No other island may speak of the images of Greece better than Santorini. Perched high above the Aegean Sea, Oia is one of the world’s most photographed locations. What makes it a bizarre tourist attraction? The history of this island. One of the largest recorded volcanic eruptions in human history occurred here about 3,600 years ago and many believe it is the stories of this explosion that led to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis.
It’s also only one of 2 European locations that experience a hot desert climate.
Whether you just want to enjoy a sunset with one of the traditional Greek meals that this island can provide you or you want to lounge in the dark sands of Perissa Beach, here are some essentials to consider including with your travel plans to this stunning island.
The Whitewashed Walls of Santorini:
#1. The Ruins of Thira
For just a small fee, you can walk down the main street of this ancient community and see a combination of sights that people would travel halfway around the world to just see one of the many that you’ll see in this ancient community. There are plenty of mosaic houses, an old marketplace to explore, and Roman baths. You’ll also see temples to the Greek gods Apollo and Zeus. Expect to spend at least a couple hours exploring this site.
#2. Amoudi Bay
Many visitors don’t realize that Santorini is actually a cauldera. To get the best glimpse of this sight, make your way down to Amoudi Bay and make sure you bring your camera along! It’s a small fishing village, surrounded by steep cliffs, and accessible from a series of steps that you take down from Oia. There are plenty of little places to get a glass of wine [or a bottle if you prefer] and catch the sunset over the turquoise waters.
#3. Walk Around Oia
Don’t make the classic mistake of calling this community [OY-yah]. It’s [EE-ya] and if you use the first pronunciation, it’s not hospitality that you’ll encounter as you stroll the streets of this community! Many of the homes are built into the very side of the steep cauldera, creating narrow, meandering streets that are perfect to explore. Gaze out, breathe the salty air in deep, and let the surroundings encompass you in their warmth.
Imagine an eruption so great that it instantly buried the local population in ash, much like Pompeii. Instead of creating human sculptures to stand the test of time, however, now imagine that this eruption did a fantastic job of preserving the culture and arts of the community that called Santorini home in the 16th and 17th century BC. Because no remains or valuables remained, most experts believe that the community was completely evacuated by the time it was covered. That means at Akritori, you aren’t visiting a graveyard, but a memorial to the culture that called this area home. The frescoes are outstanding and range from blue monkeys to swaying palms in the breeze.
Make sure to add a visit to the Museum of Historic Theta to your list to make sure you can see all of the rescued frescoes as well. If the experts are right, afterwards you can even say that you’ve visited Atlantis for yourself!
#5. Monastery of Profitis Ilias
If you want good views of the island as a whole, you could brave the crowds of the tram if you wish. Or, if you prefer a more peaceful quest to get a breathtaking view during the day, you could make your way to the Monastery of Profitis Ilias. It on the highest point of the island and the attendants there will provide you plenty of stories about Ilias. You’re not actually allowed inside the monastery proper in most circumstances, but you can explore the gardens and there is a gift shop on site that supports the facilities. With the 360 degree views, it will be one of the best drives that you’ve ever taken!
#6. Perissa Beach
Our final destination on the Santorini essentials is Perissa Beach, which is regularly rated as one of the best beaches in the world. It will be busy, but there is still enough room to have your own space and still be able to explore. Go out for a swim if you prefer on a warm day or simply lounge back and let the sun warm you under a grass thatch shade. There are restaurants around the beach, so grab some food, have a drink, and just enjoy the day.
Santorini is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Plan a visit here in the near future and you will definitely be rewarded for that effort!