Browsing Category

Greece

Greece, Travel

All the Things You Need to Know About Santorini Before You Go

April 3, 2023
Santorini blue domed churches

Santorini is many people’s dream destination, and it is the most famous island to visit in Greece. Here are all the things you need to know before you see the famous Santorini sunset!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

When Should You Visit Santorini

Since it is the most popular island in Greece, you will want to avoid July and August if possible. The best time to visit most Greek islands is September, but for Santorini, I would say later in September is best as it will be less crowded and not as hot. If you can’t go then, I suggest May, as it is just starting to wake from its winter slumber.

Remember that not everything will be open if you decide to come in the off-season, such as in March or November. Making hotel arrangements need to be done in advance and confirmed. You will also want to do the same with flights or ferries. The ferries do run in the winter but less often, and cancellations due to weather do happen, so keep that in mind.

Where to Stay in Santorini

There are many villages to stay in while in Santorini, Greece. The two most popular are Oia and Fira. Oia is where most people gather to watch the sunset. Fira is the capital. Of those two, I would choose Fira. It has a bit more space so it won’t feel as crowded and the main bus stop is there making it great for taking public transport. It also offers way more parking than Oia.

Click here to book a hotel in Oia or Fira.

View from Demeter Cave House in Pyrgos, Santorini of a blue domed church with sea in the distance.

Personally, I would pick another village entirely, such as Imvorgeili or Pyrgos. With Imovrgili, you still get a caldera view and aren’t far from Oia and Fira. Villages like Pyrgos are great if you are going to rent a car and want a less touristy feel.

Looking for a traditional Santorini Cave House? Stay at Demeter Cave House in Pyrgos.

How to Get to Santorini

Santorini is far from Athens, so keep that in mind when scheduling your travel to Greece. You have two options from Athens. You can fly or take the ferry. Flying from Athens is about 45 minutes. The flights run all year round.

The other option is to take the ferry. Ferries to Santorini island run from Piraeus, and during the high season also run from Rafina. The fast ferry to Santorini is about 5 hours, and the slow one is 8 hours. The fast ferries are okay but not for you if you get seasick easily. 

Book your ferry ticket to Santorini here.

I like to fly to Santorini as I don’t like the fast ferry. Also, there are only a few islands you can fly to Santorini from, such as Crete and Rhodes, so do your research if you need to make a quick connection.

What is the Weather Like in Santorini

Not only are July and August the busiest time of year in Santorini, but also the hottest. And it will feel even hotter again, the white houses that are reflecting the sun onto you. The volcanic beach sand will burn, so wear beach shoes!

Two blue chairs and blue table on Santorini with view of sea.

Again, September is not as hot. But October and May are the best if you want warmth but not scorching. You might even have some cool nights then, which will be most welcome. Remember that you may have some days of rain in October, but it usually doesn’t last long.

How to Get Around Santorini

Santorini is best seen by renting a car. There are public buses, but all go to Fira first before heading to their next destination, meaning you will need to switch. In the high season, they are very crowded and may be standing room only. There aren’t many taxis on the island despite its popularity. 

If you can’t rent a car, book your taxi in advance to pick you up from the airport or ferry terminal. Your hotel may be able to do this for you. If not, I recommend using a taxi service called Welcome Pickups. You book them in advance, and they have an English-speaking driver for waiting for you with a sign.

If you decide to use the bus, here is the current Santorini bus schedule. Remember that not all stops are listed, so if it doesn’t list each stop, ask at the ticket office or the bus driver. The complete schedule will be posted at the Fira bus station.

Where Should I Watch the Sunset in Santorini

As I mentioned earlier, most people go to Oia to watch the sunset. Most specifically, Oia Castle. If you have several nights in Santorini, this is worth doing at least once. It will be crowded, so my tip is to walk part of the way down the old donkey trail under the castle. You will have fewer people and an unobstructed view, albeit a bit smelly. Totally worth it to have more space and the perfect sunset shot.

Santorini sunset from the village of Pyrgos.

After that night, go to almost any west-facing village, and you will have a great sunset view. Pyrgos village is the highest point, so it is one of the best places to catch it from. Plus, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Crete from Pyrgos.

