Are you traveling to Santorini? We present you these 7 beautiful and unique villages of the island to visit and explore. Let’s begin our journey from Oia, which is the gem of the island and where Esperas Hotel is located. We will go through Fira, Pyrgos, Akrotiri, Messaria, Emporio and our last stop will be Megalochori.
Oia is the most popular village in Santorini. The best caldera and sunset views are here. Those magnetic views and its placement on the top of a cliff is what makes it distinct and extraordinary. Following the 1956 earthquake Oia, struggled with the restoration of establishments and houses but the outcome compensated the efforts. It is one of the most stunning Cycladic Villages (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/greece/oia/introduction). It can be quite crowded as most visitors come to Oia to enjoy the world-renowned sunset. But if you are staying at Esperas Hotel you have a first-hand peaceful experience, of what it looks like to gaze at the most colorful sunset. The caldera makes it even more magical, as in the ocean floor part of Santorini lays underneath layers of lava. The cobblestone streets of Oia have plenty of small shops, taverns and restaurants. Below Oia, is the small Ammoudi, a small port with spectacular taverns that serve fresh fish. In Oia you can also visit the Maritime Museum where you can see and learn the naval history of the island.
This is the capital of Santorini. Fira is the commercial and cultural center of the island. The views to caldera and the sunset are also great here. The main attractions of the capital are the museums, the galleries, the bars, the restaurants, and shops. If you want to get a feel of what the center of a Cycladic island is, you must visit Fira. It sort of brings out the urban vibe in an island setting, with amazing views. The town is vibrant and has a lot to offer. Visit the Archaelogical Museum and the Megaron Gyzi Museumto understand what Santorini looked liked in the past. Fira too, suffered greatly from the 1956 earthquake.However, a lot of 18th-century houses were saved and blend perfectly with the restored environment. You can also visit the blue dome churches and the Catholic Cathedral, which are of exemplary beauty.
Pyrgos is a village located at the highest point of Santorini. The view is panoramic and you can see all the way to Oia, even though it is half an hour drive from Pyrgos. If you want to see all of Santorini in one glimpse, then this is the place to visit. It is a picturesque village with one of the five castles of the island. The ruins of Kasteli Castle, are on the hilltop of the village and it is worth visiting it. Pyrgos is a small traditional village with only a few shops, some taverns, cafes and restaurants. Visit the Prophitis Elias monastery, built in 1711 with great historical and commercial value for the island.
The village of Akrotiri is a very quite place with not much to see. It is a typical not very touristic village, where people live and work as farmers or craftsmen. The taverns are only a few and there are hardly any shops. The importance of Akrotiri though is in the prehistoric settlement before entering the contemporary village.
This settlement is considered to be one of the greatest and most important of the Aegean. It was wealthy with magnificent infrastructure for its time and had a strong social and economic power. Akrotiri was considered to be a big port of the time and communicated with various other cities. The development of Akrotiri ended violently by the great volcanic eruption, at the end of the 17th century BC. The disaster was tremendous. Half the island sunk and the settlement was covered with volcanic dust and other materials. However, it was those volcanic extracts that preserved ancient Akrotiri in such a good condition, to be excavated and found first by the French geologist F. Fouque in 1867. The major revelations came later in time in 1967, when Spyridon Marinatos started a large scale and revealed the true extent of this settlement.
This is the largest village of Santorini and perhaps it would explain its name, as Emporio in Greek means trade. As the largest village, it gained the privilege of being the trade center of the island a few centuries ago. Here are several bars, cafes and taverns where you can enjoy tasty dishes with some quality local wine. In Emporio is another Kasteli (castle) and ruins of a square tower called Goulas. On the hillside one can see a string of old windmills and at the village entrance one encounters the really small but impressive, Agios Nicholaos Marmaritis church (https://www.santorini.com/churches/agios_nikolaos.htm).
Messaria village is situated in the middle of Santorini. Everyone and everything goes through Messaria. This is a place of vineyards and most of the locals are in the winemaking business. If you visit this village it is worth going through the streets to look and photograph some of the most beautiful mansions and buildings. They have been restored or preserved after the big 1956 earthquake. One of these is the Argyros Mansion Museum, which belonged to the wine merchandiser George Argyros and was built in 1860. It was deserted after the earthquake, but the Greek Ministry of Culture, restored it transforming it into a museum everyone can visit. It is now owned by Manolis Argyros.
The pristine beauty of Megalochori will amaze you. It is a small and very traditional place, where you can feel the local way of life.This village is surrounded by vineyards and wineries with the most popular being The Boutari Winery, the Gavalas Winery and the Venetsanos Winery. The churches here are magnificent and it is worth visiting the cave church Panagia Plaka.
Travel to Santorini and explore the island and all its glory with Esperas Hotel and Oia as your starting point, and your “pit-stop” from one village to another. Enjoy the uniqueness of Santorini.