Last fall, we set our sights on Santorini for a relaxing vacation in the sun. Although most of our trip was spent lounging by the pool, it inevitably turned into a food trip, too. (Somehow it always does, for us!) Although the streets of Oia are unbearably packed with tourists in the summer, you can practically have the island to yourself if you time your trip right. We recommend visiting Greece slightly earlier than peak season (late spring) or waiting until after the big rush and visiting in the end of summer or early fall. You’ll actually be able to walk down the charming cobbled streets, and you’ll get clear photos of the windmills and the churches with those breathtaking blue domes without other tourists in them! (That being said, do note that this is a very seasonal island and most places close down completely in the winter.) In our guide to Santorini, we’ve curated a list of all the best restaurants and our top travel tips. Keep reading to find out where to stay, what to do, and, of course, where to eat!
Looking for more restaurant recommendations in Greece? Check out our city guide and map of Athens.
Where to Stay in Santorini
While in Santorini, we stayed in Oia, the charming village on the northernmost tip of the island. All those postcard-perfect photos you’ve seen from Santorini? Yeah, they’re taken here – it’s the most picturesque part of the island. The skyline is studded with windmills and blue domed churches, staircases zigzag between buildings, and flowering vines cascade over the rooftops. Seen from afar, the white clustered facades of the city resemble a snowy mountain top.
We stayed at the Andronis Arcadia, a luxury, five-star hotel just minutes away from the main road. The location couldn’t be more perfect – you’re walking distance from all the shops and restaurants in the buzziest part of town, but, because the hotel is not directly in the center, you have a little more privacy than the other hotels in the fishbowl. The Andronis hotel group has several different hotels on the island, but we picked this one because of its seclusion, also because it has the best sunset views on the island. Every room is a luxury suite, and each suite has its own private pool. Guests also have access to the large infinity pool with sweeping views of the sea, and a poolside cocktail bar. The hotel also has a luxurious spa for those looking to unwind, as well as a fitness center.
We weren’t expecting great food at the hotel, but we were really impressed by their offerings. We loved the baos and sushi from Pacman, the casual restaurant that provides the hotel’s poolside menu, and the à la carte breakfast was one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve ever had. We loved the truffle eggs, the Croque Madame, and the trolley that brought Greek yogurt and an abundance of toppings to your table to start every meal. The same menu is also available as room service, if you want to order from the comfort of your bed (which has a pillow menu, by the way!). There’s also the option to go all-out influencer mode and have a floating breakfast in your private pool. The hotel also has a fine dining restaurant, Opson, run by chef Stefanos Kolimados – more details about this below.
For the best views of the island, take a sail around Santorini. Our hotel recommended Santorini Yachting Club, which typically sails twice a day. Swim in the volcano hot springs, snorkel at different beaches, and enjoy a barbecue lunch in the sun. We went on the morning cruise, which kicks off around 10 a.m. (transportation from your hotel to the dock is provided) and finishes on the southern side of the island in the afternoon. If you want to see the sunset at sea, opt for the cruise that starts in the afternoon and finishes at Ammoudi Bay at sunset.
Where to Eat in Santorini
There are lots of tourist traps on the island, especially in the main cities of Oia and Fira, but there are some real gems if you know where to look. (Special thanks to our Greek food writer friends for their expert advice!) Although the touristy part of town has the most jaw-dropping views, sometimes it’s worth taking a cab into the outskirts for a more authentic meal. And heed our advice: absolutely avoid Ammoudi Bay as a dining destination. Go for a sunset drink, sure, but unless you want to be charged $200 for a lobster, we suggest you eat elsewhere. (This was where we had our only bad meal in Greece.) One last thing – don’t even bother looking for good coffee on the island – you won’t find it. (Trust us, we tried.)
