Where to Go in Santorini
One of the most popular Greek islands, and one of the world’s top spots for honeymooners, Santorini may offer plenty when it comes to romance but just about everyone will find something to enjoy here. Wine enthusiasts can sip unique and tasty vino made from grapes grown in the volcanic soil, while outdoor adventurers will find plenty of trails to hike and a wide range of water sports to enjoy in the sea.
Sailing around the island’s shoreline is just one of the must-dos here, ideally capped off with a sunset, but you’ll also find a Pompeii-like ancient settlement that offers a glimpse of life nearly 3,700 years ago. Of course, it’s also famous for its whitewashed architecture and blue-domed churches, along with colorful beaches that include, black, white and even red sands.
If you’re limited on time, you’ll have to narrow down the options by choosing some of the best places to visit in Santorini, with these spots the top picks.
Located along the northwestern coast of the island, the village of Oia is what many people envision when picturing Santorini as it’s so often splashed across postcards, brochures and images of Greece online. This is where those whitewashed homes, sun-soaked verandas and blue-domed churches are scattered along the cliffs, looking as if they’ll spill into the Aegean.
The most famous and prettiest on the island, and perhaps the entire country, it’s a small, traditional village where a maze of narrow streets is lined with little shops, galleries, and tavernas. From here you’ll enjoy jaw-dropping sea, volcano and Thirassia Island views, but the view everyone comes for is of the legendary sunset, one of the most captivating on the planet.
Fira, also spelled Thera, is Santorini’s capital, and one of the most interesting places to visit on the island. It sits on the west coast along the caldera cliffs and offers views of the volcano from every vantage point along with mesmerizing sunsets. It’s home to fascinating museums with Thera Prehistoric Museum and Thera Archaeological Museum the two top institutions for history and archaeology buffs.
You’ll find many art galleries, the largest shopping center on the island, and the widest selection of dining and entertainment options. It has the liveliest nightlife too, with many cafes and bars right on the caldera, while clubs are nestled into the cobblestone streets that meander through town. It’s easy to reach by public transport, including taxis and buses, but once you’re here, the best way to explore it to the fullest is to walk.
Most visitors to Santorini skip the town of Akrotiri altogether, and only head to the famous ruins of the prehistoric settlement, but it’s enjoyable to wander offering a more authentic glimpse at life here. You’ll see an old fortress at the top that was destroyed during a 1956 earthquake. This was the original site of the village, and if you climb up you can enjoy a fantastic view of the caldera, miles and miles of grape views and most of the island.
Red Beach is also located here, one of the must-visits with its fiery hue creating a stunning contrast against the brilliant blue of the sea. Of course, the prehistoric settlement is something you won’t want to miss either, with the volcanic eruption that occurred nearly 3,700 years ago preserving much of it under ash similar to Pompeii. Homes, frescoes, a drainage system, and much more are all visible.
Pyrgos is a small, traditional village located in the center of the island near Fira. It’s one of the least touristy places on Santorini, incredibly atmospheric with lots of charm, giving it the feel of authentic Old-World Greece.
The cafes and restaurants serve fabulous fare at inexpensive prices and as you stroll the cobbled streets, you’re unlikely to run into tourist crowds. There are shops that are more for the locals who live here, rather than places specifically catering to visitors. Once you reach the top of the town, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the entire island as it sits at its highest point, overlooking it all. There’s also a fortress that was destroyed in an earthquake with ruins still visible.
Ammoudi is a stunning harbour and bay that sits just below Oia village, accessed by descending about 300 steps from Oia castle. The colorful port hosts a number of eateries specializing in fresh fish and seafood, enjoyed with a spectacular view that includes wooden boats bobbing up and down on the water.
A path runs along the water’s edge that can be followed by walking through the restaurants – as you turn back, you’ll enjoy one of the best views on the island. By continuing down the path, the views keep getting better and better. Watch for the small rocky island topped with a little white church – it’s a popular spot to swim out to.
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