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Best Places to Visit on Santorini Island

View of Santorini caldera from Fira
View of the Santorini caldera from Fira. Credit: Caleb Howells

There are numerous Greek islands, and they all have their own unique character. One particularly impressive island is Santorini. In fact, Santorini is made up of several islands making up a small, circular archipelago. This distinctive formation gives it a majestic appearance. But beyond simply admiring the geographical layout, there are lots of great things to do on Santorini. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit.


View of Oia Santorini
View of Oia, Santorini. Credit: Caleb Howells

One of the most striking things about Santorini is the display of whitewashed houses decorating the border of the caldera. This is perhaps the most famous feature of Santorini, and it is therefore the reason why many tourists visit. You certainly would not want to miss out on getting the best view possible.

While the famous white houses are scattered all over the island, the most beautiful concentration of them is Oia. This is the second-largest town on Santorini (although it is really just a village). It does not take too long to walk all around Oia, and doing so is a beautiful experience. The streets themselves are fascinating and full of all sorts of interesting sights. But the highlight, without any doubt, is the view overlooking the village itself.

Unlike some places, there is no single spot that you need to go to for a good view of the houses. Because of the haphazard way the houses are built into the rock, you can easily find countless spots that overlook beautiful parts of the village.

The Lost Atlantis Experience Museum

Lost Atlantis Experience Museum, Santorini
Lost Atlantis Experience Museum, Santorini. Credit: Caleb Howells

One thing that makes Santorini so interesting is the possibility that it was the origin behind Plato’s story of Atlantis. A museum has been set up on the island entirely dedicated to the legend of Atlantis and the theory that it came from stories of ancient Santorini (or Thera, as it is usually called in historical contexts).

This is a very impressive museum that is well worth visiting. To be clear, it is not a big museum. In fact, as you approach the building, you might be startled by how small it is. It does have two stories, however.

But what this museum lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in content. It is far more high tech than most museums, with various interactive displays. It even has some pseudo-holograms – one of Plato, and one of the island itself. One of the most impressive features is a large diorama of Atlantis, which is supposed to show exactly how Plato described it.

On top of all of this is a ‘9D’ cinematic experience, with moving chairs, falling ‘ash’ (don’t worry, you won’t get burned), and blasts of water and air, all put together to let you experience the famous eruption of the island that happened 3500 years ago. Visiting this museum is truly an experience, and the kids especially will feel that this is one of the best things on Santorini.

Doctor Fish Spa Treatment

fish spa
Fish Spa. Credit: Appaloosa / Flickr CC BY 2.0

As of April 2023, there are at least two doctor fish spa treatments. These are places you can go to get your feet nibbled at by dozens of fish. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, bear in mind that the fish do not eat your healthy flesh. This is not like putting your feet into a tank full of piranhas. Rather, these fish – colloquially called ‘doctor fish’ but formally known as red garra – just nibble at the dead skin on your feet. They are very small, so they could not harm you even if they tried.

When you first put your feet in the tank, the fish swarm around them and start doing their work. For a lot of people, this initial sensation will likely tickle a lot. But after a few minutes, this discomfort goes away and it actually becomes quite relaxing. The best part, however, is after you take your feet out of the water and feel how smooth they now feel, with all the dead skin gone. The treatment is a highly unusual one, and that is exactly why it’s worth doing when you have the chance. Both treatment experiences are in Fira, the capital of Santorini.

Like all unusual treatments, this has some controversy surrounding it. Some critics say that it is unsanitary, while others say that there is no issue as long as the water is continuously cleansed. Obviously, each person should consider the risks before making the personal decision to do it.

Akrotiri Archaeological Site

Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Akrotiri Archaeological Site, Santorin. Credit: Caleb Howells

One of the most famous things about Santorini is the eruption that occurred there in the 16th century BCE. This eruption, which may have been the largest eruption in all of human history, utterly destroyed the ancient Minoan civilisation on this island. It seems that one of the main Minoan settlements there was Akrotiri. Like Pompeii, this city was covered by volcanic ash, destroying it but also preserving it at the same time.

Only a small fraction of the Bronze Age city has been uncovered. A large structure has been built over it to protect it from the elements. This ongoing archaeological site is open to the public. You can walk around it on raised platforms that take you all around the ruins. It is remarkable to see so many buildings – many of them multi-storied – still half covered with ash from more than 3500 years ago.

However, it is important to realise that some of the most impressive things discovered from Akrotiri, the colourful wall frescoes, have not been left in place. To see those, you will have to go to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which is in Fira, the capital. But simply for the sake of seeing the physical buildings that were used by the Minoans, this archaeological site is well worth a visit.


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