Splurge on a luxury tasting menu instead of burning your money at an overpriced tourist trap. Lycabettus is a restaurant worth spending the money on in Oia, for the food as well as for the view. The spectacular restaurant juts out on a cliff from the Andronis Suites hotel, practically floating over the Aegean Sea. As day fades to night, the view of the caldera fades and the blue and white lights of the city begin to twinkle. The sight is so magical, it would be easy to think you were dining among the stars. The tasting menu showcases luxury ingredients like caviar, lobster, king crab, uni, truffle, and wagyu, and the presentations are some of the most stunning we’ve seen.. We even found some of our favorite producers like Gut Oggau and Bénédicte et Stéphane Tissot on their extensive wine list. (The Andronis hotel group shares a cellar with an impressive collection of thousands of bottles, but do note that the bottle prices are a bit steep compared to their typical going price.)
At Roza’s, a local chef is putting a modern touch on classic Greek dishes. It’s a tavern with a twist! We loved the keftedes, Greek meatballs served with flatbread, and the saganaki – deep-fried cheese with tomato marmalade. We also enjoyed a seasonal pumpkin risotto served with fresh cod, and their interpretation of baklava, served with ice cream. The restaurant is set in the village of Vourvoulos, so you’ll have to take a car here, but it’s worth the drive out of the city center.
ROZA'S Address & Contact Information Vourvoulos Santorini Island, 847 00, Greece Website Instagram Facebook
Another tasting menu worth trying in Oia is at Lauda, at the Andronis Boutique Hotel. The menu is overseen by French chef Emmanuel Renault, who has the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Flocons de Sel in Megève, France. Here the menu is seafood-focused, blending Greek ingredients with French traditions. A stand-out dish was the langoustine tartare with caviar and ouzo ice. The wine list here is the same as at Lycabettus – here we enjoyed a bottle of Kalkundkiesel from Claus Preisinger.
Greek/American chef Ari Vezené’s eponymous restaurant has become a classic in the Athens restaurant scene, and now there’s an outpost in Santorini as well. The menu at Vezené boasts a lot of the same signature dishes – from fresh seafood, to pasta, to modern twists on Greek classics. The beef tartare pastitsio, a play on the traditional pasta dish, was one of the best things we ate in Greece. The Santorini location centers around an open, wood-fired grill, where most of the food is cooked – which meant we had to end our meal with some wagyu. Save room for Ari’s Deal Closer – a literal mountain of ice cream with a knife stuck in it. And definitely order some cocktails – the riff on a daiquiri here (made with sake and some bitters) is the best we’ve ever had.
Chef Stefanos Kolimados combines contemporary cuisine with the flavors of ancient Greece at Opson, located at Andronis Arcardia. The kitchen at this fine dining restaurant limits itself by using only ingredients that were grown and used back in ancient times. That means, breads baked with ancient grains, fish prepared with ancient methods of smoking, salting, and pickling, and absolutely no sugar on the menu. To drink, we enjoyed local Greek wines, served in chalice. This was a refreshing and innovative perspective on Greek culture, and a completely unique dining experience.
Panigyri Festival Food
We hiked three hours from Oia to Fira on a beautiful coastal trail. At the end of our hike, we rewarded ourselves with lunch at Panigyri, a spot that was recommended to us by our food writer friend Fotis Vallatos. We enjoyed chef Fanis Maikantis’ fried potatoes with a goat cheese dip, crunchy rabbit meatballs with shallots and black olives, and a salad of seasonal greens, zucchini, and pistachio. The outdoor courtyard is a perfect place to spend a sunny day on Santorini.
PANIGYRI FESTIVAL FOOD Address & Contact Information Agiou Athanasiou, Thira 847 00, Greece Instagram Facebook
Other Spots to Visit
For a drink with a view, stop by the newly opened Mia’s. We didn’t try any of the food here, but we enjoyed the Margaro cocktail with mezcal and tangerine. If you’re craving something sweet while in Oia, indulge in a gelato at Lolita’s. We loved the pistachio gelato here, and the service was very friendly.
Have you been to Santorini? Let us know in a comment below.