Santorini is undoubtedly the most spectacular of the Greek Islands, boasting stark, multi-coloured cliffs which are the remnants of an ancient volcano. The immense caldera is home to an array of spectacular cliff top hotels that offer amazing views over the crater and the shining blue water below. The eastern side of the island is flatter but no less beautiful with volcanic beaches and glorious vistas of the Aegean Sea.
Not only is there some of the most spectacular landscapes in Greece, Santorini is an active volcanic island and has two smouldering cones within the six-mile wide caldera. There has been long held speculation that it could be the remains of the Mythical Lost Kingdom of Atlantis. What is known is that in 1646 BC a massive volcanic eruption took place blasting out the interior of the island to shape its massive cliffs of today. It is believed that this event also could have heralded the end of the Minoan civilisation of nearby Crete.
I took a ferry boat from the main jetty to Oia. A local bus ride to the capital Thira revealed a serious tourist dollar revenue raiser. There’s an abundance of shopping opportunities; jewellers, craft ware and such that you won’t find of the same quality or on the same scale on other islands. Here the snow-drift of white Cycladic houses line the cliff tops and, in places, spill like icy cornices down the terraced rock. When the sun sets, the reflection on the buildings and the glow of the orange and red in the cliffs can be truly spectacular.
After a very pleasant lunch complemented by some excellent local wine I descended the steps down to the shore line accompanied by some tourist loaded complaining donkeys. You can descend by cable car but the queue can be a problem. Last time I stayed on Santorini I viewed the sunset from Akrotiri Lighthouse, it’s a bit more difficult to get to but is worth a visit and the views are spectacular, you also manage to escape some of the madding crowd.
Santorini is no secret and draws crowds for most of the year, yet it wears its tourism well and its offerings make it worth the bustle. The island’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia. It also glides effortlessly into the future with accomplished artists, excellent wineries, a unique microbrewery, and some of the Cyclades finest accommodation and dining experiences.
Peter Shepherd, Travel Consultant