Santorini is among the Cyclades islands located in Greece’s Aegean Sea. The volcanic island offers beaches made from the red, white and black remnants of volcanic explosions. The stone sharply contrasted against the clear blue waters of the surrounding sea. Settlements on the island are full of history dating back to the 16th century, and offer classic Cycladic architecture and breathtaking views. Just 30 miles square, Santorini begs visitors to day trip to the various villages, beaches and historic sites.
The village of Akrotiri is among the more quiet and sparsely populated areas of Santorini, located on the southwest coast of the island. Akrotiri means “cape” and the area is indeed a geological outcropping, offering amazing views of Greece. It’s famous for its lighthouse, from which are some of the country’s best sunset views. Visit La Ponta, the Castle of Akrotiri and its 13th century tower. Tour the Akrotiri archeological site to see artifacts, furniture and even buildings from the Aegean Bronze Age. Enjoy a trip to Red Beach, surrounded by red cliffs, red beach stones, and red rock outcroppings in the water.
Akrotiri, Santorini, Greece
Ammoudi Bay is a little known small port within Oia, located 300 steps below the iconic white buildings on the coast of Santorini. Visit for cliff jumping and swimming, charming seafood restaurants, or to grab a charter to the adjacent island of Thirassia. Walk or rent an ATV to access the beach, and follow the well worn paths along the rocks to the best, most tucked away swimming spots. Ammoudi Bay offers a respite from the busyness of Oia, and if you stay for the evening, you’ll enjoy a priviledged view of the Santorini sunset.
Ammoudi Bay, Santorini, Greece
Anafi is among the Cyclades islands, and a short hop from Santorini, making it the perfect day trip for an easy change of pace, less touched by tourism and full of charm. Anafi’s volcanic landscape offers steep cliffs rising from the Aegean sea, sandy beaches and dramatic natural scenery. As one of the least developed islands, hiking through the natural landscape is among the most popular activities, as well as camping on the beach. The island provides restrooms, showers and minimal camping facilities. Chora is the small island’s only village and carries just the bare necessities, cash only.
Anafi Island, Greece
Crete is Greece’s largest island and offers history, a range of breathtaking natural landscapes, from the ocean and beaches, to the valleys, cliffs and mountains. On the west side of the island, the region of Chania offers the White Mountains National Park, the Ventian mansions, churches and fountains of Chania city and locals foods complemented by the world famous Cretan wine. Visit the coastal archeological sites of Heraklion, where you’ll also find tours of wine vineyards and olive groves. On the eastern side of the island the Lasithi region offers culture, Crete’s largest metropolitan areas, and the Vai Forest, the largest palm forest in Greece.
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Santorini’s Emporio village is the largest on the island. Built at the base of the Profitis Ilias Mountain, the village was once the center of Santorini commercial activity, hence the name, which translates to “trade.” One of five fortified Santorini castles, Kasteli, is located within Emporio. The medieval castle grounds are home to a 16th century church. Nearby, the Tower of Nimborio, once a watchtower, overlooks the scene. Emporio’s one museum is the Tomato Industrial Museum. Located within the Santorini Arts Factory, the museum offers a history of Santorini’s major export, the cherry tomato, along with a history of island culture and industry. Emporio is home to several restaurants, bars and retail shops.
Emporio, Santorini, Greece
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Santorini’s peaceful village of Finikia is located close to Oia on the northern side of the island. The colorful buildings of Finikia offer a glimpse of Greek architecture from a bygone era. Homes are built in harmony with nature, alleyways are flagged with stone and make use of the island’s black volcanic rock. Visit the 1859 Agia Matrona church with its iconic bell towers and ocher color, where you can enjoy breathtaking views. Explore the town for traditional taverns, and a delicious local meal. The most popular northeast coast beaches, such as Paradisos and Baxedes are less than 30 minutes away.
