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Have you ever been to Santorini?

Friday, June 25, 2010


Traditions and folklore concerning giants, who were once alive and had supernatural powers, abound on Santorini. There are other stories about brave men or beautiful mermaids, as well as many beliefs concerning cutting down trees. The people of Santorini believe that a tree must never be cut down (even if it is growing on top of a church altar).
Other traditions concern sea demons, ghosts of the sea who were a true source of terror to sailors and fishermen.
Many of these old beliefs survive to this day. For example, ships that anchor in the port of Kameni tie their ropes in the shape of a cross to protect them from the “demon”.

Religious Festivals – “Panigyria”

Religious festivals are celebrated in traditional way in Santorini.
No matter how isolated it might be every church has a small building nearby, the feast house (“panigyrospito”). Fully furnished with benches, tables and cooking equipment, it is here that the food served to worshippers is prepared. If the church is very small and there is not enough room in the feast house, the celebrants sit on the whitewashed stone benches in the churchyard.
Many of the island’s churches are privately owned. When this is the case, the family that owns the church sees to its maintenance, the needs of the visitors, as well as the preparations for the festival.
After te liturgy, the priest hands out the “artos” (white bread with anise seed or with mastic flavoring and sugar). Then, there is the procession of the icon of the honored saint in an atmosphere of particular piety. After the procession of the icon, the festival begins with wine, singing and dancing.

Omelet with marrows & tomatoes

serves 6

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized vegetable marrows, chopped to rings
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Fry the marrows in the olive oil. When done, drain them from the oil and add the tomatoes. Stir and simmer for 7-8 minutes.
  2. Whisk and season the eggs, then pour the mixture over the marrows-tomatoes.
  3. Simmer the omelet over low heat. Stir 2-3 times using a wooden spoon.

The Vendema

The Italian word “Vendema” is the term used in Santorini for the grape harvest and crushing. It means abundance.
The grape harvest on the island is a true festival, an occasion for partying and bidding farewell to the summer. Preparations begin in early August. Santorinians never crush the grapes in the field. Instead the grapes are taken to the “kanava” (winery), where they are sorted according to color (white or red) and put into separate presses. “Kanava” is the local name for the cool, dark space, cut into the volcanic rock (“hyposkafo”) where the grapes are crushed and stored in barrels. The room has a small window (“anemoloo”), which is always open to allow the air to circulate and the must fumes (grape juice before and during fermentation) to evaporate. At one time, just about every large house on the island had a “kanava” on its ground floor.
Since the harvest (“trygos”) begins sometime in late August or early September, the month of September is also known as Trygitis. The grapes are not all crushed on the same day. It is mostly the job of the men to do the treading, and whoever participates must be able to withstand the fumes and not get dizzy easily. To neutralize the strong smell of the must, the grape-crushers traditionally place a stalk of basil behind their ears. Near the large crushers was always a cleared area of ground, where grapes could spread out in the sun for about 10 hours before they were put into the crusher. Vinsanto, the sweet wine of Santorini, is produced from these sun-dried grapes. There are many varieties of excellent quality Santorini wines.
The last day of the grape crushing is a major holiday. On the 22nd of October, Saint Averkios Day (protector of wine and “kanava”), the barrels are opened and the wine is tasted. The local priest blesses the barrels making a sign of the cross with a stalk of basil. As the blessing is chanted, the wedge is removed and everyone tastes the new wine. A party follows with singing and dancing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wherever I travel (Greece wounds me) by Giorgos Seferis

On Pelion among the chestnut trees the Centaur's shirt
slipped through the leaves to fold around my body
as I climbed the slope and the sea came after me
climbing too like mercury in a thermometer
till we found the mountain waters.
On Santorini touching islands that were sinking
hearing a pipe play somewhere on the pumice-stone
my hand was nailed to the gunwale
by an arrow shot suddenly
from the confines of a vanished youth.
At Mycenae I raised the great stones and the treasures
of the house of Atreus
and slept with them at the hotel Belle Helene de Menelas;
they disappeared only at dawn when Cassandra crowed,
a cock hanging from her black throat.
On Spetses, Poros and Mykonos
the barcaroles sickened me.

What do they want, all those who believe
they're in Athens or Piraeus?
Someone comes from Salamis and asks someone else
whether he `issues forth
from Omonia Square'.
`No I issue forth from Syntagma,' replies the other,
`I met Yianni and he treated me to an ice cream.'
In the meantime Greece is travelling
and we don't know anything, we don't know we're all
sailors out of work,
we don't know how bitter the port becomes when all the
ships have gone;
we mock those who do know.

Strange people! They say they're in Attica but they're
really nowhere;
they buy sugared almonds to get married
they carry hair tonic, have their photographs taken
the man I saw today sitting against a background
of pigeons and flowers
let the hands of the old photographer smooth away the
left on his face
by all the birds in the sky.

Meanwhile Greece goes on travelling, always travelling
and if we see `the Aegean flower with corpses'
it will be with those who tried to catch the big ship by
swimming after it
those who got tired of waiting for the ships that cannot
The ships hoot now that dusk falls on Piraeus,
hoot and hoot, but no capstan moves,
no chain gleams wet in the vanishing light,
the captain stands like a stone in white and gold.

