TASTEscape: Santorini


TASTEscape: Santorini

by Christina Zacharia31 October 2016

Christina Zacharia takes us on a tour of her beloved Santorini, uncovering a thriving food scene and stunning history along the way.

TASTEscape: Santorini

Christina Zacharia takes us on a tour of her beloved Santorini, uncovering a thriving food scene and stunning history along the way.

Christina is a blogger and tour guide based in Santorini, Greece.

Christina is originally from Athens. She spent three years in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and is now based in Santorini, where she works as a local tour guide. She is also the founder of SantoriniPlus where she blogs about life in Santorini and seeks out the best places for you to go (and the ones to avoid).

Christina is a blogger and tour guide based in Santorini, Greece.

Christina is originally from Athens. She spent three years in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and is now based in Santorini, where she works as a local tour guide. She is also the founder of SantoriniPlus where she blogs about life in Santorini and seeks out the best places for you to go (and the ones to avoid).

Talk to anyone who has visited Santorini, and they will tell you what a magical place it is. The Mediterranean island is famous for its whitewashed buildings, blue-domed churches and incredible beaches, which is why millions of people arrive at its sun-drenched shores every year. But there is much more to Santorini than gorgeous sunsets and volcanic vistas; there are a variety of cultural activities and a thriving food scene on the island that keep people coming back year after year.

If you’re already familiar with the island and want to see the real Santorini, read on and discover its tucked away villages and all the delicious local spots along the way.

Sightseeing in Santorini

Everywhere you go in Santorini there are jaw-dropping views, historic buildings or incredible photo opportunities. See the island through the lens of the past and gain a newfound respect for its rich heritage.

Listen to traditional Santorini’s music at La Ponta

At La Ponta you can take a musical journey through time with traditional Santorinian tunes and instruments. Music is a significant part of Santorini’s culture and this performance – showcasing the island’s iconic bagpipes – combines history, mythology and tradition through songs and melodies. As an added bonus, you can enjoy amazing views and a tour of the thirteenth century Venetian castle.

La Ponta offers amazing views of the island as well as incredible musical performances inside the building
Tomatoes are integral to Santorini's food scene, as the variety grown on the island is totally unique
Go horse riding in Akrotiri

If you are looking for a fun way to spend a few hours on the island, try seeing Santorini on horseback with Santo Horse Riding. Riders of all skill levels are welcome, and trotting around a farm or taking a tour of the nearby villages and beaches is something you'll cherish for the rest of your life. With plenty of opportunities for photos, it’s one of the most unique and enjoyable ways to experience this wonderful island.

Uncover Santorini’s past at the Tomato Industrial Museum

Cherry tomatoes have been growing on Santorini since the nineteenth century and are known for being deliciously small, thick-skinned and sweet – if you haven't yet tried one, you must! The volcanic soil gives them a very unique flavour and also allows them to grow without any irrigation; instead, the tomatoes get everything they need form the soil’s natural humidity. This museum – located in Vlychada – will offer you a taste of the cultivation, processing and production of the island’s famous triple-concentrated tomato paste (often named as the best in the world), blended with the local history and culture of the island.

The Monastery of Prophet Elias has a shop filled with food made by the monks
Venetsanos Winery offers good food, good wine and good views

Local flavours

Santorini is an island obsessed with tomatoes, but there are lots of other ingredients found on the island to excite the food lover. From olive oil to dishes unique to the island, you'll never go hungry in Santorini!

Enjoy a home-cooked Santorinian dinner at The Good Heart

After you visit La Ponta, you can enjoy a nice traditional lunch away from the more crowded restaurants. The Good Heart is a local, family-owned Greek restaurant where everything on the menu is organic and grown on the island. Make sure to taste the Tomatokeftedes (tomato balls made with feta and red onion). They are a specialty of the island and the best ones are served at The Good Heart.

Dining there feels more like being a guest in someone’s house, rather than a customer at a restaurant. Don’t forget to meet Anna and Michalis, the owners.

