This article should not be called the 10 things to do in Santorini because as always we have no intention of suggesting things that should necessarily be done when visiting a place.
We never liked the concept: in the meantime because each of us has different ideas about what to do and see in one place and then because it is usually very difficult to “synthesize” an experience in a few points. So in this post we list the ten experiences we have made, ready for comparison with those in Santorini who have tried others.
You are ready? Let’s go!
1. SEE THE SUNSET
Going to see the sunset in Santorini is considered a must. The sunsets over the caldera, which ignites as the sun goes down on the horizon, are considered among the most beautiful in the world. On the places and the ways in which we have enjoyed it we have already said in the previous post “Santorini, the dream come true”.
If you want to participate in the collective ritual you must go to Oia and reach the Venetian castle: when the sun disappears behind Folegandros you will also feel very involved to applaud together with all the others!
But the first one we enjoyed in Santorini was also the most romantic and intimate. Not far from our hotel, the Kokkinos Villas, is the Akrotiri lighthouse behind which there is a small hill that allows you to enjoy as if from a stage not only the sun that disappears over the horizon, but to admire all the west coast of Santorini and its small villages perched on the edge of the caldera. When the sun sets, however, it is better to hurry because the path that separates the lighthouse from the point where you leave your vehicle has no illumination and immediately falls into darkness.
The second sunset, spectacular, the one aboard the catamaran in the middle of the caldera: the eyes glued to the horizon on the red ball of fire that little by little the sea swallows. In the end there remains a sense of bewilderment due to the dark that has arrived and a slight shudder on the skin that accompanies it up to the landing in the marina of Vlychada when, when we regain our shoes, we return to the mainland.
2. LOOK OUT FROM THE CALDERA
The heart of Santorini is the caldera and the whole island revolves around this immense gulf with a deep and blue sea. We advise you to look out over this huge crater flooded by the sea water from several points, starting from Akrotiri to the south and then moving north to Oia stopping on the coast of Megalochori, descending towards the port of Anthinios, then the promenade of Thira up to the more private balconies of Firostefani and Imerovigli. Without forgetting Oia, of course, juggling pseudo-influencers in search of panoramas and Japanese ladies in masks and bulky hats.
3. VISIT AKROTIRI AND THE MUSEUMS
The explosion that created the island as we know it today also caused the end of a very flourishing city of which traces remain in the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The city was buried by piles of pumice that preserved its walls and buildings that can now be visited in the area covered by a futuristic, wood and steel infrastructure.
The advice is to buy the cumulative ticket with which in addition to the site you can visit the archaeological and prehistoric museums in Thira: in the first there are many artifacts found during excavations throughout the island and in the second the frescoes recovered from Akrotiri with papyrus and the wonderful blue monkeys, as well as craters, vases, a table mold, a portable oven and the wonderful golden ibex.
4. GO FOR BEACHES
If you don’t go to Santorini for the beaches, the fact remains that there are some beautiful ones on the island. Not the usual ones of the collective imagination of white talc with turquoise water but sandy beaches with ferrous colors like Red Beach or black sand like those of Perissa and Perivolos. We really liked the lava beaches of Mesa Pigadia and Caldera Beach, the only one on the caldera.
The bluest sea is that of Kamari, a long beach of gray pebbles protected by two headlands, while emerald is that of Red Beach where sand, pebbles and rocks are vermilion.
5. TOUR IN THE MOUTH OF THE VOLCANO
You have to try the experience of sailing in the caldera looking down at the high cliffs overlooked by Thira and Oia. Exciting also to pass near the mouth of the volcano, the island of Nea Kameni, where the smell of sulfur and fumaroles reminds that it is still active. And then swim between the Hot Springs of Palea Kameni, the other islet in the middle of the caldera, and skirt the island of Thirasia, the other part of the sunken crater and the only inhabited beyond Thira.
There are many possibilities: boat, motorboat, galleon, catamaran, tour with dinner, with sunset, with music and departures from the ports of Thira, Anthinios and Vlychada. We started from the Vlychada marina with a catamaran from the Spiridakos company from which we dived into the emerald waters of the Red Beach for our first bath of the season.
