What to do in Santorini
It’s time to land on Santorini! The beautiful Aegean pearl offers many leisure activities to consider for your journey. Still, some of them are not so well-known. Let us suggest our favourites! Get your shoes ready; we’re going to walk a little around the volcano island, discovering its cultural identity in deep.
1. A Sailing Experience in the caldera
One critique we heard often is that the sea cost of Santorini is somehow delusional, except for some areas like Amoudi. We swear you will change your mind by trying a sailing experience on a catamaran.
Usually, there are two options: the first provides a morning tour until noon, leaving the harbor for various stops. The second, and definitely more breathtaking, delivers the most intense sunset you will ever see.
We recommend booking a tour through Sunset Oia. The travel agency is in Oia, close to the Holy Church of the Assumption of the Virgin and the sunglasses store Kopajos. Their catamarans have the best spots for the sunset. You can ask for vegetarian dishes on board; the crew is amiable, chatty, and available for any request.
Instead, the morning tour stops at the Nea Kameni volcano, the Red Beach, the White Beach (where the lunch is prepared and served), and back to Oia or Fyra, crossing Thirasia island and the coast of Santorini, with its beautiful houses overhanging the sea.
2. Visit the archaeological site of Akrotiri
A few minutes away from the Red beach, Akrotiri Museum welcomes the visitors. The “Pompei of the Cyclades” was discovered in 1860, but only in 1967 the dig has start. Access costs 12€ for the adults, and the place offers a walk on a suspended walkway through the ruins of the old city. Some of the pots found during the excavation can be seen in the cenotaph area.
Through a signed path, it’s possible to reach the triangle square and look at the main buildings that resisted the fierce eruption of the Thera Volcano around 1620 B.C.
For security and preservation reasons, the most precious artifacts and paintings have been moved to the Museum of the Ancient Thera in Fira, Santorini, and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Do not expect to have the same astonishment feeling only Pompei can give, but take the time to live a journey in the Santorini’s past memories.
3. The trekking path from Fira to Oia and vice-versa.
Who loves walking through fields and rocks should give this path a try. Taking the main street from Fira crosses Firostefani and Imerovigli, it starts the ancient route that connected the center side of Santorini with the village of Oia, which remained remote for centuries. Today, tourists can have almost the same 15 km trek along the high cliffs of Santorini with a privileged view on the caldera.
On the last leg of this journey, you can even rent a ride on a local donkey. Still, we warmly discourage everybody from doing so because these beautiful animals don’t receive good care from their owners. For more, please visit this link https://headlines.peta.org/donkeys-abused-santorini/.
Before taking the descent that brings to Oia, there is a majestic view of the caldera. We recommend observing it for as long as possible. Nature has been so generous with Santorini, and no similar panorama exists in the entire world.
Don’t forget to carry some water: you’ll need it!
4. Tomato Industrial Museum D. Nomikos
The Tomato Industrial Museum is an example of how the recent history of Santorini has shaped the local businesses, moving from an agricultural trading economy to a rampant tourist success.
Cherry tomatoes from Santorini are still one of the favorite greek delicacies. Still, the production is definitely less in comparison with the past.
The Museum traces the story of Mr. Dimitrios Nomikos, who started in 1915 a production of tomato paste on the island using pre-industrial technology. In 1922 his cannery factory was one of the most advanced in the Balkans. George Nomikos began the canning procedure in the current building that hosts the Museum only in 1945, in the most fruitful area of the island (3500+ tomato baskets per day!).
The plant worked the tomato but also produced the tin cans with the iconic red etiquette and completed the cycle with the boxing. Then the Nomikos tomatoes left immediately the factory thanks to the proximity to the sea. Many inhabitants found their job in one of the nine manufactories of Santorini.
Year by year, the tourism industry was growing, and the decline of the factory was inevitable. In 1981, after the last harvest, the plant closed.
More than thirty years later, in 2014, the area has become the Museum we know nowadays. The tour let the visitors discover the process of the tomato transformation through machinery from early ‘900, the old registers, the first etiquettes, and video-interview to the local workers.
The Museum is also a multipurpose space for cultural and artistic events (Santorini Arts Factory).
And you can get a taste of the Nomikos tomato paste, which still operates!
5. Thirasia Island
Imagine being able to travel to Santorini as it was before taking on its present cosmopolitan aura. Back when the landscape consisted of pure volcanic beauty rather than freshly bleached glitz and glamor. On Thirasia – one of the islands you can observe from Santorini as you look towards the caldera – you don’t have to imagine all this to experience it.
So a day trip is like a brief peek into the past. We suggest taking the daily boat from the Oia port. It takes a few minutes to cross the caldera to the Thirasia port. It would be nice to sleep one night there and experience the magical Cycladic sunset from a different perspective.
Booking a room is mandatory, as the hospitality in Thirasia is limited. People on Thirasia are warm, welcoming foreigners to let them feel the local identity.
Manolas is the name of the only village on the island, consisting of a few houses on the top of the cape. Prepare to climb a bunch of steps! Otherwise, a free bus connects the port with the village above.
There are no beaches, but we suggest a swim anyway in the crystalline waters of the port.
More than 3000 years ago, Thirasia and Santorini were united, and the island name was Thera, but the violent eruption around 1620 B.C. split them forever.
6. Wine Tasting
Today’s Santorini primarily cultivation are grapes. The fertile volcanic soil grants a special kind of fruit that allowed the development of a myriad of wine tasting tours, especially in the center/south of the island, between the villages of Pyrgos and Emporio. It also makes the grape immune from parasites so that many roots are even centuries old.
No one believes that Santorini delivers such a wide variety of grapes. The white typology are Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani.
The classified wines are Santorini, Nykteri, and Vinsanto, the production of which goes back for thousands of years and is an essential part of Santorini’s history.
Let us also mention Mezzo, which is not in the classification system but is commonly produced.
We don’t want to suggest a specific vineyard because all of them are a good choice.
Due to the strong winds, the grapes’ trellis are kept unstacked, low to the ground, having a basket shape also to protect the precious fruit from the severe heat.
Tourism is a severe threat to grapes, too, since the current 1200 hectares for the grape’s cultivation are in danger because of the increased request for new buildings around the island.
7. Museum of Prehistoric Thira
Our journey ends in the prehistoric Museum of Thera, located in Fira. The area hosts all the finds and some of the pictorial walls found during the Akrotiri excavations. Also, it covers rare discoveries from the Neolithic period with pottery, early Cycladic marble figurines, and metal artifacts.
The visit lasts less than an hour, but it is worth the time spent there.
Our favorites are the Blue Monkeys paintings and the golden Ibex.
We suggest calling +30 22860 23217 because the Museum might be closed sometimes.