- Country: Greece
- Regional unit: Thira
- Population: 18.800
The place -Santorini ...
Of all the Greek islands Santorini is one of the most famous. Amongst the top 5 must-visit destinations - and boy, are you in for a memorable treat! This place heals by its sheer wonder, making you feel energized and ready for all that life offers once you have stayed here.
Romantic beyond belief, some of the most special hotels and excellent restaurants, the island has fine wines and unique foods and the tastiest tomatos in the world! Most of all it has The View.
A volcano erupts and with much history through the ages until the grand result, a dream destination, is born. Santorini is thought to have begun to take its current crescent shape about 3600 years ago in unison with the approximate end of the Minoan period. The cause of this creation, a once in twenty thousand year mega volcanic eruption.
The southernmost island of the Cyclades, Santorini owes its fame and its form to a unique worldwide geological phenomenon. The sheer cliffs of the caldera, with the spectacular combination of colorful layers of lava, pumice and ash, rise up from the sea as a permanent testimony to the tremendous upheavals of its geological past. And the enchanting whitewashed villages, crowning these marvels of Nature, declare man’s presence in this awe-inspiring Nature through millennia, a presence known to go back well back to the Neolithic Age.
Santorini is a truly cosmopolitan tourist destination, catering to all tastes.
Santorini is not just the island of the sun, it is the island of the winds, too.
In the Aegean islands, the Cyclades, the summer sun goes together with the winds that blow gently in a thousand forms, their mythical names enchanting people, houses, ships …
In Greece everything is born by the winds; the winds carry dreams, the winds refresh, the winds create, the winds bear the future.
And here, in Santorini, all the winds of the Aegean have both a past and a future: from Prehistoric times, when a splendid civilization flourished on this isle of the sun and winds, till the glorious era of Byzantium, from the times of notorious pirates to the present day.
The winds of Santorini blow over the Aegean, telling the tale of the volcano, sweeping over the caldera, the Venetian castles, the snow-white houses, while whirling the windmills’ sails.
Santorini sitting in the romantic, dreamy Aegean sea, is 63 nautical miles almost due north of Crete, the largest and southernmost (except for tiny Gavdos) of the Greek islands.
The island's history ranges through being territory dominated by the Franks and then the Turks. The name Santorini was given to it by the Crusaders. It is also known as Thira (or Thera) and became part of Greece in 1830, after the 1821 fight for independence from Turkey.
Breath-taking, stunning, inspiring and spectacular, romantic and dazzling - about Santorini all are true. A natural choice for a wedding with a view, honeymoon, anniversary or to create a once (or twice!) in a lifetime memory. The island also offers a food fanatic, a gourmet or wine lover treats galore, with both distinguished food preparation and ingredients and some remarkable wines.
You must have "The View". And you will have to pay for the pleasure, Santorini is an expensive place for the same reasons Venice, Big Sur and Napa Valley are (must-visit unique destinations all). But the experience and reward, the joy and delight are worth the price.
When you stay you need to experience the view of the old volcano core, the azure blue sea, the cruise ships gliding into the arc of sea left between the caldera (the rim left after the ages where the villages are now) and the glimpse to your right or left of the encompassing eclipse of staunch rock which holds from its tip at the top, cascading incrementally towards the sea the small white forms that are the hotels, houses and shops sparkling in their white and pastel colours and accommodating world dreamers, romantics, honeymooners, all manner of world travellers. And perhaps very soon - you!
The villages perched at the top form the string of pearls of the caldera (the cliff edge having The View): Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia, with Fira being the "first" one you will come to if you arrive by boat at the port (Athinios).
There is nowhere else in the world to compare with the Santorini experience, certainly nowhere inhabited.
Be prepared for walking on sharpish volcanic-rock paved pathways and streets, to climb hundreds of steps during your stay. Most hotels can only be navigated by constant climbing up or down to your room or the pool etc - for fewer steps, choose one of our "just one step is all it took" hotels (Ellinon Thea, Aigialos, Andronis Suites, Art Maisons - see in Santorini hotels)
The cave homes - many of which now form the shell of luxury suites in many of the hotels in the villages of the caldera - were originally provided for the workers hired by captains of merchant ships (the wealthy men of the era), to farm and to act as their crew. Wine cellars were often created within the caves as the island, because of its low rainfall and unique volcanic soils, always produced exceptional wines.
