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YOUR SANTORINI POSTCARD: ESCAPE IN NATURE

Live out your dream to discover the unseen Santorini with these five outdoor activities

Santorini is a head-turner destination for its astonishing natural allure, imposing sceneries, volcanic-sand beaches, rich history, colorful cultural life, zig-zag stair-paths and dazzling panoramic sunsets.

This destination bucket list offers many opportunities for outdoor activities that uncover the beauty of the lunar-terrain island to its full extent. If you are a seeker of adventure, our Guest Experience Specialists have crafted just for your five experiences that will fulfill your desires, needs and interests.

Hiking 

Hiking is a win-win experience – not only do you get to really take in the the explosive identity of Santorini with its eternal beauty, idiomorphic  architecture, cultural life and sites, but it’s also a great way to keep fit. Regardless of your fitness levels, age or the pace you’d like to hike at there is a path waiting for you to cross it. Most visitors to Oia will just hike on the 300 steps from Ammoudi to the heart of the village. But adventure continues to other hiking routes. The hiking trail from Oia to Fira for example, is an easy-to-medium route that offers stunning views of the craggy rocks sceneries of the island. The best time to take the hike is in the early morning, to avoid the midday heat. The route is properly marked at the most critical junctions.Explore also other popular hiking routes on the island:

  • Across the caldera, from Fira to Oia (10.9km / 4h, easy hike)
  • Emborio to Ancient Thera and Perissa (11.5km / 4h15′, moderate level)
  • A circular walk in Foinikia (4.5km / 1h30′, easy hike)
  • From the caldera to Akrotiri and Vlychada beach (4.2km / 1h15′, moderate level)
  • Circular walk around Pyrgos (5.4km / 1h45′, easy hike)
  • Crossing Nea Kameni (2.6km / 1h00′, easy hike)

Windsurfing

Windsurfing in the Caldera of Santorini adds an amazing seascape backdrop to an already exhilarating aquatic sport. The dark sandy beaches, the white and blue overhanging the amazing cliffs above, and unbelievable wind conditions year-round make Santorini a kind of windsurfer’s haven. You may find windsurf rentals & lessons at Monolithos Beach & Avis Beach.

Diving

Santorini is renowned for its volcanic landscapes and superb views of the caldera. Apart from what your eyes feast on at surface level, you can discover the allure of Santorini’s underwater world too. Since Santorini was formed by an ancient volcano, the island’s dive sites are mostly positioned in the lagoon where 400-meter cliffs drop off into the deep blue. While there are dozens of pristine dive spots to temp freedivers or SCUBA aficionados, our Guest Experience Specialists create a selection of the top dive sites in Santorini, just for you.

Adiavatous Reef, inside the rim of the caldera, near the volcano, is home to a fantastic variety of sea life.

The Caves, is situated on the south coast of the island. Enormous boulders and swim-throughs, as well as spectacular underwater canyons and caverns make for a picturesque and eye-opening experience.

House Reef, is a shallow dive attraction famous for being home to nudibranchs and lots of other invertebrates, as well as hermit crabs and other crustaceans.

The Volcano is a spectacular diving site, noted for its stunning volcanic rock formations, and for the wreck of a tour boat that lies at an easily accessible depth of only 18 meters.

Sailing

Sailing the Aegean is a rewarding activity for many visitors to Santorini. Either you book a boat tour, or rent a yacht, this is a must during your stay. Our Guest Experience Specialists will reveal you the secrets of this volcanic island from a different point of you. In Santorini you will find a range private, semi private, and guided tours. They follow several itineraries for unique luxurious excursions as well as the adventurous sailing tours. Give in to your wanderlust and embark on a reviving sailing experience through the endless blue of the Aegean waters. You can opt to enjoy a day tour with diving under the sunlit sky of Santorini or set off on a cruise into the beautiful sunset imbued by its splendid colors.Horse-riding Imagine a stunning sunset over iconic Santorini’s cliffs. Now imagine one of the most unforgettable experiences in the world from horseback.  You can ride along beautiful beaches, alongside the Caldera, through the meandering streets of the traditional village of Megalochori , through naturally fascinating uncharted territories such as the unique landscape of Vlychada or through verdant vineyard trails.

