LivingTravel14 best things to do in Santorini

14 best things to do in Santorini

If you’ve ever dreamed of the perfect Greek island vacation, you’ve probably already lost your heart to Santorini. Its gleaming white Cycladic houses and windmills line the nearly 1,000-foot multi-colored cliffs like the icing on a wedding cake. Rugged and romantic, it is a source of legend and a dazzlingly beautiful destination.

After having admired its beauty, favorite activities include sailing, seeing ancient sites, and relaxing to enjoy the beaches, Greek cuisine, and a world-class sunset.

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Caldera cruise

The island of Santorini stretches out like arms, its cliffs wrapped around a giant, almost circular bay. This is the caldera, the legacy of the historic volcano collapse that destroyed a large part of the island in about 1600 BC. C., 3600 years ago. It is called the Minoan eruption because the impact of it probably wiped out the Minoan civilization on Crete. And scientists believe it was the largest volcanic eruption of its kind in the last 10,000 years.

The best way to see the stunningly beautiful cliffs is from within this caldera, which has been flooded for thousands of years. There is nothing better than arriving by ferry to the ports, backed by the imposing walls of natural stone.

But don’t worry if you don’t have time for a seven to 12 hour ferry ride from Piraeus and have to fly from Athens to Thira (Santorini’s official Greek name). There are dozens of day and night cruises on the caldera that you can book from local tour companies on the island; better yet, book and pay even before you arrive.

Options range from short sightseeing cruises and trips to caldera islands to day cruises with buffet lunches and romantic sunset dinner cruises. Pricing will depend on whether you choose a power launch, sailboat, catamaran, or kayak cruise, but generally trips cost between $ 50 and $ 200. Check with Viator travel company to book and pay for your cruise before arriving. Santorini cruises have daily sunset cruises in their exact replica of a 19th century brig. And Sunset Oia offers day and sunset catamaran cruises.

Your hotel will probably also be able to recommend local cruise companies and captains. But if you plan to visit during the busy summer and early fall when Santorini is full of visitors, it is best to book your cruise before you arrive.

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Search for the lost city of Atlantis in Akrotiri

No one can really prove that the civilization that existed in Thira (ancient Santorini), contemporary with the Minoans in Crete, was the lost city of Atlantis. For one thing, none of the Greek writers wrote about Atlantis except Plato, and his writings suggest a date for its destruction of 9,000 years ago, some 6,000 years before the giant eruption that swept over half the island.

In 1967, archaeologists began excavating a site on the southwestern tip of the island. Now considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Aegean, the 50-acre site has evidence of occupation by a sophisticated civilization between 4,000 BC (Late Neolithic) and 3,000 BC (Early Bronze Age). The city had large multi-story houses, paved streets, water supplies and sewage systems, and, within the houses, evidence of trade with Minoan Crete, mainland Greece, Syria, and Egypt.

You can visit the site and imagine what life must have been like before earthquakes made the people of Akrotiri flee and a volcanic explosion buried their city. It is covert and open to the public between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day during the summer and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday during the winter. The standard ticket is € 12. The days open and the dates of the summer and winter seasons vary from year to year, so check their website.

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Swim in a rainbow of beaches

Santorini’s beaches line its eastern and southern shores. Most have dramatic black volcanic sand, but some, like Kokkini Ammos Cove near the excavations at Akrotiri, also have bright scarlet sands. Kokkini Ammos, usually called Red Beach, for obvious reasons, is narrow and very crowded, but it gets into the water, off the beach, and there are hot springs.

Perivolos, a long, wide black-sand beach, has bars, music, and a young crowd, while Perissa and Exo Gialos, with similar black-sand beaches, are much quieter. Consider wearing bathing shoes at Perissa; It has a slippery reef to cross before reaching good swimming waters.

Visitors who like well-groomed, well-swept beaches with umbrellas, loungers, bars, changing rooms, and restrooms should head to Kamari. And out of sheer strangeness, the wind-shaped tuff formations on Vlychada Beach are a must-see.

Do you fancy the idea of swimming in volcanic waters? Take a boat trip from Oia or Fira to one of the two volcanic islands to taste the hot springs. Agios Nikolaos, an inlet in Nea Kameni (Greek for “new hot island”) has hot, yellow, sulphurous waters that are supposed to be good for your health. Palea Kameni (“old hot island”) has a hot spring that turns the water from turquoise blue to deep red.

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See the crater of an active volcano

Volcanic activity in and around Santorini is not a thing of the ancient past. The island is a dormant volcano, but still active. Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, the two islands in the Caldera, are actually lava flows from occasional eruptions. In the last 2,000 years, it has exploded at least nine times, three times in the 20th century alone. The last major eruption, at Nea Kameni, occurred in 1950.

Tour boats regularly visit the uninhabited Nea Kameni from the old port of Fira. Visitors on these day trips hike inland and uphill for about 20 to 30 minutes, through a desolate landscape dotted with strange formations. The path to the top takes you through the entire crater. It smokes and smells like sulfur. And, in case you doubt it’s still an active landscape, most guides dig a shallow hole so you can feel the island’s heat. Tours to the volcanic island last approximately two hours.

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Visit the oldest wineries in the world

The Greeks brought wine to the rest of the Mediterranean, and Santorini can boast some of the oldest, if not the oldest, vineyards in the world. Archaeologists have found evidence that winemaking dates back at least 3,700 years. After the massive volcanic eruption of 1613 BC. C., the Phoenicians colonized the island and brought their own plants. Only the woody grape vines survived the arid soil and harsh conditions.

