Day Trip to Thirasia

When you stay at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, you are very close to the beautiful island Thirasia, which can be easily accessed by boat and ferry from Amoudi, the charming port of Oia. Although it is so close to Oia, this island is an entirely different place, with a charm of its own, well worth it for a day trip.

Atlantis Books: One of the World’s Most Famous Bookstores

Did you know that one of the best-known bookstores in the world is located in Oia? The gem of Nomikos Street, Atlantis Books is praised by visitors and journalists alike.  It was founded by Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise in 2004. Their intention was to create a haven for book lovers, and their dream is today a well-deserved reality, a cozy little spot where you can tame your thirst for culture, but you can also meet like-minded people in an ambiance full of charm.

Seduced by Pyrgos Kallistis

Pyrgos Kallistis, or simply Pyrgos, is one of Santorini’s most beautiful sights, a seductive destination just ten kilometers from Fira. It is the place to go to explore island architecture and tradition without the tourist hubbub of Oia, for example.

It is the highest village of the island, positioned to offer breathtaking views in all directions, but its charm relies on its urban structure, with houses built amphitheatrically at the top of the hill, with medieval architecture, labyrinthine streets, fortified walls, and hidden passages. The village will captivate you. Pyrgos was one of the five castles of the island and the seat of the Kallistis municipality from 1835 to 1914. In 1997 the village was annexed to the municipality of Thira. The castle, or as locals call it, the Kastelli, was damaged by the earthquake of 1956, but its ruins still stand, providing the perfect backdrop for the fires lit on the night of the Epitaph. In fact, this is an occasion for the whole village to celebrate, and you will see fires in tin lamps everywhere around the village and this is also where you can see the most impressive Good Friday procession in Greece.

Next to the castle you will find the pristine white Agia Theodosia with its Santorini-blue dome. On the west side of the castle, you will find one of the oldest churches of Santorini, Theotokaki or Assumption of Mary, which is believed to date from the 10th century. Finally, at the highest point of the castle, a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary dominates the sight with its elegant silhouette. This is where the the village gathers to celebrate Easter and the Epitaph. Lovers of religious art should also visit the Church of the Holy Trinity for its collection of icons and relics. The most notable exhibit here is an icon of St. George, dating from the 15th century.

Sunsets in Pyrgos Kallistis are as full of color and vivid as observed from any other point on the island. The village is just a short distance from Ormos Athinios, the primary seaport of Santorini, and the only port with regular passenger ferry services linking the island to Piraeus, the Cyclades, and Crete.

Diving and Snorkeling in Santorini

The underwater world of Santorini owes a lot to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous French naval officer, explorer, and conservationist who sailed the legendary Calypso to the island hoping to find the Lost City of Atlantis. A memorial plaque in his honor commemorates his expedition and his work in a cave at 7m depth off the coast of Santorini since August 20, 2011, when it was placed there by his son, Pierre-Yves Cousteau, and Alexander Reichardt, who is also the creator of the plaque. Apostolos Stylianopoulos, the first Cousteau diving instructor in Greece, and owner of Atlantis Dive Center in Oia, is in charge of the monument, which can only be seen by divers.

So you can dive to see the plaque and the wonders of the sea when you visit Santorini. The Atlantis Dive Center organizes diving excursions and other water activities around the volcanic islands of Caldera, Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, Thirasia, and Aspronisi. The center offers diving classes with expert divers certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

The center offers diving excursions for beginners, as well as daily half-day trips to two different dive sites for expert divers. They also have snorkeling tours around the volcanic islands of Santorini in sites with clear, shallow water, where you can explore the treasures under the sea in safe conditions.

Atlantis Dive Center is one of the few Cousteau Dive Centers in the world. They are not just divers: they are active environmentalists committed to the protection of marine life in the area. “A well-managed, well-sized, well-protected marine sanctuary could generate substantial economic benefits for the island of Santorini, extending the touristic season beyond the summer months and creating jobs, in addition to helping fish stocks replenish to ensure the livelihoods of fishing communities,” according to Custeau Divers. The professional fishermen of Santorini gave their unanimous approval for the creation of a marine protected area on March 15, 2014, a project supervised by Cousteau Divers, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation since 2011 when they employed the HCMR (Hellenic Center for Marine Research) to help.

Vlychada, the Beach with a Lunar Landscape

One of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, by many accounts the most fascinating on Santorini, Vlychada is a short 40-minute drive from Oia. It’s not far from the Tomato Industrial Museum and Santorini Arts Factory – two must-see attractions when you are in the area. The strange shapes in the rock are natural sculptures.

Also known as the Moon Beach, a well-deserved nickname for its spectacular lunar landscape, Vlychada rests on the southern coast of the island. It is a long beach caressed by the waves of the sea, which, together with the wind and rain, created the mesmerizing sculptures in the rock formations that separate the beach from the rest of the island. If you plan a visit with children, keep in mind that the sea is deep here, and not safe for people who cannot swim well. Also, some more secluded parts of Vlychada are favored by nudists.

The moon beach of the island, with its dramatically-eroded pumice cliffs, Vlychada is worth a visit even if you are not a beach-goer. The lunar landscape of the beach makes Vlychada a favorite attraction with photographers too. This is where you will find that perfect Instagram moment.

Vlychada beach

There are also areas equipped with chairs and umbrellas, and beach cafes that serve delicious savory specials from the bounty of the sea. A small marina nearby offers docking for yachts and boating tours by Santorini Yacht Services, who also offer services like yacht charter cruises and tours, air taxi, helicopter transfers, moonlight cruises, and more.

When you visit Vlychada, Akrotiri is another nearby attraction worth seeing. You can always search our official blog to find out what to see and do when you are on Santorini. Your private concierge at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa is happy to offer advice and fix a custom itinerary for you too.

At the Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri

There are things about Santorini that make the heart full of glee. The sunsets tame the wildest of the spirits, and the landscapes inspire wanderlust. But then, there are also the things that make you think, the deeper connections with the roots of the people who now inhabit the island fully aware that Thira still stands at the mercy of the elements. Akrotiri is such a place.

They say Akrotiri is one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean, but when you step on the streets of the prehistoric towns you forget about the formal lines read in travel guides because the ruins tell a different story. Time took its toll on the walls of the once prosperous fortress but once you gaze upon the Antelopes of Sector B for example, tales of a glorious past when art was the lifeblood of the local culture come rushing in. This is also the area where you can admire two other famous frescoes: the Boxing Boys and the Fresco of the Monkeys.

Antelopes in Sector B.

They believe Xeste 3 was a site to perform rituals, a sacred area because the walls are richly decorated with magnificent paintings. And then, there’s the House of the Ladies with art so delicate to inspire a celebration of the eternal feminine. Beautiful frescoes can also be admired in the smaller
West House. Here you can see the two frescoes of the Fishermen, the fresco of the Young Priestess and the famous Flotilla miniature frieze. Another important part of the Akrotiri archeological site is the Complex Delta, which includes four houses, one decorated with the Spring fresco where you can truly grasp the importance of art in local culture. The mural portrays a Santorini rocky landscape with swallows flying around blossoming lilies.

Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri

The Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri is well worth the trip. The setting is spectacular, and even the modern village has enough to keep you busy. The Venetian Tower (Goulas) stands atop of a hill surrounded by modern homes, and watching the Santorini sunset from the lighthouse of Akrotiri is an experience you will cherish forever.