Santorini is amongst the iconic Travel & Wedding Destinations. Let us share with you all the 15 Villages attractions/ places of interest in Santorini.
Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century B.C.E., forever shaping its rugged landscape and villages. The whitewashed, cubist houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater).
They overlook the clear Aegean and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
There are a total of 15 villages in Santorini! Do let us show you the various attractions each town has to offer!
Oia is a traditional settlement in the north of Santorini. It is also known as ‘Apano Meria’ or ‘Anomeria’ and the inhabitants are called ‘Apanomerites’. The village is approximately 150 meters above sea level. Oia was severely damaged in the 1956 earthquake and much work has been involved to implement its restoration.
Oia is one of the most photographed places in Greece especially for Pre Wedding Photography, if not the world. It has inspired artists, poets and every visitor who visits Santorini. Oia is best known for its breath-taking sunsets; truth be told, sunrise in Oia is also said to be a magical sight.
The beauty of Oia is unparalleled by any other, such that it is almost impossible to describe in words. Small white houses tier the hillside, interspersed by splashes of rich okra, deep fuchsia, cobalt blue, oyster pink and earthy red. Smooth winding paths interconnect, interrupted now and then by a small church, such that there is always something new to discover at every corner!
The Maritime Museum is one of its several cultural attractions and a set of 300 steps leads down to a small port, Ammoudi. You would be able to find the beach of Armenia which offers delicacies of fresh fish!
The Greek island of Santorini is a blissful spot for a getaway, and its capital, Fira, is a vision of dramatic cliffs and pristine whitewashed buildings.
The Archaeological Museum contains Minoan artifacts from Fira’s ancient foundations, while several churches and monasteries offer a glimpse into the historical and contemporary religious make up of this beautiful village.
Fira is also a busy town with all kind of shops, jewelleries, restaurants, cafes, bars and night clubs. The town has a large number of hotels and from a high position you will notice that most have swimming pools and verandas offering their customers a superb view. The caldera is considered the highlight of Santorini but there are some interesting churches that attract attention as well as add to the sheer beauty of the town’s architecture. Exploring the shops and cafes along Fira’s narrow footpaths will surely be a leisurely way to spend an afternoon.
Here, you should visit the Megaron Gyzi Museum, Archaeological Museum, churches such as Adios Minas, the cathedral of Ipapanti, the cathedral of Christ and the Catholic Cathedral.
Between Fira and Imerovigli, lies one of the spots with the best view on the island. Although officially considered a distinct village, Firostefani is a continuation of Fira.
A quiet village, mostly constituated of hotels, traditional houses, villas, studios and rooms, the area proposes just a couple of restaurants and café. Fret not as Fira, where all the activities are concentrated at, can be reached on foot.
It is also, one of the most picturesque and peaceful neighbourhoods, perched on the cliffs of the Caldera. Firostefani offers several hotels of all kinds to stay, cafes to enjoy the sunset and restaurants for dinner.
You can find Imerovigli by taking the road going towards Oia. It is the next village after Fira & Firostefani on the famous Santorini caldera.
The name of this village belongs to the days of the pirates :
vigla (Latin = vigilare = To Guard or to Act as a Look Out, imera (Greek) = day. Imerovigli has been declared a Traditional Settlement, and special rules and regulations have been enforced regarding building development.
Its position at the highest, most central part of the caldera gives it visual command of the whole area. It also derived importance from its proximity to Skaros Fortress.
The Church of the Panagia Malteza has a marvellous carved wooden screen with icons depicting scenes from the Old Testament. There is a path from Imerovigli caldera walkway to Skaros Rock and the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti.
Skaros Rock was one of the five fortified settlements and also the most important one. It was inhabited during medieval times, because the fortress constructed there offered protection from pirates.
The original castle, known as ‘Epano Kastro’ (Upper castle in Greek) or ‘La Roka’ was built in the later Byzantine years by the Venetian Giacomo Barozzi. The first Duke of Naxos Marco Sanudo gave Santorini to Giacomo Barozzi in the year of 1207.
The Skaros Rock of today is totally uninhabited with the exception of a small church, the Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis, on its north side. Only a few ruins are left from the formerly numerous dwellings.
This village is located on a fabulous spot on top of a hill and exhibits incredible panoramic views of the island. At the bottom are some nice taverns, a shop that stocks international press and the usual tourist shops.
