It is no coincidence that Santorini is one of the top travel destinations in the Mediterranean. Evocative landscape, fascinating history, cosmopolitan atmosphere, unique local products and wines, constantly evolving gastronomy, high-quality services. From the volcanic landscape of the Caldera, the peculiar beaches with black sand and sculpted rocks and the important archeological site in Akrotiri to the atmospheric gourmet restaurants and the intense nightlife, and from the accommodation in luxury units with stunning views, mansions, and captain’s houses, to excursions and discoveries in the interesting hinterland, we are talking about a unique island.
The magic and romance that inspires the landscape have permeated the lifestyle of Santorini and the foundations of its tourist development; that is why all its dimly lit restaurants, romantic hotels, or atmospheric cocktail bars look as if they are largely made to welcome couples and lovers – and it is no wonder that hundreds of visitors come from all over the world every year to get married or renew vows of love overlooking the Caldera.
♣ PLACES OF INTEREST
The Caldera is, of course, the number one place of attention and the object of desire of all visitors. From the luxurious units with pools hanging on the cliff and the atmospheric captain’s houses to the simple traditional caves landed on the eyebrows of the Caldera, one can find accommodation for all tastes and all budgets. Sunset is the best time to be at the Caldera.
Fira enjoys the views and the sunset from the cocktail bars of Frydi, Oia from the ruins of the castle, Imerovigli from the verandas of the luxury hotels. Fira is the cosmopolitan, bustling capital, the strongest nightlife market, the residence of those who want to be at the center of developments. The jewelry shops of “gold street,” the clubs of “bar street,” the noises of the central square, the quiet lazy rhythms of the Catholics, of the most atmospheric neighborhood, are all-time classic images of Fira.
Oia, one of the most well-preserved traditional settlements in Greece, is the country of slow rhythms, the sophists and lovers’ favorite. Beyond the classic sunset at the Castle (with crowds of tourists perched on the rooftops applauding!), Walk to Sidera, the neighborhood with its impressive Captain Houses.
Imerovigli has become the most sought-after hotel village on the island, and every year it expands beyond the boundaries of the traditional settlement. On the beaches of Santorini, focusing on Kamari, there are more classic island resorts, with large hotels and bars, mainly for foreign visitors.
Along with the Caldera, the hinterland and the beaches are evolving and claiming visitors’ attention either as a place to stay or as a choice for food and entertainment. After all, the volcano has not only endowed the Caldera: the beaches (from the shiny black pebbles of Perivolos to the white sculpted rocks of Vlychada) and the villages (from the cave Vothonas to the eastern Finikia) have a special natural beauty outside the classic Cycladic standard.
♣ LOCAL MARKET
The strongest point of the market of Santorini is the works of art, antiques, as well as ethnic objects and clothes that you will find in small personal style shops in Fira and the central cobbled street of Oia.
Santorini is not only a world first-class tourist destination, where everyone wants to go at least once, in their life, it also has a special place in the gastronomic scene of Greece. For the last twenty years, the volcano has dominated the island gastronomy, being an important destination for gastro tourists. Simultaneously, excellent restaurants are being created, and the mobility of the top Greek chefs – and not only – who come to the island is great.
Things are also firmly mapped in Santorini’s nightlife, with Fira holding the first place: the meeting point is the square, and the stage of the show is the “bar street” with the mainstream clubs. Things are calmer in Oia, with all-day beach parties on the beaches.
Although Santorini does not have the classic Cycladic beaches with semolina sand and blue waters, its coasts have a special “color” and every style option. Perivolos retains the most cosmopolitan beach title, with beach bars, good fish taverns, and nice black shiny pebbles. The once alternative Vlychada, with a trademark of white rocks that create strange formations, is the fastest-growing beach. On the long, touristy beach in Kamari, you will find hotels, restaurants, etc. Perissa is also a classic choice, with fine sand, beach sports, and a youthful atmosphere. A few kilometers further, Monolithos, with fine sand and shallow water, remains a low-tone family beach.
The northernmost and windy Columbus, near Oia, with fine pebbles and a large rock to offer natural shade, is the best suggestion for more alternative situations. Neighboring, tiny Pori, Baxedes, Vourvoulos, and Katharos are some of the more unusual choices on the same side of the island. Towards Akrotiri, apart from the much-photographed Red and White (accessible on foot or by boat), which are preferred by mainly foreign visitors, there are also some off-road options for those looking for peace.
When to go
Apart from summer, spring is a special season, with the Caldera blooming and Easter being celebrated ritually in the village of Pyrgos. It is no coincidence that Santorini is one of the top travel destinations in the Mediterranean.