Rather than just review the Avaton, I thought I would provide a broader guide to Santorini, as this is what I would have liked before going there.
Where to stay in Santorini?
I guess that there are four main areas to stay on Santorini: Fira, Imerovigli, Oia or elsewhere. In my view I would not stay in Fira, despite its array of shops and restaurants. This is where the cruise ships dock and if you really want to share your holiday with thousands of cruise ship passengers, go for it. But not for me. Similarly, for me there is no elsewhere worth thinking about on Santorini. It's real feature is the caldera rim and the little white buildings hugging its top. So I would not stay anywhere else but either Imerovigli or Oia. Both have fantastic, but very different views. I prefer that from Imerovigli, but that is very much a personal view. The real difference between them is that Oia has lots of shops and restaurants, whereas Imerovigli has no touristy shops at all and only a few good restaurants. Oia is busier, noisier and more touristy. If you want lots of street life without the cruise ships, this is the place. If you want spectacular view, relaxation and real peace and quiet, I would go for Imerovigli. It also has at least one great restaurant in La Maison. Another thing to think about is that Santorini is all about walking. it is a three hour walk from Oia to Fira and there is only the one way to go. From Imerovigli it is around two hours to Oia or one hour to Fira, so you have the choice of two somewhat shorter walks.
Avaton or elsewhere?
There are lots of great places to stay in Imerovigli, the Avaton amongst them. Avaton has the advantages of being at the very end of the village with uninterrupted views and offers truly superb service. If staying elsewhere in the village I would want a resort on the downhill side of the main walkway and I would want to make sure that the views from my room were uninterrupted. The other thing to consider is where you will dine if eating at the hotel. The Avaton serves breakfast in your room, great view and lunch on its terrace, great view. If it is cold or windy outside they serve dinner in their cave restaurant/spa, no view.
How important is a caldera view?
To me, it is everything! I simply could not imagine being happy if I went to Santorini and stayed somewhere without a caldera view. It is the very essence of what makes Santorini so special. As above, the best views are from Imerovigili and Oia.
When to go?
I have never been to Santorini in summer, but just cannot imagine what it would be like with wall to wall people and cars everywhere. Conversely, the whole place shuts down in winter, say, November to March. That leaves the spring and autumn shoulder seasons. In April the hills are alive with flowers and it is glorious, but the water is cold if you want to swim. In The autumn months of September and October the water is much warmer. Either shoulder season would be far better than summer.
To hire a car?
While a small car can be very useful, Santorini is all about walking. If you just drive around you will see next to nothing. In fact, you will see the uglier, older, dirtier version of Santorini. By all means hire a car for a day or two, but don't think you either must have one or that, if you do, you can really see Santorini. Do go prepared to walk.
What to see and do?
My top 4 are
1. Walk, along the caldera rim from Fira to Oia. Not necessarily in one go, but you do need to do the whole of it one way or another.
2. Oia, to me the best shops and restaurants on Santorini
3. The Akrotirii ruins and associated museum, not necessarily that spectacular, but this all about how people lived here 3,800 years ago. Their art, ceramics, even the fascinating plaster cast of a small wooden table, show a level of sophistication way above those living in caves and sod huts elsewhere in the world at the time
4. Eat, drink, shop. Of course!
Santorini is a special place and I would unreservedly recommend that if you are going there, you stay in a special place. The Avaton is one such place.
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- Also Known As:
- Avaton Hotel Imerovigli
- Avaton Resort Santorini/Imerovigli, Greece