How To Lose Your Heart To Santorini
Who would have thought that the featureless remains of numerous volcanic eruptions would come together over time to form one of the most photographed landscapes in the world?
With its soaring cliffs, exquisite coastlines and dazzling white buildings, Santorini is a magnet for anyone ready to lose their heart to pure, unfiltered beauty. The volcanic island sits in the Aegean Sea between Athens and Crete and has a submerged caldera (a volcanic crater) as its trademark feature.
Santorini possesses a rare sense of otherworldliness, which has placed it on many bucket lists. Yet even those who have struck it off their list find themselves making return trips for yet another brush with surrealism. One such person is Thessy Kuozuokas, the co-founder of Australian label, Sabo Skirt.
“Santorini is my favourite island,” she told woman with drive. “Being Greek, I obviously have a connection to it but anyone who goes to Santorini falls in love with its landscape, sunset, atmosphere and buildings. It is such an amazing place.”
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“If you are in your twenties, stay in Fira and travel to Oia for the sunset. And if you are looking for a party atmosphere, go to the Jojo Beach Bar in Perivolas. They play English and Greek music, and they have a pool!”
Here are six more ways to lose your heart to Santorini:
Admire Santorini’s different faces. Do not root yourself in one location, no matter how beautiful, or your experience would be limited to a small slice of Santorini. Fira, the capital, pulsates with city life while Oia is romantic with beautiful dining spots. Close to Fira is the wonderfully secluded Firostefani and Imerovigli, which has less crowds and spectacular views of the caldera.
Visit the wineries. Santorini is famed for its variety of wines particularly the crisp dry whites and the dessert wine known as Vinsanto. Most local vineyards host tastings and two of the best are held at Santo Wines and Venetsanos Winery. Apart from their top shelf wine production, they also boast coveted views of the caldera.
Dine at a restaurant with a view. It is hardly surprising that two of Santorini’s top restaurants are in Oia. Papagalos serves innovative Greek cuisine while the award-winning 1800 restaurant is the island’s most formal restaurant with its rooftop garden and handpicked Greek wine list. In Pyrgos, Selene’s exquisite food is accompanied by breathtaking views and Volcano Blue in Fira has been given multiple thumbs up for its cuisine and atmosphere.
Sigh over the sunset. The guidebooks will point to Oia for the most beautiful sunsets on earth but it is not the only spot to catch nature’s magnificence. Imerovigli offers panoramic views, as does Vlychada beach with its volcanic scenery.
If you prefer a private viewing, book a room at the Astra Suites or the Art Maisons Oia Castle. Perched on the cliffs of Imerovigli, Astra Suites has a fantastic view of the caldera and some say, a sunset view better than Oia’s. Art Maisons Oia Castle directly overlooks Oia’s sunset and is reputed to be the most romantic hotel on the island.
Take a dip. For most visitors, all Santorini’s beaches are masterpieces. But the locals know there are a few standouts like Cape Columbo or Eros. Despite its close proximity to the bustling Oia, Cape Columbo is the most isolated beach on the island so take supplies with you if you are spending the day here. Also be mindful that the water here is hot as the most active underwater crater is located close by.
Eros, which is surrounded by towering cliffs along the coastal line of Vlychada, is calm, secluded and a local favourite. Alternatively, choose a hotel with an infinity swimming pool. Those at Grace Santorini, Katikies Hotel, Tsitouras Collection and Mystique all peek over the cliff and have incredible views of the volcano or sunset or both.
Sleep in a cave house. Modernity has not vanquished out the traditional cave homes that the Greeks once built directly inside the island volcanic walls as a refuge from the weather. The traditional structures have since been spruced up and now nestle in pure luxury.
The five-star Perivolas Hotel in Oia is enclosed in a 300-year-old traditional cave house overlooking the caldera. Santorini Pure Vida, which sits on the edge of the caldera, has a panoramic balcony and a Jacuzzi. Boutique cave hotel, Iconic Santorini, which is located on a hillside, offers infinity pools, plunge pools and spa.
Main image credit: Art Maisons Oia Castle
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