Today, one of its vineyards, planted in 1200 BC. C., still produces grapes for wine and has been in continuous cultivation for 3,200 years. Most vineyards still prune their vines close to the ground, using an ancient method unique to the island. The vines are woven into baskets with the fruit protected from the wind and the sand inside them.

Today, there are 10 wineries that you can visit, as well as a wine museum and a wine cooperative where you can taste a variety of local wines. The most unusual wineries to visit include:

  • Art Space is an art gallery and museum within the pumice caves of an old winery. The owner has created a small winery in one of the original underground caves, where traditional dry white wines and vinsanto , the local sweet dessert wine, are made.
  • The Boutari winery near the traditional village of Megalochori is interesting. This was the first Santorini winery to open its doors to the public. Its west-facing location means you can enjoy a wine tasting while watching Santorini’s famous sunset.
  • Gaia Wines is located on the beach between Kamari Beach and Monolithos, a family beach.

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Taste the taste of Santorini

Like most Greek islands, Santorini has several local specialties that are worth trying when you visit.

Capers are gathered wild from the steep walls of the Caldera and the stone walls between vineyards. Before being pickled in brine, like most capers, they are dried in the sun to a pale blonde color. These sun-dried and rehydrated capers, along with the sun-dried tomatoes, give the typical Greek salad a unique Santorini touch. They also appear in most soups, stews and sauces on the island.

Fava is another specialty of the island. The island-grown yellow dried peas are pureed to resemble soft hummus, then served as a dip with lemon juice, olive oil, and minced onion.

Tomatokefirán , or ntomatokefthedes , as they are sometimes written, are the “meatballs” of the poor man on the island. Meaty, thick-skinned tomatoes are grated or finely chopped, mixed with herbs, spices, and flour, rolled into small balls, and deep-fried.

Vinsanto is a very sweet dessert wine made from dried raisins on the vine.

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Marvel at the Sunset

In Fira, people gather on the short promenade along the cliffs near the Cathedral at sunset. You may need a reservation, but it’s a pleasure to relax with a drink or bite in one of the many bars and restaurants that cling to the cliffs.

It can be crowded, but the town at the northern end of Santorini’s crescent is Oia, which is the best place to watch the sunset on the island.

Sunset lovers should walk to the lighthouse on the southwestern tip of the island of Santorini at sunset.

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Browse the art galleries

The Mnemossyne gallery in Oia is a visitor favorite. It is located in a beautiful cave house just a few steps before the Castle and the well-known sunset spot. There are art photography of local landscapes, handmade jewelry, sculpture and ceramics, all by excellent artists.

Art of the Loom Gallery in Caldera is another favorite. The Cycladic-style building that houses the gallery was built in 1866 and was originally used as a cellar. serving the needs of the local society for wine production. You’ll find works by many well-known Greek artists, including oil paintings, jewelry, ceramics, and fine art glass from the gallery’s co-owner. They have galleries in three picturesque locations.

In Kamari, visit the Eduart Gjopalaj Workshop on the coastal boulevard and in the town of Fira next to the Catholic church. The artist is known for his wood carving and sculpture. He also makes glass art. Visitors will enjoy interacting with the artist and learning about his self-taught craft.

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Walk along the edge of the caldera

The hiking route from Fira to Oia will take you along the edge of the caldera, where you will marvel at the breathtaking views. You can hike either way, but this way is reportedly less steep. It is a 12 kilometer hike one way (take the bus back) that lasts approximately 2.5 hours. Hikers or day boots are recommended for the steeper parts of the trail. The views of the volcanic landscape are impressive. You can do it on your own, but there are tours that take this route.

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Buy the villages

Buying folk art and souvenirs is a big part of exploring Santorini’s villages. Oia is a place where you will find some high-end shops for jewelry and resort casual fashion at high prices. There are also some tempting ceramics and artwork.

Fira is where locals shop for themselves and the prices are reasonable. You will also find boutiques and souvenir shops selling souvenirs, natural sponges and handicrafts in the narrow and intriguing streets of the north of the city.

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Sailing at sunset

Take a sunset catamaran cruise with Spiridakos Sailing Cruises. Departures can be private or semi-private. Enjoy the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea at sunset while the crew on board serves you. A five-hour sunset cruise sails from the southern port of Vlychada. Pickup from your hotel is available; Reservations are required.

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Go fishing

Fish with fishermen in Santorini’s volcanic caldera and around the islands. Instruction, licenses, rods and reels, and bait are provided for the day.

Keep your catch and time permitting, they’ll even cook it onboard for you. If the boat is due to return to port, you can take the fish to a local tavern/restaurant by the port and they will cook your fish for you at a reasonable cost.

You can even visit the hot springs and go snorkeling while motoring around the area. Snacks and beverages are available and there is a restroom onboard.

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Ride a Donkey Up the Steep Streets

The traditional donkey ride on Santorini is something that has been done for 100 years. Ride a donkey or mule from the port at Fira, the Santorini Donkey Terminal, Ammoudi Oia. You can also take a donkey ride on the Fira to Oia hiking route.

Ride for as little as 20 euros one-way from the port.

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Take a Boat to Thirassia Island

Thirassia is on the western side of the caldera and before the volcanic eruption it was actually connected to Santorini. It is a small town with some good cafes and taverns. Boats leave several times a day from Ammoudi and Old Fira port and run until 5pm. The cost is only one euro each way.

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