When we think of Greece, the first things that spring to mind are romantic sunsets and white Aegean houses. Yes, Greece is notorious for those but also for many other things such as traditional Greek cuisine, fine wines and a great atmosphere.
On this occasion, I am going to focus on the traditional hilltop village of Oia, Santorini from where I have just returned. Charming and serene, Oia is the perfect destination for lovers, newlyweds and the perfect remedy for a couple in need of rekindling their romance.
Santorini is about a 4-hour flight away from London and Oia is an additional 30-minute drive away from Thira airport.
Oia– I rate as one of the highest on my list of the most picturesque views I’ve ever seen. Upon arrival at the beautiful Mystique Hotel I was blown off my feet to discover the property has a panoramic view of the Volcano, the Aegean Caldera, and the crystalline waters. Initially concerned by its proximity to the town centre and the noise associated with it. I was quickly submerged into the serene living and ambiance that the Mystique Hotel has to offer. With 22 suites mostly equipped with their own jaccuzi guests can enjoy the ultimate Santorini experience, overlooking the elegant surroundings of an understated elegance from the comfort of your own room. In addition to the views, there’s a lot more to love at Mystique with a refreshing infinity edge pool, the Aura bar, the Charisma Gourmet Restaurant and the secret wine cave ideal for a wine tasting session of all the Santorini produced wines.
Once I was able to focus on something other than the view I began to take in the details of the décor, which perfectly embrace the location with cave-like rooms as well as unique and wondrous driftwood furniture.
Oia has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to food and dining. We all know the way to man’s heart don’t we?! So read up ladies because these addresses are likely to win him over.
– DIMITRIS AMMOUDI TAVERNA – This is an absolute must, situated right on the edge of the sea Ammoudi fish tavern is the ultimate seafood restaurant. The service is fantastic and the staff very friendly. Everything on the menu is delicious and you can count on Panos for the warmest welcome.
– AMBROSIA – Lovely Romantic restaurant located in town overviewing the Caldera. Although it does not have a sunset view the 5-table terrace has an outlook that no postcard could capture. Ambrosia has a great list of Greek wines to choose from to compliment the Mediterranean food. My favourite THALASSITIS, a dry white wine made from the Assyrtiko grape. Reservation necessary
– CANDOUNI – set in a cozy courtyard this family run business is a hidden gem. Far from the usual tourist traps this delightful restaurant offers excellent food in a romantic and somewhat sedcluded atmosphere. Definitely recommend the fava bean spread, eggplant dip and lamb. For great advice on wine ask for Panos. Reservation recommended
– MELITINI is the perfect no-frills taverna that specializes in authentic Greek mezze. Meals are inexpensive but divine. Originally aimed at the locals, this gem has a perfect view on the sunset. Aim to go for 7.30 as the sun sets around 8 (end of July). Reservation recommended
And with that? Wine!!!
Santorini is home to some fantastic wines. Ancient Greece already produced wine, which was an integral part of its culture. Santorini’s wine culture picked up after the demise of the Byzantine Empire, when Venetian traders discovered the wine and brought it back to Venice in the 13th century.
Today Santorini is home to eight wineries, which have earned themselves the reputation of producing some fabulous wine, which even renowned critics such as Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson have called the “most original and compelling” wines of all the islands in the Aegean (Johnson, Hugh & Jancis Robinson).
The vast majority of wine in Santorini is produced from the white grape variety Assyrtiko, which has a typical mineral and citrus fruit flavour. Assyrtiko has its origins in Santorini and flourishes in the volcanic soils of the island, which has made it resistant to most pests, thus most of the wine grown in Santorini is done so without any chemicals. The other two grape varieties, which are often blended with Assyrtiko, are Athiri and Aidani, whose origins also lie in Santorini.
If you drive through the vineyards you will notice one thing, which is typical for the island: the ‘Koulara’ method. The vines are woven into a circle in order to form a nest, thus protecting it from the strong winds and extensive sun and heat exposure.
It is difficult to recommend just one of the vineyards, as all of them carry their own particular charm, but I enjoyed the wines of Gaia (Thalassitis), Sigalas and Hatzidakis the most. Santorini also offers different guided wine tours in small or private groups that let you explore not only the wines but also the culture and history behind them. Alternatively you can also visit the ‘Wine Museum’, which is part of the Koutsoyannopoulos Estate and a real experience!
Wine Museum: www.wine-museum-koutsoyannopoulos.gr
Wine tours: www.santoriniwinetour.com
For those of you who prefer outdoor activities (excluding tanning) Santorini has great hikes and trails around the Greek island.
I would also strongly recommend the semi-private boat tour. The catamaran sets sail at around 10.30 and lasts about 5 hours during that time you will be shown the Red beach, White beach and the volcano where you will be invited to swim in the hot springs. Snorkeling equipment is available on board. You will also have access to unlimited drinks and a delicious on –sea barbecue.
For a bit of fun you can also enjoy a fish pedicure at Kissing Fish located in town. I was slightly apprehensive at first but it turned out to be great fun. 10 mins is enough to enjoy the novelty value.
-OIA SANDALS –Beautiful greek handmade leather products – www.oisandals.com
–MOV& MAY – A stylish place with a selected collection of well-known brands.
– MYSTIQUE HOTEL – Santorini at its best – Perfectly located with amazing staff
– IKIES – Beautiful boutique hotel with caldera views and incredibly welcoming and helpful staff.
– ANDRONIS– Ideal for a romantic escape located in the town centre.