ROL Cruise recommends…
1. Friendly Skala: The old port of Skala is the starting point of many an onward journey. Souvenirs, meals and drinks are available from its few shops and restaurants, or you can book a boat tour to explore neighbouring Thirasia, Nea Kameni and the hot springs at Palaia Kameni. The town of Firá looks over Skala, its whitewashed homes clinging to the multi-coloured cliffside above. It can be reached by ascending 600 steep, zigzagging steps, or by cable car, each of which offers lovely views.
2. Scenic Firá: Firá is Santorini’s capital city, a bustling hub perched on the edge of the caldera. Tiers of low-lying apartments, hotels and infinity pools look down on the lagoon, while a labyrinth of narrow streets leads to aromatic restaurants, welcoming bars and local shops. In addition to admiring the truly spectacular views, make your way to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archeological Museum to discover beautiful artefacts from its impressive history.
3. Historic Akrotiri: Between 3000 and 1650 BC, Akrotiri was a thriving Minoan civilisation with piped water systems, elegant frescoes and multi-storey homes. Shortly after, however, this major Aegean Bronze Age port was devastated by one of the world’s most violent volcanic eruptions on record. Take a trip to the south of the island to explore the town’s ancient archeological remains, previously hidden beneath several metres of volcanic ash and pumice.
4. Picturesque Oía: Tiny Oía on the northern tip is a striking example of a typical Cyclades village. Manoeuvre through the crowds to admire postcard-perfect views of barrel-roofed cave houses nestled into the volcanic rock and its iconic blue-domed churches. The vistas are particularly atmospheric at sunset. Climb down the three hundred steps to Ammoudi for a taverna lunch on the water’s edge and views of the blood-red cliffs. The more peaceful villages of Megalochori, Imerovigli and Firostefani are also worth a trip.
5. Mellow beaches: The outer edge of the island slopes gently into the sea, providing popular beaches in various hues. The aptly named Red Beach, Black Beach and White Beach boast sand and pebbles made of solidified lava, the darker shades of which have warmer waters and excellent snorkelling. Water sports can be found at Kamari on the east coast, as well as at Perissa, where there is also a waterpark.