Santorini's incredible landscape and beaches are all thanks to an ancient volcanic eruption that has made this island one of the most beautiful places to visit in Greece. Huge multi-coloured cliffs rise out of the seabed and overlook idyllic whitewashed villages. The beaches here are magnificent with volcanic red and black sand and deep blue lagoons. This island of natural wonder has plenty of interesting places to visit so, if you're still deciding what to do on your Santorini holiday, here's a few ideas to get you started.
If you have a love of history and culture, then Santorini will be right up your alley. There are tons of museums and archaeological sites to keep you busy and entertained your holiday. One of the most well-known is the Akrotiri. This indoor archaeological site is known as the Greek Pompeii – it was once a Minoan city that was covered and preserved after a huge volcanic explosion 30,000 years ago. The entrance fee is €12, but make sure to visit at the right times as this site is closed from November to March.
Another interesting spot to explore is the archaeological site of Ancient Thira. These ruins are located on a rocky headland called Mesa Vouna, 369 metres high. They date back to the Hellenistic era and give stunning views down to the sea. If you're into museums you've got quite a lot to chose from including the Archaeological Museum and The Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Thira, and the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum located in Vothonas, built in a natural cave 300 metres under the ground.
The Church of Panagia Episkopi is a popular tourist spot and history-lovers will be enthralled as they walk through the church founded by the Byzantine Emperor in the 11th century. This church has survived invasions by the Venetians, French, Russians and Turks – but it was defeated by an earthquake in 1956. It's now been restored to its full glory, complete with beautiful Byzantine paintings and icons. The best time to visit is on the 15th August when you'll witness the church's feast-day and islanders gathering for traditional food and dancing.
A great way to spend the day is to take a tour boat to the small volcanic islands in the centre of the Caldera. There are all types of cruises and boat excursions that visit this area of Santorini so you'll have no trouble getting there. The journey takes just 10 minutes from the port in Thira, and walking among the active craters is quite an experience. These islands also have steaming hot springs perfect for taking a dip in before heading back.
A visit to Santorini wouldn't be complete without checking out the one-of-a-kind volcanic beaches. Coastlines here aren't the usual white-sand-and-blue-water affairs - instead you'll find vibrant red sands and towering cliffs. Some of the beaches require a short hike to get to, but once you reach the coastline you won't be disappointed.
Red Beach is one of the most stunning beaches on the island and gets its name from the sand's unique dark-red tinge and its surrounding steep red cliffs. This beach is just a 20-minute drive from Thira, and only a short walk away from the famous Akrotiri archaeological site. Sunloungers and umbrellas are available to rent, and there's a beach cantina if you get hungry.