Greece – Athens and Santorini

Greece! One of the best trips I’ve ever been on. We went over the winter holidays in 2017 and spent New Year’s in Athens before flying to Santorini, then spent a few more days in Athens before flying home.

The food, history, sites, sunsets, and people were truly wonderful. The path side carts selling fruit, nuts or this delicious bagel like bread ensured that we were never hungry.

The restaurants were lovely serving large portions of delicious vegan fare at very reasonable prices. My husband and I like to try a lot of dishes but were stopped a few times from ordering too much!

It’s tough to summarize two distinctly different places like Athens and Santorini, the weather was mild, the views were beautiful and the people were some of the nicest I have ever met. Everywhere we went, the people were friendly, informative, and incredibly kind.

If you are more interested in dining and site-seeing than beach life, I would recommend visiting Greece in the winter months. Cozy sweaters, warm hat, and an umbrella for occasional rain should do the trick, as some days alternate between sunny and rainy.

As usual, we took the hop on hop off bus to make our way around the city and take in the most popular sites. We spent quite a bit of time at the acropolis and later the acropolis museum that aside from formidable art works has a cafe and top notch gift shop. I remember the book selection being amazing offering texts about greek mythology in many languages.

Avocado Nikis 30, Athina 105 57

We were very impressed with the vegan food scene in Athens and quickly found our favorites. I think we ate at Avocado three times in five days as I was obsessed with the mushroom lemongrass soup and the ceasar salad. So tasty. I can’t wait to go back one day. There were many fresh dishes on the menu and some beautiful desserts as well.

Lime Bistro Dekeleon 23, Athina 118 54

This restaurant is charming with faux traditional greek favorites. We had gyros, souvlakis, Greek salad with loads of vegan feta – such a treat! I booked ahead and we ate here for New Year’s eve. As I was pregnant at the time, we were happy to eat at 8 pm and be back at the hotel by 9:30! We did manage to ring in the new year and see some fireworks from our hotel roof top…but then we went to sleep.

As well, Athens is a wonderful place to walk around in at night. From the bustling squares to the endless night markets, there is so much to see and buy. There is a year round Christmas cafe called Little Kook with elaborate decoration and lights that become increasingly festive during the holiday season.

We stayed at a place called Live in Athens short stay apartments in the Psirri neighborhood around the corner from Little Kook and marveled at the displays and huge line ups whenever we went by.

Live In Athens, short stay apartments Navarchou Apostoli 10, Athina 105 54

Athens to Santorini

Although Santorini boasts some iconic sunset views, historical sites, and world class accommodation and dining, there are other islands such as Crete or Mykonos that are quite popular. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth spending a few days on one or all of the islands.

We went to Santorini as we often like to combine large city experiences with island or coastal adventures. Santorini offered the most incredible picture perfect views, charming cobblestone streets, restaurants and shops. It was wonderful to be there in winter as the streets were rainy and quiet.

We spent our days taking day trips around the island an archeological site, walking the lanes and alleys, marveling at the view and eating a lot of fava beans. One day, I would like to return to Santorini on some kind of island hopping adventure.

Akrotiri Thera 847 00

I wish I could say I remember more, but this visit to Akrotiri was really interesting. This town was an important port town that was buried in ash due to a volcanic eruption between 1620-1530 BC. The site has been enclosed in order to protect its contents while archeologists work to excavate the many artifacts, building and structures. Archeologists have discovered that this village had an advanced sewage system allowing many to have a kind of indoor plumbing, something many current Santorini citizens do not have.

Although Santorini only has a small selection of vegan or vegan friendly restaurants, we ate incredibly well. We were surprised how many regular restaurants had excellent options. We figured it was a good sign that more and more people are going vegan and require well thought out dining options on vacation.

Pelican Kipos Thera 847 00

This place had a huge indoor outdoor dining area. They had quite a few good options so we were able to eat here a few times. My husband was obsessed with the fava bean dish which is a traditional Greek favorite.

Aquarius, Perissa beach, Perissa 847 00

We took a guided tour with a guide and bus driver. Santorini is not that big but it was nice to see one end to the other and some lookouts. The tour stopped at Perissa beach and it was suggested we all eat at Aquarius. However, fearing we wouldn’t find anything to eat we walked down the road to see what else was open. Not much, so went back and figured we would end up with french fries.

The waiter was really nice and upon hearing we were vegan promised us a great meal. It was one of the best meals we have ever had. The pasta, fava beans, bread and veggie stew were so nicely seasoned and delicious. If we lived near this restaurant we would eat here weekly.

The end of Perissa beach sits at the bottom of a gigantic rock mountain. We literally felt like we were at the end of the world, in the middle of nowhere and there we were eating one of the best vegan meals of our lives.

Although the trendy upscale area on Santorini would probably be Oia, we opted to stay close by in an area called firostefani with some of the same iconic views. We stayed at the Blue dolphin apartments and suites and would definitely stay there again.

Each suite has its own terrace (some with hot tubs) and entrances. Our room had the epic sea views and the most incredible bathroom and shower room I have ever seen. Beside the deep bowl sinks and toilet, one could walk down into a tunnel like rounded room that was the shower – with a little circular window looking out to see. I took video but will have to take photos if I ever return.

There are some common terraces to sit if you want to be social and an area with tables for eating. As well the owner is happy to pick up and drop off guests at the airport upon request.

Blue Dolphins Apartments and Suites Firostefani, Santorini 847 00

We managed to do a few tours and the hop on hop off bus while in Greece. Otherwise, we spent a lot of time wandering around, enjoying the museums, coffee, street breat and figuring out where to eat next.

If you are planning a trip Athens or Santorini be sure to search viator or get your guide. There are so many great half and full day tours including Hyda, Poros, Egina Day cruise, Delphi, Meteora, Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon to name a few.

As well, Santorini offers cruises, cooking workshops, wine tasting, volcano, hot springs tours or visit the Lost Atlantis experience center.

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