Sensational, surreal, stunning… Words are not enough to describe one of the most unique world destinations such as Santorini, the princess of the Cycladic Island Cluster.
The crescent-shaped volcanic rock, which emerged after a biblical volcanic catastrophe in 1660 B.C., has been acclaimed as one of the “must- visit” places in a lifetime and has been unanimously ranked among the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world.
Its unique natural beauty and the perfect mix of whitewashed villages, towering cliffs and deep blue waters, make it a spectacular destination that attracts millions of tourists every year, who flock here to experience the most idyllic sunset and the most romantic scenery.
It is the beloved honeymoon destination and the ideal setting for a wedding, preferred by couples who wish to begin the most beautiful moments of a new life in one of the most beautiful places in the world!
However, it’s not only the sunset or the dreamy atmosphere that makes Santorini unique…
It is also the rich cultural past, the amazing historic background and its astonishing evolution through the ages…
As the ships approach the island, this amazing rock emerging from the dark blue sea, is a breathtaking sight. Its small cubic houses, white dwellings carved into the volcanic rock (thus called "yposkafa") in order to be protected from the winds, seem to be hanging on the rim of the caldera. A walk through the cobbled streets and winding paths of the capital town Hora, among whitewashed cubic houses surrounded by bougainvilleas and jasmines, is like wondering through a real-life painting… Absorb the images, the scents and the atmosphere in Firostefani, Imerovigli, Oia and the astonishing beauty will captivate your heart for ever.
Choose the best spot for the most amazing sunset of your life… Oia Castle, Fira, Firostefani, Skaros -a rocky promontory jutting into the sea in Imerovigli, Faros in Akrotiri, where you will be almost alone, Profitis Ilias (Pyrgos), one of the highest spots of the island, or Vlihada beach, with the volcanic scenery changing color hues as the sun sets.
Take a mule or donkey ride that will take you up and down the steep steps connecting Fira town down to the small port of Ormos and the nearby Oia to the tiny charming port Ammoudi. Be prepared for bumps and turns and loads of fun!
Take a scenic ride with the Cable Car that travels up the path from Ormos up to Fira in 3 minutes, rising at the altitude of 220 meters. Be prepared for long queues, as it serves around 1.200 persons daily, especially when cruise ships arrive, but you will be rewarded by the majestic view of the bay and the volcano.
Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, with artifacts from the excavations in Akrotiri and the Archaeological Museum in Fira, with a wide collection of sculptures and inscriptions (Archaic - Roman period), vases and clay figurines (Geometric - Hellenistic period), the Maritime Museum in Oia (rare figureheads, models of old and new Theran ships, seamens' chests, old maritime equipment, aquarelles featuring old sailing vessels).
Take a time travel, by visiting the prehistoric town of Akrotiri, which the French Geologist F. Fouque called 'The Pompeii of the Aegean', as the town was completely covered in volcanic ash during a cataclysmic eruption of the Thera Volcano in the late 17th century B.C. It is the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean and one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world (please check first which area is open to the public).
Take a tour at the archaeological site of Ancient Thira at an altitude of 369 m of the Mesa Mountain, among the existing settlements of Perissa and Kamari. You will see the Market, the Royal lodge with statues of Caesar's family, the temples of Artemis and Dionysus, the Theatre, the Gymnasium, the Sanctuary of Apollo Carneios, the Cemeterie, monuments that will help you better understand the organization of the city and living habits of its inhabitants.
Visit the volcanic islands of Palea & Nea Kammeni, take a hiking tour in the lunar scenery, upon black lava stones and a revitalizing dive at the Thermal Springs, where the water has a temperature of about 33 degrees Celsius and contains sulfur that is good for the skin.
Do something more or less extreme, such as riding in Monolithos beach, climbing at the caldera, diving at the bottomless depth of the caldera around the volcanic islands of Palea and Nea Kameni and water kayaking through the volcanic rocks.
Tantalize your palette and embrace the Santorinian spirit through a unique wine tasting experience and visit a winery where fine Santorinian grape varieties are cultivated and produce award winning wines, such as Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, Mantilaria, Mavrotragano.
Two of the top experiences in Santorini are undoubtedly a sailing tour around the island, on board the most luxurious and well-equipped yachts or a helicopter flight around Santorini’s half-submerged caldera, above the active Nea Kameni volcano and Oia’s iconic sugar-cube houses and blue-domed churches.
