Visit the world’s only inhabited caldera; Santorini ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท

How about a visit to the world’s only inhabited caldera, the beautiful island of Santorini! Santorini should definitely be in top 5 prettiest islands.  Everywhere you look is just a photograph waiting to be taken; from gorgeous little alleys and pretty cafes to the beautiful blue domes and bells that the island is known for. Here are my favourite suggestions for the world’s only inhabited caldera!

1. Red Beach

Possibly the most unique beach in the world with its cliffs, rocks and some of the sand being a shade of red! There are no water sports facilities here but it is possible to snorkel.

However, beware! This beach can be dangerous to swim at due to rock falls but it is possible to walk up the cliff to take a picture but be very careful!

There is a shuttle boat that will collect you from the pier, near where the bus drops you off (more on transport later).  This will take you to red beach, white beach and a black beach.  At each beach you have to wade through the water and the stones are painful underfoot (reef shoes are a good idea!). Close to Red Beach is the archeological site of Akrotiri.

Top Tip: Wear trainers if you walk up to the top of the cliff

Red Beach, Santorini

2. Black beach

The black volcanic sand beaches can be found on the southeast side of the island. There are two beaches: Perissa and Perivolos, which form into one giant beach. The one I preferred was Perissa Beach. It is the further one to reach and less crowded. It is stony but not too painful and the sea is lovely to swim in.  I would recommend going early before it gets too crowded.  There are lots of lovely tavernas lining this beach for when you need a snack or a cool drink and there are also lifeguards.  Sunbeds are 5 euros each but they are much more comfortable than laying on the sand and there are nice straw umbrellas providing a bit of shade!

Top Tip: Arrive early to grab a sunbed near the sea

Black beach, Santorini
Perissa Beach

3. The Three Bells of Fira

This is about a 15 minute uphill walk from the Main Street of Fira but the view is well worth the walk! You can see the beautiful blue dome, complete with 3 bells, the image that has graced the cover of National Geographic magazine. The official name of the Church (whose front door is found on the street below) is The Catholic Church of the Dormition. The view is great during the day and at sunset.  This is also by the village of Firostefani, which is an extension of Fira, has a magnificant view and is very pretty to walk through.

Fira, Santorini

4. Oia at sunset (and early morning)

Oia (pronounced la) is Santorini’s most well known village, famous for its fantastic sunset, luxury hotels and picturesque village streets. Set atop the cliff it overlooks the island of Thirassia. I think that the best view of Oia is at sunset from the ruins of Byzantine Castle, but as you walk to it, there are some amazing views.  It is best to get to the castle very early as it gets packed, and hard to find a space.  Lots of inviting cafes and restaurants along the way as well!

Early morning is also a good time to visit Oia as there is hardly anyone about.  You can get a good view of blue domed Church of Panagia Platsani in the main square and then walk along to get the view of the 3 blue domes.

Oia, Santorini
Sunset on the way to Byzantine Castle

Directions to the 3 blue domes: 

  • Stand in the main square with your back to the church
  • Turn right
  • Walk about 50 metres until you are by the church with 3 bells on.
  • Turn left here and follow the path until you see the domes!
Oia, Santorini
3 Domes of Oia

5. Boat trip to Tharissa Island and Nea Kameni

There are all sorts of tours you can do when you visit Santorini but this one stood out. Santorini is the perfect place to cruise around in a boat and I have never (yet) had the opportunity to climb an active volcano. The tour was booked through get your guide, who were very good. It is a fun day out!  Our first stop was Nea Kameni where you walk up to see the crater of the active volcano ( it has been dormant for 70 years)  I found this really exciting as I hadn’t been in one before.  The crater didn’t quite look like what I expected but I could smell sulphur and see smoke rising occasionally.  The hike took about 20 minutes with a couple of steep sections, but nothing too bad and there are some amazing views from the top! I would definitely recommend wearing trainers for this!

Active Volcano, Santorini
Active Volcano

The next stop was ‘hot springs’.  They are advertised as hot springs but it turns out they are just a bit of sea that is slightly warmer for some reason, which was bit of a disappointment!

Our third stop was the island of Tharissa.  This has a beautiful cove with cafes and restaurants and a windmill!  It is a lovely place to relax and enjoy a drink and a snack, or maybe to have a swim?  It is possible to hike up a very steep hill to a panoramic restaurant but in 32 degree heat, I decided to pass on this!  Instead, we had a lovely couple of hours, enjoying a cold glass of wine, fruit salad and just drinking in the wonderful view.

Tharissa island, Santorini
Tharissa Island

On the way back to the port, the boat cruised past Oia and Amoudi Bay, which was lovely to see from the water.  Oia looks just as good from the sea as it does from land!

Oia, Santorini
Oia

All in all, it was a good trip with an informative guide but the only downsides were a very crowded boat and no hot springs. Check my handy travel apps page for tour app suggestions.

Top Tip: Entry to the volcano crater is โ‚ฌ2.50 (cash), but no ones feels the need to inform you about until you get there!

Where and what to eat:

Evenings in Santorini are warm and balmy with slight breeze.  In other words, lovely!

Fira has some an amazing restaurants and all the ones we tried did not disappoint!

On the first night we headed to Triana Taverna, which boasts huge and tasty portions, reasonable prices and the waiters trying to give you a shot of ouzo on the house at the end.

At this restaurant I went for the pork gyros, which was yummy and beautifully presented.

Triana Taverna
Pork Gyros

For the second night, we decided to try Parea Taverna, which does a great Greek salad and refreshing juices.

Parea Taverna

For the final 2 nights, we ate at The Salt and Pepper, where the food is delicious with a lovely proprietress, for whom nothing is too much trouble.

Salt and pepper
Salt and Pepper
Salt and Pepper

Where ever you go in Santorini there are lovely cafes and tavernas, nearly all of which have amazing views.

Santorini also has extremely tasty frozen yoghurt.  The chill box in Fira is good, but the best place is in Oia, named Solo Gelato, a small shop up the alley that leads from the bus stop to the main square. 

Frozen Yoghurt

Where to stay:

Hotels in Santorini tend to be quite expensive so as we were on a budget, we went for the cheaper Hotel Leta in Fira (also to do with transport as explained below), which was clean, basic, in a good location and with a nice pool, which was good for relaxing in or by after a long day!  There are some beautiful hotels along the caldera with wonderful infinity pools, but more expensive!

How to get around:

Buses are the best way to get around the island.  They run to all parts of it, are efficient as they leave about every 30 minutes and the cost of a ticket ranges from โ‚ฌ1.60-โ‚ฌ2.80.  Tickets can only be bought on the bus, with cash and can only be singles.

Fira is the island’s bus hub, which is why it is a good place to stay.  This means that wherever you go from Fira, you just have to take one bus instead of sometimes 2 or 3.

Fira itself is a very pretty little town.  There is a small main square with cobbled streets (a nightmare for pulling your suitcase over), surrounded by a few shops, cafes and restaurants (even a McDonalds!)  The bus terminal is just past the main square and to the left.

C.King

Brit girl on a bummel. A solo female traveller accompanied by her camera, aiming to see as much of the world as possible and sharing what she's learnt along the way!

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