Horse-riding

Imagine a stunning sunset over iconic Santorini’s cliffs. Now imagine one of the most unforgettable experiences in the world from horseback. You can ride along beautiful beaches, alongside the Caldera, through the meandering streets of the traditional village of Megalochori , through naturally fascinating uncharted territories such as the unique landscape of Vlychada or through verdant vineyard trails.

Kitesurfing and Windsurfing in Santorini for Adrenaline Lovers

Santorini is one of the world’s most iconic travel destinations many reasons. Romantic sunsets are in the top of the list, of course, but not so many travelers consider the island’s aquatic sports offerings when they add the destination to their “bucket lists.” Take kitesurfing, for instance. After the glorious sun rises, and before it sets into the aquamarine sea, the warm winds blow kitesurfers across the crystal waters of the caldera.

Kitesurfing or windsurfing in the Caldera of Santorini ads an amazing seascape backdrop to an already exhilarating aquatic sport. The dark sandy beaches, the white and blue overhanging the amazing cliffs above, and unbelievable wind conditions year-round make Santorini a kind of kitesurfer’s haven. On any given day you’ll find enthusiasts of the sport of all experience levels gliding across the waves challenging themselves, or those learning for the first time.

Pros and first-timers end up creating a kind of kaleidoscope of weaving kites dotting the sky and the horizon on some days. Initiates take lessons from Santorini experts, old hands at the sport push the limits and search out the best conditions, and most often they are drawn to Monolithos Beach – where Santorini Kite offers classes and professional equipment rentals. To the south, Avis Beach is another excellent sport to practice the sport.

On the east side of the island, beginners and experienced kitesurfers gravitate to the beautiful black sandy beach and the constant north-east wind that sustains at 14 to 20 knots. Idyllic, this is the only way to describe such conditions. But Santorini has other secret spots that offer stellar conditions, glass smooth seas, and even boat excursions for downwind kitesurfing sessions. One expert tip is to take the boat ride to Paros or Naxos and spend a night there, to experience some genuinely pristine kiting time. Take care though, the Paros offshore winds can reach 40 knots, not exactly perfect for newcomers to the sport.
Local experts offer classes for beginners that range from 1 to 2-hour introductory lessons, all the way up to 10-hour packages that help beginners become independent riders capable of taking full advantage of the sport.

Cover photo credits: Santorini Kite (santorinikite.gr)

Counting down to the Santorini Experience 2019!

With just a few days to go to the ultimate sports experience in the Mediterranean, swimmers, runners and walkers from around the world are heading to the majestic Santorini island for the fifth Santorini Experience taking place October 4th to 6th. Last year, competitors from 45 countries across five continents took part in the event, and this year organizers are expecting an even higher number of participants.

Two days of open-water swimming and running set against the vast natural amphitheatre of the caldera, beckon athletes of all ages and abilities who wish to test themselves in what is one the of most stunning landscapes in the world.

On Saturday 5th of October the events begin, with runners take on the 15km, 10km and 5km routes following steep paths over the hills along the caldera, with participants enjoying breathtaking views of the volcano and the stunning landscapes of Imerovigli, Firostefani and Oia. The gentler 5km ‘Aristides Alafouzos’ route is a favourite for keen amateur runners and power walkers.

The focus turns to the glistening waters of the Caldera on Sunday when swimmers will head to Fira for embarkation to the volcano – the start point of the now legendary 2.4km open-water race back to the Old Port. And don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the pros, more sedate swimmers even have the option to use snorkel and flippers!

Mixing professional swimmers with keen amateurs, the organizers of the Santorini Experience are keen to stress that is an event for anyone and everyone who enjoys running, walking and swimming.

In 2016 the Santorini Experience attracted worldwide attention when global TV network FOX Sports broadcast the event to more than 40 million viewers. A host of awards for the event followed including gold awards for Best Sporting Event Production at the Ermis Awards in Greece. The Santorini Experience was named Unique Tour Company of the Year at this year’s Travel & Hospitality Awards.

One of the event’s biggest fans is Greek national swimming team member George Arniakos, who took part in 2018. “I’ve swam open-water all over the world, but nothing beats the energy of Santorini’s caldera,” says Arniakos. “The wind is so strong, you can smell the sulphur, and the image of the giant rock wall of the island approaching is just incredible”.