Pyrgos used to be the capital of the island until the early 1800s. Today, the village of Santorini counts more than 500 inhabitants and it is well-known for its major tourist movement. The village consists of traditional houses built all around the Venetian castle, and small streets that follow the natural flow of the surrounding landscape. These houses are the perfect example of Cycladic design and in superb condition.
The Venetian castle is one of the five on the island of Santorini and dates back to the 13th century. The fortfied settlement is amphitheatrically built on the hill and offers superb views of both sides of the island. The village has many churches: the church of Theotokaki with its beautiful frescoes and old icons, Agia Triada, the church of Agia Theodosia, the Archangel Michael and many others.
Athinios port is located in the area of Pyrgos where there is a car access. The Old port in Fira’s only access going up and down to the town is either by the donkeys, the cable car or to walk although we don’t recommend walking. (It’s very tiring)
Akrotiri is located next to the famous Red Beach. It is ampitheatrically built at the southeastern side of the island. Akrotiri was originally a Minoan settlement and today, it is one of the major tourist attractions and the most important archeological site of Santorini.
The prehistoric town was destroyed due to a massive volcanic erruption around 1600 BC. Nowadays, the picturesque streets, two-storey buildings, lovely frescoes and plenty of tools witness the way of life in the prehistoric times. Today, the beautiful frescoes of the ancient city of Akrotiri can only be seen in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Splendid houses dot around the village as well as a traditional windmill. Many tour boats arrive in Akrotiri and tourists are scattered at the nearby beaches of the area.
Another place of interest is the Venetian castle that dominates the settlement of Akrotiri. The town has lovely hotels and also many local taverns with a splendid view of the sea. Akrotiri has plenty of churches to visit and one of the most beautiful is the church of Agios Nikolaos built right above the impressive redish rocks, on the way to the Red Beach.
A notable place of interest will be Akrotiri Archaeological Site. This is one of the most well preserved site from the Greek Pompei! The site is well protected now with a roof and modern archeological processes, you can walk all around the site and walk down onto the actual streets and look in the standing buildings. A mind boggling experience as you travel back in time to see how they lived and what the volcano did to this famous Greek City!
Emporio is the largest village on the southeast side of the island according to recent statistics (2011) with a population counting 4.000 people all year long.
Most of its residents during the summer months are dealing with tourism while during the winter they farm their land. Emporio also has an appreciable number of economic migrants from the Balkan countries who are also working in tourism and farm work.
According to some, the village took its name from the development of commerce (Emporio in Greek means “commercial”) since some years ago, it was the only village in the southern Santorini that had small markets and shops to cover the people’s needs. According to others the name is likely to be paraphrased from the old days of Germans saying “neoumpourgk” meaning the castle, located in downtown old traditional village.
The centre of the village is worth walking and taking pictures of, because of the small old houses built closely to one another due to safety reasons during the Venetian era.
Nowadays, many people, mostly young and not just the locals, decided to restore these houses and equip them with modern facilities according to create a new lifestyle close to nature, to raisetheir children in a more friendly environment and ecological way of living.
This idea of giving back life to the old settlement began in the decade of 2000 and since then many houses have been restored and inhabited all year long.
Messaria is a small quaint village situated 4km southeast of Fira, surrounding a vast area of vineyards at the centre of Santorini. Most of the inhabitants are occupied with wine making and there is a local winery to see and taste a variety of wine flavors.
A stroll around the village reveals magnificent neoclassical buildings and restored mansions. Between them are numerous taverns and decent accommodation. The roads are very busy during the day as it is on the main thoroughfare for getting around the island.
You can sit at the main square for a nice Greek coffee under the trees. In Messaria village you can find a few beautiful churches with impressive bell towers that dominate the area.
Do take a short trip to visit Argyros mansion, one of the best examples of neoclassical architecture in Santorini built in 1888.
Megalochori (or Megalohori, Megaloxori, meaning big village in Greek) is the first village set foot on if we arrive at Santorini by boat, after climbing Athinios port caldera. It is located between Pyrgos, Emporio and Akrotiri at a distance of less than 10 km from Fira.
It is made of hundreds of small white painted houses built one upon the other and it is characterised by its beautiful churches.
