10 things you must do in Santorini
Our list of 10 interesting things you must do in SantoriniSantorini or Thira as it is otherwise named, is one of the most beautiful and unique islands in Greece and the world. Located in the South Aegean sea and part of the Cyclades Islands. Intriguing history, awesome volcanic landscape, cosmopolitan atmosphere, breathtaking sunsets, deep blue sea, the volcano, are just some of the reasons that make Santorini the most popular holiday destination in Greece!! Santorini has a metaphysical energy that becomes you as you sail into the Caldera rim and gaze up the steep cliffs. Fira, Oia, Imerovigli are just some of the villages that are built into the cliffs with magnificent view of the Aegean sea, the volcano and the nearby islands of Ios, Folegandros and Sikinos.Santorini is a unique island in Greece.
I am sure you know it, you've heard it, and you’ve seen it. There is no way that you have not seen this picture:
So, we now agree that you know Santorini. You have probably been there too. Or you would like to be there now... Yes you are right; you should visit this unique place on earth at least once in your life! Although what everyone says is that if you go once, you will go again. And again. And you may even decide to live there for the rest of your life… Yes, perhaps right there:
But for the majority of us that will visit Santorini only for a few days, let’s see the 10 best things to do in Santorini, that will make your stay on this unique island truly memorable!
1. Visit the volcanic island – swim at the hot springs
Walking on the black lava of an active volcano. It sounds fascinating, isn’t it? Just think that the eruption of the volcano back in 1600 BC, sank half of the ancient Santorini and created two volcanic islands made of frozen lava, that can be visited on a day cruise. Walk the rough path to the top of “Nea Kameni” and admire the lunar landscape of this barren island. Here and there, steam is coming out of the burnt rocks. We said volcano is active, didn’t we? The next big eruption will be… well not so soon, don’t worry. And if you want another proof of the volcanic activity, swim at the “Hot Springs”, a small bay in the second volcanic island “Palaia Kameni”, where water’s temperature is 30 Celsius.
2. Visit the archaeological sites & museums
If you think that Santorini is only the cosmopolitan and touristic destination of present, you are wrong. The island has a rich history dated back to 3000 BC. Destroyed from the volcanic eruption, the ancient town of Akrotiri was discovered in 1967 and is open to the public. Although the famous wall paintings that were found in Akrotiri are exhibited in Athens, you can still admire the sophisticated architecture and the three storey houses. Another ancient town is “Ancient Thera”, dated from 9th century BC and located 360 meters high above sea level. It was an important settlement in the Hellenistic and Roman times and was excavated in 1895. The ruins may not be so impressive, but the view is truly amazing. Artifacts from both towns can be seen at the museums of Fira town (Archaeological and Prehistoric).
3. Taste the local wines
15 operating wineries, a big production of famous wines and a great view to enjoy them… What else could a wine lover wish for? Santorini is famous for its vineyards and wines (Vinsanto, Assyrtiko, Nykteri etc.) and the amazing wineries are a “must” to visit, even if you are not a fan of alcohol. “Santo Winery” and “Venetsanos” offer a great view of the caldera and the sea, while in “Koytsogiannopoulos” you can also visit the wine museum. But, for wine lovers: Do visit more. Each winery produces its own unique wine flavor and brand…
4. Watch the sunset in Oia
You will probably be squeezed among hundreds of people that had the same idea with you. Most probably they will be Chinese with hi-tech cameras and long selfie sticks. Ignore them all and don’t miss it! What’s the meaning of visiting Santorini if you don’t watch the sunset on a white terrace or in a small balcony hanging on the cliffside? When the sun goes down you will applause as everyone else and you will leave with some great photos in your camera. Just like the one above, to use it as wallpaper on your pc and remember the moment for ever. Ok, maybe even remember the Chinese with the selfie sticks…
5. Stay in a Villa with private pool
It sounds expensive? Well not that much, having in mind that generally Santorini is not a low cost destination. You could save some money and make to yourself a great gift: Enjoy the bright Greek sun and cool yourself in your private pool, while your partner is sunbathing in your private terrace. Not much private, you will argue? Fair enough, if you choose to stay in the caldera where privacy is relative. But there are hidden gems, such as “Anema Residence private villas” (http://www.anema-santorini.com/ ) where you will relax in a peaceful environment away from the hassle and crowds of the touristic paths.
6. Hike the trail from Fira to Oia
Not the easiest way to go from Fira to Oia, but surely the most scenic one. Leave your car/motorbike at your hotel, wear your sports clothes and shoes and imitate the residents of the past that walked on the cliffside to reach the northern village of the island. You will admire the great view of the caldera and the sea below your feet and see the landscape of Santorini in another perspective, away from the busy car roads. Trail is 9kms long, so start your adventure early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
7. Visit the medieval villages
You already know Fira and Oia. But have you heard of Pyrgos, Megalochori and Emborio? These hidden medieval villages, once unknown to tourists, are recently discovered and developed. Old fortresses of the Venecian era, they hide inside their stone walls beautiful houses, narrow streets, hundred churches and traditional taverns and “kafeneia”, the old style Greek cafes. One more “ouzo” please!
8. Enjoy a romantic dinner on the cliffside
Do you want to make a wedding proposal to your girlfriend? You are on the right island, just find the right place. What better from a restaurant on the top of the caldera cliffside with a view of the sea, volcano and the sunset. Even if you are not in love, you will fall in love with the scenery and the romantic atmosphere. Fira, Oia, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Akrotiri have several restaurant options for every budget, although caldera view comes at a price. If you want to spend less money, you can enjoy a drink or a cocktail watching the admirable view. Just to give you a thought, a diamond ring in a glass of champagne doesn’t sound as a bad idea at all…
9. Book a catamaran cruise
Day or Sunset, Lagoon or Tahiti boat, departing from Vlychada or Ammoudi. Either way, just book it! A caldera cruise with a luxurious catamaran is something to remember. Dive from the boat in the crystal water, enjoy a barbeque meal on the boat or in a small pebble beach of the volcanic islands, admire the cliffs high above your head, and watch the sun goes down in the sea horizon just in front of you… No wonder that the catamaran cruise evolves into the most popular Santorini excursion. Thus, do not wait until last moment to book your seat, boats may be full!
10. Fun and swimming at the black sandy beaches
History, museums, romance, food and wine... But what about fun? Santorini is after all an island, a mostly summer destination! Although not famous for its beaches, you will still cool yourself in the blue sea and get the tan that you wish under the hot summer sun. The black sandy beaches of Perivolos and Kamari are the most popular ones, and they are full of sun beds, water sports, beach bars, restaurants and hotels. Red beach and White beach have more difficult access, while smaller beaches like Kouloumbos, Pori, Baxedes, Vourvoulos are ideal for those who do not like the big crowds.