The village of Oia is the island´s most iconic, and equally touristy, destination. Reflecting perfectly the idea of Santorini that dwells in everybody's mind, the settlement sits 150m above the sea level developing down the slope of the volcanic caldera. The postcard-like view of the village is characterized by its peculiar white and blue houses and cave houses dug on the caldera cliff, originally owned by fishermen. From here, the vantage location offers a sweeping view of the volcano as well as one of Santorini´s most suggestive sunset spots. Shops, museums and art galleries line up neatly down Oia's main road and its narrow crescents that can be easily explored on foot. The village is surrounded by vineyards, providing wine to the local restaurants and bars which are particularly renowned for their fresh seafood.
The unique colour of the sand and the breathtaking volcanic landscape make this beach an attractive destination for the thousands of tourists that flock to the island every year. Its particular rock formations treat travelers to stunning views, and the smooth, mirror-like sea creates a contrast with the bold red of the shore. The beach is pebbly and not ideal for lying, though its rock formations make it perfect for snorkeling.
Fira is the cultural and commercial center of Santorini, renowned throughout the island for its ample assortment of galleries, shops and restaurants. It is the place to be for the most comprehensive selection of shopping opportunities, featuring handicraft shops, wineries and traditional clothes shops. The most iconic museums of the island, such as the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, are located in the city, displaying stunning and well-preserved artifacts that date back to Ancient Greece. Fira is also the heart of Santorini's network of buses, that connects the capital with Oia, Kamari, Akrotiri and many other important sights of the island.
The 9 km hiking trail that leads from Fira to Oia, running alongside the caldera cliff, is a must-do experience in Santorini. The trip takes approximately 4 hours, granting superb views and changing perspectives as the path unwinds. The walk starts at the port of Fira, from where you will need to head to Firostefani village and Imerovigli, which are located north of the city. You will pass by numerous churches and stunning architecture to finally end up in the iconic Oia Village. Here, you can choose to treat yourself to a seafood dinner and a glass of wine at one of the restaurants with a unique view over the caldera.
Perissa Beach stretches for 7 km along Santorini's Southeastern coast, charming the traveler with its peculiar shades of black. Perfect for snorkeling, the beach also features a volleyball court and numerous options for water-sport activities. The picturesque Perissa village offers a comprehensive assortment of restaurants and bars and its close proximity to the ruins of Ancient Thira makes it a magnet for tourists.
Perched on the high rock formation Mesa Vouna, the ruins of Ancient Thera dominate Kamari and Perissa beach, dating back to the Hellenistic Era. The vantage location offers spectacular views of the island, and the cliff-top can be reached from Perissa on foot in approximately 4 hours. The historical site is characterized by a main street running through two agoras and the ruins of temples, houses and Roman baths, in a compact plethora of ancient buildings and valuable archaeological discoveries.
A trip to Santorini wouldn't be complete without a wine-tasting tour through the best local wines and produce. The island's volcanic wine is particularly renowned for its crispy flavor, the product of vineyards that find their homes on the rich volcanic soil. Santorini Wine Adventures is based in Fira and offers tours to explore local wine, food and culture, as well as the picturesque countryside.
Akrotiri is not as appealing as the other well-known Santorini villages. It is not perched on the caldera top nor is it located on the fashionable side of the island. The houses are not white-washed but tend to have a grayish shade, and the fuss is all about a bunch of family-run restaurants and hotels that, though they might seem from a long gone era, give away an insight into the original fishing and farmer settlement that Santorini once was. Akrotiri is the island's most important archaeological site, housing Minoan ruins dating to the 4th century BC that extend for 20 hectares. When the volcano abruptly erupted, the entire population was forced to flee from Akrotiri, which was swept away by the lava flow but which also preserved buildings and utensils.
Along with cultural centers and endless entertainment opportunities, Fira is gifted with a hillside location that overlooks the caldera.The walk up the hill can be quite an exhausting climb and many opt for a ride on the cable-car that takes you from the bottom, where the port is located, up to the main cliff- top.
Venetian rule in Santorini extended from 1207 to 1580 and the last vestiges of this historical period live in the castles that dot the entire island. Five fortresses can be found throughout Santorini in Oia, Pyrgos, Emporio, Akrotiri and Skaros, which have been partly demolished by the earthquakes that shook the island in the 15th and 16th century. Skaros is probably the most important and well-preserved among the five castles, built on the peak of the namesake rock to protect the village from pirate attacks. The ruins of the once magnificent fortress can be reached on foot from Agios Georgios church in Imerovigli, connected to Skaros by a 0,5km walking trial and a long stairway.
Pyrgos Kallistis is a medieval fortress settlement that maintains its original structure composed of cobbled streets that twist and turn down the hill where the village has developed, dominated by a Venetian Castle (Kasteli). Considered a monument in 1995, the village is one of the least spoiled by tourism, and featuring ancient buildings throughout its entire area, it is pervaded by an historical flair. With its 600 residents, Pyrgos keeps hold of the allure of an old Greek village that is starting to open up to the increasing flow of tourism. Tavernas, restaurants and traditional Greek cafes find their home along the village streets, blessed by a scent of grapes released by the vineyards that surround Pyrgos.