Go down from Oia to Ammoudi port and eat at one of the three tavernas where, so close - at the edge of that magic sea - you can always choose from a selection of fresh fish. Also it is a good contrast for a while, to be sitting at sea level again after those views from above.
Take the cable car (or if you will a wobbling, jarring donkey ride) or walk down to the Old Fira Port - take a sea level view and imbibe.
Fira: The more cosmopolitan of the perched-upon-the-caldera villages. The View, shops, numerous restaurants and the facilities of the island's "capital" - the liveliest of the caldera villages. Can be rather flooded with visitors from cruise ships during the day.
Firostefani: Merges quietly as if an "introduction" to the busier hub of Fira. There are still shops and restaurants, but fewer and there are hardly any day-visitors crowding the rim. Has The View.
Imerovigli: A distinguished cousin, much quieter, with more housing and fewer hotels and shops. A suburb of the caldera if you like. But of course it offers The View.
Oia (or Ia): The smartest and neatest and arguably prettiest of the villages also famous as the pilgrimage goal for sunset watching - it offers a fair share of the most luxurious and original romantic hotels. Swish, smart and delicate, knowable in its more intimate scale. Shops are worthwhile as they actually offer original art, crafts and unique clothes and jewellery avoiding look-alike souvenirs. The View and the best sunsets!
Megalochori: Away from the caldera and a peaceful village with a few local restaurants and the handsome luxury Vedema Resort hotel. Good place to stay if you prefer a short trip to see The View but a quieter and more select, secluded atmosphere. It is a place often used as the base for a stay by well known individuals who would like a bit of privacy.
How to get there
Flights: by plane to Santorini Airport (JTR) - domestic airlines Aegean & Olympic operate daily flights from Athens airport. Also SkyExpress (note 12kilo/26lb weight limit), flies to/from Mykonos, Rhodes, Crete. Charter flights from many countries during the April to October period.
Helicopter: Landing areas exist at or close to some hotels. Operators will know where to land or obtain clearance.
By sea: to (Athinios port below Fira) from Athens' Piraeus port and neighbouring islands of Crete, Ios, Paros, Mykonos.
(See our detailed flight/ferries between Crete-Santorini information.)
Private Yacht to Athinios, Ammoudi or the old Fira port (below Fira village).
Where to stay
Imerovigli, Caipirinha Residence that simply has it all.
Oia (Ia) offers several - those we recommend and offer:
Pina Caldera Residence, clinging to the slope at the far western edge of Oia village.
In Fira luxury comes in the form (as everywhere along the caldera) of cliff-hanging pools with magnificent views at each hotel. For luxury Cosmopolitan Suites is small, central, personal and and a great pleasure.
For distinct traditional quality style and atmosphere Aigialos is most suited. For wonderful Santorini style and views a little lighter priced Porto Fira will do the trick.
For greater economy but with comfort, quality and enormous appeal Pantelia Suites.
In Firostefani to avoid steps, park nearby, enjoy quality suites and views, Ellinon Thea is just the ticket.
Quality comes in the form of Homeric Poems and luxury in the exceptionally special and memorable one-of-a-kind trophy it's Tsitouras Collection.
Belvedere Hotel offers delightful quality rooms and suites, pool and balconies with The View and medium prices.
It is La Maltese for its small quality club-like atmosphere, smaller personal size, quality and luxury.
Art Maisons, some of the most romantic and original suites, both in the centre caldera area and at the castle.
Andronis Luxury Suites - out of-this-world holistic, zen-influenced designs, luxury reelected in small number of guests and larger number of employees and relaxing, exuberant uniqueness.
Mystique is a beauty of quality and luxury from suites, to suites the size of a villa (with own pool), the style and quality of the place - exceptional. Holds its head high in our top 5 Santorini selection.
