Lithies Traditional Homes (Lodging)
Address and Website: Santorini, Firostefani 84700, Cyclades Islands, Greece; www.lithies-santorini.com
Location: The hotel’s location was very convenient yet very quiet, and out of the way of the daytime cruise crowds. Firostefani isn’t a very big town (a few restaurants, a covenient convenience store, etc), but it was the perfect place to stay. It was quiet at night, it was close to Fira, and it had an amazing view. To get to Fira, all we had to do was follow the well-lit path along the water down into town (less than 10 mins). Fira is very lively at night (and just as lively with tooo many tourists getting off cruise ships during the day). Wait until early evening to really enjoy Fira. In addition, it was only about a 15 minute drive from the airport (and probably about the same from the ferry port).
Overall: My husband I stayed here for 4 nights while on our honeymoon, and I cannot say enough about how amazing the place was, nor how helpful Maria (the caretaker) was with everything. We stayed in the Zephyr House, and there was nothing this place didn’t think of for our comfort. We stayed at one of the top hotels in the world in Athens, and I felt like we were staying somewhere better than that here. From the box full of every essential in the bathroom (shaving set, toothbrush, etc), to the plush bath robes and slippers, to the neatly stocked kitchen with all of the necessary appliances, utensils, teas, etc. we felt completely at home.
Hotel Staff: When our ferry arrived in Santorini from Mykonos quite late (probably about 3 hours), Maria was patiently waiting for us and actually apologized to us for our having to be delayed on rough seas! She pointed out some good restaurants and how to get into town (barely a 10 minute walk, so easy) as we drove back to our “house.” Also, upon our arrival, Maria brought us each a glass of wine (there was also a bottle in our room for our enjoyment), and a small snack. (We also had some fresh fruit in the bowl on our dining room table.) On our first morning there, Maria looked into where the best prices would be around town for a quad rental (basically the 4-wheeled version of a motorscooter–I felt a little safer on that). We took it all over the island and it was great. (Although I may recommend a smart car instead if the price isn’t much different. We saw a lot of those around the island.) She also served us a very nice breakfast each morning! We had bread, butter, jam, feta cheese, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, juice, tea (or coffee), cereal, milk, and cake). She would bring a big tray down to our patio table overlooking the caldera (so relaxing). One night, Maria brought us a glass of wine and something that resembled potato chips–very tasty–to enjoy at sunset (AMAZING SUNSETS, don’t bother going elsewhere to see them). Maria also took care of our drop-off at the airport, being helpful right up until the end, showing us where it would be cheaper to get a coffee than in the airport in case we wanted one.
Room: Our place (Zephyr House) was HUGE; it was a house, not a room. There was a large living/dining room. The bedroom was a very nice size with a big, comfortable bed. There were 2 bathrooms, a kitchen with a small table, our own patio with a table and umbrella (amazing view of the caldera), and we also had a washing machine (and a clothesline to dry the clothing). There was a whirlpool tub in the master bathroom which was a nice touch. In addition to our own amenities, the houses shared a small pool and a few sitting areas with lounge chairs or tables, etc. Also, we were provided with our own laptop in the room with internet. This was such a welcome sight after a long trip with little contact with home. This was also one of the few places (probably the only) we stayed where we had a lot of English TV channels. Granted, we didn’t come to Santorini to watch TV or play on the computer, but these little extras were a welcomed treat at night. I can DEFINITELY without a doubt say, we were MORE than happy with everything at Lithies!
Address and Website: Near Mylos windmill on a pedestrian street, Firostefani, Greece; www.aktaionsantorini.com
Location: Tucked into Firostefani (a few minutes’ walk above Fira), this restaurant is pretty well know. Firostefani is pretty small, and if you ask around (or ask your hotel) they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Overall: The woman at our hotel recommended this place to us, calling it the “famous, traditional tavern in Firostefani.” So, we decided to check it out, and I’m very glad that we did. It was right on a pedestrian path with outdoor and indoor tables, and even a few outside off of the path overlooking the water My husband ordered the grilled pork dish (so juicy) and it was one of the best meals we had while in Greece (we often order 2 different things and share our meals)–we ended up ordered a second order because it had been just that good. The portions weren’t huge, but they were a fine size. Get there early, though, or make reservations; the wait gets crazy at night since it’s on the smaller side.
Atmosphere: The entire place was very traditional looking (and feeling). The inside had some nice art, and the outdoor patio area had a nice sea breeze (we sat out there). There were also a very few tables overlooking the caldera outside along the path. It was a little bit out of the way of the Fira crowds which was a welcome relief (the cruise ship passengers can sometime innundate the town).
Boutari (Wine Tasting)
Address and Website: Megalochori, Santorini; www.boutari.gr
Location: On the road to Faros, past Akrotiri.
Overall: The person pouring the wine was friendly and knowledgable. The wines were pretty good, and it was definitely worth the trip. Making a day out of doing some of the Santorini wineries is a great idea.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere here was relaxed. While there were no huge views like at Santo Wines, it had more of a comfortable, homey feel. It was less commercial and more personal-feeling which was nice. The bar had a glass case under it that was filled with layers of soil that mimiced the layers of soil that make up Santorini which was really interesting, as well.
Sato Wines (Wine Tasting)
Address and Website: Winery – Pyrgos, Santorini; www.santowines.gr
Location: Situated at Pyrgos village.
Overall: It’s definitely worth a stop. There are a ton of wines to choose from, and you can have a snack along with a tasting and relax outside at one of their many caldera-side tables.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere inside the winery was more commercial feeling than the others we visited in Santorini, but the view outside was unbeatable. Taking a wine and cheese tasting out to a table overlooking the beautiful water and caldera is one of the most relaxing things you can do in Santorini. The view from Santo cannot be beat!
Gavalas (Wine Tasting)
Address and Website: In the village of Megalochori, Santorini; www.gavalaswines.gr
Location: The winery lies in the traditional village of Megalochori.
Overall: This is a smaller winery than the major ones you’ll find in Santorini, but still definitely enjoyable. It was a little less commercialized which was nice. We sat on a little wooden picnic table and had some wine and then saw where they traditionally pressed grapes which was interesting.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere here was relaxed. It didn’t have the modern feel of Boutari or the amazing views of Santo, but it was nice for a glass of wine or to do a tasting.
Riding the Donkeys in Fira (Cultural Experience)
Location: Fira Harbor
Review of the Experience: We rode the cable cars down into the harbor of Fira and the donkeys back up. This was an interesting experience to say the least… I wouldn’t recommend it unless you just want to do it to say you did–it’s a beyond smelly path covered in maneure (don’t fall off), and along the way, people give the donkeys a “tap” to keep them moving. It definitely works; some take off up the steep, windey path when that happens. They seem to forget you’re on their backs and get extremely close to the walls and one another. If you do decide to have this experience, though, make sure to take the donkeys up into town as opposed to down. Down from town looked a bit scary with the steepness of the path.