This is undoubtedly the most photographed Island in Greece, amongst the most romantic and definitely the most stunning. Welcome to sensational Santorini.
Santorini, officially known as Thira, is said by many to be Greece's most spectacular island. In the 15th century BC, a volcano erupted and the centre of the island collapsed into the sea, forming a caldera or crater, the vestige of what may have been the biggest volcanic eruption in recorded history.
The precipice surrounding the caldera is one of twisted and colourful rocks and steep cliffs. The mild and dry climate produces some of the world's best wines and small tomatoes.
The eastern side of the caldera has the Cycladic villages of Thira, Imerovigli, Firastefani and Oia perched above the sea.
The sixth-century town of Fira, the capital, clings to the edge of the caldera. In 1956, earthquakes destroyed a considerable part of the town. Fortunately, many 18th-century buildings survived. With the deep blue of the Aegean Sea, whitewashed houses and black, red or white sand, it is a beautiful sight. Six hundred steps lead to the harbour and if you don't feel like walking back, take the cable car or a passing donkey.
Fira has a maze of winding streets, arcades, lots of souvenir and jewellery shops and a quarter once inhabited by Catholic nobility. Its museum has some interesting prehistoric finds, mostly pottery, from the sixth and seventh centuries. It has a gold ibex figurine from the 17th century BC. Found in 1999, it is in mint condition. There are hotels, tavernas, restaurants, bars and cafes. Fira is certainly a lively place.
The Castle of Scaros, at the top of the white-washed village of Imerovigli, has amazing views. At 300 metres it is the highest point of the rim and from it you can see the enormity of the semi-submerged volcano.
It is also where you find the small and charming hotel, Chromata, facing the sea and the volcano. Its 22 rooms and suites were designed by Kostas Nikolaidis. Each is air-conditioned and has a private terrace. It has the most superb infinity-edge pool which seems to join the sea, all topped off with a bar and restaurant.
The southernmost of the Cyclades islands.
The Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre has three night twin share packages, staying at the Chromata Hotel, including ferry ticket from Athens and return transfers, starting at $619 per person.
Qantas flies daily to London with connections to Athens starting at $2432 ex Perth, $2449 ex Melbourne, $2464 ex Sydney, $2522 ex Brisbane, $2530 ex Adelaide and $2621 ex Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre
Suite 1, 646 Botany Road
Ph: 1300 661 666, fax: (02) 9313 firstname.lastname@example.org