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Santorini: the most touristy and glamorous out of all Greek islands or simply the most misunderstood? I would say both, it just depends on what you will choose to see or do while on the island.

Yes! Oia, Fira and Imerovigli are indeed very picturesque. However, the real beauty of Santorini lies beyond these three top tourist destinations. Santorini’s true beauty lies in its story. A story that dates back to 3000 BC and that has defined several generations throughout the centuries.

It is a story about the art of survival. It is a story about the great inventiveness of mankind. It is a unique story hiding in every corner. It is a story closely linked to the island’s soil and its people.

Just by looking at the impressive Caldera rocks, you start realising the uniqueness of the island; different types of soil formation, magma, volcanic ash, and pumice rocks reveal the history of the island as well as the various catastrophic volcano eruptions that the island has survived.

No wonder why there are stones or parts of pumice rocks decorating literally every corner of Santorini, from pavements and walls to house entrances and bathrooms. It seems that there is a special connection between people and the land itself.

If you want to discover more about the ancient history of Santorini or if you are an architecture lover, pay an early morning visit at the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The architecture and infrastructure of this prehistoric city can be particularly fascinating.

For something a bit more ‘contemporary’ but yet authentic, walk around Emporio village. By far one of the most picturesque villages of Santorini. Its medieval architecture and its super cute colourful doors will make you want to capture every little corner with your camera!

Another charming village of Santorini is Pyrgos. This is where you will find little churches and beautiful old houses. And if you are lucky, you might encounter a local musician playing the famous ‘sirtaki’ dance. In that case, dance like a Greek!

If on the other hand, you are a wine lover, you can discover Santorini’s story through its wines and the famous ‘kouloura’, a unique pruning technique. Despite the poor quality of the soil, the strong winds and the dry climate, locals have not given up. In fact, there are numerous wineries across the island that are slowly becoming more and more famous for their wines.

My favourite one is Domaine Sigalas. This is where you can enjoy not only unique local wine varieties such as Mavrotragano or Aidani, but also a very tasty lunch with locally sourced products and a great vineyard view. Go for the ceviche or the stuffed vine leaves which is a typical Greek speciality. Don’t forget to taste some ‘chloro’, a local cheese produced during winter or spring.  

No matter how cliché it may sound, the best way to finish a day in Santorini is a dreamy sunset! If you are a genuinely romantic soul, forget the usual touristy spots! Avoid the masses that are queuing for a sunset photo around Oia’s castle and head to Akrotiri Lighthouse. This is where locals go when they are in need of tranquillity, romance and the magic of a proper Santorini sunset!   

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