Santorini, the southernmost of Greece’s dazzling Cyclades islands is one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations – and with so many good reasons. Its multi-coloured cliffs rise 300 meters from the azure Aegean Sea, lightly capped with brilliantly white villas; an island a la mode.
The sheer beauty of Santorini is reason enough to visit. From its spectacular rainbow sand beaches to its quaint cobblestone streets, everything on the island is a thing of beauty. The island is also widely accepted to have the best sunsets in the world. The island was the inspiration for the mythical Lost City of Atlantis, and ‘the mysterious island’ in the tale of Captain Nemo.
The island, which is also known as Thira, is more than just a pretty face though. The Cyclades Islands were once one large island, until one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history created a massive crater in the middle, leaving only five island fragments remaining. This volcanic ash has perfectly preserved pieces of a 3500 year old town, which you can visit. You’ll see streets, artefacts and even two-storey buildings, complete with ancient frescoes. Your history lesson is completed by a visit to the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, which houses the more delicate and intriguing artefacts, like the inexplicable paintings of blue monkeys – on an island which has never been home to simians.
Fast-forward a few thousand years, and the island fragment of Santorini is paradise – with or without monkeys. And the best thing to do in paradise is go to the beach. Sun and sand seekers will be spoiled for choice, with more than ten fantastic and unique beaches to choose from. There’s the famous Baxede Beach with its pitch black sand, Vlychada, a nudist beach, and others with sand in hues of reds, pinks and greys. Agios georgios beach is perfect for the more adventurous and social beach-goers, with beach bars, taverns and a host of water sports on offer.
As if the island didn’t already have enough on offer, it’s also the home of several world-famous wines, thanks to the rich volcanic soil and Mediterranean climate. Enjoy a tour of the winelands and discover the fascinating, ancient local methods of growing grapes which are unique to Santorini. Be sure to sample the celebrated final products and enjoy the distinct notes of stone fruits, citrus and minerality. If wine isn’t for you, take a trip to the island’s first microbrewery, where the local ingredients like rare honey and the islands’ delicious natural spring water make for some delicious brews.
The food has kept up as the island has climbed to tourism stardom. You’ll find flawless classic Greek cuisine, gourmet international flavours and a little something that’s undeniably uniquely Santorini. The seafood simply doesn’t get any fresher and the fertile volcanic soil lovingly produces plump, sweet vegetables aplenty. And when you put these in the hands of several world-famous chefs who’ve made the island their home, you’re in for something special.
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