There are two kinds of people in this world: ones who use beach vacations to lounge around, and others who use it as an opportunity to explore the location they’re at. Santorini extends their invitation to both types of people, as this historic Greek island offers more than either type can handle.
With an explosive past behind it, the Greek island of Santorini is perched over the remains of a much larger land mass that sank almost 4,000 years ago when a volcano destroyed its top, consequently leaving the blue caldera and steep cliffs behind. These cliffs and the flooded caldera have become Santorini’s iconic landscape view, which makes this island one of the most visited among all Greek islands.
Travelers have endless ways to explore the island’s hidden gems; as many as over a hundred tours are offered daily each unique to one another.
A popular destination for visitors of Santorini is the north of the island, Oia. Oia paints the traditional Greek postcard painting of the famous white washed walls and blue caldera tops overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Oia unravels many popular tourist attractions, with the leading one being the ever-sought-after donkey ride, which takes visitors from the bottom of the cliffs all the way up to the caldera’s magical viewpoint.
“We make over 30 trips up to top of cliff every day,” said Kostas Asidofolis, owner of the Ammoudi Bay donkey tours. “People love the ride, it’s hard walking up so many steps so it’s much more enjoyable this way.”
From a personal standpoint, the donkey ride was an unforgettable experience which offered more than just a break from the steps. Unimaginable views of the island and the Mediterranean Sea made the ride all the more special, as well as the atmosphere of 40 plus donkeys hiking up the village of Oia. For those worried about the donkeys’ wellbeing – don’t worry, I was worried, too. However, after getting there and witnessing how they are treated, I felt reassured that they aren’t being harmed in the process.
“People always worry about them [the donkeys],” said Asidofolis. “But they are okay. We treat them with love all the time.”
Another tourist attraction which is guaranteed to wow any visitor, is the Nea Kameni Volcano and Hot Springs tour. This unique day out includes a visit to a dormant volcano which has active craters, as well as the opportunity to swim in Santorini’s healing hot springs.
“We have a lot of people book months in advance for this tour,” said Javi Dakoutros, the owner of the Dakoutros Bros excursion company. “This tour is a good choice for someone to visit the volcano of Santorini, without spending a lot of time and money.”
For those who would rather do nothing other than lounge out by the pool or on the beach, Santorini’s volcanic sand beaches are home to the clearest Mediterranean waters around.
There are over 15 beaches Santorini has to offer to its visitors, with the top five currently being as follows: Kamari Beach, Perissa Beach, Perivolos Beach, Red Beach, and Monolithos Beach.
There are many more tours that are deemed to be popular among foreign visitors, such as the wine tasting tour in the Santo Winery. Tasting local wines familiarizes myself with the location I am exploring, therefore the wine tasting is an experience I would definitely recommend to newcomers in Santorini.
The most special time on this island is during sunset; thousands come just to witness the sun sinking into the water from the numerous vantage points around the towns.
Whatever you decide to do during your time on this historic island, make sure you plan ahead so you are not caught up in the decision-making process as the amount of choices you will have can get overwhelming.