Finikia, Santorini, Greece
Fira is Santorini’s capitol, perched Cliffside overlooking the ocean on the volcanic island. Restaurants, bars and cafes in the area offer some of Santorini’s best ocean and caldera views. Fira is home to the Santorini Archaeological Museum, which displays artifacts dating back to before the Roman Empire. The Museum of Prehistoric Thira also offers exhibits of several ancient artifacts found in the area. The Megaro Gyzi Museum is located in a 17th century mansion, the Lignos Emmanuel Folklore Museum in a cave. Many of the museums in this tourist destination are open in the summer months only. As the port for Santorini’s cruise ships, Fira can be quite busy when cruise ships are in town.
Fira, Santorini, Greece
Firostefani village is a separate village within Fira, Santorini’s capitol. It’s located on the caldera, the remains of the volcano, on the northern side of the island. Firostefani offers spectacular views of the caldera from almost any location within the traditional village, especially at sunset. The quiet neighborhood is a welcome respite from the bustling Fira, and yet offers a main shopping street with cafes, restaurants and small markets. Just outside of town is Agios Nikolaos, a convent with a folkloric and ecclesiastical museum displaying Byzantine era icons. Many visitors to the area enjoy Firostefani for its quiet streets and peaceful lodging options, while visiting nearby Fira for nightlife and action.
Firostefani, Santorini, Greece
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Imerovigli is a small town on Santorini offering dramatic views of both the ocean and caldera. The quiet town is known for its Cycladic architecture, the white homes and blue-domed churches. At the center of Imerovigli is the Anastasis Church. The classic white walled and blue domed structure is featured on area postcards, and is as gorgeous inside as out. Visit Skaros Rock, once the site of a castle that protected the area’s first settlers, and still home to the beautiful Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis and the Panagia Theoskepasti Chapel. Enjoy the views from either chapel to the flat-topped rock and the ocean beyond.
Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece
, Michigan beaches
The Greek island of Ios is known as a non-stop party island from June through August each year. If you’re looking for quiet, best to visit in the off season. By day the island is bustling with restaurants, cafes and shops surrounding the port. The beaches are some of Greece’s best. Milopota is known for its long stretch of sandy shore. Enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling or windsurfing. By night, the classic Cycladic structures overlooking the port become nightclubs, discos and bars. Begin your evening at the Ios club, where the tradition since the 1970’s is to listen to classic music as the sun goes down.
The ocean side village of Kamari is located on the southeastern shore of Santorini at the base of the Mesa Vouno Mountain. The miles-long Kamari beach is the main attraction in the area. Outfitted with beach chairs and umbrellas, the beach offers lifeguards and a Blue Flag rating meaning it’s among the most clean and crystal clear. The unique black sand adjacent to the blue waters is a picturesque sight. Enjoy scuba diving or snorkeling, or walk along the long beach front promenade to visit restaurants, shops and bars, or stop and listen to live Greek music. Away from the beach at the top of Mesa Vouno mountain is the Thera archeological site, a Santorini landmark featuring the ruins of ancient cemeteries, temples and an amphitheater.
Kamari, Santorini, Greece
Santorini’s Megalochori village is located on the southwest of the island and offers breathtaking views of both the ocean and the island’s interior caldera. A range of architecture in the village includes 17th century cave homes with wooden doors, surrounded by high fences, originally built to protect residents from pirates. The caves are interspersed among neoclassical homes and classic Cycladic architecture. Two churches in the center of town boast impressive steeples, while the chapel of Agios Nikolaos dramatically overlooks the caldera from the cliffs above. Megalochori is best known for its vineyards. Tour three main wineries, Antoniou, Boutaris, and Gavalas for a look at how the wines are made, history and tastings.
Megalochori, Santorini, Greece
Mesa Gonia is among Santorini’s many quaint villages, and is located less than 8 kilometers from the capitol, Fira. The region is known for its red wines and both the Roussos Winery and the Argyros Estate are located in Mesa Gonia, and open for tasting, although a call in advance is suggested. Visit the Church of Panagia Episkopi, which dates back to the 11th century. The church was commissioned by Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. According to myth, an icon once dug into a nearby cliff disappeared one day, a sign that it no longer wanted to be buried, but displayed in a chapel.