Wherever I travel Greece wounds me,
curtains of mountains, archipelagos, naked granite.
They call the one ship that sails AGONIA 937.
M/s Aulis, waiting to sail.

Summer 1936
(poem "Με τον τρόπο του Γ.Σ.", from the collection Τετράδιο Γυμνασμάτων)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gymnopaidia A’ – Santorini by Giorgos Seferis

Bend if you can to the dark sea forgetting
the flute's sound on naked feet
that trod your sleep in the other, the sunken life.

Write if you can on your last shell
the day the place the name
and fling it into the sea so that it sinks.

We found ourselves naked on the pumice stone
watching the rising islands
watching the red islands sink
into their sleep, into our sleep.
Here we found ourselves naked, holding
the scales that tipped toward injustice.

Instep of power, unshadowed will, considered love,
projects that ripen in the midday sun,
course of fate with a young hand
slapping the shoulder;
in the land that was scattered, that can't resist,
in the land that was once our land
the islands, --rust and ash-- are sinking.

Altars destroyed
and friends forgotten
leaves of the palm tree in mud.

Let your hands go traveling if you can
here on time's curve with the ship
that touched the horizon.
When the dice struck the flagstone
when the lance struck the breast-plate
when the eye recognized the stranger
and love went dry
in punctured souls;
when looking round you see
feet harvested everywhere
dead hands everywhere
eyes darkened everywhere;
when you can't any longer choose
even the death you wanted as your own--
hearing a cry,
even the wolf's cry,
your due:
let your hands go traveling if you can
free yourself from unfaithful time
and sink--
So sinks whoever raises the great stones.
(from the Poems, Ikaros 1974)

Marriage in Oia

Do not hesitate to follow the merry companies and the musicians with the violins, if you should chance upon them. A wedding is taking place and what you are seeing is the so-called graximo of the groom. This boisterous crowd of friends and relatives, best-man (koumbaros) and maid of honour (koumbara) is on its way to the house of the groom, from where they go all together to the house of the bride. En route to her neighborhood, everyone is outside, in the courtyards and the narrow streets, pouring wine, exchanging wishes, singing joyful songs.
My groom, whom they bring from the street above,
everyone has come outdoors, even the sky with the stars.
Bride, with thunder and lightening, and drizzle and rain
May you have all the blessings of Christ upon you.
And from there, they go together with the bride to the church. In olden days the wedding crowns for the couple were made from vine branches, cut by the priest himself, from the vineyard, and twisted round into a hoop.
The bride’s girlfriends then take the hoops home, and wind them with cotton and decorate them with colored ribbons, gold threads and flowers, thus transforming these humble branches into diadems.
Today, after the marriage service in the church, the newly-weds come into the courtyard, where, in a pandemonium of riffle shots and fire-crackers, their families distribute sweetmeats and drinks to the guests.
The traditional Santorinian sweetmeat for weddings is koufeto, roasted almonds and honey, served on a platter from which the guests take a spoonful of the “toffee” and wish the couple all the best. As for the wine, a small glass of vinsanto makes the mouth utter sweet blessings.

Monday, June 21, 2010

General info visiting Santorini

  • Time Zone difference
Greek time is +2 hours GMT mean time.
  • Language
Modern Greek is the national language; English is generally understood and spoken, so there are no communication problems.
  • Electrical appliances
Electric current is at 220-240 Volts, 50-cycle AC. Appliances of lower voltage require transformer. It is recommended that appliances are checked for safety before use.
  • Telecommunication
Outgoing International access code for Greece is 00, following the relevant country code, e.g. (00 30 22860 …… for Santorini). Calls can bee made from your hotel or from OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) offices in Fira. Public phone card booths are available all over the island and cards can be bought from kiosks, mini markets and OTE.
  • Mobile Telecommunications
The local mobile phone operators (Cosmote, Vodafone, Wind and Q-Telecom) use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators.
  • Water
Tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled spring water is preferable; available in supermarkets, hotels and restaurants.
  • Currency
Since 1/1/2002, Euro (€) is the currency of Greece.
  • Banks
The banks on Santorini are open 08:00-14:30 Monday to Thursday and 08:00-14:00 on Friday. ATMs are available in almost all villages on Santorini, and most of them accept Visa and MasterCard as well as debit cards of internationally recognized networks.
  • Health
In case of health problems you may visit the Santorini Health Center in Fira or ask your hotel reception for a private specialist doctor. Pharmacies are marked with a cross. One is usually open 24 hours in Fira, on an alternate basis.
  • Weather
Santorini has an ideal climate for visitors, since summers are sunny, hot (but dry) and winters are mild. It seldom rains in the summer. Remember, the sun is fierce, so carry sunburn cream, wide brimmed hat and wear clothes with sleeves you can roll down.
  • On the road
Driving on Santorini can be done either with vehicles owned by tourists or rented ones. The driver must have a valid license from the country of origin and international permit, as well as insurance and registration.
Remember, driving is on the right.

