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WHY NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SANTORINI

The late summer of 2020 offers a unique chance to visit Santorini and experience its stunning delights in peacefulness.

Tranquil, serene, and above all safe,; Santorini holds out a special welcome for those wishing to embark on the Aegean journey this year.

The village of Oia, one of the most photographed destinations on earth for its beauty, is on your doorstep at Santo Maris. Fira, the island’s usually bustling capital (a lot calmer this summer), trickles into the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli (the highest point of the caldera edge) and the delightful path that runs through these villages is lined with cafe and restaurant terraces – found in peacefulness this year.

Santorini delights
Beyond serene relaxation by our sun-kissed swimming pools, and sampling Santorini’s fine gastronomy, walking the caldera edge and taking in the breathtaking views is perhaps the most popular pastime for any visitor. A gentle stroll around Fira is spectacular, particularly heading north to Firostefani and Imerovigli along the caldera-edge pathway.

Wine tastings
Santorini is a wine lover’s paradise and most renowned for its crisp dry whites and the amber- coloured dessert wine Vinsanto. Both are made from and indigenous grape variety, Assyrtiko. Many vineyards, some dating back to the 19th century, host tastings and the award-winning Domaine Sigalas in Baxes is the closest to Santo Maris. For more details on the best boutique wineries check out [https://blog.santomaris.gr/2018/01/18/ little-boutique-wineries-santorini/]

Beyond the caldera
There is always more to find in Santorini. The laid-back east coast is less visited than the west, with black sand beaches, sun-beds, water sports, and taverna-lined promenades. Red beach, located near Akrotiri village and just a few steps away from the famous prehistoric site, is one of the most scenic beaches you can find on the Island. Beyond the beach there’s more. The island’s interior is dotted with pretty vineyards and colourful traditional villages like Pyrgos that show a glimpse of an older, simpler Santorini life.

The great outdoors
Few Mediterranean destinations offer such a diversity of activities in such a stunning natural environment as Santorini. On land, hiking and horse riding offer the chance to explore parts of Santorini ‘off the beaten track’, and in the azure and pristine waters of the caldera and beyond, enthusiasts of diving, windsurfing and sailing will be richly rewarded. Find out more [https:// blog.santomaris.gr/2020/05/28/santorini-postcard-escape-nature/]

Tours
Santorini has a huge variety of tours available including winery visits, archaeology tours, sunset- watching and more. One of the most popular options is a cruise of the caldera’s volcanic islands Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni. An exhilarating dip from a boat on a caldera cruise is an unforgettable experience.

From August 2020, Santorini and Santo Maris are ready to welcome you – a sunlit haven of peace and privacy.

Ferries and high-speed catamarans link Santorini with Athens’ port of Piraeus, Crete and the Cycladic islands. Santorini Airport has year-round flight connections with Athens and direct European connections have been reinstated since July 2020.

YOUR SANTORINI POSTCARD: A Sunset to Remember

Watching the otherworldly sunset of Santorini from these five spots

It is said that the Santorini’s postcard sunsets are among the most sought-after spectacles. this magical hour of the day, the sky is painted in a glorious palette of purple, orange and red colors. And we know that nothing spells romance better than gazing at the amber skies over the comfort and privacy of your own suite relaxing at your jacuzzi at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa.

If you wish to enjoy nature’s spectacle around the island, our Guest Experience Specialists are here for you to guide you to the five best spots to watch the mesmerizing sunset in the island.

From the Imerovigli Village

The “balcony of the Aegean”, as it is called, is impossibly beautiful at sunset. It rules at the highest point of the caldera of Santorini and has the stuff of postcard blues, especially when the sun sets into the Aegean Sea. Head to Skaros, one of the five Venetian fortresses of Santorini, once used to be an observation post providing security from pirates. Today, you will admire the remains left after the earthquake of 1817 and, of course, a striking view over the volcano from the top. Here, you will experience a true “wow” moment when you will be here to see the show put up in the sky by the sun.

From the Akrotiri Lighthouse

Travelling to the southern part of the island, the lighthouse of Akrotiri is another romantic spot at sundown. This lighthouse which was erected in 1892 by a French company is one of the oldest in Greece. This landmark is one of the most beautiful you will see in this part of the world. Sunset-watching can’t get better than this.

From the Sea

Let yourself be enchanted by the awe-inspiring landscape and the changing colors of the sunset while at sea. Choose among a wonderful variety of boat excursions and embark on a reviving sailing experience to the Caldera. Usually beginning in the afternoon, sunset cruises may include a few stops along the coast and end with a vantage point view by the volcanic islets. Several cruise options feature on-board dining and promise to be unforgettable.

From the Sunset Serenade point

Many of the stunning sunset pictures of Santorini are captured from this spot, which is full of camera-toting tourists ready to snap a million shots of the celestial spectacle. Albeit crowded, Sunset Serenade is spectacular. As the sun dips into the sea, you get to see the mesmerizing colorful glow of the light on the whitewashed cliff-houses of Oia.

From the Castle of Agios Nikolaos at Oia

At the northwestern coast of the island, lies the most famous spot for sunset viewing. This renown site among visitor is no other than the Venetian castle of Agios Nikolaos. Dating back to the 15th century, it is named after a beautiful church carved in a rock, dedicated to Agios Nikolaos. Today it is one of the most famous spots for its breathtaking sunset views attracting crowds of travelers to cherish the magical vistas.

By our Guest Experience Specialists

A Santorini Guide for First-Time Visitors

Santorini is one of the world’s iconic destinations, a stunning postcard recognized by anyone who ever dreamt of travel. From her multicolored cliffs that rise ominously from the aquamarine depths of the Aegean to the whitewashed buildings huddled on the rim of the cliffs, this is a place of and for daydreams. Dazzling panoramas, legendary sunsets, and unbelievable volcanic-sand beaches lay waiting to dazzle visitors young and old.