Mesa Gonia, Santorini, Greece
Messaria Village dates back to the 17th century, and lies at the center of Santorini, less than 4 kilometers south of Fira. Three iconic homes stand as examples of the area’s unique architecture. The 1888 Argyros mansion has been renovated into a museum and displays 19th century furniture. The Saliveros and Markenzinis mansions may be viewed from the outside, but are not open to visitors. Enjoy breathtaking views of the caldera, surrounding vineyards or the Aegean Sea views from anywhere in the village. Several restaurants, bars and shops are found in the center of town.
Messaria, Santorini, Greece
Nea Kameni is a small Greek island with an active volcano. The uninhabited island can be visited by boat for tours, hiking, swimming, and snorkeling or diving. The island’s last major eruption happened in 1950. Today, the volcano is closely monitored, and the island is a protected scientific site. Nonetheless, visitors may hike to the peak of the crater and make a full loop of the rim at 130 meters high. Sailboat tours to the island normally stop at the neighboring Palea Kameni Island where hot springs are formed by sulfuric vents from the active volcanoes. Swimming spots nearby experience water of up to 95 degrees in some places.
Nea Kameni, Greece
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Oia is among Santorini’s most iconic villages. The location at the northwest of the island boasts Santorini’s best sunset views. The village’s white houses with blue doors, dotted with ocher and pink detailing have been the backdrop to several Greek movies. Enjoy walking through the narrow alleys to visit restaurants, cafes and bars, or shops and galleries. At the base of the cliffs lies Ammoudi Bay, popular for swimming, and the seafood restaurants lining the shore. Oia’s Naval Maritime Museum is among the best in Santorini, offering a history of the islands and the Greek navy. The Agios Nikolaos Castle ruins are located at the peak of the village, another great place for sunset views.
Oia, Santorini, Greece
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Santorini’a coastal village of Perissa is located at the base of Mesa Vouno Mountain. It’s believed to be the site of the ancient city Elefsina. Perissa is best known for its unique black sand beach with crystal clear dark blue waters. The beach offers umbrellas and lounge chairs, and recently received a Blue Flag Award for its cleanliness. A beach volleyball court and nearby water park offer beachfront attractions. Several dive centers and water sports facilities rent equipment or offer tours. Ancient Thera is located away from the beach on the top of Mesa Vouno, the ruins found at this archeological site are of great historical importance. Learn more about them at the Museum of The Minerals and Fossils of Thera.
Perissa, Santorini, Greece
At over 1800 feet high, Profitis Ilias is the highest peak on the island of Santorini. The peak, which is named for the Prophet Elijah, shares this name with a nearby monastery, built in 1712. The monastery was active until the mid 1800’s, and at one time owned it’s own ship and ran a Greek language and literature school. Visit the monastery to view Greek Orthodox artifacts, and exhibits on the history of the region’s culture, wine and food. On a clear day, views from the peak of Profitis Ilias extend in all directions across the entire island of Santorini.
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Pyrgos village is located at Santorini’s highest altitude, approximately 1500 feet above sea level. From Pyrgos, views extend to the green valleys and wine vineyards, the caldera and volcanic rock, and the ocean beyond. Classic Cycladic homes painted white with blue details, narrow alleys and winding streets make this charming town a worthy destination. Visit the nearby monastery of Profitis Ilias. Inside the monastery is a museum of Greek icons and ecclesiastic artifacts. Among Santorini’s five castles is the Venetian Kasteli, flanked by three historical churches, one of which, Koimisis of Theotokou, is thought to be the oldest on the island. Enjoy art galleries, small shops, restaurants and cafes, or tour a nearby winery.
Pyrgos, Santorini, Greece
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Santorini’s Red Beach is often acclaimed at one of the most unique and scenic. Located on the southernmost tip of the island, Red Beach is flanked by steep, sharp volcanic hills. The red volcanic rock colors the sand for a sharp contrast against the crystal clear blue waters. Naturally protected from the wind by the volcanic outcroppings, the beach can get quite hot in the summer months. Grab water and all the items you need from a shop in town before navigating the small path to the beach, as there are no facilities or shops on site. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling, or take a boat trip to a nearby dive location, or the adjacent White Beach.
