The most beautiful island on the planet. The land of lost Atlantis. The most enchanting summer destination in Europe. The “seals” of Santorini’s fame are so absolute, that when you finally arrive at its port, you do not know what to do first and what corners to explore to feel this intoxicating charm that makes all tourist guides talk. And here we come, to summarize the whole experience of a trip to Thera, in the necessary steps around the Caldera. In other words, here’s what not to miss:
The sunset in Oia
Even if you do not belong to the romantics of this world, it is impossible not to be seduced by this mysterious force that almost hypnotizes the crowd in the alleys of Oia when the clock is approaching at sunset. Then, a huge demonstration with hats, cameras, and the scent of sunscreen instead of banners and hoods, moves to the edge of Oia in Kastelli of Agios Georgios, where you just stare with your mouth open at the sun diving into the Caldera and the people watching it. applauds. However, if you are looking for a similar spectacle with fewer spectators, other amazing places on the island to see the sunset are the peak of the prophet Elias, the hill of ancient Thira, the lighthouse, the castle of Pyrgos, and the beach of Vlychada.
The Volcano of Santorini
The walk to the island of Nea Kameni, where you will go organized by small boats, combining the excursion with a swim in the warm waters, is a must. There you will see the craters, the “fireballs” (magma that froze while in the air), and impressive crystalline rocks.
Santorini volcano is one of the largest underwater active volcanoes in the world. Probably the only volcano whose caldera reaches the sea. Its largest eruption occurred during the Minoan Bronze Age 3,600 years ago (The Explosion: Bronze Age 1600 BC). The entire center of the former circular island sank in the sea during the terrible volcanic eruption. The eruption caused a tidal wave that literally wiped out the advanced civilization of Minoan Crete, 70 miles south of Santorini.
The huge mass of pumice that erupted during the volcanic eruption covered the surface of the sea over a wide area which was then washed ashore at higher levels than the tsunami caused by the eruption. In most of the surrounding areas of the Aegean, pieces of pumice were found that seem to have been carried to the surface of the sea. Pumice was also found on the northern coasts of Crete, the coasts of Anafi, Lemnos, Paros, Samothrace, Cyprus even Israel. Experts have discovered traces of this eruption even as far as the Nile Delta in Egypt.
Today, what constitutes Santorini is a large part of the (previously circular) crescent-shaped island, which is also the largest caldera on Earth.
The unreal beaches of Santorini
You have probably heard that Santorini is not famous for its beaches. Do not pay attention to rumors so that you do not arrive with your towel in a negative mood: You may not see turquoise waters and golden sand, but you will see other exotic things. In Vlychada, the sandy beach has a background of rare geological formations, which look like they came from a lunar landscape, where you can climb. In the inaccessible Red Beach, you will swim in waters that touch a salty sandy beach, with purple, almost like soil, sand from another world. And in Kamari, Perissa, or the rest of the east coast of the island you will spread out against the background of the large pebbles and the black sand of the island, the result of volcanic activity. There you will also find the cheapest organized beaches, as the sunbed is not charged on this side of Thera. Enjoyable, alternative, and even more picturesque are the dives in Ammoudi, the port below Oia.
Santorini’s beautiful villages
The villages of the Caldera of course have the first say. The SOS walks follow the stone paths in Fira and Oia, with the characteristic all-white houses on the rock, the tufted bougainvilleas, and the unbeatable view. Oia, in particular, is a special experience, which is not bothered at all by the swarms of tourists – as long as you are there, in front of it, in the disarming beauty that you hardly realize that it is real and that normal people live in it. Between Fira and Oia, you will find two other “hearths” of Cycladic luxury and picturesqueness, Imerovigli and Firostefani.
As for the rest of the island, you will walk in the quiet settlement of Karterados, where it is possible to have a traditional party with the windmill in the background, you will go up to Kastelli of Pyrgos and Emporio, you will admire the island churches of Vothonas, the wineries and the view from Exo Gonia or Megalochori.
For those who have energy and adrenaline reserves, the walking route along the Caldera, which connects the villages of Fira, Imerovigli, and Oia, is recommended (you will need about three hours for the nine kilometers of a breathtaking route). Under the water, diving enthusiasts will love the locations of Tripiti and Palia Kameni, near the wreck of Taxiarchis, while near Akrotiri you will dive on the reef of Adiavati. Finally, Mesa Pigadia is suitable for cave explorations.
