Santorini is a Greek paradise with its incredible sunsets, pearly white buildings with bougainvillea around it, the churches with blue domes, and attractive windmills. All these make Santorini a perfect destination for vacation. Newlyweds and couples from around the world visit this place to see the famous sunset of Oia, swim in hot springs, taste the delicious cuisine, and stay at the luxurious resorts.
You will not miss the striking view of the submerged caldera which is visible from quaint settlements atop lava-layered cliffs. The most alluring destination of the island is the whitewashed settlements of Fira and Oia. There are small villages between the two towns which cling to the clifftops. They make the setting and your vacation more quitter and relaxed.
Apart from incredible vistas and multi-colored beaches, there many more things to explore at Santorini. There are many ancient archaeological sites and museums in the island which are worth exploring. You can book an ATV or a small car and experience the rugged island. Your journey will have many stops as the views are never-ending. Below is a list of top tourist attractions in Santorini for you to spend your vacation perfectly.
Fira is the capital of Santorini. The characteristics that define Fira are the whitewashed cubic houses and terraces, wining lanes, little squares, and blue-domed churches perched on the cliffs 300 meters above the caldera. You can reach Fira either by walking or riding up the steep and winding stepped path from the small port of Skala or take a cable car. You can also reach there from neighboring towns.
Port of Athinios connect to Fira by road. Ferries dock at this port and cruise ships put their anchors down in the caldera. Passengers are transported to Skala by tender. Tourism is the main source of income generation for Fira. Many buildings here are now converted into small hotels, apartments, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and jewelers. You can relax and enjoy the tremendous view from these restaurants. There are many luxurious hotels here for accommodation with a beautiful view of caldera.
Fira is perfect combination of natural beauty, social life, night life, and shopping. The liveliness of the island can be felt here as all this is the location where all the actions take place. The most remarkable thing about Fira is the ravishing view of Caldera from here that leaves the tourists speechless. You will be filled with harmony by having a walk down the beautiful alley during the daytime.
Beautiful sunset is what make Oia famous. Tourists from around the world come here to enjoy it. Oia is located on the northern tip of Santorini which is 12 kilometers up the coast from Fira. The whitewashed houses in the Oia village makes the place picture worthy. Many of these houses have now been redesigned into elegant boutique hotels with infinity pools which overlooks the caldera. Just like Fira, tourism is the main source of livelihood for the people of Oia, but they have more upmarket trade.
There are many waterfront seafood eateries with alfresco dining in a steep zigzag path from Ammoudi Bay to the town. Tourists can reach Oia by taking the local KTEL bus or by walking the trail alo
ng the cliffs which are high above the caldera.
Around 3600 years ago, there was a massive volcanic explosion which blew the center out of the island. All that remained was a sea-filled volcanic crater that led to the formation of the Caldera. 12 kilometers long and 7 kilometers wide, the Caldera is still home to volcanic activities. In the center of the Caldera, there rises two Kaimeni islets with hot springs and gas emissions. Caldera has a beautiful landscape which consists of steep rocks and cliffs that rise above, and it seems like it is touching the sky.
Caldera is more than thousand feet above the sea level and is additional thousand feet deep underneath the sea and creates a perfect harbor. Oia city is to the north of Caldera. Various travel agencies offer one day excursion trip to Caldera by boat. The trip includes the time to take a bath in the hot springs and have delicious meal on Thirassia which is a tiny island on the west side of the caldera. The island has an amazing view. After a day long exciting trip, the boat is brought back to Santorini across the water.
There is an ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotiri near the village of modern Akrotiri which is 12 kilometers southwest of Fira. This settlement was buried below lava after the 16th century BC volcanic explosion which created the caldera. The Akrotiri Archaeological Site is well preserved, and it often compared to Pompeii.
Tourists can walk on the pathways through the debris of the town and explore the remains of the clay buildings of the town which once thrived. The presence of ruins of multi-level buildings, pottery, and drainage systems, show that before the volcanic eruption, Santorini was a flourishing and prosperous island, and shipping and trading were the main source of livelihood of the people.
There were many outstanding frescos used to decorate the house which shows that Santorini had connections with North Africa. These frescos are now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Being closed for several years, it was in 2012 that the site of Akrotiri ruins reopened to the public.
There is a famous Red Beach below a breathtaking red cliff wall. The beach consists of a narrow coastline covered with dark volcanic sand and pebbles. It is near the Akrotiri site. You can walk along a path from the town of Akrotiri to reach the beach. Other ways to reach there is through a bus from Fira or you can drive a car and park it nearby. To reach the beach you will have to venture down a rocky path. There are boats available too to reach the beach from Akrotiri, Kamari, and Perissa ports.
