Travels in Greece

Seize the day on the stunning Greek isle of Santorini

The end result doesn’t always live up to the expectation — fish and chips, for example, are always best before you’ve eaten them.

Even though the hotel is ideal for honeymooners, it still makes for the perfect family holiday away from all the tourist traps
Santorini is a stunning Greek isle that offers some epic panoramic views
 However, our visit to Santorini gives lie to this idea as our bonding family holiday — dad, mum and son — exceeded what we ever imagined.

Like so many, a visit to the stunning Greek isle had been on our bucket list — but we wanted to avoid the tourist-trap part of the island and massive daily cruise ship crowds for a week of true peace and harmony.

So we seized the day and shunned the most popular destinations to stay at the stunning Carpe Diem hotel, nestled beneath the medieval village of Pyrgos.

Occupying one of the highest points on Santorini and affording epic panoramic views, it is the largest preserved village on the island and the former capital.

Staying at the Carpe Diem hotel you can avoid the maddening crowds from the cruises and many of the tourist traps

A perfect day started with a walk up to Pyrgos to see the stunning sunrise without being swamped by fellow tourists.

Santorini treated us to six balmy, 30C, cloudless, windless days in an exceptionally well-appointed resort with exemplary in-house food and service.

Privacy and seclusion were top priority, including the first-class 270 Degrees restaurant and Althea boutique spa.

The huge rooms in the tiered complex are built into the hillside and offer cool and comfortable respite from the mid-afternoon sun if one ever tires of the view over the Aegean from the pool.

The rooms are tiered and built into the hillside, which keeps you cool and comfortable in the 30C cloudless sunshine

With expansive rooms, including an open living space, private outside area, separate shower and toilet and bathroom with a large spa bath, it’s not hard to see why Carpe Diem was named Best Honeymoon Hideaway at the World Boutique Hotel Awards in 2017.

But what’s great is that everything on Santorini is so compact, it’s easy to see the more famous sights when you choose.

We were urged to look into an organised private tour with ex-Greek Special Services commando George, who now uses his Humvee for more peaceful sightseeing purposes.

Who can argue with a paratrooper, after all?

The rooms have a private outdoor sitting area and it is no wonder the hotel was named Best Honeymoon Hideaway at the World Boutique Hotel Awards in 2017

What an outing George provided.

The historical and archaeological commentary, the breathtaking views and the timing of our visit to the beautiful town of Oia just before the 40 tourist buses arrived was a testament to his local knowledge.

The town offers a magnificent crater view, looking down on what is left of the volcano.

It was formed about 3,000 years ago during the Minoan eruption, forming the little islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni as a result.

The breathtaking views surround you no matter where your days take you

Santorini is a dormant volcano and Oia is the manifestation of all we had imagined from a town on a Greek island hillside, with beautiful white-washed houses and blue domes.

Santorini’s geology is awe- inspiring and its rich culture and history made this a most memorable day.

Included in our tour was a visit to one of Santorini’s few vineyards, Estate Argyros, where we tasted many beautiful wines and accompanying local cuisine.

We were also treated to a wonderful history tour, in which we learned about wine and cheese-making on the island.

There are a lot of opportunities to have a romantic dinner outdoors

The day ended at dusk with a drive up to the highest peak of Pyrgos where the view is second to none and something that no picture or video could ever really capture.

Another must-do outing is a visit to the beautiful black-sanded beach of Agios Giorgios where we were served seafood and drinks to our sun loungers and swam in the wonderfully warm sea.

We finished our day by dining at an open-air restaurant, Forty One — one of the trendy new seafood eateries coming to the Greek islands that combines beach club and champagne during the day with gorgeous seafood dishes by night.

Had we not wanted to explore, we could easily have whiled away the six days at Carpe Diem.

With its lovely main pool, our private pool, the stunning views, the availability of food and drink, and no kids, nothing can spoil the tranquillity.

The hotel is particularly famous for its magnificent and massive breakfasts which are included in the price, with a huge range of food (and champagne) available in any quantity until 1pm.

After breakfast, the narrow cobbled streets of Pyrgos offered many hours of wonder and discovery, checking out cafes and bars with world-beating views and various markets, all the while banging into the local donkeys and listening to the bells from one or more of the eight churches.

Bortago restaurant was the scene of a beautiful evening meal outside as we watched the sunset.

GO: Santorini

GETTING THERE: easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Santorini from £40.26pp one way. See

STAYING THERE: One night’s B&B in the Alba Suite at Carpe Diem starts from £180pp based on two sharing. See or call +3022 8603 4090. Carpe Diem is affiliated with Small Luxury Hotels of the World. See

One of the advantages of staying at Carpe Diem is benefitting from the knowledge of host Sotiris Kopatsaris, a Santorini native who has run the hotel since 2011.

On our final night, we were treated to freshly caught fish in a divine meal that needed to be ordered the day before to ensure a fresh catch.

We ate outside and as with every other meal, the service was unobtrusive yet attentive — and the accompanying cocktails were perfect to say goodbye.

Santorini is not a big isle, luckily, as directions to the ferry port got lost in translation and we realised we were heading to the airport.

A few gesticulations to the taxi driver and a hair-raising drive to the boat with an almost Himalayan descent got us to the ferry on time to head to Mykonos, a couple of hours away, for a final Greek night.

But nothing would come close to our family week in Santorini, a tranquil and bonding experience we will never forget.

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