Santorini is an astonishing sight from the air – a collection of five islands floating on the waves of the Aegean Sea – like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle, says Christine Karan.
Just an hour’s flight or seven hours by ferry from Athens, Santorini, one of the most romantic islands on the Aegean Sea, has been attracting people of all kinds for centuries; from kings and royals of the yore to modern-day couples, honeymooners, photographers, writers or simply people who want to chill out.
The island’s capital town Fira is the most populated and happening place with several choices of hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs to suit every taste and budget. For the discerning, there are other picture post-card villages along the cliff, Imerovigli, Frestofani, Oia, etc. If you are a beach bum, just go down the hill and you have a choice of hotels and pubs along the beach.
Here is how you can make the best of Santorini in two days.
Day 1: Visit one of the few museums to know about the history of the Island. Drive or take a bus to Akrotri archaeological site and see the remains of the ancient settlement buried for thousands of years by the volcanic ash. Then head to the nearby Red beach past the white and blue Orthodox Church and swim and relax in the backdrop of red coloured cliff. Head back at your will.
Day 2: Head down to Athionos old port and board a ferry for a Caldera, Therassia and hot springs tour. Hike up to see the two calderas – one still emanating a strong smell of sulfur. After a brief stop at the hot springs, reach Thirasia island known for rustic, picturesque and colourful houses of Manolas village. Swim in the crystal-clear waters until you are hungry and have lunch in any of the traditional taverns before returning to Santorini. Stroll along the town square visiting the souvenir shops and have dinner of your choice from the several restaurants around.
My favourite place- The sunset point at Oia has to be my very favourite. The undisturbed view of the vast carpet of the Aegean sea with the bright yellow/orange sun descending behind the rocky island is a view to remember.
Highlights- If you are visiting in the summer, then the beaches by default are the highlights. The crystal-clear blue water with white sand is a picture postcard moment. However, if you are travelling during the winter, trek your way up to the town of Fira from sea level.
Lowlights- During the winters, public transport is very limited and may deter your local travel.
Souvenirs- Local, hand-made products such as jewellery, soaps, room fresheners, etc. are a must buy.
Getting there- There are various flights flying out from Muscat to Athens, with stopovers at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
Where to stay- Though there are not may branded hotels on Santorini, there are many cliff hotels overlooking the sea.
1. Take a tour of the Santorini’s special wineries
2. Enjoy a cliff-side walk from Thira to Oia
3. Do a “sunset tour” on one of the traditional Greek boats
4. Visit and trek the volcanic mountain
5. Enjoy the local cuisines at the local bistros