Fira by night on Santorini, Greece. Photo credit: Manuco.
Lela wrote this guest post about a weekend in Santorini. She is a world traveler who works as a writer for HostelBookers.
Santorini, Greece is perhaps the Mediterranean Sea’s most famous — and infamous — island gem.
Formed by a volcano rising from the Aegean Sea and shaped by a massive explosion 3,000 years ago, Santorini is known for its white plaster buildings, red rock-lined harbor, and pristine volcanic beaches. Over time, Santorini has become one of Greece’s most popular destinations and a great place to spend the weekend.
If you’re going to visit Santorini and its iconic capital of Fira, there are so many fun places to go and see and shop and eat that one weekend might not be enough! Fira is the largest town on the island and perhaps its most beautiful, with white buildings perched on top of a 900-foot-high cliff. Fira has most of the island’s museums, hotels and economic infrastructure. It can be reached by vehicle from Santorini (Thira) National Airport, or the most fun way, by cable car up the cliff from the ancient port of Gialos below the town.
Afrodete Hotel. Photo credit: HostelBookers.
Santorini has a number of accommodations but if you’re visiting on a budget, there is none more ideally located than Afrodete Hotel. Selected by HostelBookers among the most Romantic Hotels in the world, the 10-room hotel is located just 100 meters from the caldera promenade and 500 meters from the center of Fira, where shops, restaurants, and activities await your discovery. If you want to just relax, Afrodete has a large outdoor jacuzzi that overlooks the beautiful blue waters and red cliffs of Santorini’s harbor. It is the ideal place to unwind and enjoy your weekend.
When you decide to get out and about, one of Santorini’s prime photography and sunset spots is the town of Oia, located 9 kilometers north of Fira. Oia is an ancient town on the tip of the island and is considered the most romantic spot on Santorini. Another town you might want to visit is Akrotiri, located south of Fira and known as the “Pompeii of Santorini” because of its volcanic-ash preserved ruins. There is also a neat medieval castle and lighthouse worth visiting at Akrotiri.
The much photographed town of Oia, on the island of Santorini, Greece. Photo credit: sub_lime79.
If you enjoy the beach, Santorini has pristine beaches that, thanks to volcanic materials, come in several different colors. Red Beach is located west of Akrotiri and features red sand and tall red rocks. Kamari Beach, on the eastern side of Santorini, has black sand and is most popular with tourists. White Beach is located near Red Beach and features dark sand with white pebbles and towering white cliffs.
Santorini is still an active volcano, so if you have a more adventurous side you can join one of the boat tours to the island’s central feature — the growing, hot lava dome of Nea Kameni. In fact, boat tours around the caldera are very popular year-round and give visitors to Santorini a close view of rock-carved houses, ancient ports, and small white churches.
If you love to try different foods, Santorini has plenty of dining options, especially in Fira. One of the town’s most unique places is Sphinx Restaurant, a restaurant located in a restored mansion high above Fira that offers amazing sunset views over the caldera. Archipelagos Restaurant is a traditional Greek restaurant located in one of the oldest captain’s houses in Fira, dating to 1860. If you’re looking for a bar experience, one of the highest rated is Palia Kameni Cocktail Bar in Fira.
You can find more about special Hotels and Hostel in Greece by checking their 2013 HostelBookers Awards page.