Take some time to go on a boat trip to Nea Khamani, an inhabited island that is part of the volcano's caldera. Given the frequent eruptions in the last centuries, the island is gifted with the scenery created by the lava flow and sulfuric waters which are said to have therapeutic benefits. Cruises leave daily from any village, making Nea Khameni a perfect day/half-day trip.
Therasia is one of Santorini's islands formed by volcanic activity. Its white-washed houses and volcanic soil resemble its bigger sister, though it certainly differs in many other aspects. With its 300 residents, Therasia is what the old and unspoiled Santorini might have looked, maintaining the original allure of a fishing village. You can choose to book an organized boat trip that departs from any village, or opt for a cheaper solution and take the ferry that runs five times a week from Amundi to Korfos and Riva, Therasia's ports.
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera is located in Fira and showcases a great number of artifacts discovered in Santorini. The excavations started in the second half of the 17th century and unveiled various objects that cover the island's history from the Late Neolithic to the Late Cycladic.
A picturesque bay tucked among precipitous cliffs, Amoundi Bay is an old fishing port that can be reached from Oia by descending 300 steps. Wonderfully decorated taverns are squeezed on the seafront, displaying a great number of traditional eateries to choose from. Amoundi Bay is also provided with an intimate beach, a spot of tranquility where to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the the holiday resorts.
The best of Greek cuisine blends harmoniously at Theoni's Kitchen, composing a well-established restaurant that thrives on fresh seafood and meat along with locally-grown vegetables. Add also outstanding cooking skills and friendly service to the winning formula and the mix is complete,
Treat yourself nicely with a dinner at Volcano Blue, one of the best views in Santorini's capital. There isn't better way to top off a day at one of the island's beautiful beaches than enjoying seafood prepared to perfection on the terrace that overlooks the caldera, watching the sun disappear below the horizon.
Fresh ingredients, friendly service and dishes that reflect Greece's multi-coloured personality: the main drag between Fira and Oia hides a gem that serves traditional Greek food and impeccable service. Make sure you reserve your table in advance, the restaurant tends to get crowded.
Avocado restaurant maintains the delicious flavors of Mediterranean cuisine, combining them with a gluten-free and comprehensive menu that is filled with healthy choices. Presenting dishes that suit everybody's preference, the restaurant serves a varied selection of salads as well as meat and seafood.
One of the most suggestive views in Imerovigli is without a doubt at Skaros restaurant. The menu is mostly seafood oriented with a pronounced Greek accent, but one reason it stands out from the numerous restaurants in town is its ideal location, overlooking Skaros Rock.
Amoundi Bay, a natural beauty located just below Oia village, is gifted with soaring red cliffs and several seaside taverns. Ammoundi Fish Tavern, with its picturesque terrace and ideal location, is one of Amoundi Bay's favourite, serving fresh catch seafood and masterly cooked Greek specialties.
The Good Heart, located in Akrotiri, serves Greek specialties made from the freshest, locally grown ingredients, but what's truly peculiar about this eatery is the welcoming ambiance that the family who runs the restaurant creates by delivering outstanding service.
Advantageously located 225 meters above sea-level and boasting a history that dates back to the 1930s, Select Lounge is an institution in town. Kick-start the day with an energy boost: coffee, fresh juices, salads, waffles or crepes, Select Lounge suits all tastes.
Melenio is among the most-loved and atmospheric cafes within the whole of Santorini. Its increased popularity is due to exceptional pastries and dessert-making skills, an abilities that has transformed the cafeteria into a favoured and upmarket destination among sweet-lovers.
An ice-cream parlor located just off Oia's main drag, Lolita makes the most-loved Italian gelato from carefully sourced seasonal ingredients. The offering changes daily, and might feature unusual flavours such as the Cuban-inspired and rum tainted "Cuban Lover" or the delicate "Rosewater Pink Pepper".
Blending sweet and savory flavours, Skiza Cafe has mastered its skills in desserts and pastry-making as well as pizza-baking. Its pronounced Italian accent and a spectacular terrace that overlooks the caldera are some of Skiza's main ingredients, accompanying its delicacies with an iced-coffee or a frappe.
A trip to Santorini wouldn't be complete without a wine-tasting tour through the best local wines and produce. The island's volcanic wine is particularly renowned for its crispy flavor, that is the product of vineyards that find their homes on the rich volcanic soil. Santorini Wine Adventures is based in Fira and offers tours to explore local wine, food and culture, as well as the rustic countryside.
In the heart of Santorini's club-scene, Koo Club never fails to disappoint the night owls hosting different events and exceptional DJs everyday over the summer season. A young crowd of locals and holidaymakers mix and mingle from the early evening at the outside bars till late at night.
