GLAMOROUS ISLAND WITH WHITE ARCHITECTURE, CALDERA CLIFFS AND BLUE AEGEAN SEA; SANTORINI, GREECE
Day 1 – Arrive Santorini, Greece
There are direct flights to/from Santorini, Greece from European cities, such as London, Munich and Athens. We arrive to Santorini (Thira) International Airport and use a private transfer organized with our hotel. We arrive at the hotel late in the evening.
Note: We use two companies for our private tours and airport transfers. We arrange a private car and a professional driver with Kamari Tours (kamaritours.gr) for our private tours. We use Private Car Service for our airport transfers, arranged by our hotel.
Our Santorini, Greece Itinerary explores the coastal cities, archeological sites, historic churches and villages and beautiful black and sand beaches. Our journey takes place at the end of September, a shoulder season with less crowds and lovely temperatures.
Day 2 – Oia
After breakfast, we spend a day exploring Oia, the fabulous town at the northern part of Santorini. A short distance from our hotel, the marble avenue runs through town along the top of the caldera cliffs. The avenue is lined with white-washed houses, pretty villas, art boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurant terraces. At the center of town, we visit the Church of Panagia Platsani, a white-washed structure with a blue dome. We walk to the Byzantine Castle Ruins, the remnants of the 15th century castle and the nearby Windmill, enjoying magnificent views of Oia and the Aegean Sea. We pause for lunch at the seaside taverna, then explore Oia’s winding alleyways, vantage points, art galleries and quaint boutiques. At sunset, we stroll along alleyways and white stone stairways, capturing the famous Santorini sunset. In the evening, we have a relaxing dinner at the Petrosla Restaurant (petrosia.gr), enjoying a cuttlefish ink spaghetti with shrimp.
Day 3 – Akrotiri, Red Beach, Fira
Our half-day excursion starts with a 30 minutes’ drive to the archeological site of Akrotiri, situated in the south west of Santorini. The Akrotiri settlement was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 17th century BC. A guided tour follows the designated pathways inside the roof-covered excavation site, showcasing ancient structures and objects. After the visit, we walk 15 minutes to the Red Beach, a beautiful red sand beach surrounded by striking red cliffs. The pathway leading to the beach has safety warnings, hence we admire the beach from the top of the cliff. After departing the beach, we drive 20 minutes to the capital of Santorini, Fira. We stop for lunch at the seaside Argo Restaurant (argo-restaurant-santorini.com), then visit the Archeological Museum of Thera, the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of Ypapanti and the Three Bells of Fira. We discover winding alleyways, white-washed houses, art galleries and souvenir shops. In the afternoon, we drive 20 minutes back to our hotel to relax and have dinner.
Day 4 – Ancient City of Thera, Kamari Beach
Today we explore the southeast coast of Santorini. We drive around 40 minutes to the Ancient City of Thera, the ruins of the ancient town established in the 9th century BC. A climb to the top of the Mesa Vouno Mountain reveals the remnants of the buildings from the Hellenistic Era and panoramic sea views. The self-guided tour follows the well-designated routes with information displays, explaining the historic monuments. After the visit, we drive 10 minutes to the seaside village of Kamari. Kamari Beach, a multi-kilometer long beach with black volcanic sand along the Aegean Sea, is the perfect place to swim, sunbathe and relax. We have lunch at the beach-front Fishbone Restaurant, eating local seafood and refreshing salads. After lunch, we spend time at the beach, using the sun loungers with parasols managed by the restaurant. In the evening, we dine at the nearby beach-front Mesogaia Restaurant (afroditivenushotel.gr/mesogaia_restaurant), serving an excellent Mediterranean cuisine. After dinner, we drive 30-40 minutes back to our hotel. Note: We schedule a half-day morning excursion (to Ancient Thera and Kamari Beach). We schedule an evening transfer (Kamari Beach to Mystique Hotel Santorini).
Day 5 – Monastery of Prophet Elias, Pyrgos Village
Our half-day excursion begins with a 30 minutes’ drive to the Monastery of Prophet Elias, the Greek Orthodox monastery situated atop the Mount Profitis Ilias. We visit the Holy Chapel of St. Nektarios, explore its tree-lined garden and photograph Santorini’s stunning coastline. A 15 minutes’ drive to the base of the mountain leads to the medieval Pyrgos Village. We follow a labyrinth of winding alleyways passing the white stone houses, old churches, stylish restaurants and hillside cafes. Kasteli Castle, the well-preserved ruins of the 15th century Venetian Castle, is the heart of the village. We visits lovely churches, including the Eisodia Tis Theotokou, the Church of Saint Agia Theodosia and the Agios Nikolaos Church. Situated in the nearby village of Exo Gonia, the Metaxi Mas Restaurant (santorini-metaximas.gr/en), serves traditional Cretan and Santorinian cuisine. After lunch, we drive back to our hotel.
