The Greek Island of Santorini is easily among the most glorious destinations in the Mediterranean. If asked to sum it up in one word, most people would plump for romantic. And Santorini is the epitome of a romantic holiday island: gorgeous scenery; charming white towns with bright blue roofs; splendid beaches; the most glorious sunsets; a fascinating (and somewhat tragic) history; fabulous food; and plenty of sightseeing and fun activities. I’m sure these things to see and do in Santorini will have you considering it for your holiday this year.
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1 Stepping Back in Time at Akrotiri
The Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri was destroyed in ca. 1627 BCE, when Santorini's volcano erupted. This beautiful site is one of the essential places to go in Santorini, not just because it will make you believe that Santorini was indeed Plato's fabled island of Atlantis, but because the architecture of the ancient mansions will remind you that Greece is indeed the cradle of modern democratic society. The volcanic ash that buried most of Santorini's inhabitants is responsible for the remarkable preservation of these Minoan buildings and streets. The frescos depicting Santorini's fishermen are particularly poignant. Many of these frescoes appear to resemble those mentioned by Plato in his descriptions of Atlantis.
2 Scuba Diving in the Southern Aegean Sea
Located ca. 200 km southeast of Greece's mainland, Santorini experiences long hot summers and mild winters. If you are looking for exciting things to do in Santorini, have a go at snorkeling and scuba diving, for the waters are crystal clear and warm, not to mention swarming with interesting marine life. The bottom of the ocean is littered with black volcanic boulders here. You'll find plenty of boat tours that will take divers out to safe diving spots.
3 Emporeio Village
Apart from its impressive bell tower at the Panagia Messani church, Emporeio village has many other delights to offer. Stroll through these ancient cobbled streets just wide enough for a donkey and its merchant and enjoy the sounds, smells and sights of a way of life that seems unchanged since antiquity. Stop off for lunch at one of the many small restaurants and enjoy traditional specialties like Santorinio Sfougato, Brantada or Strapatsada. Don't worry, you'll walk off the calories when you visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera!
4 Visiting the Museum of Prehistoric Thera
In Ancient Greece, the island of Santorini was called Thera. With the discovery of the buried settlement of Akrotiri, where archaeologists have unearthed amazing treasures since the late 1960s, came several decades of digging at other historic sites mentioned in antiquity. Historians are still hoping to prove once and for all that Thera was indeed Atlantis. The neighboring Archaeological Museum has even more astonishing finds to offer. If you thought the buildings of Akrotiri were awe-inspiring and beautiful - wait until you see the prehistoric finds of Thera! Phrases like "lost worlds" and "earthly paradise" don't suffice to describe the lovely statues and artifacts found on Santorini.
5 Be an Ammoudi Beach Babe
Santorini's beaches are gorgeous, especially when the heat of the day has died down and the sun starts to set. The sky is set ablaze in green, yellow, orange and lilac hues, before the sun's fireball finally sinks into the Aegean Sea and the first stars begin to twinkle. It's a fantastic place to enjoy a drink with friends or family before heading for Santorini's nightlife. You can also join sunset boat tours, a good way to make new friends.
If you truly love the beach - another amazing place you might want to visit is the island of Cephalonia, continue reading for more details on its amazing white sand beaches.
6 Who Blew up Atlantis? Santorini's Volcano!
Ancient Thera's settlements were built on treacherous grounds - the volcanic island practically exploded when Santorini's volcano erupted. A far cry from the man-made places to go in Santorini, this natural wonder will leave you breathless - literally, as the steep path up to the steaming crater runs past foul smelling sulferous springs! The best way to see the volcano is to join a boat tour. It's usually a two hour trip from the old port at Fira, heading to Nea Kameni, but some tours offer a trip to the hot springs as part of the package, which increases the overall length of the tour to three hours. You can go for a swim at the springs, so be sure to take your favorite bikini.
7 Santorini Wine Tour
Sleeping off one's hangover at Perissa Beach may be a popular pastime for many visitors, but if you are looking for things to do in Santorini that involve drinking without the headache, try one of the island's excellent wine tours instead. Santorini boasts several very distinct wineries which offer tasting tours in traditional cellars. Groups are small and the tour usually includes food to keep participants sober. Some tours even throw in a cookery lesson. It's a great way to learn more about Greek culture, the island's people and cuisine.
I haven’t mentioned it but you must also pay a visit to the town of Oia – possibly the most photogenic and most photographed of all Mediterranean settlements. Are you ready o go see for yourself what all the fuss is about?
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