My time in Santorini has unfortunately ended. The island was everything I imagined it would be. Beautiful views, stunning sunsets and wonderful architecture. Before I post how I spent my time there, I am sharing my research on what to see in Santorini. I haven’t had chance too see all of it and my plans changed a little but hopefully this list with be helpful for some of you.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to dream away as you look out onto beautiful sunsets, Oia is for you. With its impressively built and cosy cave and Capitan houses, this small town almost feels other-worldly, like a place you’d find in a fairy-tale picture book. Oia has more than 60 churches but the one that is definitely worth seeing, is the St. Nicholas Church. Situated on the top of a cliff at the end of town, this church stands in honour of St. Nicholas, the patron of fishermen. Here you will also get to see the famous windmill, where you will get to experience awe-inspiring views of the whole town.
If you’re in the mood for a proper work-out, you can reach Fira by climbing crazy amounts of stairs; but if you rather not break a sweat, no worries – there’s a cable car that will do all the work for you. Fira is the capital of the Greek Aegean island, and was built onto a cliff 260 metres above sea level. Fira is home to the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, which is located on the edge of the volcanic caldera. Be sure to check it out and soak in the artistry, and enjoy a little respite from the touristy streets. A visit to the village of Firostefani should also form a part of your itinerary – there are plenty of amazing picture-opportunities waiting for you here!
Situated south of the island, you will find Akrotiri, the Minoan Bronze Age settlement which is rumoured to have been the inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis. The settlement was buried under volcanic ash after the Theran eruption in 1620, but since 1967 archaeological excavations have unearthed around 40 houses and many objects dating back to the ancient world. While you’re here, you should also check out La Ponta, the Greek bagpipe(tsabouna), housed in a 13 century Venetian tower just 1Km outside of Akrotiri. If there’s enough time, you might even consider signing yourself up for a traditional tsabouna workshop!
Located just 7Km from Fira, you will come upon Pyrgos, a small village that has remained the island’s best kept secret, so if you’re trying to escape tourists, this is the place to be. The ruins of the Venetian castle that once acted as the island’s administrative center are still visible today, adding to the medieval vibe of the village’s narrow passages and fortified walls. If you’re planning on visiting the island anyway, try to be sure you’re here for Good Friday, when the castle ruins are lit up and visible from miles away.
Need a break from Santorini’s white sandy beaches and steep prices? Then head to Kamari, a small town with long beaches full of tainted black volcanic sand pebbles. The accommodation options here are a lot cheaper than in Santorini, and with a host of charming little cafes and bars to choose from, this will quickly turn into your favourite place on the island. Kamari is also the perfect spot to get sporty, as there are plenty of places to rent water sport equipment.
Now that you’ve already visited Kamari’s black beaches, it’s time to discover a new shade of sand pebbles on the Red Beach. Nestled between giant rocks, you can reach the Red Beach by boat via Fira, or walk there from Akrotiri, which takes around 15 minutes.Pack a picnic and make a day of it, just be sure to lather up with sunscreen otherwise your skin tone will end up matching the beach!
Known as the Balcony of Santorini, Imerovigli was once used as a platform from which to watch the ships coming in from neighbouring islands and countries. The views of the caldera and Thirasia will stay with you forever, especially if you make your way there at sunrise or sunset!
Situated between Pyrgos and Kamari, at 567 metres above sea level, Profitis Ilias is the highest point of Santorini. Its name is taken from the monastery named after the Prophet Elias, located on the top of a cliff. The monastery once played an important role for the island and is still inhabited by monks who are in charge of running the museum and winery. Needless to say, the views from here are absolutely mesmerizing!
If you’re feeling the beach town vibes, head for Perissa and feast your eyes on black pebble beaches, and your bellies on delicious seafood in one of the many bars and restaurants. Just don’t get too full on your lunch because you’re going to want to make use of all the great water sport equipment rentals in Perissa, and you wouldn’t want to feel heavy and tired when you set off on your jet skis. If you can’t be bothered to walk all the way back to your digs at the end of the afternoon, no worries – just hail a water taxi!
The island’s White Beach is only reachable by boat, giving it a feeling of exclusivity. If you’re a bit of a vampire, you should note that there is no natural shadow on this beach so if you’re prone to burn quickly, be sure to pack a little beach umbrella to protect you from the sun. The White Beach gets its name from the white rocks surrounding its black pebbled beaches – a great spot for a leisurely beach day!
Mesa Vuno is the biggest mountain on the island and is very popular for hiking during the milder months. At the top of the mountain you will find the ruins of the ancient city of Thera, which dates back to the 9th Century BCE. Archeological findings that have been excavated from the site since, date back to the Hellenistic period and can be found on display at the archeological museum in Fira.
In terms of architecture, Emporio is one of the most striking villages on the islands, and it is also home to the Panagia Kali church and ruins from a fortress dating back to the Byzantine period. With its white washed alleyways and blue-domed churches, Emporio attracts many a holiday-maker in search of Greek bliss. You will find many old windmills lining the hillsides, eight of which are historically listed.
Vothonas is a traditional settlement nestled into Santorini’s centre, and is famous for its houses which are built into the ravine walls. If you have the opportunity to book yourself into one of these unique cave houses you should definitely do so – it will be the experience of a lifetime!