Day 6 – Relaxation Day - Infinity Pool or Kamari Beach
Santorini is an ideal island to sightsee, soak the sun, pamper yourself at the spa and relax. Today, we pass the time at the hotel’s lovely infinity pool and the exquisite spa, enjoying tranquility and beautiful scenery from our hotel. Note: Another option is to spend the whole day on Kamari Beach.
Day 7 – Ammoudi Bay
In the morning, we enjoy a relaxing breakfast and beautiful sea views. At noon, we traverse the town of Oia and follow the approximately 300-steps pathway down to the Ammoudi Bay. Ammoudi Bay, the Old Port of Oia is a symbol of raw beauty with steep red cliffs and white-washed houses perched atop the cliff. Situated along the bay, the waterfront Ammoudi Fish Tavern serves a wide selection of fresh fish and shellfish. We enjoy a multi-hour seafood feast and appreciate the beautiful coastal scenery. Late afternoon, we walk uphill to the center of Oia and visit galleries and boutiques in search for locally produced artisanal products. We walk back to our hotel for a light dinner.
Day 8 – Relaxation Day, Santorini, Greece Departure
We spend a relaxing day at the pool and dine at the restaurant terraces of our hotel. After dinner, we take a private transfer organized through our hotel to the Santorini (Thira) International Airport. We take the evening flight home.
Greece – The Mediterranean Region comprises the territories of Europe, Asia and Africa situated around the Mediterranean Sea. The region has a diverse landscape of rocky coastline, mountains, sandy beaches and islands. Greece, a peninsular country in Southern Europe, borders Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey, and is surrounded by the Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Ionian Sea to the west. The topography of Greece consists of expansive mountainous terrain, large coastline and archipelago of scattered islands across the different seas. Greece has up to 6,000 islands and islets, of which 227 islands are inhabited. The Aegean Archipelago is a group of islands in the Aegean Sea, of which the majority belongs to Greece with the remaining portion belonging to Turkey. The Greek Islands are classified into groups: The Northeastern Aegean Islands, Ionian Islands, Saronic Gulf Islands, Cycladic Islands, Sporades Islands, Dodecanese Islands and Crete, the biggest island of Greece. The Cycladic Islands, called Cyclades, are situated in the central and southern Aegean Archipelago. Santorini and Mykonos, part of the Cyclades, are immensely popular islands due to their beautiful architecture, pretty beaches and unforgettable sunsets.
Santorini – The crescent-shaped Santorini Island, officially known as Thira, encompasses the two inhabited islands of Santorini and Theresia, the uninhabited volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, and islets in the periphery. Santorini’s landscape was shaped thousands of years ago by a massive volcanic eruption, creating a large caldera surrounded by dramatic cliffs. The volcanic eruption devastated the Minoa population on Create and the Akrotiri community on Santorini Island. Santorini is a marvelous island with white-washed houses curved into cliffs, blinding caldera views, volcanic-sand beaches, and Cycladic churches with blue cupolas. The coastal cities of Oia, Fira and Imeroglivi boast a distinctive white architecture, narrow stone alleyways, quaint boutiques and striking caldera and sea views. The Ancient City of Thiera, Akrotiri Excavations and Pyrgos Village are historic sites of Santorini. The red and black sand beaches along the Aegean Sea are marvelous. The black volcanic sand beaches are lined with boutique hotels, sun-loungers, souvenir shops, elegant restaurants and cafes. Santorini is an immensely popular vacation destination, guaranteeing plentiful sunshine, crystal clear sea and superb Greek cuisine.
Oia – The upscale village-town of Oia is set above the Aegean Sea on the northern rim of the volcanic caldera. In the center of town is the Church of Panagia Platsani, a beautiful white-washed building with a bright blue dome. A walk through Oia reveals a beautiful marble avenue, cliffside white houses and luxurious villas with white-washed interiors. The pedestrian streets are lined with art boutiques, souvenir shops, chic taverns and seaside restaurants. Atop the Byzantine Castle Ruins, the remnants of the 15th century castle, are panoramic views of Oia’s stunning architecture, dramatic cliffs and the postcard-perfect Windmill. A zig-zag pathway of around 300 steps descends to the Ammoudi Bay, a beautiful place lined with taverns and surrounded by the impressive red cliffs. At sunset, many visitors stroll along alleyways and the white stone stairways across Oia to capture the famous Santorini sunsets. Oia is an undisputedly beautiful, glamorous and romantic town, equally adored by its visitors, the village residents and the many village cats.
