Greek Guide

 

Santorini Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

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Santorini offers a wealth of things to do and places to explore by day. There are wonderful walks along the rim of the Caldera, some "must do" boat excursions to be enjoyed, unspoilt inland villages to discover and two archaeological sites giving a fascinating glimpse into the lives of ancient civilisations.

Fira, the capital, is the main centre of activity on the island a highly tourist orientated town over flowing with jewellery and gift shops, bars, restaurants and internet cafes. There's a dazzling range of beautiful, top quality jewellery to be found in the shops which line the narrow, pedestrianised lanes between the Plateia Theotokopoulou main square and the cliff edge of the Caldera. Expect to pay above Athens prices for much of it. Tacky gift shops selling playing cards with erotic images from ancient Greek art are jumbled in with more upmarket stores offering the local produce of Santorini including capers, pistachios, the island's excellent wines and thyme honey.

To delve into the island's history visit the Archaeological Museum, opposite the cable car station, which has finds from the excavated sites of Akrotiri and Ancient Thira, Cycladic statues and Roman sculpture. The museum of Pre historic Thira has a marvellous collection of wall paintings from Ancient Akrotiri recently returned to their island home after much pressure was applied to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. See the paintings first then make a trip to the Akrotiri site on the south coast of the island for a flavour of the lives of people who lived here before the cataclysmic volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago.

The archaeological site of Ancient Thira, on the east of the island, is in a spectacular hilltop location with dramatic views of Santorini and the neighbouring islands. The site was inhabited as far back as the 9th century BC and excavation work has revealed the ruins of Roman and Byzantine temples, a theatre, gymnasium and marketplace.

Santorini is famed for its wines and most vineyards offer tours and tastings for a small entrance charge which in some cases includes some "mezedes" (tasty Greek appetizers such as stuffed vine leaves, taramasolata etc). The Volcano Wine Museum, on the road to Kamari, is a fascinating underground cave museum displaying equipment and tools used for local wine production since 1600.

If you're an energetic type, the 12 kilometre walk from Fira to the delightful village of Ia (also spelt Oia) in the north of the island is well worth the effort. Allow at least two hours to wend your way along the spectacular footpath which meanders across the lip of the Caldera.

A cable car ride from Fira to the port below is a must it only takes three minutes but it's totally exhilarating (and less draining than tackling the 597 steps down from the cliff edge). At the port you can take one of the many excursion boats out to the volcanic islets of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. Dive off the boat to swim in the hot springs of Palea Kameni and climb to the top of the still active Nea Kameni volcano where you'll see the steam rising somewhat alarmingly from the crater walls. At this high point right in the centre of the Caldera, you'll be able to enjoy one of the most staggeringly beautiful views of the whole of Santorini. When you arrive back at the port resist the temptation of the cable car and take a mule ride back up to Fira. It's frantic, fun and a more than a little hair raising (be prepared to swing your leg over the saddle to save it from being crushed against the wall when your mule takes a corner too tightly!).