When hearing a melodious name Santorini, we imagine a picture with heavenly views seen many times in the magazines, on posters, ads, and perhaps even in our dreams, when we were fantasizing about a perfect getaway place on Earth.
Santorini, whose official name is Thira, fully corresponds to the image we have about it and how others describe it. This island is not only a tourist Mecca in Greece. It is also a symbol of unique history, beauty, and romance in the Aegean.
Thira, or what we are used to call it, Santorini, is a part of Santorini archipelago. The group of islands also include Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea Kaméni, and Nea Kaméni. The archipelago has a round shape and volcanic origin. All these islands had been one a single piece of land until thousands of years ago there was a devastation volcanic activity, which resulted in destroying park of the island, sinking it and causing a massive tsunami in the area. What we see now as Thira, it is actually a top part of an active volcano.
There are scientists who believe that the sunken part of the island is indeed the legendary Atlantis.
Every island of the archipelago represents unique volcanic landscape. The most attention always goes to Thira – the principle island, as you may have already understood. However, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the group isn’t worth of visiting. On the contrary.
Thirassiá attracts tourists for its underwater gems. Scuba diving fans arrive here to explore true unique landscape, which hides beneath the surface. Uninhabited Palea Kaméni and Nea Kaméni are unique isles located in the center of caldera and attract travelers with their orange-hue natural hot springs.
A still-active volcanic Nea Kaméni also features 130m-high crater where it’s possible to arrive by climbing or by talking a ride in a cable car. Not only there are stunning views and landscapes displaying from this point, but also people experience here a high dose of adrenaline running through the body. What else would you expect when standing on top of crater.
During the season, which lasts quite long in Cyclades, Santorini archipelago is surrounded with all kinds of yachts, gulets, cruise ships, fishing boats, and catamarans. This group of islands is indeed one of the most popular in the area.
Weather-wise for swimming and sailing Santorini is best from May until the end of October. In winter tourists also visit this marvelous place, but not for swimming of course.
So, Thira or classically, Santorini, invites you to experience gastronomic pleasure, unique sunsets, local traditions and various historical sights. Santorini has a reputation of one of the most romantic spots on Earth. Couples ,who want to celebrate their love, have a wedding ceremony or a lovely photoshoot against the beautiful backdrop of the island, adore this destination.
However, Santorini has so much more to offer. There are various bars and discos here, spa and beauty centers, various site for kids to have fun. And what can be better if you enjoy listening to classic music from time to time to sit at the terrace and get enchanted by the melody of classics while the sun is hiding behind the Aegean sea.
When approaching Santorini with a yacht, you notice the white topping on the island, which looks like a cake’s glaze. Those are white miniature houses and churches with blue domes crowing Santorini’s top. It does look like though that the island is inhabited on in that white glaze place, but it’s not true. There are about 15 villages and towns on Santorini. The biggest and most famous are Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, Mesa Gonia. Each is unique and famous for either wine making, fishing, or non-touristic restaurants. You choose, which ones to see.
Once you’ve left your charter yacht at the local harbor or on anchor and reached the island, you may reach the top of it either with a cable car, by feet, or with donkeys. The last option is quite authentic, and it a part of local culture. Donkeys at Santorini are like an essential part of the play, but to be honest not all animal rights groups are happy about that.
Either way, once you’re on top of the island, you have quite a choice where to go. Whatever town you choose to go, you can either wait for a taxi (Santorini has a limited number of taxis),rent a quad bike or a motorcycle if you like adventures, or go by feet if you don’t need to travel far.
Fira and Oia towns are visited the most by travelers. They are located on top of the island and look as if both are hanging down from the edge. By the way, more than half a century ago these towns were destroyed with a massive earthquake. Then they were fully rebuilt.
Steep balconies and terraces, narrow cute streets, blue domes, white washed Greek houses, craved in the cliffs, neoclassical building, cave-like hotels, authentic souvenir shops – those are just few things why you’d love a walk around Fira and Oia.
To have an outstanding swimming experience, pick one of the unique beaches of the island. There are several of them and each has its own zest – a color. Just imagine walking with your feet at the beach with black “sand” which has volcanic origin. It goes just right together with crystal-clear seawater. There is also a “Martian” beach, where the “sand” is red. In fact, it’s not sand, but mineral crumb of terracotta hue, which appeared here after one of the rocks cracked.
In the southern part of the island there’s a beach called Vlychada that totally looks like another planet’s landscape. It may get a bit crowded here, as many people would love to enjoy such a unique view.
The least crowded beach would be the one where the sand is quite classis of white-goldish hues, as it is the most ordinary place for the island with such interesting features.
Sunsets on Santorini deserve a special reference. It is truly one of the main reasons people come here: to see, how each evening the sun hides behind the horizon while coloring unique landscapes with all the hues of rainbow. Sure, there are many places to enjoy this natural phenomenon. However, there aren’t many spots with views like on Santorini, which give the feeling of being in a modern-day urban white beehive with night illumination. But Oia isn’t the only place to enjoy sunset from. Besides a variety of choice, you may also want to see it from the highest point of Thira - Profitis Ilias hill top, where a monastery of the same name stands crowing the hill.
One more option is very luxury. It is to have a helicopter tour when the sun is hiding behind the horizon. You may want to think about it too.
To see some of the history, head to Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement. Here you will see how ancient Thira lived. No spoilers, but it’s a very beautiful place. Ancient Thera is a very important archeological site located on the island. There are houses, theatres, sanctuary of different epochs, hot spring and many more. It’s a very mysterious place, which will be interesting to see. Other sites worth of paying a visit are female monastery of Saint Nicholas and Monastery of Profitis Ilias.
The Balcony of Santorini is the name of a cliff survived after numerous earthquakes. It is located at one of the highest points of the island where a picturesque village of Imerovigli stands. Couples usually choose this place for their wedding ceremony.
While driving around the island on a quad bike or with a car you’ll think that soil here is not capable of producing any fruits and vegetables, as it looks very dry. However, if to pay attention you’ll notice wine and olive groves here and there, and vegetables and fruits growing.
For wine lovers, there’s even a museum of wine located near Kamari. It’s founded in the end of 19th century by two brothers. You can taste various sorts of wine here, visit a cave with wine stock. Wine making is one of the most favorite things to do among locals. They’re very proud of their wines produced from special grape – asiritico. And they should be as it tastes amazing.
A visit to Santorini would not be complete without a gastronomic experience. You may read about dining on the island in our Blog post.
Plan your route, leave some space for improvisation, choose the most suitable yacht for your taste and start an adventure of a lifetime! Enjoy your journey in the marvelous Aegean!