Planning a Santorini vacation? We’re here to help!
The southernmost of the Cyclades group of Greek islands, Santorini is a vision of bright-white houses atop towering multicolored cliffs that rise out of the deep-blue Aegean Sea. Crescent-shaped Thira is the main island, surrounded by four smaller islets, and a bird’s-eye view hints at the volcanic history that has shaped this small archipelago. Once circular, it was known as Strongili, ‘the Round One’, but some 3,600 years ago, at the height of the ancient Minoan civilization, a mighty volcanic eruption caused the centre of Strongili to sink, leaving a water-filled crater—Santorini’s famous caldera.
The volcano is now dormant, but there are sulphurous springs at the centre of the caldera, and you can visit the site of the ancient Minoan city destroyed by its most violent explosion. The same volcanic activity has created striking black- and red-sand beaches and left rich soil that supports a small but established wine industry.
This Greek beauty with its swoon-worthy views and stunning sunsets has a dry Mediterranean climate that hovers close to 80 degrees in July and August. These peak summer months can be very busy indeed, so consider coming in spring or late summer/early fall, when the weather will still feel very pleasant and you can enjoy Santorini’s considerable charms in relative peace.
The capital and entry point to Santorini is Fira, a town of whitewashed cubic houses lining winding lanes and squares. Its chalky walls and blue church domes sit balanced atop cliffs striated with volcanic rock, many of its buildings now home to restaurants and bars with heart-stirring caldera views. Santorini’s second town, in terms of popularity at least, is Oia, at the island’s northern tip. Equally blessed with picturesque architecture and a caldera-edge perch, it is known for its dazzling sunsets – a ringside seat and a glass of chilled Santorini white is an unbeatable combination.
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of this volcanic landscape is to walk it, and there are more than a dozen routes around the island, marked with sturdy wooden signposts. The clifftop track between Fira and Oia is deservedly popular and will take you about 3 hours (longer if you stop to gawp from the many viewpoints along the way). It’s best to start out early, as the going can be heavy in the midday sun. If you take a morning hike to Oia you can arrive by lunchtime and descend the zig-zag stair-paths down to the little port of Ammoudi Bay below. There’s a small rocky beach and a clutch of tavernas serving up simple but super-fresh seafood.
Beaches and ruins
Scenic trails also link two of Santorini’s other big draws—its gorgeously craggy volcanic-sand beaches and fascinating ancient historical sites. Perissa beach, a long stretch of fine black sand dotted with colorful umbrellas and served by a string of cafes, is one of the best. It is positioned on the island’s east coast, south of another very popular spot at Kamari beach. In between the two, on the imposing Mesa Vouno hill, sits the archaeological site of Ancient Thira, home to ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras, worth exploring if you can drag your gaze from the view of the glittering Aegean below.
On the south coast, you’ll find the ancient Bronze-Age site of Akrotiri, one of the most important prehistoric settlements in the Aegean. The prosperous merchant city was buried beneath thick layers of lava and ash in the massive eruption that created Santorini’s caldera, and today about one-third of the area has been excavated. Houses, sometimes three stories high, huge ceramic storage jars, pottery, and colorful frescoes paint a fascinating picture of the sophisticated ancient Minoan society. Nearby the famous Red Beach, with its rust-hued sand and brick-red cliffs, is quite a stunner—the path down is steep, however, so you’ll need more than flip-flops for a steady descent.
Take a wine tour
While Santorini might not immediately spring to mind in any list of the great grape-growing nations of the world, it does, in fact, produce a number of good-quality, well-regarded wines. It has been designated an AOC domain and its rich volcanic soil is known for producing crisp, mineral whites, as well as vinsanto, a sweet fortified dessert wine. Wineries across the island offer tours and tastings, which make for a rather delicious day out.
Experience the luxury of our villas in Santorini
Whether you seek spectacular clifftop seclusion for the perfect honeymoon in Santorini or are traveling with friends and would like to immerse yourselves in the gentle buzz of one of the island’s lovely old towns, we have just the villa for you.
Homes in Imerovigli
Imerovigli, on the west coast of Santorini, is a smart little village overlooking the caldera. Our Imerovigli villas are perfectly positioned for sitting and soaking up the view and are only a short distance from the ravishing sunsets of Oia. Sugar-white terraces feature turquoise pools overlooking the wide-open Aegean while cool interiors offer a calm retreat when the sun is at its peak. Sunscreen and a bottle of crisp local white are all you need for a long, lazy and very luxurious day.
If you’re looking for an authentic Santorini experience, then check out our villas in Fira. Fall for the curved white walls and domed ceilings of one of the area’s traditional cave houses, furnished to provide the ultimate in luxury and comfort for your vacation. You’ll find sublime views, terraces for soaking up the sun or sipping an after-dinner glass of vinsanto, and the services of a private chef upon request. With all this just minutes from the pretty winding streets of the island’s main town, you’ll have a tough choice whether to head out and explore or stay right where you are.