Taking natural beauty to classical standards, Santorini is a Greek island that oozes sophistication. Met with the bluest of oceans and beaches which are as gorgeous as they come, this volcanic wonder needs no dressing up.
With many strings to its bow, Santorini holidays are diverse. In other words, you can make this place anything you want it to be. If you like your beaches a little different, then the famous volcanic Red Beach won’t disappoint. Its shades of deep crimson rock backdrop and sand to match appear almost otherworldly. In fact, with giant lagoons, and towering mountains and cliff to be found wherever you visit, Santorini doesn’t do scenery by halves.
If you like your winters warm and your summers even hotter, Santorini’s Mediterranean climate welcomes you with open arms. Sun seekers will be happy to know that they’re unlikely to see a drop of rain in the Summer months. The warm and dry season usually lasts from April until October, while the colder and rainy season is from November until March.
Holidays to Santorini are more than your average beach holiday. Its coast is packed with surprises tucked away for eager explorers to uncover, while an ancient history awaits inland – and we’re not just talking museums. We mean a past told in prehistoric ruins sites, in the iconic skyline seen so often on postcards, and in a timeless culture that’ll make you never want to leave.
There aren’t many towns that have the distinct honour of sitting on the rim of an extinct volcano but Thira, Santorini’s capital, is one of them. The striking contrast of blue domes and whitewashed houses places Thira up there with some of the most recognisable landscapes in Europe. And this spectacular scene doesn’t just end in the foreground, with the Aegean Sea and volcanic peaks in the background, it keeps on getting better.
Thira is all about exploring at your own pace. If you want to take it all in by foot then go ahead, but it’s equally convenient to see the town from the back of a donkey if you fancy or even in a climbing cable car if you want the the best seat in town.
A village covered in Santorini’s famous whitewashed villas and framed by dramatic volcanic scenery, Perissa is a relatively new resort to visit on your holiday in Santorini. Built in the 60s, lacks the rustic appeal of other resorts, but we love the vast array of water sports and easygoing nightlife. Perissa’s scenic beach is a thing of beauty and it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Greek ruins at Ancient Thera.
With the Aegean Sea on one side and Vouno Mountain on the other, Kamari is an ideal destination for travellers looking to relax on Santorini’s most popular blue-flag beach, a 2km stretch of black sand lapped by crystal-clear waters. Whether you wish to lounge on the beach, spend a few hours exploring Greece’s ancient ruins, or stroll along the narrow streets of one of the most picturesque Greek villages, Kamari has you covered. Within easy reach of Santorini’s stunning views, it offers entertainment for all tastes: museums and restaurants, fine wineries, dark volcanic sands, and water-sports. And lying just above Kamari, easily reached via bus, Ancient Thira is home to theatres and temples dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries.
Though small and quiet, Oia is the most famous village of the Santorini region. With sunbathed verandas, white-painted houses, narrow passageways, and a view of the volcanos, Oia will give you a taste of the Cyclades’ typical beauty, cultural heritage, and relaxed lifestyle. Make sure you bring your camera with you: the village offers some of Greece’s most dramatic views, as well as restored churches, art galleries, and Naval Maritime Museums. Make sure not to forget your camera: the ruins of the Byzantine castle will afford you a 360-degree view of the whole village.
Just 8 km from Fira and a short drive away from Thira, Monolithos’ clear waters and black sands will make for an enchanting holiday. With shallow waters, bars, and water-sports, Monolithos’ two-part beach is an ideal choice for families looking to spend some quiet time in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Cafés and restaurants will keep you entertained until evening and a short drive will lead you to the near towns of Kamari and Thira. The castle just outside town offers a breath-taking view of the sea, the hills, and of Monolithos’ western coast.
Hiking Trail Fira – Oia
Hiking from Fira to Oia can be done in around 4 hours, but the memory of the views along the way will last a lot longer. It’s likely you could complete the hike in less time, but we’d be very surprised if you could complete it without making plenty of stops to take some snaps of the scenery. Travelling through several different areas, the hike winds past churches, undeveloped terrain and residential areas, giving you a feel for the real Santorini.