Fira – Fira, known in the ancient times as Thira, is situated on the west part of Santorini. Perched on the edge of the world-famous caldera, Fira boasts white-washed houses and stunning stone pathways lined with shops, galleries and restaurants. Fira is the capital of Santorini and has wonderful attractions and religious sites. The Archeological Museum of Thera educates about the culture and history of Santorini, and houses a collection of excavated artifacts. The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of Ypapanti, built in 1827, showcases a white dome, bell tower and remarkable interiors adorned with beautiful icons, frescoes and chandelier. The Three Bells of Fira, officially the Catholic Church of Koimisi Tis Theotokou, is set above the sea and dominates the city’s landscape with its blue dome and the three bells. The visitors to Fira are guaranteed magnificent views of the nearby volcanic islands and the Aegean Sea. Fira is a charming town with narrow streets lined with stylish restaurants and plentiful shops selling colorful souvenirs and chic white clothing.
Akrotiri – Akrotiri, situated in the south west of Santorini, is the island’s most important archaeological site. Akrotiri, a settlement dating back to the Neolithic times, had well-developed infrastructure and established relations with the Minoan civilization settled in the nearby island of Crete. The powerful volcanic eruption in the 17th century BC devastated the settlement, burying the town with volcanic lava. Akrotiri Excavations conducted in 1967, uncovered a preserved ancient town under the volcanic material. A guided tour follows the designated pathways inside the roof-covered excavation site, revealing the preserved ancient multi-storey buildings with spacious interiors, wooden objects, imported pottery and bronze objects. The interiors of the houses were decorated with wall paintings and vivid frescoes, depicting the religious symbols, animals, flowers, landscapes and life themes. Akrotiri is an extraordinary symbol of an ancient culture preserved through its sophisticated architecture and decorative art.
Ancient City of Thera – The southeast coast of Santorini hosts an important archeological site, the Ancient City of Thera. The Ancient City of Thera, located on the Mesa Vouno Mountain, represents the ruins of the ancient city established in the 9th century BC by the Dorian settlers and its King Thiras. Throughout the centuries, the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine empires ruled the ancient city, influencing its cultural, religious and commercial development. A climb up the steep slopes to the top of the mountain reveals the remnants of the buildings from the Hellenistic Era and panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. The self-guided tour follows well-designated routes with information displays, explaining the monuments. The Sanctuary of Artemidoros shows different inscriptions and symbols engraved on the rocks. The ruins of the Ancient City of Thera include streets, houses, temples, baths, cemeteries and a royal arcade that served as parliament in the ancient times. The note-worthy monuments include the Theatre, the Agora (market) and the Sanctuary of Apollo Karneios.
Monastery of Prophet Elias – The Mount Profitis Ilias, situated in the center of Santorini, is the highest mountain and the oldest part of the island. The Monastery of Prophet Elias, the Greek Orthodox monastery established in 1711, is located at the summit of the mountain. The monastery, generally closed to the public, houses religious artefacts, including icons and books. The visitors may enter the Holy Chapel of St. Nektarios, dedicated to the Prophet Elijah and picturesque courtyard with pathways along the pine trees and the eucalyptuses. Near the chapel, a small shop sells a variety of products made by the monks at the monastery. The top of the mountain is also an ideal place to view Santorini from different directions.
Pyrgos Village – Situated at the base of Mount Profitis Ilias, the Pyrgos Village is a well-preserved medieval village offering a laid-back atmosphere and panoramic views of Santorini. This charming hillside village boasts a labyrinth of winding alleyways, white-washed houses, old churches, stylish restaurants and hillside cafes. The Kasteli Castle, the well-preserved ruins of a 15th century Venetian Castle, is situated in the center of the village and offers superb views of the island. A stroll through the village passes by lovely churches, including Eisodia Tis Theotokou, the Church of Saint Agia Theodosia and the Agios Nikolaos Church situated at the square of Ypsilou Kafene.
