From its dynamic nightlife through to its amazing historical sites, Santorini is blessed with great places to go and visit. The island's capital Fira provides many exquisite restaurants, bars and clubs, which are all positioned to enjoy the incredible views of the caldera, but the smaller and just-as-beautiful villages such as Oia also have their own share of charming haunts. Away from the buzz of the towns, you of course have Santorini's gorgeous beaches to enjoy, where you can take dips in the sea, go scuba diving or catch a boat trip to the bathing springs of Palea and Nea Kameni. Or perhaps if you fancy getting away from the sand and sea, a walk along the cliffs to sample the mesmerising views of the Aegean, is a another fantastic option.
Take a look at the list below to get an idea for what's on offer on Santorini. We've picked out a selection of attractions, but of course there's a whole lot more you can discover for yourselves if you fancy exploring this phenomenal island.
Whereas the lagoon on the West side houses Santorini's harbours, the East and South coasts feature many tranquil beaches varying in size and character. Perhaps the most famous and beautiful is Red Beach, which boasts stunning red and black rocks looming over the hot sand. Due to its relatively small size but large notoriety it can be often quite busy, so a trip to some of the larger beaches further up the shore, such as Perissa, Kamari and Cape Columbo, can be fantastic alternatives.
There are a number of scuba diving companies operating on the beaches, notably Kamari and Perissa. Diving excursions can take you to the West side of the island in the crystal clear waters of the Aegean, or round to the lagoon on the East side, where some marvellous reefs are found near the volcano. Wherever you dive, you'll experience the magnificent underwater world of Santorini, with its amazing wildlife and incredible lava-formed rock formations.
Located close to the volcano's crater are the twin islets of Palea andNea Kameni. These two uninhabited islets are home to Santorini's amazing hot bathing springs, and boat trips from Fira Harbour are frequent. The bluey-green volcanic waters of the springs stay in the region of 100 degrees Farenheit, making them a blissful and luxurious natural bathing spot. A must do!
If there was a better location for a health spa than Santorini, we'd love to know where it is! The beautiful village of Oia on the north of the caldera is home to Santorini Spa, which is based within the Hotel Museum building. This gorgeous spa offers a truly blissful experience: massages, skin and nail care, water therapies, health foods, herbal teas and so on, are all on offer for guests. Head up there for some pampering!
The Ancient Akrotiri site contains the remains of Crete's Minoan outpost of Akrotiri, which was abandoned and buried at the time of the Minoan Eruption. Today it is an excavation site, displaying a fascinating slice of ancient Santorini. It is thought that Akrotiri's citizens escpaed in time before the eruption, so no bodies were ever found there. There are still pots and tools stood in the places where their owners left them to flee in 1450 BC - one of the many mind-blowing features of the site.
During the Venetian rule of 1207-1580, Aegean coastlines came under incessant pirate raids. The residents of Santorini built castles in Skaros,Oia, Emporio, Pyrgos and Akrotiro, to fortify the island against attacks. The Venetians also brought Catholicism to Santorini, where it lived in peaceful co-existence with the Orthodox peoples of the island. This is reflected in the many still-standing churches featuring dual altars: one for Orthodox, and one for Catholic services.
Santorini lays claim to having some of the most breathtaking sunsets in the entire world, and they come no more spectacular on the island than in the picturesque village of Oia, on the north side of the lagoon. Every evening people turn up in hordes just to experience this phenomenal sight, and all seats, steps, walls and patches of grass are used for traditional picnicking as the sun goes down over the Aegean horizon. Be sure to take part on at least one evening during your stay!
There's probably no better way to absorb the incredible views from Santorini than to walk along the high cliffs above the lagoon and coastline. There's miles of terrain perfect for walking - you can either map out your own route, or perhaps go for one of the conventionally recommended stretches, such as the one along the coastline that joins Fira and Oia.
Established in 1986, this is a popular restaurant in Fira enjoying wonderful views of the caldera. The restaurant serves menus of traditional Greek and Santorinian dishes made from fresh local produce. The restaurant regularly receives complimentary reviews from both the Greek and International press.
As you can probably begin to tell, it's hard to find a restaurant in Fira which doesn't lap up the breathtaking volcanic views from the island. The next one is Archipelagos, which is located high up on the cliffs which Fira is built on. It is located in an old Captain's house, hence looks down over the harbour. The dishes specialise in seafood and pasta, and there is an extensive wine list of fine quality.
The 1800 restaurant in Oia, is another which has been converted from a former Captain's house. The highly-rated chefs prepare delicious meals speialising in Greek and other Mediterranean recipes. Make use of the knowledgeable waiters who'll advise you on the best wine from the cellar to complement your meal, and then after desert, why not sit back with one their fine Cuban cigars?!
This popular bar and nightclub in Fira is where the party crowds go have been going to dance the night away since 1979. It may be one of the most tranquil island locations on the planet, but Enigma is full proof that the residents of Santorini know how to throw a wild night out as well!
The trendy and colourful Kira Thira is renowned for its eclectic billing of live music and DJs, and puts on mainly Jazz, Latin and African themed nights. The dynamic nature of this very popular venue is reflected in the decorations and furnishings, notably the many different types of instruments adorning the walls and ceilings.