Off The Beaten Track: Santorini
Santorini—the name alone conjures captivating images of whitewashed houses dotting dramatic cliffs, their brilliant blue domes shimmering under the warm Mediterranean sun. Yes, Santorini is undeniably lovely – this very fame and beauty has also made it a very popular destination.
Nonetheless, you’ll still be able to experience the Santorini you’ve always imagined. Start with these hidden gems across the island for an off-the-beaten-track journey that will leave you head-over-heels in love with Santorini.
Dan and Casey are two adventurers extraordinaire documenting their travel tales at A Cruising Couple – adventure travel with a dash of class.
Visit Imerovigli For The Sunset
Santorini is renowned for its legendary sunsets. Specifically, the neighbourhood of Oia is considered to be one of the best places to watch the sun dip behind the horizon. In fact the very beauty of the sunset view from Oia had made it one of the most popular nightspots for those visiting the island.
However – as beautiful as the sunset is in Oia – if you want that exclusive ‘local knowledge’ experience…plan on also heading to Imerovigli instead.
Embark On A Gastronomical Adventure
The fresh and colourful flavours of Greek cuisine are enough to draw anyone to the country. To experience the best local dishes and scrumptious Santorini wine, don’t miss a five-course dinner with Gastronomy Tours Santorini. Located at the exquisite Above Blue Suites, the upscale dining adventure includes mouthwatering Greek cuisine paired with various local wines. It’s an excellent opportunity to try all of Santorini’s best-known dishes while enjoying ultra-romantic panoramic caldera views.
Get An Inside Look At The World Of Santorini Wine
Unbeknownst to many, Santorini is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Though much has changed on the island throughout the centuries, Santorini winemakers still use the same traditional method of wine making called koulara. This involves weaving the vines into circles close to the ground to form a basket that protects the grapes from the harsh wind and sun of the island, while also trapping much needed humidity and moisture. What’s more, Santorini’s mineral-rich volcanic soil produces a wine that is distinctly unique both in taste and body.
Santorini produces red and rose wines, but it’s the island’s white wines that truly shine. Don’t miss a visit to The Estate Argyros, listed by Wine and Spirits Magazine as one of the world’s 100 best wineries. The winery’s Assyrtiko and 20-year oak aged Vinsantos are exquisite.
Hike Skaros Rock
The small peninsula of Skaros Rock juts out into the Aegean Sea and offers fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding caldera. Though a bit of a trek along a rocky ledge, the reward is certainly worth the effort. Once you’ve reached the tip, it is also possible to climb Skaros Rock itself for expansive views of the ocean. Just beyond the rock, you’ll find a beautiful lone church in the typical white-and-blue style of Santorini.
As you’re exploring Skaros Rock, you can imagine the castle and fortress that once occupied the rocky outcrop. Scaros Rock was one of five fortified settlements that originally dotted Santorini; the original castle and surrounding settlement on the rock are believed to date back to 1207.
Get Lost Exploring Emporio Village
Once the primary trade centre of the island (Emporio gets its name from the Greek word for trade), today Emporio offers a fantastic opportunity to get lost exploring a local and authentic neighbourhood in Santorini. The small, winding streets and maze of whitewashed houses with bright blue doors offer plenty of picturesque backdrops. You’ll also find impressive blue domed Cycladic churches and 15th century ruins at the top of the hill.
Venture down the road from Emporio and you’ll arrive at the lovely beach of Perissa. While not necessarily an off-the-beaten-track spot, Perissa remains much more relaxing than Santorini’s more touristy Red Beach and Black Beach.
Visit Santorini’s Highest Point
Head to Pyrgos Village for the opportunity to visit Santorini’s highest point, along with lovely views of the island stretching out to Oia. After a fire destroyed much of the settlement on Skaros Rock in the mid-18th century, the Kasteli Castle at Pyrgos became capital of the island. Explore the ruins of Kasteli while enjoying the fantastic vistas. There are multiple restaurants and taverns tucked into the winding roads on the way back down that offer a fantastic spot to pause for some authentic Greek cuisine while you’re there.
While Oia and Fira are lovely spots in Santorini that certainly warrant a bit of exploration, it would be a shame to miss out on Santorini’s hidden gems dotted around the island. The roads are safe, and this offers the best opportunities for stumbling upon your own unique finds.
Summer months are always the most crowded times to visit Santorini, when the cruise ships are in dock and families are making the most of summer vacation. Try a visit to Santorini during off-season (autumn is especially lovely) and you’re guaranteed an authentic, charming escape – where you’re free to explore at your leisure.