Fred Van Eijk

If there’s one journey you simply cannot miss out on in Europe, it’s the voyage along the diverse Greek islands. Travel Counsellors’ MD, Fred van Eijk, shares his island hopping experience in a five-part series.

We start with Santorini.

The Cyclades are perfect for an island hopping experience. Going from one island to the other will fuse beach, nature, tranquillity, nightlife and delicious cuisine seamlessly. Ferry journeys are frequent and easy-going, which makes the hopping part a breeze. Fly in from Athens to one island and back from another or with Qatar Airways via Doha to Mykonos and book your ferries beforehand.

My journey on the Aegean Sea begins with Santorini. The bus driver waits patiently for all the passengers to drip out of the airport’s tiny arrival hall and in a ten-minute journey he takes us to the capital Fira. From here, we take a different bus to Oia and spend two nights in the well-priced Heliophos Boutique Hotel. The driver even let us get out a little earlier so that our walk in the Greek sun was cut short. Just a glimpse of Greek kindness.

Santorini Fred Travel Counsellors

Heliophos Hotel can be found in the traditional village Finikia, walking distance from the popular yet cosy town Oia. Dining in Finikia is a real treat at the gorgeous restaurant Meze Meze. Book a table around sunset and delight in the magnificent view while toasting with a glass of traditional Raki. Again, plenty of Greek friendliness here. In Oia the choice of bars and restaurants is endless. Walk down 267 steps along the cliffs and you’ll reach the Ammoudi Bay. The fish won’t get much fresher than when your table is right by the sea. Keep walking a little further and you’ll deserve another raki on the terrace of Kathoros Meze Lounge on the pebble beach with the same name. Again the views are a free treat.

Santorini is the most remarkable of the five islands I visited during my trip. It’s shaped by diverse volcanic eruptions and has trails of age-old white villages amongst just as impressive crisp white design hotels in the rocks and against the cliffs. Not to mention the luxurious designer shops and Japanese honeymooners filling up their photo albums. But perhaps the most remarkable of all; the view over the Caldera, the crater along the sea, a unique gem in this world.

Santorini Fred Travel Counsellors 2

The Villages are situated high in the rocks and gift us with spectacular views and sought-after sunsets.

The eastern side of Santorini is less mountainous, which is where you’ll find nicer beaches like Kamari and Perissa. Not a huge fan of Raki? Try the local Santorini wine, it’s delicious.

As I sit on the ferry on our way to the next island, I feel pleased with my first stop. The combination of a pared-back yet warm hotel in the traditional village, walking distance from the luxury travel spot.

Santorini katharos-meze-lounge

Oia, was the right choice. And that gorgeous view is pretty much on every corner, from every terrace and every restaurant. There are also plenty of choices to luxuriate in stylish hotels with a stunning interior design. If your budget is on the higher side I’d recommended staying at the Mystique Suites and Villas in Oia. Even the most discerning of travellers cannot fail to be impressed with this multi award winning boutique hotel. Built directly into Oia’s famous cliffs offering stunning views over the dazzling Aegean and the volcano. With just 28 individually designed suites and villas, this exclusive cliff-top hotel is perfect for romantic getaways, special occasions and relaxing luxury holidays.

Part 2 of my Island Hopping trip: Amorgos and the azure blue sea, online soon.

 

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Is Greece’s Santorini on your bucket list?