Lay of the Land
Santorini has an international airport, but arriving by boat is an experience you won’t easily forget: looming above the flooded caldera is a sheer crescent of lava cliffs, frosted with sugar-cube houses. A vertiginous road or cable car takes you from the tiny port of Athinios to the capital, Fira, a lively town lined with jewelry stores and restaurants catering to the cruise ship passengers who trail in and out all summer long. Further along the rim of the volcano lie Firostefani and Imerovigli, quieter villages where many of the traditional cave houses have been converted into glamorous hotels.
A big hit with honeymooners, Santorini boasts some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Greece. The most exclusive are in Oia, a bijoux village on the island’s northern tip. The hip town is inundated with visitors at sunset, so those wishing to take in the sundown without the crowds should head to the inland village of Pyrgos or the lighthouse at Akrotiri. This awe-inspiring Minoan city was preserved under layers of ash when a volcano blew the heart out of Santorini 3,500 years ago. That tragedy is a blessing today: the volcanic terrain created red, black, and white beaches and spectacular views and produces world-class Vinsanto and Assyrtiko wines.