Sofia Adventures

Welcome to Sofia!

Sofia is an intriguing city, with corners that show at various times a glint of the splendor of Vienna, the charm of Istanbul, the quirkiness of Budapest, and the brutalism of Moscow. You’ll find Roman ruins in our subway stations, medieval icons in the church basements, and Thracian relics in the former presidential palace. Yet Sofia brings all of these seemingly disparate traditions together into one magical, inspiring city.

DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

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12 of the Absolute Best Restaurants in Chania: Food You Must Try!

If you’re planning your holidays in Crete and you’ve put Chania on your itinerary, one of the things you’ve started to consider, right immediately after where you’re going to stay, is where and what to eat in Chania!

Well, you don’t really have to worry! In Crete’s second-most important city, Chania, food is king, and Chania has a lot to offer to the culinary panorama of the island. Not only it’s home to some unique local products that you can easily taste in the Municipal Market, but it’s also a place where more and more restaurants are being opened each season.

Each of them offers very unique menus that combine all the freshness of the local products and healthy ingredients of the Cretan diet. 

In this list, I’ve purposely stayed away from most of the restaurants located right on the Venetian Port (many of which are tourist traps) and decided to focus on the hidden gems of the local cuisine, favorite among visitors and locals alike.

For the same reason, I’ve included their phone numbers, as I strongly recommend you book before showing up, especially in high season! Let’s check now this Chania restaurant guide with the 12 best restaurants in Chania to try on your next visit to this charming island!

The Best Restaurants in Chania: Food You Must Try!

Serenissima Restaurant

Location: Skoufon 4, Old Town
Phone number: 2821 086386
Open: High season only (from May to October)

Tucked in the alleys of the old town, between the Jewish quarter and the Topanas district, the intimate and elegant atmosphere of Serenissima will introduce you into an outstanding world of colors, shapes, and tastes that best exemplifies creative Chania cuisine.

Here, Chef Iosif Petrof elaborates the most stunning dishes with international techniques and fresh Cretan ingredients, creating a cuisine that’s influenced by his French experience in Lyon, his love for the island, and his passion for all that’s genuine.

It’s very difficult to suggest a specific dish to eat in Chania here, since Serenissima’s menu changes every twenty days to give way to his creativity, however, any dish you choose (either it’s Mer, Terre, or Vegan), will blow your mind with its taste and impeccable presentation.

Salis Restaurant

Location: Akti Enoseos 3, New Marina
Phone number: 2821 043700
Open: All year round

Right in on the romantic seafront promenade of the Neoria (the old Venetian arsenals), Salis made its way into the new gastronomic panorama of Chania with a proposal that’s entirely different from the traditional Greek tavernas in Chania’s port. 

Driven by a revolutionary farm to fork concept, the ingredients that are served on their tables are locally sourced, (mostly from Chania, but also from the rest of Crete), some of them produced by the owners themselves! 

This Chania restaurant star dish is the deconstructed pastitsio, which is a pasta dish with Cretan truffles. For that season, Salis is a must-try restaurant in Chania.

The Five

Location: Akti Papanikoli 15, Nea Chora
Phone number: 2821 086596
Open: All year round

The Five is a new entry in the Chania restaurant scene that truly made some noise on Chania’s great food culture — and with a solid reason. This modern restaurant in Chania is located in the quiet neighborhood of Nea Chora, right in front of the beach, less than ten minutes away from the Old Venetian Harbor.

Nikos and his sommelier wife Kleopatra Bright pair extensive wine knowledge to revolutionary, cutting-edge dishes, full of taste and imagination, well away from the usual Greek traditional taverna. 

It’s very hard to choose a dish from their very impressive menu, however, you won’t go wrong if you taste the mouthwatering prawn ravioli. The Five also serves yummy brunches and has a great selection of beer. Both perfectly combine with the relaxing views of the sea.

Oinoa Wine Bar Bistrot

Location: Theotokopoulou 63, Old Town
Phone number: 697 608 9225
Open: From April to November

Oinoa is a Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant located in the extreme west of the old town, not far from the Lighthouse. Living up to their mission, with their unique menu, Oinoa pays tribute to the Greek farmers, fishermen, local winemakers.

At Oinoa you will taste delicious simple food presented with excellence and unique care.

When sitting at one of their tables, go for one of the many different proposals of  Black Angus as well as for their delicious (and best-selling) tuna tartare, or simply let their knowledgeable staff suggest you what to try. You won’t regret it. 

Tamam Restaurant

Location: Zampeliou 51, Old Town
Phone number: 2821 096080
Open: All year round

One of the top choices when it comes to excellent food in CHania has always been Tamam Restaurant. It is located on one the liveliest roads of the Venetian neighborhood, inside an enchanting old Turkish hammam.

Tamam’s food proposal combines Middle Eastern spices and flavors with excellent Cretan wines and a touch of imagination.

One of their most requested dishes is Hünkar Beğendi, a delicious beef stew in Cretan Kotsifali wine and tomato sauce with aubergine puree.

The Well of the Turk

Location: Sarpaki 1, Splantzia, Old Town
Phone number: 2821 054547)
Open: High season only (from May to October)

The Well of the Turk defines itself as an eclectic mix of Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern Cuisine. This venue has been regularly on top of every list of Chania’s best restaurants not only for the fantastic delicacies but also for the romantic atmosphere where this restaurant is located.

Nestled in a romantic garden among the alleys of the Turkish quarter, The Well of the Turk opens only for dinner, serving creative dishes made with local ingredients. Their salads are a must, as well as their Moroccan mint tea. 

Thalassino Ageri

Location: Vivilaki 35, Tabakaria, Halepa
Phone number: 2821 051136
Open: Seasonal opening (from the end of March to the end of October)

Another traditional restaurant in Chania is Thalassino Ageri, located in the suggestive scenario of the old abandoned district of Tabakaria, where the tanneries can be found.

The tables are set right on the beach where you can enjoy some of Chania’s most spectacular sunsets, which get even better when the food arrives. Thalassino serves tempting octopus, lobster with pasta, and a fantastic sea urchin salad.

Everything is paired with excellent local wine labels and an inspiring seaside atmosphere. Reservations are suggested.

Chrisostomos

Location: Corner of Deukalon & Ikarous streets, Chania
Phone number: 2821 057035
Open: From Wednesdays to Sundays

Chrisostomos is the place to go if you’re looking for a taste of the traditional cuisine of Sfakia, one of the most authentic regions of Crete, known for the simple but tasty dishes exclusively made with local products.

The utmost expression of local gastronomy, Chrisostomos serves original Cretan dishes cooked in the wood oven.

Do try staples of the local cuisine, such as lamb with stamnagathi (local wild greens), sheep wrapped in cooking paper and staka with fried eggs.

Colombo Kitchen & Bar

Location: Eisodion 17, Old Town
Phone number: 2821 044310
Open: All year round

Hidden in one of Chania’s most gorgeous alleys, this tiny restaurant is one of the local gems when it comes to the Chania food scene.

Colombo specializes in traditional dishes revisited with creativity as well as more modern proposals with a Mediterranean touch. A fresh selection of salads, such as the avocado salad and the tabouleh, as well as interesting wines, round out the menu.

To end with, they replace the traditional shot of Cretan raki, with refined mastixa liquor from Chios and homemade sweets.

La Bodega

Location: Akti Kountourioti 60, Old Venetian Port
Phone number: 2821 036011
Open: All year round

This is the only restaurant in Chania on this list located on the old Venetian port, and it truly deserves a place on this list.

La Bodega is a very informal wine bar & bistro, ideal for a late dinner close to Chania’s lighthouse, in the romantic setting of the harbor.

They specialize in Mediterranean tastes,  a delicious combination of Greek and Italian flavors and an interesting wine list. Try their variations of bruschetta as well as their salmon salad!

Overwhelmed by all the delicious Chania food to try?

Taste Crete like a local taking this foodie experience, full of local bites and delicacies. Explore the local market and taste the fresh traditional products. Discover some of Chania’s most stunning corners as you eat your way through the old town on this Airbnb Experience!

Where to Stay in Chania

Chania - Greece - Harbor and lighthouse shown through window shutters

Budget: Doge Traditional Hotel

Doge Traditional Hotel is pretty much exactly that: a lovely historic Venetian traditional house. It was originally built in the 15th century with 8 rooms to offer guests and has been refurbished lovingly. It is an intimate and quiet hotel, perfect for couples and families up to five.

While this charming Chania hotel has many perks, I’d argue the best part of the hotel has to be the rooftop where you can gaze at the beautiful views of the sea – especially during sunset!

Each room has canopy beds set in a beautifully lit room with some nice lamps and chandeliers. This makes each room seem rustic and historic yet still warm and inviting due to the wooden elements in its interiors. Some walls have rough rocks to create an interesting focal point on the whitewashed walls. It also has wooden ceilings which also helps in absorbing noise from outside, aside from adding some serious style points. There are also interesting paintings hung up on the walls to add visual interest.

If you want a bigger suite to accommodate a larger number of people, you can get their superior suite, which has a mezzanine that serves as an additional bedroom. All rooms feature a closet, heating, A/C, fridge, electric kettle, coffee and tea making facilities, sofa bed and safety deposit boxes.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Mid-Range: The48Suites

This chic hotel features the typical Venetian exterior, but inside it has modern features for the sophisticated traveler. The hotel follows a minimalist aesthetic, livened up with a little playful and artsy décor. Everything just harmonizes perfectly, typical of a boutique-style hotel. It is also located on the picturesque Theotokopoulo Street, where a ton of old houses are lined up – perfect for Instagramming your away around Chania.

It has 3 types of rooms to choose from (which are all suites and apartments). Their prices are somewhat on the lower mid-range, so you’re really going to get your money’s worth here. The superior and deluxe suites offer a balcony (with stylish wicker furniture) and a mezzanine; this is great for families with older kids, but not for ones with small kids as the stairs can be quite dangerous for them.

All of the rooms still follow the minimalist aesthetic, but what’s most important is that they are ridiculously clean (past guests have attested to that)! There’s also a kitchen equipped with all the things you need to prepare a nice dish for your family should you tire of Greek food — if that’s even possible! Coffee machines and a kettle are also provided so you can make your own coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon (or when you feel like having one, which for me is basically always!).

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Luxury: Domus Renier Boutique Hotel

As part of the Historic Hotels Worldwide, this hotel doesn’t just offer a historic Renaissance past, but also a truly luxurious experience you can’t miss. This was once the residence of the Reniers, a noble Venetian family. It is a huge complex, and the main building was converted into a hotel: the exterior and interior of which will basically take you time traveling!

Their rooms are classy, sophisticated, and elegant: no two rooms are alike here. It is also spacious and you are sure to enjoy the simple details of their wooden furniture, adhering to the philosophy that less is more. You will surely love the rain shower in the private bathrooms that totally mimic the rain – bringing the spa experience to your room! For even more of that, you can even have masseuses come to your room for an in-room spa treatment.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

More Crete Travel Resources

Loutro, Crete, Greece. Turquoise water, white boat, white houses

Headed to Crete? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.

If you’re still trying to work out where to go on the island, check out our guide to the best places to visit in Crete.

If you’ll be spending a few days in Chania, here is our guide to visiting Seitan Limania from Chania (which is our favorite beach in Crete) and Chania’s best Instagram spots. 

If you will be spending time in Heraklion, check out our guides to the best Instagram spots in Heraklion and the city’s best restaurants and cafes. 

If you’re interested in taking a day trip to Rethymnon, check out our Instagram guide to Rethymnon next, and perhaps our guide to things to do in Rethymnon and the best Rethymnon hotels.

If this will be one of your first trips to the Greek islands, check out our massive Greek Island hopping guide as well as our recommendations for where to go in Greece and when is the best time to visit. 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

5 Things to Bring with You for a Crete Vacation

Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Stephanie Selfie

We have an entire Crete packing list that includes exactly what to bring to Crete, but here are some essentials you don’t want to miss!

