Every year in March – April the Greek island of Santorini, part of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, revives to pass through its lively summer season till late October. Then again falls asleep until the next springtime This is how life goes on this spectacular place, rated in most charts as the top visited Greek island.
One of the strongest volcano eruptions in the human history formed the today layout of Santorini, its steep cliffs above the sea waters around the Caldera (i.e. the crater).
And here are some travel ideas about your time in Santorini:
1. Explore Fira – the main city on the island. It’s better to stay there, but in case you have already booked a hotel somewhere else, you should ensure enough time to spend in its picturesque streets, unique souvenir shops and lively taverns.You should not miss to enjoy the caldera view from the many panoramic cafés and bars.The orthodox Cathedral in the beginning of the city center is the biggest church on the island, and if you have just arrived in Fira, you will see its white cupolas long before you get there, while climbing the steep paved street to the center. Next to the Cathedral starts a labyrinth of exciting cobblestone streets, which at some places are so narrow, that two cannot walk together. Top class jewellery, hand-made souvenirs of stained glass, ceramics, and more will tempt you to go into the tiny but trim shops and enjoy the really unique articles. In Santorini as a difference from many other places, you can find various things to take home, as many local artists and jewelers are producing their own wares in their particular style.
2. Visit Oia – the northernmost village in Santorini, well known for its sunset views besides the charming Cycladic architecture, churches and windmills. Oia sunset is a popular scene of weddings for many couples from all over the world. Crowds of tourists gather together around sunset time each day, occupying with their cameras all possible places and corners towards the sea and the sun, waiting for the setting. At that time all cafés and restaurants with panoramic position are full, so you’d better book your seats in advance. The spectacular views are guaranteed!
3. Discover Pyrgos – one of the most authentic Cycladic villages on Santorini, a former administrative center of the island. Climb the narrow streets, see the Venetian castle, take a look from the top of the hill and capture the stunning views from there. Pyrgos is a fairy-tale in white and blue that you should not miss to visit!
4. Take a walk in Megalochori – a traditional village, dated back to 17th century, well known for its vineyards and the famous Vinsanto wine. Don’t miss the Megalochori bell towers and the central square.
5. Go to Mesa Gonia or the ghost’ village – a small village in the central part of Santorini, destroyed in 1956 by a strong earthquake, for which has been abandoned by the natives. The 11th century Byzanthine church of Panagia Episcopi is perhaps the most visited attraction there.
6. Take a boat trip. The most popular itinerary is that visiting the Caldera, hot springs and Thirassia island . You will have the chance to see an active volcano on the lava island of Nea Kameni. Also it is a good idea to watch the Oia sunset from a boat, unless if you prefer jostling in the crowds when going there on foot. Then you should select another boat itinerary, including the sunset in Oia. All boat trips start from the Athinios port in Fira.
7. Visit the Prophet Elias monastery – built in the beginning of 18th century on the highest peak of Santorini, next to Pyrgos. The monastery owns a rare collection of ancient manuscripts, Byzantine icons and other ecclesiastic relics.
8. Try Santorini beaches –because of the island volcanic origin, the sand is black or red-colored. The most famous beaches are the Red beach (12 km south-west of Fira), Kamari (10 km south-east of Fira, close to the airport), Perissa ( 10 km south-east of Fira), Perivolos (13 km south of Fira), Agios Georgios (12 km south-east of Fira),Vourvoulos (4 km north-east of Fira), Cape Columbo (12 km north-east of Fira), Monolithos (7 km east of Fira), Vlychada (12 km south of Fira), the White beach (13 km south-west of Fira).
9. See the excavations in the ancient city of Akrotiri in the southern part of the island. This is the most important archeological site in Santorini. The city is associated with the Minoan civilization, destroyed by the volcano, but well preserved the same way as the ancient Pompei in Italy.
10.Don’t forget to enjoy the superb seafood dishes in the countless lovely taverns in Santorini. You should not miss to try also the traditional cuisine and find out what fava is as well as to taste the local cherry tomatoes, capers and eggplants, grown under the sunlight of the Aegean Sea.
How can you get there?
All cruise lines anchor at Santorini bay, and the island is conveniently linked with the mainland via ferries, hydrofoils, and charter flights. This ensures the huge number of visitors on that small piece of land. Those arrived by cruise ships can take the cable car from the port to climb to Fira on top of the cliffs. If you travel on your own, just check the timetables of the ferries to select your most convenient travel dates and departure ports and book in advance. Have in mind the hydrofoils will save you time, but will be much more expensive compared to the conventional boats. You can reach Santorini by a yacht too, and this could be the best approach for experiencing the Cycladic islands, provided you manage to rent it at a reasonable price…
No matter how you will get there, travelling to Santorini will give you a touch to the magnetic Aegean Sea, the Cyclades and its picturesque architecture and atmosphere. Do not hesitate, go and discover them!
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