SANTORINI INSIDER EXPERIENCES

Santorini is for Lovers

Santorini is a spectacular island with an extraordinary character and inimitable charm that attracts myriads of visitors from all around the world. The breath-taking wonder of the caldera of Santorini, the unusual traditional architecture full of charming, sugar-cube shaped homes cliffhanging above the sea, and the amazing energy of the volcano give Santorini an alluring, captivating ambiance that mesmerizes the senses, making this tiny island one of the most romantic destinations world-wide. It is often said that even if you are not in love when you arrive in Santorini, you will surely be when you leave.
Naturally, everything in Santorini revolves around romance and love. One of the top destinations in the Mediterranean for spectacular weddings and brimming with picture-perfect spots for viewing the one-of-a-kind sunset, Santorini offers an abundance of romantic activities that you and your loved one can enjoy.
There are many ways to explore the beauty and charms of Santorini; the most popular one is by cruising around the coast on a private yacht or sailing boat, an amazing opportunity to admire this unique island from an uncommon point of view.
Visiting some of Santorini’s beaches is a must; their volcanic origins have bequeathed them with unusual colors and otherworldly landscapes, perfect for memorable photos and unique swimming opportunities. Don’t miss out on the Red Beach, the White Beach, Perissa, Kamari, and nearby Mesa Pigadia beaches. Sightseeing is another experience you should not miss; the medieval Kastelia of Santorini, in Pyrgos, Akrotiri, Oia, Skaros, and Emporio is a part of medieval history that adds to the mystifying ambiance of the island, where you can enjoy both intriguing strolls and amazing views. Visiting the ancient sites of Akrotiri and Ancient Thira is also highly recommended for those interested in Santorini’s history.
As for activities, a wide variety is available especially for couples; exciting water sports, horse-back riding tours, wine tastings in local wineries combined with the delightful tastes of Santorini, sunset viewing from delightful spots are among the experiences that can truly divulge the romantic character of Santorini. And of course, you can arrange for any such experience in the privacy and comfort of your Villa; address our concierge for private dining arrangements, for romantic wine tastings or exquisite sunset parties for you and your guests. Summers in Santorini were made for love.

THE BEST SPOTS FOR THE SUNSET

You can admire the spectacular sunset

Although the sunset at the Oia Castle is the most famous on the island, it is surely not the only one –and not necessarily always the best. In order to get a different angle of the sunset having the whole of Santorini in the frame, you should go to Faros in Akrotiri, where you will be almost alone. Another option is to choose Profitis Ilias (Pyrgos), one of the highest spots of the island, or Vlihada beach, where you will be fascinated with the volcanic scenery changing color nuances as the sun sets.

VISIT AKROTIRI

Nowhere In the World Is there Anything Similar

Visiting Akrotiri is like traveling in time. Walk around the streets and squares of a pre-historic city of 30.000 inhabitants(!), admire the elegant mansions and high finesse of the 17th century B.C.

EXPERIENCE SCUBA DIVING

The Unique Experience

Only scuba diving lovers can really appreciate the unique experience of the underwater world. In Santorini, this feeling will be greater, as you get the chance to see the distinctiveness of the bottom of this sea: the volcanic stones and the bottomless depth of the caldera. Take a chance to live this experience!

GO ON AN EXCURSION TO EMPORIO!

In the Heart of the Island

In the village of Emporio take a stroll through the streets of the most well preserved Kasteli (Castle City) of Santorini, admire the tall steeples of churches and take unique photographs. It is also worth visiting the church of Panagia Mesiani, the second most important church of the island

“1800” RESTAURANT IN OIA

Discover the Taste of Santorini

At the “1800” Restaurant -awarded with two “Golden Chef's Hat” best restaurant awards in 2005 and 2007- you will relish creative traditional Greek dishes with Mediterranean inflections making even the most demanding palate yield to the temptation of the chef’s distinctive creations full of color, brilliance, and imagination

SANTORINI SHORT PRESENTATION

Best of what to see, where to go when you travel to Santorini

VOLCANOES

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Santorini is a volcanic island with peculiar geomorphology. Volcanic activity in the area began 1.5 million years ago. Each eruption either destroyed the island or added new land to it. The one that took place in 1600 BC, during the economic and cultural pinnacle of the island, was named the «Minoan eruption». It caused the volcanic dome to collapse, forming the crater of the Caldera. It destroyed not only the island’s great civilization, burying it under millions of tons of lava and ash, but probably the Minoan civilization as well.

FIRA

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The largest village of Santorini. Below it, to the west, lies the old port of Fira (Gialos), with the dock and the cable car terminal. The port of Athinios is to the SW; Firostefani is almost joined with the capital of Santorini. Fira village is the centre of social activities, nightlife and shopping. Having had a rapid tourist development, it exhibits many shops selling clothes and accessories, goldsmiths and galleries, gift shops, super markets, grocer’s, banks, pharmacies, cafés, bars and clubs, restaurants, hotels and rooms to let, offering a magnificent view over the Caldera. On the caldera you will find restaurants, shops , the Orthodox Cathedral, the area of Frangomachalas, Nomikos cultural center, the picturesque neighbourhood of Kato Fira and many more. The centre of the village is the busy Theotokopoulos Square, with the bus terminal and the taxi stand. The 25th of March Road goes through here, leading to Oia and the other villages (access by car is not allowed in the summer, when the peripheral road is used). Nightlife at Fira has always been a must: You can stay up all night, dancing to all kinds of music in bars and clubs.