Easter in Oia

Easter, which is the greatest feast of the year in Greece, is celebrated in Oia with all the appropriate sobriety and splendor.
If you visit Oia in April, apart from the superb limpidity of the atmosphere, the light emphasizing crisply the curves of the vaults and the domes (light which in the summer months is filtered through the heat haze and the mist), it is interesting to observe the way in which the islanders celebrate Easter.
The Holy Week services all take place in the church in the square, which is dedicated to the Virgin Platsani, a local epithet.
Tradition has it that some fishermen brought up in their nets an icon of the Virgin, which originated from Crete. They brought it up to the village and placed it in a church that faced towards Crete. Because the Virgin in the icon splashed about in the water (πλατσουρίζω - platsourizo) she was called Platsani, and the church was named after her. Until the 1956 earthquake this church stood in the Kastro, inside the Goulas. Long after the earthquake that reduced it to rubble, the inhabitants of Oia decided to rebuild the church, not in the same place as the previous one, since the area was very badly damaged, but on the site where it stands today.
The decoration of Christ’s bier (Επιτάφιος - Epitaphios), early in the morning of Good Friday, at the back of the church forecourt, is done by the women and girls of the village. Each one brings flowers from the flowerbeds or their little gardens. Violets, yellow and mauve spring snapdragons, roses, carnations and wonderful white lilies. With these they adorn the baldachin of the Epitaphios, which is of carved wood and in many churches in Pano Meria was brought from Russia (churches of St. George, the Resurrection etc.).
The ceremony of the Deposition from the Cross (Αποκαθήλωση - Apokatheloses), at noon on Good Friday, is a special experience in Platsani. Women and children, up in the gallery (gynaikonitis) of the church, sprinkle the Body of Christ removed from the Cross with colorful rose petal, that fall softly above amidst the white smoke from the aromatic incense, while at the same moment the bell tolls the funerary lament of the year.
It is not unusual at that noon hour for the siren of the ship entering the Caldera to be heard, bringing those Oians, who had not managed to come to the island earlier to celebrate Easter in their native village. And then prayers and Byzantine hymns (troparia) and sweet fragrances are all united, creating a timeless image of the village and of Greece.
The same evening the procession of the Epitaphios takes place, through the village. The large Cross, without the body of Christ, the flower –bedecked bier, the priest, the altar boys holding the banners, the cantors chanting the encomia, all these proceed, while behind follow the faithful with the lighted candles in the dark. They proceed down the main street to the east and head for St. George at Perivolas.
Before the new church of the Virgin Platsani was built, the church of St. George was the metropolis (Greek Orthodox cathedral) of Oia. There, in front of the royal door, the men bearing the Epitaphios begin to sway it right and left. And this is seemingly inexplicable rocking of a boat has passed into folk consciousness as a representation of the earthquake that followed the death of Christ, when … And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split … (Matthew 27:51).
How could such an event be forgotten in Oia!!
After St. George, the procession embarks on a longer route in the dark, through the narrow streets of the village. In the courtyards and on the yard walls of the houses, the people light fires in the tin cans, while the women stand in the doorways, some censing and some sprinkling the faithful with rosewater.
Until the early twentieth century Oia had thirteen parishes (in 1890 Pano Meria had a population of 2500) and the meeting–up of the many bedecked Epitaphioi in the streets of the village was very impressive. As to the following evening, Easter Saturday, the eve of the Resurrection, before the priest had finished declaring, from the dais set up in the church courtyard, the first joyous Christos Anesti (Christ is risen), the men and the boys begin throwing firecrackers and other “ammunition”, which they had prepared beforehand, and then the whole village shook from the deafening sounds and the satisfied shrieks of the “manufacturers” at the success of the explosions – while simultaneously the terrified screams of the rest resounded.
In front of the church, on the parapet of the square, hangs the effigy of the “traitor” Judas. A kind of scarecrow filled with firecrackers which, immediately after the first Christos Anesti, are set alight and blazes noisily as the crackers explode.
The rest of the night is spent with the family, in the joy of the long-awaited dinner after the strict fast forty days that the Oians observe piously, with the cracking of the red eggs, the meat stewed with greens, the Santorini wine and the local Easter sweetmeat, melitini, a little tart filled with a mixture of eggs, soft white cheese (myzithra) and flavored with mastic.
On the morning of Easter Sunday, which is usually a sunny spring day, the priest, cantors and congregation leave from Platsani and proceed towards the church on the south cliff, in the neighborhood of Monastiri.
The church of the Resurrection (Ανάστασης - Anastasis) is a very large one and together with St. Spyridon, to the east of it, they are a conspicuous point of reference for this side of the village. Their two huge blue domes are indelibly impressed on the memory of Oia, “hallmark” of all those on board ship who first behold or bid farewell to Oia.
The truly splendid procession with the banner of the icon of the Risen Christ in the lead, gold flabellae held by the altar boys, joyous psalms, all these within an unbelievably clear light, descent the narrow alley and the steps that reach to the church like a multicolored ribbon which is trailed between courtyards and vaults, sanctifying the hovering buildings of Pano Meria.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Photos of Santorini