Book Restaurants in Advance

Given Santorini’s popularity, many of the more famous restaurants in Santorini will be booked well in advance. This is especially true if they have a sunset view. Once you have locked in travel days and hotels, booking restaurants is your next step. 

Two restaurants you should definitely make reservations for if you plan on going are Ammoudi Fish Tavern and Metaxi Mas.

Santorini Isn’t Just For Couples

Yes, it is a romantic destination, but there is plenty to do for the solo traveler and the group of friends. So if this is your dream and you aren’t a couple, go! Both times I have gone, I have been solo. Greece is safe and welcoming to all travelers, and then you can do what you want when you want. Meaning you can take a nap at 2 in the heat of the day or get up early to hike the Fira to Oia hike if you want!

YouTube video

A Few Practical Tips to Keep in Mind

What I have mentioned so far and the most important things to know before you book, but here are a few practical things you should also know before you arrive.

You can’t drink the water on the Greek islands. It won’t make you really sick if you do, but it might give you an upset tummy. You can use it to make hot drinks such as tea or coffee and wash fruits off but don’t drink it. Grab some bottles of water. Your hotel will likely have a few for you to get started with.

You can’t flush toilet paper in most places in Greece, including Santorini. The pipes are old and small. There will be a covered trash can with a liner next to the toilet. Don’t worry about this; the Greeks are totally used to it, and it will not smell!! I promise.

There are tons of stairs in Santorini. If you have mobility issues, this may not be the island for you. Some are steep, and some are not. Some are even marble. Go slow and hang onto the walls if needed.

A view of Oia, Santorini that shows the steep stairs down to hotels.

Santorini is expensive, especially in the high season. Your biggest expense will be your hotel. Book early and plan ahead. If you can’t afford a caldera view every night, book it for one night and move to a less expensive hotel. If you can, go in May or October, as prices will be lower for hotels and some transportation. 

Most of the beaches are not sandy and are volcanic rocks or sand. You need to remember that Santorini, Greece is an active volcano, and what you see is the top of the volcano. This means the beaches aren’t sandy and don’t slope into the sea. There is one sandy beach, but the red beach and black beach are rock and volcanic sand. You need to wear shoes on the beach to not burn them!

Most of all, enjoy it! 

If you need ideas of what to do on your Santorini vacation, I have an ebook for sale that include 1, 3 and 5-day itineraries.

Greece, Travel

Celebrating Easter in Tinos, Greece

November 11, 2022
Panagia Evangelistria in Tinos

Easter is the highlight of the Orthodox calendar in Greece. It ranks above Christmas and is one of the few days a year that ferries don’t run. However, the Easter celebrations don’t just happen on Easter Sunday! It is a week-long event, and there is usually an event every day of the Holy Week.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Tinos is one of the best places to experience Greek Orthodox Easter. This is due to the Shrine of the Panagia Evangelistria (Our Lady of Tinos) and the church associated with it. Orthodox pilgrims come here to see the Icon of Mary found during the Greek Revolution of 1821. Pilgrims make their way from the port on their knees up a hill and into the church. You can see a carpet on the street for this purpose.

Easter in Tinos

Large candles at the Panagia Evangelistria in Tinos

Holy Monday

As mentioned before, the entire week up to Easter Sunday, things are happening in Tinos. Holy Monday is a service to celebrate Joseph the Patriarch. While some Greeks will be participating in some fasting during all of Lent, this is the week when many are very strict about fasting. Check with your hotel during Holy Week, as they can tell you all the events happening in Tinos town for the week.

Holy Tuesday

Also known as Great Tuesday, today is the day on Tinos the locals make a sweet Easter Pie made of unsalted cheese called tsimpito. Your hotel may have some with breakfast, but if not, check out one of the local bakeries to taste this local treat.

Holy Wednesday or Great Wednesday

Wednesday is dedicated to the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with myrrh. In many churches, the anointing of the sick. Sick does not necessarily mean physically sick, and many will have themselves anointed in preparation for the receiving of communion on Thursday.

