The volcanic eruption of Thira that put an end to the thriving Minoan civilization was so cataclysmic, it may have spawned the legend of Atlantis.
The explosion occurred around 3600 years ago, scooping out the once-circular island’s center and west coast, and creating the sea-filled caldera and signature sheer cliffs where Santorini’s townships teeter today. Since then, there have been perhaps a dozen major eruptions.
The volcano is quiet today, though the nearby island of Nea Kameni in the center of the caldera still emits puffs of steam. It’s thanks to the caldera that towns like Oia boast such stunning sunsets, providing a low-lying, obstruction-free observation point as the sun sinks into the sea.
If you came to Santorini for the sunsets, the town of Oia is where you want to be when the sun sinks towards the horizon to such glorious effect.
Perched on the steep edge of the caldera, with open views of the sea, the village is quieter than the island’s main town, Fira, at least outside sunset hours.
A string of tavernas turn their faces to the caldera for those views, and it’s fun exploring the town’s tiny backstreets and rocky cliff face, where homes have been carved from the volcanic rock.
There’s some seriously chic boutique accommodations in Oia, complete with infinity pools and spas. The lucky people staying on for the evening dine in Oia’s gourmet restaurants, perched on terraces to catch the best views. Follow the 300 steps leading from the top of the caldera and you reach the fishing port of Ammoudi. Boats sail from here to the nearby island of Thirassia.
Archaeological buffs and lovers of legends mustn’t miss the trip to the sacred island of Delos. On Delos, the archaeological jewel of the Cyclades, you can see firsthand where the ancients lived and clamber over the ruins they left behind. Held sacred as the mythological birthplace of Apollo, Delos was at the heart of the ancient world as an important religious and commercial center, reaching its zenith in the Hellenic period around the 5th century BC.
The huge site sprawls along the island’s west coast, from the stadium in the north to the old trading warehouses to the south. Standouts include the Sanctuary of Apollo temples and the Terrace of the Lions. The remains of private houses surround the semicircular Theatre, and the site includes several agoras, monuments, sanctuaries and temples. You can see finds from the excavations at the site museum, including the original lions from the much-photographed Terrace of the Lions.
Known world-over for its cosmopolitan lifestyle and booming nightlife, Mykonos is a favorite amongst visitors on the Greece leg of their Mediterranean tour. With a load of wonderful beaches to park at, Mykonos is also filled with museums and other tokens of cultural life. The town itself is a wonderful maze of charming little streets and traditional buildings full of shops, cafes and restaurants. Feel free to get lost when exploring Mykonos.
Now with two ports, one of which is the relatively new, but smaller marina, all sorts of cruise liners, yachts and other boats swarm the island of Mykonos - making it a common ferry destination from places like Rafina or Piraeua, where you can catch a ride daily. Mykonos also has an international airport only a few miles away from the town itself, offering flights from a number of major European destinations.
Santorini’s main town perches on the cliff top overlooking the caldera, with better daytime views than Oia and twinkling night-time vistas.
Fira swarms with holidaymakers and cruise visitors, so find some quiet time in the town’s museums and churches. One museum focuses on Ancient Thira, with relics and figurines unearthed from Ancient Akrotiri. For local history and before-and-after displays on the devastating 1956 earthquake, visit the Megaron Gyzi Museum. Pop into the cathedral next door while you’re here. To find out about local traditions, visit the folklore museum housed in a cave.
There are some lovely jewelry shops to browse in Fira, running along the edge of the caldera, and a paved walkway runs beneath the edge of the lagoon, heading north to meet the cliff-top path to Oia, 8km (5 miles) away. Tours run from Fira over to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, or you can take a dusk cruise to catch a legendary Oia sunset from the water.
One of the most memorable places in Greece, the volcanic island of Santorini - located in the Cyclades group - is a spectacular Mediterranean paradise known for its dazzling views, fine beaches and unforgettable sunsets. Without much need for modern amenities, the place is lined with historic sights, and more than enough natural and ancient wonderment to go around. It's no wonder why so many people love Santorini.
There are a few ways to get into Santorini, either by land or sea, depending on your budget and how much time you have to explore. By air, there is Santorini National Airport, which during the summer months flies directly to several destinations in Europe. If the water highway is your transportation method of choice, you can either grab a ferry from domestic locations in Naxos, Paros, or more commonly Piraeus. Big cruises will reach Santorini through the old port in Fira (take note: not the newer one located just 2 miles away in Pyrgos).
In de oude Griekse mythologie was het kleine eiland Delos, dat onderdeel is van de Cycladen, de geboorteplaats van Apollo en zijn tweelingzus Artemis. Als dank voor hun veilige komst op aarde beloofde hun moeder om van het eiland de rijkste gemeenschap in Griekenland te maken. En dat gebeurde ook.
Delos werd voor het eerst bewoond rond 1100 voor Christus als heiligdom voor Apollo. In 456 voor Christus werd het eiland bestuurd door Macedonië en veel van de nog bestaande monumenten in dit enorme openluchtmuseum stammen nog uit dat tijdperk. De gemeenschap van 25.000 inwoners werd een sterke handelshaven in het oosten van de Middellandse Zee. Een eeuw voor Christus verloor Delos haar invloed en werd het grotendeels verlaten.
In 1873 begonnen hier opgravingen en een van de wonderen van de oude wereld werd weer zichtbaar. Van het UNESCO-werelderfgoed met een oppervlakte van 95 hectare zijn nog slechts 25 hectare weer zichtbaar gemaakt. Het bestaat uit tempels, heiligdommen, villa’s, paleizen, amfitheaters en baden.