Santorini Beaches – Santorini’s landscape, formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption, is defined by the crescent-shaped caldera with stunning cliffs in the west of the island and picturesque beaches in the east of the island. The east and southeast coast of Santorini is blessed with a long stretch of volcanic black sand and pebbles beaches. Kamari is a seaside village situated at the foot of the Mesa Vouno Mountain. Located in the village is the Kamari Beach, a multi-kilometer long beach with black volcanic sand along crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. It is a popular beach resort with many boutique hotels, seaside tavernas, souvenir shops and rows of sun loungers with straw beach parasols. Kamari Beach is an ideal place to swim, sunbathe, degust the fresh seafood and stroll along the pedestrian street. The Mesa Vouno Mountain, a location of the Ancient City of Thera, separates Kamari Beach from Perissa Beach, another picturesque black sand beach. The nearby Perivolos Beach is a beautiful black sand beach with sunbeds and parasols set along the blue waters of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding rock formations. In the south of Santorini, a picturesque bay is the setting for the Red Beach, a gorgeous beach with dark red sand, dramatic red cliffs and brilliant blue sea. Atop the rocky coastline are spectacular views of the stunning bay with sailboats docked at the shore. The pathway leading to the beach has safety issues due to warnings of the falling rocks, hence we suggest viewing the beach from above the cliff. A short distance from the beach is Akrotiri, the ancient town excavated from underneath volcanic material.
Ammoudi Bay – The village of Oia, perched on the edge of the caldera, offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the beautiful bay at the base of the cliff. A zig-zag pathway of around 300 steps descends to the Ammoudi Bay, the Old Port of Oia. The magnificent red cliffs surround Ammoudi Bay, lined with seaside tavernas and fishing boats. The Ammoudi Fish Tavern is a waterfront restaurant that serves a wonderful selection of fresh seafood. We choose a selection of seafood and Greek specialties for lunch, admiring beautiful coastal views and the octopus hanging to dry in the sun. The rocky pathway to the left of Ammoudi Bay leads to a scenic point and a popular location for swimming and cliff diving. We return to our hotel by taking a pleasant hike uphill, which can be substituted by a taxi ride or a ride on a donkey. Ammoudi Bay is an ideal place to admire the raw beauty of Santorini and enjoy a gastronomic experience.
Greek Cuisine – The Greek cuisine, a fundamentally Mediterranean cuisine, is influenced by the region’s fertile topography and mild climate. Santorini’s volcanic soil is ideal for growing diverse vegetables, an essential ingredient in the local cuisine. A collection of high-end restaurants, seaside tavernas and charming café make Santorini a remarkable culinary center. The Eggplant Dip, traditionally served with fresh pita bread, awakens the taste buds. The White Eggplant, a specialty of Santorini, is sweet-flavored and a primary ingredient of the dip. The roasted eggplant combined with root vegetables, fragrant herbs and essential Greek condiments is refreshing and divine. The Santorini Salad, similar to the Greek Salad, is a slightly different salad made in Santorini. The island’s flavorful vegetables, fresh goat cheese and fragrant herbs are essential ingredients in the salad. The Santorini cherry tomatoes, exclusively grown in Santorini’s volcanic soil, are naturally sweet and represent a secret ingredient in the salad. The Santorini Salad, naturally savory and sweet, is simply delicious. The grilled Octopus and Fava Beans is a traditional Santorini dish. Fresh octopus hanging to dry in the sun can be seen at the picturesque Ammoudi Bay in Oia. The grilled octopus tentacles served on top of the fava bean puree, are tender and ambrosial. The Santorini Fava Beans, dried yellow split pea cultivated in Santorini, are cooked with onion and dried herbs, then pureed and mixed with olive oil, salt and garlic. Lovers of fresh seafood shall dine at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern (ammoudisantorini.com), a lovely waterfront restaurant in the Old Port of Oia. Customers may choose from the daily caught fresh fish and shellfish displayed on the ice. The Rouget, known as the Red Mullet, is a highly praised fish in the Mediterranean Region. It has a white flesh, a small size and amazing flavor. We degust the grilled lobster and an immensely nectarous deep-fried rouget.
Mystique Hotel Santorini – Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel is situated on the edge of the caldera cliffs in the upmarket town of Oia. A collection of luxurious cave-style suites has white-washed interiors, spacious bedrooms, private terraces with sunbeds, Jacuzzis, infinity pools and spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. We stay at the Wet Allure Suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi, situated in the quiet part of the hotel property, ensuring beautiful coastal views and privacy. The seaside Charisma Restaurant serves a wonderful assortment of the Mediterranean dishes. Wine lovers shall visit the Secret Wine Cave situated at the hotel. The beautiful infinity pool provides relaxation and lovely views of Oia’s architecture, the caldera cliffs and the Aegean Sea. The Mystique Hotel Santorini showcases a traditional Cycladic architecture and boast a premium location away from the crowds yet within walking distance to the center of Oia.