With its blue domed churches, cobalt blue Aegean sea, and cliff-clinging villages, it is no secret that Santorini, Greece, is a stunner. Part of the Cyclades island complex in the south Aegean, Santorini, also called Thira, can thank its picturesque setting for the influx of weddings, elopements, and honeymoons that seem to find a place on the island.
For my own honeymoon, Santorini was at the top of my list. From its rich archaeological wonders to its delicious vineyards, Santorini tends to be the perfect honeymoon escape. If you are plotting a Santorini honeymoon or merely considering it for your honeymoon destination, we have you covered from end to end of the caldera of what to see, do, eat and drink and where to rest up at night.
What To See
Towns and Villages
Easily Santorini’s most well-known village is Oia. Located on the northern tip of the island, Oia dazzles with its blue domed churches, windmills and narrow streets. While crowded with cruisers in the summer months, Oia is best appreciated in the early morning or late evening when the crowds have subsided. You will want to battle a few elbowing tourists however to partake in Oia’s main sport, sunset watching. Each night, crowds gather to appreciate the sun setting behind Oia’s classic traditional village setting.
Also worth exploring is the medieval settlement of Emporio. Set up just 12 kilometers from the capital of Fira in the south-central part of the island, Emporio features loads of narrow maze-like alleyways to get lost down and plenty of unique architecture to appreciate. Its strong medieval character is perhaps best enjoyed while marveling at its 15th-century fortress.
If you have a penchant for archaeological sites when you travel, Santorini will woo you with Akrotiri, the Minoan town hailing from the 17th century B.C. Akrotiri is special in that a volcanic eruption left much of the ancient commercial city in tact. Based on the lack of human remains found, it appears the residents of Akrotiri took the many earthquakes as warning signs to leave before the eruption. Housed in a cool protective structure, the archaeological site allows you to wander through the city by way of a series of walkways. You can see three story buildings, roads, pottery, drainage systems, stores and warehouses.
Santorini is also known for the archaeological site Ancient Thira. Located in dramatic fashion up high on a hilltop known as Mesa Vouna, Ancient Thira showcases ruins of a settlement from as far back as the 9th century B.C. While most of the buildings date from the fourth century B.C., Ancient Thira includes temples, houses with mosaics, an agora, theater and gym. From Roman baths to Byzantine walls, there are many different periods on display. However, Ancient Thira’s biggest draw might be its location. You’ll either have to make a steep climb or drive up a narrow switch-backed road to reach the ruins. Once you do, you are rewarded with high views over two of the island’s most popular beaches.
For a more in-depth look at Santorini’s past, couples can roam the Museum of Prehistoric Thira when you need to escape the heat of the day on the island. The museum lends more insight into Akrotiri with painted frescoes, pottery and jewelry on display from the site. In addition, you can expect to be wowed by pottery from Cycladic sites from as far back as 3,000 B.C., fossilized olive tree leaves from 60,000 B.C. and a golden ibex found at Akrotiri from the 17th century B.C.
What To Do
Hike the Caldera Rim From Fira to Oia
Santorini boasts one of the world’s most dramatic hikes, were can follow a trail along the rim of a caldera. The roughly 10-kilometer trail connects the island’s capital of Fira and Oia on the northern tip. With dramatically perched churches along the way and plenty of panoramic views, the hike tends to be well worth the three hours that it takes to complete. Rather than heading back for a round trip journey of 6 hours, you can always take the bus back to your starting point in Fira.
Lounge on a Volcanic Beach
While Santorini is not necessarily known for its sandy beaches, it does boast a few volcanic beaches that are worth spending a lazy honeymoon afternoon on while on the island. The southwest claims perhaps the island’s most famous beach, Red Beach. Appropriately named, Red Beach features impressive red rock formations against a deep blue sea. In the southeast, you can find more traditional beaches like Perissa and Agios Georgios, known for their black sands and watersports. In the north, you’ll uncover more black sand beaches like Kolúmbo and Boxódes.
Take a Boat Out on the Volcano
What many travelers don’t often release is that Santorini used to be much more round in shape. A volcanic eruption would create a caldera sea and a narrower island. You can still visit the volcano on Nea Kameni island. Most boat tours of the volcano leave from Fira harbor. Some tours even include a dip in the naturally heated waters of the volcano’s hot springs.
Cliff Jump at Amoudi Bay
If you are a thrill-seeking couple, you can make the climb down to Oia’s port, known as Amoudi Bay. After scaling a few rocks, you can arrive at the well know cliff jumping spot at Amoudi Bay. From here, you can either jump from the cliff for a high, heart pumping perch if you dare or just swim straight off the rocks below. Either way, we will be biting our nails for you.
Where To Eat and Drink
Known as Oia’s port, Amoudi Bay is also a bit of a culinary delight on the island. The collection of a handful of restaurants is one of the best places on the island to sample the catch of the day. It is also where you can usually see dining just hanging out, in octopus form.
While you won’t be hard press to find juicy fresh fish while on Santorini, many couples get wrapped up in the island’s vineyards. Thanks to the volcanic soil and special climate, Santorini produces some unusual wines. Most vineyards set up in the central and southern part of the island, including Santo Wines. The modern winery spreads out across five different levels. You can tour the winery to see the wine marking process or merely grab a table come sunset and sample a few Santos wines. While certainly touristy, it’s hard to deny Santo Wines’ location on the edge of the caldera come sunset.
For an opposing vineyard experience on Santorini, honeymooners can seek out Domain Sigalas. Located on the ancient plain of Oia, Domain Sigalas has become known for its acclaimed wines, processing 300,000 bottles annually. With a focus on quality and keeping up with the traditions of the island, the small vineyard feel is best appreciated in its vine-draped tasting room. You can sip on Sigalas wines while perched right in the middle of the vineyard.
Where To Stay
If it’s dramatics you want in your honeymoon accommodations, it is dramatics you will get at Aenaon Villas. Located at the top of a steep slope in between the towns of Oia and Imerovigli, the complex of traditional villas dramatically lords over the highest and narrowest part of Santorini. Built right on the ancient path connecting Oia with Imerovigli and Fira, Aenaon Villas gazes out on the beaches of the east coast of the island.
Honeymooners are offered a choice of one of seven of the villas, all decorated with simple yet modern décor. Each features a private veranda and fireplace. Main facilities at Aenaon Villas sweeten with panoramic views and the infinity swimming pool.
Voreina Gallery Suites
Right in the heart of the island, Voreina Galley Suites finds a home in the traditional village of Pyrgos. Suites stagger on the northern hillside, lending honeymooners panoramic views of both Santorini and the Aegean Sea. In keeping with the architectural style of the Cyclades, Voreina Galley Suites provides nine suites and four luxury villas to choose from on your honeymoon. The nine suites are all uniquely designed with artwork and bright colors. Each features a private swimming pool or Jacuzzi, fireplace and kitchen. The luxury villas outfit with large swimming pools and spacious private verandas.
Atrina Canava 1894
Most honeymooners hole up in the picturesque and idyllic village of Oia during their honeymoon on the island. While you are in town, you can rest up at Atrina Canava 1894. The complex features several traditional houses built in strict accordance with the architecture of the island. With volcanic rock details, each house is unique. All couples can enjoy a balcony with a sea view overlooking the caldera. You can choose from one to two bedrooms villas. Atrina Canava 1894 sets up at the beginning of Oia, just two minutes on foot from St. George Church.
Have you been to Santorini? Share your favorite experiences on the island with us in the comments below.