Each summer the Greek isles get a new infusion of tourists seeking their “bucket list” existential experiences. Santorini is often the bullseye destination more sought out than some others. However, many who arrive here do not realize how close other famous Greek isles are, and few take the opportunity to use Santorini as a home port for greater exploration. For those who do, the following list of nearby destinations may prove helpful.
A short distance from Santorini (1.5 hours by fast ferry), Crete is the legendary land of the ancient Minoans. The largest island in Greece, Crete is known for its rugged mountains and pristine beaches, and for charming villages set around ancient hamlets. Famed for the friendliness of its locals, the island has some of Europe’s most famous beaches including Elafonisi, Falasarna, and the well-known Vai, where Europe’s biggest palm forest hugs the shoreline. On Crete, you’ll find worlds within a world set on an island paradise where legends still echo, and where hospitality takes on a whole new meaning. Visit the Minoan Palace at Knossos, then find a lost beach cove somewhere in the mountains of Sfakia. Crete is simply amazing.
This island gem is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Mykonos is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere and the wild party vibe too. Since forever, the island has been a favorite playground for celebrities and the jet-set crowd. Known to many as “The Island of the Winds,” Mykonos was first made famous back in the early 1930s. Key points of interest on the island are Psarou Beach, Paradise Beach, and the unspoiled hidden beach hangouts the party set searches out each season. For a non-stop beach party, this is the place to be seen. Daily ferries in between Santorini and Mykonos, take about 2 hours.
The largest island of the Cyclades group is almost as popular as its closest neighbor Mykonos. Covering an area of nearly 430,000 square kilometers, this magical atoll of 18,000 local inhabitants is famous for its pristine beaches, for Kitron, and for gastronomic wonders as well. If you desire undiscovered beach bliss or the Temple of Demeter, Naxos is a must visit paradise not far by ferry from Santorini (1.5 hours). Other attractions include the Eggares Olive Press Museum, Kouros Statue, the Temple of Apollo, the Cave of Zeus, Bazeos Tower, Zas Mountain, and the Venetian Museum.
This fantastic island is home to about 13,000 full-time residents scattered across a landscape of traditional villages and beautiful beaches few can imagine. One of the most popular of the Cyclades group, Paros covers a total area of 196.3 square kilometers. Here you will find family travelers mixing it up with romantic explorers and the youthful et. The main villages of Parikia and Naoussa get most of the action, but in all, there are 38 beaches with some of the cleanest sand and aquamarine surf anywhere. A favored spot for windsurfers and kiteboarders, the island is a watersports legend. The best-known ones, Santa Maria, Kolymbithres, and the New Golden Beach are buzzing with sporting enthusiasts. The Santorini to Paros, the ferry ride is a bit longer than to the other outlying islands, but 2-3 hours cruising the Aegean is not the worst destiny ever. Paros is another “must” if you have the time.