The domed rooftops, iconic architecture, and glittering waters of Santorini will be easily recognisable to those who have long dreamed of visiting the beautiful Cycladic Island. Located in the middle of the Aegean Sea and best-known for its ancient vineyards and volcanic beaches, here are 5 epic reasons to visit Santorini ASAP.
Sunset on Santorini
Eternal Santorini is well known for its breathtaking sunsets. Head to the Caldera in Oia for some of the best views of the island, sea, and sunset beyond. Just bear in mind the sunset on Santorini can get pretty hectic, especially so during peak season (July and August) when it’s hard to even navigate the narrow lanes, let alone find an epic snapshot angle.
Greek architecture, and specifically that of the Cyclades (a group of islands so-called because they form a circular shape) is unique in its white-painted houses and cobbled lanes. The villages of Santorini are no different and some of the most interesting structures are to be found in the form of cave dwellings.
These homes and houses are constructed in niches in the volcanic rock and always remain the perfect temperature; in the summer they stay cool, while in the winter months the caves are easy to keep warm. Elsewhere on the island, Neo-Classical 19th-century mansion houses built by wealthy captains can be found in nearly every village and town.
Oia (pronounced e-ah) is one of the most picturesque places in all of Greece. Home to oodles of litle lanes and small boutiques, Oia may well be the most famous town of all the Greek islands. First founded before the Venetian rule of the Middle Ages, the former fishing village has been inhabited for centuries.
Some of the oldest vineyards in the world
If you’re a fan of anything wine related, then consider a visit to Santorini. After all, the volcanic island is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world. However, when you first glance towards the countryside, you may not even realise that you’re looking at vines. I know I didn’t!
This is because the vines are cultivated close to the ground so as to form a natural basket which will protect the grapes as they grow. Santorini is incredibly windy and so if the grapes were to be cultivated along poles, much of the harvest would be lost. Local wines are of the red, white, and rosé varieties, with some of the most famous being dry yet fruity whites!
Traditional Greek food consists of plenty of cold dishes, sea-inspired living, and cold meat cuts. And the Cyclades Islands are no different. Santorini is well known for its seafood; calamari and cuttlefish are locally fished. While, if you’re like me and don’t eat meat or fish, then there are plenty of vine wrapped leaves, olives, and tomato dishes available.
For those who are looking for a fine dining experience on Santorini, you simply must visit the Red Bicycle Restaurant. This fine dining restaurant offers an open-air experience and the taster menu is filled with experimental food based on traditional Greek dishes. For example, the ‘cheesecake’ course is actually savoury; the base is crushed bruschetta, the ‘cheese’ part is feta and the ice cream is a savoury tomato!
Sun for days and little rain, if you’re searching for some beautiful weather, then you simply must visit Santorini! Home to plenty of beaches and sunny spots where you can enjoy all of the incredible weather, the temperature never drops too low and snow is pretty much unheard of. If you’re looking for the best of the weather when you’re looking to visit Santorini, then make sure to head to the island in May, September, or October!
The Church Domes of Oia
If you’re truly looking for ‘must-see Greece,’ then you should most definitely check out the domed church of Oia. Pictured on almost every postcard promoting Greece the world over, the church domes of Oia are best seen during golden hour. For the sun setting behind your shot, make sure to head to the domes for sunset. If you’re looking for an iconic photo with fewer people, then set your alarm and head to the blue domes for sunrise!
As our guide said while we passed through the winding lanes of the famous bookstore, ‘Atlantis Books is the most famous bookshop in Greece, if not all of Europe’. Head to Instagram and you can expect to find plenty of snaps of this iconic storefront. While there, you’ll discover rows upon rows of books to read, as well as comfortable reading nooks in which to curl up with a good read.
As Santorini was formed by volcanic activity tens of thousands of years ago, so the geographical history of the island can be seen in its many rock and mineral formations all over the island. Much like the lesser-known island of Milos and the beautiful island of Mykonos, where the largest mineral mine in Europe is located, Santorini is covered in plenty of unique and unusual rock formations.
The island is also home to unique black sand beaches where it’s possible to swim in crystal clear water and relax under palm shades. Some of the best (and most popular beaches in Santorini) include Perissa and Kamari. Both of these are black sand beaches and are home to oodles of cafés, bars, and mountains rising up above the waters to either side of the sandy straights.
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I visited Santorini as part of a press trip with Celestyal Cruises. However, all opinions and photos remain my own (as always!)