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Santorini Greece or Heaven . . . . Your Choice!

Updated on May 8, 2013
view to the Christiana islands during sunset at Akrotiri
view to the Christiana islands during sunset at Akrotiri | Source

The Voyage of Discovery

Leaving the port of Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete, I was filled with many questions about my destination Santorini. Not knowing anything about this incredibly unique island my main worry was, "I hope it’s not a typical tourist trap" and my worries were to be put to rest by the end of my trip, . . .after all . . . it was named “The World’s Best Island for 2011” by the BBC and ranked “World’s Top Island for 2011” in Travel & Leisure magazine.

Entering the submerged caldera, the sight of hilltop villages of brightest white with splashes of royalist blue, dotted randomly on the edge of a wall of deepest black rock 300m high . . . is truly breathtaking.



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Oia the most expensive place to buy property in Greece
Oia the most expensive place to buy property in Greece
Oia the most expensive place to buy property in Greece | Source
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The Creation of Santorini

Part of the Cyclades group of Greek Islands, Santorini (officially named Thera or Thira) situated in the southern Aegean Sea between Ios and Anafi, is 130 nautical miles from Piraus and 70 nautical miles from Crete. With a population of 7,000 the island swells with home owners and tourists arriving in the summer season to over 10,000.An island whose size is approximately 73 sq km (28 sq miles), is the largest of 5 visible islands all formerly 1 circular island which experienced one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded ( many attributing it to the collapse of the Minoan civilization in Crete), causing it to sink in the middle and today is a giant lagoon 32sq miles wide and 1312 ft ( 400 m) deep volcanic crater. The islands you see today are Thera, Aspronisi, Therasia, making up the rest of the caldera ring, and right bang in the middle are the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni (emerging in 1707) and the smaller island Palea Kameni. In 1956 the island experienced a double blow with an earthquake and a volcanic eruption which left the communities destroyed and resulted in mass exodus from the villages.

Classic Santorini

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Scenic Santorini Island

The steeple of Agios Nikolas
The steeple of Agios Nikolas | Source
 view to Nea Kameni from Fira
view to Nea Kameni from Fira | Source
view from Firostefani
view from Firostefani | Source

Emerging from the Ashes . . . Santorini Today

So to the island of today that has provided such inspiration for Artists, Writers, Lyricists, Foodies and Wine Connoisseur’s. Thanks to the expansion of tourism and thus the economy and population, we all now have the opportunity to experience a truly unique place where the passion and pride of its people are evident around every corner, in every face and in every spectacular sunset. The best way of viewing the island is to think of it in terms of 3 different sections, all worthy of visiting to appreciate the vibe and culture.

Living On the Edge of a Crater

The west side of the island is where you will find the villages of Oia, Imerovigli, Fira and Firostefani all perched on the cliffs of the caldera offering different but spectacular views of the volcano. I say villages when they are in fact more like towns and the commercial part of the island, where Hotels, Restaurants, Nightlife, and Shopping are all available in abundance. . . . Where else are you going to be able to do all this perched on the edge of a crater?!!! Oia is world recognised as having the most glorious and breathtaking sunsets and I can definitely give it the nod from other places I’ve seen. It will come as no surprise to hear that couples planning to, tie the knot, commit to each other or renew vows, are often seen in this part of the island!

As with all commercial places, if you like to go off the beaten track and go where the locals go (which I enjoy the most), you will be rewarded tenfold. Travellers who find themselves here looking for the “Unspoilt Greece” will not exactly find that but it would be a missed opportunity not to stay in one of these caldera side villages, as the sheer beauty and magic here far eclipses any other thoughts.


Beaches of Santorini

Perivolos beach
Perivolos beach | Source
Vlichada beach
Vlichada beach | Source
outside beach bar at Perissa beach
outside beach bar at Perissa beach | Source

Sun worshipper's Hotspots

Beaches here show the signs of Volcanic Activity and are therefore Black, Red or White sand . . . . The choice is yours!!! The second part of the island, on the east side of Santorini, is where you will find the two extremely popular black sand beach towns of Kamari and Perissa, but be warned, forget your flip-flops at your peril. Like black clothes attract the sun, the black volcanic sand embraces the heat to an intensity you would not believe! Multiply that by 1000 and you get the picture. The rows of flip flops lined up at the shoreline are testament to this. You will find your usual abundance of Cafe’s, Bar’s, Restaurants and Shops in both locations and if you want to base yourself here, plenty of accommodation options.

Tip: If you are coming from the West side, you should take the time to stop in the towns of Megalochori and Emborio. These two towns were reluctant to give in to tourism until the last minute and are predominantly agricultural communities where you will experience mainly Greeks in the eateries and you will be warmly received. Well worth having a bite to eat, an Espresso or two or even a shot of the local brew Raki.

