SantoriniCopyright: kavalenkava volha/Shutterstock.com
SantoriniRising out of the crystalline waters of the Aegean Sea, Santorini's other-worldly volcanic landscape of black and red-sand beaches and enormous caldera meet quintessentially Greek white-washed houses and blue-domed churches.
The IslandThe island's beauty has been waxed lyrical over the years, fully earning the epithet "kalliste" (the most beautiful). Along with "Strogili", this was one of the former names lent to the island over its troubled history–one full of battles and conquers, of a tragic eruption, and a blossoming renaissance, events that haven't altered Santorini's charm but that undoubtedly scarred it. Together with the inhabited Therasia and five other smaller islands, Thera (Santorini's Greek name) belongs to the namesake archipelago, which is the vestige of a volcanic caldera. Places of unspoiled nature and postcard-like views, the islands are reachable by boat and bear the original appeal of the old-fashioned Santorini. The main island is split further into picturesque villages masterly painted in dazzling blue and white hues, outlining the holiday resort's multi-faceted personality and its extraordinary variety of landscapes.
Do & See
Santorini is a colourful place which sets the senses alight. The scent of wine grapes and vineyards, the unique taste of tomatoes grown solely on volcanic soil, the smoothness of the white pebbles and turquoise waters, the buzz of nightlife, and the visual art that is the sun setting behind the village of Oia and the caldera. This is a place of colour, flavour, and adventure.
Without mentioning dazzling panoramas, the mesmerising sea or vibrant villages, Santorini's culinary tradition would be something worth experiencing on its own. Borrowing a pronounced Mediterranean diet from the mainland, Santorini shares a tendency to use vegetables, high-quality olive oil, meat and fresh seafood generously, creating its own cuisine by adding products that are cultivated solely on its fertile soil. Try the island's peculiar white eggplant with mozzarella, or sample the unique "Tomatokeftedes", tomato fritters made of Santorini's own produce, and accompany it beautifully with a glass of Vinsanto. The experience will be matched by an unrivalled view from one of the picturesque taverns the island is studded with.
A laid-back attitude accompanies the whole Greek lifestyle, and it is little wonder that it is emphasised even more in Santorini and the Greek Islands. Coffee breaks are a serious matter and a remarkable part of the day, making "kafeterias" appealing hangouts in suggestive towns. The most popular version of the traditional coffee is an espresso-like brew that tends to share similarities with Turkish coffee, infused with a sharp flavour, escorting the hearty Greeks throughout the day. Santorini's scorching sun has led locals and tourists to opt for a more chilled, yet equally efficient option, creating a break ideal for an iced coffee, a frappe, or an ice cream.
Bars & Nightlife
Santorini's nightlife revolves around its bustling capital, a buzzing hub that houses most of the island's foreign-patronized clubs and happening hangouts. The hectic town centre livens up at night, rocking until dawn in a uniform mixture of tourists and locals. Despite the other villages' less renowned bar scene, Santorini's holiday resorts, having developed substantially around tourism, are certainly not to be underrated. Picturesque bars dot the main drags, often gifting the travellers with breathtaking panoramas.
Santorini is in all aspects a work of art, and its souvenirs and local produce doubtlessly reflect the island's beautiful facets. Oia and above all Fira are the island's major shopping destinations, places of unrivalled charm where traditional shops line up neatly down narrow streets. On Santorini, a visit to one of the local art galleries is a must: evocative handicrafts, folk art and jewellery can be bought at accessible prices, guaranteeing a souvenir that mirrors the authenticity of the villages. Another worthy shopping experience is all about local produce. The diversity of products makes it hard to choose from the numerous delicacies grown on the island's volcanic soil. Fava, the Greek version of split peas, is particularly unique on Santorini and it is used to make a down-to-earth, yet scrumptious, puree. The island's grapes make a heavenly wine that is exported worldwide and can be bought in any of the local wineries. Last but not least comes Santorini's trademark tomato, the locals' pride and a must-try for food aficionados–wonderfully appetizing and juicy. On Santorini, go for local produce, handicrafts or jewellery–either way, it will be an unmatched experience.