Santorini is the iconic Greek destination with the most fascinating sunsets and postcard-pretty cliff houses carved on the slopes of the caldera, coated in sparkling white, which contrast with the light cobalt blue of the church domes and with the vivid magenta of the bougainvillea in bloom. It’s an island with a rich past, albeit checkered at times, a brilliant example of human endurance in challenging conditions. So, we’ve rounded up eight of the must-see museums in Santorini that show some of the historical trials that make the island great.
Tomato Industrial Museum
Nothing quite tastes like a Santorini tomato. It’s the ultimate island ingredient, praised by all travel guides, celebrated in culture and tradition. The Tomato Industrial Museum makes sense. It shows just how these tiny fruits grow on the island, but also how they impact the culinary traditions of Santorini. It also tells the story of the historic factory, through a variety of exhibits, including processing machinery dating back to 1890, documents, tools, labels, and old cans. The Tomato Industrial Museum is housed at the Santorini Arts Factory in Vlichada.
The Cultural Village in Pyrgos
This is not necessarily your usual museum must-see, but, by all accounts, the Cultural Village in Pyrgos is a living museum. Described as a cultural complex, this destination aims to tell the story of the past Santorini, with folk costumes, pictures, harvesting tools, and interior decorations documenting life on Santorini as it was before the tourist crowds. Keep in mind that this attraction opened sometime in 2016. You will not find it in many travel guides.
Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum
According to the company that owns it, the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world – a debatable claim, considering that many Greek wineries boast their own (albeit unofficial) museums as a nod to tradition and history. But the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum only traces the history of the wines of Santorini back to the 1600s – so their claim stands because there’s no other institution in the world offering an equal amount of information in as many languages. Plus, a visit to the museum ends with a wine tasting.
Argyros Mansion House Museum
The Argyros Mansion House Museum is a fascinating experience. Here, you will explore spaces that reflect the lifestyle of the vine growers and wine traders of the XIX Century. The museum boasts elegant interiors, with colorful paintings decorating the ceilings, as well as antique handmade furnishings from Crete and all over the world. Tours in English and Greek are available.
Museum of Prehistoric Thira
The Museum of Prehistoric Thira is a landmark of Fira, displaying archaeological findings from ancient Akrotiri, the Minoan Bronze Age settlement in southwestern part of Santorini. We have detailed this fascinating attraction here.
Museum of Minerals & Fossils in Perissa
The Museum of Minerals & Fossils in Perissa is a spiritually enriching destination managed by the Cultural Society of Thira. It is located in the foothills of Messa Vouno. Its oldest, and most exciting exhibit dates back 1.5 billion years, but you will also see many other items that retrace the evolution of plants of the past and the fauna of the area.
Lignos Folklore Museum
The Lignos Folklore Museum is one of Kontochori’s must-sees. It is set up inside a traditional cliff house dating from 1861. The edifice, which miraculously survived the earthquake of 1956, was restored twenty years later, and, since 1993, houses Emmanuel A. Lignos’s work of love: the Lignos Folklore Museum. Check it out: it is surprisingly educational.
Naval Museum of Thera
Oia’s top museum, the Naval Museum of Thera documents the maritime history of the island from ancient times to the XIX Century. In fact, it traces the commercial marine history of Thira back to the time before the Minoan eruption of Thera and onto the Hellenic Merchant period of the island. The library and archives of the Naval Museum of Thera are of interest too, especially for the collection of rare and historical books, like Ioannis Patousas’ encyclopedia from 1795.