The Pompeii of Greece, this Minoan city was buried by a volcanic eruption some 3,600 years ago. Only a fraction of the settlement, unearthed by chance while quarrying ash for the Suez Canal, has been excavated. Signage is minimal, so a guide is indispensable. My Odyssey, a bespoke Greek travel concierge, has the island’s leading archaeologists on speed dial.
Museum of Prehistoric Thira
Houses in ancient Akrotiri were decorated with wall paintings of monkeys, saffron pickers and fishermen. Most of these frescoes are in the Archaeological Museum in Athens, but a few are on display at this small but stunning museum in Fira. The Bronze Age jewelry, ceramic vessels and marble figurines are extraordinarily delicate.
Black, Red and White Beaches
Santorini’s volcanic beaches come in every hue. Avoid the crowds at black-sand Perissa and Red Beach; instead, dive into Vlychada, backed by cliffs of sculpted lava; Katharos (“clean” in Greek), which lives up to its name; and – if you dare – Kolumbo, overlooking an active underwater volcano.
IF YOU DO ONE THING…
Cruise the caldera Santorini’s flooded volcanic caldera looks spectacular from the air, but nothing beats sailing right through
it. Wear sneakers so you can scale the smoldering crater of Nea Kameni, then cool off in the hot (actually, lukewarm) springs at Palea Kameni. Sunset Oia has a tip-top fleet of catamarans, sailboats and speedboats for private charter.