A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We own and recommend the Lonely Planet Greece book as a starter, but you may also want to pick up the Lonely Planet Crete which covers the island more in-depth. 

Sunscreen: Yes, you will want sunscreen in Crete, even if you visit during the winter! While you can buy it here, I suggest you buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions.

Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides especially on mountain or coastal roads – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well. And these are a must if you’re also taking ferries, as the sea can be really choppy depending on the weather!

 Travel safety items. We think Crete is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

– Sunglasses. No matter the time of year, Crete has plenty of sunshine! Keep your eyes protected with your favorite pair of sunglasses from home.

Read Next: Essential Crete Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Crete

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Crete, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!

We at Sofia Adventures have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. 

While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

21 Best Things to Do in Istanbul With Kids

Istanbul is a popular and crowded city that can seem very busy with both tourists and locals. You may be wondering if visiting Istanbul with kids is a good idea — will there be enough to keep kids entertained?

With many of its attractions, like the Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque, are not particularly kid-centered, there are several wonderful things to do in Istanbul with kids in case you are visiting Istanbul as a family. As a mother living in Istanbul, here are my suggestions for the best things to do as a family in Istanbul.

Best Things to Do with Kids in Istanbul

Toy Museum

Turkish author and poet Sunay Akın opened Toy Museum on the 23rd of April in 2015. He chose this opening date particularly, as on every 23rd of April, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is celebrated in Turkey.

The museum displays 4,000 toys collected from different parts of the world. The oldest of the toys is a violin made in France dating back to 1817.

Once belonging to his family, the museum has a very cozy atmosphere and each room is decorated like a theater stage. Sunay Akın has been collecting toys all over the world for over 15 years now.

Opening Times: The museum is closed on Mondays, but other days, it can be visited between 09:30 – 18:00.

Website: Check it out here for more detail.

Miniatürk

The museum showcasing miniature structures from Ottoman, Rome, Seljuk, and Byzantine Empire, has been welcoming visitors since 2003.

There are 135 models displayed and they are 1/25 of their real size. 62 models are from Istanbul, 13 models are from Ottoman Empire, and 60 are from Anatolia.

Opening Times: The museum is open every day and can be visited from 09:00 – 18:00.

Website: Check it out here for more detail.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Istanbul

One of the most famous kid-friendly activities in Istanbul, LEGOLAND features İstanbul’s iconic places built from LEGO bricks such as Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower, and Blue Mosque.

There are 12 different areas inside the center. Therefore, you can spend a day here quite easily. LEGOLAND is designed for kids between 3 and 10 years of age particularly; however, it continues to attract visitors from all different ages.

In order to visit the center, you have to have a kid younger than 14 with you; otherwise, you are not allowed into LEGOLAND. Just keep that in mind.

Opening Times: LEGOLAND is open Monday to Sunday between 10:00 – 20:00 and the last admission 18:00.

Website: Check out their website for more detail.

Madame Tussauds Museum

Located on the famous Istiklal Caddesi, Madame Tussauds Museum is the place if you want to teach your kid about history, cinema, music, and science and pop culture.

As soon as you enter the museum, you are welcome by Barış Manço, Bruce Willis, and Lady Gaga as you approach the ticket booths. There are five sections inside the exhibition: Music, VIP Party, Culture, Film, and History & Leaders. It will take you an hour and a half to complete the whole museum.

The museum attracts many children because there are quizzes about the stars, accessories, and gaming consoles to make it more interactive. If you want to make your own wax hand, there is also a workshop area!

Opening Times: The wax museum is open every day and can be visited from 10:00 – 22:00.

Website: Check out their website for details.

Barış Manço Museum

If you grew up in the ’90s in Turkey, it means that you grew up with Barış Manço: great artist, singer, songwriter, and traveler. He was incredibly famous for the songs he wrote for children at the time.

When his house in Moda was converted into a museum after his death, it became, so-to-say, a temple to pay respects to him and remember his unique personality.

The museum is located in Moda, one of the hippest neighborhoods of Istanbul. At the entrance of the house, there is the Steinway B2010 piano that Barış Manço loved to play. There is also a dining room and a dressing room apart from the entrance. His children’s room can be visited also.

Opening Hours: The Barış Manço Museum is open between 09:00 and 17:00 every day except Mondays.

Website: Check out their website for details.

KidZania

KidZania is one of the most unique activity complexes for kids in Istanbul. Inside Akasya Shopping Mall, KidZania provides gaming activities for kids from different professions such as aviation, medicine, culinary school, crime scene investigation, hospital, theater, radio, vet, etc.

If your kids are between 1-14 years old, this is the place you should be taking your kids in Istanbul!. The kids are informed about the professions and depending on their interests, they can wear the appropriate uniform and go into the area to experience the daily life of the profession.

Location: KidZania is open between 10.00-16.00 during weekdays and 10.00-20.00 during weekends.

Website: Check out their website for details.

Atatürk Arboretum

If you want to get some fresh air without going too far away from the city center, try Atatürk Arboretum.

The arboretum has about 2,000 different kinds of trees and plants as well as lakes to discover.

You can easily plan a day here but just keep in mind that food and drinks are not allowed inside the arboretum. However, there are options nearby.

Opening Times: You can visit Atatürk Arboretum from Tuesday to Sunday between 08:30 – 18:00.

Kite Museum

Mehmet Naci Aköz, the founder of the Kite Museum, has been collecting kites from all over the world since 1986.

The museum is one-of-a-kind in this respect and features over 2,500 kites from different countries. You can take your kid to the museum for kite workshops where she can learn how to make and fly a kite.

Located in Uskudar, you can reach the museum via ferry easily, even if you are staying on the European side of Istanbul.

Opening Times: You can visit the museum from Monday to Friday between 09.30-17.00.

Website: For information in detail, please visit their website

Pelit Chocolate Museum

Thanks to this museum, chocolate and art lovers come together! If your child is a fan of chocolate (and probably he or she is!), you should definitely visit this unique museum.

There are 6 halls in the museum. The main hall welcomes you first, where you can learn about the history of chocolate from the explanatory paintings. You can also see Noah’s Ark, chocolate waterfalls, and a chocolate house made in real sizes.

In Istanbul Hall, you can see the landmarks of the city made from chocolate, such as Galata Tower and Maiden’s Tower! In the next hall, which is dedicated to Turkish leaders, you will see the busts of Ataturk, Osman Gazi, and many more.

In the Artists Hall, the artworks of Pablo Picasso and Osman Hamdi can be seen – made of chocolate, of course! The last hall is called Civilization where you get to see the chocolate paintings of past civilizations such as Ancient Greece, Hittite, and the Ottoman Empire.

Opening Times: The museum is open every day from 10:00 – 17:00.

Website: For information in detail, please visit their site.

İstanbul Aquarium

When you start your tour in Istanbul Aquarium, you follow a geographical route. On this route, there are 16 themes and 1 rainforest starting from the Black Sea to the Pacific.

The aquarium has a variety of fish species and are proud to provide the latest habitat standards for them, so they live happily and as naturally as possible.

You can see 17,000 land and sea animals and over 1,500 species. Each space is decorated with interactive games, visual graphics, and movies that are specific to the particular part of the world it is representing, making it perfect for spending time with kids in Istanbul.

You can dive with sharks, feed the fish, and have a professional photoshoot inside the tanks. In the South Pole Area of the aquarium, you can visit Gentoo penguins – the most popular animal amongst visitors!

Opening Hours: The aquarium is open every day and can be visited from 10:00 – 20:00.

Website: Check out the website here for more detail.

Forestanbul

Located in Kemerburgaz, Forestanbul is the right place to go if your kid is into adventure. With a 65,000-meter square area, it’s the largest facility for kid-friendly adventure activities in Turkey.

Your beloved kids can experience rope sliding, climbing walls, rope trails on trees, paintball, and a giant swing if they want to. There is also a park called Adventure Park inside Forestanbul, so if you want to play paintball or do orienteering, you need to make a reservation on their website.

Opening Times: You can visit Forestanbul every day between 10.00-19.00.

Akbank Sanat

Located in Beyoglu, Akbank Sanat organizes many workshops for kids for all ages.

Toy, sculpture, painting, watercolor, creative drama, printing, and creative dance workshops are only some of them! People who are experts their areas organize all workshops.

Opening Times: You can visit Akbank Sanat between 10:30 – 19:30 except Sunday and Monday.

Website: Check out their website to see the available programs and enquire about English-language availability

Istanbul Air Force Museum

The museum covers Turkish Air Force history, so if your kid loves planes, this will be a very memorable visit for him!

Located in Yesilkoy, the museum has an outdoor and an indoor area. In the entrance, General Dynamics F-16 and a Northrop F-5 fighter jets welcome you. There are busts of soldiers who work for the Turkish Air Force in this area as well.

You should definitely check out Havilland Dragon Rapide, a one of a kind airliner. There are also aircraft engines exhibited in the hangar area as well as plane models and uniforms.

Opening Times: The museum can be visited on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday between 09:00 – 17:00 and between 10:00 – 18:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

Website: Please visit their website for more detail.

Imagineer Kids

This unique kids’ activity in Istanbul brings a new and progressive concept to the city, which brings the digital and the analog worlds together. The name comes from the combination of “imagine” and “engineer.”

Imagineer Kids organizes workshops for kids between ages 4 and 12 about science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. There are also special modules designed for kids between 0 to 3 years old. There are also puppet theatres organized occasionally!

Opening Times: Imagineer Kids is open between 10:00 – 19:00 from Tuesday to Friday and 10:00 – 20:00 on weekends.

Website: Please visit their website for details.

Happy Nest

Happy Nest is an amazing bookstore-cafe with the branches in Etiler and Kalamis, both on the Anatolian and the European side.

There are several books in English, therefore, you can often bump into foreign mothers and their kids here: great if you want your kid to make English-speaking friends!. There are workshops also for both parents and children to participate together.

Website: Check out their site for details.

Le Petit 100


This is another example of café/shop/playground located in Arnavutkoy, one of the loveliest districts of the European side.

While parents can enjoy teatime, children can hang out in the playground safely with other kids. There are different workshops being organized for different ages on different days of the week.

Website: You can both check out the Instagram page as well as the web site here for information in detail.

Kids Nook

Located in Akatlar on the European side, Kids Nook is a very unique place where storytelling meets a bookstore.

It has a fairytale-like atmosphere, especially with the treehouse in the garden. Sensory storytime is one of its most famous activities, for which parents look out closely!

Website: For details, please check it out here

BEE, Eat.Play.Love

Located in Emirgan, one of the loveliest places of the European where locals prefer breakfast by the sea on weekends, Bee is the ultimate place to take your kid to experience unique workshops for all kids from different ages. Bee is also famous for its healthy lunch and breakfast menu.

Website: Please check out its Instagram account for more detail:

İyi Cüceler

Many parents enjoy the bookstore İyi Cüceler, which means “little people” in English.

Located in Caddebostan, one of the busiest streets of the Anatolian side, this bookshop/café/kids’ area has great workshops, rhythm games, playgroups, and writing workshops for all children for different ages.

Website: Check out their website here for more detail.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

Budget

For a no-frills stay in a cool neighborhood, we recommend Cheers Porthouse. Taking inspiration from the Bosphorus, which is just a few minutes away, this slightly nautically-themed guesthouse offers seriously affordable private rooms with shared bathrooms or en-suite bathroom options. The location is fantastic, close to all the best bars and nightlife of Karakoy.

Despite the low price, the rooms have the basic amenities you’d expect and want from a hotel, such as a flatscreen TV, air conditioning, modern bathrooms, and free toiletries. The décor of the rooms is modern and fun, so you don’t feel like you’re staying in a dated guesthouse, which is always nice when you’re looking for where to stay in Istanbul in this price range.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Mid-Range

Want to feel like Turkish royalty without paying a price to match? Check out Saba Sultan Hotel just 200 meters from the Blue Mosque. With a Turkish-inspired décor, a gorgeous terrace with views over Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and its minarets (perfect for Instagram photos!), large windows, and stunning antique furniture, this is a fantastic yet affordable place to stay in Sultanahmet.