On the edge of Oia, just beyond the marble pedestrian street and a few minutes walk, all are also on the caldera with magnificent views, pools and stunning, gleaming Santorini style the luxury assortment of Kirini & Katikies.
Katikies has suites, and super-suites, special dining and wonderful pool. True Santorini Luxury.
Kirini is stunning in all its offerings, service, quality, views and dining. Luxury defined in Santorini.
What to see & do
At moments when you feel you can prise yourself away from The View, you can visit the archaeological sites at Akrotiri on the south west tip of the island (houses with frescoes), take a drive to the hilltop ancient fortress village of Pyrgos with its 40 churches and icons collection, visit the Boutari winery (tel. 22860-81011) near Megalochori (taste, buy or learn more about the wines), Hatzidakis winery near Pyrgos - call for appointment (tel. 22860-32552) one of the smallest but producing some of the finest wines. As you become familiar with Santorini you will discover many other wineries to visit.
Imerovigli is the next village after Fira & Firostefani on the famous Santorini caldera. The name of this village belongs to the days of the pirates : vigla (Latin = vigilare = To Guard or to Act as a Look Out, imera (Greek) = day. Imerovigli has been declared a Traditional Settlement, and special rules and regulations have been enforced regarding building development. Its position at the highest, most central part of the caldera gave it visual command of the whole area. It also derived importance from its proximity to Skaros Fortress. The Church of the Panagia Malteza has a marvellous carved wooden screen with icons depicting scenes from the Old Testament. There is a path from Imerovigli caldera walkway to Skaros Rock and the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti. It is only 20-30 minutes' walk from the crowds of Imerovigli, but feels a world away. The name, which means "covered by God", comes from a story about a huge rockfall which crashed down all around the chapel but left the building (and the faithful few within it) unharmed, as if protected by an invisible shield. You can walk back the same way, or (slightly tougher) go straight up from there to the ruined Venetian castle atop Skaros rock.
Imerovigli has views of the volcano, stunning sunsets and tranquility. There is a main square which leads up to the Caldera and the traditional hillside cave settlements. If you continue on the road to Oia, the lower plains of Imerovigli also have wonderful sunset east coast views. The largest part of Imerovigli was destroyed in the 1956 volcano eruption. Some of the population perished, while others moved away to the mainland.
A visit to Santorini opens doors to a rich bouquet of experiences, as the island reveals its amazing treasures and invites you to indulge into a true culinary and romantic paradise.
Explore it by rental car or with a private guide tour and visit the cosmopolitan towns of Santorini for culinary and shopping experiences or seek some more peaceful villages surrounded by vineyards to indulge your senses. Escape to the south part of the island and enjoy deep blue waters and beaches with red or black sand and amazing volcanic formations.
If you are passionate with trekking the paths Fira – Ia and Kamari – Perissa offer unique occasions for exercise and photo shooting.
We invite you to embark on a cruise on the Aegean Sea to witness the exceptional beauty of Santorini, hidden treasures, the magnificent Caldera and the brightest sunsets. Cruises (private or group) are also available to nearby islands (Ios, Mykonos,etc).
Or maybe you would like to wander through the winding cobbled street of Oia, with its photogenic chapels and sea-views. Oia is a traditional settlement and is also known as 'Apano Meria' or 'Anomeria' and the inhabitants are called 'Apanomerites'. The village is approximately 150 meters above sea level. Oia was severely damaged in the 1956 earthquake and much work has been involved to implement its restoration. The beauty of Oia is unsurpassed. In fact, it is almost impossible to describe in words. Small white houses tier the hillside, interspersed by splashes of rich okra, deep fuchsia, cobalt blue, oyster pink and earthy red. Smooth winding paths interconnect, interrupted now and then by a small church, and at every corner there is something new to discover. Oia is one of the most photographed places in Greece, if not the world. It has inspired artists, poets and every visitor who visits Santorini. Oia is best known for breathtaking sunsets; if truth be told, sunrise in Oia is also magical.
