Why go to Santorini at least once in your life? Because there are no other similar islands in the Mediterranean and in the seas around the world. The panorama of the caldera – the volcanic crater whose summit collapsed following a gigantic explosion about 3500 years ago – is simply unique: everything contributes to the spectacle, the red-brown, black rocks, sprinkled with gray pumice, the islets wrecks where the mouth of the volcano was, the deep blue sea, the villages overlooking the edge of the cliff, dazzling in their immaculate white.
We give you ten tips to get to know this extraordinary island, along with some practical information. Despite the thousands of selfies and cruise ship disembarkations, despite the photoshopped postcards and the Irish pubs, Santorini has stolen a piece of our heart. Let us know if you agree.
- LOOK AT THE CALDERA
Everything revolves around the caldera in Santorini. The rest is a corollary. The caldera means panoramas, luxury hotels, sunsets, infinity pools, jewelry shops, overhanging cocktails, vertigo dinners included. The more you see the caldera, the more you are on the caldera, the more you are in, cool, vip. And unlike other islands where the landscape is similar to that of many others, here it is truly unique. There are no comparisons: it is one of those places that Mother Nature has created for the pleasure of the eyes and a sinking heart.
- SEE THE SUNSET
Sunset in Santorini is huge business. They almost force you to see it from the boat or from Oia, preferably one evening from the boat and one evening in Oia. Which in the evening becomes Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Milan or via Condotti in Rome, with the only difference that the alleys between the boutiques and boutique hotels can contain just two rows of people side by side. From the ruins of the Venetian castle there is applause when the sun disappears, in a moment of collective exaltation and planetary sharing: the greeting to the sun all together and then everyone resumes their way. An almost anthropological experience.
- VISIT THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
The caldera and everything that goes around it makes us forget that Santorini hosts – after Delos – the most important archaeological site in the Aegean. The fateful explosion literally buried a city that for the time was state-of-the-art in every respect: many traces remain in the Akrotiri site, which has still been minimally excavated. Wandering through the ruins – covered by a futuristic infrastructure in concrete, wood and steel, which also leaves you speechless for its size and design – one cannot help but wonder “How advanced were these men of 1700 BC?” . Let’s remember: 1000 years before the founding of Rome!
- SEARCH FOR BEACHES
You don’t come to Santorini for the beaches. They are no more beautiful than many others scattered throughout the Aegean. Also because the sea of the island does not offer those aquamarine turquoise blues typical of white sands: here everything speaks of volcano, ash, deep sea. That said, there are many noteworthy beaches: rent a car or a moped and go look for them. Among other things, you will also wonder why everyone goes to the and the same beaches – Kamari, kingdom of backpackers; and Perissa, a paradise for organized tours. Perhaps there is little “wild beach” tourism in Santorini. Either stay in the pool or go to the beach with a deck chair and umbrella.
- FEEL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VOLCANO
Changing perspective is good in Santorini, especially if you have arrived on the island by plane. Because going down to sea level, under the cliffs of the caldera, offers completely different visions. Take an organized tour and set out to discover Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, the islets in the middle of the caldera, and Thirasia, the island that “closes the circle” of the sunken crater: you will see Fira and Oia silhouetted against the sky and above all you will understand that the volcano still exists, and how. Fumaroles, whiffs of sulfur, hot water springs will remind you that the island does not sleep at all. Rather…
- TASTE THE SPECIALTIES
Have you thought about taking a holiday in Greece and finding a sea of olive trees? Santorini is also special for this: there is not even a shadow of olives. On the other hand, the inhabitants have always exploited the fertile volcanic ashes to cultivate the vine: a small, tenacious vine, which grows silently crawling on the ground and which gives an excellent white wine. Just as excellent are the cherry tomatoes and white aubergines, other specialties to be enjoyed in the many taverns on the island (the real ones: see below).
- DISCOVER THE COUNTRIES
Although only a few kilometers away from each other, each village of Santorini is a story of its own. Fira combines branded shops with bad souvenirs (red and black vases, white and blue houses: there is plenty of choice). In the evening after 11pm it becomes an amusement park, young people pop up everywhere inviting you to enter “their” places where the beer flows in the river and the music cancels any linguistic difficulty. Oia is more refined, tinkling with jewels and designers – even if the houses destroyed by the earthquake of ’56 are still around the corner. Imerovigli is a fantastic cascade of resorts competing for who raises the bar of chic. In Pyrgos, then, inside, it seems to be on another island: an authentic atmosphere, alleys that rise towards the church, the ruins of the castle from which a beautiful panorama opens up.
- WALKING WITH SEA VIEW
Arrived at point number 8 you will have understood by now: we are fans of the countercurrent. And to go against the tide in Santorini there is above all one thing to do, which we could also put in point 1, as much as we liked it: walking along the Caldera. The walk from Fira (or from Imerovigli) to Oia is relaxing, breezy, undemanding, full of views, fragrant, far from the crowd. You will smile as you enter Oia, immerse yourself in the crowd and think about what you just did: they will never understand he if not we would recommend flip flops. Walk slowly, admiring the scattered resorts, their stratospheric pools and Oia approaching little by little. Take the only climb without haste, knowing that after the church, up there, it’s all downhill. From Imerovigli to Oia it is about two and a half hours on a well-marked path (except at one point, where you have to walk along the road).
- BE AMAZED IN THE FACE OF LUXURY
If anyone wanted to get an idea of the new frontiers of luxury they could probably take a look at what is happening in Santorini. It will be because the island has become the favorite destination for honeymooners, it will be because it has rightfully entered that “Grand Tour of Europe” that Asians and Americans never tire of planning (if they have to choose a place in Greece or in the Mediterranean, they choose Santorini) – it will be for many reasons, but wandering the narrow streets along the edge of the caldera it seems that if you don’t have a pool in your room you are really nobody.
- THINK ABOUT THE IDEA OF GREECE
Starting off, we think this. In the end, if it weren’t so white, if it didn’t incorporate the blue domes of churches, if the walls weren’t so rounded and the houses so superimposed on each other – well, a pour of concrete at the edge of the caldera would be frankly horrible. But everything in Santorini is so harmonious and at the same time part of a collective imagination, of how we perceive the idea of Greece, that any negative sign disappears from the memory, almost melts under the sun. Enjoy Santorini. Have a good trip.