Finish a day exploring Santorini with a visit to one of the island’s many bars. Whether you’re in the mood for cocktails, live music or sampling local wine, Santorini’s best bars have you covered.
From exclusive beach bars to revamped kanaves (caves used as wine cellars) offering quirky concoctions to intimate courtyards showcasing the best of the island’s wine scene, bar-hopping in Santorini is a cinch. Nicoletta Barbata, a local photographer who also offers private tours, gives Culture Trip the low-down on what the island offers once night falls. “Though Santorini is not considered a ‘party island’, there’s still an array of choice that spans all drinking genres. Fira seems the obvious choice to find bars and clubs, but it takes an insider to know where the drinking gems are – and they definitely aren’t all in Fira,” Barbata explains.
One of Barbata’s favourite courtyard bars, this cocktail spot may not be nestled on the side of a cliff, but what it lacks in a view, it makes up for in cocktail artistry and laid-back elegance. Industrial touches pepper this bougainvillea-clad courtyard; an intimate shelter from lively Oia, local residents come here to wind down with a drink. Signature cocktails range from the vodka-based Snappy Tea, Miss Milly (gin, strawberry, lychee, lime and mint) and the tsipouro (Greek brandy)-laced Localili. What’s more, Fino’s menu showcases some of Santorini’s finest Mediterranean dishes.
Greece’s first molecular mixology bar opened in Athens in 2013 and now boasts a sister location, where you can experience weird and wonderful concoctions overlooking Fira’s caldera. Just bear in mind that not all cocktails are in liquid form; expand your horizons by sampling cocktails as foam, fizz or jelly. Molecular highlights include the chocolatey Perfect Kiss and Smurfs in a Bubble (a vodka-based creation served with dry ice). Try the Macaron Pornstar Martini – a vodka and passion fruit “shot” that is actually a macaron.
If it’s views you’re after, then this three-storey cocktail and sunset haven is a must. Resting right across the famous volcanic island, Palaia Kammeni, this family-run cocktail bar is a Fira hotspot. “This is the first place I bring friends who are visiting Santorini for the first time,” says Barbata. “The location, the mind-blowing view, the sunset. There’s just no other place on this planet like it!” PK Cocktail Bar (also known as Palaia Kammeni) is one of the very few venues that stays open year-round. Secure a front-row seat for a Champagne Sunset session or try a signature cocktail; the spicy margarita and Pistachio Alexander are hits, as is the slightly reimagined mojito (the basil comes straight from the family’s garden). Once the sun sets, it’s all mood lighting, candles and crowd-pleasing music. Definitely book ahead during the summer months.
Walking into this hybrid Perivolos Beach venue is like walking into a design magazine. “I come here when my life starts to feel a little too rustic and I need some five-star vibes,” says Barbata, who lives in one of Santorini’s smaller villages. Daytime at Seaside is spent on boho-chic sunbeds drinking pina coladas, while afternoons and early evenings are all about swaying to chill-out music with fruity margaritas. Once the sun sets, it’s a dry martini or bellini while you wait for your sea bream carpaccio or sushi from the gourmet menu.
Nothing beats an al fresco cinema experience on a warm summer evening. Cinema Kamari is ready to deliver, complete with a full-service cocktail bar. Order a chilled daiquiri or basil-infused mojito, sit back in your director’s chair and enjoy a moonlight movie. All films are original-language versions with Greek subtitles. At just €8 (£7) for a ticket, this place fills up fast; try to be there at 8.30pm, as tickets go on sale an hour before the screening begins at 9.30pm.
Set up by a group of true-blue Oians, Oia Vineyart offers a holistic wine experience. This wine lover’s hotspot is housed in an old traditional home with its original grape press intact. The kanaves (underground wine cellars) have been kept as they were, but the rest of the intimate space has been spruced up to create a stylish courtyard where young local residents come for a dose of culture (the space also hosts art exhibitions). Barbata often comes here with Sarah from the famous Oian bookstore Atlantis Books for good wine and book talk. An evening here is a bona fide Santorinian wine masterclass.
If it’s great wine and stunning caldera views you’re after, then the terrace of Imerovigli’s The Wine Bar is just the place. The dreamy village of Imerovigli towers over the rest of the island, and a front-row seat on The Wine Bar’s terrace offers unparalleled sunset views. But then you spot what’s indoors – a cavernous yet elegant space with candlelit booths and antique mirrors on walls. Despite its majestic location and elegant decor, there’s no pomp or pretension here, just a simple menu featuring a Mediterranean take on nachos, the best pizza on the island and friendly, knowledgeable staff. The focus of the extensive wine menu is Santorinian wine from independent producers and small farms, making this a great place to broaden your Greek wine horizons as you gaze across the Aegean.
Not only is this buzzy all-day bistro, just outside Pyrgos, bursting with personality, it also has some musical surprises up its sleeve. Aside from the standout brunch, lunch and dinner menus, the gorgeous antique-heavy decor and 360-degree views, Agaze has a line-up of fun and quirky live-music events ranging from Greek rebetiko (urban folk music) to jazz duets and karaoke drag queen sets. Enjoy a musical performance with a side of refreshing cocktails and something from the carefully curated wine list.
Beer lovers, this one’s for you. On a secluded beach beneath the crowds of Oia lies Katharos Lounge, a chilled-out beach bar where the beer section of the drink menu features a range of Greek beers. Try Santorini’s own IPA, Crazy Donkey, along with a whole host of other local brews. Forgive yourself if you forget to sip your Donkey while the sun sets; the bar offers front-row seats to the most mesmerising of sunsets. This uber-mellow spot includes a menu packed with delicious vegetarian and vegan meze bites.
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