Visit the Maritime Museum in Oia In Oia, an 19th century mansion has been restored and converted into a museum that houses the Maritime History of Thira. Rare figureheads, Seamens' Chests, old maritime equipment, carrening drawings and patterns, models of old and new Thiran ships, acquarelles featuring old sailing vessels as well as rare photographs and a library, all register year by year the contribution of the Thirans to the glorious history of the Hellenic Navy. Oia reached the peak of prosperity in the late 19th & early 20th century. Its economic prosperity was based on its merchant fleet which plied trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially from Alexandria to Russia.
In Oia you will find the Traditional Weaving Mill too. Oia Santorini has always been revered for bringing the traditional Greek weaving mill into the 21st century. Having been home and representative to the weaving technique for 22 years, the past four years have also elicited support from the Communal Development Office of Oia. From rugs to patchwork, blankets, cushions and much more, women from Oia use traditional looms to keep alive their heritage.
Museum of Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Postbyzantine Musical Instruments, Oia Santorini Museum of Musical Instruments: The Museum of Ancient, Byzantine and post-Byzantine musical instruments is housed in the old Community building of Oia Santorini, a characteristic and central spot of the village. The museum, which contains the personal collection of Mr Halaris, a prominent musician, was recently inaugurated in October 2011 and is the result of dedicated research and the building up of each carefully sourced item over many years. This interesting collection includes musical instruments that date from 2,800 B.C. up to the early 20th century. It shows the effort of the Mr Halaris to preserve music as part of an ever-changing civilization. The reconstruction of some musical instruments was done with the contribution of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. The categorization of the exhibits was made according to their date and kind. A visit to the museum is possible upon request.
Hike along the caldera rim to Fira: 3-4 hours of non-stop drops to the sparkling, cliff-ringed sea.
Explore the Paths, Alleys, and Stairwells of Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli. This is similar to the hike from Fira to Oia but instead of staying on the foot path you need to descend, wander, and explore.
See the Museum of Prehistoric Thira located in Fira, this place is host to a mass collection of artifacts that were found in the ruins of Akrotiri. There are a ton of pots and pottery to see, but the highlight is the frescoes of the blue monkeys. Interestingly enough, there is no evidence of monkeys ever having lived on this island.
Walk down to its tiny, cliffside fishing port Amoudi - for a swim, meal or boat trip. Ammoudi is one of the best swimming spots on Santorini. Take the path that leads south from the restaurants in the port ... yes do it. Ammoudi port can be reached by car (you have to circle round the bottom road of Oia village), by walking down the 235 steps, or by catching a ride on the back of a mule. At the bottom is a small harbour with fishing boats, waterfront taverns and restaurants, and a path that leads you around the base of the mountain to an excellent diving area. It was from Ammoudi that they used to load ships with two centuries ago. Sea trading was a way of life. Theran pumice and wine were exported, while imports included porcelain, timber and silverware, fabrics, furniture, perfumes, food supplies and hardware
Perissa beach is the best swimming beach on Santorini and has the nicest sand. Good restaurants are spread along the beach front. Perissa is about a 30 minute drive from Fira and 45 minutes from Oia.
Go to Red Beach – This beautiful beach on Santorini Island has a red volcanic cliff worth visiting. There is also a black sand beach on the south eastern side of the island.
Take a boat across to the lava islands in the middle of the caldera, which are still smoking with sulphu. The island in the middle of caldera is Nea Kameni and where you’ll find the most active volcano on Santorini. The crater is 130 meters up and takes about 20 minutes to walk to. Sulfur vents are found along the way. The only way to get here is by doing a volcano boat tour or hiring a chartered boat.
The Caldera, seen from a boat is a source of wonderment a way to enjoy the changing shapes and colors of the marine landscape as you float on the water. A boat trip around the Caldera lake is a magnificent way to spend a superb morning or afternoon. The views from the sea are just breathtaking. Enjoy some hidden coves for a refreshing swim, or just enjoy the scenery and the magical feeling of this unusual place. Check out the picturesque little ports and the boat houses carved into the crater wall by the water, to get a feeling of the old days.
