Blue Domed Churches of Santorini
Oia Cliff Views
Steep Volcanic Cliffs
Photos cannot match the jaw-dropping views as you cruise into the harbor of the caldera, the island's volcanic crater, and look up at the steep rocky cliffs speckled with whitewashed bulidings accented in bright blue trim perched along the edge. Upon docking at the harbor, if you're renting a car, the zig-zagging drive up the steep cliffs and around the hairpin turns is an exciting start to a vacation here.
Our destination was the town of Imerovigli, the highest point on the island, very peaceful and away from the crowds, and perfectly situated between the capital city of Fira and the picturesque town of Oia (ee-ah). We considered staying on the beach side of the island where hotel rates were more reasonable, but why stay there when the caldera views are what it's all about in Santorini.
Magnificent Views in Imerovigli
We stayed at the elegant Iliovasilema Suites, built right into the cliffs, like most of the hotels on the caldera side. When arriving at the hotel, all you see is the parking lot, a sign with the hotel's name on it, a single small gate and nothing but blue sky beyond. Enter through the gate and you are looking down at the office, the terraced levels of suites, and the pool, all carved out of the rocky hillside. The steepness is dizzying at first but after a moment or so you become adjusted to it. The rooms are cave-like but luxurious, clean, modern and comfortable. In some rooms the beds are built right into the rock wall. A breakfast of warm chocolate croissants are delivered to your porch every morning where you can enjoy these gooey delights while gazing at the dramatic scenery. There is a rooftop outdoor bar/lounge area with comfortable wicker furniture where you can relax with a drink as you marvel at the view. Iliovasilema is Greek for "sunset", and the sunsets here are legendary.
Iliovasilema Suites In Imerovigli Santorini
Sunset Over The Caldera From Iliovasilema
Our suite overlooked Skaros Rock, a rocky conical peninsula that forms into a huge rock. We ventured out to hike it one day. Even though it was hot and tiring, it was well worth it for the views. There's a little church on the way, Agios Georgious, where you can stop and relax on its veranda before or after your hike. You will also find another small chapel along the way that is perfect for photos - Agios Ioannis. A refreshing dip in the hotel's pool was a welcome relief after the hike.
Rooftop Lounge at Iliovasilema
Walking along the rim's paths is the best way to see the sights of Santorini. We walked down to Fira on the winding cliffside pathway along the edge of the caldera. It's about a half hour walk, which becomes a 2 hour walk because around every corner, there's a photo moment - terracotta pots of brightly colored flowers, vivid pink bougainvilla draping over archways, boutique hotels, little cafes and restaurants.
Colorful Streets Of Oia
Wine-tasting is a popular activity on the island as Santorini has some notable vineyards that produce a dessert wine known as Vinsanto. They also have a fine crisp dry white wine made from their assyrtiko white grape that is indigenous to the island. Most of the vineyards are located on the interior of the island. SantoWines winery, located in the village of Pyrgos, is located on the caldera and is one of the most popular, offering several types of tours with tastings as well as mini food platters.
Be sure to check out the beach side of the island as its landscape is quite different from the caldera side. There are white, black and red sand beaches. Kamari and Perissa are the most popular volcanic black sand beaches on that side of the island. Lots of watersport activities are available along these beaches, as well as numerous taverns and cafes from which to choose for a relaxing meal on the beach.
Black Sand Beach Bar
And then there's the town of Oia, the crown jewel of Santorini, the world famous village that is the subject of so many photos of Santorini, and yes, it is as beautiful as the pictures show. This is the best place for viewing the sunset and the place to stroll along paths that meander through the village where at every turn there is a photo-worthy moment.
Looking Back At Oia
There is simply no place like Santorini, a place you have to see to believe it. There is no exaggerating the magnificence of this magical Greek island. Start dreaming of a someday trip to Santorini, and before you know it you'll be on your way.
Aegean Thesaurus helped us plan our trip here. They are located on the island of Sifnos so they were extremely knowledgeable about the islands, and all of Greece, and provided lots of information to help us decide where to stay, what to do and how to get here.
Enjoy the full gallery of our Santorini images in our Santorini Photo Tour slideshow.
This tempting collection of jaw-dropping hotels in Santorini might have you looking at your calendar to plan a trip here sooner rather than later.
Dimid's comments: This video was filmed in Santorini islands, Greece with my collegue Zweizwei in april 2014. Its Belarussian-Korean co-working project with AVA Entertainment.
Sony F-55 camera with Sachtler-20 tripod
Canon 5D mark3