Known to most as “the black pearl of the Aegean”, Santorini Island has many facets. It is actually made up by a smaller group of islands on the southern part of the Cyclades cluster. Cousteau himself disembarked on this island hoping to uncover the lost city of Atlantis. The unique crescent-shaped coastline is subject to many postcard photos. The combination of sun-kissed beaches, ancient city ruins, superb wine and amazing gastronomy are some of the things that make this island so alluring. It is no wonder why Santorini is the top romantic and travel destinations in Greece.The most recent volcanic activity last occurred in 1950. Thus making the entire island a living geological gallery. One can observe a range of geological forms intermingled with ancient ruins. An example is a Minoan Bronze Age settlement that had been destroyed in the Theran eruption. Yet the volcanic ash preserved many artefacts and artworks. At the Museum of Prehistory Thera at Akrotiri once can visit the excavations. Evidence of another Greek civilisation is located at Mount Vouno, the second highest peak in Santorini.
Things to do in Santorini
Santorini’s main attraction is without a doubt its unique landscape. A semi-circular island caldera with whitewashed cubicle towns, built on the steep cliffs facing the bay and a mesmerising coastline that still appears to be wild and remote. It would seem that no matter where you are on the island everything is a feast for the eyes – especially the postcard-worthy sunset spots. An abundance of activities is available in Santorini. Experience it by land, by sea, underwater, on a bus or in a group excursion. Should you want to appreciate the coast, hop aboard a traditional schooner, yacht or sailboat to navigate the rim of the caldera. Besides enjoying the picturesque view, divide your time between, lying under the sun over open water and refreshing up by swimming in volcanic Aegean waters. Snorkelling and scuba diving are also popular activities due to the water’s excellent visibility, making dives to sea caverns and wrecks even more clear. Plus, no one wants to miss out on diving near an underwater volcano! Once back ashore, take the chance to visit the varied beaches along the eastern and south-eastern side. Most of these are well organised with umbrellas and sun chairs. The black beaches of Kamari and Perissa are the most popular for visitors. But if you have the time try to squeeze time to visit the red beach, the white beach, the fine sandy beaches of Perivolos or Monolithos. Popular with the locals for its wild appearance are the northern beaches near the village of Oia.
The castle in this village is also a famous sport to admire sunsets. From there take the time to explore the towns, surrounded by vineyards, the whitewashed cliff-perched towns such as the capital Fira and the town of IImerovígli. At Fira, one can either walk up to the top or take a cable car from the port. Once at the top you will wander across white streets filled with tavernas, restaurants, shops and hotels. Uniquely, one can also go on winery tours or wine tastings spread throughout the island. A lovely scenic route is also a great way to get from Fira to Oia giving you the view of the volcano and the Aegean Sea on one side while the other is the fields of lush vineyards. Santorini is one of Greece’s most prominent wine regions but also a culinary paradise. Foodies will enjoy the local specialities such as the white aubergine, fava capers, cherry tomato keftedes and “hloró tyrí” a local kind of fresh goat cheese while sipping some assyrtiko wine. The only minor worry might be finding a seat at a taverna overlooking the caldera when its sunset.
How to get to Santorini
Santorini can be easily reached by plane or by ship from Piraeus. There are cruises that connect Mykonos to Santorini directly. There is also regular ferry boat service that connects to almost all of the Cycladic Islands. Closest to the island are the small peaceful islands Amorgos – Levitha, then the lush island of Naxos and further north are the golden beaches of Paros.