Santorini, also called Thera, is beyond any doubt one of the most sensational and beautiful places on Earth. Its breathtaking scenery and wild beauty make it an idyllic holiday destination and a place everyone would like to visit. Crescent-shaped Santorini has four small neighbouring islands, namely, Thirassia, Aspronissi, Palea (Old) Kameni and Nea (New) Kameni. All five surround a colossal, mostly drowned caldera, that is, a large crater formed by a major eruption leading to the collapse of the mouth of the volcano. But it hasn’t always been like this. During the Bronze Age, they were actually one single island called “Strogyli”, meaning the circular one, because of its round shape. Still, after the devastating volcanic eruption dated to the mid-second millennium BC, the whole centre of the island sank into the sea, creating today’s impressive and world-renowned caldera. Santorini has a lot to offer visitors. Apart from its spectacular landscapes, it boasts stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters, various museums and archaeological sites, lively nightlife, excellent food and, above all, amazing, award winning wines. The volcanic soil and the special climate of Santorini give the local wine a distinct taste and unique aromas. Visiting one of the numerous traditional wineries will enable you to learn about the local winemaking history, walk through ancient vineyards and have an unforgettable wine tasting experience. Besides Fira, the capital of Santorini, don’t miss the chance to explore the whole island in order to discover its hidden gems and natural beauties. You will definitely adore it!
Oia is admittedly the most famous and picturesque village in Santorini. It is particularly known for its sublime sunset and unsurpassed beauty. It is located on top of an impressive cliff on the north of the island, offering breathtaking views of the Santorini volcano and the island of Thirassia. Oia, also known as “Apano Meria”, is a traditional village with narrow maze-like streets, beautiful blue domed churches and charming houses. One of its main attractions is the Naval Maritime Museum, which illustrates the long maritime history of the island. One can also visit the Oia Castle, which is a popular sunset spot, and some of the many art galleries in the village. The busiest area is the main pedestrian street, named Nikolaou Nomikou, where you can find numerous shops, cafes, restaurants and taverns. At the bottom of Oia, there’s a tiny port, called Ammoudi, which can be reached by walking down about 300 steps. Armeni beach is also located there and it’s the perfect place to find some peace and quiet.
Fira is the capital of Santorini and the commercial and cultural centre of the island. It is located in the western part of Santorini, on the caldera cliffs opposite the volcano. There are various museums and wonderful landmarks to visit, such as the Megaro Gyzi Cultural Center, the Archaeological Museum of Thera and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. The majestic Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral sitting prominently on the caldera edge and the Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist located in the city centre are also worth a visit. In Fira, there is a wide range of hotels catering for all tastes and budgets as well as the greatest dining out and entertainment selection of the island. The old port of Santorini lies at the bottom of the caldera cliff, where there are several restaurants, traditional taverns and small shops. Access to the old port is feasible by walking down the 600 stone steps, taking a donkey ride or the Cable Car, which leaves from the top part of the Fira Caldera.
Pyrgos is the former capital of Santorini and the best-preserved medieval settlement on the island. Just eight kilometers southeast of Fira, the picturesque village of Pyrgos is built amphitheatrically on the top of a hill, offering incredible panoramic views of Santorini. On the hilltop lie the impressive ruins of a Venetian Castle (called “Kasteli”), which is one of the five castles on the island, dating back to the 13th century. The village has many beautiful churches to visit, such as the historic Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and the church of Theotokaki with the beautiful frescoes and old icons. The renowned Monastery of Prophet Elias is also located in the vicinity, hosting an important collection of ethnographic material. Pyrgos is a typical example of medieval architecture with traditional houses built around the castle, narrow paths, hidden passages and fortified walls. There are also several small shops, nice taverns, elegant restaurants and a beautiful square with tall pine trees and quaint little cafes.
Immerovigli is a picturesque village situated at the north of Santorini, only 3 km away from the capital of Fira. Its name derives from the latin word “vigilare”, which means “to guard or to act as a lookout”. It is also known as “the balcony to the Aegean”, since it is built on the highest point of the caldera cliffs, about 300 meters above sea level, providing a majestic view of the famous volcano and the sparkling Aegean Sea. A major attraction in Imerovigli is the famous, immense Skaros rock lying on the seaward side. It used to be the most significant of the five fortresses of Santorini as it did not only house all the administrative offices of the island, but it was also an observation post providing security from pirates. There are numerous chapels and churches in the area, among which the beautiful church of Panagia Malteza and the chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti are certainly worth visiting. The whitewashed houses, the quaint blue domed churches and the narrow walking paths create a charming scenery, which is perfect for those seeking privacy and relaxation. Imerovigli has a wide range of luxurious hotels and it is easily accessible by car, taxi and bus or even on foot from Fira.
Firostefani is a beautiful old village lying just north of Fira, the capital of Santorini. Even though it is regarded as a separate settlement, it is actually an extension of Fira, which perfectly combines tranquility and relaxation with lively nightlife. The name “Firostefani”, which means “Crown of Fira”, derives from its gifted position on the highest part of the capital. The view from this part of the island is absolutely amazing, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy the wild beauty of the caldera and the volcanic islets as well as breathtaking sunsets late in the evening. Strolling around the narrow alleys and quaint little paths of the village, one can admire traditional whitewashed houses with flowery yards and beautiful blue domed churches that are certainly worth a visit. In the vicinity, you can also find Agios Nikolaos monastery, which houses a folklore museum and an ecclesiastical museum with rare Byzantine icons. In Firostefani, there are several shops, cafés and restaurants located on marvelous spots as well as a wide range of hotels offering stunning views and all the amenities you could ask for.
At a distance of 12 kilometres from Fira, Emporio, also known as Nimporio, is a quaint traditional settlement located on the southeast of Santorini. It is built on the foothills of Mount Prophet Elias and probably took its name from the fact that the village used to be the main commercial centre of Santorini for many centuries (emporio means trade in Greek). Nowadays, Emporio is a peaceful settlement, which has a strong medieval character and a wide range of interesting sights to visit. Well-preserved houses with flowered yards, charming little shops, narrow streets and white-washed alleys as well as beautiful arches and overhead bridges make this place really attractive. At the entrance of the village, there are two gorgeous blue domed churches, one of which is the chapel of Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis, an ancient sacred site made of marble, which is certainly worth visiting. But the most impressive attraction of Emporio is the medieval Kasteli, one of the five fortified castles of Santorini. Wandering around its ruins, you will be able to travel back in time and get a glimpse of the unique architecture of that era.