The Greek Cyclades is a collection of 39 beautiful islands, of which 24 are inhabited. The southernmost area in this island collection is Santorini. This is the island that most often adorns tourist brochures welcoming visitors with its fantastic landscape. Guests will tell you that photographs can hardly do this place justice. Famous for its caldera, the collection of cliffs bordering the Aegean Sea that in ancient times was an active volcano, Santorini is one of the Cyclades most prized possessions. Whether you want to party, explore culture and history, or simply soak up the sun and swim in crystal clear waters, the islands within the Cyclades are the perfect destinations.
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Tucked away within the medieval village of Megalohori, the enchanting Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort has evolved from a 400-year-old wine cellar and a 100-year-old mansion into an authentic, Cycladic-styled property. Dedicated to the needs of seasoned travellers, Vedema houses 59 spacious suites and villas, all with their own terraces and many with jacuzzis or private pools.
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Carved into the rugged Caldera cliffs, Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel, overlooks the turquoise expanse of the sea that encircles the island of Santorini. The Cycladic hotel architecture, where gentle curves and sculpted arches blend with a muted color palette and light enhancing spaces, makes the hotel a favored destination for honeymoons and romantic escapes, emanating a carefree spirit and exclusive feel, while offering gloriously open horizons. Linked by a network of cobbled pathways, Mystique’s 41 suites and villas, the two swimming pools, the rejuvenating Elios Spa, the state-of-the-art gym, all boast panoramic sea views across to the volcano that has shaped this exceptional island. The inspired dining options include Charisma for the freshest Greek-inspired cuisine, Lure by Olivier Campanha, a high-end gastronomical experience highlighting the region’s rich epicurean heritage, while Captain’s Lounge, occupying the site of a century-old mansion, caters for casual dining.
Santorini. Oia. Photo by Y. Skoulas, courtesy of the Greek National Tourism Organization.
Geologically, the island of Santorini offers the visitor a spectacular sight. The western side of the island is stacked with houses that sit perched atop sharp cliffs thrusting toward the sea. The eastern side of the island is a tourist's paradise, with calm beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Santorini has two main towns, Oia to the north and Fira in the center of the island. Both towns sit atop the caldera and are visible upon your arrival to the island. Fira, Santorini's capital, is the livelier of the two towns. It gives visitors plenty of opportunities to indulge themselves. Oia is a tamer town, catering especially to visitors looking to slow down and enjoy the scenery. With a decidedly residential tone, Oia emphasizes the beauty of its land and invites visitors to unwind and take in the famous sunset on any of its caldera's peaks.
With over a million tourists per year, Santorini is constantly packed. And the 7,000 residents of the island have made their home an inviting destination by opening shops, nightclubs and restaurants in abundance. By day, it is a sparkling place of water and relaxation. At night, it comes alive as its tone is transformed from placid to party. Local wine is the islands largest export, and the incredible selection undoubtedly adds to the festive atmosphere the island takes on after dark. Tavernas are packed with tourists who simply want to taste the flavors and sample Santorini's finest.
Santorini. Fira. Photo by Y. Skoulas, courtesy of the Greek National Tourism Organization.
In 1967, archaeologists on Santorini unearthed the remains of a Bronze Age city that may have been home to as many as 30,000 people. Whether the Lost Continent of Atlantis is rooted in myth or reality, an undisputed fact remains. The eruption of the volcano created a caldera - and one of the most dramatic land and seascapes in the entire Mediterranean. On Santorini, whitewashed buildings cling to vertiginous cliffs that plunge to a turquoise sea. Part of the Cyclades Archipelago, the three-island group of Santorini, Thirasia and uninhabited Aspronisi present the traveler with unforgettable vistas. The island has had a number of names throughout history - from Strongyle or "Round", to Thera in honor of an ancient hero. Santorini is more recent and stems from the island church dedicated to St. Irene - Santa Rini to foreign sailors.
OiaAt the northern tip of Santorini lies the charming Greek village of Oia, known for its picturesque architecture, cobblestone lanes, pristine whitewashed buildings and a host of welcoming cafes, shops and blue-domed churches.
FiraPerched on the edge of a dramatic cliff, the island's capital boasts a stunning combination of Cycladic and Venetian architecture, outstanding views of the submerged volcano and an aerial cable car transportation system.
Archaeological MuseumAt the location of Mesa Gialos stands the Megaro Gyzi, the building housing the Santorini archaeological collection. It includes sculptures, inscriptions, vases and figurines, but also the huge volcanic rock, weighing 480 kg, which according to legend was once lifted by the ancient weightlifter Eumastas, and the Theran amphora with geometrical decoration dating from the beginning of the 7th c. BC.
Prehistoric Museum A treasure trove of history and culture, this museum contains an excellent collection of artifacts found in excavations throughout the area, including the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The museum tells the story of prehistoric Thera through a variety of finds from excavations and collections, making up the dynamic image of an island which was a significant commercial and economic center in the Aegean during the 18th and 17th c. BC.
Palaia & Nea Kameni - Santorini Volcano These uninhabited islands, located in the center basin of Santorini, were created by a series of volcanic eruptions 3,500 years ago. Jagged black lava and therapeutic hot springs characterize their extraordinary landscape.
Winery Tour This region is famous for world-class wines and unique vinification methods. Visit some of the world's oldest vineyards and learn how the micro-climate and rich volcanic soil produces such a full-bodied bouquet.
Black Sand Beach (Kamari)This seaside village, on the southeast side of Santorini, is famous for its expansive and dramatic black sand beach. Created by volcanic activity, this area is teeming with watersports, cafes and tavernas.
Santorini CraterA volcanic eruption around 1650 BC caused the center of the island to implode into the sea, forming a huge water-filled crater called the "caldera," which legend proclaims to be the lost city of Atlantis.
The Mountain of Prophet Elijah The island's highest point towers 2,000 ft above the sea and offers panoramic views of Santorini.