According to Wholevehicles, Santorini is a picturesque archipelago in the Aegean Sea, a ring of 5 islands: Thirasia, Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, Aspronisi and, in fact, Santorini, or, as it is also called, Thira. Officially, the islands are part of the Greek Cyclades, but this is a slightly different Greece: sleek, fabulously beautiful, aristocratic, although at the same time cozy at home. Everything here is in superlatives: the scenery is amazing, the architecture is incredible, the service is impeccable.
Santorini is more than 3500 years old, and the traces of ancient civilizations now and then remind of the rich past of the archipelago. But here, the last thing you want to think about is time: rest surrounded by volcanic landscapes, amazingly blue sea, well-groomed beaches with multi-colored sand and postcard houses with snow-white facades is truly serene. People come here to admire the sunsets, enjoy the moment, restore the inner harmony lost in the eternal rush and bustle. And it is unlikely that anyone will dispute the guesses of scientists: perhaps it was Santorini that was once part of the lost Atlantis.
The main resorts of Santorini
Santorini has several popular resorts, each of which is charming in its own way. The capital of the archipelago is the town of Fira, located on the slope of a sheer cliff at an altitude of about 260 m above sea level. Two dazzling colors reign here: rich blue – the shade of the sea and sky, combined with boiled white, in which the facades of neat, chaotically scattered Cycladic houses are painted.
It is best to start your acquaintance with Fira in the busy port, from where you can climb the 800-step staircase, funicular or riding a donkey to the town itself.
The main sights of the capital are the Museum of Prehistoric Times with a unique collection of archaeological finds, the Ethnographic Museum and the Church of Ayiu Mina – the hallmark of the island.
Another cozy resort of Santorini is Imerovigli with a permanent population of 470 people. It is not surprising that fans of a calm, secluded vacation most often stop here. There are many churches in the typical Greek style in the village, and the ruins of the ancient Venetian castle of Skaros, destroyed by an earthquake, are also noteworthy.
Oia in the north of the island is the most romantic resort in the archipelago. Car traffic is prohibited here, and therefore nothing will disturb the ears of tourists yearning for peace and quiet. Both nature took care of them here (from the west there are magnificent views of the Ammoudi Bay, from the east – to the Gulf of Armeni), and the locals who built many small family hotels and charming houses for the newlyweds. Days can be spent on the beach (walking to the sea and back along 200 steps is an excellent cardio load), and evenings can be spent in numerous cafes.
People come to Oia to admire the most beautiful sunsets, each of which turns into an unforgettable natural show.
Popularity among tourists is also gaining Kamari – an ideal place for a beach holiday. There are all opportunities for a comfortable pastime, while housing and food prices are noticeably lower than in Fira. The coast of Kamari is sandy and pebbly, with smooth black volcanic sand. Idle holidays by the sea can be combined with all kinds of activities (from water skiing to diving) and sightseeing walks, the main of which is the monastery of Panagia Mirtidiotissa.
Santorini hotels, regardless of the level of “stardom”, offer guests a decent level of service: the locals are trying to provide guests with maximum comfort. From the windows of many hotels offer amazing views of the sea and mountains. In Oia and other small towns, cozy single-family hotels and special houses for newlyweds are built, setting in a romantic mood. Accommodation prices in Fira are slightly higher than in other resorts, but in general, the price level is consistent with the quality of service.
The cost of rooms in three-star hotels – from 55 EUR per night. More comfortable 4 * hotels offer accommodation from 65 EUR per day. Five-star hotels with a limited number of rooms and impeccable service – from 150 EUR per day. For the most demanding travelers – luxurious private villas for 200 EUR per day.
Island holidays always have a touch of romanticism, and what is romance without legends? So, the legend says that Santorini is a part of the mainland Atlantis that has gone under water in ancient times. Perhaps historians and archaeologists are puzzling over how true this legend is, especially since in 1967, during excavations near the village of Akrotiri, not just ancient – and precious in their antiquity – shards were found, but the ruins of an entire city of the Minoan civilization: under the ashes of the volcano, dozens of houses have been preserved almost intact. It is in Akrotiri that you can visit the archaeological reserve and discover a new, or vice versa, ancient world with its way of life, architecture and other features. You can add impressions from visiting the reserve in the Archaeological Museum of the city of Fira.
Communication and Wi-Fi
The quality of mobile communication in Santorini is excellent. The most popular mobile operators are Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind. You can connect (only with a passport) at the offices of telephone companies, post offices and some stores.
If you try, you can find payphones in Santorini. The cards are sold in all supermarkets, detailed operating instructions are on the back. Free Internet is available in many hotels, some cafes and restaurants in major resorts also provide access to the network.
Thanks to the volcanic past of Santorini and the rich mineralization of the local soils, the sand on the coast has acquired a whole range of shades: from soft milky to pink, red and even black. The best beaches are in Kamari and Perissa Beach. The coast of the first is a mixture of small dark pebbles and black volcanic sand. The beach in Kamari is equipped with everything you need: from toilets to changing cabins. For children, a separate area with attractions and animators is open. The Blue Flag testifies to the cleanliness and safety of the coastline. A wide pedestrian zone stretches along the entire beach with shops, cafes and bars where you can hide from the scorching sun.
