When asked for suggestions recently about where this bride-to-be should hold her destination wedding, naturally I responded with “Santorini!!,” having just returned from this stunning island. Afterall, with one incredible view after another, ‘why would you choose anywhere else?’ I thought. In the two or three days there, we must have seen at least five or six weddings!
Her response was that it might be too difficult for their guests to get there, and reluctantly I had to agree, although Santorini has lately become a popular spot for destination weddings. Just google “Santorini weddings” and you’ll see what I mean!
There are three main ways to arrive in Santorini. By far the most common is by cruise ship. According to Conde Nast Traveler, around 10,000 tourists arrive per day in peak season this way! One can also take a ferry from Pireaus (the port near Athens), ranging from 5-10 hours travel time – not great. Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airways also fly into the tiny, highly chaotic airport.
Perhaps this would be a better honeymoon destination – just the two of you in this most romantic of settings. I’d recommend the “shoulder” seasons of spring or September/October. First, to avoid the oppressive heat of summer and second, to avoid the oppressive crowds that make every turn and photo opportunity a challenge.
Credit cards are widely accepted here and most people speak English, making your stay easy. Be sure to book your your restaurants and tours before you leave home, if possible, or immediately upon arrival.
With a destination so focused on tourism, you can imagine there is plenty to do!
1. Enjoy each other and your first sunset. Be sure to take some time on your honeymoon to just lay around the pool and enjoy each other’s company! Santorini excels in beautiful hotels with pools that overlook the caldera, so you get the sun, water, and each other all in one! And don’t forget the romantic sunsets – what Santorini is known for! But, where everything I read said to go to Oia for the sunset, I found them to be viewed far better from Imerovigli, a town mid-way between Oia and Fira, the capital. Even restaurants that boast a great sunset view in Oia may still have views obstructed by bars, rooftops and lots of people.
2. Tour a Winery. Santorini is blessed with excellent grape growing climate and soil that produces exceptional wines: mostly whites, and some reds. We chose a tour at Venetsanos Winery – which also included a tour of Oia and Pyrgos village – largely because of the stunning setting and their ability to serve traditional Santorinian dishes, including tomato fritters, Santorini salad (amazing, and different from a traditional “Greek salad”) breads with a tomato sauce dip, olives and a surprisingly tasty fava dip, along with excellent wines! This turned out to be one of the many highlights of our stay!
3. Visit Akrotiri. Towards the south part of the island, you’ll find the archaeological site of Akrotiri, once a flourishing town settled by the Minoans as early as 3000 BC and destroyed by volcanic eruption around 1450 BC. It is thought of as Santorini’s Pompeii, although no human remains have been found here.
4. Tour Oia. Pronounced Ee-a (not oy-a). Unfortunately, you’ll be in good company here, as this tends to be where most tourists go. Therefore, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and hotels, but most importantly, stunning views with every turn! Be prepared to take a lot of pictures! Also be sure to tour other towns on the island, as they are all uniquely beautiful.
5. Set sail on a catamaran cruise. Whether daytime or for sunset, be sure to include this in your itinerary! Even if you and boats are not friends, generally speaking the water is calm enough and the catamaran stable enough that you’ll be fine. Opt for a cruise like this one offered by Viator that was beyond amazing!! Whisked from our hotel to the departure point, we set sail past the Red Beach and White Beach, into the caldera and over to the hot springs by the volcano. A word of warning, the sulfurous hot springs will ruin any fabric that is white, so bring an old bathing suit, shorts/t-shirt or something you don’t mind being discolored.
For lunch, we were treated to a mouth-watering spread of grilled shrimp, fish, chicken, salad, bread & dips, wine, beer, sodas, you name it! Heaven!
We returned to our hotel late afternoon, tired and full, but ready for another cocktail at sunset.
Be sure to select a hotel with views of the caldera. I recommend the town of Imerovigli. It’s less populated (read: crowded), has great restaurants, and incredible sunset views! We stayed in a boutique hotel at a high point of the island where one could enjoy both sunrises and sunsets! Keep in mind that once the sun starts to set, it can get quite chilly, so be sure to have a scarf or sweater along.
Santorini is a fabulous place to visit, whether for a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary or any other excuse you can dream up! The weather is great, the food is fabulous and the people are friendly and welcoming. You’ll fall in love all over again!