Santorini in the European Summer, is something everyone simply must experience! On planning to head there I had many people ask how I would go eating there. Throughout my degree (nutrition and dietetics) we have continuously been taught about the mediterranean diet, and how amazing it is! Rich in fruits, vegetables and notably olive oil, and moderate amounts of fresh seafood. So naturally I was excited to get over there and experience it for myself. I've written this blog post for those heading over there and wanting some recommendations for great dishes and restaurants + things to do! :)
The past six months I have been completing my honours thesis, which has kept me busy at every hour of the day, seven days a week. About 12 days out from it being due, I confirmed to myself I needed an overseas adventure, and the timing was perfect as my sister and four friends. The final 48 hours before my thesis was due was a mad crazy rush of trying to get it finished and trying to get organised for my trip, and by 4 pm Friday afternoon (when it was due) I was a shaken cocktail of stressed, relieved, tired, anxious, and excited. By 10 pm that night I had boarded my flight to Greece. After 26 hours of travel, I was still feeling tired, but excited as I had just landed on Santorini, it was warm, and I was seeing my twin sister for the first time in months…
We checked into my hotel, Chromata Hotel which is as stunning as you would imagine, white and blue cave carved rooms in the side of the hill overlooking the deep blue Aegean sea. Situated between Thira and Oia. Some of my best friends were also on Santorini with us, and we all ventured on our quad bikes into Oia to catch our first sunset together, well, with the rest of the holiday makers on Santorini too apparently. Oia is absolutely stunning. It is perfectly positioned for the most magical sunsets, and jotted with white and blue villas, cobble stone pavements, sea view restaurants, and numerous stair cases (A good work out walking around all day). My sister (@gypsea_lust) and Jack (@doyoutravel) were staying at the Charisma suites in Oia, so we basically jumped between both places during the days on Santorini. Charisma is just as stunning as Chromata (previously mentioned) with the best pool views on the island.
For my first Greek meal we found a restaurant in one of the back streets of Oia (I always find the ones along the main strip are pretty touristy and overpriced, and I prefer the more hidden ones, in hope they are a true gem) I shared a few dishes with my sister, briam (veggies in tomato sauce), dolmades (rice stuffed vine leaves), and olives. I can’t remember what the restaurant was called, not to worry though as all of these dishes can be found at almost all restaurants.
The next morning, we awoke to the most perfect calm morning sea views from bed, and a dreamy breakfast spread to top it off. Greece is famous for its ‘greek yoghurt’ but as I don’t eat dairy I didn’t try it. Other popular breakfast foods seemed to be pastries, eggs, muesli, fruit, and grilled veg. Most days I just had some muesli, fruit and was able to get soy milk, and when I could I’d have some grilled veg, olives and bread too. Oh and fresh orange juice... Every day.
That day we hired a quad bike and adventured around the gorgeous streets of Oia and spent some time soaking up the European sun by the pool at Charisma Suites. For lunch we headed to a place called “iFeel”, which we ended up visiting a few times during our stay because we loved it. Best Greek salad I had, fresh juices, coffee, grilled veg baguettes, homemade muesli bars and pizza by the slice (plus some treats that looked super yum, except not vegan). My friends also couldn’t get enough of the frozen Greek yoghurt soft serve where you could pick your toppings. We caught another incredible sunset at a popular spot in Oia, an old rundown building where crowds gather to watch the sun go down (and everyone applauds when it goes down). That night we headed into Thira after sunset and had a beautiful dinner at a restaurant called ‘Pelican Kipos’. We sat in the garden, surrounded by flowers. Lauren and I shared again the grilled vegetables and vegetarian spaghetti (just asked for any cheese to be served on the side, too easy). They gave us a shot of their dessert wine and invited us down to check out the wine cellar below the restaurant.
The thing about summer in Europe is the sun doesn’t set until around 8-9pm, so most evenings we found we were eating at 10pm (everything stays open late) and not making it until bed until after midnight, and I am an early riser so the days were long. Cafes and shops also don’t open until later, so keep that in mind if your chasing an early breakfast.
We had a delicious breakfast at the room at Charisma Suites, I had picked up a box of cherries from a roadside stall on the way, and added that to my muesli and fruit. We spent the morning exploring the streets of Oia and found some amazing little spots to see the Cliffside buildings. During the day we headed to the ‘Black Beach’ on our quads. To be honest I was a little underwhelmed by this beach, it was interesting, but I guess we are so used to our insane beaches in Australia that nothing ever really compares! We all had lunch at ‘Falafel Land’ in Thira. Which was like the only vegetarian place we could find on Happy Cow. Everything here is vegan except the yoghurt sauce, and really well priced. I tried a falafel box, which I added extra hummus, pickles, and salad. It was really yum too! Only thing I would recommend is asking for the pita chips not fried- fresh pita would be much better. We spent the sunset at Charisma Suites and then headed for dinner on the rooftop at ‘Kyprida Restaurant’ in Oia. This place actually understood what vegan meant and had heaps of options! Only mistake we made was thinking that ‘fried potatoes’ would be a bowl of baked potatoes, instead it was literally French fries (rookie error there). We also tried the tomato balls and stuffed vine leaves.
(Note: the tomato balls have a little bit of egg in the batter and are served with yoghurt- on the side, I tried one as I had heard they were amazing!- which they were. I’m not strictly vegan at the moment, my only exception is the occasional organic and local egg (that’s come from a loving home))
On our way home we went to a little grocery store in search for a late night chocolate snack. Finding dark chocolate that is dairy free can be difficult as labels are often written in Greek, but alas we found a little block of Belgium dark chocolate (dairy free). Hooray!
The next morning, we got up early to head into Oia to shoot in the morning light. We had another incredible breakfast by the pool at Charisma Suites. Grilled veg (v), olives (v), bread (v), pastries, fresh juice (v), coffee (v), omelettes, pancakes, fruit salad (v), yoghurt, and muesli (v). This with the most insane view, the perfect start to a day. We spent the day out with Santorini Yachting Club, who generously took us around the island on a private tour, such an incredible way to see the coastline and go swimming in the deep blue Aegean sea. They even cooked up a big lunch for us, which they made a big veggie briam, stuffed vine leaves and salad for us vego’s (and a seafood dish for our friends). I highly recommend these guys! Lauren and I decided in the afternoon to go for a run up the hill (where they take the donkeys- which I find so so cruel L and really has to stop!), would I recommend this? Hmm probably not, it was… stinky. Our final dinner we went to one of the popular or touristy places with sea views at Oia. I tried Fava for the first time and fell in love! (which is made from lentils) Apart from that Jack and Lauren had the baked feta and tomato balls, and we shared the rice stuffed tomatoes (vegan), dolmades (vegan), greek salad (cheese on side), and a dip and olive platter (vegan).
And that was the end of my time on Santorini! Is it easy to eat vegan there? Yes! There isn’t a strong health food or vegan scene yet, but I was able to experience lots of the local cuisine without any issues! My favourite dishes (which you can get at most if not all Greek restaurants on Santorini) Vegetable Briam, Grilled Vegetables, Dolmades, Fava, and Greek Salad (without cheese). Next up… Zakynthos, and following that I’ll fill you in on my time in Italy!
Love to hear your feedback! Or any experiences you had on Santornini + tips for next time!
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