Santorini volacano
Road to Akrotiri
Light-house in Akrotiri
View of the Caldera from Fira

Santorini Salad

  • 10-15 Santorini cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • 4-5 fresh, finely cut lettuce leaves
  • 2-3 garden rocket leaves
  • 1 medium-sized rusk, cut to bites
  • 1 small-diced onion
  • 4-5 olives
  • 1 anchovy cut to small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon caper
  • 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese (or myzithra)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly – grounded pepper

  1. Place half the rusk bites at the bottom of a large bowl and top them with the finely cut lettuce, the cherry tomatoes, a pinch of salt, the onion and the rocket.
  2. Add the rest of the rusk bites, the caper, the olive oil and the cheese.
  3. Let the salad rest for about 10 minutes and then serve.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Even though Thirasia is located very close to Santorini, it is very far away from the fast pace by which those opposite live. It is as if the volcano’s explosion in 1600BC was so definitive that it kept the two islands from ever uniting again. From the moment you set foot on Thirasia you will understand that you have come to a place that is impenetrable by tourism. As you walk through the two unique settlements of the island, Potamo and Manola, you will come across narrow pathways where genuine islanders walk. You will not only be won over by the human simplicity, but also by the beauty of the settlements that, when you look at from afar with the naked eye, appear to have a printed colour. The church-towers and houses are colored with the bright shades of blue, yellow and green.
During the winter time there aren’t more than 200 inhabitants on the island. Together with Oia, Thirasia constitutes an autonomous community in terms of administration. The only visitors of the island are relatives of inhabitants and those who go by kayak on tourist excursions.
If you visit Thirasia by kayak and disembark at Korfos, you can reach Manolas only by donkey or on foot. Alternatively you can go to Riva, the main harbor of Thirasia, by ferry boat from Athinios, or by small boat from Ammoudi which operate according to a regular schedule. There is a sandy beach here as well as the country church of St Irene. A little further up, as you follow the path from the main road to Potamo, you will reach Panagia of Lagadi. In order to get a complete picture of the island make sure you visit the monastery of the Assumption, that can be reached by following the pathway from Manolas.

The three stong points of Santorini

In case you do not have much time and not know where to go first, here are the three top things you do not want to miss:
  1. The Akrotiri, where the archaeological settlement of the pre-historic Thira is situated.
  2. The museum of Pre-historic Thira in Fira. You will be impressed with the findings exhibited there.
  3. The world-famous sunset of Oia. People from all over the world come to live this unique experience!

Yellow split pea puree (fava)

Serves 8 people


  • 500gr yellow split peas
  • 1 medium onion
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • finely chopped parsley
  • finely chopped onion
  • juice of 1 lemon

Wash the split peas, place them in a pot, cover with water and let them boil. Skim off the scum that forms on the top of the water.
Add the onion quartered, a little salt, half the olive oil, and let it simmer for 1 hour until the peas are soft and have acquired the consistency of thick porridge.
Put the split peas through a food mill until they are a smooth puree. Add the rest oil, the lemon juice, the finely chopped onion and a little more salt and pepper. Stir and garnish with the finely chopped parsley.

Tomatokeftedes (tomato balls)

  • 2 onions
  • 1kg Santorinian tomatoes (cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon soda
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • salt, pepper
  • flour
Grate the onions, tomatoes(4-5 normal-sized tomatoes if cherry tomatoes cannot be found), potatoes, zucchinis and add peppermint, basil, soda, salt, pepper, one tablespoon of tomato paste and as much flour needed until the mixture becomes puree. We take the mixture with the spoon and one by one spoonful we fry it on strong fire.

Sandsmelt fish pie (Αθερινόπιτα)

recipe from "Kyra Katina" at Ammoudi
For 1-2 persons


  • ¼ kg sandsmelt fish
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little flour

In a bowl put the sandsmelt fish, onion (chopped) peppermint, salt, pepper and a little bit of flour. Mix the ingredients until they become one integrated mixture. Pour oil into a frying pan, lay the mixture to be fried as an omelet and turn it over.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tenderloin with rosemary on top of fava(yellow split pea)puree

By Vasilis Zacharakis (Nichteri restaurant)

  • 1 tenderloin clean (about 700grams)
  • 50grams finely chopped smoked bacon
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary flowered
  • 1 glass Vinsanto (sweet Santorinian wine)
  • 1 Florina pepper chopped into dices
  • 1 small hot pepper cut in dices
  • 1 spoonful of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of soya sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Some parsley finely chopped
For fava puree:
  • 200grams fava beans
  • ½ litre water
  • 1 small onion cut in 4 pieces
  • 150grams of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper


We rinse the fava beans, strain, and put in a heavy saucepan on medium heat; once it starts boiling we skim and reduce the heat. We put the onion in together with a spoonful of olive oil and we simmer on very low heat. Once it becomes chyle, we season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Add the remaining olive oil and make the puree with hand mixer.
We cut the tenderloin in rounds of one cent, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes on each side, in a hot sauté pan with some olive oil.
We remove the meat and keep it warm.
In the same sauté pan, we sauté the bacon and continue sautéing together with the peppers, toss the rosemary, mix and quench with the Vinsanto. We add the honey, the soya sauce and the tomato sauce. When the sauce is reduced we add salt and pepper to taste…

Food styling:
We lay on a plate the fava puree, we put the tenderloin and toss the rosemary sauce on top.