6. TASTE EVERYTHING BUT ESPECIALLY THE WINE
Santorini as well as for its sunsets and its fairy-tale villages is famous for its wines, considered among the best in the world. The inhabitants have always exploited the fertile volcanic ash to cultivate the vine: the vineyards seem to crawl on the ground and ensure an excellent wine.
We tasted as many as 10 during the tasting at the Santos winery. With one of the most beautiful views in the world in the background, we appreciated the vertical we were offered, of which we speak in the post dedicated to food and wine in the #buongusto column.
7. DISCOVER THE INSIDE
Every village of Santorini is worth a visit. From Fira, the capital of the island, with its streets full of people and small shops, to Oia from the enchanting skyline of blue domes and white mills, to Imerovigli, a fantastic waterfall of resorts.
But if the most known and scenographic side of Santorini is the west coast, the one that climbs the caldera, in the hinterland everything is to be discovered together with the people, always ready for a chat, a smile and a greeting. We started from Pyrgos, the ancient capital of Santorini with the alleys that go up to the church and the ruins of the castle from which a beautiful panorama opens up.
Megalochori, one of the most beautiful villages on the island, is worth a visit. We advise you to stroll through the narrow streets admiring the noble villas, the neoclassical buildings, the houses set in the rock and the churches with arched bell towers. In several places the village brings to mind Pantelleria: it is not a case. The houses, with their terraces on which the grapes in the sun are dried in the summer to produce the famous Vinsanto of Santorini, are very similar in shape and colors with the white rendered even more blinding by the contrast with the lava stone, to dammusi typical of the Sicilian island.
We stopped in a shop where a gentleman with a long beard who looked more like an Orthodox priest than a craftsman sells his leather sandals: could I resist?
The walk can continue towards Exo Gonia, developed as an amphitheater along the mountain ridge that boasts in its territory one of the three most important churches of Santorini, the church of Agios Charalambos with its ceramic roof: the building is located high on the hill from where you can admire a splendid view of the whole island. We stumbled upon it during a wedding and took the opportunity to visit the church inside.
A nice surprise was Emporio that at first we had not taken into consideration. Overcoming its most modern part which has no great attractions, it has instead a center that not only boasts a magnificent view of both the caldera and the east coast, but retains a strong medieval character with the houses carved into the rock to protect them from the violent storms that sweep sometimes the island and separated by small paths, twisted and paved, which rise up towards the fortress, a square building dating back to the 1400s located in the northern part of the country called Goulas, of which today only the ruins are visible.
8. GO UP ON THE MOUNT OF THE PROPHET
Before taking the plane back home, all you have to do is take a tour of the island with a visit to the monastery of the Prophet Elijah which is located on the highest point of the island and from which you can enjoy a marvelous view that sweeps towards the waters crystal clear of the Aegean and even stretches as far as the island of Crete on days when the sky is clearer. Near the airport is the less touristy and attractive but more genuine area, including windmills, chapels, vines and the long beach of Monolithos.
9 TO GET LOST
Leave the main road and go into some dirt road. In the end there will always be a surprise: a breathtaking view, a small church that seems to have been created with marzipan or a bell tower with white and blue arches leaning over the blue. Like the one we found at the end of a path where a mother hen walked with her chicks. Where is it? Explore and find out for yourself.
10. TO LEAVE TO GO
Then the day of departure arrives. The airport is one of the smallest we have been to and it is very crowded. After the security check on the ground floor where the seats are scarce, a short staircase leads to the panoramic terrace with chairs and tables where you can enjoy the last coffee of the holiday.
The moment has come and you greet it from the plane, and looking down you already feel nostalgia: first its microscopic airport, then the whole island that covers 80 square kilometers of surface that in half an hour or so you can travel by car from North to South. And although you have reserved so many surprises in a week, you almost still don’t believe how much Santorini can be that concentrate of emotions it is!
Each location, from the elegant Oia to the fascinating archaeological remains of Akrotiri has guaranteed us a different experience.
A magical story less than an hour and a half flight from Bari with the Volotea company. All that remains is to schedule a return as soon as possible! Treasuring the advice of Francesco Pezzolla who is with us the author of these 10 things to do in Santorini.