Smooth white buildings, deep blue sea, the soft yellow glow of sunlight: Santorini is an undeniably beautiful, fairytale island. Situated off the Aegean Sea in Thera, Greece, Santorini is one of several volcanic islands in the area known as the Cyclades Group. The island is known in particular for its beautiful sunsets, fantastic beaches and immaculate Greek style accommodation. It is the perfect place to enjoy the Mediterranean sea.
Santorini is situated approximately 200 km southeast of mainland Greece. The island was originally created as a result of a giant volcanic eruption around 1600 B.C. The human presence on the island is estimated to date back to the 3rd millennium B.C. While many visitors are drawn to the island to discover its unique geological formations, the majority come to relax in the beautiful surroundings and enjoy the beaches, particularly during the spring and summer months when the island enjoys a hot desert climate, warmer than most other parts of the Mediterranean.
Where to Stay
Santorini is made up of several towns and villages, both surrounding and in the case of four, perched on top of the cliff face of the caldera. Mesaria is the centre of the island, with traditional architecture, Fira is a village located on the cliff top overlooking the central bay of the island, probably the most popular tourist destination on the island. Megalochori, towards the south of the island, is a traditional village with a lot of old white cycladic churches. In terms of accommodation, Santorini has a whole range to offer, from traditional villas in true Greek style to stunning modern villas with all the latest high tech gadgets. Whether you’re visiting Santorini on a family holiday or just for a beach vacation trip with friends, the island will not fail to disappoint.
Things to see and do
Santorini has a rich history both in terms of its geological formation and political position. One of the things you will most definitely want to do while you are here is visit the archaeological sites, showcasing some truly impressive remains left from ancient civilisations, both prehistoric and Greek. Akrotiri is one of the most important archeological sites on the island, where the Prehistoric city of Thera has been excellently preserved for all to see. As well as archaeological sites, there are also several museums and galleries on the island, including The Museum of Prehistoric Thera, with wall paintings from the prehistoric Aegean, the Archaeological Museum, housing a collection of finds supposed to represent the island’s long history, and several other museums with all kinds of different displays, from wine to navy memorabilia. Santorini churches are also a prominent feature of the island, housing some truly spectacular wall paintings. If you are more interested in natural formations than man made ones, the two small islands just off santorini are, according to the locals, the youngest volcanic lands in the Eastern Mediterranean. You can take an excursion trip to both, setting out from Fira. If you just want to relax and enjoy the rugged coastline and deep blue sea, then Santorini has some fantastic black sand beaches against a scenic cliff back drop.
Food in Santorini is a mix of traditional Greek and Mediterranean. To avoid the overpriced and commercialised restaurants that pepper the island, head to one of the tavernas on the beach to sample the local cuisine. Here you can try fresh fish and locally sourced references. Specialities include aubergine, fried battered tomatoes, stuffed vine learns, fresh fish, olives and Greek bread. Santorini is well known for its cherry tomatoes, so be sure to stop by your local market and pick some up to take back to your villa for sampling. Santorini wines also have an excellent reputation, with the local wines featuring a combination of climatic flavours.
Getting around Santorini is straightforward. The island has a public bus service which is fairly inexpensive, but also fairly irregular and somewhat unreliable. Alternatively you can travel the island by bicycle, rent a car or to rent an ATV. Taxi’s are a small commodity on the islands and ATVs are a great way to get around the island and rental shops are readily available in most parts.