SANTORINI
                                                                                                                                               


Santorini is the supermodel of the Greek islands, a head-turner whose face is instantly recognizable around the world: multicolored cliffs soar out of a sea-drowned volcanic crater, topped by whitewashed buildings.



                  

Introducing Santorini

Part of the Cyclades island group, Santorini (officially known as Thira, a name that encompasses the volcanic islets within Santorini’s orbit) sits in the Aegean Sea, roughly halfway between Athens and Crete. The island is shaped like a wonky croissant, and the neighboring islets hint at the fact that Santorini was once circular. It was known as Strongili (the Round One). Thousands of years ago, a huge volcanic eruption caused the center of Strongili to sink, leaving a caldera (or crater) with towering cliffs along the east side, now Santorini’s trademark landscape.

Which part of Santorini should I visit?


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, spilling down cliffsides and offering gasp-inducing views from land or sea. 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 30-minute walk from Fira). A path running through these villages is lined with upmarket hotels, 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. There’s a growing number of hotels in the island’s south, offering caldera views to the north and northeast. Akrotiri’s views come cheaper than Oia’s, but it’s a fair way from the action of Fira.

Best things to do in Santorini


Sure, Santorini's views will stop you in your tracks and you'll get great glimpses into how A-listers travel, but there’s plenty more to explore, from a gorgeous open-air cinema to a cool microbrewery, wine caverns adorned with artworks, and cooking demonstrations and classes that celebrate Santorini’s growing foodie culture.


The obvious activity in Santorini is to walk the caldera edge and admire the views. Walks in and around Fira are spectacular, particularly heading north to Firostefani and Imerovigli along the caldera-edge pathway. Keep walking and you’ll eventually reach Oia, but be aware that this is no small undertaking and the trail beyond Imerovigli can be rough. It’s about 5.6 miles (9km) in all, and a good four-hour walk one way.


Santorini’s lauded wines are its crisp dry whites and the amber-colored, unfortified dessert wine known as Vinsanto. Both are made from the indigenous grape variety, assyrtiko. About a dozen local vineyards host tastings (usually with a small charge) and some offer food, with scenery and local produce combining to great effect. Start your investigations at SantoWines.


Santorini’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating site of Akrotiri displaying a Minoan city destroyed by the volcanic eruption of 1613 BC. In Fira, the impressive Museum of Prehistoric Thera helps piece together the story of ancient Akrotiri.



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