Of all the places people put on their “bucket lists,” Santorini leaves upwards of 1.5 million tourists a year stunned by her sheer beauty and allure. This most volatile and enigmatic Cyclades isle is officially called Thera, after the son of Euphemus, who was one of Jason’s Argonauts. Out of the myths of prehistory, garnished by tales from Plato of Atlantis and other epic legends, Santorini does not have any “little history.” Here you’ll find the stuff dreams are made of growing out of the black sands of time.

As legend has it, Thera was a major naval base of the Minoan Empire utterly destroyed when the volcano erupted about 1450 BC. The violent explosion of magma beneath this mystic island emptied the gigantic basin below the island, and caused the collapse of the volcano. The billions of cubic meters of seawater emptied into this blazing abyss unleashed what some believe, was the largest explosion in human history, a blast that delivered 60 meter-high tsunami waves to nearby Crete and Egypt further beyond. What remains of the island many believe was fabled Atlantis, is a caldera (or crater) with towering cliffs along the east side, which is now Santorini’s trademark landscape dotted with settlements along its edge.

First-time visitors to the island will at first be amazed by the dizzying heights and views of the caldera that provoke many to gasp in awe. From the busy capital of Fira, visitors find the 15-minute walk to nearby Firostefani an uplifting experience, and then a further quarter hour’s trek leads to the highest point of Santorini, where Imerovigli village offers unimaginable photo-taking opportunities. It is these three settlements that get most of the attention, along with the iconic Oia – the most photographed village of Thera – to the north.
Farther east, volcanic sand beaches beckon sunbathers, snorkelers, and swimmers where the land levels out onto the sea. The resorts of Kamari and Perissa offer a more traditional appeal, along with water sports, bars, and beautiful promenades. Then there’s Santorini’s spectacular vineyard-lined inland, where travelers can catch a glimpse into the past of the island. At Pyrgos and other villages, the cuisine of Santorini takes on a new life, and the charm of ancient Greece comes to life. Wine tastings at more than a dozen local wineries compliment any hike into the island’s inner sanctum, and any number of wine or archeological tours come highly recommended. A few of Santorini’s highlights for first-time visitors include:

  • See the impressive Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira, which reveals the puzzle pieces of the island’s distant past via the archeology of legendary Akrotiri.
  • Sunsets: Prime sunset-seeing is accomplished best in Oia, where tens of thousands come to admire the sundown on the island.
  • Hike from Fira to Oia: While the walk is challenging under the scorching sun, this is one of those experiences you take home and tell about forever.
  • Swim in the hot springs: Take a boat tour to the base of the caldera and dive into the hot springs in the midst of the sea – this is a fantastic experience.
  • Swimming, as suggested, can best be enjoyed at the black sand beaches in the east.
  • Tours: Any number of companies lead guided archeological, wine and culinary, and sunset photography tours.
  • Akrotiri: The fascinating site of Akrotiri displaying a Minoan city destroyed by the volcanic eruption during the Bronze Age is a must-see.

No matter what else you do while on Santorini, be sure and book at least one tour. They’re simply fun, informative, and the best way to get to know more about the island. Whether you pick a spellbinding helicopter flight over the caldera, or a luxury wine tour, there’s no better way to pack a wealth of information and fun into a first-time visit. For the visitor who likes venturing off-the-beaten-path, the boat trip to uninhabited Thirassia on the western side is a memorable adventure. Oh, and be sure to take a walk to Skaros Rock for an unbelievable view. Finally, no Santorini suggestion guide could be complete without recommending a swim in Ammoudi Bay and a dive off the cliff at Agios Nikolaos.

The best times to visit Santorini are spring and fall – from April to May and September to October. Temperatures during these months are not as elevated as they are from June to the end of August. Offseason, in the winter months – from November until March – most of the hotels, restaurants, and shops, are closed, but the experience is unique and ideally suited for those who are looking to experience the island like a local.
First-time visitors to Santorini may also want to consult this list of frequently asked questions before traveling.

A Romantic Dinner for Two at Alios Ilios

Santorini, Oia at sunset. The suggestion evokes the essence of why couples choose to visit legendary Santorini in the first place. The view over the sea from Oia when the sun goes down is as iconic and timeless as you have imagined it. However, the thousands who gather to take in a glimpse of the celestial spectacle can detract you from the experience. So, for those who want an intimate moment with their partner, can a stroll along the path that connects Fira with Oia is a magic experience.

Santorini visitors who choose Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa for their vacation on this dreamy island will enjoy seclusion, privacy, and gourmet tastes under the panoramic blazing orange and yellow visions of the skies at Alios Ilios – the flagship restaurant of the resort which was recently awarded among the best restaurants in Greece by the Greek Cuisine Awards.

The sun gazing experience at Alios Ilios is punctuated with culinary perfection

Alios Ilios means “the sun setting and rising into the sea” –inspired by the unique sunsets that make Santorini such a sought-after destination and. The sun gazing experience here is punctuated with culinary perfection – especially since the restaurant offers an irresistible dinner for two to seal every twilight.

Couples seeking romance will enjoy the menu by Alios Ilios at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa. The price-set romantic menu includes four dishes from our a la carte menu, accompanied by a bottle of either Assyrtiko or Mavrotragano wine.

Guests are encouraged to book this dinner package via the Santo Maris Oia website, or through our Guest Experience specialists. For those who want to enjoy a dining experience second to none during the sunset in the privacy of their own suite, Alios Ilios offers this exclusive dining opportunity.

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