Melitinia - Santorinian Soft Cheese Pastries

  • 2-3 spoons olive oil
  • 1 kg flour, sifted
  • Lukewarm water, as much as it needs to knead a soft dough
  • 1 kg soft unsalted cheese, like greek mitzithra or ricotta
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon of masticha powder


Pour in a bowl flour and olive oil and start adding gradually water. Knead the dough and try to make it elastic. Set aside and prepare the stuffing by mixing all ingredients together. Work the mixture well with your hands. Then roll out a thin sheet of dough and use a small bowl or tea cup of less than 10cm diameter to cut circular pieces of dough. In each round piece, place a spoon full of the stuffing in the center. Fold the uncovered piece of dough all around the stuffing in order to shape something that resembles a round plate and squeeze it softly with a toothpick or a fork. It should look like a round open parcel. Oil a baking pan and bake in high temperature 220-250oC for no more than 15 minutes. The top of the stuffing should get a golden color.

Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 15~30 stuffed tomatoes

  • 4 ounces package cream cheese
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • ¼ teaspoon dries oregano
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt or sour cream
  • 25-30 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  1. In a blender, blend the cream cheese, feta cheese, green onion, pepper and oregano, until smooth, scrape down the sides, add the tablespoon of either yoghurt or sour cream. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Rinse the cherry tomatoes and remove stems. With a sharp knife, cut a slice from the non-stem end of each tomato. With a small spoon, scoop out as much of the seeds and pulp and you can (discard them), arrange the hollow tomatoes on paper towel lines plate to drain.
  3. After the cheese mixture has chilled for an hour, transfer it to a small zipper-to plastic bag, squeezing out the air. Snip off one corner, squeeze the cheese filling into each tomato, arrange on serving dish and sprinkle with paprika.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tastes of the island

In Santorini, as well as all over Greece, eating is a way of life. Santorini’s cuisine is mainly based on the island’s agricultural products. Despite the lack of water, the island’s soil is particularly foil and their products have a unique taste.
In the traditional Santorini cuisine we can distinguish the following ingredients and dishes:
Fava is a puree made with Fava beans (yellow peas). Fava is an old traditional dish of Greece which can be served in many different ways according to the time of the year. It is said that Santorini’s peas are “the most delicious peas ever known”.
Santorini Cherry Tomato is a unique variety that can be easily mistaken for cherries. Very aromatic and tasty.
Chloro Cheese is fresh goat cheese made by women of Santorini and it is not easy to find anymore. Its texture is creamy and it has a slightly sour taste.
The White Eggplant, a unique vegetable of the island. They are very small, sweet and juicy, very delicious and with a fresh flavor.
The Caper (kapari) and the Dried Caper are other products of the island and are often used in salads. It has a characteristic sharp aroma and spicy taste.

Local sweets that Santorini people prefer are:
Melitinia, a festive sweet served mostly on Easter, which is like cheese pies with unsalted myzithra.
Koufeto, which is prepared with almonds, boiled in local honey or syrup. It is the traditional wedding sweet.

Highlights of Santorini

During your stay on Santorini I recommend some things to make your stay even more interesting:
  • Pay a visit to one of Santorini’s wineries and taste the exceptional wines produced from the volcanic grounds of the island.
  • Taste the local products: cherry tomatoes, fava (split-peas puree), caper, white aubergine, katsouni (a type of cucumber) etc No matter how they are prepared the offer a unique taste.
  • Enjoy the sunset in Caldera. Akrotiri, Megalochori, Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia offer the same magnificent view!
  • Wake up early in the morning, to avoid high temperatures, and take a walking tour from Fira to Oia following the path on the “eyebrow of Caldera”. On feasts, ask the locals to show you which church or chapel is celebrating. If you join festivals, you will dance to the rhythms of the Islands folk music, accompanied by local specialties and plentiful wine.
  • Renew you love vows with your other half, with idyllic view of the Caldera sunset!
  • Do not miss the fascinating beaches. Shinny pebbles, black, white or red sand and unique geological formations compose magnificent sceneries.
  • A mini-cruise to the volcano is worthwhile!
  • If you are archaeology fans, pay a visit to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira and the Ancient Thera in Meso Vouno.
  • And of course after a full day, relax by the sea with a superb view to the Caldera, the sweetest way to end your day.