GASTRONOMY

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Santorini is famous for its gastronomy and the fresh local products, used by the chefs in their gourmet recipes. One of the basic products of the island is fava (split peas) used since the old days in a variety of recipes. Caper is another plant very much used in the Cyclades as seasoning in salads or as pickles. The most tasty and popular product of Santorini is the dry cherry tomato, called anydro (waterless). Up to 1950, this cherry tomato was the base of the island’s economy – hence the many canning tomato factories some of which still stand in areas such as Monolithos, Perivolos, and Vlychada. Cherry tomatoes are also used by Santorinian women to make the so-called pseftokeftedes (tomato balls). Another extremely savory product, that you will be lucky if you taste it, is the white eggplant and chloro cheese. Among the island’s traditional dishes are atherina (smelt) small pies (the fish is fried with onions and flour), and brandada. The sweets standing out are: koufeto, with honey and almonds, offered in weddings and melitinia, small pies with hand-made dough filled with myzithra cheese and sugar, offered mainly at Easter. It is worth buying cans with whole Santorini cherry tomatoes or tomato paste to give a more savory taste to your recipes.

OIA

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This village, famous for its sunset all over the world, is classy and sophisticated. At night, when the lights come on in the hotel buildings and pools, the effect is truly magical. But in the morning as well, its close-knit neighborhoods with the rock-hewn houses and the so-called «captains’ houses» –a type of mansion quite common throughout the Mediterranean– look stunningly beautiful in their multicolor variety. In Oia most buildings have been converted into luxury hotels, villas and suites, restaurants, café-bars, galleries, and shops. The 1993 presidential decree characterizing Oia, a traditional settlement, set strict standards for building restoration. The Venetian district, built at the site of the old Goulas -a watchtower used during the rule of the Westerners- was ruined by the earthquakes. The meeting point is the Platsani square, where people lean at the parapets to gaze at the village. In one direction, the main pedestrian street leads to the castle and the Goulas. It is lined with ethnic and tourist shops, cafés, restaurants, and goldsmith shops. In the other direction, the pedestrian street leads to Perivolas. There are less shops there, and on the cliff side you will find most of Oia’s luxury hotels. The two ports of Oia are Ammoudi, featuring fish taverns, and Armeni.
Distance from Fira: 11 km. Services: ATMs, post office, shops, hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, bars, etc. Transport: By taxi: Tel. +30 22860 22555. By bus: (Tel. +30 22860 25404). Buses run from Fira to Oia, stopping at Firostefani and Imerovigli.

PYRGOS

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Medieval Santorini comes to life in this lovely village that was characterized as a “protected monument” in 1995. Pyrgos is 7.5 km east of Fira. Famous for its Venetian casteli (castle) and the Good Friday custom involving thousands of lit tin cans, the village is a significant tourist destination outside the Caldera. In Pyrgos there are boutique hotels, luxury villas to rent, cafes, gourmet restaurants, taverns, shops, mini market, bakery, gift shops, gas station and many more. In order to really appreciate the unique atmosphere of Pyrgos, we suggest that you take a walk along the cobblestone narrow streets and go up to the Casteli to enjoy the unobstructed view over the top. The Casteli of Pyrgos, or New Pyrgos, at the foot of Mesa Vouno (Inner Mountain), was one of the five castles built in the 15th century by the Venetians. The structure of the fortified village looked like the one of Skaros in Imerovigli. There was the hub, originally with a tower at its centre, then a church; later a defensive perimeter was formed around it from house walls thick enough to withstand raids. According to records, the original tower was demolished in 1735 to be replaced by the monastery of Aghios Georgios (Saint George). The sole entrance to the castle was bolted at night or in case of danger. The houses had two or three storeys, and ground floors were partly built and partly rock-hewn. Alleys among them were very narrow. As time went by, a neighbourhood the locals called Xeporto (meaning outside the door of the Casteli) was built outside the defensive perimeter.

AKROTIRI

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As far as the Santorini archaeological sites are concerned, the great «protagonist» is Akrotiri and the findings of the excavations that began in 1967. Akrotiri (Promontory) is at the southwestern tip of the island, 15 km from Fira. It became globally known thanks to the prehistoric settlement discovered there in excavations conducted systematically since 1967. First signs of habitation at Akrotiri date back to the Late Neolithic Period. By the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), there was a settlement at Akrotiri. In the Middle and Late Bronze Age (20th-17th centuries BC), the settlement was expanded, becoming one of the main urban centres in the Aegean. The life of the town ended abruptly at the end of the 17th century BC, when its inhabitants left due to powerful seismic foreshocks. Then the volcano erupted and volcanic material covered the town and the rest of the island, preserving the buildings and their contents to this day. Professor Spyros Marinatos began systematic excavations at Akrotiri in 1967.
* For more information call +30 22860 81366, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (+30 22860 23217) and the Archaeological Museum at Fira (+30 22860 22217), where finds from the Akrotiri excavation are in display.

