The title “one of the most beautiful islands in the world” is by any measure an enviable title to hold. As subjective as the notion of beauty may be, when you find yourself on the volcanic Greek island of Santorini gazing at the endless blue horizon as ocean and sky become one, you will unequivocally feel you are in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Perhaps the feeling stems from the picture-perfect views, the island’s unique architecture with its pure white-washed structures adorned interspersed with aqua blue domes or the gentle breezes that carry the fragrant scent of blossoming basil and thyme that invigorate the senses and soothe the soul.
Located in the southern Aegean Sea, less than two hundred miles from the mainland of Greece (a thirty-minute flight from Athens), Santorini is part of an island cluster known as the Cyclades. As legend has it, during his travels, Euphemus, son of Poseidon, was given a handful of dirt, which he carried next to his heart. One night he dreamed the dirt turned into a beautiful woman who told him that when he threw the dirt into the sea, it would grow into an island for his descendants to live on. With abundant mythological references including those that link the island to Atlantis and a rich history with influences from the Minoan civilization, Santorini, otherwise known as Thira, lends itself to exploring and discovering.
The people are friendly and their hospitality is genuine. The food is sumptuous and the locally produced wines rival some of Europe’s best. The nightlife is vibrant and infused with local and international flavors. The shopping is tantalizing. A wide selection of luxury hotels that offer world class accommodations and five-star treatment as well as award-winning spa and wellness centers comprise an infrastructure that affords Santorini its multi-dimensional attributes and enables it to host an intimate destination wedding for two or an elaborate celebration for two hundred. The optimum time to plan such a gathering is between April and October.
Some of Santorini’s top choice venues include the Aressana Spa Hotel and Suites and the El Greco Resort in the town of Fira. In Oia, the most northern part of the island, you will find Mystique, A Luxury Collection Hotel. On the northwest side lies the town of Imerovigli, where you will find Grace Santorini, whereas in the town of Megalochori, there is Vedema Resort. The Katikies Hotels group features a unique collection of five properties that including Katikies The Hotel, Kirini Suites & Spa and Villa Katikies all located in Oia, while Sun Rocks is located in the town of Firostefani and Chromata Up Style Hotel in the town of Imerovigli.
Couples and their guests can choose from an array of activities both on and off the island. Picturesque, winding, narrow cobblestone streets make for enjoyable leisurely strolls through many of the island’s towns and villages lined with shops, cafes, restaurants and churches. Popular towns include Oia, Fira, Pyrgos, Perissa and Megalochori. A notable archeological site resides in Akrotiri while guests are sure to enjoy the beaches of Kamari and Monolithos. A visit to the local wineries for tours and wine tasting is always a popular favorite.
Sailboat tours make for a memorable group experience whether visiting the nearby quaint island of Therasia or the smaller uninhabited volcanic remnants of Nea Kameni and the hot springs in Palia Kameni. Exploring the island’s surrounding waters by boat offers unparalleled views of the dramatic multi-colored cliffs that span one thousand feet upward from sea level as well as the best vantage point for magical sunsets.
Witness a sunset or a full moon in Santorini and you will carry a magical feeling with you forever.