The breakfast spread is lush, with olives, freshly baked Turkish bread, and other classic Turkish breakfast items on offer. The staff is helpful and friendly, ready to direct you to any of Istanbul’s main sights which are just within a stone’s throw of the hotel!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Luxury

Perhaps the last word in Istanbul luxury, the Four Seasons has a history of turning confinement to refinement, as the site it inhabits was once a three-story prison building which was remodeled to house voluntary instead of state-compelled guests.

Its entire decor follows the neo-classical patterning, and all its rooms feature fully-equipped entertainment systems, espresso machines, free wifi, and a marble bathroom with a deep soaking tub.

The Four Seasons also offers a world-class spa and fitness center, and bot the Seasons Restaurant in the courtyard and A’YA Lounge on the rooftop offer delicious meals and drinks.

»» Click to see guest reviews, photos, prices, and availability ««

5 Things to Bring to Turkey

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

We have a guide of what to pack for Turkey, but here are five things you definitely want to bring with you!

The Lonely Planet Turkeya good guidebook can help you with the kinds of safety tips you need if you’re out in the city and feel a bit lost, especially if you don’t have internet or a cell signal. These also have specific neighborhood information that will help you in different parts of the city, and it’s a great supplement to blog posts like this one!

Unlocked Cell Phone: Stephanie and I both have unlocked cell phones that we bought in Europe (Stephanie uses a Samsung and I use an iPhone). This allows up to get sim cards when we travel so that we always have the internet. This has gotten us out of so many jams! If you don’t have an unlocked cell phone that can use a Turkish sim card, you can buy a cheaper unlocked phone online and bring it with you!

Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Stephanie and I use for all our travels. It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag, yet it’s still quite stylish for all of its security features. If you’d rather bring something smaller, you can pack a money belt instead. 

Grayl Water FilterWhile the water is *technically* safe to drink now, I would still avoid it. If you don’t want to be buying millions of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste. If you’ll be traveling outside of the major tourist centers, check if the water is potable locally.

Seabands: If you get seasick easily, pack some Seabands or seasickness pills so you don’t miss out on the best parts of Turkey – being on the water! A trip to Turkey isn’t complete without a cruise or at least a quick boat trip, so make sure you’re prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!

More Istanbul Travel Resources

Turkey - Istanbul - Stephanie Ortakoy Mosque

We have a ton of resources to help you plan your trip to Istanbul! First, start with our top 50 Istanbul travel tips – virtually every question you might have about visiting Istanbul should be covered here. You can also check out our post on Istanbul safety tips.

We’re working on our massive things to do post in Istanbul, plus you can check out our guide to the best Instagram spots around Istanbul,, our favorite Istanbul neighborhoods and where to stay, and tips for shopping in Istanbul. If you visit in winter, we have a special winter in Istanbul guide. 

If you want to be in the city for just a few days (four or less), check out our Istanbul city break guide, which breaks down the best of the city so you won’t miss anything!

For more general Turkey information, check out this guide to planning a trip to Turkey (including visa information) and this guide to other beautiful places to visit in Turkey. You can also check out our Balkan currency guide, which explains how the Turkish lira works and guidelines for tipping in Istanbul.

If you will also be traveling to Cappadocia, we have this massive DIY Cappadocia itinerary post that will be helpful to read if you are not going on a guided excursion. If you’re curious about the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also written extensively about the best cave hotels for all budgets here in Cappadocia.

We have tons more Turkey and Balkans resources, and we publish new content nearly daily. Bookmark our Turkey and Balkans travel pages so you can find any new resources that come out before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

It’s always a good idea to travel to Turkey or anywhere in Europe with a valid travel insurance policy. Istanbul is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!

For travel insurance, I use World NomadsI’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

21 Beautiful Mykonos Beaches for Your Perfect Summer Trip

Want to know the best beaches in Mykonos? This is the guide for you!

This guide includes our favorite beaches in Mykonos for partying, relaxing, and water sports.

As Mykonos is quite windy, many of the beaches are more suited for sports than relaxing, and vice versa. This guide will help you find the best beaches in Mykonos for every type of traveler!

Ornos

This a very commercialized beach and you won’t have any problems looking for accommodation, restaurants or facilities you will need to make your beach vacation fun!

It can get really crowded due to this, and you may reach this beach by bus or by car in around 10-20 minutes from Mykonoso Town, unless you choose to stay right in Ornos.

Despite the crowds, the place is well-maintained, and you will still see the clear waters and fine sand. I know some people would love to enjoy this place during the off-season so they won’t join in with the crowd of tourists, but remember that after the end of peak season (end of September), you might end up seeing plenty of closed restaurants and amenities. I went to Mykonos at the end of October and the place was practically a ghost town!

It is considered as one of the best family-friendly beaches near the town of Mykonos. Parents can relax while keeping an eye on their kids, as the shore doesn’t have areas that are suddenly deep. If you want to check out the public beach, it is quite small and there are some rocks beside the shore. Instead, most of the space is also filled with sun chairs with umbrellas for rent (around €15 or $17 USD, which is pretty much the standard rate on the entire island).

Kapari

Kapari Beach welcomes you with golden sand and a tranquil environment that’s very easy to access from Mykonos town proper!

The color of the sea here has a unique blue hue and up close, it’s so pure that upon wading in, you can see your feet clearly.

You will surely enjoy the less crowded atmosphere, but this also translates to fewer facilities in the area – it is best to bring food, water and anything you would need.

The roads to get here can be quite a challenge, but the good thing about this beach is that you can still reach it by public transportation, and from where the bus stops, you just have to walk downhill to reach this quiet beach. It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes for this walk, as it is a bit rocky.

Instead of sun chairs, you can lay down on some of the rocks beside the cliffs and just enjoy the sound of the soft waves (although sometimes the waves can be strong too) – truly a relaxing escape where you can be one with nature and have your Zen moment. Sometimes, there are even occasions when tourists can have the beach all to themselves — yes, even on Mykonos!

Agios Ioannis

Agios Ioannis is a perfect beach to go to if you want a commercial feel but also to enjoy its quiet areas for some “me” time – perfect when you can’t decide or just want the best of both worlds!

This beach became popular because of the movie Shirley Valentine; that’s why it is sometimes called the Shirley Valentine Beach.

The prices for some of the restaurants and other facilities can be a bit expensive as compared to other beaches in Mykonos – but you still get beautiful scenes that would look good for the ‘gram.

You will even see a church (where they coined the name of the beach) that’s close to the beach! There are plenty of good hotels nearby and families will also enjoy staying here conveniently. The beach also lies close to the above-mentioned Ornos Beach, and it is a brief walk only between the two, in case you want to beach hop without worrying about public transportation.

Psarou

This is probably the luxury beach of Mykonos; it has attracted several celebrities and has made a name for itself in this category.

Be careful when you visit, though. It can get too crowded during the summer season, and lying on the sunbeds and chairs can get really expensive (to rent one would cost you around €40 or $45 USD, and some even say that it can spike up to €75 or $84 USD).

However, there are several activities you can do here aside from renting a sunbed, so don’t be discouraged from going. A solution to those expensive sun chairs and beds would be to bring a beach towel and go to the central part of the beach (between the lifeguard stations) that area is 100% free!

Everything in the beach area is very organized so you won’t have a hassle going around. You can do some snorkeling or other water sports, but plenty of tourist’s love riding their yachts!

You will see plenty of these anchored near the shore, some private, but others ready to take tourists on a whirlwind adventure. These activities are perfect because the beach is secluded and it is not windy, so you don’t have to worry about big waves.

Despite the price range of the sun beds, it’s still worth your money to go here. You can get here from Mykonos Town by taking a bus. It is also just beside the lovely beach Platys Gialos, so might as well check it if you have time.

Paraga

Paraga Beach is a good place to go to for that moment you just need to go to the beach – and that can be for no reason at all because this beach is very easy to reach!

It has beautiful crystal waters which Mykonos beaches are typically known for, and there are a few restaurants and bars where you can try some of the seafood, aperitifs, and cocktails they offer.

There’s even a nearby mini market which can really help you save some money if you don’t want to spend at their restaurants – but restaurant prices are pretty fair, so spend how you choose.

If you wish to get a sunchair here, the prices differ by row (prices are from €30-50 or $34-55 USD), and there’s plenty available. However, sometimes you would also need to purchase something from the restaurants where they’re located in addition to the fee, so this can add up.

Music is everywhere and if you love 90s music, then you will enjoy this beach — it has a bit of a low-key party vibe! It also lies somewhere between the Platys Gialos Beach and Psarou Beach, so it’s a good choice if you want to hit up more than one beach in a single day.

Kalo Livadi

You can get to this beach easily by riding the bus from the Old Port that leaves once every two hours from 10 in the morning.

But to make things easier you can get a taxi and pay around €25 or somewhere around $28 USD. If you want to enjoy a Jeep Safari ride along with other beaches and tourist destinations, you can book here.

This beach became famous because it’s where Lindsay Lohan threw her famous Mykonos beach parties! However, while getting into Lindsay Lohan’s beach club used to be pretty much near impossible (it is now no longer open), you can actually lay down on the strip of sand between the two lifeguard towers for free — same as in all of Mykonos.

There are plenty of hotels and guest houses near the beach, but there aren’t any stand-alone restaurants, so it would be best to bring food and refreshments if you are just going for a day trip.

It is also one of the most well-maintained beaches, plus you will enjoy the sparkling clear waters and fine sand that feels so soft when you lay down. If you have brought your car or ATV with you, parking is actually free!

Paradise Beach

All of the beaches in Mykonos are beautiful, but this beach stands out because of its name. Honestly, it does live up to the word “paradise” in a modern way!

This beach is probably best for adults only and those who love to party – a younger crowd who just want to escape from the stresses of life. It is also very close to a popular night club. Loud party music starts mostly at around 4 PM, and you will see the beach spring to life!

There’s also plenty of restaurants and you can try the wine offered by waiters roaming around the beach for as low as €3+ (around $4 USD per glass). You will never run out of bar-hopping here, meaning that this probably not recommended for someone who wants a peaceful and relaxing day at the beach, although you can still enjoy taking a dip and wading by the shore.

Some say that the sunbeds and umbrellas are cheaper here – maybe because most of the people are partying somewhere and not so worried about their tans and beach chairs!

If you’re worried you won’t stay for the night, there are also some day bars. There’s free parking nearby, but it can be quite a problem to get a spot, so it’s best to just get private transfers, taxi, or go by bus because they’re available even up to the late evening (check exact departure times when you arrive to make sure you don’t miss the last bus, or you may have to pay for a pricy taxi ride home!)

Super Paradise

This is around 7 kilometers from Mykonos town center, and you can get here by public bus from the old port or by taxi. It is also close to Platys Gialos Beach, and you can actually ride a boat from there to arrive at Super Paradise.

While this sounds like the ultimate paradise beach, this is actually the exact opposite of Paradise Beach, far away from the party scene. This is a quiet place with reasonably priced restaurants and sun chairs and beds (around €15 or $17 USD). There are also some bars if you feel like partying that day, but not like the ones at Paradise Beach!

There are free parking spaces available for those who drove to the beach – which is also just a short walk. For people who want less of a crowd, it won’t hurt going here during the off-season because you still enjoy the same experience.

There is, however a downside if you go during this time, the water can be a bit cold to swim, but still tolerable (I didn’t go for a swim in October, but others were — I’m a baby and hate even cool water, it needs to be almost bathtub warm!).

Agrari Beach

The shoreline of this beach is just wonderful, though it can be a little rocky so it would be best to wear protective beach shoes. To get here is a downhill adventure, and that is also one reason why not a lot of people go here.

Anyhow, it is still a beautiful treasure once you get past that. There can be occasional winds, which is fine but if you have kids with you, do not leave them unattended.