Holy Thursday

Thursday is the day that Easter Eggs are dyed in Greece. The eggs are usually dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. In addition, Greeks will bake Tsoureki, a sweet bread that will be eaten on Easter Sunday. The dyed eggs may be placed in the center of the Tsoureki. If you are lucky, your hotel will have some red Easter eggs for you to take.

Holy Friday or Megali Paraskevi

Epitaphs at the port in Tinos

Holy Friday is one of the bigger celebrations of the week. In the morning, women will gather to decorate the epitaph with fresh flowers. Around noon people will go to see Christ’s body that has been placed in the epitaph.

In the evening is the funeral of Christ. In Tinos, and in many places in Greece, the epitaph is taken on men’s shoulders and walked through the village with a band playing funeral music. Several churches in Tinos town will parade theirs in town and then meet along the way, eventually taking the biers’ to the port area. Then a service is given by the priests. One epitaph from the Church of Saint Nicholas is taken down to Kalamia beach. The priest will enter the water to give prayers for seamen.

If you attend this event, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to stand for many hours. Following the epitaphs from the main church can get crowded as it enters the narrow alleys in Tinos town. If crowds are not your thing, you can skip that part and head down to the port to secure a good spot.

Holy Saturday

Easter in Tinos

Saturday is the first Resurrection, and you will hear “Christos Anesti” greetings between Greeks. If you want to respond, you say, “Alithos Anesti,” after someone says, “Christos Anesti.” Christos Anesti means, “Christ is Risen” and the response is “Truly He is Risen.”

There is usually a service in the morning and in the evening on Saturday. You will probably see and hear fireworks on Saturday for a while. Churches vie to be the loudest. Almost as if it’s a competition for the celebration.

Saturday night is also when the Great Fire arrives from Israel. In Tinos, it arrives by boat late in the evening. I was lucky enough to be at the port when this happened. Police accompany the fire up to the Panagia Evangelistria like royalty. Everyone gathers in the churchyard, anxiously awaiting the fire to be passed to them. Afterward, people carefully carry home their fire home, intending to keep it alight as long as possible.

Easter Sunday

The smell of roasting lamb is likely to wake you on Sunday. Families gather and spend the day eating. It is a good day to walk around and see what the Greeks are up to. There will be services and more celebrations today, but most people spend it with family. Find a restaurant to have some roast lamb at and enjoy the day.

One thing to note is that the ferry doesn’t run on Easter Sunday, so if you need to be somewhere on Sunday, you will need to leave on Saturday. The ferry on Monday was also very crowded, with people sitting on the floor. Make sure to book a seat reservation, so this doesn’t happen to you!

YouTube video

Orthodox Easter 2023

Orthodox Easter in 2023 will be on April 16. If you are planning on coming to Tinos for Easter or anywhere in Greece, you must book for Easter well in advance. Most Greeks will head to their home island or village for some or all of the week for Easter, so hotels and ferries book up quickly.

Also, remember that April and May are not the high tourist season, so hotels, ferries and restaurants may not be fully open. Your selection will be less. For some restaurants, I recommend making a reservation a day or two before, especially if you are with a large group.

In 2024, Orthodox Easter will be May 5, and in 2025 it will be April 20.

Things to Do in Tinos

Tinos has plenty to see outside of the Easter celebrations. However, the island isn’t fully open for tourists, so some things may be quiet. It is a good opportunity to visit the mountain villages as they are stunningly beautiful. You may need to rent a car at Easter since Tinos’s bus service is limited. A few highlights worth mentioning are the giant boulders in Volax, the dovecotes around the islands, Kolymbithra beach, visiting local artists and Panormos village.

Weather in Tinos for Easter

Ferry in the Tinos port

Spring in Greece can be warm but can also be cold and wet. Tinos also is famous for its winds. When I was there, the days were warm, and the nights were cold. Fortunately, I experienced very little wind, but it can happen and will make you feel colder. My advice is to bring layers. You might even want shorts for the days if Easter is later in the season.

Where to Stay in Tinos

There are so many beautiful villages to see in Tinos, and each will have some celebrations during Easter. However, many big celebrations and processions happen in Tinos town, where the ferry arrives. This is also the location of the Panagia Evagelistra. I recommend you stay in Tinos town and rent a car to explore the island during the day.

