The only inhabited
caldera in the world
Photogenic from sunrise to sunset
The only inhabited
caldera in the world
A cluster of cute but sophisticated towns, depicted by evocative blue-domed churches, cling to 300-metre-high cliffs on the west side of the island, overlooking the spectacular caldera and volcano. Meet upscale Fira, glamorous Oia, romantic Imerovigli, and quiet Firostefani. The eastern side of the island is home to various beach resorts such as Kamari, Perivolos and Perissa. Don’t have a direct caldera view? Don’t worry, chances are you’ll be in a spot with a prime sunset view to enjoy instead.
Discover a fascinating time capsule of Bronze Age life complete with multistorey houses and the everyday artefacts left behind. Rootle about in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, with its stunning Minoan frescoes and unearth the ruins of Hellenistic temples and the foundations of Roman and Byzantine buildings at Ancient Thera, including an ancient theatre and even an early gym.
Then there are the colourful and distinctive beaches. You’ll find white, red and black sand here. Check out the cliff-backed Red Beach and White Beach near Akrotiri and the four-mile-long Black Beach. The island is equally renowned for its gastronomy. Chefs experiment with an abundant larder of fresh produce enhanced by the rich volcanic soil. You’ll want to taste flavour packed cherry tomatoes, smooth split pea puree, creamy white aubergine dip and tangy chlorotyri cheese. Book your flights to Santorini and discover the show-stopping views this iconic Greek Island is renowned for.
On Santorini it’s all about the caldera. Many hotels are built into the cliffs to deliberately frame ocean views of the crater and you’ll pay a premium for the privilege.
For hotels in Oia the Canaves Oia Hotel is chic and spacious, offering prime views of the caldera and volcano, with some suites having their own private plunge pools. At the luxury all-suites Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Santorini even the bathtubs are carved from the sheer cliffs and there are two pools to relax by. Set on Oia’s main marble-lined street you'll find the Andronis Boutique – perfect for foodies. It offers Michelin-starred dining and in-room Nespresso coffee machines. While the Andronis Arcadia is a trendy luxury bolthole just on the edge of the village, featuring an excellent spa and amazing sunset views. All rooms come with their own private pools. Or try the Santo Pure Oia Suites & Villas and lap up the stunning private veranda, heated Jacuzzis and sunbeds.
Imerovigli is also a popular choice. Stay at Iconic Santorini, a one-of-a-kind boutique cave hotel, offering modern room amenities such as JLB docking stations and Aesop bath products. If you're looking for cheap holidays in Santorini Rocabella Santorini is a good value four-star hotel, combining caldera views with traditional Santorini service.
For a change of scenery Magma Resort, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt is set among vineyards in a building which reimagines a classic Cycladian home. Istoria Santorini is a boutique design hotel situated directly on the black sand beach of Perivolos. Drinks and snacks are served from its sunken pool bar and many of its 12 suites feature hot tubs and balconies. While Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini is known for its innovative beach club concept. This trendy and playful hotel sits on the grey and black sandy beach of Monolithos.
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This picturesque volcanic island in the Cyclades is justly famous for its whitewashed villages, sugar-cube caves and unforgettable sunsets. As you traverse the island from Fira to Oia, you'll also take in colourful beaches, ancient ruins, clifftop wineries and mouth-watering gastronomy.
1. Walk along the rim of the Caldera from Fira to Firostefani and Imerovigli. Hike the six-mile trail and take in sights such as the adorable little chapels of Agios Gerasimos and Agios Nikolaos near Firostefani and the imposing Skaros Rock.
2. You should also take a boat trip around the caldera. Set sail for the island of Thirasia in the heart of the caldera which is home to just 300 people and gives a flavour of what life was like on Santorini decades ago.
3. Explore the volcano up close at Nea Kameni. Scramble across red and black rocks of petrified lava on a 30-minute hike to the crater, close enough so you can smell the sulphur and see the steam. Don’t worry though, this active volcano isn’t in danger of erupting any time soon. Then explore its little brother Palea Kameni and take a dip in its thermal waters which are warm enough year-round.
4. Sample the fruits of vineyards dating back 3,200 years and tour the wineries of Finikia. Finikia near Oia sports houses distinct from the usual whitewashed buildings, coloured in shades of ochre, blue and pink. Stop in the shade of giant palm tree in St Matrona or watch the world go gently by from a tempting taverna. Here you can sample crisp white Assyrtiko wines and sweet dessert Vinsnato wine. Tour a winery with views of the caldera, learn about the clever wine cultivation techniques and delve deep into a cellar known as a kanave.
5. Get snap happy at Oia. The photogenic village of Oia best exemplifies the distinctive Cycladic architecture Santorini is famed for. It’s chock full of sugar cube houses, blue-domed churches, bell towers, windmills and hidden alleyways that’ll have your Instagram followers green with envy. While you’re here remember to drop by Ammoudi, a tiny fishing village below packed with great seafood tavernas.
Oia is arguably Santorini’s most scenic town, built into the rocky cliffside of the caldera on the island’s northern tip. It’s renowned for its sunset vistas, excellent restaurants and upscale shopping. It’s ideal for couples looking for a quiet break as there’s only a handful of bars. Get lost in its many narrow alleyways and admire the distinctive Cycladic architecture.
Fira (or Thera) is the island’s bustling transport hub and capital. It’s best known for its shopping and nightlife. There’s no shortage of trendy boutiques and craft stores to spend your money in. You can party in its many clubs and lounges right through until 6am in the summer months. Many establishments have been directly carved from the cliff face. One of the town’s main draws is undoubtedly the three-hour hike to Oia along the caldera path.
Imerovigli is perhaps the most tranquil of the caldera towns. Perched 300 metres high above the Aegean at the caldera’s highest point, it proffers sunset views to rival Oia’s. Behind the caldera lies a picturesque maze of tightly knit alleyways lined with bright blooms, whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches. There’s no nightlife here to speak of and only a smattering of restaurants but they’re all of excellent quality.
Kamari is a great family-friendly beach town on the eastern side of the island. It offers a promenade, a pebble beach that’s ideal for swimming and plenty of low-key bars and restaurants. A handy bus service connects it with Fira and the rest of the clifftop towns. Don’t miss the fantastic outdoor cinema here.
The adjoined seaside resorts of Perissa and Perivelos are perfect for those looking for a bit more nightlife. Both beaches have bars, loungers and lifeguards, as well as black sand and midnight blue depths. The nightlife here is more akin to Mykonos, rather than the sleepy villages among the mountains of Santorini. At night you will see the transformation with cocktail bars, restaurants and clubs coming to life. The stunning blue-domed Church of Timiou Stavrou can be found in Perissa Square, which is well worth a visit.
Alongside the spellbinding ancient ruins at Akrotiri there is a quaint little village boasting some of the best views in Santorini. In the medieval period, Akrotiri was one of five fortified towns and the castle here is a great place to visit, although it was damaged in the earthquake of 1956. Further along the coast towards Fira, you will find Megalochori, where vineyards dominate the landscape. The centre square is a meeting place for locals, to drink fine wine and play backgammon in the afternoon sun.
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