Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece is a beautiful island getaway that is fast becoming an icon for Grecian travel. The island is known for its whitewashed buildings with smooth curved domes capped with bright blue accents. Santorini has charming towns, beautiful beaches, hiking adventures and some of the best food on the planet.

Start your tour of Santorini in the charming town of Oia, at the northern border of the lagoon. A number of “captain’s houses,” or rock-hewn houses, which are narrowly built into the volcanic soil, adorn the postcard picture town. The marble paved streets are home to cafés, taverns, shops, as well as art galleries. Sunset viewing in Oia is a necessary rite of passage. Tourists and locals gather at the Castle of St. Nicholaos, the lighthouse or the hill of Kyra Panagia to witness the sun sink into the sea, in brilliant shades of orange, pink, and finally deep purples.

Fira, Santorini Orthodox Cathedral

Fira is the largest and capital city of Santorini. The port city features museums, entertainment, beaches, and an exceptional panoramic view of the island. Fira is high atop the cliffs and visitors can ascend or descend to the “old port” via a cable car. The Orthodox Cathedral is located here and is worth a visit, and is often the spot to watch the sunset in Fira. Near the Cathedral is Gold Street, named for its number of goldsmith shops. If you’re interested in archaeology, be sure to stop in the Archaeological Museum, which focuses on the island’s long history. Here you’ll find artifacts dating as far back as 7th century BC.

Santorini is what remains of a once great volcano. The former volcano collapsed into a caldera, or crater, which created the lagoon. The Santorini Island surrounds this lagoon and is full of rocky cliffs spilling into the Aegean Sea. Because of the unique volcanic properties of the island, hiking is a well-liked activity. One popular trek is from the towns of Fira to Oia. This trail will take on average 3 hours to traverse, but is filled with spectacular views and side trips. Along the hike, you’ll spend much of your time on the caldera rim, looking out over the lagoon. If you can time your trip correctly, plan to be in Prophet Elias around sunset. The view is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The rest of the hike is downhill from there and you will reach Oia before dark.

Santorini's Red Beach

There are nearly 20 different beaches in Santorini, each with unique properties and offerings. Kamari beach is full of cafés and shops, and a wide coastal footpath, which is closed to vehicles during the summer. Kamari beach offers umbrellas, sun beds, dark colored sand and is popular among many tourists. Kokkini or Red beach is an attraction unto itself. The red sand, dyed over time by volcanic activity, is a striking contrast to the bright blue waters. There are a number of canteens servicing the beach, and you can swim, canoe and sunbathe here. A stark difference to Red Beach is Aspri or White Beach, offset by huge white cliffs. Near Oia, find Baxedes-Paradisos, a shallow beach with dark sand perfect for families.

There are great diving spots in Santorini if you prefer to seek adventure under the water. Explore the shipwreck in Taxiarhis, the reef inside the caldera near Akrotiri or the caves in Mesa Pigadia.

Food in Santorini is like none other in Greece. The rich volcanic soil produces extraordinary white eggplants, capers, fava beans, baby tomatoes, and grapes. A number of vineyards on the island are open for tours. The volcanic soil enriches the grapes as well, creating rich, deeply colored grapes such as the Assyrtiko grape, which makes a dark amber dessert wine known as Vinsanto. Be sure to stop at the Wine Museum while in Santorini. The Wine Museum is a natural cave and winery that produces Volcan Wines. Try to visit on a Friday, for a traditional Greek buffet meal accompanied by live entertainment and local dances in traditional costumes.

Santorini is a popular European summer destination, due to its southern island location. It is a dry dessert climate, making it a great escape year round. Crowds are lighter during the winter months, but some areas may be closed. However, this charming island has plenty of places to relax and rejuvenate no matter what time of year you visit. Contact the Luxe Travel team at 1-866-365-8747 or concierge@luxetravel.com.