Poseidonio Hotel

Poseidonio Hotel is right in the center of Tinos town and about a 10-minute walk to the Panagia Evagelistra. The hotel has some renovated rooms that are very nice. They served breakfast and had a schedule of all the Easter activities. If you book early enough, you may be able to get a port-facing view so you can see the sea!

Book the Poseiodonio Hotel for Easter

Vincenzo Family Rooms

If you seek to be in a quieter part of Tinos Town, I recommend the Vincenzo Family Rooms. This family-run hotel is just a few minutes from the main area of town and offers incredible service. Bring your swimsuit, as they have a jacuzzi in the courtyard which will be nice on the cooler days of April or May.

Book the Vincenzo Family Rooms for Easter

Greece, Travel

My Favorite Greek Cosmetic and Beauty Products

February 11, 2022
Kear beauty products in front of a vase of flowers

Traveling to Greece for the past several years and now living in Athens, I discover new great Greek cosmetic or beauty products all the time. As in many European countries, you can find upscale brands of beauty products in pharmacies.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Don’t worry; I am not becoming a beauty blogger. However, I think it is helpful to share this with you for two reasons. One is, so you don’t have to search for good brands for the basic needs of shampoo, lotion, etc. Two, I think these things make better souvenirs since you will actually use them.

Korres

Korres was the first Greek beauty brand I discovered. I love the smell of cotton, and I found their brand when I saw a lotion called Pure Cotton. I also noticed they had a perfume called Pure Cotton as well! When I left Greece, I bought both of them on one of the Greek Islands. The smell is heavenly and not overpowering. The lotion was a body butter and while thick absorbed quickly. My dehydrated skin appreciated the moisture after two weeks in the Greek sun.

There are also matching body washes in most of the same scents. Click here to buy the Pure Cotton body wash.

At the Athens airport in duty-free, there is a whole Korres shop. Since I had some Euros left over, I bought some colored lip balm that went well with my tan. Then I also found an anti-aging body oil that smelled of Jasmine. That went in my basket as well! The oil was great for putting on after a shower as a lotion alternative.

Korres also makes shampoos, conditioners, make-up,  skincare, and some natural health remedies. I have only tried the throat lozenges. You can really only find these items in the pharmacies and the store in the Athens airport.

Some of the Korres products are available at Sephora but not the body lotions and shower gels. It is mostly their skincare line, which I haven’t tried yet. Many of their products are made with olive oil if you really want to go Greek! You can find some of their products on Amazon as well if you can’t wait till you get to Greece to try them.

Apivita

Apivita was my discovery of Greek cosmetics this year. I had not brought lots of shampoo and conditioner on this trip knowing I would be in Greece long enough to need to find a local brand to purchase.  I have oily roots and dry ends. One day, I was looking and found Apivita had a shampoo and conditioner specifically for oily roots and dry ends! It is the first product like this I have seen that actually works for me. I could go for several days without my hair looking greasy at the roots.

Another hair care product I love from them is their hair masks. Since my ends tend to be dry, I tried the Moisturizing Hair Mask with Hyaluronic Acid. Not only did it make my hair soft, it smells amazing!

Apivita also makes body lotions and some face anti-aging products. The other product I have loved from them has been the facial scrubs. I had been in Greece for so many months, my skin was suffering from all the sun exposure, my fault. I was looking for a scrub that would do more than just exfoliate. Apivita has a Bilberry brightening scrub and mask that is great.

Unfortunately, I have not found Apivitia in any US beauty stores yet. However, some products are available on Amazon like the Korres products. You can find it in many other European pharmacies too.

Olive Era

Olive Era is a brand I found in the Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel. It was in the bathroom for the toiletries. If you love the smell of olive leaves then you will love this lotion! It smells like an olive grove with some citrus.

I believe it is a spa product though as I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I can’t even find it online, which is a shame as I only took one lotion bottle from the hotel and there were two! This is definitely a hidden gem and something to look out for. There was also shampoo and conditioner of Olive Era in the hotel. They sold full-size bottles in the spa though. now I think I am on a mission. According to the label, it is made in Crete, so Crete may be on my next trip to Greece!