Register here for the Santorini Experience

Being an Official Sponsor of “Santorini Experience”, Santo Maris invites you to an exclusive Sunset Poolside Pilates Session under the guidance of the recognized instructor, Mandy Persaki. If you wish to take part at this exclusive wellness experience, reserve in advance and relish in moments of tranquility awakening your body while the sun is setting to the velvet Aegean Sea.

PILATES GUIDE: Mandy Persaki
DATE: Friday, 4th of October | 18:00 p.m. to 19:00p.m.
DRESS CODE: Fitness clothing
EQUIPMENT: Mats will be provided

Space is limited, so please make your reservation in advance at events@santomaris.gr or at +30 28975 02151

Photo Tours: An Alternative Way to Explore Santorini

Is there a better way to discover this amazing crescent-shaped isle than to explore it looking through the camera’s lens? Santorini, or Thíra since ancient times, is actually a small group of islands including Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, and Palea and Nea Kaméni. Dazzling for their sunset vistas and traditional Cycladic white houses, blue-domed churches, and hilltop windmills, the island group is one of the most photographed places on Earth.

From picturesque Fira, the capital of Santorini, to the stunning volcanic beaches at the base of the island, this place is a photographer’s dream come true. Take Fira, along with Oia perched high up on the rim of the famous volcanic caldera. The uniqueness of the geography where mountain and sea meet is simply breathtaking. Professionals and amateurs flock to Imerovígli and Firostefáni, also located high above on the cliffs that make up the so-called “Caldera’s eyebrow,” which is, in fact, the balcony of Santorini.
Some companies offering photo tours of Santorini are creative enough to combine two or three activities to make the experience truly remarkable. For instance, wine tasting and photography tours – the two make sense because the vineyards of the island have unique character considering the history and background, the architecture, the way grapes are cultivated etc.

The seaside is another treasure of the island. The deep blue waters, the red, and black volcanic sand beaches, the amazing rock formations, and the moonscapes are other-worldly. You can book a photo-tour to volcanic Milos, to capture the sun playing off the arches around the central caldera or the surrealistic rock formations that islet is known for. Or perhaps, a digital magazine of photos of picturesque villages is what you seek? Milos, Santorini, and the other islands are a perfect choice for this, and for its geology, hot springs, and wild goats even.

Photo tours of Santorini also help visitors experiencing this beautiful island. Surveying the landscapes, getting to know the customs and the environment, being part of the cultural fabric of the place, these and more aspect are good reasons to integrate photo tours into your agenda. Santorini is a creative paradise and a cultural and learning one as well.

You can take part in every conceivable photography tour here on Santorini. There are boat tours, underwater photographic tours, night sky photo escapades, romantic sunset photo sessions, walking photo tours, and tours where you get your own personal, professional photographer.

Santorini is so beautiful that even amateur images captured with a smartphone camera can look like something out of a magazine.

Cover photo: by Kyler Boone on Unsplash

Summer nights – See the Stars under the stars

Here in Santorini, at least one visit to Open Air Cinema Kamari is a must for any movie lover. The cinema has been open since the late 1980s offering visitors and locals the quintessential Greek summer experience – sitting in comfort on a balmy evening, sipping one’s favourite drink – with one or two nibbles and be engrossed in a great movie.

It’s an experience not to be missed. With its state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment, the latest ‘A’ class movies, and one of the most picture-perfect auditoriums to be found in the Mediterranean, it’s a movie goer’s dream. Housed beautiful garden flanked by eucalyptus and palm trees, bathed in discrete lighting, and with every respect given to the architecture of Santorini, this is a pleasant place to be.

Photo: santorinicinema.com

At the center of Santorini’s artistic life, the cinema is also home to some of the island’s most exciting cultural events including live music concerts and theatre performances, while this venue hosts local artists’ exhibitions. In recent years the cinema has won numerous accolades in the international media, including being described by the US TV network CNN as one of the 10 best open cinemas in the world!

USEFUL INFORMATION:

Open Air Cinema Kamari is at the entrance to Kamari town on the main road to Fira. A bus stop is just across from the entrance. It is open from May until October, and the ticket costs 8€. Cinephiles head here of course for the movies, but Kamari’s almost as famous for its amazing cocktail bar. Strawberry Daiquiris and Mojitos are house specialties. There’s also a great range of beers and wines, soft drinks, ice cream and snacks. Movies are shown in their English language version with Greek subtitles. Doors open 20.30 and the movie starts 21.30.

