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Not only is Santorini one of the most beautiful islands in the world, it’s also one of the most unique. It boasts black and red beaches, the “Greek Pompeii” and restaurants with sunset views. Here are five things our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend doing:
1. Watch the sunset. Grab a seat at any number of seaside restaurants and watch as the sun dips into the sea. From Oia, you can see the sun sink unobstructed right into the deep blue waters but the view is spectacular from pretty much anywhere on the island. Order some mezedes (appetizers) and ouzo shots and see the sky transform into an intense mix of red and deep orange.
2. Explore Akrotiri (otherwise known as the “Greek Pompeii”). Visit the excavation site of the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri, which was buried under lava after a volcanic explosion 3,600 years ago. See the amazing artifacts that remain intact as you walk through the town.
3. Hike the caldera. Santorini exists because of a volcano eruption that left behind the island’s centerpiece caldera. You can hike its rim from Fira to Oia or take a boat tour of the volcano with a stop in the island’s hot sulphur springs (just be warned that these will turn your bathing suit orange).
4. Hit the volcanic beaches. Santorini’s volcanic activity left behind black, red and gray sand, along with volcanic rocks that color the various beaches and are a striking contrast with the royal blue sea. Take in this gorgeous sight at Red Beach — one of the island’s most popular spots — which is sprinkled with black and red volcanic pebbles.
5. Climb the steps. Gialos, the port of Santorini, is 900 feet below the main town of Fira. In order to get there, you can climb the 587 steps — a scenic route, if you don’t mind the exercise (or the donkey waste). Other options to the top include a cable car and a traditional donkey ride.