May 2019 Update: I received an email from Olive Era and they will have a website now.  Click here for the link.

Kear

Kear got in touch with me recently to share their brand. They graciously sent me items to review. While this is a review, all opinions are my own. The first thing I noticed when I received the package, was that there was hardly any plastic! The jars were made of glass or metal and lids were wood or metal. I love that!

Kear beauty products in front of a vase of flowers

Kear sent many products to try. They were all amazing and I love the use of natural Greek products in them. Each has a nice smell that is based on the ingredients in the product. My favorite items from the ones they sent are the Mastic Herbal Soap, the Soft Lip balm and the Calm Revive Arnica Body Oil. The body oil smells divine and wasn’t greasy at all.

Kear products in front of vase of flowers

All the products are made in Greece with Greek products. Kear is available on their website, in pharmacies in Athens, Naxos and Thessaloniki and some soaps can be found in the AB supermarkets. Another great Greek beauty brand to take home as a souvenir on your next trip to Greece!

Get 15% off when you order directly from Kear using code TIFFANYxKear

What about you, do you have any favorite Greek cosmetic or beauty brands?

Greek cosmetics
Food, Greece, Travel

Best Restaurants in Naxos

October 15, 2021
Greek food in Naxos restaurant

Eating Greek food is one of the main reasons I travel to Greece, and I have been in Naxos long enough to tell you about the best restaurants in Naxos! I should add that there are even some excellent non-Greek choices for restaurants in Naxos as well.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Oasis

Oasis is a family-run restaurant in Naxos. The restaurant is located in Naxos Town near Saint George’s beach. All of the food is homemade. Specials are offered every day and vary depending on the day of the week. My recommendations are the pasticcio, the stuffed peppers, and the pork stew.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Barozzi

Barozzi is a fine dining restaurant located not far from the main promenade of Naxos. I was invited to eat at Barozzi restaurant in September 2019. When you enter you immediately notice that this place is a bit different than many restaurants in Naxos. The manager greets you and shows you to your table. The tables are further apart from other tables, unlike many traditional tavernas in Greece. The decor is elegant and simple. The waitstaff is all dressed in white linen.

Barozzi in Naxos

The menu offers a variety for everyone. You can choose al la carte, or there are two pre-set menu options. One is a 5-course meal or a 7-course meal. You could also add wine for an additional cost. I chose to do al la carte as I didn’t think I could eat that much food. First, I was brought an amuse-bouche of three different items. My favorite was the tomato one, which I can’t remember what it was called.

Then I had arugula or rocket (as it is called here) salad that came with thinly sliced apples, honey dressing, and fried goat cheese. Honestly, I could have had this for my meal and been totally happy. It was so good. The goat cheese was still warm and sweet and salty at the same time.

My main course was sea bass encrusted with artisanal bread. I was a bit hesitant about this, but I love sea bass so I want to try it.  I should not have been worried. It was fantastic, and the bread is so thin; it is more like a crust. The best thing is knowing that the sea bass was most likely fresh fish right from the waters of Naxos.

There are only three dessert options, but I still had a tough time choosing which one. I ended up ordering the walnut pie, which was more of a cake. The cake was moist and was served with bitter almond ice cream. The cake was good, but for me, the star was the bitter almond ice cream!

Barozzi
Barozzi in Naxos

Meltemi

Meltemi is located just up the road from Oasis near Saint George’s beach. It has been around for many years, and people continue to return year after year. Meltemi’s moussaka is one of my favorites on the island. The dip they serve with bread is excellent. Most of the food they serve is traditional Greek cuisine.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Metaxi Mas

Metaxi Mas is located in the Old Town of Naxos. Here you will eat in the streets of the old town if you want or sit inside in one of the cozy interiors. Everything I have eaten here has been amazing. My favorites are the zucchini balls, pasticcio, and the spicy meatballs.

