Your first order of business in Santorini is to hit the colorful beaches — the black and red sands make for a memorable visit. Next up, indulge in the archaeological delights of the impressively preserved Ancient Akrotiri, or climb the ancient stairs that lead to the historic city of Manolas in Thirassia. From there, catch a breathtaking view of the caldera, a brilliant turquoise pool of water that serves as nucleus for the varied isles of this archipelago. Some would say you only need a day to enjoy these islands’ charms (they are a popular port of call for cruise ships), but to really drink in all Santorini has to offer, you’ll need a few days to a week. Then you’ll have plenty of time to learn there’s more to these comely dots of the Cyclades than meets the eye.

A volcanic eruption around 1650 B.C. forced the center of what was then a single island, called Strongyli, to implode and succumb to the sea. Some say that Strongyli was the original home of the lost city of Atlantis, which long ago disappeared into the ocean’s depths. Whatever remains of this mythological metropolis is now guarded by beautiful beaches and stately whitewashed churches. Today, Santorini consists of two inhabited islands and several islets. Most visitors spend their time on Thira (the archipelago’s largest island), which is home to Santorini’s major towns, including Fira and Oia. Sleepy Thirassia makes for a relaxing day trip too. And don’t count out the quieter islands: Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi and Christiana are all worth exploring.

Best Things To Do in Santorini.

Volcanic activity plays a role in many of Santorini’s popular activities, from swimming and sunbathing at the molten-dyed beaches to witnessing consistently gorgeous sunsets from the cliffs at Oia. Another option is to dive right in: Try sailing the clear blue caldera where the city of Atlantis was said to have stood, or bathe in the hot springs surrounding the Santorini Volcano (Kameni). If you’re more of a gastronome, take a tour of the Boutari Winery in the town of Perissa. Santorini is home to several wineries and is especially known for its strong reds.

Best Times to Visit Santorini

The best time to visit Santorini is the fall when the weather is warm and the crowds are few. Like all of the Cyclades, Santorini welcomes the most visitors during the summer, so you’ll need to make your reservations at least two months in advance if you plan on visiting anytime from June through August. Looking for a bargain? Try winter when room rates tend to plummet. Keep in mind, thought, that this season’s average highs only reach the 50s (not good for sunbathing) and the region sees plenty of precipitation. However, all that rain does make for a very flowery (and warm) spring season. Crowds will be at a low in the spring as well, though plenty of tourists begin invading the islands come May.