I went to Santorini for the first time last June. It was at once familiar, as I recognized blue rooftops and the iconic architecture, and brand new – with endless steps and streets and shops and plazas. The power of the volcanic activity deep below the caldera is magnetizing, you can almost feel the power and ancient Greek mythology in your bones.
Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands in Greece, is located on a giant caldera. The layers you see are overlapping shield volcanoes, and the entire structure is comprised of four overlapping calderas from the four greatest explosions, the first dating back to 180,000 years before the present era. The largest explosion took place during the Minoan era, 3600 BP, and is credited with inspiring the legend of Atlantis, where a whole city submerges beneath the sea as a sort of karmic consequence for unchecked hubris. That eruption was the largest on human record, scoring a 7 on the Smithsonian’s Volcanic Explosivity Index. The most recent volcanic activity was in 1950, but it was just fumarolic (smoke / sulfur emissions).
A traditional greek salad (on the left in both pictures) – fresh, filling, my mouth waters just thinking about the rich olive oil and juicy vegetables. Pito Gyros in Oía is super reasonably priced and delicious (pictured in the top photo below). Enjoy the spectacular views from the many rooftops and patios to choose from. The local wine is superb.
Plan to join locals and tourists outside for sunset, nature’s daily matinee. With skies so wide, and seas all around, the sunrises are equally magic.
Hike from Oía to Firá
Put this on your list. Hike one way and taxi back. Be sure to wear lots of sunscreen and pack water as this hike is hot and exposed. The 360 views are nonstop stunning for the ~10k trek, and there are churches to explore along the way. There was also a small cafe selling cold drinks and use of a toilet a little over halfway, a convenient break spot.
Ammoudi & the Red Sand Beach
Be sure to descend the 300 steps down from the northwestern most point of Oía to check out Ammoudi, an old fishing village. Have fresh caught fish for dinner as you watch the sunset or find the swimming rock off a red sand beach for a plunge in the Aegean. Sailing tours will end their day off this point to catch the sunset.