Santorini, in our opinion, is best seen by renting a tiny car and driving yourself around the romantic Greek island.
There is bus service, but a car allows you to dictate your time and itinerary. It was easy to rent and it takes about an hour to drive the length of the island.
The car we rented wasn’t much bigger than the two of us. Adam called it a “motorized roller skate.” He likened driving it to driving a go-kart. And thank God it was tiny because there were some oceanside cliffs we drove along so narrow that I’m certain we drove along the literal edge.
Most rentals are standards, so Adam had fun with that. I just clung to my door handle.
We drove south to what kind of turned into a color-coded beach tour. First we visited the Red Beach with its dramatic red-hued sand and surrounding cliffs. A short walk away is the White Beach with startlingly white cliffs scooped away from the sea.
From there, we traveled on to the more hip Perivolos and Perissa beaches, then walked around Ancient Thera, last inhabited in the 8th Century. Quick stops at the beautiful wineries just north helped pump us up for our drive back to the northern tip of the island.
This is where the real nail-biting, cliff-hugging driving took place as we drove to Ammoudi Bay, an otherwise tough climb down and back up from Oia, another town of white walled houses clinging to the cliffs overlooking the sea. In this lovely little inlet, fishermen offload their fresh catches and you can choose from their displays, have it grilled and eat at tables overlooking the water. It was the freshest fish we have ever eaten, barring the fish Adam caught for us one time in Belize.
We made other little stops along our drive for coffee and snacks, but Ammoudi Bay was the highlight of our refreshments this day. After this we headed back to our Fira hotel to get ready to enjoy another spectacular sunset.
You’re going to want to plan your sunset watching. The restaurants and bars along the cliffs overlooking the caldera fill early. We enjoyed good local wine and an unending supply of olives, breads and dips from local women who insisted we had to be hungry.
When they ask if you want to order some food, and you say no, they will bring you something anyway. They fret over you like you’re their grandchildren.
One of these elderly women approached me in Athens as I was out alone one day. She tut-tutted over my purse, which she apparently liked, then patted me on the cheek and smiled and walked away. I think these lovely women’s families get a lot of tut-tutting.
Once you get past the magnificent ruins of Greece, I found the Greek women in particular are the real treasures.