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Santorini

If you approach Santorini from the water, it's hard not to be awed by the sheer cliffs that soar above a turquoise sea, by the fact that you're sailing in an immense crater of a drowned volcano and that before you lies an island shaped by an ancient eruption cataclysmic beyond imagining.

High above, the main villages of Fira and Oia are a snow-drift of white Cycladic houses that line the cliff tops and spill like icy cornices down the terraced rock. And then there are the sunsets, with crowds breaking into applause as the sun disappears below the horizon.

In peak season, Santorini becomes a playground for the very wealthy, and while this has resulted in some stellar restaurants and superb wineries, the strain on the infrastructure is a concern. Still, there's relative seclusion found at the island's ancient sites, on hiking trails and beneath the waves.

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