It combines traditional architecture with vaulted houses and calderimia (stone-cobbled narrow pathways) and a lively community with a fairly large permanent population. Megalochori is the center of the wine industry of Santorini and it is surrounded by vine yards.
Megalochori attracts a fair number of tourist, choose it as a handy base for exploring the island: it is not faraway from Fira, and within easy distance of Akrotiri and the beaches of Perissa, Perivolos, Agios Georgios and Vlihada of the South coast.
Finikia is a small village which contains some traditional Cycladic churches and here you can also find some of the cave houses that are dug into the rocks.
These houses of Santorini are designed to insulate the occupants in the winter and if you get the chance to enter one during the summer you will notice how nice and cool the temperature is.
Finikia is one of the most well-preserved settlements in Santorini and a nice alternative to spend a night in if you stay in Oia which is pretty close.
The small church of Kyra Panagia (Lady of the Virgin) is the ideal spot to enjoy a breathtaking sunset in total peace. The settlement has a few hotels and guest rooms.
Mesa and Exo Gonia Santorini: A rural village, just 8 km from Fira set amidst the vines of Santorini.
Before the devastating earthquake in 1956 that destroyed the village entirely, Mesa Gonia used to be one of the most important wine tasting places of the island.
At the entrance of the village you can visit Roussos Winery, one of the oldest wineries of the island that dates since 1836. Mesa Gonia is much quieter than the nearby Kamari.
One of the best attractions of Mesa Gonia is the Church of Panagia Episkopi, the most important Byzantine monument of Santorini. Exo Gonia is a small and picturesque village with beautiful churches and traditional taverns.
Karterados is a picturesque village of Santorini just 2 km away from the town of Fira. The village distinguishes for its unique architecture and natural landscape. The lovely Mediterranean village is surrounded by uncountable vineyards that create a beautiful setting.
Karterados offers a plethora of modern amenities like ultra modern sport facilities, ethnic taverns with scrumptious delicacies, cozy cafes and lively bars.
In addition, there is an old bakery making homemade bread and delicious cookies. Several whitewashed churches with brilliant architecture are found around the village, while the location of church of Agios Nikolaos will take your breath away.
The beaches are truly attractive offering total tranquility. A visit to Karterados reveals a number of traditional stone built houses and 19th century elegant mansions that many shipowners built here witnessing its prosperity in the past.
As you go follow the road past the village you will meet the tranquil rocky beach of Exo Gialos. Finally you will find numerous hotels to accommodate you.
Ammoudi is the charming port of Oia in Santorini, a tiny settlement with just a few traditional buildings built around the natural bay.
In Ammoudi, there are port services and a few taverns. Several fishing and tour boats moor there during the summer, creating a very picturesque scenery.
Ammoudi is encircled by the impressive high red cliffs and it is considered the most picturesque village of Santorini. Approximately 300 narrow and steep steps lead the way between Ammoudi and Oia.
Donkeys can also be used for transport. A small rocky beach stands right next to Ammoudi, ideal for diving. Several tour boats stop in Ammoudi on the way to Thirassia islet and the famous volcano.
Athinios is not actually a village, but the main port of Santorini serving ferries from Athens and other Greek islands. The cruise ships and boat trips arrive in the small port of Fira, but the ferries arrive in Athinios, at a distance of 7 km south of Fira. The port is connected to Fira and all the other villages of Santorini by bus or taxi.
The cliff around Athinios is impressive. There are no houses there, only the buildings of the port authorities and some travel agencies.
The village of Vothonas is located 6 km away from the town of Fira. It is among the most picturesque settlements of Santorini, offering a peaceful and beautiful setting for your holidays.
Vothonas village is built on a picturesque ravine with traditional houses which are literally carved out of rocks. A stroll around the paved streets leaves any visitor spellbound by the creativity of the craftsmen who knew how to protect their houses from violent storms.
Vothonas is characterized by this unique layout and stylish details that match perfectly with the white domed churches and the traditional houses.
The trip to Vothonas village would be incomplete without visiting the magnificent church of Agia Anna,the oldest church of the village that dates back to 1827. The most beautiful part of the church is actually the carved wooden panel, which artistically portrays scenes from the Old Testament. If you have enough energy left, you may as well visit the pretty chapel of Panagia Trypa located on the edge of the cliff. The walking trail is about 20 minutes.
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