As the beach is small, it gets quite crowded during the summer. It is advisable to reach there early to take a prime spot to enjoy the beautiful and contrasting view of the red rocks against the aquamarine water. People prefer to do Snorkeling here as the it has a rich undersea world which can be observed. Tourists can also rent a sunbed with umbrella and enjoy the view. There are few sections in the beach which is restricted to visit as it is prone to landslides.
Ancient Thira is located on the southeast coast of Santorini and has been there since 9th century BC. There are ruins of Hellenistic temples and foundations of Roman and early Byzantine buildings. In the ruins of Ancient Thira, you will also see various religious sites, a theater, a gym for military trainees, and old administrative buildings. Few things of historical importance which were found in this site are also displayed in the archaeology museum of Fira.
The Archaeological Museum in Fira is a small museum which is close to the upper station of the cable car in Fira. The museum displays the findings from Ancient Thira which ranges from the Dorian to the Hellenistic to the Roman and to the Byzantine period. The museum has exhibitions which include the inscriptions dating from the Archaic to the Roman period, clay figures of animals, and some beautiful ceramic pottery.
The museum is open for tourists to visit and is a great place for those who are interested in different cultures and became acquainted with the history of Santorini. Most of the exhibits here are from the excavations which was carried out on Mesa Vouno Mountain. Many exhibits were found in the cemetery of the Ancient Thera. These exhibits include ceramic objects, pots, amphorae, and ancient statues called kouros.
Some of the artifacts displayed here are of great importance which includes the Theran amphora with geometric decoration, a volcanic boulder which weighs 480 kilograms, and a krater with Attic black figures. Byzantine works of art are quite notable. The unique collection of the museum will captivate the tourists as they would feel that they have travelled back in time and will witness the history of the island unfold before their eyes.
The Museum of Prehistoric Thira is a modern white building which is located close to the 1950s Mitropolis church in Fira. It is one of the most important and spectacular musuems of Greece. It is a two-story building whose construction began in 1970s and was open for public visits in 2000. The museum displays the findings from Akrotiri archaeological sites. The exhibits displayed here are from Late Neolithic Era to Cycladic Period. This museum can be considered as an extension of the Archaeological site of Akrotiri.
Blue Monkeys wall fresco is one of the top tourist attractions in the museum. Marble figurines, painted ceramics, tools, and weapons are other ancient artworks which are displayed in the museum. The collection of the museum is a colorful representation of the nature and everyday life during that period. It gives a valuable insight about the way of living. Visitors can walk through the museum and enjoy the well-preserved prehistoric city.
Initially Pygros was the capital of Santorini before Fira took over in 1800. Pygros is a small village which is located in the center of Santorini. There are many whitewashed Cycladic cottages in Pyrgos which are built around the ruins of a medieval hilltop castle. Earlier Pyrgos was a sleepy town and people had mostly forgotten about it. It was in 2004 that Pyrgos started to create a buzz and became an upmarket for tourism. Many small and elegant restaurants and boutique hotels started to open up which increased the tourist attraction.
Mount Profitis Ilias is accessible from a road of Pyrgos which runs to its summit. It is the highest point of Santorini. You will be able to see a panoramic view of the island and a mesmerizing view across the sea. There is a might Profitis Ilias Monastery built during the 18th century which is open for tourists to visit.
Inside the monastery you can see the church which is a richly carved iconostasis. Do not forget to visit the museum which displays the miter and crozier of Patriarch Gregory V. he was hanged in Constantinople in 1821 by the Turks. There is also a library, the monastic archives, and the kitchen which the tourists may find interesting. A secret school was also operated in this monastery during the Turkish period.
Santorini is famously known and it quite popular for the beaches which lie on the southeast coast. These beaches are between the villages of Perissa and Perivolos. The beach has a 6 kilometer long stretch of fine and black volcanic sand. It is surrounded by tamarisk trees. There is s string of seafood tavernas and cafes which overlook the beach. You can rent and relax on the sunbeds with umbrellas. For tourists who are enjoy adventure, they can go for water sports available there. The beach is approximately 12 kilometers far from Fira.
The port of Ammoudi Bay glistens sparks of turquoise waters. It is at the base of the cliffs which rise to the town of Oia. After descending the 200 steps from Oia, you will find yourself in a beautiful setting of Ammoudi. This place is famous for its quaint Greek tavernas which serves the catch of the day which is inches away from the waves. There are also isolated coves which is ideal for swimming.
For tourists who like to have an adrenaline rush, they can go for cliff diving which is quite a popular activity there. For those who want to spend a less adventurous trip but still have an exhilarating experience, they can hire a sailboat which will bring them to the volcano for a swim in the hot springs.