World-famous Santorini is the southernmost island in the Cyclades. A magnificent setting, quality accommodation, delicious local cuisine, exquisite wines and a rich history are some of the island's traits which beguile thousands of visitors each year.
Santorini is without a doubt the most photographed island in Greece. Its blue-domed churches and white houses sit on sheer black and red cliffs and the views are simply breathtaking. Many come in summer to enjoy its black volcanic beaches but it is equally popular in Spring when masses of wild flowers are in bloom.
Santorini's history is as dramatic as its scenery. Originally its three islands were connected and were referred to as Strongilil (the round one). On the coast was a thriving city of 30,000 inhabitants and traders such as blacksmiths, stonecutters, shipbuilders, potters and weavers sent their goods all over the Eastern Mediterranean. However in 1645 BC a volcano erupted, the volcano walls caved in and the sea swept into the void which created a caldera (crater) 10km in diameter and 400m deep. The ensuing tidal waves destroyed coastal areas - many say this caused the demise of Minoan civilisation throughout the Aegean. Today it is possible to visit the remains of this once-thriving city, Akrotiri. You can visit the houses, storage areas, workshops and cookhouses. Archaeologists believe that only a small percentage of the city has been discovered, though no bodies have yet been found, leading them to believe that the citizens had advance warning of the eruption.
In 1100 BC the inhabitants named the island Thera, after their leader and some people still refer to the island by this name. From the 13th - 15th centuries the island was controlled by the Venetians and they called the island San Irene (Saint Irene), who died in exile on the island. This name became Santorini.
The island has 14 villages, each with their own character: Fira is the island's busy cosmopolitan capital; Pyrgos has a castle, lovely mansions and some great hiking trails start from there; Imerovigli's white-washed buildings, built on the cliffside, enjoy expansive caldera views; Oia is renowned for its traditional architecture and breathtaking sunsets. To the east, terraced fields slope gently towards the sea and the unusual black sand beaches at Kamari.
Santorini is also famous for its selection of wines - there are 42 grape varieties on the island and 13 wineries; many of these offer tours (and tasting!)
We recommend hiking along the caldera (the route from Fira to Oia is a popular one), visiting the volcano and swimming in the hot springs, sunset-spotting in Oia (get there early as it gets busy!), or simply relaxing with a glass of chilled local wine and enjoying some of the most breathtaking views in Greece.
Resorts to visit
A long volcanic beach & seaside promenade make Kamari the most popular resort on the east coast.
Hotels to visit
A Swanlek, USA, Sept 2017
G Maheswaran, UK, Sept 2016
H Jackson, UK, June, 2015