Destinations don't come much dreamier than the Greek Island of Santorini. With whitewashed villages, cliff-hugging hamlets and wonderful wineries – holidays here are as luxurious as the sunsets are spectacular. Enjoy edge-of-the-world views over sapphire blue seas, or take a boat trip across the iconic Caldera. From must-sees to mouthwatering dishes and Santorini's best beaches, our Santorini villa owner Yota Chalari gives us her top travel tips.
"It's no secret that Santorini's northwestern tip is the most sought-after place to visit, namely the head-turning village of Oia. We chose sleepy Finikia for its proximity to the famous settlement of Oia, as well as the views of surrounding vineyards and the Domaine Sigalas winery.
You'll find Finikia in a picturesque valley – a perfect location that's pocket-friendly too! Here you'll have the best of both worlds, with a short walk into Oia when you fancy, or a peaceful evening in the traditional village if you're after an authentic Santorini experience.
Beyond Oia, you'll be poised for all kinds of adventure with Finikia as your base. On the doorstep of some of Santorini's top attractions, the capital of Fira is just 10km away, while the beautiful north coast beaches of Baxedes and Paradisos are closer still. Our villas are a match made in heaven for couples who want to enjoy the infamous island, but want a place to escape the crowds."
"Santorini is all about experience and indulgence, so we pride ourselves in making your stay with us as memorable as possible. From complimentary breakfasts delivered to your door, to an onsite chef ready to rustle up Greek and Mediterranean delights or restaurant bookings across the island – we cater to your every need.
Daily housekeeping, room service and bathrobe and slippers are provided for your comfort, as well as stocking the villa and 'mini bar' with requested food or household items. Plus there's free Wi-Fi, opportunity for private transfers and we meet with you personally on your arrival too. When it comes to discovering all that Santorini has to offer, we can do everything from booking taxis to organising wine tasting trips and various watersport excursions."
"The best local beach has to be Kolumbo. Long and wide and covered in rough, grey sand, the dramatic white cliffs soar up to the sky. It's unspoilt and utterly beautiful, but be sure to pack your beach essentials as there's no tourist facilities here at all. Although if you ask me – that's part of its charm! Baxedes beach is always a popular choice too.
Further afield, my all-time favourite beach is "Mesa Pigadia" in Akrotiri. You'll find this hidden haven on the southwest coastline of Santorini, tucked behind towering volcanic cliffs and sheltered from strong winds. This is the spot for anyone seeking some genuine Greek Island relaxation, gorgeous views and crystal-clear waters. The fresh fish dishes and other local cuisine are a tasty treat too."
Psssstttt…. Why not spend the day exploring the island's southern shores? The iconic Red Beach is very close, as well as Akrotiri's legendary lighthouse.
"Santorini's gastronomic scene is on par with its superstar reputation, with some fine dining restaurants even boasting Michelin Stars! The island is sure to send foodies into a frenzy, with all manner of mouthwatering meals available. Be sure to take a bite out of Greece's most famous dish, Moussaka, which gets a special Santorini upgrade as the island's eggplants create a sweeter taste than usual.
Greek salad and plates full of fresh local produce are always a delicious choice. Treat your tastebuds to tomato or zucchini keftedes (croquettes or fritters), foil-baked feta and the celebrated Fava – a taverna staple across the island. Made from yellow split peas that are specially grown locally, you'll find them most commonly in soups or dips. Of course fish, octopus and lobsters are all available in abundance too. I remember years ago a fishermen selling over 20 lobsters directly from his boat!"
"Oooh that's a hard one! I'd say the five must do things are: take a sunset cruise in the Caldera, enjoy dinner with a view in one of Oia's romantic restaurants at sunset (we're a bit sunset obsessed!), spend a day at Akrotiri Excavations and wander archaeological sites and prehistoric settlements, go wine tasting or take a vineyard tour and catch a film at the open air cinema in Kamari. "
"Well, I love the dramatic landscapes and natural wonders of our marvellous little island, so anything adventurous appeals to me. Scuba diving at the volcano is a unique way to explore Santorini's underwater world. Beautiful coral formations and magical marine life vie for attention, while the nearby shipwreck is a picturesque playground for both divers and snorkelers. You can even enter the sunken steel ship if you fancy.
When it comes to walking, Thirassia islet is a hiking destination of the highest order. It's virtually untouched and boasts sweeping views across the Aegean Sea to Santorini itself. Some of the trails can be a little challenging, but the 360 degree panoramas from the peak are worth every step!"
After 25 years of working in Athens, Yota quit her job and now lives in Santorini for eight months of the year. Yota and her husband, who is originally from the island, spend their summers looking after guests at their villas – or as she puts it "living the dream!"
What better way to get to know your dream holiday destination than with local experts and owners in the know?