The last leg of our Grecian journey was a visit to one of the most picturesque and iconic places in Greece: the island of Santorini. Formed by a still-active volcano, the island is one of thousands scattered throughout the Aegean. Each summer, tourists come in droves from around the globe to experience the incredible views, gorgeous beaches, and delicious food that the Greek islands have to offer. Each island has its own unique selling points, ranging from lively party culture to secluded romantic getaways to ancient archeological sites. Santorini is considered a perfect destination for honeymooners, most famous for its cliffs studded with iconic white buildings and for its unforgettable sunsets. Personally, I couldn't get the images of the bright white balconies overlooking the saturated blue water out of my head for months - I was transfixed, and simply had to see it in person.
We stayed in a village called Imerovigli, just north of the island's largest city, Fira. After an excruciating hotel selection process (excruciating only in that there were far too many beautiful hotels to choose from), we landed on the gorgeous Kapari Natural Resort. A small hotel of only 14 rooms, Kapari is a recently renovated complex of 300-year old traditional cave-like dwellings nestled into the cliffside. Each room overlooks the caldera, providing incredible sunset views from practically every vantage point. Because we were celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary, the staff at Kapari was kind enough to upgrade us to a gorgeous suite that opened up to the small infinity pool. They even gifted us a beautiful fruit plate and a bottle of Greek wine for the occasion - we have never felt so fancy in our lives!
The food at Kapari was fantastic - if we had never bothered to leave the hotel our entire stay, we probably still would have been very happy campers. Each morning, after being faced with the difficult task of dragging ourselves out of our cozy room, we were rewarded with the most delicious breakfast possible, served in front of breathtaking views.
There was something for everyone - after sampling the gorgeous array of homemade treats lined up at the buffet, we could choose from a range of hot dishes like omelets, scrambles, pancakes, and stuffed crepes. Each breakfast started with a bread basket, and inside was one of the best croissants I've ever had. It was whole wheat and seeded (as strange as that sounds) while still perfectly light, buttery, and flaky. I know, a whole wheat croissant sounds like a contradiction in itself, but believe me. It's absolutely magical.
In the evenings, the breakfast space becomes the Kapari Wine Restaurant, one of the top rated restaurants on the entire island. And rightfully so - it's so good, I could probably write an entire post in its honor (but since it's not technically brunch, I'll restrain myself). The dishes are thoughtfully created and artfully presented, offering fresh perspectives on classic Mediterranean flavors that could rival some of the finest restaurants I've had the pleasure of experiencing. Everything we tasted was perfect, from the traditional cheese pie appetizer to the handmade beetroot ravioli and the chicken stuffed with crayfish mousse. There's truly not much better in life than sipping Greek wine and enjoying a lovingly prepared meal while watching the sunset over the sea.
I do know this is a food blog, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that perhaps the most amazing part of the Kapari experience is the staff. In just the short time we were there, they grew to know us by name, remembering our preferences and tailoring our experience to us personally. They truly made it their mission to make sure that our Santorini experience was the best it could be, and they succeeded. Honestly, this was possibly the best customer service I have experienced!
Upon venturing out of the hotel, we found the island of Santorini to be full of delights. The first day, we walked the winding path to Fira - approximately a 20 minute walk - and enjoyed an afternoon of shopping and people watching. And because not every meal should be a four-course fine dining extravaganza, we also enjoyed some "fast food" - gyros and kebabs so mouthwateringly delicious, it makes you wonder how American fast food is even a thing.
We followed up the wine tasting adventure with a hearty meal in Fira, because you know, we drank lots of wine. As you do.
We also enjoyed a day on the beaches of Perissa, where the sand is a gorgeous, sparkly black due to volcanic ash. We felt like movie stars relaxing on the luxurious beach lounge chairs that the restaurants of there offered, and I especially enjoyed sipping the much creamier Greek equivalent to an iced coffee - the frappé. Someone needs to start selling those in L.A., pronto, they'd be a huge hit.
Of course, we also partook in the ultimate Santorini experience (according to TripAdvisor, anyway) - hiking the trail from Fira to Oia, a city on the northern tip of the island. The hike took us about two hours and was full of some of the most stunning views imaginable. We went in the morning, so it wasn't too hot, and we stopped a few times along the way for photos. Totally worth the effort - and hey, you've got to work off that gelato somehow, right?
Santorini's economy is fueled mainly by tourism, and in some ways those effects are deeply obvious. Almost everyone speaks English by default, and when we'd address people using the small amount of Greek that we learned, it would take people by surprise. From time to time, when the cruise ships would release their passengers, the narrow streets of the villages quickly became claustrophobic and overwhelming. And not surprisingly, you couldn't turn a corner in Santorini without running into a millennial taking a selfie in front of the caldera (I'm guilty, I totally did it too). But the locals we spoke to didn't seem to begrudge the tourist set, rather, they seemed relieved to be a part of a steady business in a country that has experienced so much economic turmoil in recent years. So, whenever we felt a bit overwhelmed, we settled in for a long, leisurely lunch by the sea to escape the crowds. There's truly nothing like it!
Just like in Athens, every café and taverna we stopped in served us delicious food. From the fancy to the casual, it felt like every place served their food with at least a little bit of love. A few times, we even got to go back into the restaurant's kitchen and pick out the fish we wanted for lunch, which we loved - it was so much fun to see inside the kitchens and chat with the chefs.
Here are some of the places we visited while in Santorini:
- Kapari Natural Resort & Kapari Wine Restaurant, Imerovigli
- Bagiatiko Food Bar, Fira
- Avocado Restaurant, Imerovigli
- Why Not! Souvlaki, Firostefani
- Akrotiri Archeological Site
- Santorini Wine Tour
- Argo Restaurant, Fira
- Chef's Garden, Fira
- Hiking Trail from Fira to Oia
- Dimitri's Ammoudi Restaurant, Oia
- Atlantis Books, Oia (a must for any book lover!)
- Lolita's Gelato, Oia
It was difficult to leave the gorgeous retreat of Santorini, especially when we were greeted by the beautiful sunrise view above on the morning of our departure. Between the kind inhabitants, the unbelievable beauty, and the scrumptious food and wine, we were in heaven!