Dreams come true. For as long as I can remember, Santorini, or Thira as it was known in ancient times, has always been a dream destination. When I finally had the chance to go there, the only thing I can say is that I was not disappointed. Far from it, it exceeded my expectations.
I know a lot of people think of it as a “couple/honeymoon destination”, but don’t let that stop you from having fun and exploring this beautiful island.

Caldera, blue domes, picturesque villages and breathtaking scenery, you’ll soon understand why the island is one of the most famous in the world!

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Santorini in a few words

Unoccupied since the Bronze Age, the island has undergone many changes since then. A Dorian colony, ruled by the Romans, later by the Byzantine Empire… and finally by the Ottoman Empire, Santorini had a long history before its independence. No one could therefore have imagined that it would become a famous travel destination centuries later.

Yet millions of tourists visit the island every year.

But why? What’s there to see? First of all, because the caldera formed over the years by the various eruptions is a real spectacle. Sit atop a cliff and admire the view as the sun sets! By the way, the volcano is still active.

Then, if you still haven’t had enough of the island’s beauty, don’t worry, there’s plenty to see on Santorini. And I’m pretty sure you’ll quickly fall in love with the place, the people and the food!

How to get there?

The easiest way is to fly direct to Thira International Airport (JTR), especially if you’re coming from Europe. Plane tickets are not very expensive if you plan ahead and travel in the low season. Public buses and cabs are available to and from the airport too.

If you’re already on one of the neighboring islands, the ferry is your best option. They depart on a daily basis and are very frequent. You can also choose to visit other islands after Santorini (see my post about Naxos island here)!

The Caldera

Santorini's caldera

Surrounded by cliffs and bordered by Santorini’s real islands: Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, Therasia and Aspronisi, this crescent-shaped volcano crater is one of the island’s main attractions.

It’s an impressive and magnificent sight, in my humble opinion. Even today, it’s one of the most spectacular landscapes I’ve ever seen.

As always, it’s best to go and see it at sunset, as it exudes a magical atmosphere typical of the Cyclades islands.

Sunset in Santorini

You can practically see the caldera from anywhere on Santorini. You can simply walk along one of the many footpaths or open the window of your hotel room.

It’s a must-see on the island!

Red Beach

Red beach in Santorini

One of Santorini’s most famous beaches, thanks to its unusual colors caused by the oxidation of iron-rich volcanic lava.
Located in Akrotiri, you can reach it by taking the bus or your car and walking along the small path that leads to the beach.

To enjoy the turquoise waters and picturesque scenery, it’s best to go in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.

And beware of falling rocks. Even though the cliff area is surrounded by safety lines to keep you away from the rocks, visiting the beach is at your own risk!

Perissa Beach

Perissa beach in Santorini

After the red sand beach, here comes the black sand beach. Santorini has so many colorful beaches, thanks to its volcanic history.

Sinking my feet into its soft sand, swimming in its calm but warm water, even in September, was my moment of peace and relaxation.

But if relaxation isn’t your thing, the beach is also renowned for its water activities: snorkeling, jet skiing, windsurfing… the choice is yours!

Karterados

Karterados in Santorini

If you’re in Santorini, you absolutely must visit Karterados. Just a 30-minute walk from the center of Fira, this picturesque, authentic village was a pleasant surprise. I found myself there by chance on the morning I arrived on the island. I was simply strolling along, admiring the view of the caldera, and found myself on the way to this village.

Karterados is a charming, pleasant and quiet village. Far from the crowds heading for Oia or Fira.
I loved wandering through the narrow streets, getting lost more than once, meeting cats, before stumbling across a living soul.

Kasterados was a real gem, proving once again that even in touristy areas, it’s possible to find unspoilt, splendid places.

Fira to Oia Hike

Fira to Oia hike in Santorini

An essential part of your trip to Santorini, the hike from Fira to Oia is a unique experience where you’ll walk along the caldera and pass through numerous villages.

The hike isn’t difficult, but there’s little or no shade, so bring a hat and plenty of water.

You can also choose to hike in the other direction, but you’ll have to leave Oia’s magnificent views and sunset behind.

Prepare to be amazed by the scenery and see the famous blue domes. Stop off at Imerovigli, the luxurious village with its many terraces, bars… perched atop a cliff. Visit the many chapels on the way to Oia and make a final stop at Finikia for a taste of the authenticity and calm of old Santorini without the tourist crowds.

Oh, and if you’re not pressed for time, take a hike to the rock of Skaros for a splendid panorama of the caldera and the islands surrounding Santorini. Don’t forget to bring your walking shoes, as the path is a little rocky.

Skaros rock in Santorini

Although the hike is short (between 2 and 4 hours), it’s one of the most picturesque itineraries I’ve had the chance to walk so far. The blue of the ocean combined with the architecture, the colorful villages and the caldera and its views totally amazed me!

Oia

Oia with a cat in Santorini

Since you’re in Oia, the least you can do is visit, right? So how do you describe Oia? Blue domes, white houses, windmills…. If that’s what you’re looking for, then come to Oia.

Oh, and the sunset, of course! One of the many reasons the village is so famous. Perhaps too famous, I wonder…. Although pleasant and pretty, the village is becoming less and less authentic over the years. Local craftsmen and small boutiques are increasingly sharing their limited space with restaurants and luxury stores alike. Who knows what Oia will look like in ten years’ time…

Oia Sunset

Oia's sunset in Santorini

As I’ve already mentioned, Oia is famous for its sunset. Many people come here hours beforehand with professional equipment to capture the moment.

It’s true that the sunset was very beautiful, but I think that more than the sunset itself, the surroundings with the colorful houses and the ocean view made the moment worthwhile.

Even though I was there in low season, there were still a lot of tourists, so be prepared to find a good spot at least 45 minutes before sunset.

Ammoudi Bay

Ammoudi Bay in Santorini

Just below Oia is a small port called Ammoudi Bay where boats leave all day to cruise around the caldera, watch the sunset and do other activities.

To get there, you’ll have to descend some 300 steps (and eventually climb them again) to find yourself around seafood restaurants and see how the town was built into the red volcanic rock.

Don’t use the donkeys to descend the steps, it’s pure animal cruelty and I, for one, don’t support the practice in any way; in fact, I condemn it.

There’s also a “hidden” beach, rather a rocky one. To get there, follow the path south from the port. Bring sturdy shoes or swimming shoes to avoid injury on the way or in the water.

Final Thoughts

Santorini was everything I hoped it would be, and more. Sometimes considered the origin of the myth of Atlantis, the island is a sight to behold. Its unique volcanic history and unspoilt charm have made Santorini a famous destination. A destination which, however, suffers from its popularity. Rising prices and overcrowding threaten the once authentic and peaceful island.
Nevertheless, the natural and resilient island remains one of the world’s must-see places!

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2 Comments

  1. Santorini is on my bucket list! If you ever get the chance, visit Skiathos! It is absolutely magical and clear waters to dive, rent a boat, get a boat tour and eat at secluded locations, hike up to old forts with a group, the food is AMAZING and the people are very friendly! Bonus, they have a hospital on the island. You can also rent a boat to go fishing with the owner of the boat and eat your caught fish for dinner! As an extra bonus, it’s not as touristy as Santorini.

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