Red Beach, Santorini, Greece
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Skaros Rock is accessed from Santorini’s Imerovigli village. From the Agios Georgios Church, you’ll find a trail involving some concrete steps that takes visitors to the base of the rock. For the best breathtaking views of Santorini and the surrounding ocean, you’ll want to complete the additional hike to the top. Prior to 1650 when several earthquakes struck the area, Skaros Rock was home to a fortified settlement of approximately 200 homes. Soldiers were stationed to keep an eye out for pirates and sound an alarm when needed. The settlement was abandoned completely by the 1800’s, and today, nothing but a few ruins remain.
Skaros Rock, Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece
22.The Castle of Agios Nikolaos
Oia’s Castle of Agios Nikolaos is a Venetian castle, one among five on the island. The castle was documented on the island as far back as 1480, and has partially survived several earthquakes in the hundreds of years since. Fortified castles were used in the Middle Ages by the elite Venetian Catholics for protection from pirates. Today, the Castle is best known as Oia’s most famous location from which to watch the sunset. The experience of watching the sublime sunset over the ocean from the ruins of the castle, surrounded by several others doing the same, has been described as nothing short of magical, and a not-to-be-missed experience on Santorini.
Oia, Santorini, Greece
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Thirassia Island is located less than a mile from Oia on the island of Santorini. The small volcanic island offers unparalleled natural beauty, from the geologic formations of the island’s volcanic origins, to the black sand beach of Korfos, to the classic Cycladic architecture in the small village of Manolas, the island’s capital. Visit the churches and monasteries of Thirassia, the most important of which is the 1874 Church of Agios Konstantinos. Hike to the Chapel of the Prophet Elias to reach the island’s peak and the best views. Visit the Village of Agrilia to see one of the island’s oldest rural settlements.
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Santorini’s village of Vothonas is located at the center of the island, just a few miles from the capitol, Fira. Built into the edge of a steep gorge, the village is known for its unique architecture. Cave houses are carved into the volcanic rock forming a most unusual settlement. Visit the Church of Agios Roussos, a unique pumice-stone structure built on a rock. The 1827 Church of Agia Anna is the oldest in the village. The Church of Panagia Sergena is carved out of volcanic rock. Known as the “hidden church” it once served to protect residents from pirate invasions. Also a cave experience, the Vothonas Wine Museum is located nearly 20 feet underground.
Vothonas, Santorini, Greece
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24 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Santorini, Greece
- Akrotiri, Photo: claudio968/stock.adobe.com
- Ammoudi Bay, Photo: Olivier/stock.adobe.com
- Anafi Island, Photo: Karmen/stock.adobe.com
- Crete, Photo: kwasny221/stock.adobe.com
- Emporio, Photo: lubos K/stock.adobe.com
- Finikia, Photo: Ian Woolcock/stock.adobe.com
- Fira, Photo: davidionut/stock.adobe.com
- Firostefani, Photo: pkazmierczak/stock.adobe.com
- Imerovigli, Photo: Maurizio De Mattei/stock.adobe.com
- Ios, Photo: hydraviridis/stock.adobe.com
- Kamari, Photo: aetherial/stock.adobe.com
- Megalochori, Photo: Mary/stock.adobe.com
- Mesa Gonia, Photo: GSandro/stock.adobe.com
- Messaria, Photo: milangonda/stock.adobe.com
- Nea Kameni, Photo: ivanmateev/stock.adobe.com
- Oia, Photo: Renáta Sedmáková/stock.adobe.com
- Perissa, Photo: beataaldridge/stock.adobe.com
- Profitis Ilias, Photo: Monika/stock.adobe.com
- Pyrgos, Photo: cge2010/stock.adobe.com
- Red Beach, Photo: CCat82/stock.adobe.com
- Skaros Rock, Photo: Maurizio De Mattei/stock.adobe.com
- The Castle of Agios Nikolaos, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Thirassia Island, Photo: Elenarts/stock.adobe.com
- Vothonas, Photo: Bernard 63/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: cge2010/stock.adobe.com