Where Time Stood Still . . . . Akrotiri

At the far end of Santorini lies Akrotiri, world known for its ruins of the Minoan period. The road to the archaeological site does not go through the village and is therefore bypassed by the majority of visitors, In my view a mistake. Akrotiri town, whilst there is nothing much to see and do here, is what you would expect a typical, non-commercial Greek town to be. A quiet, softly spoken village, locals going about their business in their own time. The area is predominantly agricultural and craft based and many of the town’s folk have left to work in tourism in other parts of the Island. At the top of the town is the ruin of the old fortress, destroyed in the earthquake of 1956 along with the original town. It was decided to rebuild the new town at the foot of the fortress instead. If you can take a wander around the new town you will be rewarded with spectacular views of, the caldera, the volcano and in fact most of the island. Akrotiri has always two highly rated beaches worthy of a mention, Red Beach and Vlichada.

Life in Santorini

time for a break
time for a break | Source
the goulas (medieval castle) of Akritiri
the goulas (medieval castle) of Akritiri | Source

Foods from the Lap of the Gods

Santorini is one of only two European locations to have a hot desert climate. Due to its unique ecology and especially its volcanic ash soil, the island produces unique and prized produce. The Santorini Tomatoes are well renowned and respected all over the world, a cherry tomato so tasty and full of sweetness. It features greatly in local cuisine and a speciality of the island is Tomato Keftedes (deep fried tomato balls), not to be missed! The White Eggplants of the island are extremely sweet, have very few seeds and may be eaten raw. The Katsouni is a local variety of a large cucumber unique to the island and if left unpicked when green, it then turns yellow, has a sweet taste and you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between this and a melon!

The island as you will see, has endless fields of grapes and remains the home of a small but thriving wine Industry. If you are knowledgeable about grapes the first thing you will notice is the way they are grown here. Santorini has no rivers and water is scarce so grapes are not grown in arbores but in low baskets on the ground, which are made of the vines or stalks. The grapes are not watered but as with all crops here, they rely on the morning dew for moisture. There are many winery’s on the island but my advice is to go to a lesser known one instead of “recommended by the tour guide” ones. One such winery is Art Space Gallery and Winery in the small village of Exo Gonia which is a Winery and Art Gallery in a very unique setting dating back to 1830.

Food and Wine

the local visanto wine seller
the local visanto wine seller | Source
restaurant Marmita in Megalochori
restaurant Marmita in Megalochori | Source
the famous cherry tomaotoes
the famous cherry tomaotoes | Source
Octopus drying out at Mama Thira's in Firostefani
Octopus drying out at Mama Thira's in Firostefani | Source

Reflecting on all this island has to offer it is without question that the main star of the show is the volcano as without it, Santorini would be just like many other tourist spots. It’s as if a rebirth of a civilization occurred and much of what is so wonderful about this place has the volcano to thank. The black sand beaches, the tomatoes and the wine are all by-products of an explosion that wiped out life but created a destination like no other. Seeing Santorini for the first time is an experience you will be hard pushed to beat on this planet!!!

Oia (on the top) and Amoudi (next to the sea)
Oia (on the top) and Amoudi (next to the sea) | Source

Santorini

show route and directions
A markerOia, -
Oia,
get directions

B markerAkrotiri -
Akrotiri 847 00, Greece
get directions

C markerFira -
Fira 847 00, Greece
get directions

D markerThira -
Thira 847 00, Greece
get directions

E markerPerissa -
Perissa, Greece
get directions

F markerNea Kameni -
Nea Kameni 847 00, Greece
get directions

G markerTherasia -
Therasia, Greece
get directions

H markerAspronisi -
Aspronisi, Thira 847 00, Greece
get directions

I markerPalea Kameni -
Palea Kameni 847 00, Greece
get directions

Santorini Greece or Heaven . . . . Your Choice Comments

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    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Really, really loved this Hub. Santorini is very high on my list of must see places. In fact, we were initially going to go to Greece this September but changed out plans to Venice and Sicily. I think maybe next year we have to see this. You photos are just spectacular and make me want to go even more. Thanks for sharing with us. Voting up, sharing, beautiful, interesting, etc.......

    • Media Magnate Mom profile image

      Media Magnate Mom 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Awesome hub! Santorini is among my favorite places on Earth. Amazing history, beautiful scenery, delectable food and wonderful people. I hope to get back there soon. Thanks for sharing your travels. Beautiful and voted up!

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      What a beautiful place! My husband and I plan to go to Santorini next summer. Thanks for sharing! What is the best way to get from Athens to Santorini?

