While Oia remains a popular destination for anyone heading to Santorini, some of the smaller towns on the island deserve just as much attention. Megalochori is one such spot, a quaint historic village on the eastern part of the island filled with narrow cobblestone streets, vineyards, and adorable authentic restaurants. Just south of Fira (another cute town that’s popular with backpackers), Megalochori is a bit of a hidden gem that can keep you away from the crowds that overpopulate Oia in high season, while still offering the picturesque scenes of Santorini and easy access to the other towns.
Vedema, a Luxury Collection Hotel
One of the more luxurious properties in the area is Vedema, a Luxury Collection hotel that is part of the Marriott portfolio. This beautiful hotel is described as a “village within a village” and is built around a 400 year-old old wine cellar (which has been turned into a wine cave for tastings) and is nestled in the heart of Megalochori, just steps from the main square. The winding cobblestone paths connect a number of suites, many with private whirlpools and some even with private pools. Two main pools are also available for use, the original pool which houses Pergola restaurant, and a new pool that overlooks the rolling hills of the vineyards. There is also a small whirlpool with a bar if you prefer something heated.
The fine dining restaurant on premises, Alati, sits within the original winery with an ambiance that reminded me a bit of Hogwarts. But in summer you’ll want to eat on the rooftop, which is perfect to watch the sunset over town. The food and wine are excellent, and worthy of a “splurge” meal.
Breakfast is served poolside at Pergola, and was included in our room rate. There is an extensive buffet with anything you could want from pastries to cereals to fruits and yogurts. Eggs or other breakfast items are made to order, and were excellent to start the day.
Car service is also a great amenity at Vedema. Although not included, it is reasonably priced and easy to book. When you need to be picked up from another part of the island you can just text the hotel via Whatsapp for a driver.
Because of my Marriott status we were upgraded to an Aegean Suite, which was a multi-level room with a separate living room and wrap-around terrace with a private hot tub. I also had noted on our reservation that it was our anniversary so we were greeted with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco, strawberries, and a kind handwritten note from the hotel. We also received a special treat daily, like fresh fruit or baklava.
Dining in Megalochori
Megalochori is a hidden gem for tourists seeking authentic Greek cuisine without the tourist crowds.
Apart from Alati at the Vedema hotel, there are plenty of restaurants in the main square of Megalochori. Between lunch and dinner, we tried nearly all of them.
Raki is picturesque with its bright pink flowers framing the restaurant. They serve traditional Greek cuisine and is worth trying for lunch or dinner. We made a reservation but didn’t appear to need one, even in peak season.
Olio is right next door, and also a great lunch or dinner stop for traditional cuisine, and one of my favorite meals in Santorini. The menu is similar to their neighbors but the quality of the ingredients set them apart. Try their olive oil bread and salted olives.
Petrino is the next adjacent restaurant in the square, and is best for a quick lunch. Their Greek salad didn’t quite compare to Olio’s but their octopus starter with fava beans is excellent.
Alisachni Wine Bar is a great stop for a glass of wine and an appetizer in their small courtyard, or have dinner on their rooftop. The restaurant is shared with an art shop, and has a cool vibe.
Mr. Scoop is a cute little gelato shop next to Alisachni for after dinner or even midday during hot summer months.
Ferrera restaurant is also a picturesque restaurant with a rooftop, sharing a building with another Greek restaurant, Mousiko Kouti. We didn’t end up eating here but the menu differed slightly from others in the square if you’re looking to switch it up.
Venetsano Winery isn’t in the main square but a quick minute up the road and has some of the prettiest sunset views that can be enjoyed with a light bite and glass of wine. It’s technically walkable from Vedema but not ideal in the dark without sidewalks.
TLDR; staying in Megalochori
- Megalochori is a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t need to be in the hustle and bustle of Oia, or for anyone who has already been to Oia.
- Vedema is the perfect hotel choice for any couple or family seeking a luxury property in a quaint village setting, and can also a great choice for families.
- A day trip or 30 minute taxi to Oia is easy from Megalochori.
- The main square has plenty of great restaurants to try, Olio and Raki being two of our favorites.