Greece
Beach Breaks

Big Fat Greek Guide to Santorini

November 14, 2017

Santorini, famous for it’s incredible postcard views, is one of the most notorious islands of the Cyclades.  It’s cliff-side buildings, pastel and white with blue dome roofs, are symbolic to Greece and constitute a picture-perfect destination for travellers around the globe.  When planning a trip to Santorini, you must first decide whether you want to stay above sea level (along the caldera) or down by the beach.  Most people decide to stay in one of the cliff-side towns simply for the dazzling views.  The beach towns are located on the opposite side of the island.  They lack views of the caldera and volcano, but are still charming and unique.

 

There are two main beach towns on the island; Kamari and Perissa.  Choosing one depends on personal preference, but keep in mind that there is a boat that travels frequently between them so it’s easy to enjoy both during your stay.  There is also a hiking trail to go from one to the other.

1. Kamari : This is the more developed town with lots of shops, restaurants, and a very popular outdoor cinema.  Instead of sand, the beach is made up of pebbles.

2. Perissa : This town is very popular amongst backpackers.  It’s black sand beach is considered to be the best beach on the island for swimming.

Although the beaches are beautiful, the island owes its fame to its stunning views so accommodation along the caldera is usually the more popular choice for visitors.  There are four main cliff-side towns and each one is special in it’s own way.  (For more detail on each town, click the links below).

1. Fira : As the capital of Santorini, this is the largest and busiest town on the island.  It is made up of narrow streets that are filled with many restaurants, bars and shops.

2. Firostefani : This town is a quieter option for those who want to stay close to Fira but not quite in the middle of all the action.

3. Imerovigli : This is the next town along the caldera, just under Oia.  It is the most quiet of the four but is known for having the best views.

4. Oia : This town is home to the iconic views that are usually associated with Santorini.  It is the most enchanting and romantic town on the caldera and has some of the best restaurants on the island.

All of the cliff-side properties are built into rock along the caldera, so when choosing a hotel, be prepared for lots of stairs!  A few of the newer hotels have small elevators, but it is very uncommon.  (To see more about my favourite hotel with an elevator, please click here).

Along with cliffside villages, there are also a number of inland towns that might be worth exploring.  Pyrgos is a typical white Cycladic village with narrow streets that is located in a heavy wine producing area.  Visit here for many of the famed wineries on the island, including Santo’s.  There’s another large village close by called Emporio.  It’s a traditional village centered around two Venetian churches with 19th century windmills scattered around the hills.  Akrotiri is the another village of Santorini and home to an ancient settlement with preserved “Bronze Age” ruins to visit.  It’s close to the famous Red Beach and the Akrotiri lighthouse, which is said to be the best ‘photo opportunity’ on the island.

Where to Stay Off the Beaten Path?

Astarte Suites : Set a in the cliffside near the site of Akrotiri, this stunning hotel is probably the most instagram-ed property on Santorini right now.

No matter where you choose to stay on ‘Gem of the Aegean,’ the rest of the island will be easily accessible.  Whether you choose a cliff-side town, a beach town, or an inland village, your trip to Santorini will be nothing short of magical.

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