    • profile image

      mjkearn 5 years ago

      Well Done SuzieHQ, fabulous, awesome article. Pictures were amazing and if I had money I'd visit Santorini tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing and can't wait for your next Hub. Voting up and up and up.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi bdegiulio,thank you so much for your lovely comments and for all the votes!!!! I'm a total "newbie" to hubs and always fancied writing.By the way, Go to Southern Italy instead of Venice!Im a bit biased as im moving to live there in near future.Keep an eye out for future ITALIAN hubs as like you i love the country.Looking forward to reading your hubs!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Media Magnate Mom, Thanks a million for reading my hub and for your comments! Really appreciate it.Yes it is a stunning place i visited on my own, and it left a huge impression.Definitely want to return to also! W are both lucky to have experienced all it has to offer!!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Media Magnate Mom, Im a total "newbie" to the world of hubs and think i replied through the wrong way so major apologies!! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments, Yes it is a breathtaking island and full of so many wonderful opportunities! Delighted you and your husbend have been and hopefully you will get the chance to return!! Many thanks again!!!!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi bdegiulio,Replied to you in the wrong way so apologies!! Total "newbie" of less than a week here!!

      Thanks so much for your great comments and votes.After seeing your own very impressive hubs im very appreciative indeed.I look forward to reading many of yours particularly on Italy as i am moving to live there hopefully next year as have property there.Keep an eye out for my articles on Southern Italy.!!Thanks again on all your votes, look forward to reading yours!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi debbiepinkston, Thanks so much for reading my hub and commenting on it, very kind and thoughful of you!! I will come back to you on best way to get there from Athens you can check out if that's ok.I want to check a few things first on it.Im so jealous but delighted your going you will not be disappointed!!!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      I really enjoyed this hub as we plan on visiting Greece next year !

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Santorini is absolutely gorgeous, well worth a visit, even if you only had a day there but a day or 2 would be ideal and stay on the edge of the volcano, with a bevie and watch the incredible sunset there!! Heaven!! Thanks for comments and your interest!!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Fabulous! I'm aching to go!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Crystal, so glad you really enjoyed as Santorini is stunning. Some of the streets are so narrow only one person can go down comfortably! I had only ever seen a street similar once and that was Amsterdam in The Netherlands! Appreciate you comments very much!

    • mom4autism profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Absolutely LOVED this hub. I have not been many places in my life - being a single mom of twins and one who has special needs. So for me reading about all the places you have been and looking at these gorgeous pictures, I can easily transport myself there and feel like I am able to see places I may never get to my lifetime. Beautiful writing - voted up and beautiful and you have a new follower - Thank you!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Wow, thanks so much mom4autism, your comments are truly appreciated!! Travel is one of my passions and if i can write about places and bring them to life for readers,i'l be thrilled. Thanks so much for your support and votes, i look forward to catching up with you! :)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Such a beautiful place! I have always loved the "old time" architecture of Greece. Your choice of pictures is awesome! I would LOVE to visit here some day! Voted up, awesome and sharing!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi sg,

      Thanks so much for stopping on by!! Santorini is such a beautiful island and the sunsets are world class!!

      Photos are easy to take with so much being picturesque. Hopefully you will get the opportunity to visit in person someday soon!! Appreciate your support, votes and sharing - Have a great wekend :-)

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

      Almost all the islands in the Mediterranean are characterised by attractive climates, attractive scenery, and attractive villages. But of all the islands I have to agree that Santorini is possibly the prettiest and most interesting of all. My knowledge is limited - I have only spent a few hours on Santorini back in 2006, but the impression the island made was considerable - the history and the geology are fascinating, and the white-washed architecture is lovely. The blue domes and doors only add to the appeal of the whole. I wasn't aware Suzie that Santorini was voted the 'World's Best Island', but it doesn't surprise me.

      Your article does the island justice with beautiful photos and huge amounts of information about the island, past and present. I thoroughly recommend the page (but I hope it doesn't encourage TOO many tourists to visit and spoil the atmosphere!!) Voted up in lots of ways. Alun.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Alun,

      Good to see you as always my dear friend from across the Irish Sea! Santorini is such a picture paradise, round every corner, up every street and hilltop . . . .I would love to return and I will. So much history there and for a small island it has had a big impact on the world.

      Appreciate your kind words and support here and on all of my work Alun. :-)

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

      Kimberly Vaughn 4 years ago from Midwest

      Santorini is the #1 place I want to visit. Thanks for the great hub!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Kimberly,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Santorini really is stunning if you get the chance, you won't be disappointed!!

    • Celebrates profile image

      Celebrates 2 years ago

      Santorini does look like heaven. I really enjoyed seeing all these beautiful photos of the island and the culture.

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