As summer winds to a bittersweet end and the masses revert to their normal routines, now is the opportune time to do one thing—travel. For some light post-summer traveling with delicious food, vibrant architecture, exquisite shopping, and sunsets comprised of colors you didn’t know existed, I recommend Santorini.
Formed by the remnants of ancient volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, Santorini is the most popular of the Greek islands. Known and loved for its scenery and wine, Santorini is the perfect destination for some R&R (rest & relaxation). This summer, I was #blessed enough to explore Santorini and all its treasures, most of which I found in a town called Oia.
Oia (pronounced like “EE-ah,” don’t say the “O” part or you’ll sound painfully touristy) is the liveliest of Santorini’s towns, a spiraling, multi-colored walk-up full of restaurants, shops, and quiet corners for Instagram voguing.
I must warn you, you’re going to shop here. You’re going to shop a lot. The island and its merchants pride themselves on their handcrafted and stunning products; from the jewelry, embellished with the faces of Greek heroes and mythological legends, the clothing, made from fine linen, to the pieces of art you’ll want to adorn your walls with back home.
Everything is skillfully made and beautifully detailed, but my advice when it comes to shopping is to wait. However helpful and sweet the old Greek shop owner is, don’t believe her when she says you won’t find anything like the gold necklace you’ve been eying in her store, because I promise you, you’ll see that same necklace in virtually every store following. Take a day to window-shop before committing to any pricey purchases; there’s a lot to see and whatever you love, you’ll see more of on the island.
That being said, take the euros you save and blow it all at Atlantic Books. For the book lovers out there, perhaps even for the book haters, Atlantic Books is what dreams are made of. A walk down some steep, twisting stone steps, and through the door with Dorothy Parker’s “guns aren’t lawful” poem written on it, and you’ll find the cave of words that is Atlantis Books.
Small and crammed to the brim with hardback magic, this underground bookstore homes a collection of rare stories, books translated to various languages, a “Philosophy Tower,” a corner dedicated to Greek mythology, and even first editions of classic novels. If you feel overwhelmed, which you will, do ask one of the staff for a recommendation, all of whom are impressively well-read. They also stamp the inside of your book at checkout if you ask, making your experience and your book feel all the more special. Side note: A sign outside claims they also offer a cat rental service—I didn’t look into this but I wish I did.
If you know your mythology, you know that King Neptune (or Poseidon) is the god of the sea, but as it turns out, he’s also the god of excellent seafood. A must dine experience overlooking the caldera, King Neptune’s location is as magnificent as its food. I highly recommend their mussels and the seafood risotto—not a traditional Greek dish, I admit, but a delicious one nonetheless.
The most mysterious and majestic part about Santorini is how each sunset can be more glorious than the one before it. If you’re planning on taking pictures of or with the sunset, find a good spot early. Cafés and restaurants overlooking the water start filling up between 7 and 8 p.m., and believe it or not, so do areas on the street. Oia is notorious for its sunsets so situate yourself around 7, or you may end up standing on top of random objects between alleyways and clearings to get a glimpse—no joke, people actually climb things to get the best view.
Lastly, if you’re looking to fulfill a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fantasy (scenes from both the movie and its sequel were filmed here), you can actually take a donkey-ride through through Oia—if you don’t mind the cleanliness of the donkey and a bumpy ride.