The outdoors cinema in Santorini (Kamari)
Voted this year by the Guardian as one of the ten most beautiful summer cinemas on the planet and not unjustly, as it is located on the seafront of the coast “Kamari” and is an oasis of coolness and nostalgia with comfortable director chairs, bar with stools to watch the movie while drinking your drink and the green background that accompanies the movies.
The food of Santorini
Santorini may be famous for its atmosphere and view, but it has a wide variety of local products, which give restaurants and cooks endless inspiration. Traditional and Greek fusion cuisine can be found in dozens of restaurants and taverns on the island. Beans, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried vegetables, eggplants, dozens of types of fish, and fine pieces of meat are served and give you a special taste experience. Of course, sweets are not missing!
Fava of Santorini – It is not possible to reach Santorini and not try its famous fava. This local legume “dresses” various dishes, where you will find the classic version up to the very gourmet as a filling in meat fillets.
Tomato meatballs for vegan – The vegan movement may be more communicative in recent years, but Santorini has delicious dishes for all centuries now. The famous tomato meatballs of Santorini have local, pure products and give a taste that you will not need anything else, maybe just another portion.
Atherinopita – You may have used to order fried atherina for a dose of summer, but in Santorini the atherina marries with flour and onion and they pleasantly challenge your palate.
Absence for wine – This is the Santorini version of the apaki and the convergence of Mani, except that the aphti is not smoked. It is essentially a pork leg, which is salted and put in vinegar to dry in the air. Contains pepper, thyme, and cinnamon.
Santorini salad – With a Santorini salad, you will taste almost all the famous products of the island. The base of the salad has Santorini cherry tomatoes, capers, rusks, chloroform, while you will find variations with more local products.
Santorini sponge – The famous Santorini sponge is nothing but fried vegetables, which are included in the classic omelet. You will taste it with a bite, eggs, zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes.
Relaxed cod – Another traditional dish of Santorini is the flaky cod, which is usually eaten uncooked cut into small pieces, and served with Santorini tomatoes.
Sweets and desserts of Santorini
Kopania – Kopania is one of the oldest sweets of Santorini and got its name from the way it is made. These are barley buns, which are beaten and mixed with raisins, honey and sesame.
Meletinia – Easter is a classic dessert in Santorini, but you will find it at other times of the year. It is essentially the version of Santorini for the cheese pies and lamps of the other islands.
Santorini pudding – Probably the most delicious dessert of Santorini, which is made with semolina and milk. You will also find its chocolate version in many hangouts in Santorini. Ideally served with Visanto wine.
The wines of Santorini
Local wines of Santorini
Santorini has a long tradition in viticulture, at least 3500 years. Its unique climate in combination with the composition of the soil has made the varieties that are vinified to give wines a special personality.
Various types of wines are vinified in Santorini, but it has 3 wines with a Designation of Origin of Superior Quality.
Assyrtiko is the wine that has taken the name of the variety that has grown in the volcanic climate and soil of Santorini. Taste all the flavors and aromas of Santorini in one wine.
Nychteri is an aging wine that has been so named as tradition states that all the work for its vinification took place at night.
Vinsado (Vino di Santorini) is the traditional sweet wine of Santorini that is associated with its modern history and has made it known throughout the world. It is vinified from sun-dried grapes in the summer sun of Santorini.
The wine of Santorini with an important past and present has entered with the many wineries that the island has, with the best omens in the 21st century.
Skaros Rock & Castle
At the edge of the settlement in Imerovigli, the old Venetian castle ruins (Kastelli) create an ideal setting for an afternoon stroll on the Caldera.
Skaros was the oldest and perhaps the most important of the five fortified settlements of Santorini. He is also the only one from whom almost nothing is saved. Today, it is hard to imagine that on this steep cliff was once the center of the island, an entire castle with 200 houses, cobbled streets, and churches.
Archaeological Site of Akrotiri
One of Greece’s most important archeological sites, the prehistoric settlement with the two-story and three-story houses and the xestas (mainly public buildings made of hewn stones), is impressive. The sewerage system was particularly advanced, while, unlike the Minoan palaces, the findings here show culture with a more human face and a better distribution of wealth.
The location was ideal for a safe anchorage, as it was protected from the north winds, while at the same time, the morphology of the soil favored the development of agricultural activities. It was probably the capital of the island, but this has not yet been confirmed. The area of the excavations is close to 14 acres, and a small percentage of the prehistoric city has been discovered.