If you’re a avid outdoors-y type, we’d tell you to pop on those hiking boots and make the steep ascent up to this ancient site. Alternatively, if you’re here for the view and beauty of these ruins – and not for getting out of breath, catch the bus that takes ou up most of the route. The ruins of ancient Thera are truly huge and incredible, so we recommend taking it at your own pace and taking in this incredible structure built in the days of Ancient Greece.
Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Similar to ancient Thera, Akrotiri boasts history and beauty in every corner of its historic grounds. A more contained site than Thera, the grounds have been maintained to an exceedingly high standard. Considering the age of these relics, they’re in pretty good shape in our opinion. If you want the full story of the site then a guided tour will provide all the colour you need, and we highly recommend sticking around for sunset – something not to be missed.
Wineries in Santorini
Santorini is famous for its wine and there are a number of wineries on the island where you can get a real taste for it. Two of the most popular wineries are Santo winery and Venetsanos winery. Of course, both wineries offer all-important tasting sessions which are best enjoyed alongside the authentic Greek platter and aperitifs also on offer.
Profitis Ilias Monastery
Many places in Santorini compete for the best sunset-watching spot. From the Akrotiri Archaeological site to the whitewashed walls of the old Byzantine castle in Oia, there are plenty of breathtaking spots to witness what is arguably the most striking sunset in Europe, but we definitely recommend taking a trip to the Profitis Ilias Monastery. A Cycladic architectural wonder, the monastery stands atop the highest point of the island, making for stunning panoramic views of the Hellenic archipelagos. Before you marvel at the sun’s drop into the sea, you can visit the monastery’s museum, which is home to a collection of rare ecclesiastical artefacts, or buy a souvenir at the shop – all the products are cultivated and made by the monastery’s monks, and samples are provided in the yard.
Set sail for Santorini’s crystal clear waters and you’ll discover a world of rich marine life, stunning hidden beaches and a never-ending stretch of sparkly Aegean Sea. The options are endless: book a private catamaran tour and tailor it to suit your sailing needs; go on a romantic cruise across the Aegean, with a stopover at Santorini’s famous hot springs and a chance to bathe in its hidden coves; or grab a couple of friends and enjoy a BBQ aboard your very own charter for the day. There’s also plenty to discover for seasoned and first-time divers, with dive sites around the Caldera providing a unique look at the island’s volcanic foundations and ecosystems.
Though it’s Santorini’s whitewashed, blue-domed volcanic beauty that draws holidaymakers from all walks of life year after year, it’s the delicious food and the cultural practices surrounding it which keeps them coming back. Travel anywhere in the Mediterranean and you’ll hear locals boasting about how their cuisine is the most delicious, but Santorini really does come close to taking away the prize. Expect crumbly, buttery pastries that melt in the mouth, strong coffee that puts to shame the lukewarm, watery brew we have here in the UK and plenty of street food – no Santorini holidays are complete without sampling some street gyoza. Fancy a little of finesse or prefer to eat your food sat in an atmospheric taverna? Don’t fret, there are plenty of those too.
Santorini’s cuisine is defined by a selection of simple yet satisfying staple ingredients. Santorini Cherry Tomato (Tomataki) consists of tomato paste and fritters and tastes unlike any other tomato dish found in Greece. While two other locally sourced ingredients are the katsouni, a locally grown cucumber with a more delicate flavour than usual, and fava Santorini - yellow split peas. These ingredients are synonymous with the island and can be found in most dishes. Alongside classic Greek ingredients like aubergines and courgettes, the cuisine in Santorini is rightfully notorious across all of Greece. Try it for yourself and you’ll see what we mean.
We’ve mentioned the Profitis Ilias Monastery as a place to visit, but it’s also most definitely a place to eat. The unique volcanic soil and warm climate makes for ingredients bursting with flavour, including sun-dried tomatoes – the tomato even has its own museum in Vlychada, the Tomato Industrial Museum – caper leaves, honey and, of course, olives.
To taste some traditional Santorini dishes, we recommend Katina’s Taverna in Ammoudi – a small bay nestled at the foot of Oia. Unsurprisingly, it’s the seafood that takes centre stage in this picturesque spot by the sea. You can expect simple yet delicious dishes featuring octopus, lobster – the lobster pasta in particular is exceptional – and whole seabream.
For an amazing holiday that is rich in scenery, and provides an unforgettable experience whether you’re lounging somewhere along the coast or exploring ancient ruins, book your Santorini holiday with easyJet holidays today.