Santorini is one of the Cyclades Islands, consisting of Thira, Thirassia, Aspronissi, Palea and Nea Kameni in the southernmost part of the Aegean Sea. Santorini invokes beautiful images of its magical Caldera, iconic whitewashed houses clinging to the cliffs, overlooking the sea and mesmerising sunsets of orange, pink and gold. From black, red and white lava pebble beaches and quaint fishing villages to the Fira nightlife, Santorini is one of those must see bucket list destinations.
Fira, capital of Santorini, is not only known for its nightlife it also houses the Museum of Prehistoric Thera with exhibits including ceramics, marble statues and Minoan frescoes that have been excavated from the Akrotiri Minoan site, the Archaeological Museum and the 'Emmanuel A. Lignos' Santorini Folklore Museum. The Akrotiri Minoan site is a must visit when in Santorini and one of the main attractions of the island. This big settlement of more than 4000 years was discovered accidentally in the 1870s, while the major part of the excavation took place almost a century later.
Situated on the northern side of the island, Oia is the most photographed village in all of Europe. Sitting on the edge of the famous Caldera it has undisturbed panoramic views that look over the Aegean Sea and the Volcano with traditional Cycladic architecture of small cubic shaped colourful houses, Blue Domed Churches, Bell Towers, Windmills and narrow alleys. The area has also some great art galleries and restaurants as well as boutiques all accessed through a labyrinth of alleyways.
The tranquil fishing harbour of Ammoudi is at the foot of Oia village. This quaint area has many delicious taverns offering some of the freshest local seafood. A ten minute walk from the port you will come across a small swimming area with crystal clear blue water. If you are more adventurous then maybe a dive off the rocks is more your style. There are also small boat tours that go out to sea where you can look back on the entire island giving you some magnificent photo opportunities.
Imerovigli is one of the main Caldera villages with breathtaking sea and sunset views and the Blue Dome Anastasis Church, overlooking the sea and volcano. Another major site of the village is the Skaros Rock, a huge black peak at the edge of the village that has been shaped as a result of the volcanic activity. The rock itself has some ruins of an old castle.
If you are looking for something a little more authentic then Pýrgos village on the mainland is worth a visit. The village was once the former capital of the island and is built on the slope of Profitis Ilias Mount surrounded by the famous vineyards that produce the renowned Assyrtiko wine.
Megalochori 'the Big Village' is situated off the beaten track on a hill, hidden away to maintain both its charm and character. Paved with picturesque streets there are also cave houses, blue domes and artistic bell towers. The churches of Agios Nikolas and Panagia tis Plakas are built literally on the edge of the cliff giving way to breathtaking views.
A visit to the active volcano by boat while in Santorini cannot be missed. Everything, from the architecture to the food and wine is related to the presence of this active Volcano. The crater is located on an islet facing the Caldera called Nea Kameni and is reachable by boat from Fira harbour. Admire the tranquil view of the world’s biggest Caldera and the whitewashed villages built on top. Near to the island of Nea Kameni there are hot springs where you can go swimming and as you get closer you will feel the water getting substantially warmer.
Santorini has some of the most stunning beaches with azure waters amid a red cliff backdrop. Amongst them are the Red, Black and White Beaches. Located in Akrotiri village just 12 kms from Fira the Red Beach is definitely the most famous and has some of the most scenic landscapes on the island due to its amazing red colour. White Beach is only accessible by boat, departing from Red Beach and is surrounded by white towering cliffs that form a stunning small cove. This tiny beach is composed of grey volcanic sand, white pebbles and pumice stones. Nestled at the foot of Mesa Mountain is Black Sand Beach on the south eastern coastline of the island. The two successive beaches of Perissa Beach and Perivolos Beach form one long beach and are famous for the black volcanic sand, giving it the distinctive characteristics that make it so special.