Explore the ancient origins of Santorini
Akrotiri was one of the most powerful settlements in the Aegean before it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption around 3600 years ago. When Akrotiri was unearthed in 1967, the frescoed buildings and their contents were amazingly well preserved under volcanic ash, just like at Pompeii. Licensed tour guide Kostas Sakavaras brings this dramatic history to life (with the assistance of an iPad and anecdotes about the everyday life of the Minoans). Half-day private tours of Akrotiri also include a visit to ancient Thira, a stunning site at the summit of a sheer mountain looming above Kamari Beach.
Swim in search of Atlantis
Where better to go scuba diving than Santorini, the likely inspiration for Plato’s lost kingdom of Atlantis? Divemaster Apostolos Stylianopoulos (who is working with Pierre-Yves Cousteau and other conservationists to establish a Marine Protected Area around Santorini) takes a sensitive approach to his underwater explorations of reefs, wrecks, sea caves, and volcanic rock formations. Dives are suitable for all levels; book through Atlantis Oia dive centre.
Taste the finest wines
Vineyards are dotted around Santorini, the grapes pinned close to the porous earth by wreaths of vine branches. The waterless terroir produces some of the most exceptional wines in Greece — and beyond. Kyanos Wines recently won Decanter’s ‘Best in Show’ for their first Assyrtiko, the island’s most distinctive white grape variety. Most wineries offer tours and tastings.
Explore the inland villages
While everyone is oohing and aahing over the views from the cliffside terraces, suites, and restaurants, life goes quietly on in Santorini’s inland villages. Wander up to the pinnacle of Pyrgos, a tumble of whitewashed lanes clustered around a 16th-century castle, with views across the island. Get lost in the fortified Byzantine citadel of Emporio and light a candle in one of the island’s oldest churches, Palia Panagia. Stop for home-style meze at the traditional kafenio in Megalochori, and stock up on ceramics from Earth and Water, the workshop of renowned potters, Andreas Makaris and Kristi Kapetanaki.
Boutique in Oia is the place for breezy summer staples in linen and Greek cotton. They also stock We Wear Young, Maria Sklavounou’s timeless leather and suede clutches, totes, and bucket bags in rainbow hues. For a more unusual memento, pick up one of the traditional musical instruments designed by Yannis Pantazis at Symposion, a workshop/performance space, or “mythological botanical garden”, in Megalochori village. Pantazis also runs workshops where you can learn to make your own ancient Greek pan pipe. For edible souvenirs (and fun cooking classes) head to Faros, an organic farm shop near the lighthouse.
Go off-piste in Oia
Cascading down the cliff, Oia is undeniably the most spectacular village on Santorini. But it’s also a hot mess of coach parties and selfie sticks at sunset. While everyone else is crowded around the windmills, head into the back alleys to explore in peace. Housed in a superbly restored 19th-century mansion, the Maritime Museum contains all sorts of fascinating nautical memorabilia, art, and model ships.
Swim in search of Atlantis
Where better to go scuba diving than Santorini, the likely inspiration for Plato’s lost kingdom of Atlantis? Divemaster Apostolos Stylianopoulos (who is working with Pierre-Yves Cousteau and other conservationists to establish a Marine Protected Area around Santorini) takes a sensitive approach to his underwater explorations of reefs, wrecks, sea caves, and volcanic rock formations.