Just some of the great movies being shown this summer include (in June) the Oscar-winning Green Book, Stan and Ollie, eMamma Mia, and its sequel Mamma Mia: Here we go again along with The Hustle and Men in Black: International. As the nights get even warmer, Avengers: Endgame kicks off July. See the full program and dates.

The Lost Atlantis Experience

The Lost Atlantis Experience – an exciting state-of-the-art digital interactive experience exploring the myth of Atlantis – is a new and stunning addition to Santorini’s visitor attractions.

For thousands of years the story of the lost city of Atlantis, written by ancient Greece’s most famous philosopher Plato, has gripped the world. Capturing the imagination of millions, the tale of how an ancient island city, (believed by some to be Santorini), was created and then destroyed, is one of the great legends.

The founders of Atlantis were said to be half god, half man, a race who created a rich and powerful civilisation, but the city at the heart of the myth would be destroyed in a cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami – which, as the legend goes – was punishment by the gods for greed and immorality.

Now the story of Atlantis is being presented in a truly extraordinary way in Santorini itself, and it makes a stunning excursion for all the family. Using the latest interactive technology, visitors to the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum can experience everyday life in the mythical city through virtual ‘windows in time’, discover how the Minoan civilisation may well be at the heart of the Atlantis story, and even relive the earthquake, volcanic eruption and tsunami that caused the destruction of the city, using the latest ‘9D’ virtual reality.

Through its high-tech wonders the Experience allows visitors to explore Plato’s life journey through an interactive fresco, and engage with the famous philosopher, to find out more about the legendary city, and the theories surrounding its existence. This is history exploration with the accent on fun.

Having only opened its doors in May 2019, already the Lost Atlantis Experience has already received acclaim, with early visitors expressing their delight at this new and pioneering addition to Santorini’s attractions.

USEFUL INFORMATION:
The Lost Atlantis Experience is open daily, 09:00 – 21:00. 12€ adults, 6€ children (7-12). Children under 6 admitted free.

Please ask our Guest Experience Specialist in the reception of Santo Maris Oia for details about the best way to arrange your visit.

The Lost Atlantis Experience

2286 085076
Megalochori 84700

Horse Riding in Santorini: Experience Sunsets on Horseback

Imagine a stunning sunset over iconic Santorini’s cliffs. Now imagine one of the most unforgettable experiences in the world from horseback. It’s possible to make even the most memorable moments even more momentous with a horseback tour along the rim, winding down through narrow village streets, exploring the heart of Thira.

Booking a horse riding tour of Santorini is definitely a unique experience to be remembered. For travelers who thrive on journeys beyond the beaten path, the horseback adventures on Santorini are a real differentiator. Local companies offer custom tours on thoroughbreds through the meandering streets of the traditional village of Megalochori, in the cliffs and in the unique landscape of Vlychada. Although the most common horseback riding adventures on Santorini are along a beach (Vlychada), equestrians can choose to gallop along through awe-inspiring gorges or picturesque vineyards, and even to the archaeological site of Akrotiri, among other interesting destinations.

On horseback, visitors get a different viewpoint as they explore the spectacular villages, vineyards, hidden beaches, and as they ride along the caldera while watching the sunset. There are even combo-tours for riding and wine tasting, not to mention custom excursions for either new or experienced riders.

While some might think Santorini via horseback a novel or unrealistic excursion, it’s important to remember the horse in all Greek tradition. Remember Bucephalus, the legendary warhorse of Alexander the Great, as you ride the old dirt roads of Oia or explore the hidden ravines down toward the waiting volcanic beaches. You can also enjoy private horse rides with a romantic dinner along the way. You can even get married on horseback if you envision your Santorini visit as a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ask our guest experience specialists when you stay at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa to recommend you the riding tour that best decribes your preferenceces and organise it for your and your loved ones.

We urge you to avoid riding donkeys, as the animals are now under governmental protection.

Island Hopping: What Nearby Islands to Visit from Santorini

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.

Crete

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.

Mykonos

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.