FIROSTEFANI

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It is almost connected with Fira and its name means «crown of Fira». The blue dome of the Aghioi Theodoroi (Saints Theodore) church is featured in many photos of Santorini. Firostefani has a few excellent hotels, houses to let, and fine restaurants-café-bars. The walk from Fira to Firostefani and on to Imerovigli via the old cobbled path is one of the nicest on the island, offering a magnificent view over the Caldera and the villages.

IMEROVIGLI

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The village is offering a wonderful view over the volcano. It is just 3 km. from Fira, and there is access either from the asphalt road or following the cobblestone path from Fira to Imerovigli. Records show that there was residential development here since the late 16th century. It seems that this was the destination of people leaving the Skaros castle. This is also where the monastery of Aghios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) was transferred from Skaros in 1816.

ANCIENT THIRA

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This historical city stands on Mesa Vouno, at an altitude of 396 m. It was founded in the 9th century BC by Dorian settlers, led by Theras; habitation continued until the early Byzantine era. Excavations have mainly brought to light the areas built during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Ancient Thera and the largest part of its cemeteries were excavated by German archaeologists from 1895 to 1902; the Sellada cemeteries were excavated by N. Zafeiropoulos from 1961 to 1982. In November 2000, an exquisite female statue of a Daedalic-style Kore, dating back to 600 BC, was found in the cemetery. The archaeological site was reorganized and ready to welcome the public in 2007, and has been attracting visitors since then.
For information, please call the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (+30 22860 23217).

MUSEUM OF PREHISTORIC THIRA IN FIRA

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Τhis splendid museum with the contemporary design is divided in four sections over 600 square meters. Exhibits include findings from the excavations at Akrotiri and other Theraic sites ranging from the 4th millennium BC to the 17th century BC. The four sections present the history of exploration in prehistoric Thera, its geologic history, the development of the island from the Neolithic Period to the beginning of the Late Cycladic I period (early 17th century BC) and the Akrotiri heyday (17th century BC, Late Cycladic I period).
The fourth and largest section is divided in seven smaller sections presenting the architectural structure of the city, everyday life, murals –the portrayal of the «Women’s House» stands out – pottery, and jewelry. The last room labeled «Akrotiri»: a cosmopolitan port» includes findings demonstrating that the area was a busy harbour, such as cups from Knossos, an alabaster rhyton from Egypt, a jar from Canaan and, of course, the Monkey mural. A separate display showcases the gold ibex figurine discovered in 1999, one of the most important findings from the prehistory of the Aegean Sea. Tel. +30 22860 23217

ANCIENT VINEYARD

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Excavation findings in Akrotiri, a prehistoric settlement, reveal that grapes were grown on the island at least since the 17th century BC. The prehistoric vineyard was destroyed by the great volcanic eruption around 1600 BC. The new igneous soil gave birth to another vineyard around 1200 BC. Therefore, we wouldn’t exaggerate if we said that the vineyard of Santorini is more than 3,200 years old, since it has been cultivated non-stop during all this time. The vine and wine have played a fundamental role in the island’s economic, social and financial life for centuries. Vines are self-rooting, live more than 50 years, and grow on the porous ground, rich in pumice and porcelain. From ancient times to this day, the vineyard is being renewed in the same way, i.e. by layering. The vines of Santorini are real works of art, and their ancient pruning technique is quite exceptional. Many factors have contributed to the development of this technique: the sandy soil, the strong winds blowing at spring, and the hot summer sun.
Varieties in Santorini include the white Assyrtiko (cultivated at a percentage of 80%), the best known variety of the Mediterranean grapevine, and, in smaller quantities, Athiri and Aidani, along with other local varieties. Among red grape varieties, Mandilari and Mavrotragano are the most prominent. You will come across wineries in many places on the –arid, as for the rest– island, such as Pyrgos, Kamari, Exo Gonia, Emporeio, Akrotiri, Vourvoulos, as well as near Oia, Fira, and Imerovigli. There are several wineries that you can visit, preferably from mid- to late August, when you can also attend to the harvesting process.

KANAVES (OLD WINERIES)

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Until the 20th century, there were many kánaves (old wineries) on the island. They were outside the Castelia, around the settlements, or in the countryside, always close to their owner’s residence. Wineries were usually rock-hewn underground or protected by nearby buildings. In order to admire some of the old kanaves you may walk in Pyrgos or visit Foinikia, Perivolas in Oia, Megalohori, Mesa Gonia.
A special Santorini wine is Vinsanto. Winemakers call it “wine of the sun”, advertising it as naturally sweet. This famous, award-winning Santorini wine is being mentioned by foreign travellers on the island since the 19th century. It is a sweet wine made exclusively of white grape varieties (75% Asyrtiko and Aidani). The famous Vinsanto is produced by Asyrtiko and Aidani, stunned after the harvest and then aged in wooden vats.