The beaches of Perissa are not so crowded, the 8-kilometer coastline is reliably protected from the wind by high cliffs. The water here is very clean, but the bottom is rocky, so you should enter the sea carefully. For vacationers, there are all kinds of attractions, beach equipment rentals, cafes and restaurants.
For families with children, the Monolithos beach with fine soft sand and a smooth, gentle entrance to the sea is suitable. A playground is equipped here, several cafes are open.
On the beach “Monolithos” there are strong winds that raise clouds of sand. Rest here comfortably only in calm.
10 km from Fira, in a bay near Cape Colombo, the beach of the same name is hidden: a strip of dark gray sand, smoothly turning into a cliff. Of the amenities, there are only sunbeds and umbrellas, but the sea is clean and there are few people: an excellent option for connoisseurs of solitude. The complete opposite is southeastern Perivolos, ideal for youth recreation. There are not only equipped beaches, but also many nightclubs, trendy bars and restaurants, where life is in full swing around the clock.
Fans of the exotic should go to the coast in the vicinity of Akrotiri. The landscapes here are literally alien: the emerald sea washes black sand, surrounded by sheer red cliffs. Nearby there is also the “White Beach” with a coating of light pumice stones; You can get here only by boat or boat. The infrastructure of the “Red Beach” is well developed, on the “White” – only a tent with groceries and a sun lounger rental.
Diving in Santorini
Diving is one of the most popular activities on the beaches of Santorini. No wonder: the waters of the Aegean Sea are clean and transparent, and watching the beauties of the underwater world and the life of its inhabitants is a real pleasure. Diving centers are open at many resorts, including Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari. Unforgettable impressions will be given by diving off other islands of the archipelago: at Cape Tripiti on Thirasia, in the area of the shipwreck near Palea Kameni. The caves of Mesa Pigadia and the grottoes at the Rock of the Indian hide many mysteries. For wall diving, the coast of Armenia near Oia is suitable, for observing the spectacular overflows of multi-colored sand – “Red Beach” in the vicinity of Akrotiri.
Diving centers in Santorini offer all kinds of training programs for clients with different levels of experience, as well as rental of professional equipment and transfers to dive points on speed boats.
Shopping in Santorini is a very pleasant experience. Resort towns are full of small shops with traditional souvenirs, clothes, shoes and accessories. We recommend paying attention to leather products: bags, belts, wallets and gloves are of decent quality and quite affordable price. A separate story is jewelry. In Fira, Oia and other cities, there are many expensive salons and democratic shops offering rings, earrings, necklaces and handmade bracelets made of gold and precious stones in abundance. Great gift ideas are ceramics in the traditional Greek style, textiles with national ornaments, and handicrafts made from volcanic lava or olive wood.
But the best souvenir from Santorini is a bottle or two of wine with a unique taste. Local grape varieties are cultivated on volcanic soil, so the drink is characterized by high acidity and mineralization. In addition, you can buy Greek delicacies: goat cheese “chloro”, shelled peas “fava” or wild capers.
The most famous of Santorini’s wines is the sweet “Vinsanto” made from dried grapes.
There are colorful markets in every village, not to mention famous resorts. Special mention deserves “Jimmy” in Imerovigli: in addition to the standard set of goods, they sell local wine for bottling. Most of the large shops and shopping centers are concentrated in Fira. The most popular are Hondos Center, Drakkar, Ammos, Milo. The best shopping mall in Oia is Kalderimi with famous luxury and budget brands.
Cuisine and restaurants of Santorini
Santorini knows how to serve delicious food: there are fashionable restaurants with seafood delicacies, typical Greek taverns, cozy cafes, and fast food eateries with local flavor. Many establishments are famous not only for their menu and interiors, but also for their amazing views of the Aegean Sea and the caldera. The best restaurants with authentic cuisine are not open in large resorts, but in small villages like Imerovigli.
Almost every cafe and restaurant offers guests several varieties of delicious local wine. The most popular is the thick and velvety Vinsanto with aromas of citrus, figs and coffee, the light dry Asyrtiko and the fortified Nihteri are also good.
The main ingredients of traditional dishes are products of local agriculture. Thanks to volcanic soils, sea breeze and constant sun, they have an extraordinary taste. One of the best treats in Santorini is white eggplant grilled over charcoal and generously sprinkled with grated cheese. It is also worth trying shelled peas “fava”, vegetable stew “sfungato” and stewed cutlets from sweet and spicy cherry tomatoes “domatokeftedes”. The best meat dishes are beef “stifado”, dried ham “apoksti”, homemade sausages and wild rabbit with egg sauce. An interesting fish dish is “brandade” borrowed from Spanish chefs. For dessert, you can taste the original tomato jam and delicate biscuits with melitinha cottage cheese.