The Best Towns and Villages to Visit in Santorini, Greece
The picturesque island of Santorini is probably known for its picture-perfect village of Oia, its caldera and its unique beaches. But Santorini is much more than this. Boasting a strong history, a long wine tradition and an interesting geology, it is home to several villages, all as interesting and distinct as the next. Here are the towns and villages you should visit when in Santorini, Greece.
Located on the caldera, a couple of kilometres from the island’s capital, Fira, Imerovigli is a picturesque little village that offers splendid views over the caldera and the sea. Boasting hotels, cafes and restaurants, as well as charming churches overlooking the sea, Imerovigli is home to the Skaros, an impressive rock where ruins of a medieval castle now stand. A cheaper alternative than Oia, Imerovigli is definitely a must-see, especially if you want to chase the sunset without the crowds.
Oia (pronounced I-a), the most photographed village in Santorini, hardly needs an introduction. Located on the northern point of the island, it is known for its magical sunsets and the village includes traditional cave houses, as well as captain houses, hotels, restaurants, cafes and boutiques. A part of Oia that few people take the time to see, however, is Ammoudi, the village’s port, 200 stairs below. It has a few fish restaurants and cafes and it is the perfect spot for cliff diving.
The cultural and economic centre of the island, Fira is the capital of Santorini. Located opposite of the volcano, right on the caldera, Fira is home to several restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels and is the leading destination for nightlife on the island. Fira also has its own port, called Ormos, reachable via a cable car or via a mule path by foot or on a mule’s back. This charming port is home to several restaurants and cafes and it is the main departure point for visiting the volcano and Thirassia.
Located in the centre of the island, Emporio is one of the largest villages in Santorini. Located at the foot of Mount Profitis Ilias, Emporio was one of the fortified centres of the island and still has a strong medieval character. Emporio has several churches with impressive bell towers but its highlight is definitely a leisurely stroll inside its narrow streets and alleys.
Located next to the famous Red Beach, the village of Akrotiri is amphitheatrically built in the southeastern part of the island. Originally a Minoan settlement, the ancient city of Akrotiri, destroyed by a volcanic eruption, is the most important archeological site in Santorini. The modern town, with its picturesque alleys, blue-domed churches and traditional houses, is home to many restaurants and tavernas and it is definitely a great stop to have dinner after watching the sunset at the lighthouse.
Lying on the southeastern coast of Santorini, the coastal village of Perissa is mostly known for its black sand beach that stretches over several kilometres, which together, with the beach of Perivolos, constitute the longest beach of the island. Perissa is home to one of the largest churches on the island and it is a great alternative to more expensive villages, such as Oia or Fira. Mesa Vouna, the mountain nearby, is home to the archaeological site of Ancient Thera, which is certainly worth a visit.
On the other side of Mesa Vouna, the village of Kamari is a cosmopolitan beach resort that boasts everything a proper seaside resort has to offer. This includes a long beach promenade, a black-sand beach lined with cafes and restaurants as well as water sports facilities and diving centres.
One of the most traditional villages of Santorini, Megalochori lies in the heart of the island’s wine country. This is where you can experience the island’s rich wine tradition. Megalochori is home to neoclassical houses, traditional houses, picturesque churches with bell towers and a lively main square where the heart of the village beats. You will surely enjoy exploring its small alleys and discovering delicious tavernas where to satisfy your hunger.
Located at the highest point of Santorini, Pyrgos, the former capital of the island, allows for spectacular vistas of the island. Consisting of traditional houses built around the Venetian castle, it is adorned with meandering alleys that follow the natural flow of the area. Built amphitheatrically on the hill, the village boasts several churches, but the most impressive one is certainly the Monastery of Profitis Ilias, located on top of the mountain of the same name.