The volcano

The geological history of Santorini begins million years ago, at a time where Europe and Africa where still joined. At that time what is now known as the Aegean Sea, was a land accumulation, known as “Aegis”, which linked mainland Greece with Asia Minor and Crete. About 6 million years ago, and after a long series of geological upheavals, Aegis sank beneath the surface of the water, that rushed in to take its place. The mountain peaks of the old mainland remained protruding above the surface of the sea and are what today we refer to as the islands of the Aegean Sea. The position occupied today by Santorini had only two or three significant islets to show, which are still there today, included into the principal land. They are the mountains Prophet Elias, the rocks above the modern harbor at Athinios, and the remote rock that stands proudly on the east coast of the island at Monolithos.The eruption of the volcano led the greater part of the island to the bottom of the sea and created myths such as the sinking of Atlantis. Geological evidence indicates that the volcano first appeared around 80.000 years ago. Ash found on the seabed and originated from this eruption covered an area stretching from Chios to Italy, and from North Africa almost as far as Cyprus.
Apart from ashes, the crater expelled other heavier hot substances that poured out in liquid or semi-liquid form and shaped a cone. This cone gradually grew covering the surface of the sea and joined with the islets already there to form an approximately circular island with a diameter of 9 miles. It is not known how many centuries the island needed to assume its final form.The second catastrophic eruption happened around 1600 BC, and as a result, the entire island’s life was destroyed. Beneath the center of Strongyle, the flow of lava created an enormous hollow dome that was the eventually unable to support the weight of the island. The roof of the dome collapsed and the greater part of Strongyle sank beneath the waves. All that was left above the surface of the sea were parts of its perimeter that enclosed a gigantic basin filled with the sea – the Caldera. These parts are called today Santorini and Thirasia islands. The time of the submerge, Aegean Sea was darkened by an immense black cloud of smoke and ash and an enormous tsunami of 250m height, rose up an went in all directions. With the speed it is estimated that traveled, in approximately half an hour it had reached Crete and (as many historians believe), whipped out the Minoan civilization.
From time to time various craters erupted in the caldera, though unimportant, yet restarted the process of filling the caldera. The lava shaped cones around the crater, at first under sea and later projected above the surface and formed the two islands of Palaia Kammeni and Nea Kammeni, today called the Volcano. There were 14 eruptions ever since 198 BC. In 1707, once more, activity began in the center of the caldera. These chain events formed the island that can be seen today. In 1956 an earthquake destroyed everything on the island, so the island was rebuilt. Since 1956 volcanic activity has been pretty low, but minor tremors are quite common and the ground shakes, usually imperceptibly, almost every day. A major earthquake is due at any moment, but the locals don’t seem worried – they seem to like living on the edge.
So if you are a lover of impermanence, precariousness and drama, no other place comes close. Come see the hot springs of the caldera and the volcano’s crater (a unique experience) and you remember it for a lifetime.

Useful links
Volcano cruise Volcano Sunset cruise

A day at the beach

KamariAvis Beach (multiethnic fun)
The beautiful black sandy beach of Kamari stretches for five miles in length along the eastern coast of the island. You don’t have to walk far to find taverns on the seafront as well as restaurants, hotels, tourist shops and entertainment spots. A number of water sports are also available like water skiing, windsurfing and paddle boats. From Fira you can take the bus to Kamari with frequent service. Located close is the Avis beach, another black-sand quiet one with sport facilities and beach bars.

Akrotiri – Red Beach (classical and magical)
Not far from the ancient site of Akrotiri, the Red beach is located. You couldn’t ask for a more breathtaking setting for a swim. Soaring red lava cliffs which drop right to the black sandy shore and into the clear blue sea, make a majestic scenery for you to enjoy. Near the beach you can find a hotel for a snack or drink. Note that you can also find boats that leave from Akrotiri to other beaches.

Monolithos (family-type beach)
Just north of Kamari and on the eastern coast is the beach of Monolithos. It is considered to be the most peaceful, shallow-water beach on Santorini, however with all the comforts.

Perissa (all time classic)
This beach is located on the southeastern tip of the island. It is most known for its wide range of water sports (water skiing, wind surfing, diving) and its water park.

Perivolos – Agios Georgios
Another of the quiet variety beaches with small taverns, bar-restaurants, hotels and rooms to let just on the sea front. It is on the southern part of the island with all sport facilities available.

Exo Gialos
A quiet organized sandy and pebbled beach, 4 km from Karterados, with a canteen and tavern.

Kambia (dip in the emerald waters)
It is located between Red and White Beach. Its main characteristic is its clear emerald water. Despite the fact that it is small and quiet, it has deckchairs and a tavern. It is accessible by car or by path that starts out from the Red Beach.

Vlyhada (the next hot spot)
The perfect choice for those who wish to avoid crowds and want a more serene spot to relax. Located near Perivolos it is heaven for sailing and fishing boats.

AmmoudiArmeni (like a scene from a movie)
Two small beaches near Oia, with view to Therasia and clear deep blue water. Especially Ammoudi is one of many little tourist attractions. Both of them have tavern with lovely food for you to taste. You can reach Ammoudi by car, foot or on mules’ back but Armeni only by a small footpath or by boat.

Kolumbo (like an awaking volcano)
It is found on the northeast coast of the island near Oia. It is a quiet sandy beach with white pebbles to a great extent. Here is the most active submarine volcano of the island. It is better to avoid this beach when the wind blows from the north.