Despite being a little bit on the off the beaten path, you will still see sun loungers and beds for rent (you need to carry and return them from where you rented). A few restaurants are lined up on the side, so you don’t have to prepare food, which is very convenient – prices are also not too high even during the peak season.

Do not be surprised if you see people walking with no clothes carelessly, as this is one of the nudist beaches in Mykonos! There’s also a bar here and you can order a few drinks to enjoy the night.

The beach is a little underdeveloped which adds up to the remote vibe it gives all tourists. It is also close to Elia and is also one of the most gay-friendly Mykonos beaches with pretty decent accommodations.

Elia Beach

Elia Beach has a long stretch of sand and is also another LGBT-friendly beach (aside from Agrari Beach which lies just next to this beach).

You can definitely get amazing photos from this beach due to the traditional Cycladic houses from the village uphill, and it has that quiet atmosphere. Plus you might just get this beach all for yourself to enjoy if you’re lucky and visit a bit off-season!

Prices of sun chairs and umbrellas can be a bit high, but you can always bring a towel – booking one online is highly recommended (ask your guesthouse how). It is better to wear closed water shoes because there are some rocks in the sand (aside from the big rocks by the shore) that can scratch you or even cut your foot if you’re unlucky. We’ll link to our favorite water shoes in the ‘what to pack’ section below.

Note that parking nearby can be a bit of a problem, but there is also another parking space uphill which has more room.

There are a couple of restaurants, and people say that most serve delicious Greek food. Lovely and relaxing jazz music is played in most of the areas, which truly improves the already great ambiance in this beach.

You can also enjoy some of the water sports available for a more adventurous experience. This beach can be busy and crowded at times, so it is always best to have this expectation if you plan on going here, but everything is fully organized so it makes it less hassle.

Agia Anna

Just like other beaches in Mykonos, the sunbeds and chairs here have tiers they call rows, and each row has a different price.

The prices can range from €40-100 which is around $45-110 USD – these rates are high, even for Mykonos! The beds and chairs do not have a sign, so just be careful not to just sit or lay on them, as you might end up getting charged.

Aside from the wonderful view of the sparkling sea, you will also hear soothing music played.

There is a unique beach club nearby named Scorpios, which is worth a visit, but there are also other beach clubs by the beach that make the Riviera look stylish, with lovely cabanas and decks.

The shore is shallow but it has rocks that you need to watch out for (again, bring those closed-toe water shoes; they may not be sexy, but nor is getting stitches!).

There’s valet parking here, but it is just on the other side of the road which is really convenient, but they do leave the keys in your car so it isn’t really recommended, even though in general Mykonos is really safe (it’s also an added €10 or $11 USD).

A visit to this beach won’t be complete unless you try the Agia Anna Beach Bar & Restaurant which has been there for almost 30 years!

Divounia Beach

This is possibly one of the most charming and dramatic beaches in Mykonos, due to the view of the quaint fishing village stretching out on the beach.

Do not expect fine sand here (because it’s left untouched and no one rakes the sand) since there are tiny pebbles, but it’s good thing that they’re not sharp rocks. This is only around 13 kilomters from the center of Mykonos and you can get there by riding a bus from Fabrika with a bus to Ano Mera, then from here, you can ride another bus going to Kalafati.

You will see some taverns here where you can try their local fish dishes to get a more in-depth look at Mykonos’ local food. It is also another beautiful but remote location on the entire island.

You will also see a small village here from the shore, and it adds a charming authentic Greek background as you take a dip in the chilly waters.

A magical view awaits you during sunset and you need to see how it looks; it seems as if the oranges are bleeding towards the blue waters and the long stretch of sand just looks so sparkly. This is probably one of the best candidates for the best shoreline in the entire island!

Kalafati Beach

Kalafati or sometimes also known as Kalafatis Beach, is an easily accessible beach by public bus (take bus #2 from the city center) that offers a peaceful beach with fine sand — walking barefoot won’t be an issue here.

The crystal-clear water retains its wild natural beauty due to a smaller number of people visiting this beach. You may rent some sun loungers and umbrellas, but most are free if you purchase anything on the beach restaurant and bars.

There are also some inflatable tubes you can rent for a more fun water activity, aside from some other water sports available. If you want to experience snorkeling and diving, you may check the huts that offer rentals.

Plenty of shade from trees helps you enjoy the views at noon, when the sun can be scorching hot. It can be very windy sometimes as well!

This is still one of the best beaches in Mykonos to choose if you plan on having a relaxing beach vacation that’s perfect for some quality time with your special someone or family.

Lia Beach

If you want to just have a nice tranquil place to enjoy the views and pristine waters of the sea, then you have to visit Lia Beach.

It is one of the highly recommended beaches in Mykonos with a remote feel, but it is truly very convenient due to some of the available amenities. People rave about the quality of food served in the restaurants, plus the bathrooms are immaculately clean. The location can be a bit windy, but most of the time the waters are calm and you will definitely enjoy it.

This is not the beach to go to if you want a party vibe. Sun loungers and beds are a little bit on the mid-range price (which is pretty normal on the island).

Taking a dip in the cold water just refreshes you, especially during the summer season. If you plan on driving a rented car to this beach, be ready for an adventure; the roads can be a little narrow and you will surely need to be more careful when driving. It would be best to have a private transfer so that you can have a hassle-free trip.

Fokos Beach

Fokos Beach is a very secluded Mykonos beach with a long stretch of fine sand (somewhat pebbly too, but not sharp rocks).

The roads leading you to this hidden gem is just amazing – you will go past a reservoir with thousands of birds! It is truly worth the adventure and you won’t expect a crowd here, just all of the virgin and pure shores it could give you.

You won’t be able to get here without a car – so it would be best to rent one. You also don’t have to worry about getting lost, as plenty of street signs will lead you there, despite its offbeat status.

Since the location is remote, you won’t see any loungers or sunbeds here but there is one tavern where you can enjoy the local fish and seafood dishes – there are a few chairs and a good view.

It is recommended to bring an umbrella or parasol with you because there aren’t any shaded areas that can keep you away from the sun while at the beach. There can be some waves and the water have some areas that are quite deep, so it is best to keep an eye on any kids (as you should anyway!) but overall it is a pleasantly wonderful off the beaten path escape.

If you still have time, try to check the beach nearby, Mersini Beach – you won’t regret it!

Ftelia

The best part about going to this beach in Mykonos is enjoying the unspoiled beauty it showcases in the northern central part of the island.

The roads leading to this remarkable beach can be rough and a little dusty. Driving a car is the only option, and you can park at the end of the beach. You will not see any sun chairs or umbrellas – so it’s best to bring one with you. You need to keep an eye on the sharp rocks by the shore (and bring water shoes!) and you might see some small pools with tiny fishes.

You will only see locals and maybe a few other tourists here, and you have to bring your own food and refreshments – preparing for a picnic sounds pretty awesome here, especially while some local kids fly their handmade kites in the background.

There is a restaurant here, but the prices are quite expensive and not a lot of dishes are on offer. Be ready to take some gorgeous photos because the views are to die for!

You can take a seat and enjoy the views on their sandbag chairs by the shore – their own version of the bean bag chairs! There are a few sun chairs and loungers in the public area, nothing fancy, and the only thing missing are umbrellas. If you are looking for something fancy, though, then check out the private beach club nearby.

Megali Ammos

Not to be confused with the Megali Ammos beach for which Skiathos, another Greek island is famous for, this beautiful Mykonos Beach is well worth a visit.

This beach is located within walking distance of Mykonos Town. It’s quiet and relaxed, with plenty of restaurants around for when you get peckish. There are sunbeds which can be had for 20 euros a chair, or you can simply lay out a towel on the free portion of the beach.

Panormos

There are two sides of this beach and one is the public area and the other would be the private area (Principote). You also can’t just go to the private areas because security personnel are scattered everywhere!

Sun beds and loungers can be fully-booked during high season so it’s best to bring towels and umbrellas with you. Another thing to keep in mind during high season, the place can be crowded and loud music can be heard – this is not something recommended if you are looking for the slightly peaceful ambiance that they have during offseason.

However, it is probably not good to visit this beach around the end of June due to the strong winds that hit its location; it would be perfect for some water sports but there’s none on this beach.

Prices are a little bit on the higher end, but it’s all worth it because the sand and the beach area is well-maintained and super clean. If you have brought your car, you may opt for valet parking as well as free parking.

Agios Sostis

Another candidate for the best unspoiled beach on Mykonos, Agios Sostis has a short stretch of sand with a few sharp rocks once you step into the waters, so it is important to be very careful.

It is a very quiet beach with a few locals selling yummy Nutella-filled donuts (must try!) and ice-cold drinks walking around. You also won’t find any sunbeds here, so it would be best to bring a towel and umbrella.

It is only accessible by car and you won’t see many people here, especially during off-season, it may look a little deserted – but after the crowds of many other Mykonos beaches, that may be just what you’re looking for!

This is the perfect laid-back destination and you can also check out the traditional taverna before you reach the beach for some delicious food.

Some people love going there early to enjoy the fresh morning ambiance, but opting to stay till sunset will bring you majestic hues from the sun setting down (oranges and yellows that reflect in the emerald water).

Also, do not be surprised that there is no proper road going down to where this beach is. For a perfect picnic lunch, you can climb uphill (be ready to overcome the huge red rocks) so you can have a nice view as you enjoy your meal!

Agios Stefanos

Just next to Troulos and the new port, Agios Stefanos will truly give you a charming old town vibe with the signature crystal clear beaches with a small church on top of the hill. The ferries in here also add a picturesque scene for tourists.

Umbrellas and sun loungers are fairly priced, and they already come in a bundle when you rent. The beach can be quite small but it is just perfect since it is not overly crowded, but you might see a cat or two trying to mingle with people – they can be really cute so you can’t resist petting them – Greek cats are so friendly!

You may also try some of their restaurants and bars, plus there’s also plenty of hotels and rooms for rent in the area. If you want a nice place to drink some beer, you can check out the Irish tavern on the road before you reach the beach – it serves one of the best local beers you can try ice cold. While the food on the beach is decent, you’re better off climbing the stairs to the delicious Limnios Tavern located in the upper part of Agios Stefanos – my meal there was so good I ate there three nights in a row!

A large public area is also available and you can just lay there for free and nobody would care. Getting here is pretty easy with the bus or water-taxi from the port, and right at the stop before you enter the beach, you can see several mini-markets for some last-minute groceries for a beachside picnic.

Platys Gialos

I’ve saved one of the most famous and loved beaches in Mykonos for last!

This beach has different prices offered for its amenities during off and peak season, with the latter having high prices of course (but still at reasonable prices compared to other beaches).

Aside from the usual ways to get to this beach, you can also ride a water taxi (travels hourly) for a few Euros (around €10 or $11 USD).

Most of the areas on the beach are owned by the restaurants, bars and hotels, but there is still a small area for the public. There’s also a small supermarket where you can buy something a little cheaper, rather than getting them at one of the restaurants. Do check the prices before you purchase them because there are a few establishments with overpriced items – you may also ask just to be sure.

Some areas have loud music playing with DJ’s mixing out some music but there are still some areas that are somewhat quiet.

Once you get into the water, there are a few rocks but not really something that will require you to wear water shoes.

One thing that people loved so much here, aside from the views and the sea, is the quality of service the locals give the tourists here without breaking the budget.

Where to Stay in Mykonos

Budget: If you’re looking for the best place to stay on a budget in Mykonos, I strongly suggest Mama’s Pension in Agios Stefanos (it’s also right next to Limnios Tavern, the best taverna on the island…). The owner, Christina, is so friendly and lovely. She picked me up at the port, sat and had coffee and a chat with me each morning, and was a wonderful resource about Mykonos.