Visit the wonderfully preserved (pre-eruption) ruins of Minoan Akrotiri. See the village left behind after the devastating volcanic eruption that made the island uninhabitable. The site is very well done and I highly recommend getting a guide to show about the site and discuss the history of the island..
Go windsurfing or water-skiing at Perissa, or diving at Akrotiri.
Visit the Akrotiri Lighthouse – At the southern end of Santorini, close to Akrotiri, lies the lighthouse. It’s used by the Greek Navy, which means you’re not allowed to enter it, but it does make for a good photo opportunity. Go horse-riding along the black-sand beaches near Exo Gonia. This is a popular activity with couples and families. You can ride around the hills of the island or along the beaches. It makes for a good afternoon activity and if horses aren’t your thing, you can always ride a donkey.
Visit a Winery. Santorini has a lot of great wineries. The fertile land is perfect for growing grapes. There are winery tours through the island and they last about half a day. The climate and geological uniqueness of the island has contributed to the creation of a vineyard with specific characteristics. Asyrtico and Mavrotragano are two indigenous varieties, whose cultivation goes deep in time, can be found in abundance on this small Cycladic island.
Visit the Wine Museum, Vothonas. The Wine Museum is an extraordinary natural cave, 6 meters below ground and 300 meters long. It presents the history and life of wine from 1660 to 1970. The Wine Museum of Santorini along with Koutsogiannopoulos winery that produces Volcan Wines, and the vineyards are situated in the area of Vothonas, on the way to Kamari beach. A small family business, established in 1880 from brothers Gregory and Dimitris Koutsogiannopoulos, four generations later, George Koutsogiannopoulos is the new owner.
Visit Emporio village in the heart of the island of Santorini and very close to the beaches of Perivolos and Perissa. Take a stroll through the streets of the most well preserved Kasteli (Castle City) of Santorini, admire the tall steeples of churches and take unique photographs. It is also worth visiting the church of Panagia Mesiani, the second most important church of the island. It is dedicated to the Annunciation of Virgin Mary and has a lovely wooden temple (to visit the church please call 6977260048).
One landmark sitting between Firostefani and Imerovigli is the Agios Nikolaos monastery.
Take a trip to the volcano and Thirassia island, ride in the submarine around the bay or scuba-dive and see the base of Santorini and sea life - there are sunset tours and cruises aplenty.
Learn about the cooking ideas and techniques at Selene restaurant in Fira -they run day cooking classes (tel. 22860-22249).
Take a massage (at many hotels) in splendid surroundings that induce the best of rejuvenating results.
Take a trip to Perivolos, Kamari, Perissa or Monolithos beaches - black sand and many beachfront cafes and tavernas. It's not what you might have come to Santorini for, but perhaps a dip in the sea is just the thing one day. The closest beach will be the one below Oia on the way to Ammoudi on the sea, Kantharos beach with pebbles and a clear sea.
In the capital Fira - the folklore museum, the archaeological museum, museum of prehistoric Fira.
Visit the island of Thirassia (the one to the right and appearing behind the volcano from the caldera view) for a step back in time and less busy, less visited place and pace. There are tours which include a visit to the island with one to the volcano or just go down to Ammoudi port (below Oia) and take one of the small boats across.
The largest number of shops are in Fira. Numerous jewellery, leather shops alongside the usual tourist trinket offerings, but also the places where you can buy clothes, shoes, books - normal items as well!
For the most creative and imaginative items as a personal reward or a gift that means something, wander along the marble walkway of Oia where many local or at least unique and handmade things such as glassware, clothing, ornaments and original jewellery and unique items are displayed.
Wine from local wineries is another great shopping possibility along with locally made cosmetics and soaps.
A local shopping tip: If you are driving around the island, shoe shops and simple clothes shops are plentiful in the small town of Emporio (it is on the road to and back from Kamari and Perissa beach).
