Few places capture that authentic Greek island feeling quite like magnificent Santorini. Quaint windmills lazily wheeling in the breeze, domes of lustrous blue, and brilliant white houses reflecting the sun as it shines from an azure sky. It’s easy to see just why the island has earned itself the reputation over the years as the most photographed place in the world. Keen photographer or not, a holiday in Santorini will lead to indelible memories as you take in all the sights and vistas the island has to offer.
Exploring on foot
It’s claimed that one of the best sunsets in the world can be enjoyed from the small town of Oia. Famed for its whitewashed buildings and enchanting little streets, this quintessential Greek town overlooks the spectacular expanse of the sparkling Aegean. Magnificent views are just waiting to be experienced as you walk along the Caldera from Fira to Oia. Do take into account it’s a three-hour walk, so don’t forget a sturdy pair of walking shoes and plenty of water. Once you reach Oia, there are a good selection of bars and cafes to find some well-earned refreshments as you take in the views.
Volcanoes and boats
Talking of the caldera, one of the best ways to see it is by taking a boat tour, which can also be the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. There’s no better way to see the fascinating and otherworldly rock formations as you pass by on the water. Nea Kemeni, the volcanic rock island, is the perfect spot from which to see the crater close up and maybe get a few dramatic snaps. Afterwards, bathe in the hot springs and reinvigorate your skin in the natural mud baths.
The Greek islands are renowned for their ruins, and Santorini is no exception. In Thira, ancient agoras (markets) somehow retain the imprint of days long ago when they were a hive of activity and trade. A walk around Thira’s ruins brings you face to face with overlapping time periods. Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture merge as one in this mysterious and timeworn place. Temples dedicated to various gods of the Greek pantheon still resonate in this timeless place, such as the Temple of Dionysos, the Sanctaury of Artemidoros, and the Sanctuary of Apollo Karneios. All vie for attention as you walk amidst the ruins.
Get out to the villages
What could be better than getting off the beaten track and exploring some authentic Greek villages? Try delightful Pyrgos, which commands beautiful and unbroken views of the entire island along with its tavernas, whitewashed houses and Venetian castle. Or perhaps you’ll visit the pretty village of Karterados. Here you can sit and let the day lazily drift by as you sit in the square, visit the quaint windmill or just get lost down shady cobbled streets. There is also an interesting cave house, hewn out of solid rock, that is worth a visit.
After a day’s sightseeing, Fira is the ideal place to enjoy a few cool beers or a cocktail, with plenty of options to explore. There are also some great bars right on the beach, such as those in Kamari, Pervolos and Perissa, if you like that nighttime beach feel. If you happen to be here in July, you might like to sample the Santorini Jazz Festival, which plays host to international jazz bands and other artists. Or maybe the International Music Festival will take your fancy if you happen to be here during August and September. More traditional festivals include the Episkopi Festival in Mes Gonia on August 15.
There’s plenty to do and see in Santorini and you’ll undoubtedly see just why this picturesque little island has earned its reputation as one of the world’s most photogenic locations, surrounded as it is by the tranquil turquoise waters of the Aegean. A memorable time awaits all who visit the enchanting Greek island of Santorini.