Take a trip to Santorini to find a quintessentially Greek island that is home to a beautiful collection of villages perched on the southern end of the Cyclades islands. On the island itself, explore the white stone villages of Oia and Fira, originally hacked out of caves thousands of years ago, and discover the best views of the Aegean Sea. After marvelling at the orange sunset, spend the rest of your evening with a delicious seafood barbecue and a cooling glass of Assyrtiko, the local white wine—you’ll never want your Santorini vacation to end.
Even by Greek standards, Akrotiri is old. This settlement was part of the Bronze-Age civilization of the Minoans, and stood for at least a millennium before being destroyed by a huge volcanic eruption in 1600 BC. During your Santorini trip, tour the empty streets of this ghostly settlement, which was luckily evacuated before being destroyed. Keep a lookout for the Spring Fresco, depicting blooming flowers and flying swallows, still standing after 3,600 years.
Oia is Santorini’s most popular village, and for good reason. Here, you’ll find tiny white houses clinging to the sides of the ridge, with the recognizable blue domes of churches dotted along the skyline, contrasting against the red volcanic rock of the island. Make your way along the ridge to the remains of the Agios Nikolaos castle for the best views of the village itself—just remember to bring your camera!
Fira, also known as Thera, is Santorini’s largest town and historic center. Take a steep zig-zag path down to the old harbor of Santorini, where ships have been voyaging to Crete and the mainland for millennia. It’s a long way back uphill, but luckily a cable car can whisk you up in comfort. From the cable car, look out for the cliffside Church of the Three Bells, our Travel Expert’s favorite Santorini attraction.
Santorini’s crescent shape comes from it being part of a volcanic crater, or caldera. Today, it means that the island stretches around an idyllic blue bay. Finish your Santorini tour on the water, crossing the caldera to Thirasia. This island is wild, with only a few blue-roofed buildings dotted around. Look back east, among lizards basking in the sun, and raise a glass to your incredible Santorini vacation. Less
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