My room was also stunning, well-equipped with everything you’d need and super spacious with a gorgeous sunset view over the sea! It’s a 5 minute walk from the chilled out Agios Stefanos beach, you can walk to Mykonos Town in about 40 minutes, or there’s a bus a few blocks away that’ll take you to the Old Port in about 10 minutes flat. Because of their stellar reputation, they’re often booked up, so reserve your spot well in advance in the high season. Check prices, availability, and guest reviews here.

Mid-Range: For chilled-out bliss overlooking Mykonos Town and harbor with a phenomenal view, check out Bellou Suites. They have minimalist decor utilizing plenty of bright white, natural light, wood tones, and stone elements, giving everything a desert-chic vibe.

They have a variety of room types – from doubles with a balcony overlooking to sea to apartments with a kitchenette – perfect for every type of traveler. With sunset views, lovely design, and an affordable price, Bellou Suites is a great option for the stylish traveler with a mid-range budget. Check prices, availability, and guest reviews here.

Luxury: Cavo Tagoo is easily Mykonos’ most Instagrammable and stylish hotel, with every feature seemingly thought out for both comfort and photogenicity.

The insane infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean is one of its best features, but the truly dedicated Instagrammers amongst us won’t settle for less than its cave pool suite, pictured above. Whether you get a more standard room or splurge on the cave pool suite, you won’t be disappointed with the 5* service and infinite photographability. Check prices, availability, and guest reviews here.

Want to Rent a Car for Mykonos?

While not all Mykonos beaches require a car, if you’re staying far from Mykonos Town (Chora) for the local bus station or you want to tour the island independently without going on a guided tour, a rental car may come in handy!

We’ve rented cars dozens of times in the Balkans through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental in Mykonos here.

What to Bring to Mykonos

Mykonos - White houses with pink fowers and red window shutters

If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.

– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

– A water bottle with a filter. While often, the tap water in Greece is drinkable, there are places where it isn’t, including some popular tourist destinations like Santorini and Mykonos.

We generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant!

We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

– Motion sickness pills. Very necessary if you’ll be taking a ferry! The ferries in the Mediterranean can be quite choppy. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.

 Travel safety items. We think Greece is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Mykonos is rather safe, but is not immune from pickpockets, so be cautious (this goes double if you plan to go to Athens – the metro is notorious for its pickpockets, and a travel blogger friend of ours got his phone stolen on it!). Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

More Mykonos & Greece Travel Resources

Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.

Since you’ll be on Mykonos, you’ll likely also want to visit Delos. Here’s our guide on how to do a Delos day trip easily and hassle-free! We also have our Mykonos Instagram guide (and some Mykonos quotes you can use as captions!) and our Mykonos itinerary.

If you are still trying to figure out your Greece itinerary, check out our guides on where to go in Greece, the best places for island hopping in Greece, and when is the best time to visit. 

Many people combine a trip to Athens with a trip to Mykonos. Check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned! 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!

Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.  While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Pin This Mykonos Beach Guide!

Wondering where the best Mykonos beaches are? Here's your ultimate Mykonos beach guide to help you plan the perfect Mykonos beach hopping itinerary! Here are all the best beaches in Mykonos for couples, families, LGBT people, solo travelers, party seekers, nightlife lovers, and more!

21 Magical Things to Do in Bansko, Bulgaria’s Mountain Getaway

If you’re looking for a wonderful mountain getaway at any time of year, Bansko ticks the boxes.

Magical in winter under a dusting of snow, charming in autumn when the leaves start to do their yearly metamorphosis, vibrant in summer when festivals pop up throughout town, and fresh in spring when the flowers start popping up from their winter hibernation.

While Bansko may be best known as Bulgaria’s premier ski resort – and indeed, the largest ski resort in the Balkans – there are still plenty of things to do in Bansko at any time of year.

Between Stephanie and I, we’ve visited Bansko at three distinct times of the year: summer, fall, and winter. Each season offered different Bansko activities to take advantage of: hiking in Pirin national park in the summer, eating hearty Bulgarian meals on crisp fall evenings, and playing in the snow in the winter (since neither Stephanie or I are coordinated enough to learn how to ski).

With each visit, we feel Bansko grow on us a bit more, and we see why the small mountain town of Bansko is quickly becoming a hub for nature-loving digital nomads as well as skiers and snowboarders from around Europe looking for a budget-friendly winter holiday. From some of the tastiest food in Bulgaria to plentiful day trips to all the outdoor activities you can dream up for the season, here are the best things to do in Bansko, Bulgaria!

The Best Things to Do in Bansko (Year-Round)

Meet Bansko’s adorable feline residents

I don’t know, but cats in Bulgaria are generally not as friendly as their Greek or Turkish neighbors. This, however, is not the case in Bansko, where I was adopted by several adorable cats within an hour of arriving.

These friendly kitties proceeded to climb onto my lap unprompted, nuzzling me, and just generally being adorable. It was hard for me to leave without wanting to take them all home! If you’re a cat lover, you’ll love Bansko!

Visit the Bansko International Art Gallery

One of the largest art galleries in Bulgaria, the International Art Gallery in the town center of Bansko (address: ul. “Nikola Y. Vaptsarov” 2) is well-worth a visit! There are dozens, if not hundreds, of talented artists from around the world on display at this gallery.

The gallery opened in 2016, and it’s home to artists from around the world, primarily from around Eastern Europe: from Bulgaria to Russia and beyond.

The artists there are really phenomenal, and I had to stop myself from buying several large pieces that were gorgeous but out of my budget! It’s free to visit and 1000% worth the time.

Wander the streets of Bansko’s Old Town

You may be surprised that Bansko, a small town of some 10,000 inhabitants, has an Old Town whereas Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, doesn’t!

While the Old Town of Bansko isn’t nearly as old as many other Old Towns in Europe, it’s still extremely beautiful and well-worth getting lost in its winding alleyways. It provides a quiet, nostalgic counterpoint to the modern developments happening around the gondola in Bansko’s northern end.

It’s a great place to wander with a camera – especially around golden hour – and snap some photos.

Visit the childhood home of Neofit Rilski

One of Bulgaria’s most beloved historical figures is Neofit Rilski, who was a major figure of the Bulgarian National Revival movement. He was born in the mountain town of Bansko and his childhood home has been converted into a museum dedicated to his legacy.

An educated monk, celebrated teacher, and talented artist, Neofit Rilski revolutionized education in Bulgaria and is best known for his work in standardizing Bulgarian grammar and translating the New Testament into Bulgarian for the first time.

See the colorful Velyanova House

Beautifully painted with intricate murals on both its exterior and interior, the Velyanova House is, in my opinion, the most photogenic place in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has dozens upon dozens of house museums in its historic towns – I’ve visited ones in Koprivshtitsa, Plovdiv, and Melnik, and probably others I’m forgetting! Among all the house museums, the Velyanova House stands out strongly.

See the gorgeous Trinity Church (and its storks!)

The lovely Trinity Church located right on Bansko’s main walking street, Pirin Street, is an absolute can’t-miss in Bansko.

Plans for the church started in 1810, when locals decided they wanted a church in Bansko proper, rather than in an adjacent town. They began to raise money, and with the donations of nearly 300 locals, enough was raised to begin building a church.

There was only one problem: Bansko was currently under Ottoman occupation, and according to Ottoman laws, a church could only be built in a place where there was already a church (so basically: no new churches).

To get around this, the man behind the church’s idea – Dyado Lazko – snuck into the site of the future Trinity Church, added a small icon and some church relics, and then he asked a woman to ‘prophesy’ a dream about these relics in order to give a pretense for the construction to begin.

After this — and several other circuitous steps along the way, including obtaining official permissions — the church was still not given full permission to be built… so Dyado Lazko just began building it anyway, quickly so as to hide the original ‘origins’ of the church… those ‘origins’ being nothing more than a mere ruse.

Eventually, money ran out, and construction stopped. Dyado Lazko was imprisoned and later killed, mostly for his role in advocating for the church’s construction, and the Ottomans wanted to tear down the church in their rage against him and his many tricks.

But, the people of Bansko had one final trick up their sleeve. His friend, Lazar German, carved two Turkish half-moons next to the cross on the church door (seen above). Upon seeing this, this saved Trinity Church from destruction, and sealed the fate of Trinity Church’s preservation for future generations.

Nowadays, the church is really interesting to visit for its beautiful walled grounds with gardens, its spectacular inside with its murals and iconostasis, but also for its adorable resident storks who have taken residence in the tower and become the unofficial mascots of Bansko.

Visit the House Museum of Nikola Vaptsarov

This museum, set in a historic house where Nikola grew up, shows the story of the life of the poet and revolutionary Nikola Vaptsarov through three distinct stages in his life.

The museum opened in 1952 and has been renovated three times to continue modernizing the museum for guests. It shows documents from his life and family tree, typical Bansko-style furnishings, stories of the revolutionary years against the Ottoman regime, and another annex building contains traditional costumes and artifacts from Bansko’s older period.

Marvel at the imposing Monument of Paisii Hilendarski

In the center of Bansko, you’ll find a massive monument to Paisii Hilendarski. He was a key figure in the Bulgarian National Revival movement which sought to maintain a uniquely Bulgarian identity in the face of Ottoman dominance.

Both a clergyman and author, his main contribution to Bulgarian society was writing his masterpiece Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya in 1762, which tried to capture the complete history of Bulgaria in order to wake up the sense of Bulgarian nationalism, which had been dulled under centuries of occupation.

Cowork with digital nomads at Coworking Bansko

Bansko has a thriving digital nomad scene, the heart of which is Coworking Bansko. The passion project of friends Mathias and Uwe, Coworking Bansko focuses on community, offering social events every single day of the week (sometimes multiple a day!) in order to really create a group of friends – not just networking.

My second trip to Bansko, I visited for the Bansko Unconference, which focuses on collaborative growth through communication, spontaneity, and community. I highly recommend it to other bloggers and travel entrepreneurs who want to grow their business collaboratively.

Enjoy the Bansko restaurant scene!

For some reason, I find that Bulgarian food in Sofia is just ‘meh’ – but when I go to Bansko, I fall in love with Bulgarian food all over again. They use such fresh and tasty meat, dairy, and produce, that it’s hard not to fall in love!

Bulgarian food is a synthesis of Slavic, Greek, and Turkish food traditions, and Bansko, being relatively close to the Greek border, seems to have absorbed Greek influence most of all. You’ll find phenomenal salads, fresh yogurts and cheeses, local grilled meats and stews, and the tastiest potato dishes you can imagine — all at affordable prices. Your average meal for two in Bansko should cost about 50 leva with wine, about 25 euros for two people.

My favorite restaurants in Bansko are: Banski Han, Banksi Aiduti, Zehtindjieva Kashta, and Baryakova Mehana.

The Best Things to Do in Bansko in Summer

Visit during Jazz Fest!

If you’re a fan of jazz music, you won’t want to miss Bansko during Jazz Fest. My first trip to Bansko was for Jazz Fest, since my husband is a fan of jazz music. The music festival takes place over the course of about five days, and includes about 3 hours of music acts every evening in the main square of Bansko.

There are paid-for seats near the stage or you can make like the rest of the crowds and buy a beer or cider from one of the local nonstops, find a comfy patch of grass or slab of concrete, and enjoy the tunes for the price of free-fifty.

Take a scenic gondola ride up to Bunderishka Polyana

While the gondola queues can get crazy in the peak ski season – such as around Christmas/New Year, school holidays, and long weekends – at other times of the year, taking the gondola from Bansko up to Bunderishka Polyana is a breeze.

Take in stunning views of the forest as you soar over Pirin National Park in about 30 minutes, up to the meadow where there is a restaurant, the starting point of several hiking trails, and even a shooting range, because #Balkans.

Hike in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria’s gorgeous nature escape

Pirin National Park is full of incredible hiking trails, and it would take several months to hike them all. Depending on your fitness level, there are a huge variety of hikes you can do.

