Diving into Santorini

Diving into Santorini

Every year around March-April, the island of Santorini, part of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, awakens to experience another bright and exciting summer season, lasting almost until the end of October. After this, it again plunges into winter hibernation until the next spring. Such is the sweet life on most Greek islands, among which Santorini is famed as the most visited place.

One of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in human history transformed Thira, as Santorini is also known, into what we see today - a crescent-shaped island facing a caldera (crater) with steep black cliffs looming over the sea, where houses seem just stacked upon each other.

We arrived in Santorini towards the end of the season, and were greeted by gloomy skies and an unstoppable wind, blowing so hard that walking was difficult. But within half an hour, not a trace of the clouds and storm remained, and the sun shone as if it were still August. Strong winds rose most unexpectedly in the following days, so keep this in mind when packing for this island journey and be prepared.

Arriving in Oia

Here are a few ideas for your stay on Santorini and places that we think are a must-visit:

  1. Get to know Fira – the main town and administrative center of Thira. It's best to stay there, but if you've already booked a hotel elsewhere on the island, be sure to allocate enough time during the day to wander its picturesque old streets. Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy views of the caldera from rows of panoramic cafes above the cliffs. The Orthodox cathedral in the town center - the largest church on the island, is noticeable by its white domes as you climb up the steep street to the central area. Just past the cathedral, a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets begins, which in places are so narrow that it's hard for two people to pass each other. You'll see charming little shops crammed with handcrafted items made of painted glass, ceramics, wood, as well as all kinds of ornaments - from the simplest to uniquely complex (prices of which are better left uncommented). In Santorini, unlike many other tourist places, most shops sell truly exclusive products. And what will you do in the evening? It's clear - choose from dozens of cute taverns, side by side, and you just can't decide :). View from the cliffs in Fira
  2. Visit Oia – at the northern tip of Santorini, known not only for its charming Cycladic architecture, churches, and windmills, but also for its beautiful sunsets. Sunset in Oia is a popular backdrop for weddings of many loving couples from around the world who come here just for it. Crowds of tourists gather every evening and occupy with cameras and phones every possible nook and cranny with a view of the setting sun. Naturally, panoramic cafes and restaurants are full at this time, so if you plan to dine during the sunset in Oia, it's better to book tables in advance. And magnificent views are guaranteed! Windmills in Oia, Santorini
  3. Discover Pyrgos – one of the most authentic Cycladic settlements and former administrative center of Santorini. Be sure to climb up the narrow picturesque streets, reach the Venetian castle, look from the top of the hill, and capture the beautiful panoramic picture from there. Pyrgos is simply a fairy tale in white and blue, which you should not miss!
  4. Stroll through Megalochori – a traditional settlement dating back to the 17th century, known for its vineyards and the famous Vinsanto wine. Don't miss the bell tower and the central square of Megalochori. Pyrgos, Santorini
  5. Head to Mesa Gonia or the Ghost Village – a small settlement in the central part of Santorini, destroyed in 1956 by a strong earthquake, after which it was abandoned by local residents. The Byzantine church of the 11th century "Panagia Episkopi" is the most visited attraction there.
  6. Go on a sailing trip. The most popular route includes visiting the caldera, hot springs, and the island of Thirasia. You will have the opportunity to see the active volcano on the small island of Nea Kameni. And if you prefer watching the sunset in Oia from the sea rather than jostling in the crowd on top, then you should choose a different route, including the sunset in Oia. All sea excursions depart from the port of Athinios in Fira. Oia after sunset
  7. Visit the Monastery of Prophet Elias. Built at the beginning of the 18th century on the highest point of the island, near Pyrgos, this monastery houses a rare collection of ancient manuscripts, Byzantine icons, and other church relics.
  8. Explore the excavations of the ancient city of Akrotiri in the southern part of the island. It's the most important archaeological site on Santorini. The city, associated with the Minoan civilization of Crete, was destroyed by the volcano, and under the hardened lava, it was preserved much like the ancient Pompeii in modern-day Italy. View from a tavern on the coast of Thirasia island
  9. Try the beaches of Santorini. Thanks to the volcanic origin of the island, the sand is black, and in some places red. The most famous beaches are Red Beach (12 km southwest of Fira), Kamari (10 km southeast of Fira, near the airport), Perissa (10 km southeast of Fira), Perivolos (13 km south of Fira), Agios Georgios (12 km southeast of Fira), Vourvoulos (4 km northeast of Fira), Cape Columbo (12 km northeast of Fira), Monolithos (7 km east of Fira), Vlychada (12 km south of Fira), White Beach (13 km southwest of Fira).
  10. Don't forget to enjoy the magnificent seafood - freshly caught and deliciously cooked - in any of the countless taverns of Santorini. Be sure to try traditional delicacies as well to understand what fava is and to distinguish the taste of local cherry tomatoes, capers, and white eggplants, grown under the sun and winds of the Aegean Sea. Donkeys everywhere in Santorini

How to get to Santorini?

In the active season, ships from all cruise lines anchor in the bay of Santorini, and the island is conveniently connected to mainland Greece by ferries - both regular and high-speed, as well as numerous charter flights. This ensures a huge flow of visitors to this tiny patch of land. Those arriving on cruise liners can use the cable car from the port to get up to Fira. If you're traveling independently and organizing everything yourself, just check the ferry schedules to choose the most convenient dates and departure ports for you, and make a reservation online in advance. High-speed ferries will save time, of course, but will be significantly more expensive than regular ones. Of course, it would be best to get to Santorini on a yacht, on which you could also tour the other Cyclades, if only you can rent it at a reasonable price, unless you've already bought one :).

Regardless of how you get to this magnetic island, you are guaranteed to be enchanted by the blue waters of the Aegean Sea, the atmosphere, and the picturesque Cycladic architecture.

Don't hesitate, head to Santorini and at least briefly taste its calm and serene lifestyle (or at least it seems so from the outside). And if you haven't visited any of the Greek islands yet, this will start your "pernicious" and endless series of trips there, rest assured :)!