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Santorini: The Luxury of Experience & Emotions

Santorini, ©Maria Theofanopoulou

Santorini island, Greece

by Maria Paravantes

If there is one Greek island that everyone dreams of having the luxury to visit, then that definitely is Santorini.

Located in the middle of an archipelago of islets created by an ancient volcanic eruption, Santorini attracts thousands of travelers all year round who seek not only to experience Greek hospitality at its best, but also to catch a view of one of the most Instagrammed sunsets in the world.

This Greek island may be tiny, a mere 73km2 all in all, but it has managed to win over the most eclectic travelers boasting some of the world’s finest hotels located in traditional white-washed villages suspended over a lagoon offering among others spectacular vistas of the still-active volcano, the deep Aegean blue, and of course, Santorini’s world-renowned sunset.

Getting to Santorini is easy. Just board a plane at Athens International Airport, and in 45 minutes you will be touching down on the island of your dreams. You can also take a direct flight from a number of world destinations and fly nonstop to paradise. You can alternatively hop on the ferry or High Speed from the port of Piraeus too and reach the island some 8 or 9 hours later.

Santorini: Where Luxury is the Way

In the last decade or so, Santorini has evolved into one of the world’s leading destinations for the eclectic traveler.

It is on this island that some of the world’s finest hotels are located offering not only exceptional service and Greece’s famous hospitality but also immersive experiences that make travelers feel both pampered and stimulated.

It’s not by chance that every year, Santorini’s 5-star hotels win prestigious awards for their services, their architecture and design, their cuisine and gastronomic offerings, their wine lists, and of course, their panoramas.

It’s also not by chance that 10 out 41 Greek hotels under the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) brand are on Santorini.

Speaking to the GTP Headlines a few years back, when he was SLH CEO, Filip Boyen now the current Chief Executive Officer at Forbes Travel Guide, explained it perfectly: “I think Greece is still excellent value for money. Number 1 because I love the country… It’s not only the weather, it’s people, it’s food, it’s history and culture. So you have all the ingredients to be a luxury destination.”

Indeed, Santorini too has only the best “ingredients” to make it a top global luxury destination and being endorsed by SLH is proof enough. Just so you get an idea, Santorini hotels have vied and won awards in the Condé Nast Traveler (CNT) Readers’ Choice Awards, World Luxury Hotel Awards, Travel + Leisure’s (T+L) World’s Best Awards, and the World Travel Awards, to name only a few, not to mention prizes for architecture and design and everything from its endless infinity pools to its gastronomy.

Luxury Stay Recommendations in Fira

Mythical Blue Santorini
Luxury Suites

Live the mythical experience of Santorini in luxury.



Santorini Caldera view from balcony of Kastro Suites Hotel
Kastro Suites
Luxury Suites

At the gates of Heaven Santorini, we are waiting for you in a warm, familiar environment.


Athina Luxury Suites
Luxury Suites

Perched on the cliffs of the caldera, this boutique hotel puts you in the most sought-after location in Fira.


Getting the Santorini Experience

Fira, Santorini. Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

Fira, Santorini. Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

So you’ve made it to the celebrated Greek island, you’ve unpacked your bags, changed into something more comfortable and are ready to see for yourself what all the hype is about. Where do you start? What can you do on Santorini?

Yachting

Blessed to be located in the heart of the Aegean Sea, Santorini and the smaller islets in the caldera, as well as the nearby Cyclades islands are ideal for a day or two on a yacht. Whether it’s the luxury yacht you’re keen on or the adventurous sailboat or catamaran, there are dozens of companies renting boats of all shapes and sizes, complete with captain and crew. There are even day tours offered for those who just want to relax with a glass of Santorini wine in hand.

Yachting in Santorini Recommendations

Volcano yachting
Yacht cruises

Live the ultimate Santorini sailing experience and enjoy exquisite moments of pleasure.



Caldera yachting
Yacht charters & cruises

Caldera Yachting will welcome you on board and promise a real experience!



Tasting

Santorini may be small to the eye as are its famed vegetables – namely its cherry tomato, white eggplant, fava beans and capers, all Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products – but is world-renowned for its fine cuisine and quality wines. A must while on Santorini is eating at one of its outstanding restaurants featuring culinary creations by innovative award-winning chefs.

Sampling Wines

Is there any better way to enjoy the breath-taking Santorini sunset if not with a glass of one of its locally produced wines? Known for its amber-colored Vin Santo sweet wine produced since antiquity, Santorini has evolved into one of the country’s top wine producers thanks to its unique white grape varieties. Add to that the experience it gained being the first destination in Greece to offer wine tasting as part of the overall traveler experience. There is even a museum dedicated to wine: the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum located in a cave near Messaria which offers audio guide tours in 14 languages.

Learning How to Cook

It would be a pity to leave Greece and not know how to at least cook one Greek meal. Santorini was among the first destinations in Greece to incorporate private and group cooking lessons in its offerings. Together with the wine tasting and eating, Santorini’s cooking classes using local ingredients overlooking the caldera are among its most sought-after experiences. Meanwhile, located in Pyrgos, the multi-awarded restaurant Selene offers foodies the chance to learn more about the island’s culinary traditions with tours of the Folklore Museum, theme cooking courses, and tastings of all sorts.

Enjoying the World’s Most Famous Sunset

That magic moment in the day promises even more magic when you are there on Santorini looking straight into the caldera. There is even a long-standing challenge as to whether Oia, Imerovigli, or Fira – the island’s two main villages – offer the grandest views to the dipping sun. Grab a seat at one of the numerous trendy cafes, bars, or high-end restaurants, or better yet lay back in the comfort of your luxury room, order some Santorini wine, and let the show begin.

Visiting the ‘Volcano’ or Pick a Beach

View to Nea Kameni pier. Photo © GTP

Photo © GTP

It’s always fun to visit a volcano, let alone one that is actually still active. Daily tours departing from ports of Athinios and Gialos are available to the volcanic islands of Nea and Palea Kameni opposite Fira in the middle of the caldera with knowledgeable guides that can explain everything you ever wanted to know about volcanos

If volcanic eruptions are not your thing, then choose a beach and chill out. Unlike the rest of Greece, Santorini beaches are small and unique due to their peculiar sand – a result of volcanic activity. Make sure to visit the Red Beach with course red sand, the popular black sand Perissa, and the “White Beach” with black pebbles but impressive white cliffs. For the traditional variety of brown sand go to Monolithos and Ammoudi and for isolation (and wind) Cape Columbo.

Getting to Know Santorini and its History

Besides visiting both Fira and Oia on the northern side of the island, you should also explore the island’s other settlements and discover everything from tiny art galleries and local wineries to famous ancient site of Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.

It goes without saying that travel lovers, newlyweds, teens, the bold and the beautiful, and the dreamers not to mention the romantics all want that 15-minute chance to watch the sun fade into the sea with the gripping caldera as a backdrop. But there is still so much more to discover on this Greek island, it’s just a matter of making it happen: Now.

 

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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