Celebrating 40 years of successful business, PK Bar is an upscale hotspot in Santorini's suggestive capital. Its three terraces dominate the caldera, attracting an enormous crowd when the sun starts setting, an event that can be only more enjoyable in front of a glass of champagne or a signature cocktail.
The atmosphere is created by exotic palms and a spacious outdoor patio lit up by strobe-lights and bright colours. Top-notch cocktails and drinks are made to perfection by mixology experts, and the crowd is young and diverse. Mamounia Club is another gem in Fira's club-scene.
With such a view and elegant terrace, It would be easy for cocktails to take second place, but that's not the case. At V Lounge, cocktails and drinks are proudly made by using quality ingredients, blended professionally by mixology experts. Their wines are attentively selected, embracing all Santorini's flavours. Prices, on the other hand, are of course up to the standards.
Although equipped with the well-known, yet suggestive, view over the caldera, Tropical Bar is slightly different from Santorini's usual offering, attracting its guests more for its laid-back attitude than for its appearance. Here you can watch rugby or football and cheer along with the other supporters.
The Good Heart, located in Akrotiri, serves Greek specialties made of the freshest, locally grown ingredients, but what's truly peculiar about this dining place/shop is the welcoming ambiance that the family who runs the restaurant creates by delivering outstanding service. Here, you will also find local produce such as jam, cheese, preserves and other homemade delicacies.
Tzamia - Krystalla is a well-established art gallery in Santorini, showcasing and selling jewels, ceramics, paintings and sculptures. Artworks are created by local artists and are unique and attentively selected, varying considerably in price and shape.
An ample selection of souvenir shops line up along Fira's main drag, catering for all sorts of gift ideas and little reminders of your trip to Santorini. In most souvenir shops you'll find knickknacks bearing the island's name, ranging from magnets to pottery or postcards.
Among the thousands of different souvenir shops you'll encounter during your Greek holidays, Epilekton is certainly something worth a visit. As soon as you step in, you will feel its authenticity given by a vast collection of amber jewels, antiques and traditional souvenirs.
Get a delightful insight into Santorini's handcrafted jewellery at Eponymo, a shop that combines beautiful designs with the island's traditions. Located in the picturesque Oia, Eponymo is a must-visit in town, offering numerous gift options, artworks and an impeccable service.
Situated North of Kamari village, Santorini's Airport (JTR) is only 6 km away from downtown Fira. The airport is connected to the capital by a bus service, and the journey takes approximately 20 minutes. Buses are not frequent and may not run throughout the whole day: you will find a schedule outside the airport, before the exit. If you wish to get a private or shared transfer, you can either book it in advance (one option: www.santorinitransport.com) or find one of the companies located at the arrivals terminal. As the bus service is not particularly efficient, renting a car is also a valid option, especially if you are planning on going on a tour of the island. You will find 3 car rental desks located at the arrivals terminal.
Santorini's "mule taxi" is a tradition that is unfortunately renowned worldwide, as donkeys are used to walk up the steep climbs of the island and are a main attraction for tourists. Travelers are urged not to use donkeys as means of transportation because of the poor condition in which the animals are kept.
A network of buses connects the capital, Fira, to all the major holiday resorts, running to Oia, Perissa and Kamari every 20 minutes. Buses run also from Fira to Vourvoulus, Exo Gonia, Akrotiri, Monolithos, Vlihada, Baxedes and to the airport, but they are less frequent. Please note that there are no direct buses from one side of the island to the other, and changeovers must be done at the Fira bus terminal.
Several taxi companies operate in Santorini, and, though there are fixed fares, you should always negotiate the price before booking. You can book a taxi for a ride or for the entire day and visit the different seaside resorts and sights, or you can opt for a shared transfer by booking a shuttle service. www.santorini24.eu www.santorinitransport.com
You can rent a car, a motorbike or a scooter, which allows you to explore the island with no time limit. Santorini Easy Car Rental: Epar.Od. Mesarias-Archeas, Fira Santorini +30 2286 082652 Santorini Car Rental: Kamari, +30 21 1800 1258 www.Santorini-Car-Rental.com Santorini Car Hire: Kamari +30 21 1800 3693 www.SantoriniCarHire.com
The main post offices are situated in Fira, Emporio and Oria. Here, you will be able to mail letters, buy stamps and postcards. Mail boxes are located in all major holiday resorts and they are always yellow with a blue sign. The service is run by a company called ELTA, which is the name you will find outside every post office in blue and yellow colours.
Pharmacies in Greece tend to be small, sometimes family run, private businesses. You will find pharmacies in all major holiday resorts, with a great concentration in Fira. Pharmacies are closed on Saturday and Sunday: this implies that you will have to buy your supplies before the weekend starts and, if you need some urgent medication you will have to contact a doctor. Pharmacy Zacharopoulos: Fira, Santorini, +30 2286 023444 Pharmacy Gazi: Fira Central Square, +30 2286 022700 The Central Clinic of Fira provides health services 24/7 . Health Centre (Fira): +30 2286 022237 , +30 2286 022237