Interesting tidbit of information. It was the Venetians that gave Santorini its name. It is derived from Santa Irene and when travelers from Western Europe came to the island for supplies, they saw it as an appropriate name. It is said that the ancient name of the island, Thera, comes from its first settler, a Spartan named Theran.
There are traces of the decades of Venetian occupation of Santorini. The castles at Skaros, Pyrgos and Emporio are only some of them and Dandelion Travel can help you visit them. There is a strong Catholic presence on the island because of Santorini’s Venetian years and this also shows in the architecture, especially in churches and monasteries, that sometimes is a mix between Aegean and Roman-Catholic.
The people of Santorini know how to have a good time. Summer is the season of festivities, mainly religious ones. Attending one will bring you that much closer to the local culture. Make sure to be at Santorini around the 15th of August, which is when many churches and monasteries around the island celebrate the Assumption of Mary. At Kamari, Oia and Perissa, you will see people dancing, enjoying local delicacies and generally having lots of fun.
The volcano of Santorini makes the sea around it very interesting. A boat can take you to see the caldera and its hot springs, as well as the surrounding islands, such as Thirassia. With a lot of sunscreen and good company, this could be a trip to remember, whether you prefer a sailboat or something more modern. If you’re an experienced scuba diver, then Santorini can offer you even more thrills, as the sea bottom, due to the volcanic eruptions, hides caves and cliffs and shipwrecks.
The staples of the Mediterranean diet are the staples of Santorini. Fresh fish, juicy tomatoes, dried herbs that grow on the island, various kinds of soft cheese will make for a delicious meal. Accompany them with the famous Santorini wines. A surprising way to taste the best recipes of Santorini is during Dandelion Travel’s wine tour. Many wineries will cook for you some of the greatest delicacies of the island, so the wine tasting can be that much better.
The monastery of Prophet Elias is at the highest point of the island and offers amazing views. The monks are very friendly and also sell handmade Santorini products for you to bring home. Dandelion Travel can also drive you to some of the most important religious landmarks of Santorini, such as the Blue Domed Churches that can be found both in Oia and Fira.
The ancient, prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri is one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the past decades. It was built in the Neolithic era and was considered a very important city in the Aegean, until it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption that also brought down the Minoan civilization. You can also visit the archaeological site of ancient Thira at Mesa Vouno that was built in the 9th century BC and was inhabited until the Byzantine era.
There are many picturesque Santorini villages to visit: Megalochori in the west plain that overlooks the caldera, Pyrgos, at the highest point of Santorini, that naturally offers magnificent views, Emporio, the largest village with a beautiful castle, Kamari, a sought after destination for travelers from all over the world, and Firostefani, quite close to the capital, at the edge of the caldera, an essential destination in Santorini.
Santorini is also famous for its colorful beaches, due to the volcano. Perissa hosts the famous black beach, which is also the longest beach on the island, fully organized with umbrellas, beach chairs and shops (among which is a beach bar). Adjacent Perivolos’ beach is also black. Of special interest is the red beach, that is a bit harder to get to. Admittedly, the best beach of Santorini is Vlichada, a very organized beach with red cliffs looming over the swimmers.
Another famous village of Santorini is Imerovigli. Its highlight is the Castle of Skaros, that was built in the early thirteenth century and offers amazing views, as it is the topmost point of the caldera. Imerovigli has been declared a traditional settlement and it is indeed a marvel to walk through its cobblestone pathways and just take in the beauty of the Aegean islands. A visit to Imerovigli and Skaros is definitely a must.