If you are thinking of a long vacation or simply you like to move a lot and see different things, then you may think that going on an island is not that a good idea. You couldn’t be more wrong about it! Santorini has it all: multiple sights from the Ancient era, picturesque towns and villages, lively ports, charming bays, beautiful and unique beaches, typical Cycladic architecture, wild nature in the sunset as in the sunrise, water and beach sports and even delicious wine testing tours. What else can you ask for to get wonderful holidays?
After getting to Santorini one spends quite a while wondering what to start with. The island has the characteristics of a wonderland in a way that there is a little something for everyone. You can get all emotional and romantic looking at the panoramic views or sitting in little cafes and restaurants meanwhile the sport activities can do really well in energizing you. The island is big enough not only to offer you a significant number of places to go but also to show you how diverse beaches and towns can be around here. The magnificent remains of fortresses, villages and temples will impress you. Nevertheless, nothing can be compared to the thrill you may feel while being neighbor to the submerged volcano and the caldera. Knowing that, at the time, this place witnessed one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the world makes you look at it with a little more respect.
Santorini fills you up with the real need to move and to follow your curiosity, your undisclosed desires; for everything you can admire on the island is so exceptional and unexpected that it is simply impossible to stop at the first visit sight! Then, if after your stay you are still desperate for discoveries, this is the way it should be. This treasure island makes a huge change in the way you perceive the world around you. It teaches you how to experience beauty and how to look for it. Whether you’ve planned your holidays lazy on the beach, taking your time to relax profoundly and to make peace with your thoughts; or in an active challenging way, scuba diving, walking and visiting; Santorini will leave an important footprint on your impression of a typical Greek island. The standard for the coming years’ holiday destination will be quite demanding – Santorini sets the bar really high.
Floating on the southern side of the Aegean Sea, in the Cyclades’ land combination, Santorini is one of the most visited places in the world, and for sure, one of the top romantic spots. It is also called a Volcanic Island, due to the origins of its very unique landscape and its main attractions.
Caldera – natural beauty and a volcano footprint
The event that created the Santorini as we know it today was the disastrous volcanic eruption around 3000 BC. It changed the topography of the Mediterranean coast forever and created a natural caldera that later would become one of the most important geological configurations on the earth. To be precise, the caldera is a basin made of steel rocks and cliffs. Thousands of meters of height, and thousands of meters of depth make Caldera a perfect harbor to navigate and an impressive spot for photographers.
The cliffs and hilltops seem to reach the clouds, while the towns look like if they were clinched to this hostile mountainous ground against their will. One may imagine that they were condemned to tower above the entire Cyclades and to watch over them. Some scientists relate this place to the myth of Atlantis, though you can always make your own hypothesis.
The most important cliff contributing to the fame of Caldera grows to 800 meters, offering a breath-taking view. The interesting fact about it is that it is actually the submerged volcano crater’s wall. This and other explosion-related sites attract all sorts of tourists. In fact, one cannot deny that a walk upon black lava islets is both, tempting and exciting. The thrill grows even bigger if one remembers that this kind of land still has the volcano underneath it.
Hot springs – health and relaxation
This leads us to mention the hot springs present on Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. These islets located in the center of the basin, are considered to be the source bursting with sulfur steam and health. Don’t get disgusted with the yellowy color of waters around the volcanoes’ craters – the color comes from sulfur, an element known for its therapeutic use. The scenery is completely different than in any other place on the Aegean Sea.
The main towns of the Caldera are compatible with the important must-see sites on Santorini. In the eastern part you can search for Fira, the capital of the island; and more to the south you should find Oia, both known for their scenery and a distinctive atmosphere.
The noble town of Thira is perched at the height of 260 meters and represents the biggest touristic accommodation center. The streets are busy with people having fun in nightclubs, visiting museums, churches and monasteries, going shopping, eating and drinking in fancy restaurants, bars and cafes. The Archeological Museum exhibits items found in the ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotiri, prehistoric pottery and a large collection of vases from the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The date span of Thira Museum’s collections is quite impressive, just as the architecture of the town: ancient marketplaces, enchanting churches and winding narrow streets between the typical white-washed houses.
Moreover, with hotels and restaurants situated at the cliff edges, Thira offers its visitors the best spots to enjoy the stunning views unfolding underneath and around them. Living on the edge of a volcano crater can truly make your heart beat faster.
Oia – the magic of a small town
The second most important center on Santorini is the magical village of Oia. It is considered probably the most romantic place on the island. Couples often come here to spend a relaxing evening watching the sun set on the horizon. The significant number of artists and writers attracted to Oia confirms this exceptional atmosphere of the village. Its quite restaurants and art galleries invite you to embrace the beauty and serenity of Santorini and the Aegean Sea.
Pyrgos – the fortified capital
One of the biggest villages on Santorini, built around a Venetian castle from 13th century. The castle is one of the five on Santorini and offers panoramic views towards all points of the island. Pyrgos is a perfect example of a fortified Cycladic village. In addition, only 4 km from the center, there is the most famous church of Santorini – the Monastery of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias). This is the place one finds worth visiting for its magnificent iconostasis and the museum exposing rare manuscripts and books, but also for the breath-taking view from the top.
Akrotiri Minoan Site and Ancient Thira
Another two and maybe the most important places related to Santorini’s history: Akrotiri and Thira. The first one is directly linked to the volcanic eruption. The whole Minoan city buried under ashes and lava was discovered there, almost intact, around 1870s. Since then many fascinating stories came to life. The second important archeological site is the Ancient Thira whose settlements date from the ninth century BC. Among the monuments and excavations you can find the Sanctuary of Artemidoros, the Agora and several temples all hewn in the rock. A great place to make good use of your imagination!
Since Santorini is called the Volcanic Island, it has its own type of beaches. The most famous one is the Red Beach found in the proximity of Akrotiri. The way down to the beach is full of photo-stops, for the cliffs you will be passing by, are made of amazing red and black volcanic rocks. Other interesting spots for sand and pebble fans are Perissa and Kamari Beaches, located next to Thera. Snorkeling here is very popular, just as scuba diving and water sports.