Introducing Santorini (Thira)
Santorini may well have conquered a corner of your imagination before you've even set eyes on it. With multicoloured cliffs soaring over 300m from a sea-drowned caldera, it rests in the middle of the indigo Aegean, looking like a giant slab of layered cake. The island spoons the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history. Smaller islands curl around the fragmented western edge of the caldera, but it is the main island of Thira that will take your breath away with its snow drift of white Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops and, in places, spilling like icy cornices down the terraced rock. When the sun sets, the reflection on the buildings and the glow of the orange and red in the cliffs can be truly spectacular.
Santorini is no secret and draws crowds for most of the year, yet it wears its tourism well and its offerings make it worth the bustle. The island's intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia. It also glides effortlessly into the future with accomplished artists, excellent wineries, a unique brewery, and some of the Cyclades finest dining experiences. The sandy, multicoloured beaches are simply the icing on the cake.
Need to know
Perched on the northern tip of the island, the village of Oia (ee-ah) reflects the renaissance of Santorini after the devastating earthquake of 1956. Restoration work has whipped up beauty and you will struggle to find a more stunning Cyclades village. Built on a steep slope of the caldera, many of its dwellings nestle in niches hewn into the volcanic rock.