My husband and I are pretty lazy hikers, so we just hiked from Bunderishka Polyana to the Banderitsa hut, where we had some delicious Bulgarian food and Somersby ciders, before moving onwards to the oldest tree in Pirin National Park (more on that below!) before heading back down to Bansko. It was about a 2.5-hour roundtrip hike at a pretty low exertion level, so it’s what I would recommend for beginner hikers.

For intermediate hikers, you could hike from Bunderishka to the Vihren hut and then go to one of the lakes nearby Vihren, like Bezbog and Popovo.

Alternately, you could take the shuttle bus organized by the tourist center up to Vihren hut and then hike to several of the lakes by Vihren to cut out a less scenic and more challenging part of the hike, but you wouldn’t be able to take the gondola in this instance.

For advanced hikers, I suggest starting at Vihren hut via the shuttle bus and then hiking to Vihren peak, which is the highest peak in Pirin National Park, the second-highest in Bulgaria, and the third-highest in the entire Balkan peninsula. It’s definitely a difficult hike and not for the faint of heart, so be sure you’re aware of your skills and be prepared before departing!

See the oldest tree in Bulgaria

One of the coolest places in Pirin National Park is Baikushev’s pine: a 1,300-year-old white fir that is the oldest known tree in Bulgaria.

It is truly massive: 8 meters in circumference and 26 meters high. It’s not super widely known except by locals, and you’ll see lots of Bulgarian tourists making the pilgrimage to visit this impressive, historic tree.

Things to Do in Bansko in Winter

Get a thrill on Bansko’s ski slopes

Bulgaria - Borovets - Ski slope, young boy skiing down the hill. Free ride.Alpine ski resort Borovets, Rila mountain, Bulgaria

I’m not a skier, but the skiers I know love Bansko! There are several ski areas in Bulgaria – Borovets and Pamporovo are the two other most popular – but Bansko is by far the biggest and most popular among international tourists.

With 13 ski lifts and 75 kilometers of ski slopes, Bansko has someone for everyone! But do be aware that sometimes during holiday weekends and peak travel times, the lines for the gondolas can get extremely long, so do bear that in mind!

Enjoy its apres-ski scene (even if it’s not ski season!)

From my outsider perspective as a skier, the best part of skiing is the part where it’s all finished and all you do is, well, drink off the cold!

The area around the Bansko ski lift is full of fun bars with apres-ski scenes that will delight you. One of my favorite bars is Smoky Mountain Bar, which I went to on my most recent trip to Bansko. Another great one is Pirin 75.

Relax in thermal springs

To warm up cold muscles and achy bones, check out the thermal springs in Bankya, just 15 kilometers away from Bansko.

No car? This tour will take you there and back with a roundtrip transfer and entry fee for a reasonable price! Check availability and inclusions here.

Snowmobile around the slopes

Want an adrenaline-pumping activity but you don’t know how to ski? Check out Bansko skimobile tours!

Easy Day Trips From Bansko

Go on a day trip to the Dancing Bear Sanctuary

Unfortunately, for decades, bears were captured and mistreated throughout the Balkans: caged outside of restaurants, trained to “dance” and brought onto trams and down the street, and all sorts of other unnatural behaviors that involved captivity, abuse, and torment.

Luckily, countries around the Balkans are waking up to what a horrible injustice this is, and it’s become illegal in most countries to entrap bears and use them for human entertainment. But what happens to those bears, whose lives have been destroyed by human intervention?

They can’t exactly fend for themselves out in nature — and they’d be a danger to other humans if let go, as they now relate humans and food as hand-in-hand. So in the place of these horrible bear attractions now exist wonderful bear sanctuaries, where these poor bears can enjoy a more natural life while still being protected in a sanctuary designed to protect them and give them a nearly-normal life.

While of course, the better answer is that these bears never had to experience abuse at the hands of humans in the first place, this is as good of a place as they can live in now, after the damage has been done.

Belitsa ‘Dancing Bear’ Park is one such sanctuary, located about a 45-minute drive from Bansko, which makes a phenomenal place to visit. Do keep in mind that bears hibernate during winter and therefore it is only possible to see the bears during the months in which they are not hibernating.

Visit the impressive natural pyramids in Stob

For a landscape that looks like a slice of the American Southwest uprooted in the middle of Bulgaria, head to the small town of Stob and embark on an easy hike to visit the so-called Stob Pyramids.

Stephanie and I visited on a hot summer day after visiting the Rila Monastery, and while the heat made the hike more challenging that it should have been, it was still a delightful 1-hour return hike (with time for photo stops!).

It’s an ideal stop if you’ve rented a car and are already visiting Rila Monastery, the next item on this list!

See the enchanting Rila Monastery

Bulgaria - Sofia - Rila Monastery Landscape

We love Rila Monastery – it’s exquisite, and in our opinion, it’s the crown jewel of Bulgaria’s tourism potential.

From its ornately painted striped arches to its colorful mural ceiligns to its comic-panel-like storytelling on the walls of the church, there are so many beautiful things to see at Rila Monastery before you even enter the church!

Inside the church is, of course, also lovely, with a beautiful iconstasis, wonderful murals, stunning chandeliers, and an overwhelming sense of peace and importance.

Want to visit Rila Monastery from Bansko? Check tours here.

Where to Stay in Bansko

We have a full post on the best ski resorts in Bansko which may be helpful, but here are our top 3 suggestions if you just want a quick tip.

Budget: This small, friendly Boutique Hotel Uniqato has only 16 studios and suites, all with large and modern stylish rooms. There are three types of rooms available: double, maisonette, and suite.

All rooms have a balcony and you can choose either a view of the mountain or the city of Bansko! Breakfast is large and the choices vary daily, so it’s hard to get bored. It’s extremely well-priced and well-located, so book early!

>> Check rates, photos, reviews, and availability here.

Mid-Range: The charming Astera Bansko apartment and hotel complex has 105 rooms, with large windows and stunning mountain views. The rooms have a cozy cabin feel with all the wonderful amenities of a 4-star hotel. There is a ski school, and if you didn’t bring your own skis or snowboard, ski equipment can be rented.

The spa and wellness facilities are world-class at Astera Bansko. The ski resort offers well-priced packages that are sure to free you from tension and stress. They have an indoor pool, fitness center, beauty salon, hot tubs, hammam, steam room, and sauna, all for you to enjoy when you’re not hitting the slopes (or you’re recovering from them!).

>> Check rates, photos, reviews, and availability here.

Luxury: There’s only one 5-star option in town — luckily it’s pretty amazing! The spacious, gorgeously decorated rooms and luxe amenities at Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena are sure to impress even the pickiest of us.

Skiers don’t have to worry because they provide passes at the hotel for the gondola lift. The ski lift is only a short walk from Kempinksi so it’s a true ski-in, ski-out resort in Bansko! There’s also a ski room where ski storages are available.

The Kempinski Spa offers several unique relaxation experiences, from an Alphasphere to a snow room to saunas and pools to soothe tired muscles and reduce stress. They also have your standard massages and other wellness packages!

>> Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability here

What to Pack for Winter in Bulgaria

Bulgaria - Borovets - Stephanie Fox Hat

We have a full Bulgaria packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!

A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We own and strongly recommend the Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania for travel in Pamporovo and beyond!

One or two swimsuits: While swimsuits may not come to mind for ski season, if you’re staying in a ski resort with a sauna, indoor pool, or steam room, you’ll likely want one! We suggest bringing two so you never have to put a cold wet one back on. We love this one.

Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.

Any ski equipment and clothing: We’re not skiers ourselves, so we don’t have specific ski gear equipment, but special ski clothes — waterproof pants and jackets, goggles, etc. — and ski gear obviously should be on your packing list, unless you have decided to rent it all when you arrive at your Bulgaria ski resort.

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.

Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside. The higher altitudes combined with the reflection of the sun off the snow can lead to unexpected sunburns. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.

Bulgaria Travel Resources

Bulgaria - Borovets - Stephanie

We want you to have the best trip to Bulgaria possible! If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, check out our Bulgaria trip planning guide as well as our packing list for Bulgaria (which includes a winter section if you’re coming to ski). We also have a full guide to things to do in Bulgaria in winter!

To help you, we’ve created a number of resources that will be helpful. If you’re visiting Sofia, this 101 things to do in Sofia should be a nice start! Also read our Sofia travel tips post and where to stay in Sofia.

For transportation, check out our guide to avoiding taxi scams in the city. If you’ll be flying into Sofia, you can read our tips for flying in and out of Sofia Airport. We have a guide to getting from Sofia to Bansko here.

We also have Sofia restaurant and bar recommendations. We also have articles for popular day trips from Sofia like Plovdiv, the Rila Lakes, and Buzludzha.

If you’re thinking of Borovets instead of Bansko, check out how to get to Borovets from Sofia, our favorite Borovets ski resorts, as well as our favorite Borovets restaurants.

For more resources for your trip, check out our pages on traveling in Bulgaria and the Balkans

Planning a Trip to Bansko? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Bulgaria - Borovets - Snow Covered Pine Trees

We strongly suggest that you travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere. If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of your trip.

This is especially important in winter, since winter activities carry a certain amount of risk with them. We recommend the Explorer upgraded insurance plan if you plan to do any skiing or snowboarding so that you can be fully covered.

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

Pin this Guide to Things to Do in Bansko for Later!

Want to visit Bansko, Bulgaria? This Bansko travel guide covers the best things to do in Bansko in winter, summer, fall and spring to help you plan the perfect Bansko ski trip or simple Bansko itinerary!

Where to Stay in Plovdiv: Hotels & Accommodations You’ll Love!

Visiting the lovely second city of Bulgaria, Plovdiv? This city is well-known for being the cultural heart of Bulgaria, and it’s a charming stop on many people’s Bulgaria itineraries.

There are two main areas to stay in Plovdiv that we recommend: the historic Old Town, with its adorable Bulgarian National Revival Architecture and the Center, with shopping, modern restaurants, and it’s prime location next to the hippest part of town, Kapana (there are not a lot of accommodations here, mostly bars and restaurants, which is why we haven’t included it).

Of course, if you have a car, it may be better to stay outside of Plovdiv Center as it is impossible to park in Plovdiv’s Old Town and parking is limited in the center. In that case, we’ve also suggested two fabulous hotels on the fringes of Plovdiv – one on a literal farm/park just a few kilometers from the city! – that offer fantastic places to stay in the Plovdiv region.

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Bulgarian National Revival House

Where to Stay in Plovdiv Old Town

Budget Hotels in Plovdiv Old Town

Saborna 25 Guest House

Perfectly situated just beside a Roman wall and overlooking the Old Town of Plovdiv, Saborna 25 Guest House offers every guest a memorable experience plus a traditional accommodation.

The prices are really affordable and you get a boutique style that’s unique and truly Plovdivian. You will see colorful quilts, glowing glass lamps and plenty of wood furnishings – making you feel a little bit of its country-chic vibe. The budget rooms can be quite small but you get almost everything you need, so you can’t complain!

They offer choices of a twin room, quad room, and an executive room. The twin room has a bunk bed and the corner has a work desk. It is quite small but perfect for two travelers on a budget who still want complete privacy and a private bathroom – all for only $30 USD per night. The economy quad room has 4 bunk beds and also a corner table.

It also has some dinnerware you can use if you plan to bring home some local food from the markets in Plovdiv (especially the farmer’s markets, you need to check them!).

The executive rooms are a bit on the lower mid-range price tier, but they offer a huge space for 2-4 people. These rooms are the most stylish in the house and it has completely unique décor, with mostly antique-looking wooden furniture. It has an indoor viewing area with a wooden bench so you can just sit back and relax with a view of the old town.

The moment you step outside of this guest house, you have plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafés to try (aside from the nearby tourist attractions). It is also located right in the Old Town, but not on a noisy street, so you still get a peaceful and quiet experience inside the property.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Saborna 25 Guest House ««

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Hisar Kapia Gate and Colorful Bulgarian Revival Houses

Green Rooms

This is literally an old-style building, painted a lovely shade of green, that’s right inside the Old Town. A solo traveler or a couple seeking an affordable and exclusive room with complete amenities can find Green Rooms perfect. You can also bring your pets with you with proper notice to the hosts!

