For the quintessential Greek isle, look no further than Santorini in the dreamy southern Cyclades. Locals believe the island is the site of the lost city of Atlantis and, whether that is true or not, it is certainly near to paradise with towns perching on the edge of the extinct volcano, white marble streets and glorious sunsets. Head for Oia on the north coast for the most sophisticated hotels and fashionable nightlife, and make sure you visit the capital of Fira, but be warned: the designer stores and bars can get very busy. The villages of Akrotiri, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Megalochori and Pyrgos are calm and beautiful, and have good connections with the larger towns.
(00 30 22860 81366; www.odysseus.culture.gr). Don’t miss Akrotiri, probably the most important archaeological site in the Cyclades. The city was one of the Aegean Sea’s most significant before earthquakes and a volcanic eruption destroyed it in the 17th century BC. The volcanic material preserved the buildings and their content, just like at Pompeii.
Fira has even more designer outlets than Mykonos Town and there are a fair number of cool bar/restaurants and nightclubs here, too.
Nea Kameni island, in the middle of the flooded caldera, is one of the most violent volcanoes on the planet; it is also, of course, one of the contested sites for the lost city of Atlantis. The eruption that destroyed most of Santorini 3,600 years ago produced tsunamis that reached as far as Turkey and probably wiped out maritime Minoan civilisation. The new craters that appeared in the following centuries are currently snoozing, although they are under constant surveillance by scientists at Fira’s volcanology institute. Tour the volcano by boat, or go for a walk around the crater to see it up close.
Santorini’s star – its most attractive village, Oia, is the ultimate Greek Island village – all white houses and domed churches tumbling over the lip of the caldera. The town must be one of the most magnificent hotel settings on Earth, with its converted peasant houses on the very edge of the crater and spectacular sunsets that draw coach parties from across the island.
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