Whitewashed villages clinging to the cliffs, blue-domed churches, and an equally blue sea stretching to the horizon. This is what typically comes to mind when anyone mentions the Greek Islands. My favorite is Santorini, also known as Thira. Located in the Aegean Sea about 120 miles (200 km) southeast from mainland Greece, it’s the southernmost of the Cyclades island group. Santorini is actually a collapsed caldera, a remnant of a volcanic eruption that happened over three thousand years ago. (Some historians have theorized that it may even have been the fabled lost continent of Atlantis.)
Perched atop nearly 1000-foot (980 meter) high cliffs—on the rim of the caldera—is the island’s main town of Fira. After taking a cable car, bus or even a donkey up from the port, you’re greeted by a charming village of stout, whitewashed buildings draped in bougainvillea, bursting with color. Wander aimlessly through a warren of cobbled streets, lined with tavernas, churches, boutiques, and cafés. Fira is great for shoppers, photographers, artists, or anyone who just wants to escape from it all.
Santorini features beaches with white, black, or even red sand. Just remember to bring your sandals or risk burning your feet! One of the most popular beaches on the island is Perissa, located on the southeast coast. The area has many hotels, bars and nightclubs and attracts visitors from all over looking for the perfect Greek holiday.
To catch a glimpse of one of the world’s most beautiful and dramatic sunsets, be sure to head to the town of Oia, at the island’s northern edge. Tourists and locals alike will stake out spots hours in advance, just to enjoy the glorious sight.
Santorini is easily one of my top ten favorite destinations in the world. I dream of returning there someday, hopefully soon. This paradise is the perfect place to soak up the sun and all of the magic that the Greek Islands have to offer.
Photo 1: public domain, Photo 2: WikiComons – Danbu14