There’s no arguing that Santorini ranks among the world’s most beautiful islands. But Santorini is so much more than what you imagine it to be.
The romantic sight of blue-domed churches, white-washed houses and windmills stacked upon each other on cliff sides have long drawn honeymooners and tourists from around the world. But it would be a crime to pigeonhole Santorini into such a narrow image.
Nature shapes the rugged beauty of Santorini…
Only the first two are inhabited, and while Thira steals 90% of the spotlight for good reasons, one shouldn’t leave Santorini without hiking through the volcanic rocks of Nea Kameni and chill by the much less crowded Thirassia.
Even on the main island of Thira itself, look beyond the obvious. My favorite activity has to be the scenic hiking from Fira to Oia, which passed through many underrated villages (Firostefani, Imerovigli, Finikia) as well as charming natural sights (the majestic Skaros Rock is a major highlight, but the entire trail will bring you to incredible viewpoints of the caldera).
Do budget extra time in Santorini and make a visit to its stunning beaches, especially the Red Beach of Akrotiri and the Black Beach of Perissa. The red beach is particularly surreal, but such is the scale of beauty for this volcanic island.
And of course, there are the famous sunsets. We never missed the sunsets in Santorini and they never disappoint.
The breadth of activities and stunning sights which Santorini offers is incredible. And while I don’t usually root for over-visited attractions, I’m happy to report that Santorini’s worldwide reputation is well-deserved, especially if you are willing to step out to discover the less-visited parts of this archipelago.
1. Uniqueness: 15/20 — The most representative of a typical Greek isle on the Cyclades, but not the only one.
2. Aesthetic: 20/20 — Quaint villages, dramatic landscapes and postcard-perfect beaches all rolled into one. This is the one category where Santorini beats all competition easily.
3. Integrity: 10/15 — Tourists may have flocked into Santorini, cruise ships may occasionally clutter your views, while the main villages are practically high-end villas and restaurants, but the overall ambiance is still there.
4. Significance: 11/15 — The eruption of Thera is one of the biggest volcanic events in European history, which shapes Greece into the beautiful island nation that it is today. Here in Santorini is where it started.
5. Shelf Life: 14/15 — The size of Santorini should not be under-estimated. You can spend a few weeks here and still only scratch the surface.
6. Access: 12/15 — A far 8-hour ferry from Athens, but a quick fly away if you have the budget.
Destination Score: 82/100
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