Surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Aegean, Santorini is one of the most stunning of all the Greek isles. Picture perfect villages sit at impossible angles on the volcanic cliffs, white buildings shining in the sunshine, scented flowers cascading down the walls.
For Santorini is all about exciting the senses, from the aroma of the wild herbs, flowers and vineyards, to the warmth of the sun on your skin, this is an island that permeates your soul and leaves nothing but a feeling of well being. If you want a slice of traditional Greece, then Santorini is the island for you, steeped in history and natural beauty, nothing is more perfect than enjoying the beautiful sunsets from one of the bar terraces that sit above the cliffs; the village life and blue domed churches creating images that will stay with you, long after the sun has set on this most perfect of Greek holiday spots.
Although a family friendly island, Santorini doesn’t have the mass appeal of the better known Greek isles, hotels in general are smaller with a more intimate feel, and many are applauded for their high standards. Santorini Kastelli Resort is a member of the ‘small luxury hotels of the world’ and it shows, close to the black volcanic sands of Kamari Beach, airy rooms are stylishly decorated with every comfort that you could need; the hotel also boasts an art gallery, further proving their credentials as a truly stand out hotel.
Even the budget options on Santorini are in a different class, mainly small family run hotels, they all have comfort and a warm welcome in common; try the Golden Star, or Sea of Aegeon, both in the centre of Fira perched on the cliffs, or for a beach location, try Perissa Bay, right on the beach at Perissa. Book independently, to really take advantage of the fantastic prices that can be found at these island gems.
Santorini has fertile but volcanic soil, which gives local produce that differs to the usual Greek fare, white aubergines are particularly popular in many dishes, as are the deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes that grow in abundance across the island.
Aktaion on Firostefani promenade has been established for almost a hundred years and is still run by the same family; if you want to try the local delicacy of fava (pureed yellow split peas) then this is said to be the best place on the island for the authentic taste. Seafood is plentiful on Santorini, but can be expensive, Katina in Ammoudi certainly know how to prepare and cook the fish to bring out its best, with a welcoming atmosphere, the fish is sold per kilo, and prices fluctuate depending on the days catch.
Santorini is all about the views, the volcanic eruption that created its crescent shape, leaving steep cliffs and a caldera that is famed for its sunsets and their kaleidoscope of colours, although prices increase the better the views, it is an essential part of your island visit to enjoy at least one such sunset, whilst sipping a cool drink in the warmth of the Greek evenings.
The traditional winemaking methods still prevail on Santorini, and most of the vineyards operate informative tours, these are not only an interesting way to spend a few hours, but often come with some serious wine tasting, be warned though, generous measures are generally the order of the day!
The peak summer season runs from April until September, although crowds are not the norm across this mist idyllic of Greek Isles; the summer days are long and hot, whilst rain is a rarity.
There is little tourism after the end of the summer season, but the independent traveller searching for the real Greece, could do far worse than to visit Santorini, for a destination that maintains the traditions of the past.