She was beauty and seduction intertwined. A gale of delight from the divine. That’s how I felt about this beautiful little Greek island of Santorini. It’s implausible, to not be smitten, by its mystical charm, and fantasize about every moment spent here, even long after, you are gone. This most sought-after destination of the Instagram generation is definitely worth all the hype. You must visit it sooner, so that you catch a glimpse of the virgin and the only volcanic island in the world, with its crater still-in the sea. Though promoted heavily, it’s still not quite eyed by the swarming tourist community as-yet, and you may find some parts of the island completely to yourself.
Santorini also voted as one of the world’s most beautiful islands by 2015, Traveler’s Choice Awards, is an island forming the southernmost member of the – Cyclades group of islands – consisting of 220 islands, in the Aegean sea. It comprises its own group of islands – Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea, and Nea Kaméni. This island now is nothing but just a geological caldera – a volcanic feature formed by the collapse of a volcano into itself, making it a large, special form of volcanic crater. It still continues to be an active volcano. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km, is surrounded by 980 ft. high steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea.
How to get there…
Santorini can be reached from most international airports via Athens with Aegean Airways and Ryan Air. The flying time from Athens to Santorini is 30-40 minutes.
By ferry boat
Another way to reach the island is by a daily ferryboat service from the port of Piraeus and almost all the Cycladic islands during summer. The boat trip takes approximately 5 – 9 hours depending on the ferry and the ports.
Daily high-speed boats are also available only during the summer period leaving from the port of Piraeus (the trip lasts about 4 – 5 hours) and from numerous other Cycladic islands and Crete.
Move around on the island with ease
Bus services depart from Fira to most parts of the island and the connectivity is great too.
Have a memorable stay
Besides the style and character of the authentic Cycladic architecture – a harmonious mix of white cubic houses, cobblestone streets, pristine windmills, and ubiquitous blue domed churches, bestowed with some breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, most of the accommodations on Santorini are very well equipped with modern amenities.
However, Fira is the island’s largest town and one of the most picturesque spots in all of Greece and naturally makes it the best choice to stay at. It’s perched on the caldera cliff and has marvellous views of the volcano. Fira has the most restaurants, shops, and hotels and is the centre of Santorini’s nightlife.
Treat your taste buds with the local food
Santorini, though small in size, is considered to be a gastronomic destination with some of the finest restaurants, wineries, and restaurants throughout the country. The most characteristic products of Santorini are – The Santorini Cherry Tomato (Tomataki), Fava Santorini (Yellow Split Peas), Capers, Katsouni, Watermelon, and Courgette.
Santorini houses a few incredible museums and churches, which transport you to the prehistoric times. They have an enormous collection to their credit – Artifacts, wall paintings, wooden sculptures, metal artworks, embroideries, dresses, photographs, processed of tomato cultivation and production, maritime historical objects of ship owners, workshops of the carpenter, blacksmiths, barrel makers and shoemakers, history of wine,
The Cathedrals and the Monasteries
Experience the holiness of these religious shrines by certainly visiting one. Santorini has about 450 churches. The ecclesiastical architecture of these structures is notable for its elegance and pliability. Both features stem from the free creative imagination of the local folk craftsmen. Most of these churches were rebuilt after the earthquake of 1956. Some of these Byzantine churches and monasteries do house, wooden templons, old books, and important manuscripts.
The Volcanic Beaches
Venture into Santorini’s seaside treasures and enjoy deep blue waters and beaches with white, red or black sand or volcanic pebbles, spectacular rock formations, and impressive lunar landscapes. You are bound to find each of these beaches befitting into a purpose of partying, relaxing with family and friends, romantic getaway, nudism, treating your eyes with unique geological formations or water sports – Swimming and Snorkeling.
There are more than 15 villages at Santorini, which have distinctive features and have a lot to offer you – Gorgeous sunsets, magnificent view of the volcano, the sparkling Aegean Sea, the wild beauty of Caldera.
Oia is the most famous of all the villages of Santorini. It is known throughout the world for its quiet life and fantastic sunset and is certainly the most beautiful and picturesque village of Santorini. This is a traditional village with charming houses in narrow streets, blue domed churches, and sun-bathed verandas. Its streets have plenty of tourist shops, taverns, cafes, and other shops.
The Street Shops
Take a leisure walk through the streets of Fira and Oia where you will find designer jewelry, international fashion accessories, cosmetics, souvenirs, and artworks.
The Volcano Festival
It’s a yearly tradition when Santorini island remembers the eruptions that contributed to what it is today. The “Ifestia Festival” (or “Volcanoes Festival”) is held in September, with cultural events and concerts leading up to the main event of the festival. This is almost a real representation of the actual volcano reflected through the use of fireworks. The boats come from different parts of the island and meet, in order to rescue the people. A panorama of colours, light, and sounds provides a spectacle that you definitely should not miss out on.
The Wine Trail
The Santorini wine reflects the pure character of the variety, the microclimate, and the volcanic soil. High acidity, intense minerality, and citrus flavors upfront are the key elements creating the complex character of the local grapes, highlighting the Santorinian earth in perfect harmony. The main local grape varieties produce high-quality wines that fully express Santorini’s unique ecosystem. There are 12 wineries operating on the island now. You can take a private tour if you plan and contact the locals in advance. You can also choose between several semi-private tours to fulfil your wine-lust.
The Fishing Tours
Fishing tourism is a part of an experiential tourism and gives the opportunity to participate in various activities and traditional occupations of the locals. Enjoy the majestic view of the Aegean Sea, while relaxing on the boat, fishing like a local. The fishing tours are just a few on the island. As the island gets busier, the availability is far limited, so its best, if you book in advance. Even if you don’t enjoy fishing, but want to accompany your friends, you have a lot on board for yourself too – sunbathe, savour mouth-watering delicacies, swim, snorkel, enjoy splendid volcanic views and the wonderful sunsets. The tours happen at both morning and sunset hours.
The Hiking and Trekking Trails
You can choose from a host of walking, trekking programs and volcanic trekking tours depending upon your appetite and choice of a traditional path or a challenging one. All the trails are quite incredible giving you the most authentic Aegean experience. From cliff top walking, to passing through few remarkable historic monuments, enjoying the views of the famous Skaros rock, dry stonewalls, view of the volcano and hot springs. Few of the trails would need you to sail to the starting point by a boat or a ferry. Enjoy the natural splendour of the island in the most astonishing way by hiking and trekking. It’s most recommended.
Whether you stay for just a few days or for longer than a week, Santorini’s mystical beauty will leave you longing for more. And you would find yourself planning a trip back soon. It surely does cast a magical spell on you.
All words and photos by our guest blogger Tanu from www.footinstincts.com.
One of the world’s most beautiful places, Santorini is an increasingly popular travel destination. Our guest blogger Tanu from fell for its captivating charms...