Santorini is famous across the world for its pristine white buildings, windmills and blue domes…
…but there is also incredible volcanic landscapes across the rest of the island
Trek to the monastery at the highest point of the island

Elevated 567m above sea level, this ridge offers a panoramic view of the entire island. Once you get to the top, you can take a look around the Monastery of Prophet Elias and a small shop with items produced by the local monks, such as sun-dried tomatoes, caper leaves, samphire, honey, olive oil, different types of wine, liqueur, oregano and homemade pasta. It's these sorts of ingredients that make up the foundations of Santorini's traditional dishes, but if you’re only going to try a few, the olive oil and sundried tomatoes are the highlights.

Tuck into perfectly matched food and wine at Venetsanos Winery

Santorini is famous for the Assrytico and Vinsanto wine varieties, so you cannot leave without tasting them. But instead of the traditional wine tasting, why not enjoy pairing local wines with traditional Greek food. At Venetsanos you will taste four wines (white, rose, red and dessert wine) paired with local delicacies and other specialties from around Greece such as fresh oregano, barley rusks, soft cheese and Greek prosciutto. You can also pair the wine with seafood if you like; we are on an island after all! The winery overlooks the caldera of the nearby volcano, so you can enjoy the view while tasting the local grapes.

Gyros are one of the most popular dishes in all of Santorini, and perfect for tucking into while you explore the island's towns
[i]Spanakopita[/i] is a feta and spinach-filled pie made of filo pastry

Santorini's specialities

Street food, coffee, buttery pastries – the residents of Santorini certainly know how to eat and drink well. Don't leave the island until you've tasted every one of these.

Eat a gyros as you walk through Santorini’s streets

Gyros – pitta bread filled with chicken or pork along with lettuce, tomato, onions and chips – is a national treasure of Santorini. Pork usually goes with tzatziki sauce (yoghurt-based with garlic and cucumber) and chicken goes with another type of sauce based on mayonnaise (no, this sauce does not have a name, we just call it ‘sauce’). Lamb gyros is not that popular in Greece, contrary to what most people think. After extensive research (conducted by myself of course) Yogi’s Gyros and Peinas Minas serve the best gyros on the island. When you get hungry, stopping by for a gyros (or two) will put a smile on your face.

Start the day right with a traditional Greek coffee in Emporio

Emporio is one of the more interesting villages on the island. The village itself is an example of medieval architecture with narrow labyrinthine streets leading to a castle at the top of a hill. On the way up, stop at To Kafenedaki tou Emboriou and get yourself a cup of Greek coffee or, if you are looking for something more refreshing, you can also try a Frappé with homemade ice cream. Vasilis will take your order with what he calls a ‘tablet’, which is really a blackboard with a piece of chalk. It does not get more traditional than that!

Try the spanakopita at Erotokritos Bakery

Erotokritos is by far the best bakery in Santorini with delicious options for anything from a light snack to a rich dessert. Everything inside is fresh-baked daily, and you will find sweet and savoury pastries including traditional options like spanakopita (a spinach and feta pie) or tyropita (a cheese and egg pastry) and a variety of sweets. If you have a sweet tooth, try the chocolate cake or the syrup-soaked baklava.

To Kafenedaki tou Emboriou is the best place to enjoy a cup of Greek coffee
Artspace displays Santorinian art in an old winery
Still have time to spare?

ArtSpace combines the Greek traditions of wine, history and art in one location which includes a winery, museum and art gallery. The gallery is located in the chambers of a winery which dates back to 1861, while exploring the museum offers a close-up view of contemporary Greek art and a historic distillery. Once you've seen Santorini with your eyes, you can taste the incredible wines still made on-site amongst the atmospheric caves and aged barrels they're made in.

Close to La Ponta and the Good Heart, you can easily take a short trip to the lighthouse. It is situated at the very southern tip of the island, so you can enjoy incredible views of Santorini (comparable to Oia, a small town famous for its views). This is a great spot to watch the sunset.

On the way to the cable car in Fira, you can stop in to Beeplace. Here you will find different types of honey from around Greece, including honey made from thyme, fir, pines, eucalyptus, heather and cotton plants. Selected traditional products are sold here as well, including traditional spoon sweets and jams, herbs and tea. If you're looking for a gift for someone back home, then the natural cosmetics like soaps with olive oil and beeswax ointments both look and smell incredible, many of which can't be found anywhere else but Santorini. This is Greek produce at its very best.

Want to discover all of the delicious secrets Santorini has to offer? Sail on a Greek Isles itinerary with Celebrity Cruises.