Greece’s Santorini: A Hot Spot for Singles

June 4, 2009

Michael Martin of writes about this island that has been awarded the Best Island in Europe by Travel and Leisure magazine:

Greece’s Santorini, with its jaw-dropping cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea, provides the island backdrop for countless Hollywood blockbusters, wedding videos and romantic vacations.

But Santorini isn’t just for couples. The island is alive with chic eateries, sexy beach bars and dance clubs for visitors who aren’t on a romantic mission. Here’s how to visit the city if you haven’t been struck by Cupid’s bow:

Check in:
The hillside Oia neighborhood offers the best hotels. The village is a picture-perfect cluster of blue-domed buildings and terrace restaurants linked by shoulder-wide alleyways and staircases.

Glitz-seekers should set up their wardrobe trunks at the Katikies Hotel, a glamorous palace of infinity pools and hushed terraces. A sparkling walkway leads to a labyrinth of pristine bungalows jutting out from an awe-inspiring promontory.

Equally exclusive is the Perivolas, a 17-room resort built inside 300-year-old caves once used as wineries, stables and homes. The suites are designed to blend in with the environment. The family-owned hotel offers a one-room eatery with a terrace and dazzling infinity pool made famous by travel magazine spreads.

Bite into Greece: Ambrosia & Nectar, one of Santorini’s most-famous restaurants, sits on Oia’s main square and features an elevated terrace. The menu offers pastries and breads with caramelized onion or goat cheese, beef with truffle shavings and Mediterranean sea bass with lemon-caper sauce. It’s tough to get a table between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on a summer night.

If you travel 20 minutes toward the center of the island, you’ll find Saltsa. Here, Chef Dimitris Lazarou relies on local ingredients to create a masterful menu of Risotto with cuttlefish, cod with acorn crust and pancetta on pita bread.

If you’re looking for something more upscale, try the Koukoumavlos with its views of the cobalt-blue sea. Chef Nikolas Pouliasi serves flavorful treasures like lobster and monkfish terrine, grilled foie gras with raisin paste and Kataifi pastry flavored with rose petals.

Where’s the beach? You’ll find the beach communities of Perivolos, Perissa and Kamari on the island’s southeast corner.

On the black volcanic sand beach of Perivolos, you’ll find the overgrown Chilli Beach Bar with its waterfront volleyball courts, rows of canvas loungers and rock ‘n’ roll vibe.

Those looking for something a bit more refined should head further down the beach to Wet Stories. Visitors will find a pretty pastel terrace the features oversize sofas and mattress-style lounge seating. DJs spin a lighter mix of house sets.

If you follow the locals, you’ll likely end up at the outdoor Yazz Beach Bar. Behind the red stucco facade, you’ll find a street-front bar and a lounge with a dirt floor that’s shaded by tropical foliage and fruit trees.

Big fat Greek nightlife: Most of the island’s nightclubs don’t open until mid-June, but when they’re in business, the Fira neighborhood is the place to go. Around midnight, slip on your disco shoes and head to Koo Club, which offers an electronic dance scene that’s reminiscent of Ibiza, Spain.

The 30-year-old Enigma Club, one of the island’s first nightclubs, offers a more polished version of the Greek disco. In July and August, revelers dance to Beyonce-meets-Bee Gees soundtrack until 5 a.m.

I plan to visit Santorini myself very soon and will be happy to share my experience.

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