Where to swim
(source :Santorini-Island Guide)
Red Beach (Kokkini Paralia) : The Red beach is the definition of a volcano beach. Everything here is red. The imposing rocks as well as the alteration of sand and pebbles. It’s a rather busy beach, island’s visitors seem to prevail. The Red Beach has been officially judged unsuitable for visiting due to unpredictable landslides in the area. Those who visit it, do it under their own responsibility. Tip: You should be equipped with hats, suntan lotion and shoes for walking along the path. The temperature here seems to be twice as high as on the rest of the island. The two canteens at the parking are your last chance to find water and a snack. Combine your visit to the Red beach with a stop for lunch at the Cave of Nikolas. How to get there: You can park in the road right below the archaeological site Rahidi and take the boat for the Red Beach, that runs every half an hour. Otherwise, when reaching the archaeological site, turn on the right, park in front of the chapel of Agios Nikolaos and continue on foot. In case you choose to go by car, you should be aware that there is a distance of about 5-10min that is quite rough. You can also take the bus to the beach.
Monolithos If you have kids, Monolithos beach is your ideal destination. For teenagers or adults, there are beach volleyball, basketball courts and a soccer field, where at the neighboring beach you will find kite surf and water sports facilities. There is a lifeguard at the beach of Monolithos. You can visit the tavernas Skaramagas and Kapetan Loizos for fresh fish and local dishes. Scenery: Spaceous flat beach with dark-coloured fine-grained sand and shallow waters, quiet and very well organised. Beach chairs are not too close one with another, so there is enough room for walking inbetween. How to get there: By car or by bus, which runs frequently. It is located 9kms far from Fira.
Vlychada The volcano white rocks in Vlyhada remind us of a moon landscape. It is one of the most beautiful and best organised beaches in Santorini. Ideal for those who do not like the hubbub of crowded places and are interested in simply swimming and lying in the sun. No water sports available here. Tip: You should spend sometime at the beach bar Θeros, which is in perfect harmony with the scenery. Deckchairs on the beach, cocktails at the bar, relaxing music in an extraterrestrial scenery. Ideal to close your day and plunge into the sunset. How to get there: From Fira you take the road to Akrotiri. When you are there you will see a sign to Vlyhada. There are no buses running and this discourages big crowds of tourists and elderly people from coming to this beach.
Agios Georgios - Perivolos Amazing waters, cosmopolitan shops, the “elite” people of the island. Black sand and crystal clear waters; the ideal beach for safe diving and long sunbathing lying in comfortable deckchairs while listening to summer music. Mind the rocks because at some spots it is slippery! There is a lifeguard on the beach. Tip: The beach of Agios Georgios has been awarded with an EU Blue Flag. The place-to-be for the celebrities of the island is the famous Seaside by Notos at the very beginning of the beach, offering the best beach service. Visit also the renovated and always styslish beach bar- restaurant Fabrica for delicious tastes and cool cocktails. So Bar So Food is a very good beach bar, situated in a nice part of Perivolos beach. Comfortable deckchairs and delicious snack proposals make your stop here a complete, summer experience. At Wave Sports, you can seek for any kind of sea advenure. There is also beach volley fields. How to get there: From Fira take the road towards Emporio and continue towards Perivolos. Signs may be a bit confusing for they seem to appear the very last moment. There is also access by bus. Perissa The natural “extension” of Perivolos, awarded with the E.U. blue flag, stretching up to the imposing white rock at the end of the beach. Ideal for water sports. The more adventurous can dive from the rocks at the end of the beach (the area is called Kolada). Activities: Mediterranean Dive, Santorini Dive Center and Wave Sport Club offer you everything -from jet skis, canoes and bananas to wind surfing. There is also a Water Park. The charming chapel of Agia Irini (dating back to 16th century) is located near
Perissa. Additionaly, you can walk to the Ancient Thera. The boat to Kamari sets off also from this point. How to get there: It is less than 15kms far from Thera. Bus service is available throughout the day.
