By Irene Aviles
Santorini is one of the beautiful Greek Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. The island is the site of one of the largest recorded volcanic eruptions in history which occurred during the Minoan civilization in the 16th century BC. This created a stunning volcanic caldera and geologic wonder. Its two
main towns, Fira and Oia are built on massive cliffs some 900 feet directly above the sparkling blue sea. The combination of Santorini’s white washed buildings and steep cliffs are recognized around the world.
There are many types of activities to enjoy during your stay in Santorini. Of course, the many water activities are very popular. Cruise around the island and caldera to get a fantastic view of the island during the day or at sunset. Kamari Beach is known for its unusual black sand due to volcanic activity and is the largest beach in Santorini. Red Beach is further out in a quieter location and is known for its reddish volcanic sand. Both are a must see and a great way to relax. The island is rich in ancient history which is still being unearthed today. The former Minoan outpost, Ancient Akrotiri, dates back to 16th century BC. Enjoy a stroll through Ancient Thira an archaeological site with ruins from Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras. To view frescoes and archaeological finds up close visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira which houses items from Ancient Akrotiri and other sites. These sites can be explored by car, bus, on foot or ATV. Using an ATV to get around the island can be done by visiting one of the rental shops. This is a fun and fast way to explore Santorini.
Aside from the amazing history offered on the island, staying 3 to 7 nights is ideal to enjoy all that Santorini offers. There are numerous boutique hotels poised cliffside or on the interior of the island. You can choose to stay within walking distance of the two main towns or you can stay further out, closer to Akrotiri. Our favorite hotel is Grace Santorini which is conveniently located just 5 miles from Monolithos Airport, and over 6 miles from the Athinios Central Port. Choose from a deluxe room, suite or the creme de la creme, the 2-bedroom villa; all with contemporary design that blends in with the sun drenched surroundings. The villa has its own spa, kitchen and large outdoor seating area with a sparkling infinity pool overlooking the glistening Aegean Sea. The service is nothing short of spectacular, from personal chef to outdoor yoga sessions. Each accommodation offers modern fixtures and an amazing ocean view from one of the highest areas above the caldera. Enjoy Grace Santorini’s restaurants, award-winning Santoro and Champagne Lounge which provide breath taking views along with authentic flavors of Santorini. Grace Santorini is perfect to enjoy as a couple or small group, and the onsite concierge will assist with all your activities, tours, and excursions.
Something else to enjoy in Santorini is visiting wineries. While you might not think of Santorini as a wine region, it has an amazing history and its origins produce one of the finest noble white grapes in Europe, assyrtiko. I was recently at an upscale Greek restaurant and ordered the Atlantis Assyrtiko 2015 and the Gavalas Santorini Assyrtiko 2013. I was instantly reminded of the crisp breeze sitting atop of the island enjoying the majestic island sunset just a few years ago! My favorite was the Atlantis Assyrtiko 2015 as it offered my palate a flavor of lemon citrus, white flowers, crisp acid and sea salt minerality that swept me back to that fabulous memory. Don’t get me wrong as the Gavalas Santorini Assyrtiko 2013 was excellent but wine is so personal. This wine was more mineral driven with a chalky stone, lemon rind and a hint of green apple. A friend ordered the Argyros Estate Atlantis Mandilari 2014 which was a red that was smooth offering flavors of a bright cherry, cassis, with a silky texture. Surprisingly good from a location you don’t think of for red wines. To learn more about Santorini wines, we highly recommend that you visit www.winesfromsantorini.com. You can learn about the history, grape varietal and wineries to visit. They have a fabulously simple and informative site.
So what are you waiting for? Santorini is an easy 1 hour flight from Athens and it is sure to leave you awe inspired, grateful and wanting more!0