Santorini - A Wonderful Paradise

Santorini - A Wonderful Paradise

Santorini - A Wonderful Paradise

Incredible sunsets, pearly white buildings adorned with bougainvillea, blue-domed churches, and picturesque windmills make Santorini a sought-after destination. This Greek paradise attracts newlyweds and couples from around the globe eager to witness its famed sunsets of Oia, swim in hot springs, savor its cuisine, and indulge in luxurious resorts.

Whether you fly in or take the ferry from the other islands, it's impossible to miss the striking view of the mostly submerged caldera (volcanic crater) visible from quaint settlements atop lava-layered cliffs. The whitewashed settlements of Firá and Oia are the island's most alluring destinations. In between the two towns, small villages cling to the clifftops, offering quieter and more relaxed settings for your vacation.

Santorini has more to offer than incredible vistas and multi-colored beaches. This island is also home to ancient archaeological sites and museums that are worth exploring. Get yourself an ATV or a smart car and set about experiencing the rugged island on undulating roads. Just be prepared to stop at every corner, as the views are never-ending.


The capital of Santorini, Firá (Thíra) is made up of whitewashed cubic houses and terraces, winding lanes, little squares, and blue-domed churches perched on the cliffs 300 meters above the caldera.Reach Firá from Skala port by walking, riding mules up the steep path, or taking the cable-car. Access it from neighboring towns via the Fira to Oia scenic trail.
Ferries dock at the port of Athiniós, connected to Firá by road, while cruise ships put down anchor in the caldera, and passengers are transported to Skala by tender. Firá lives principally from tourism, and many of its buildings now serve as small hotels, apartments, restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops, and jewelers.

2. Oia

Oia is known for its famed sunsets that attract tourists from around the world.At the northern tip of Santorini, Ía (Oia) is a picture-perfect village of whitewashed houses, some of which have been converted into chic boutique hotels with infinity pools, overlooking the caldera. It is located 12 kilometers up the coast from Firá. Like Firá, it lives from tourism, but caters to a more upmarket clientele.

From Ammoúdi Bay, steep paths zigzag up to the town where you'll find a row of waterfront seafood eateries, many with alfresco dining. Oia can be reached by local KTEL bus or by walking the trail along the cliffs high above the caldera (allow three hours from Fira).

  1. Caldera

Caldera Cliff Wall

Formed by the massive volcanic explosion that blew the center out of the island some 3,600 years ago, the caldera is the sea-filled volcanic crater that remained.

Measuring 12 by 7 kilometers, the island is still home to volcanic activity, with the two Kaiméni islets at its center. Several agencies offer day excursions of the caldera by boat, including a visit to the hot springs and lunch on Thirassia.

4. Akrotíri Archaeological Site

Archaeological artifacts at Akrotiri

Near the village of modern Akrotíri, 12 kilometers southwest of Firá, the ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotíri was buried below lava following the 16th-century BC volcanic explosion that created the caldera. At the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, visitors can walk on pathways through the debris of the town to see remains of the clay buildings of this once thriving town. It is so well preserved that it's often compared to Pompeii. The site has remnants of multi-level buildings, pottery, and drainage systems, proving that Santorini was a flourishing and prosperous island before the eruption and probably lived from shipping and trading.

Santorini's connections with North Africa can be deduced from the outstanding frescoes (most of which are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens) that decorated its houses. The site of the Akrotiri ruins reopened to the public in 2012, following several years of closure.

5. Red Beach

Red Beach at Akrotíri

Nearby the Akrotiri site, you will find the famous Red Beach below a spectacular red cliff wall. The beach is accessible along a path from the town of Akrotiri. You can also take a bus from Fira or drive and park nearby before venturing down a rocky path to reach the beach. The beach is also accessible by boat from Akrotiri, Kamari, and Perissa ports.

During the summer, the small beach can get crowded, so it's best to arrive early to secure a prime spot for stunning views of the red rocks against the aquamarine water. Be cautious, as the beach is prone to landslides, and certain areas have been closed off for visitors.

6. Ancient Thira

Ancient Thira

See the ruins of Hellenistic temples and foundations of Roman and early-Byzantine buildings at ancient Thira, located on the southeast coast of Santorini. Ancient Thira dates back to the ninth century BC. Among the ruins, you'll find religious sites, a theater, a gym for military trainees, and old administrative buildings. Finds from the site are also displayed in the archaeology museum of Firá

Ancient Thera Map (Historical)

7. Archeological Museum, Firá

Lion carving at the Archeological Museum, Fira

The small archaeological museum near the upper cable-car station in Firá displays finds from Ancient Thira, including inscriptions, clay figurines, and ceramic pottery.

8.Museum of Prehistoric Thira

Museum of Prehistoric Thira

The Museum of Prehistoric Thira displays finds from Akrotiri archaeological site in a modern white building located close to the 1950s Mitrópolis church in Firá. One of the top tourist attractions is the Blue Monkeys wall fresco. Other ancient artworks on display include marble figurines, painted ceramics, tools, and weapons.

9. Pyrgos - Santorini 

Church in Pyrgos

Pyrgos was Santorini's capital before Firá took over in 1800. Pyrgos, a tiny village in the middle of Santorini, is built around the ruins of a medieval hilltop castle. Since 2004, it has begun catering to upmarket tourism.

10. Profitis Ilias - Santorini 

Profitis Ilias

From Pyrgos, a road runs to the summit of Mt. Profítis Ilías (584 meters), Santorini's highest point, affording panoramic views of the island and out across the sea. Here stands the mighty Profitis Ilias Monastery, an 18th-century sanctuary that is open to the public.

Inside, you can see the church, with a richly carved iconostasis. Visit the museum to see the miter and crozier of Patriarch Gregory V, whom the Turks hanged in Constantinople in 1821. Also of interest are the library, the monastic archives, and the kitchen. The monastery ran one of the many "secret schools," operated during the Turkish period.

11. Beach at Perissa - Santorini 

Beach at Perissa

Santorini's famous beach, located between Perissa and Perivolos, features a six-kilometer stretch of black volcanic sand. There are sunbeds and umbrellas to rent, plus water sports facilities. It is approximately 12 kilometers from Firá.

  1. Ammoudi Bay

The port of Ammoudi Bay

Ammoudi Bay, at the base of cliffs rising to Oia, features Greek tavernas and isolated coves for swimming. Another popular activity is cliff diving if that's what gets your adrenaline pumping.

For a less adventurous and still exhilarating experience, hire a sailboat to bring you to the volcano for a swim in the hot springs.

13. See a Show at Open Air Cinema
Kamari - Santorini 

Open air cinema in Kamari 

Fancy an al fresco movie screening? Head to the Open Air Cinema Kamari.They built it in 1887 to let locals and travelers continue the Greek tradition of outdoor theater by offering movies al fresco.

Grab a snack from the on-site concession and watch a film under the light of a starry velvet sky in a garden setting. Besides movies, this venue just outside the town limits also hosts concerts, art exhibitions, and traditional theater performances. It is a unique Santorini experience.

14. Take a Santorini Boat Trip

Boat tour off Santorini

Explore Santorini on a day-long boat trip to experience the island's top attractions and stunning turquoise waters.

A number of companies run boat tours around Santorini, and many follow the same route. One popular cruise takes you first to the still active volcano on Nea Kameni, where you can hike to the crater's summit. You'll then pause for a dip in the Palea Kameni hot springs. Trips then head to Thirassia Island fronting Santorini.

For a more luxurious experience, you can book this trip on a catamaran and on these, you'll also get to make three swimming and snorkeling stops.

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