Pori (small and quiet)
Near Kolumbo mostly preferred by locals, Pori Beach is black sanded without deckchairs or umbrellas.

Thermi (plunge in the abyss)
Thermi is an isolated wild beach near Megalohori, accessible only by one path lined by country chapels. It has scattered hot water springs similar to those on the Volcano.

White Beach (private sense)
Small white pebbled beach. It is almost a private situation which can be reached by boat from Akrotiri or from Red Beach or on foot along the path.

Vourvoulos (the wild)
It is more of a bay than a beach. It has lots of pebbles in and out of the water, with wild beauty and a picturesque harbor.


Messaria lies 3.5km south of Fira, in the interior of the island, amidst vineyards and vegetable gardens. It is a beautiful small village since it is characterized by the typical Cycladic charm with picturesque whitewashed houses and tiny winding paths.
The new part of the village is full of life with many shops, whilst a walk through the traditional settlement will take you back in time, when Messaria was the center of the island’s industrial development.
People of Messaria are known for their warm hospitality and the red wine produced here, is one of Santorini’s finest, so do not forget to buy some when you return back home.

Useful links for Messaria


Pyrgos is a large village, built at the foot of Prophitis Elias, which gives you a sense of medieval times. Probably the only village preserving this medieval features and atmosphere so vividly. Its streets, which follow the contours of the hillside, divide the village into zones. The walls of the outermost houses were an integral part of the village fortifications.There is also a Venetian castle located here named “Pyrgos”, and several Byzantine churches, like Theotaki, the most notable one with interesting frescoes. The Monastery of Prophitis Elias is only 3km away from the village and it is located on the mountain’s peak with altitude 550m, the highest point of the island. The monastery’s museum is full of ecclesiastical articles of unlimited value. There are icons from the 15th and 18th Century, a 20th Century iron cross, silver bound scriptures and patriarch’s Gregory diamond-adorned Mitre.

Useful links for Pyrgos


Situated to the south of Athinios, Megalochori is the first village we meet when we arrive at Santorini by boat, after climbing Athinios port. It is located among Pyrgos, Emporio and Akrotiri at a distance of less than 5km from Fira. This inland village belies its name (“Big Village”), having only a couple of hundred inhabitants.
Megalochori combines traditional architecture with vaulted houses and “calderimia” (stone-cobbled narrow pathways). It is a lovely choice as a handy base for exploring the island: it is close to Fira, and within easy reach of Akrotiri and the beaches of Perissa, Perivolos, Agios Georgios and Vlyhada of the South coast. It is a tranquil place to enjoy lunch or dinner in the various taverns and restaurants, serving delicious local specialties.
Leave your car and walk through it. Admire the cobbled streets, the yards that are full of flowers, the tiny houses and above all the fine bell towers of the churches that pop up harmoniously in the landscape.For those of you who like adventure, we suggest a visit to the remote beaches of caldera, Plaka and Thermi. There is no access by car and therefore, so be well prepared with sports shoes, hats and plenty of water.Useful links for Megalochori
Hotels Hiking Agios Nikolaos - Megalochori


The cosmopolitan Kamari is 10km away from Fira. There is always life, as it accommodates the majority of the charter passengers that inundate the island in summer. It has a well organized that stretches in many kilometers. It has smooth black sand, playground, water sports and diving center.
The town is connected with frequent bus service from Fira. Completely rebuilt after the 1956 earthquake, Kamari was the most important strategic point of the island, and also the port for Ancient Thera, after the decline of Akrotiri in ancient times.
In Kamari, the church of Panagia Episkopi is of great interest. It is an old Byzantine church built in 1100. The best time to visit the church is on August 15th during the feast of Virgin Mary. You will enjoy with all the dancing, singing and the tasty food.
At nights, when the red full moon is rising from the dark waters, a walk in the costal pedestrian precinct is a perfect idea. Enjoy the sight and make a stop for a bite or a drink, since it has restaurants, bars, but also a bank, ATM and cinema.

Useful links for Kamari
Map   Hotels   Kamari beach   Hiking Kamari - Ancient Thera


Santorini will keep your photo camera operating 24/7 as there are breathtaking views that are worth taking back home with you. Many argue that the most outstanding place is Imerovigli. Maybe they are right if we consider the fact that, its name derives from the words “vigla”=watchtower and “imera”=day and its position, at the center and highest point along the caldera, gave it visual command of the whole sea. It is 20min walking distance away from Fira and it is world famous for its summer sunset view. As the sun sets, the neighboring islands of Ios, Sikinos and Folegandros are being revealed, making it so wonderful.
There lays the medieval castle of Scaros, never been defeated during the 600 years of its existence. From Skaros, follow the path that leads to Theoskepasti church, which is built on a rock with a unique view. Another church of Imerovigli is Panagia Maltesa, taking its name after the icon said to have been found in the sea near Malta.
Because of its location near Fira, it is connected with public road or by the old path, offering tremendous views of the caldera and volcano. You may find here taverns, restaurants, bars and hotels.

