Being voted one of the world’s most beautiful islands is just one of the accolades heaped on this Greek island. Situated about 120 miles southeast of mainland Greece, Santorini is the largest of a small, circular set of islands that collectively bear the same name. This group of islands, some of which are uninhabited, are all that remains from one large island after one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded. This happened in 1613BC and transformed the landscape to what visitors see now. It destroyed all of the earliest settlements and is thought to be the cause of the collapse of the Minoan civilisation.
Tourism is the biggest part of Santorini’s economy. Close to two million visitors go to the island every year, many of them to watch a sunset that is unlike those seen anywhere else. The sun is said to look like a huge flaming fireball slipping into the sea and this, together with orange skies and white chalk houses, could account for why the island is repeatedly voted as Europe’s most popular destination.
The shops are very different to the ones on the Greek mainland where price is all-important. The financial problems of the rest of the country do not seem to have affected Santorini, and most of the shops are selling designer goods, often from famous Greek designers.
Memories of the devastating earthquake in the 1950’s that caused many people to leave the island are fading, and with the introduction of electricity in 1974, Santorini has become one of the most successful parts of Greece. More recently, tourism is booming, especially with the introduction of luxury villas in Santorini, due to companies such as BlueVillas, who make sure to offer a range of these villas dotted across the island. Due to this, there has been an influx of tourists, having a knock on effect on the local businesses – they’re thriving!
Agriculture also contributes to the island’s economy and there is a small but flourishing wine industry as well. Both industries produce high-quality goods that are exported all over the globe. Legend says that the seeds for the cherry tomatoes the island is famous for were brought to Santorini from the Suez. The local farmers were soon able to get them to adapt to the soil, as they have done with many other vegetables they grow.
There are several traditional Santorini foods that are a ‘must try’ when you visit the island. Of course, you need to wash the food down with a glass or two of the locally made wine.
- Fava is a creamy dish of yellow slip pea puree, usually served warm with olive oil, lemon, and sometimes with chopped onions or capers. It is a very healthy option for a main meal or a side dish and is probably Santorini’s most popular meal.
- Ntomatokeftedes is basically tomato fritters made from small locally grown cherry tomatoes. They are fried in a thick batter in very hot olive oil together with peppers, onions, mint and a variety of other herbs.
- Kopania is traditional sweets made from powdered barley rusks, raisins, and sesame seeds. They are made the shape of small balls and are delicious.
- Melitinia is usually only found around Easter time. It is a sweet cheese pie that also includes sugar and Mastiha powder among its ingredients. Many of the locals make these treats at home. Local bakeries also have them for sale.
- White eggplant is sweeter than its purple counterpart and has fewer pips. It is used in many recipes and is also available as a puree to accompany other dishes.
- Capers are found growing all over Santorini. The flower buds are picked and sundried until they turn slightly yellow. They are then rehydrated and used in dishes such as fava and salads.
- Chlorotyri is a creamy cheese you can only find on Santorini. It is a white cheese made from goats milk and is spread on bread and used in salads.
There are several other traditional Greek foods in Santorini, but these seven are the most popular.
Transport on Santorini
Santorini is one of the few Greek islands that has its own airport. It is large enough to accommodate the planes of most holiday companies. Santorini International Airport hosts flights from all over Europe, although people travelling from countries such as Canada, the USA, and Australia will need to fly to Europe first.
There are two ports and about half of all tourists arrive on cruise ships. There are roads to all the villages and you have a choice of bus, taxi, cable car, donkey or travelling on foot. Visiting as many of the villages as possible will let tourists see a diverse culture and meet the friendly and welcoming people of the island.
Santorini has won many awards for good reason. If you want a relaxing holiday or to enjoy island life, this beautiful Greek island offers it all.