Santorini Island

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Greece is one of those places where there seems to be several names for everything and it can be a little confusing.  Santorini is generally how the tourism industry refers to the island however officially, it's actually called Thira.  (Sometimes we see the classical name of Thera as well.)  The actual island is the product of an enormous volcanic eruption which created the Caldera that we see today.  The volcano rests under water in the centre (Nea Kameni above) and theories suggest that it's eruption was the source of Plato's Atlantis.  

The island itself is bigger than I had expected with quite a few little towns dotted all over the place.  The Caldera view (the interior) tends to be the most popular sites for tourists to visit because, let's face it, it is pretty stunning.  

Fira is the landing spot for the majority of cruise tourists and it's a busy little town full of your typical tourist shops and restaurants.  There are plenty of hotels and plenty of tiny alleyways to explore and spend your money.  It was probably our least favourite site on the island - just a bit too crowded and a bit too touristy for us.

Imerovigli was where we stayed at Absolute Bliss.  My masseuse explained to me that because it's the tallest point on the caldera, the guards used to keep watch for pirates approaching the bay.  The village is tiny and much, much quieter than it's counterparts, Fira & Oia but it's also home to a handful of hotels & restaurants.  It was our favourite spot to take in the sunset.
Imerovigli just after sunset with Oia in the distance
Oia, known as Ia (Ee-ya) to the locals, is most famous for it's gorgeous sunsets.  Literally, hordes and hordes of people line the streets of Oia every night to watch the sun dip into the Aegean sea.  The town itself almost felt like a bit of a cross between Fira and Imerovigli with quite a few hotels, restaurants and  shops but we felt it to be a bit more charming than Fira.
Looking at Oia from Imerovigli

A couple of days into our stay, rain was in the forecast and it gave us the perfect excuse to rent a car and explore the other side of the island.  The terrain plateaus behind the steep hills of the caldera to make way for wineries, fields & beaches and it's beautiful in a completely different way.

We stopped by Kamari, known for it's black beach.  There were several restaurants and hotels lining the shoreline and we were told on hot days, it's packed full of people who rent sun loungers and swim in the sea.

We also visited the Red Beach near Akrotiri which was quite stunning to see the deep, red juxtaposed against the bright, blue sea.  We stopped for a beer nearby and sat right along the water and watched the waves crash over the seawall, splattering the tables.

Touring the majority of the island can easily be done in one day and while we chose to rent a car, many others decided to rent Quads or scooters to zip around.  There are quite a few wineries to visit as well as the site of Ancient Akrotiri, which we returned to the following morning.  Both evenings, we took advantage of the car and had dinner and viewed the sunset in Oia, which was a bit too far to walk to at night from Imerovigli.

In the end, I was quite happy to have the time to explore Santorini further - had it been hot and sunny, I'm not sure Joe could have convinced me to leave the terrace.

+Car/Quad/Scooter rentals are a dime a dozen on the island.  Our hotel arranged for our car - it cost 30€/day (certainly much cheaper than a taxi) and it was dropped off and picked up directly from our accommodation.
+Parking lots are found all over the island and the majority are free of charge.
+While the island is small, traffic can be a bit slow due to extremely large tourist buses navigating narrow roads and corners.
+After touring the majority of the island, we were so happy to have chosen a hotel in Imerovigli and if we returned, we'd stay there again!


  1. Great explanation of the island and how to get around... totally saving this for whenever we get to Greece!

  2. It's so nice to see some pictures of the lesser known side of the island - I feel like I keep on seeing the typical Caldera view around the internet and while it is stunning, I enjoy seeing other parts of Santorini. I really love the picture of you at the black beach - it could be a dramatic fashion ad! :)

    1. You're right - I hadn't seen anything other than the Caldera view before going and was pleasantly surprised to see the other side!

      (And thank you for the compliment - I will pass it along to my photographer... Joe.)

  3. omg those views i just cant get over them. love love your maxi dress !

  4. insanely pretty! enjoy your stay there. it looks like the nicest place to be.

  5. I'm so glad you posted this! We're hoping to book our trip THIS week!!! :)


  6. I LOVE all of these pictures. I cant wait to go here someday! I'm also lovin' your big hat and dress. What an adorable outfit! I'm not sure I could pull it off, but you do perfectly!

    -Amanda | Living in Another Language

  7. ooooooh, maybe one day I'll get to visit - it just looks so breathtaking!

    Thank you for sharing!

  8. Greece is my dream vacation, and oh my gosh these pictures! Amazing!

  9. I love the last four photos of the post. That beach spot looks amazing! I am so loving your recap of the vacation, I would love to jet away soon. Love that dress and hat!

  10. Jay, that shot of the sunset over Imerovigli! You have me sold on the luxury Santorini get away. One day... one day...

  11. Could that be any more beautiful! You make me long to live in Europe so that I can hop a short flight over to amazing places!

  12. So jealous - how many frappes did you have?

  13. your Greece posts are making me want to hop on a plane! so lovely!!!

  14. Wow your night pictures are beautiful!! And all your information that you add is really helpful since it is a little confusing about Greece. I hope I can go there. You've inspired me!!

  15. Ah here's my travelling friend's bucket list. And I could see how they want to go here, the views are outrageous! I think I'd like to put this island in my bucket list as well. Good post!


  16. Did you buy that Maxi dress in a shop in Fira? I bought one there but have lost it during a move and I cannot remember the make. Could you tell me the make of your dress?

    1. No, I bought that maxi at Massimo Dutti - sorry I can't help!


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