Useful links for Imerovigli
Map Hotels


As you go north along the main road, you will find Firostefani, only 1.5 km away from Fira (approximately 10 minutes walking distance). By now Firostefani is an extension of Fira. You will notice that the view is equally exquisite in both villages, but the atmosphere in Firostefani is quieter. It is a perfect choice for those who want to be close enough to the cosmopolitan life of the capital, but not in the heart of it. Of course there are places for you to eat or have a drink here by the caldera.
Located in Firostefani is Petros Nomikos Conference Centre, where you can find an exhibition with life-size reproductions of wall paintings found in Akrotiri’s ancient settlement. You will be surprised by the Center and the unique view will be an unforgettable memory for you. So visit the Center late in the afternoon to experience another sunset from the top of Firostefani.
No doubt this village should be called the “balcony over the Aegean”, since Palaia and Nea Kammeni lie directly opposite.

Useful links for Firostefani
Map Hotels


The traditional settlement of Oia is located on the highest northern tip of the island and is famous for their spectacular, amazing sunsets, which bathe the hills and buildings in a purple glow when the sun sinks into the Aegean. One distinct characteristic of the place is picturesque road, built just on the rim of the cliff side, which takes you all the way to a village of 79 (!!) churches. Sometimes referred to as Apano Meria, Oia is linked with 10km paved road to Fira.
Oia is built at a lower altitude than Fira, nearer the sea, to which it is connected by two sets of cobbled steps. The one to Ammoudi has 214 steps, the other to Armeni has 286. Definitely the way up is the hard part, but both sights are worth the effort.
Oia’s architecture is typical Santorini-Cycladic with small houses sunk deep into the volcanic rock, white walls and blue domes sparkling in the sunlight.
Oia is considered to be the cultural heart of the island as it hosts a cultural center, a central art gallery and many other popular Greek galleries. Moreover, there are many shops that sell local handcrafts, souvenirs, jewellery and other memorabilia. Taverns and restaurants around Oia have exquisite cuisine with tasty dishes accompanied by the recognized traditional wines of Santorini.
Definitely the ideal place for a peaceful vacation in a setting blessed by unique natural beauty.

Useful links for Oia
Map Hotels Hiking Oia to Fira

Hotels ideal for honeymooners


Fira, also known as Hora, is the capital of Santorini. It is built on the precipice, on the rim of the caldera, 260m above sea level and dates from 1810. The volcano lies exactly opposite, still emitting puffs of steam.
Fira is a long narrow collection of buildings with steep, narrow, stepped alleyways. The houses on the caldera side are dug-out dwellings, constructed on different levels, one above the other.
You can reach the town of Fira by car or bus from Athinios, and by funicular, walking up the 500 or so steps or on donkeyback from Mesa Yialos. It has one of the most breathtaking views on earth because of its location on the caldera and of course its view of the volcano and the open Aegean Sea. Its dazzling white houses complete the magnificent scenery.
Among its best preserved districts is Kato Fira.
Apart from all this Fira is the center of life on the island, with the numerous hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes to satisfy all tastes and budgets. You will see that Fira changes at dusk. The dazzling sun with draws, the lights lit and before long the quiet of the semi-darkness will surrender to the sounds from the taverns, cafes and clubs.
The churches of Agios Minas and Christos are located here, both masterpieces of ecclesiastical architecture. The Archaeological Museum is also worth to visit, as it houses the finds of the excavations at Akrotiri and Mesa Vouno. And also make sure you stop off at Belloneio Cultural Center, where painting and photography exhibitions as well as interesting lectures and conferences are often organized. Megaro Gkyzi is also a cultural center with a long history, housing extremely interesting exhibitions, lectures and music concerts mainly throughout the summer.

Useful links for Fira
Map   Hotels   Driving from Fira to Oia

And now some history..

Santorini’s history is not only history of people. It is history of a land that has the admirable privilege of evolving on a normal basis, even to this day. For one to understand such an essential issue, must realize that there was a time when the Cyclades resided in the Aegean, absent Santorini.
Santorini, according to Greek mythology, originated from a clod of earth presented to the Argonauts by greek-god Triton, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. According to Herodotus, the island was primarily called “Strongyle” (the round one), because of its circular shape.
Dorians, Phoenicians, Venetians and Turks occupied Santorini, but its most influential early inhabitants were the Minoans. They came from Crete sometime between 2000 and 1600 BC. The first settlers called the island “Kallisti” (the beautiful one), until the volcanic eruption around 1500 BC, which destroyed the island and together the great Minoan civilization of Crete.
The whole island was buried under a thick layer of pumice, which at many points is over 30 meters deep. The catastrophe must have been accompanied by enormous tidal waves (tsunamis), believed to have reached at height of 210m before slamming the Aegean shores, and causing the center of the island to sink, leaving Caldera with high cliffs. After the eruption of the volcano, the island remained uninhabited for about two centuries.
Another theory that has fired the imaginations of writers, artists and mystics and also being a top debate between archaeologists and scholars, postulates that the island was part of the mythical lost continent of Atlantis, the “Happy Isle”.