Get the Taste
At first it may seem barren and dry, however, Santorini's land is offering some of the tastiest and most aromatic varieties of vegetables and fruits. Covered by the volcanic sediments following the eruption of the volcano, the surface of the earth was made fertile and porous, rich in minerals, creating the unique conditions for cultivation.
Wine cultivation here dates back to Prehistoric times and till today, Santorini’s indigenous grape 36+ varieties produce award winning wines, such as the world famous sweet Vinsanto dessert wine. You might also want to try ouzo or raki, the strong spirits that escort the entrees and are perfect as appetizers.
Santorini and Greece in general, is considered to offer one of the most balanced cuisines of the world, with healthy, fresh and enjoyable food. Of the most famous local products are the fava beans, caper, the small cherry- tomatoes and the white aubergines, as well as a variety of cucumber, called “katsouni”.
The gourmet experience starts with hot and cold entrees (Tarama salad, tzatziki, "dolmades" vine leaves stuffed with rice, “tomatokeftedes”, small meatballs made with tomatoes and “melitzanosalata”, white eggplants fried), feta cheese, maridaki which is fried small fish, cubed fried liver, fresh vegetables and salads, dressed with olive oil.
Then comes the main course, mainly fish, charcoal cooked octopus or calamari, fried mussels, all from the catch of the day. Among the most famous dishes, is pasta with lobster, grilled fish, fava (split-peas/ pureed beans), mousaka with local white eggplants, zucchini pie, "sfougato", which is the local version of omelet (potatoes, eggs and homemade sausage), octopus with vinsanto wine and fish soup "kakavia", from many different kind of fish mixed all together.
As for the nightlife, clubs, bars, pubs and cafes, from traditional to atmospheric, located on the caldera, offer a magnificent view of the lightened cliffs. Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy the sunset, sipping an espresso freddo or a refreshing cocktail.
Sea & Sun
Black, red or white colored, sandy, pebbly or rocky, cosmopolitan or isolated, the variety of beaches in Santorini will keep you on a constant trail of adventure and discovery.
The most notable are the cosmopolitan, fully organized beach of Perissa (black sand), the nearby rapidly developing Monolithos, the organized beautiful beach of Perivolos (black sand, crystal clear waters, water sports, tavernas, bars), Vlychada is a fairly quiet beach with volcanic rocks that reach almost into the sea, the captivating and unique Red Beach (dark waters, red ground), approachable by boat from Akrotiri or by car and a long walking trail, the equally impressive White beach with large, white pebbles, Kamari (black sand, clear blue waters, popular and crowded, well organized beach, water sports (windsurfing, water skiing or paddleboats and diving), Vourvoulos (dark impressive rocks and trees), MesaPigadia (white rocks, crystal waters, grey sand, carved cliffs) and Exo Gialos (sun beds, umbrellas, a small canteen, a traditional tavern).
Away from the crowds, try Columbus beach (quiet, isolated, but not suggested when it is windy), the wonderful sandy beach of Pori near the beach of Columbus, also not suggested when its windy Baxedes beach (sandy beach, black sand), the quiet and almost private Mouzakia (a very small creek between Oia and Imerovigli), Agios Georgios, very close to Vlychada, and Almyra beach (red and black pebbles), near Oia.
Fira and Oia towns are dotted with hundreds of colorful shops offering loads of attractive merchandise. The main shopping center is in Fira town, many Art Deco Galleries, Gold Shops, & Handmade Wooden Artifacts are located in Oia and some boutiques & Ethnic Craft Shops in Kamari Beach seaside promenade.
You will find upscale and arty handicrafts, ornately-crafted jewelry, designer clothes shops (Just Cavalli, Versace, Galiano, Alberta Ferreti, Pinko, Nolita, Cinema, Fred, Perry, Jlo), leather items (handbags, coats, jackets), paintings, sculptures and ceramics, stylish decorative ornaments for your home.
For a “tasty” souvenir, Santorini is known for its wide selection of wines - boasting no less than 36 excellent varieties of grape-, so, don't miss the opportunity to buy some for home. Among local products, we suggest that you buy a jar of capers and caper buds for your salads, "koufeto", a spoonsweet prepared with honey-soaked almonds, locally produced "chlorotiri", a white, creamy cheese from goat's milk and dried fava beans. Tip: Get a cookery book with all the local recipes and enjoy Mediterranean cuisine at home.