People typically think of Santorini when they think of photos of houses with blue domes and crystal-blue waters. The island is well-known for its iconic churches in the main town of Fira, as well as the quaint village of Oia.
When a cruise ship or two docked in the bay, Oia and Fira become extremely popular tourist destinations. Their popularity isn’t surprising since both locations are beautiful towns with lots of visitors. There are other villages not listed on most maps of Santorini. Some people choose to explore the area without mainstream tourist routes by traveling to the interior villages.
Exploring some of the overlooked attractions and towns on Santorini can help you get away from the crowds in Fira and Oia. It doesn’t even have to be for a long time; any amount of time will help.
Megalochori is a picturesque village on the Greek island of Santorini that dates back to the 17th century. Several vineyards and traditional homes can be found in Century; it’s also the home of many pirate hideouts and historical mansions. The village is host to many wealthy land barons and producers of Vinsanto, a popular sweet wine still produced today.
This village was founded by pirates on the edge of a lagoon. Now, walls with heavy wooden doors stand guard from pirates that might invade the area. Old buildings have been restored and are in use again, including some mansions that surround the lagoon. Several wealthy landowners built private chapels in their yards. There are many churches in the village— from large to small — that started out as private chapels. One of the most prominent features of the town center is a square that contains restaurants, taverns and shade trees. This is where people gather to play cards or backgammon, watch the children play tag or snowballs and enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
Walking around the square offers a chance to discover new surprises in every direction. The narrow streets that wind out of it present little challenge for even the most experienced walker. Getting to Megalochori is easy; taxis wait at the taxi station near Fira, or any other town on the route. You can rent a mansion or villa if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. Alternatively, you can stay in the luxurious hotels located near Megalochori bus station. The last census in 2011 showed that Emporio was the largest village in Santorini with 4000 residents.
The Venetian fortress of the Kasteli is one of five medieval castles on Santorini island. It’s one of the island’s most beautiful traditional Venetian villages and a major attraction. The fortress, which was built in the 16th century, has old churches inside that date back to the 15th. Emporio is home to many churches. The Kasteli has recently been restored to its original century-old grandeur. In addition to artist studios and boutiques, visitors will find much of the space converted into new areas. Different styles of buildings can be found in the village. Some have blue domes while others have a different style. There are also public places like restaurants and shops in this location. As you meander through the winding paths of the village, you stumble upon picturesque abodes that draw your attention. Some enterprising young entrepreneurs even set up tables in front of their homes to sell honey made locally.
Mesa Vuono mountain sits at the base of the small seaside town of Perissa. It is a part of the Emporio settlement of Santorini. The Church of the Holy Cross is the largest religious building on Santorini island. It sits in the town square, and visitors can visit the world’s fossils and minerals at the Museum of The Minerals and Fossils of Thera. However, most people visit Perissa because it has a beautiful beach with clear blue water. There’s a small waterpark, organized beachside sunbathing, organized seating options including umbrellas and beachfront restaurants. There’s also a connected Perivolos with nightclubs, taverns and restaurants.
According to historians, the bronze-age Minoan village of Akrotiri was buried under a volcanic ash shroud after the Theran Eruption in 1627 B.C. The small settlement was left untouched since it was buried under ash. There is a 1960s modern village located near the island of Akrotiri. However, it’s difficult to appreciate due to lack of significant historical significance. Nonetheless, from the top of the modern village one can view the caldera of the volcano and the island’s grape fields.
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