours where the land of the iconic whitewashed cliff-side villages, complete with deep sapphire domes, welcomed us with the temperature at 30* Celsius. The town of Pyrgos in Santorini surprised us with some contemporary restaurants on our first night. Our first meal in Greece was Vegan Gyros with Greek salad.
That morning, we decided to explore Pyrgos, where we discovered stunning blue-dome churches and winding stone streets around every corner.
Hearing about Oia’s beautiful sunsets, we decided that it will be our next destination for the majority of days in Santorini. Oia is one of the most beautiful and glamorous villages of Santorini, so if you have only one day, choose Oia.
Moving around Santorini is very easy either by car/ATV bike as the island of Santorini can be completed in 45 minutes from one end to the other. We rented a car since we had luggage and the heat was scorching. The rental company can be found all over the island; we took ours from Pyrgos and paid €65 per day, which was less expensive than rentals taken directly from the airport.
We stayed at the luxurious Marble Sun Villa with Jacuzzi by Caldera Houses in Oia, which is named after the caldera and costs €450 per night. It is located right below the most photographed area of Oia, the three blue domes. The property is a modern updated cave house with a jacuzzi and patio that kept us occupied the entire day. We took breaks in-between, enjoying the jacuzzi and exploring Oia’s streets.
Almost all of Oia’s alleys are paved, and the only way we got around the village was on foot. Expect to see numerous charming houses with traditional architecture and sun-kissed terraces, the famous blue-domed churches and other chapels, as well as flocks of people on the streets during the day.
And then, it was time for our favourite part of the day, watching the sunset. We made our way to the Oia Castle, the most famous spot in Oia for watching the sunset. We were mesmerised by the views, and were surprised to see hundreds of people queuing up in the alleys and corners of the Oia castle; we were told to go early because people start queuing up 2-3 hours before sunset! We booked a restaurant called Kastro, which has the same view but a much smaller crowd, and walked up to the castle after sunset to enjoy the cooler vibe.
The following day, we checked out and went to Canaves Oia Suites to take in the breathtaking views from the infinity edge pool. There was something special about the direct views of the caldera that drew us to Canaves, which has an opulent atmosphere. The Infinity Pool Suite is one of Santorini’s most outstanding vacation spaces. The hotel is just 5 minutes from the church on the main road into Oia, and we had an amazing breakfast on our private patio.
After enjoying Canaves Oia, we rested for a while and captured drone shots, as my husband is one of the best drone pilots I’ve ever seen. In July, the afternoons are generally very muggy, so we took a nap before going out in the evening.
Oia has one of the most beautiful bays in Santorini, Amoudi Bay, which we visited late in the evening around 5 p.m. When we arrived, we noticed that many people had reserved tables at the restaurants to watch the sunset. Amoudi Bay is Oia’s main port, and it also has a number of excellent seafood restaurants. People walk down the path from the city to the bay, but it is difficult to walk, so we drove there and walked 10 minutes down from the parking lot. Incidentally, because the cliffs are too steep, many tourists ride donkeys up and down the island’s bay. The view of the turquoise waters at Amoudi Bay is spectacular! It’s amazing and entertaining to watch people jump in, and we settled for some crisp French fries with avocados on the side.
Mykonos: “Island of the Winds”
We checked out of our hotel the next morning and took a ferry to Mykonos, which costs €89 per person per way.
A high-speed ferry from Santorini to Mykonos takes about 2.5 hours, whereas a standard ferry, which costs more, takes about 4.5 to 5.5 hours. We booked ours through ferryhopper.com – a high-speed ferry.
Mykonos, unquestionably one of Greece’s most beautiful islands, is best known for its beaches and nightlife. It is full of wonderful places to visit and fascinating historical sites. We spent 3 nights on the island and indulged in the island’s delicacies.
Located in the heart of Cyclades, Mykonos is a whitewashed paradise named after the grandson of Apollo, the Greek God. We decided to stay at Adama Mykonos, which is 5 kilometres from the city centre, and rented a car for €90 per day to enjoy a hassle-free ride around town. All the major attractions are located within the city, near the centre, which the locals call Chora. The town is small enough to get around on foot, hence there is no need to worry about transportation. There is no need to rent a car unless you want to go to beach parties, which are further away.
We spent the evening watching the sunset at the most famous spot on the island – Zuma, Cavo Tagoo. Watching the sun set from the comfort of our sunbeds, taking in the breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, was wonderful. These opulent beds of Zuma decorated the picturesque infinity pool in the most amazing way.
The next day, we strolled through the narrow marble streets admiring the purple bougainvillea trees and hidden churches. Mykonos really surprised us – in a glamorous sort of way – what with its whitewashed houses with colourful doors and window frames. We went shopping at Pandora, Versace, and a few other street shopping stores that are lined up in the middle of the city.
The rest of the day was spent sipping coffee in one of the most picturesque corners of the island known as Little Venice, and enjoying dinner and drinks at 180* Sunset Bar, from where the sunsets are truly breathtaking!
The last day in Mykonos began early with us taking some beautiful photographs because the crowds were less and we could have the best spots to ourselves. Next, we relaxed at Negrita, a waterfront café with one of the best views of the island. Amazing vibe, great music, delicious drinks, and good food portion sizes. …By the way, one can’t end these diary jottings without mentioning that Mykonos is one of the most expensive islands in Greece.
We spent the rest of the day admiring the view of quaint windmills standing on the hillside against the luminous backdrop of the blue seas, and visiting Panagia Paraportiani, a church famous for its prolific beauty.
Since Mykonos’ nightlife is well-known, we took advantage of the opportunity to visit a few clubs and bars on our final night there – Skandinavian Bar Mykonos, Paradise Beach Club Mykonos and Steve Angello at Cavo Paradiso Club Mykonos.
The final final leg of our journey – flight back to AUH – was scheduled from Santorini, so we returned and decided to spend the last night at Cresanto Luxury Suites in Imerovigli. Imerovigli is one of the best places to stay at because it is only 1 km from Fira, Santorini’s centre and capital. Imerovigli has easily accessible luxury accommodation and is located on Santorini’s highest cliff, which is ideal for viewing the sunset from the peak.
We went to Buddha Bar, which is right next to Skaros Rock and has the best view of the island. We watched our last Greek sunset from here before heading to the main town of Fira. It is Santorini’s centre, where you can wander the streets, buy a few souvenirs for family back home, and enjoy the atmosphere along the lively waterfront with a fleet of fishing boats casting colourful reflections in the azure waters. We called it a night after visiting a few pubs and bars in and around Fira.
Our ultra chic Summer 2022 Greek vacation had finally come to an end… but gorgeous Greece, its warm vibe and exquisite dining over the peaks will always be remembered!
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