Kamari The heart of the touristic Santorini. A beach awarded with two E.U. blue flags, well-organised, with a lifeguard and plenty of room for lying free on the sand. In the northern part of the beach, the sea has slippery slabs. For the more adventurous and risky ones, the best place for diving is at Kamari towards the hill of Prophitis Ilias. But always with great caution! Tips: The best thing to do in Kamari is inquire at Ancient Thera Tours and follow an organised sightseeing tour to Ancient Thera. Also note that walking up the hill of Profitis Ilias for 20΄ and following the path, you will reach the chapel of Zoodohos Pigi, where there is a spring with running water. Here you are very close to the location of Ancient Thera. For Scuba Diving contact the Kamari Dive Center or Aegean Divers. Regarding food, for delicious traditional Santorinean recipes visit ‘Kyra Irini’s’ Taverna at the entrance of the village. Mrs Irini herself is waiting for you there to offer you her traditional dishes. Regarding food, for delicious traditional Santorinean recipes visit Irini’s Taverna at the entrance of the village. It is worth also visiting Elia and Vassilikos Restaurants, which offer top quality local food and Sabbia Nera for Italian flavors. How to get there: By car and bus. This is the most easily accessible beach of Santorini.
Exo Gialos The closest beach to Fira and the smallest beach with amenities on the island: black sand, quite deep waters, only a few beach chairs for couples and visitors seeking calmness and tranquility. At the Yalos restaurant you will find whatever you need from traditional dishes to local cocktails. Tip: Great parties with famous guest djs are organized throughout summer –the absolute place for having a blast at beach parties and enjoying the sunrise view at the seaside! How to get there: Follow the signs leading to the beach or if you are an athletic type try reaching the beach on foot as it is only 2km far from Fira.
Off Road Beaches
Endless indeed is the list of the beaches in Santorini which may not be organised but which offer abundantly their natural beauty, tranquillity, virginity and crystal clear sea waters. Get equipped with all the essentials (umbrellas, towels and mainly water) and let us go for a walk along the most beautiful ones. Katharos The closest beach to Oia. Park your car in the concrete road and walk down a steep dirt road. On your left you will see a high white cliff and on the beach many couples and small companies seeking for quiet and peace. The sea is not particularly deep with black pebbles and clear waters. As long as you are done with your swimming and sunbathing, walk up to the bar-restaurant
Katharos, to enjoy the sunset while having your coffee, drink or a light salad listening to reggae and lounge music.
Ammoudi – Agios Nikolaos Right below Oia lies the picturesque bay Ammoudi. You will have to walk down 235 steps from the Oia castle or approach it by car. In both cases, Ammoudi looks like a cinema setting, where you will find a number of tavernas carved in the rock. Follow the path continuing from Ammoudi, to the cliff with the chapel of Agios Nikolaos. The space for sunbathing may be limited but the feeling of swimming right at the foot of caldera is inconceivable!
White Beach (Aspri Paralia) Right next to the Red Beach, the White Beach is reachable only by boat from Akrotiri (5€) or swimming from the Red Beach. It will take you about 20΄ and you will definitely need flippers. You will find yourself swimming in the most crystal clear waters ever having in front of you the imposing white cliff. Caution: there is nothing to eat or drink here.
Limanakia/Pori About 10kms southeast of Fira lies the sandy beach Pori which belongs to Imerovigli. You can find it by following the lower road of Oia. The waters are crystal clear and quite shallow. Here you will find the cosy taverna of Captain Yannis serving fish and local dishes. Caution: there is no sign leading you to Pori.
Koloumbos Nudists’ favourite beach. Located only 4kms from Oia and reached exclusively by car or motorbike. There are no umbrellas here, but as the sun falls, a shade is formed from the rock standing behind. Swim on the right of Koloumbos to the Seal Cave. There lies the active underwater volcano of Koloumbos.
Mesa Pigadia/Kampia At the southern part of the road to Faros lies the beach of Mesa Pigadia, a small black-pebbled bay, and the Kampia beach with the white cliff and a diving board. Both of them are very calm with clear waters and have some beach chairs available (about 2€). In Mesa Pigadia there is the small homonymous taverna.
Exo Gialos Karteradou Next to Monolithos beach you will find the beach of Exo Gialos Karterados. It is a beautiful, quite beach with volcanic rocks and black sand.
Where to eat & drink
There are more restaurants to try than you could digest in a week on Santorini - here are a few to enjoy.
