For Greece is like no other place, Athens is like no other city and the sunset in Santorini could leave the world’s most romantic poets overwhelmed
Santorini is an absolute traveller’s delight! The colourful houses, picturesque sunsets, beautiful villages and amazing weather all make for an amazing idyllic getaway from the stress of daily life. For first timers Santorini is a small island filled with many villages. Fira is the main town, located fairly centrally; Imerovigli is a small town with incredible views; Perissa is home to black sand beaches and some of the cheapest accommodation on the island. But people come to Santorini to explore the famous white village that dots postcards. This village is called Oia (pronounced Eee-yah) and it’s at the northern tip of the island.
WALK THE CALDERA PATH
The obvious activity is to walk the caldera edge and admire the views. Walks in and around Firá are spectacular, particularly heading north to Firostefáni and Imerovigli along the caldera-edge pathway. Keep walking and you’ll eventually reach Oia, but be aware that this is no small undertaking and the trail beyond Imerovigli can be rough. It’s about nine kilometres in all, and a good three- to four-hours walk in one direction.
While every boat tour is different here, the options include: hike the volcano, swim in the hot springs, visit Thirassia and explore its villages, stop at Red Beach and White Beach to swim and snorkel, eat lunch or dinner on board and watch the sunset below Oia. However, if you want a simple yet amazing experience, sail through the caldera, stopping at a few beaches, then the hot springs, with swimming, eating, relaxing and finally watching the sunset.
Firá is the picturesque capital of the island; perched high up on the edge of the Caldera, it looks like a marvellous painting. Firá, together with Oia, Imerovígli and Firostefáni located high above on a cliff, make up the so-called “Caldera’s eyebrow”, the balcony of Santorini, which offers an amazing view of the volcano. Other famous smaller villages are Akrotíri and Méssa Vounó, with their famous archaeological sites, Pýrgos, Karterádes, Emporió, Amoúdi, Finikiá, Períssa, Messariá and Monólithos: some of the villages are cosmopolitan some more peaceful; whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles affording amazing views out over the Aegean. Soaking up the villages’ distinctive traditional atmosphere is a very rewarding experience.
The one thing that often gets overshadowed by the beauty of Santorini is the array of food on offer. Fava is probably the most famous dish here. While its name might suggest fava beans, it is actually a yellow split pea purée. The creamy dish is served warm with olive oil and lemon and is topped with chopped onions or capers. The island is home to a specific variety of tomatoes called Santorini tomatoes, which are the size of cherries. Sweet and with an intense red colour, they are at the centre of the ntomatokeftedes (or tomato fritters) dish. The volcanic soil of the island makes a perfect breeding ground for another rare product: the white eggplant. It is a unique variety that has fewer seeds than its purple counterpart, plus it has a sweet taste
Words By: Adrian Murphy