The bright white architecture of Oia
Santoríni’s crescent-shaped hulk of volcanic rock has survived more than its fair share of dramatic history. What remains is an abundance of natural beauty and a large dose of unmistakable Greek charm.
While the cliff sides sit scattered with whitewashed cave dwellings and blue-tipped chapels, the centre of the island demands just as much exploring. The fascinating excavated prehistoric sites at Akrotiri and Fira tell the tale of the island’s catastrophic volcanic explosion. A cool hillside tavern will provide respite from the afternoon sun and lashings of Greek cuisine, like cheesy saganaki, pastry-topped spinach pie and fragrant souvlaki skewers.
A view over Akrotiri village
With the Aegean Sea swirling all around – and above an underwater crater – the vista from this ancient archipelago is unobstructed in all directions, making it a hotspot for sunset-watching. Oía and Imerovigli see the crowds gather, so if you’d rather capture the dusky scene with a little more serenity, hop on a yacht tour, find a secluded beach or venture out to Akrotiri’s lonesome lighthouse. Once the sun dips into the horizon, towns like Fira offer plenty of watering holes, while seaside resorts like Kamari and Perissa are home to beach clubs and cocktail bars.
Late afternoon on Santorini's Red Beach
When to go?
Summer sees Santoríni’s temperatures and visitor numbers soar. If you want to avoid steep prices but still soak up the sun, head here either side of peak season – so, May, June, September or October. Beach weather kicks off in June, while September rounds off the hotter months with the Ifestia festival – a firework spectacle re-enacting the famous eruption that gave the island its distinctive form.
Where to stay?
West East Suites – Imerovigli, Santoríni
With an infinity pool accompanied by nothing except endless sea views, this property’s focus is on relaxing. Each suite opens onto a terrace with a private pool or a hot tub, so you can sit and watch the sunsets Imerovigli is famed for. Later, lounge in the à la carte restaurant or cocktail bar.
Rimida Villas – Oía, Santoríni
These traditional cave dwellings give you the chance to stay inside the cool surrounds of homes used by islanders for centuries. Carved out of the rock, the studios and apartments have a homely feel and open onto terraces, some of which include a hot tub.
Amor Hideaway Villas – Fira, Santoríni
Luxury villas with private pools provide the perfect island escape in Fira. Showcasing Cycladic architecture and fine interiors, the smart villas at Amor Hideaway have first-floor terraces which look on to the Aegean Sea, enticing you away from your plush surrounds and out onto the island’s captivating landscape.