Going to Santorini (also named as Thira) is something more of just a visit. It’s an experience. An experience you really need to live and cannot be described with few words that this guide tries to do.
Geographically, Santorini is located above Crete, in the southern side of the Cyclades complex of islands. It takes approximately 8 hours from Piraeus by a conventional ferry or about half an hour from Athens by plane.
Historically, Santorini has been inhabited from 3000BC. The coast, the shape of the island is an affect of the volcanic activity that has been taken place in many centuries. Santorini along with the islands Thirasia and Aspronisi are remnants of the volcanic island Stroggyli. By the time you see the island from your goggles, on the ferry, you realize its unique magic. The black edgy coastline, the black rocks and the steep mountain of the northern coast of the island, fill you with a great evocative sense. That scenery can erect your mind and thirst you for discovers and adventures, just like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Some other time, don’t you think? And by the time you reach the port, and see the first small houses, everything goes away. That’s the magic of this island, the contrast of the images. The volcano and the civilization, the black and the white, mystery and romance. That is probably the reason for many Hollywood stars who visit the island every summer, like A. Jolie , B. Pitt, Rihanna and many more. So, have always a pen available for an autograph.
The main villages on the island are : Fira, Imerovigli, Oia, Mesaria, Monolithos and Vlichada. The capital of the island is Fira. You may find yourselves stunned by the way this village is built on the edge of the cliff. Looking down from the top, you feel like hanging from a white cloud of stone and lime, or if you’re more adventurous, like wanting to dive into the sea. You can wander on its small streets, between the traditional white houses and the small colorful gardens. You can find everything you like, mini markets, shops with traditional products, clothes shops, small happy bars and cafés, restaurants with wonderful view, swimming pools etc. Luxury and simplicity are combined ideally.
The next must-see place is Oia. It’s a small traditional village on the northern part of Santorini. There you can find two types of houses: a) those that are built inside the volcanic stones and used to be the houses of the ship – crews and b) the captain houses, that used to be the houses of the ship-owners. Oia is the heart of the romance, it’s the place of one of the most famous sunsets in the world. Many people, loving couples, romantic persons, go there to see the sun diving into the deep blue of the Aegean Sea, clapping after its last ray goes out. Kisses, hugs, warm glances and flashlights from the cameras are the activities of the moment, to highlight the end of a wonderful day and the beginning of a night full of love. Oia is the first village that has been stated as preservable not only because of the houses built inside the cliff, but also for its nobility and its unique beauty. From Oia you can go to the beach named “Ammoudi” , going down the 214 stairs.
Another place must-see is Akrotiri, which is located in the south of Santorini, 15km far from Fira. It’s a small village hidden and protected behind the venetian wall. Akrotiri is one of the most important archaeological sites of Greece. Its beauty isn’t from its prehistoric construction nor its picturesqueness. It is from its discovery under the solid lava. The whole village was covered by lava for thousands of years, until 1967 AD, when Spyros Marinatos, a greek archeologist, excavated the place and revealed this village. From Akrotiri you may follow a walking path to approach the “Red Beach”, some minutes far. It’s a unique scenery, with big red rocks and a red pebble beach. The beach is fully organized and a dive into its waters is something unforgettable.
Imerovigli is a village situated at a height of 300m. It is located between Fira and Oia. During your stay at the sung Imerovigli, you may leave yourselves loose to the white of the houses and the jingle of the bells from the small churches. Some say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But the view from Imerovigli is incomparable. The view of the sea and the nearby islands, the volcano, the point where the sky touches the sea are the images that fill your mind and your photo albums as well. Moreover, Imerovigli was an observation post during the Venetian domination.
The main attraction of the island is its reason of existence. The Volcano. Visiting the two smaller islands, “Palia Kameni” and “Nea Kameni” is an unforgettable experience. The big crater is in Nea Kameni and it’s called “Daphne”. Walking along the edge of the volcano, you’ll be amazed by the colourful rocks, the magma and the smell of sulfur that emerges from the ground. It’s a unique geological phenomenon. Take a cruise around Nea Kameni and you may discover warm springs and take a dive into the marvelous green waters.
Summarizing, after using the word “unique” so many times to describe its beauty, Santorini is a really special island, is a destination that everyone in this world should set. An island to fall in love, to be amazed and to come again and again.