Greece has been on my bucket list for years — I mean, my travel bucket list pretty much includes any and every destination you can think of, so that’s probably not really a surprise. We planned to do Greece before heading to Rome, Amalfi, and Tuscany in 2019 but figured it was a bit too much with an 18 month old in tow and changed our flights at the last minute. It was a decision I certainly didn’t regret, but I still desperately wanted to visit this beautiful country.
Fast forward to 2021 and we were planning our annual girls trip. None of our husbands were super excited about the idea of Greece, so we figured it would be the perfect spot for the three of us girls to explore!
Emily and I were traveling together from Washington, DC, and had to land in Athens before making our way to Santorini. We extended our layover by a few days so we could probably visit this city. Athens is a large city, but as a tourist, there isn’t TOO much to see. If I’m being honest, you could do Athens in one day if you had from sunrise to sunset. Some of our highlights included the Acropolis, of course, as well as the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Stoa of Attalos, and the Parthenon. Our favorite view of the Acropolis was from our hotel, Electra Palace Athens, but Areopagus Hill also had a great lookout! Be sure to stop by Little Kook to see the seasonal decor (we visited in October, so it was all Halloween!) and Ellyz Cafe from some delicious treats!
Athens also served as our base to visit Meteora. As long as I wanted to visit Greece, Meteora was always part of that vision. Unfortunately, like many of the best spots, it’s far from most other destinations (about 4 hours from Athens). Fortunately, It’s become more popular in the last few years, which ended up being a blessing in disguise as there is now a day trip to this unique spot from Athens! We spent about 8 hours in the shuttle roundtrip, but we were able to catch up on our jet lag and see the stunning landscapes, so it really wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Meteora is a series of monasteries that were built on pinnacle rock formations — they look as unreal as they sound. While only six of these remain and are active still today, there were 24 in their height. It was truly one of the most unique places I visited and I highly recommend booking a tour with Visit Meteora.
Finally we were on our way to Santorini to meet up with our third travel bestie, Ally! We stayed in Oia, the most popular of all the town on Santorini. What most people don’t know — including myself before I started doing some research — is that the iconic view of the Oia Blue Domes is extremely limited from the public viewing area. And it’s also very crowded, very, very crowded. Once I realized this, we made the decision to look for a place to stay where we could wake up to that famous view on a daily basis. It was a way for us to truly enjoy it, away from the crowds of day visitors from the cruise ships. Oia is a beautiful town outside of just the blue domes — the windmills, the cliff houses, Ammoudi Bay, and so much more were a delight to visit. We enjoyed stumbling upon view after view in this gorgeous place.
SUNSET BOAT CRUISE
While in Oia, we had a few excursions. The first was a sunset cruise that took us to see the Red Sand Beach, the White Sand Beach, and the Hot Springs around Santorini — these were all places we wanted to visit that were quite far from Oia, so it was perfect to get them all in one trip. One thing to note that we didn’t realize — you can get off the boat to swim at each stop, but you don’t actually go ON the beaches. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, but we enjoyed the time on our boat nonetheless! Also, I get EXTREME motion sickness and did just fine on this boat with the help of some dramamine! The boat tour finishes back in Ammoudi Bay, where you watch the epic sunset from the boat before returning to the dock.
PETRA KOUZINA COOKING CLASS
Our other big excursion was to Petra Kouzina for a cooking class. Chef George invites attendees into his impeccably decorated cave house to teach five authentic recipes. After class, you dine together on their outdoor patio. Each recipe was better than the last and I’ve already replicated two of them at home for Rob and the kids since I’ve been back!
Other things we enjoyed were massages at Canaves Oia Spa and many, many of the best meals of my life! So many talk about the cuisine of France or Italy but the Greek cuisine was the best I’ve ever eaten in another country. Every meal was top notch and I think ate my weight in tzatziki on a daily basis. Here are some of the best foods we ate (followed by just some of the adorable wildlife!).
One thing that surprise me more than anything on this trip? The kindness of the Greek people. I’ve been to many places in Europe and have rarely experienced the kind of hospitality we did in all of Greece. Nearly every person we encountered went above and beyond in their service and it did not go unnoticed. Greece was a wonderful country to visit and I truly hope I have the privilege of returning in the future (alongside the greatest company again!).