Naxos

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.

Paros

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.

10 Things to Do in Oia, Santorini

A delicious combination of volcanic cliffs, bright bougainvillea in bloom, and sparkling white clifftop cave-style houses with blue rooftops, against the turquoise of the Mediterranean, Oia is the very symbol of Santorini, and the most photographed destination on the island. But there’s more to this village than meets the eye in travel brochures and postcards. It’s a special place, with mystic charm, favored by people from all over the world, who come here to take in the breathtaking views over the Caldera. It’s heavily touristic, and yet, paradoxically, an oasis of peace, the perfect spot on earth to come and recharge your batteries. Here are the things we think you should do during your stay, to make your experience truly memorable:

1. See the Famous Sunset

Our own hotel, the Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, offers a perfect location for watching the sunset: right next to the famous cliffs of the Sunset Seranade point. So you can take in the spectacular colors and the breeze without leaving our premises, secluded from the tourist crowds. Many tourists prefer the vantage point at the Castle of Oia to see the sunset.

santo_maris_oia_sunset

2. Take a Donkey Ride from Ammoudie Bay to Oia

Donkey rides are the favored transportation means for the locals, and they are becoming increasingly popular among tourists too, despite concerns by animal welfare organizations that the trips could exhaust the animals, and that some owners are mishandling them. It’s hard to make a fair assessment whether an animal is mishandled by its owner or not, so if you have a problem with this, you can always hike. It’s good to stay in shape.

oia mules
Donkey rides in Oia By User: Bgabel at wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 3.0

3. Hike from Oia to Fira

It may not be as spectacular as Oia, but Fira has its special charm too – and it is also the capital of the island. The path is not marked, but it is pretty obvious: just follow the edge of the caldera and walk south. It may take you up to five hours to reach Fira if you don’t rush your pace, so leave early if you don’t want to spend the night there. The views along the way are glorious, so don’t forget your camera.

Fira

4. Explore Oia’s Stairways and Hidden Paths

Oia is never boring: just explore its pathways to discover something rewarding every time, including see-for-miles viewpoints with out-of-this-world vistas.

oia walks

5. Take a Sailing Tour Across the Caldera

There are several boats and catamarans offering tours on the caldera from the Ammoudi Bay. It’s a romantic experience if you visit Oia as a couple, but it can also be a fun experience when you are joined by cheerful friends. You will see Santorini’s finest: the volcano, the hot springs, the lighthouse, the Indian Rock, the beaches, Mesa Pigadia, and much more. The sunset cruises with dinner offered by Santorini Sailing are the most popular.

sunset santorini

6. Go for a Swim in the Ammoudi Bay

This is one of the most famous spots for swimming in Santorini, mainly favored by adrenaline junkies, who like to take a plunge from the massive boulder in the waters of the Ammoudi Bay.

Ammoudi
Ammoudi Bay By Klearchos Kapoutsis from Santorini, Greece (Ammoudi) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Go Shopping for Local Crafts

It would be a pity to leave Oia without a souvenir, and while many shops cater to the general crowds, offering overpriced trinkets, there are also many stores selling gorgeous pottery, and local crafts. Explore Oia enough to find them.

Tourists in Oia

8. Visit Oia’s Charming Churches

For a few moments of hard-earned downtime, step inside one of Oia’s beautiful little churches. They are peaceful most of the times, except for when a traditional “panigyri” (village party) is organized, with food and drinks, and welcoming smiles for foreigners who want to join. But even if you don’t catch a “panigyri”, go to admire outstanding, valuable iconography and other objects of Greek Orthodox religious art.

church oia

9. Sunbathe at Baxedes Beach

Baxedes is a quiet black pebbly beach, just 3 km away from Oia. It is peaceful and less touristy than others, and close to other, more popular beaches, like Paradise or Cape Columbo. This is the beach to experience what Oia used to be before the tourist invasion.

Baxedes beach - Santorini, Photo by: Feel Greece
Baxedes beach – Santorini, Photo by: Feel Greece

10. Enjoy Local Wines

What would your stay in Oia be without the delicate taste of local wines? You can always book a wine tasting tour, or visit Domaine Sigalas on Oia’s Baxedes plain for wine tastings with views of Santorini’s amazing sunsets.

Domaine Sigalas