Everyone has a favorite spot for a sunset. Few rival those to be seen on the Cycladic island of Santorini. The island’s rocky cliffs, dotted with its famous white and blue homes and buildings provide a vista for a setting sun like no other. Rising out of the Aegean Sea, Santorini is really a jewel among the many wonderful Greek islands. Set in its volcanic rim, surrounded by the bluest of water, the island and its villages are one of those destinations that find their way to the top of many travelers “must see and do before…” lists.
Chances are good that you will arrive after a long ferry trip from Athens. The main port at Athinios will take you to Thira, the island’s capital. Thira, and the smaller town of Oia, offer the visitor the culture of Greece, quaint hotels, a wide variety of shopping experiences, and great dining all set on the edge of a volcano from which one can sit for hours and enjoy the view. Oia’s port is easily accessible from the town and surrounded by seafood dining and taverns. After a meal, the traveler can return to the top of the hill by donkey.
The villages of Thira, Firastefani, and Oia are perched high above the sea on the side of the island most often visited by travelers. The villages of Perissa and Kamari have black sand beaches on the eastern side of the island. The black sand is beautiful, but – and this is a real warning – very hot in summer: wear beach sandals! Travelers can ride the bus from Thira to enjoy the beaches. The public transportation on the island is cheap and pleasant, though sometimes crowded. Scooters, motorbikes, and autos are available for the more adventurous. Diving centers are available across the island; scuba and snorkeling are favorite activities here.
The town of Akrotiri is near the famous ruins on the island. Many travelers neglect the town itself for other better-known spots on Santorini, but Akrotiri has a real charm all its own. Here is the source for the island’s famous wines and other agricultural products. Red Beach and Vlichada are near Akrotiri and are the two best beaches on the island.
Santorini has no shortage of nightlife in the beach areas and many young people take full advantage of the offerings there. However, Santorini’s art galleries, wineries, and archaeological sites give everyone a reason to visit. The island you see today is the result of a volcanic explosion over 3,000 years ago, and many suspect the island gave rise to the legend of Atlantis. The fact is that the volcano under the island is sleeping, dormant, but not dead. In the bay is the island of Nea Kamini, which rose to the surface in the early 1700s.
Greece has many islands to visit, each with its own charm and distinct culture. Santorini, however, is more than just “another island.” Place Santorini on your own bucket list – you will only be disappointed if you never see it for yourself.