In Firostefani, "Vanilia" is excellent as a select small-menu eatery. It is on the front Caldera pathway near the church (around the corner from "Aktaion" restaurant). Excellent local wines. Tomato balls ("domatokeftedes"), grilled kalamarakia (kalamares) stuffed with crayfish and enjoy fresh fish from the day's catch - all perfect and requiring great discipline not to order "the same again". Good service. (tel. 22860-25631). Reservation advised.
Two steps from here is "Remvi" - with a more traditional menu and a set price for fish to make choosing easy. Rooftop outdoor dining affords a great view.
Next door is "Myli" (in an old windmill) - for a coffee or after dinner drink and wispy-light chocolate souffle.
At the church itself is "Aktaion" (tel. 22860-22336) an old tradition of Santorini as pictures inside show and the style of this small building reveal, a small menu but well prepared variations on tastier local dishes. Worthwhile.
Oia has more than a handful of exceptional restaurants, one of those with cliff-edge view is "Lotza" with clean good tastes and quality ingredients, fish, meat, poultry and vegetable dishes all pleasing and (for Santorini and Oia prices stand a better chance of fitting any budget). Good tagliatelli with shrimp, tasty garbanzo beans (chick peas), crisp fresh salads and friendly service.
"Terpsi en Oia" - on the main marble walkway, whether for a coffee with a view or to dine is recommended (tel. 22860-721919)
"1800" is also on the marble walkway in Oia and has a continuing flourish of delighted diners (tel. 22860-71800).
In Fira the treat that is well known, expensive and wedged into the base of buildings with some view, is "Selene". Original and very fine food (though some may wonder if portions are large enough - it is the tastes you are here for). A small menu of delights - worth splashing out (reservations recommended, tel. 22860- 22249).
In Fira the treat that is well known, expensive and wedged into the base of buildings with some view, is "Selene". Original and very fine food (though some may wonder if portions are large enough - it is the tastes you are here for). A small menu of delights - worth splashing out (reservations recommended, tel. 22860- 22249).
Also worth a visit if you can, is "Archipelagos" with a sizeable menu and continuing quality reputation, blended with unparalleled views (reservations recommended, tel. 22860-23673).
For a snack - though filling and could be a meal if you like - the back streets, by the centre and shops Poldo offers casual fast food style with delicious falafel stuffed with humus and vegetables, filling and delicious...if you run out of energy or hunger creeps up while shopping this is the place.
Away from the view (there is a view but across the flattening beach part of Santorini towards the Aegean sea) between Firostefani and Imerovigli is "Saltsa" restaurant - good and also worth a visit if you can survive a moment away from a caldera view! (tel. 22860-28018).
"Kastro Cafe" - back on the Caldera (near the cable car entrance) for coffee, salads - even a meal. Good and prices are not stratospheric, perfect view place.
Imerovigli there is a pleasant and simple restaurant, good food, on the pedestrian walkway frontage - simply called "Imerovigli Traditional Tavern". Crunchy crisp salads and standard Greek menu.
IN GENERAL: A tip or two. Do try the richly flavoured Santorini cherry tomatoes, the tastiest you can find (low water content boosts the flavour sky high!). White eggplant (aubergines), capers, fava, rabbit and local fresh goat cheese are amongst numerous local highlights that are distinctive in texture and taste because of the island's unique soil and climate combination - all add to its attractiveness for food fans.
Wines in Santorini are an oinologist's treat. Ask about wines when dining, for our favourites some fine deep red full bodied vintages. Notice also the unique circular swirl of vines in Santorini as you travel around the island - grown this way to survive the winds that sweep across the island at times.
Need to check Ferry or Flight tickets? A good place to do this is at Santo Volcano Travel on the wide pedestrian and car, brick paved street ( a little way back inland from the caldera) at Fira (tel. 22860-22127). They are main agents for Sea Jets and Hellenic Seaways and can provide all other tickets.
BOOK EARLY! Santorini fills up at the hotels which offer The View. It is best to book many months, and for small special hotels, even a year or so before your stay. There will always be "something" left, somewhere with a room but it is worth the planning to make your trip to a special place in the world, is special in every way.