The walls and floors of each room are made of parquet, and there is ample lighting with stylish lamps. What past guests like the most is the socket just beside the bed, you can leave your devices to charge while you’re in bed. The private bathroom is extremely clean and the use of white tiles makes it look even more sparkling clean!

However, do not expect that there is always staff on the property. It would be best to inform them of your arrival, so they can greet and assist you with any of your requests.

There’s also a pub above the hotel that you can try out for a few drinks at night. It can get a little noisy and that’s why they soundproofed all the rooms.

Although there are plenty of restaurants outside, you can check out their rooftop terrace for some views and a nice breakfast.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Green Rooms ««

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Plovdiv cityscape, Bulgaria

Mid-Range Hotels in Plovdiv Old Town ($50-75 USD/Night)

HillHouse Plovdiv

This lovely guest house, Hillhouse Plovdiv, perfectly embodies the country-chic style with its mix of modern and contemporary furniture. The house also stands out with its bright pink exteriors and architecture.

All of their facilities are in superb condition. A few indoor plants are in the rooms and common areas to add a fresh green vibe. Doodled murals can be seen in some of the rooms, which depicts artistic images of the city.

This hotel has options for solo travelers, couples, and groups. The rooms have their own ensuite bathrooms, plus a patio where you can check out the charming views of the Old Town. A unique feature of its rooms is the music that you can play music in their ensuite bathroom – you can really soothe yourself while taking a shower!

The use of vibrant yellows in the linens and sheets makes the wooden floors, beams, and furniture stand out. It also has hardwood floors and tiny details like small pebbles and plants on the side of the bed to make it extra special – you will also find sockets here (everybody needs that nowadays!).

Past guests recommend this hotel due to the excellent service they provide to guests. The owner and host ensure that you will have the best stay you will ever have in a quiet and perfect location in the Old Town. If you have a car, you can also park for 20 BGN (around $11 USD) per day on-site (a good rate as it’s impossible to park inside the Old Town)

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at HillHouse Plovdiv ««

Where to Stay in Plovdiv Center

Mid-Range Hotels in Plovdiv Center

The Stay Hotel Plovdiv

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Stay Hotel

You just can’t beat this location! Located right off of Knayz Alexander I and across from Stefan Stombolov Square, the hotel is located at the most important spot in downtown Plovdiv.

From here, you’re a few minutes walk to the Roman stadium, the statue of Milyo, and the Together Monument. There are also great restaurants within a few blocks like Hemingways and fun bars like the Temple Bar. 

Unlike some hotels in Europe, the Stay Hotel isn’t stingy when it comes to electrical outlets in the room, plus many of the outlets are updated with USB ports. 

If you forget your charger, there’s a stand in the lobby with different chargers so you won’t get stuck without access to that sweet, sweet cell phone battery. 

The rooms are stylish and modern, like a West Elm catalog come to life. They’re also very spacious, so you can spread out your belongings without feeling cramped — great if you’re not a particularly neat traveler, like neither of us are!

»» Check reviews, prices, and availability at the Stay Hotel Plovdiv here ««

Luxury Hotels in Plovdiv Center

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Hemingway Restaurant Stephanie
Stephanie enjoying Hemingway, a restaurant attached to 8 1/2 Art Guest House

8 ½ Art Guest House

Huge and spacious suites, all with perfectly artsy and classic styles embody the entire property of 8 ½ Art Guest House. You will love how they combine prints, vibrant colors, and luxurious materials to complete its look. Every room has its own patio (that has outdoor furniture) and private bathroom.

You won’t even have to ask their front desk for anything (which is such a relief, even though their front desk is available 24/7) – because you are provided with most of the things you will need for a convenient experience for your stay.

All of their rooms have the best features you can see in most luxurious rooms. The floors are carpeted and it has elegant and comfortable furniture with a little touch of French provincial style. It does play around with some textures and lines to create a sense of direction inside the suite. There are also comfortable velvet bed covers to make your sleep as cozy as possible. The doors opening to the patio allow natural light to get into the suite every morning. Not one room is alike, but they’re all beautifully decorated.

From toiletries to slippers, most of their bath amenities are provided to you for your disposal at no extra cost. The huge vanity mirror in the bathroom is amazing and it is backlit to create a glowing frame. The dry area of the bathroom has glazed hardwood floors while the shower area has tiles for its floors.

There’s also a café called Dolce Fellini downstairs which has a very cozy ambiance, and this is where you will get your free breakfast in the morning. Past guests have loved it so much and even said that it has the best breakfast in the area! You can also check their restaurant, Hemingway (Stephanie’s favorite!) for a cool retro vibe and some a la carte dishes, and this is just across the street.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at 8 ½ Art Guest House ««

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Plovdiv - Bulgaria, the winter

Where to Stay in Plovdiv: Outside the Center

Mid-Range Hotels in Plovdiv ($50-75 USD/Night)

Landmark Creek Hotel & Spa

The Landmark Creek Hotel & Spa has 4* world-class facilities so they can offer the best features and amenities to any guest from anywhere in the world. It is a huge hotel with modern facilities, and it is located in Rowing Channel, which they say is the greenest area near the Old Town.

Even if it is not in the town center, it is very easy to get there from the property’s location – taxis are also very cheap to get there, so it’s truly a wonderful escape from the crowded city center.

Most of the rooms have a balcony and you have many options to choose from. They have a total of 52 rooms and 2 luxury apartments that are perfect for couples and they’re pretty much on the lower mid-price range. So, you’re really getting your money’s worth from the superb facilities here. Each room has a minibar where you can pay extra for some snacks or drinks.

What’s so convenient about staying at this hotel is that the breakfast is already included, you don’t have to go outside just to look for a café. There’s a selection of meats, bread, fruits and so on – you won’t have a problem and you will surely enjoy it from healthy to indulgent choices like honey with honeycomb!

For lunch or dinner, the restaurant on-site has lovely music and delicious dishes you can pair with some of their local and international wines (for other choices of alcoholic drinks you can check their Lobby Bar). The restaurant also has a good view of the garden outdoors with its glass windows that will remind you of British-style sunrooms.  

The spa services and treatments just give you the best Zen moment you are looking for after a tiring day. If you are not familiar with some of the treatments, you can ask their therapists and they can even give you recommendations to suit your needs or aching body parts. They have an infrared sauna, steam bath, whirlpool bath and so much more! If you want to work out, you can try the equipment available at their fitness center.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Landmark Creek Hotel & Spa ««

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Girls watching sunset from Nebet tepe Hill in Plovdiv city, Bulgaria. Panoramic view from the oldest european city. Ancient city is UNESCO's World Heritage. - Image

Luxury Hotels in Plovdiv [Outside the Center] ($75+Night)

Park & Spa Hotel Markovo

The Park & Spa Hotel Markovo offers luxurious and modern accommodation for guests who want to level up their stay in Plovdiv.

It has a very grand fountain in its huge garden and park (which has some ducks and donkeys) plus a huge outdoor swimming pool offers a refreshing dip during the summer aside from the warm indoor pool.

Depending on the number of guests, they have rooms suited for your needs. A sumptuous breakfast served in the morning is included in your stay – you also get to make your own fresh fruit juice (or Lavazza espresso for coffee lovers) and there’s a variety!

Couples can get their Standard Double Room or Deluxe Double room while families or groups of 4 travelers can book their Deluxe Apartment. All of their rooms are fully furnished to make each room as cozy and comfortable as possible. You will adore the turquoise linen and sheets – they just make everything look vibrant and lively! Everything you need is given, plus a private and clean bathroom complete with free fragrant bath and body products.

Kids will enjoy the safe and secure indoor playground because it has plenty of toys to keep them entertained, and adults can go to their entertainment room and have fun or simply feel young at heart! There’s also an outdoor playground for kids with slides protected by colorful fences.

Ladies (and men!) who wish to pamper themselves can book a relaxing treatment at their spa. They have a sauna, hammam, solarium and hot tubs for an extra. There are also ready-made packages you can check so you can save some money if you plan on getting multiple treatments or services.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Park & Spa Hotel Markovo ««

5 Things to Pack for Plovdiv

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Bus Selfie stephanie
Taking the bus back from Plovdiv!

We have a complete Bulgaria packing list, but here are a few things you don’t want to forget!

– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We own and love Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in big cities in Bulgaria is drinkable, such as in Sofia and Plovdiv, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

– Motion sickness pills. Bulgarian bus rides can be hot and stuffy in the summer and cause motion sickness! If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.

– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment (and germs!) and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.

 Travel safety items. We think Bulgaria is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

Read more: Essential Bulgaria Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Bulgaria

More Plovdiv Travel Resources

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Ethnographic Museum Stephanie

Headed to Plovdiv? If this will be your first time in the country, then start with our guide to planning a trip to Bulgaria.

Next, check out our guide to the best things to do in Plovdiv and our favorite Plovdiv Instagram spots. 

If you’ll also be visiting Sofia on your trip, we have guides on how to get from Sofia to Plovdiv and from Plovdiv to Sofia, plus recommendations for where to stay and what to do in Sofia plus the best Sofia nightlife and our favorite restaurants and bars.

You will also want to check out our overview of Balkan currency, which describes Bulgarian leva and how to tip in Bulgaria.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

Bulgaria - Plovdiv -Stephanie Roman Ruins Selfie

It’s always a good idea to travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here includes outdoor activities and travel to highly touristed sites. It’s great to be covered in case you have an accident or fall victim to theft. Travel insurance can help you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

Pin this Guide to Where to Stay in Plovdiv for Your Trip

Planning to travel Plovdiv, Bulgaria? We've been to Plovdiv from Sofia several times, and we love this city! Here is our guide to where to stay in Plovdiv (Old Town, Center, Kapana, or outside of the center) as well as tips for the best place to stay in Plovdiv to be closest to all the best things to do in Plovdiv for your Plovdiv itinerary!

Santorini Nightlife Guide: 15 Best Tavernas, Bars & Clubs in Santorini

If Santorini was a drink, it would be Coca-Cola. Something about this island is so special that it literally made Thailand and the Philipines create a real-life replica of it! 

However, as it happened with all the attempts to copy the famous beverage, no one ever managed to get even close to the secret recipe of success. 

So many things are written about the island’s unique sunset. And of course, no one can deny that such a view will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

 But life-after-sunset exists too and is without a doubt equally impressive!

So here’s a comprehensive guide with the best tavernas, bars, and clubs, where you can enjoy Santorini nightlife on the so-called Island of Love!

Santorini Nightlife Guide

The Best Tavernas in Santorini

The tavern (called “taverna” in greek) is not just a place for lunch for the Greek people. 

It is considered essential to Greek culture, and its roots can be traced back to the Ancient Agora of Athens — back in the 6th century BC. 

So, a taverna is not just a place where we, the Greeks, enjoy an abundance of delicious food and alcohol (while being very loud!)

On the contrary, tavernas are places where we enjoy life, socialize, and exchange ideas. Political conversations are the hottest topic usually, leading often to well-meaning… disagreements (which results in us being loud as stated before)!

While most tavernas are labeled as “restaurants”, the traditional way of visiting a night taverna (also called “krasadiko” or “wine place”), is to sit down, order a lot of alcohol and only some “mezedes”. 

“Mezes” (the plural is mezedes) is a small dish or appetizer and is common in the Balkan regions, as well as Turkey. For my Western European friends out there, who are usually thrilled by the act, I want to remind you that “meze” means a plate you put in the middle of the table and share

By that, I want to make clear that night tavernas are predominantly places where you drink. Mezedes function just as snacks!

Here’s a list of tavernas where you can get the authentic Greek experience in Santorini! 

Asterias 

Asterias is a well-reviewed tavern on TripAdvisor, by locals and definitely by me!

