1. Towns & Villages
Santorini villages cater to the tastes and needs of the most demanding visitors
Santorini’s commercial development is focused on the caldera-edge clifftops in the island’s west, with large clusters of whitewashed buildings nesting at dizzying heights.
Fira, the island’s busy capital, sprawls north into villages called Firostefani (about a 15-minute walk from Fira) and Imerovigli (the highest point of the caldera edge, about a half-hour walk from Fira).
A path running through these villages is lined with upmarket hotels and villas to rent, restaurant terraces and endless photo opportunities.These three conjoined settlements draw most visitors, together with the stunning and quite exclusive village of Oia in Santorini’s north.
Santorini’s east coast is lesser known than the celebrated, elevated west coast. Here, the caldera-edge heights have sloped down to sea level, and volcanic-sand beaches and resorts offer a very different drawcard.
East-coast resorts such as Kamari and Perissa have a more traditional (and more affordable) island-holiday appeal: sunlounger-filled beaches, water sports, bars and taverna-lined promenades.
Stay in Oia, the best place in Santorini
2. Perfect Wedding Destination
Santorini is the top wedding destination par excellence
What could be more romantic than exchanging vows whilst watching the sun set against the Aegean Sea? The islands studding the blue Aegean Sea have always attracted those of a romantic cast of mind. Naturally, Santorini has been no exception and now Santorini weddings are really famous.
The very starkness of the island suggests primeval and elemental passions. That’s one reason why every evening in late spring and summer, couples from all over the world clamber up to vantage points at Oia to observe the uncanny golden, ochre and purple sunset that bathes the entire scene in shimmering half-light.
Such is the fame of this sunset that soon-to-be newlyweds from as far away as China often fly the thousands of miles to Santorini for that special Santorini wedding that they couldn’t hope to have anywhere else.
Companies specializing in Santorini weddings offer wonderful and innovative packages to make this special moment truly unforgettable. Why not arrive at your wedding in Santorini accompanied by local musicians? Or on a donkey?
Wedding receptions in Santorini can take place in a choice of restaurants offering the best Santorinian food, in wineries or you may choose to combine your wedding and reception in one of Santorini’s designer hotels, while staying in a splendid villa rental.
3. Dining With A View
Taste Santorini’s gastronomy based on local products and talented chefs
Santoríni is known for its distinctive cuisine and ingredients, courtesy of the peculiar volcanic soil. Sample staples like fáva (yellow split peas, puréed), domatínia (flavourful cherry tomatoes), white aubergines (which taste subtly different from purple ones), the fortified dessert wine vinsánto, made from raisins, and mostly white wines.
In Fira, Imerovigli and Oia there are plenty of traditional restaurants and a few famous chefs that serve refined versions of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Lunch or dinner at a Santorini restaurant with a panoramic view nourishes both body and mind.
Don’t miss the vegetable speciality– sun-dried tomato paste made with the tiny tomatoes grown in the rich volcanic soil. In Oia restaurants, seafood is the main culinary attraction, which includes Greek versions of octopus, squid, lobster and cuttlefish, all served to the highest standards and straight out of the sea!
From nouvelle cuisine to simple chunks of feta cheese on soft brown bread, washed down by the local Assyrtiko white wine, dining on a Santorini Greek restaurant is for elite tastes. And if you are renting a villa, keep in mind that there are chefs willing to cook for you privately.
4. The Wineries
In Santorini’s volcanic soil lies the secret of its splendid wines
Santorini’s breath-taking views are not the only thing that makes the island famous. In recent years, it’s the island’s wine that has made a name for itself outside the Mediterranean, and that name is well deserved.
Santorini’s Assyrtiko, the white wine for which the island has become known, is the island’s essence in a bottle. Some Santorini wineries are perched on the edge of the volcano rim.
Some even include museums showing how wine has been produced through the ages, while others exhibit art, but all of them have tables where you can enjoy wine-tasting in style, along with a few delicacies such as sun-dried tomatoes and fava bean puree.
There’s also a traditional grape-treading establishment where people line up every August for the sheer pleasure of squishing grapes in a vat, destined for the popular Vinsanto label.
Do not forget to buy a bottle and enjoy a glass of Assyrtico in your hotel room, or at the villa that you rent on the island. It is always a great idea to get a WINERY TOUR so you can see them all. Book
5. Monasteries & Churches
Santorini’s churches offer endless photo opportunities with their blue and white contrasts
With over 250 churches in Santorini, you cannot turn round without viewing yet another beautiful little church just waiting to be photographed. Many of the churches are quite old and out of the way, built by locals in thanks perhaps for a good fish catch or a healthy crop. You can find them in the unlikeliest places, such as clinging to an impossible rock or nestling inside the odd vineyard.
Many have a spotless coat of shimmering blue paint on the cupolas, playing with the deep blue of the sky and sea to form a panorama that has been reproduced endlessly in picture postcards and artists’ canvases.
The monastery of Prophitis Ilias stands on the side of the height of the same name, overlooking the sea to the southeast. It’s a hive of activities, from winemaking to repairing shoes.
The monks don’t mind visitors, and you could get a glass of homemade wine or liqueur, but they tend not to keep regular hours for the public, so it’s wise to make sure the monastery is open before making the climb.