Santorini is a 12-mile crescent of land, all that remains of a substantial island blown apart by a cataclysmic eruption 3,500 years ago. (The blast probably gave rise to the enduring legend of Atlantis.) Today stupendous cliffs rise from the sea-filled caldera to blinding whitewashed villages perched more than 1,000 feet above. The island itself is arid, with dark volcanic soil (that helps produce delicious dry white wines) and black sand beaches. Aside from archaeological excavations, its principal attraction is the unforgettable view, both of the immense caldera and the surrounding islands of the Cyclades. Extremely crowded in summer, Santorini is best visited in spring and fall.
The Archaeological Wonders of Akrotiri
Of particular interest on Santorini is the archaeological excavation at Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement. Lava engulfed the entire town around 1627 B.C., and it remained unknown to the world until 1867, when quarry workers cutting stone blocks for the construction of the Panama Canal revealed the buried ruins. Amazingly, serious work did not begin until 1967. In 2005, the site’s protective roof collapsed, and visitors were no longer permitted, but the site reopened in late April 2012. It is now possible to stroll through the ancient streets and to see the implements and paraphernalia of daily life from more than 3,500 years ago. You can buy tickets in advance online.
Boutari Wine Production and Exporting
The largest wine producer on the island, Boutari, also lays claim to being one of Greece’s leading exporters. Greek wine has made tremendous strides in the past few years. I recommend that you take the tour here and spend a pleasant interlude tasting.