Its location can easily be described as idyllic for an unforgettable dinner. With tables exactly next to the seaside, the music of the waves will add an unforgettable note to your seafood. 

I suggest you visit this tavern right after you have a dive in the Red Beach. It’s a pretty long way to there from most accommodation hotspots, so you can combine those two perfectly.

Address: Red Beach, Akrotiri, Santorini, 84700

Rakadiko MeRaki

With virtually all of the tavernas created just to attract tourists, the authentic Greek personality of tavernas is often indistinguishable. That’s something that frustrated and motivated some locals to make their own traditional Greek taverna. 

And it worked! Rakadiko MeRaki turned out to be an original taverna, which a local would recommend and prefer for himself. 

Photo provided by Rakadiko MeRaki and reused with permission.

Don’t overlook the double “raki” reference in the name of the tavern. Raki is a local alcoholic beverage, which you will have to order along with your seafood!

Just a friendly reminder: go easy on it! Greeks are aware that most people are not used to drinks with 40–50% alcohol… but they don’t really care!

Address: Agiou Athanasiou, Thira 84700

The Cave of Nikolas

The Cave of Nikolas is another unique place on a unique island. 

As the story claims, in this cave, Captain Nikolas used to store his nets, fishing equipment, and a little boat. He would also often invite his friends over, for whom his wife prepared some snacks and drinks. 

Gradually, the couple turned the place into a taverna for hungry workers and passers-by. And it is currently one of the must-visit tavernas in Santorini!

Address: Akrotiri, Santorini, 84700

Kapari Taverna

There needs to be a little caution with this one, as there are some other places with the same name. That’s why I’m gonna add its website right here, for you to easily find it.

This is another authentic Greek taverna. You shouldn’t expect a caldera view, or anything fancy, but you get low prices and delicious options for dinner and local wine. 

And that’s what a local would prefer!

Address: 5is Martiou 401, Thira, 84700

The Best Clubs in Santorini

Santorini may not have the reputation of Mykonos for wild nightlife. However, I happened to be there with a group of friends for the first time and it really was a fortunate surprise that it’s not just a place for couples and honeymooners.

Clubbing in Santorini exists and it is far from disappointing! 

Fira is the center of nightclubs in Santorini. Walking through the millions of white alleys, you will bump into many small clubs and bars. 

In order not to let fate choose your club choice, here are some suggestions!

KOO Club

KOO Club is the most well-known mainstream club in Santorini. I bet all my money that if you ask someone on the street for recommendations, that’s where everyone will suggest that you go. (Yes, that’s how I went there for the first time).

KOO has a well-decorated garden with a two-story lounge space, which offers an upper-level cocktail bar and table seating that overlooks the more active lower-level bar area. There are also numerous options for cocktails and drinks. 

Photo provided by KOO Club and reused with permission

In general, KOO Club is the place that all singles that chose this island will visit. So there are good chances that you as well won’t stay single after a night spent there!

Address: 25is Martiou 404, Thira 84700

Murphy’s Bar 

Moving on with the rest of the club options, you have every right to be tired of the mainstream places and want something different finally.

That’s where Murphy’s Bar shows up. It’s an Irish bar that looks like a pirate ship from the inside. 

Photo provided by Murphy’s Bar and reused with permission

Of course, at this point, I need to remind you that you’re on one of the most famous Greek islands, so expect the prices to be high. I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about this, however, I had an amazing time in this place so for me, it was worth it!

Address: Erithrou Stavrou, Thira 84700

2 Brothers

For those of you that read about the high prices in Santorini and Murphy’s Bar and immediately went grumpy, no hard feelings! It’s time to explore a less pricey option.

2 Brothers Bar is famous for its happy hours, where you can get cocktails for just €5 as well as “Head Shots”. Just to make clear what a “Head Shot” in this place means: the barman will hit your head (protected by a helmet) with a bat, while you’re drinking your shot!

Photo provided by 2 Brothers and reused with permission

I am against violence and pro having a good time, so I skipped the Head Shots and went on with the rest of the menu. But I got a great dose of craziness in this bar, so I totally recommend it!

Address: Dekigala, Thira 84700

Enigma Club

They say you don’t go old, but classic. That’s probably the case with Enigma Club, one of the oldest clubs on Santorini.

Enigma is the right choice for dancing ’til the first morning hours with both foreign and Greek music.

Photo provided by Enigma Club and reused with permission

Enigma is also one of the few clubs which stays open throughout almost the whole year, so it’s a great choice for those who visit Santorini during the off-season months.

Address: 25is Martiou 103, Thira 84700

Mamounia Club

In my opinion, when you visit a foreign country, you should always try to find out how the locals actually define entertainment. 

If you ask me personally, I am more of a Black Eyed Peas-generation and hardly value Greek music. But it doesn’t matter. When we travel to Greece, we should at least pay one visit to an “ellinadiko”, meaning a club that plays only Greek songs. 

Mamounia will offer you the cult, Greek experience, also known as “Live your myth in Greece” and so on. 

Not many more things need to be said about this club, just that!

Address: 25is Martiou 303, Thira 84700

JOJO Beach Bar

You already have read about five different clubs in Santorini and still, there’s something missing there, right?

Of course, you didn’t plan a whole visit to an island in order to see only the city side! There’s got to be a beach around here, of course. Santorini is an island, after all.

JOJO is one of the bars that organizes beach parties and is located in Perivolos Beach. Many of you might be staying close to that, so it’s perfect! 

If you are lucky enough, you might catch an event with a Greek or foreign DJ, as they are often and very successful. (I still cannot believe I missed Claydee!)

Address: Perivolos, Thira 84700 

The Best Bars in Santorini

Let’s face it. Santorini is considered the number one destination for couples. And it’s completely understandable. 

When I arrange a trip with my friends, we are more interested in the vivid nightlife and exciting activities of place, rather than idyllic sunsets and dreamy settings, so we tend to look for clubs.

But couples tend to prefer more chilled out atmospheres, and you can find those aplenty in Santorini. That’s why there are many more options for bars than clubs, where you can chill and enjoy the company of your other half, in front of an amazing view and refreshing drinks. 

And don’t forget, you can just enjoy the company of your drink in case your “other half” is missing!

Tropical Bar 

Tropical Bar is located in Fira, among the rest of the island’s bars. It offers a balcony with an amazing view of the caldera and a variety of music selections. 

Photo provided by Tropical Bar and reused with permission

Many visitors choose to visit the bar every day during their stay before their night outings.

I cannot blame them, as there are “Happy hour” offers ’til 11 at night and you cannot really enjoy Santorini’s view in the center of Fira in a better way!

Address: Marinatou, Thira 847 00

Franco’s Bar

Franco’s bar is another hidden gem in Fira. The setting is as romantic as it can get and the view equally marvelous as that of Tropical Bar. 

It’s more on the pricey side, but still not the most expensive it can get. Expect cocktails to be around €15 and bottled beers around €7. (Fair warning to the ones – like me – who would prefer not to spend €7 on a beer). 

A visit is worth it in my opinion and I would guess it is a great stop for couples on their honeymoon. 

Address: Agiou Mina, Thira 84700

MoMix Bar

Photo provided by MoMix Bar and reused with permission

If you’re not aware of the “MoMix” philosophy, let me introduce you to that. MoMix stands for “Molecular Mixology,” and it is a concept that started in Athens. 

Its inspirers envisioned cocktails that would change color when you shake them, mojitos that can be eaten, and many more!

A visit is a must, whether you’re in Athens or in Santorini. This is your chance to impress your travel partner with the bar gem that you dig up on the Internet! 

Go ahead! And of course, I expect your grateful messages later. 

Address: Marinatou, Thira 847 00

Kira Thira Jazz Bar

Kira Thira is a place for those of you with a “good ear”. If music is completely unimportant to you, you may skip this one. But for the rest, keep reading!

This jazz bar is one of the oldest bars in Santorini and is decorated with a long wooden bar, wall paintings, and musical instruments. 

The drinks are proper, meaning they are as strong as they should be. If you’re aiming for value, you know what I mean. The music, though, is what this bar is about. 

Expect a wide selection of jazz sounds and occasionally live performances. Enjoy the music, as well the vibes of the staff and the tourists that choose to visit. 

Address: Erithrou Stavrou, Thira, 84700

The Wine Bar

The Wine Bar is another chance for you to enjoy the sunset in a more relaxing and private way. 

This funky Santorini bar used to be a stable, which was turned into a wine cellar, and after that into a bar – finally! It’s a natural cave, and that’s what everyone is going for in Santorini anyway – that natural and wild beauty. 

It’s mostly on the pricey side, but it’s worth every penny spent. 

Address: Heliotopos Hotel, Imerovigli, 84700

Where to Stay in Santorini

Not sure where to stay in Santorini? If you want to be around the best nightlife, your first choice should be Fira, followed by Imerovigli.

Greece - Santorini - Pixabay

Where to Stay in Fira: Aura Cave

This is probably one of the most authentic cave suites in Fira. Most of their caves were just renovated, and they used to be inhabited in the late 18th century. They only used local and traditional building materials to refurbish it into a hotel.

The property is run by a family, and past guests have loved how they were extremely hospitable and attentive to their needs. Almost all guests have given them excellent feedback for their services. They can also give you recommendations for places and attractions if you haven’t really planned your Santorini itinerary down to a T.

They have two types of cave rooms – the Passion Cave and Winery Cave. The first one is bigger and has its own private tub with 6 seats – perfect for a bigger family or group. It also has a kitchen, two double beds, and two sofas. The latter (Winery Cave) is a bit smaller but has two rooms perfect for a family of 4 or two couples. The walls and floors are covered with lava plaster, which is a hard-wearing and waterproof material.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and photos here

Where to Stay in Imerovigli: Caldera Premium Villas

If you are looking for a budget-friendly accommodation and the typical dug-out-looking cave studios and suites that Santorini is famous for, then Caldera Premium Villas is a wonderful place to stay.

It has all the basic features you need for your stay, and some even more so — some rooms even have private tubs for a more romantic feel. Most of the furniture used is wood and wicker, full of natural texture, and the rooms are painted in white to complement some modern pieces of décor. Each room has a working desk and a coffee table, so there’s plenty of space to spread out. Couples celebrating a memorable anniversary or honeymoon can even get their special honeymoon cave suite!

The private bathrooms are really unique. It is almost like the walls are melting, and you are walking inside a mosaic-tiled shower area. The showerheads are also on the ceiling – the closest thing to a true ‘rain shower’ you can imagine!

Other amenities they have include an outdoor pool with sun loungers and a terrace where you can just sit and be mesmerized by the dreamy views. Another convenient feature of the property is its mini-market on-site, which is a lot less hassle than looking around for shops to buy something you need at the moment.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and photos here

Essential Things to Bring with You to Santorini

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.

– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

– A water bottle with a filter. We generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

– Motion sickness pills. Santorini roads are winding, especially around the coast and hills! If you have a weak stomach like we both do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills. This will also come in handy on Greek ferries and other Santorini must-dos like a catamaran cruise!

 Travel safety items. We think Santorini is safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

Read More: Essential Greece Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Greece

More Greece & Santorini Resources

First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.

Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.

We’re still working on the rest of our Santorini content, but to get you started, we have a guide to the best Santorini cave hotels for all budgets as well as how to visit the Akrotiri archaeological site.

If you are still trying to figure out your Greece itinerary, check out our guides on where to go in Greece, the best places for island hopping in Greece, and when is the best time to visit. 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Santorini, Greece in general, or anywhere in the world!

Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. 

While Santorini is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like pickpockets or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Pin This Guide to Santorini Nightlife Below!

Planning to visit Santorini, and want to know what there is to do in Santorini at night? This Santorini nightlife guide shows you to all the best Santorini tavernas, Santorini pubs, Santorini bars, and Santorini clubs, so you can have the ultimate Santorini itinerary, full of the most fun things to do in Santorini at night!
Planning a trip to Sofia? Check out our best free trip planning resources