Best Restaurants in Naxos
Best Restaurants in Naxos

Faros

Not all of the best restaurants in Naxos are located in Naxos Town. Faros is located at Agia Anna beach and features organic dishes. It also offers a great view of the beach. Faros also has some of the best zucchini balls on the island. To get to Faros, take the bus from Naxos Old Town to Agia Anna and walk down past the pier and it will be on your left.

Kitron

Kitron is one of my favorite places for breakfast, lunch and coffee. It is located right in the main port area of town and is a good spot to ferry watch while you enjoy your meal. Kitron is also a great place to get some work done as the wifi even works outside there.

For breakfast, I order the Strapatsada. This scrambled egg dish is a Greek classic. The eggs are cooked with finely chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.

If you go for lunch, they have a variety of sandwiches to choose from or light snacks. Don’t forget that afternoon Greek coffee either. In the evening you can explore the Kitron liquor offerings. Kitron is made from the citron fruit and it is distilled on the island in the village of Halki.

Picasso on the Beach

Picasso is also on the beach as you may have guessed. Picasso is a Mexican restaurant, and as a Texan, I am always critical of Mexican food. However, Picasso does a good job given their limited access to Mexican ingredients. The fajitas were good, and they serve a frozen strawberry after dinner drink. Picasso on the Beach is located at Plaka beach and is reachable by bus. Tell the bus driver you want to get off at Picasso.

Paradiso

Most people stop to eat at Paradiso because of the stunning view its beachside tables offer at Agia Anna. However, you should also stop because the food is outstanding! The beetroot salad and the papoutsakia (eggplant with minced meat) were terrific. So was the semolina cake we were offered on the house. If you really like the location, they also have rooms for rent.

Best Restaurants in Naxos
Best Restaurants in Naxos

Scirocco

If you need a break from Greek food, then I recommend Scirocco for Italian food. My favorite there is the carbonara. They also serve Greek food if you and your friends are undecided! It is a nice place to people watch as it is located in the main square of Naxos Town and many Greek families gather there in the evening to socialize.

Barabbas

Barabbas is a traditional taverna located near the port of Naxos. You will see many locals eating here. It is only open for dinner though. However, once you eat here you will definitely be back. Their speciality is fish and slow cooked meats. I recommend any pork dish on the menu! When I ordered, the brought out a complimentary appetizer. Don’t forget to have some local wine here too.

Apostolis

Apostolis is a modern Greek restaurant serving classic Greek dishes with a twist. The restaurant is located in the Naxos Chora and has a wonderful setting under paper lanterns.

Naxos Old Town

Su e Giu

Sue Giu, also known as Susanna, is another Italian option. It is located right on the promenade of Naxos harbor. It was the only place I found a pizza with pineapple on it! Yes, I am a pineapple on pizza lover. It was good, and the focaccia bread was really great. Sit upstairs for views of the harbor.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

O Giorgis

For the more adventurous type, head to the village of Melanes and eat at O Giorgis. I had some of the best food in Naxos here. The baked eggplant was so well seasoned and melted in my mouth. I was so full but still managed to finish the whole thing. Sit on the enclosed patio so you can have a wonderful view of the valley.

Coffee and Desserts

Greece is known for good coffee, and Naxos is no exception. I have spent lots of time having coffee in Naxos to see which places serve the best coffee and desserts.

Artοποιώ

This coffee shop and bakery was one of the first places I tried when I arrived in Naxos. I was up very early due to my jet lag and they were already open by 6:30 AM. The coffee is probably the best on the island. The baked goods are freshly made in the shop and it smells heavenly.

σιτάρι

Not only does this place have wonderful coffee but they also have some organic products available as well. If I am correct, the bakery is called Wheat in English. It is also open early for those of you who are morning people.

Waffle House

This is not the American Waffle House, this is a wonderful ice cream parlor that also serves ice cream on waffles. You can get the ice cream to go or you can sit and have it brought to you by a waiter.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Aktaion

Aktaion is an upscale pastry shop located on the promenade of Naxos Town. They serve a selection of gelato, amazing macaroons and other mouth-watering desserts.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Are you ready to eat at the best restaurants in Naxos now?

PS. Some of these Naxos restaurants are only open during the tourist season from April to October, 
so please check beforehand.