5 Routes to get to know the Beauty of Santorini

Santorini in 5 ways!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

5 Routes to get to know the Beauty of Santorini

The Obvious Route:

Fira – Firostefani – Imerovigli – Oia - Ammoudi


Distance traveled: 12 kilometres

Compass: North by NorthWest

What you see:

Fira, the capital of Santorini, and Firostefani. The two settlements have almost merged into one due to the residential development in the area. Walking through the cobbled streets, you can witness their unique architecture, the harmony of the colors and perfect symmetry of nature's and man's creations.

Firostefani residentials

firostefani narrow alleys

Moving on to the highest point of the Caldera, you will visit the traditional settlement of Imerovigli and enjoy true visual command of the volcanic surroundings.

imerovigli church and view santorini

imerovigli view

Take a big breath before you get lost inside Oia's narrow streets: one of the most photographed places in the world, Santorini's Ano Meria (Upper Side) is a sight worth a thousand words.

Oia view

After the sun has settled, make your final descent to Ammoudi, a picturesque port offering great fish dining options, which could be preceded by a dip in moonlit waters of the tiny adjacent bay.

    What you get:
  • Unique natural and manmade architecture
  • Incomparable sunsets
  • Fine dining
  • Vivid night life
  • Places of historical and archeological interest, i.e. Skaros Rock, Castle of Oia


Petros Nomikos Convention Centre in Firostephani hosts a 3D exhibition, using digital photography to reproduce Akrotiri's murels on their whole.

Best time to start the tour (in the summer):

Around 6 o'clock in the afternoon, to make sure that the sun reflecting on the white houses does not blind you off the beautiful sites and reach Oia on time for the sunset.


The Cosmopolitan Route:

Fira – Pyrgos – Exo Gonia – Episkopi - Kamari

Distance traveled: 9 kilometres

Compass: South by SouthEast

What you see:

Built on the highest point of Santorini, the village of Pyrgos will give you the opportunity to enjoy a panoramic view of the whole island, taking in all its unique elements.

Apano (or Exo) Gonia is one of the few settlements that have remained untouched by tourist development. Here you might even get invited into the locals' homes for a quick 'meze' (bite)!

Episkopi Gonia (otherwise called Mesa or Kato Gonia) has been named after the great church that dominates the village, Panagia Epikopi, which has housed the headquarters of both the Orthodox and Latin bishops of the area.

kamari beach of Santorini

Reaching the East of the island, you will get to Kamari, a true cosmopolitan beach resort, full with an organized, Blue Flag awarded beach with crystal clear deep waters, a wide selection of places to relax, eat and have a drink or even learn a thing or two about prehistoric Santorini.

 santorini kamari

    What you get:
  • Exclusive views of the island
  • Sightings of the island's treasures: vineyards, churches, traditional architecure
  • Sea-side activities
  • Places of historical and archeological interest, i.e. Kasteli of Pyrgos, Ancient Thira settelement




Make time to visit the monastery dedicated to the prophet Elijah, just outside Pyrgos, which is also home to an important museum, the Icons & Relics Collection. The 'Vanishing Santorini' Exhibition is a look into island's past.

santorini vanishing

Best time to start the tour (in the summer):

Set out early in the morning to enjoy your coffee and view at a cafe in Pyrgos and reach Kamari in time to cool off from the midday sun with a swim, have a light lunch and sip a cocktail at a local club after dark.

The Legendary Route:

Fira – Akrotiri – Red Beach

Distance traveled: 15 kilometres

Compass: South by SouthWest

What you see:

Chasing the myth of the Atlantis has never been so mesmerizing as when visiting Santorini's Akrotiri. One of the island's five fortified settlements during the Middle Ages, Akrotiri's history dates far earlier than that. The settlement is home not only to Akrotiri Castle (Goulas), but also to one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean.

red beach santorini

red beach rock santorini

Once you have immerged from this unique historical ride, you can then take a short walk to reach the Red Beach: with its red rock faced cliffs as a back drop, this is is one of the most extraordinary beaches in the world to look and lounge at.

    What you get:
  • A unique view through history
  • A moment in the life of legends
  • Wonderful fish taverns
  • Tiny churches
  • Extraordinary rock formations, i.e. the Indian rock on the way to the Red Beach


traditional lighthouse akrotiri santorini

The Lighthouse of Akrotiri is one of the best preserved examples of traditional lighthouse architecture in Greece. Built in 1892 and originally operated on oil, its beams reached a distance of 23 nautical miles. It is still operational today, albeit on electricity.

Best time to start the tour (in the summer):

You should get to the Akrotiri excuvation site before the big rush, so it is preferable to set out quite early. When done with the archeological site tour, pack a light lunch and set out for the Red Beach first, before getting back to the village for an early dinner and a visit of the Castle at sunset.

The Peace & Quiet Route:

Fira – Vourvoulos – Baxedes / Paradisos - Koloumbo

Distance traveled: 12 kilometres

Compass: North by NorthWest

What you see:

vourvoulos village

vourvoulos fish tavern

Vourvoulos is a funny name in many ways than one: it actually means blister! This ampitheatric village, with a majestic view of the eastern island plains, offers a quieter alternative to Oia, while remaining close to the island's main attractions.

baxedes beach santorini

baxedes stones at the beach

Driving further north and to the west, you'll get to Baxedes or Paradisos beach, usually preferred by families because of its shallower waters and more relaxed vacation vibe. But, if you really want to opt for some peace and quiet, head a little further west to Koloumbo: one of the more unspoiled beaches on the island until this day, it gives you a chance to actually swim inside an active volcano crater!

    What you get:
  • Relaxed surroundings
  • Nice taverns with local recipies
  • Quiet places to have a drink
  • Closeness to the natural element


At Vourvoulos village square you may see a WWII Monument commemorating the excecution of local inhabitants by German commandos 1944.

Best time to start the tour (in the summer):

Visit Vourvoulos early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise from east and then spend the rest of the day swimming, eating and relaxing at Baxedes, before heading to Koloumbo for an afternoon deep and sunset view right on the beach.

The Wine & Spirits' Route:

Fira – Megalohori – Perivolos – Perissa

Distance traveled: 13 kilometres

Compass: South by SouthEast

What you see:

megalochori santorini church

At the heart of Santorini's wine country, the picturesque village of Megalochori has historically been the home of merchants and vinsanto wine exporters and many of the houses preserve their prestige even to this day.

megalochori from top view


perivolos hourses santorini

Heading East, Perissa connects with Perivolos, and the collective area is longest stretch of beach on the island. Both beaches are organized, with water sports, umbrellas and sunbeds for hire, cafes and tavers close at hand. After night falls, the area's up-market clubbing scene rivals that of Fira. On a completely different note, Perissa also presents archeological interest: there is a theory that the settlement stands on the site of the ancient city of Elevsina, dating back to the 2nd Century AC.

    What you get:
  • A taste of some Old Santorini glamour
  • Some of the best wines in the world
  • Endless black sand beaches
  • Abundant choices for eating and drinking
  • Archeological references


At the base of the mountain of Mesa Vouno, one can find the ruins of the Basilica of Agia (Saint / Santa) Irini dating back to the 5th century: there is strong evidence that the Basilica of Agia Irini gave Santorini its name.

Best time to start the tour (in the summer):

If you get to Megalochori around 11:00 and built up an appetite walking around the village, you'll have a chance to enjoy brunch with wine tasting in one (or more) of the local wineries, before heading to Perissa and Perivolos for a cafe, a swim, a lunch and a cocktail!

Give some time to see the video below:


Do you think you know everything about Santorini? Follow the ultimate guide to Santorini island.

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