The Other Side of Santorini

12/05/2016 Off By Emma Gray

Santorini is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands.

I haven’t visited them all, or anywhere close, but I’m pretty confident in putting that statement forward.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Santorini on 4 or 5 different trips and each time I’m stunned by the breathtaking scenery of the caldera.

The majority of visitors to Santorini (including myself!) are visiting on cruises, and most just check out the port town of Fira or the village of Oia. Having already explored the narrow, winding streets, and admired the dreamy views from Fira on previous visits I decided it was time to see what else the island has to offer. 

Views From Fira
Views From Fira

I took a tender boat from my cruise ship to a different port on the island – Athinios – and from there took a bus up to the town ofAkrotiri. The bus journey was incredibly steep, winding up the seemingly precarious roads to the top of the cliffs. If you’re afraid of heights or steep drops then you’re probably not going to enjoy that bus ride! If you don’t feel the need to sit with your eyes shut then you’re treated to some amazing views as the bus makes its ascension. 

View From The Top
View From The Top

Akrotiri is without a doubt one of the quaintest small towns I’ve visited. The steep, narrow, cobbled streets are great to walk around and generally tourist free. This meant I was treated to a truly authentic experience that I loved. 

Akrotiri - someone's Front Garden!
Akrotiri – someone’s Front Garden!

As we wandered the streets we came across many locals leaving one of the more than 250 churches on the island and making their way towards their homes. The locals we came across were all so friendly and delighted to see travellers exploring their little town. One adorable old lady dressed all in black, the traditional outfit for a widower, enthusiastically welcomed us to the town and insisted we try some of her home-made sweet bread – it was delicious!

Whilst wandering through Akrotiri we got to see the rather unusual way they grow the grapes to make wine on the island. The vines are trained into a basket shape to protect them from the strong winds and to soak up as much rain as possible in what is a very arid climate. After seeing the vines I made sure to have a glass of the local wine with lunch, purely for comparison purposes of course! 

Not A Typical Vineyard!
Not A Typical Vineyard!

I loved exploring the less touristy side of Santorini, and it made me fall in love with the island even more. With some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever experienced and small-town charm in bucket fulls, it’s a place I’d happily return to.

Have you enjoyed local hospitality somewhere around the world? Did it make your overall experience even better?

Emma shares all of her travel adventures, tips and advice on her two websites Emma’s Travel Tales and Emma On Board, as well as writing for a number of other online publications. She has also partnered with many large companies and tourism boards around the world.

She’s busy making memories around the world…