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Out and about in Santorini : Pyrgos, Akrotiri, Beaches, and Imerovigli
One of the best ways of exploring Santorini is by renting a car and taking it out for the day. Car rentals places are all over the island and really cater to tourists- making it really easy to pick up the car in the morning and return it in the evening. Some of the roads are really tight and some of the inclines can be stressful, but if you are an experienced driver and comfortable with a manual car you should do just fine. Just take it slower. We found visiting the following places in the car wasn’t stressful, but we ended our day in Imerovigli and I guided my hubbie up a very steep hill in car that wasn’t coping well- yikes, so we parked in the first parking lot we saw and walked the rest of the way into Imerovigli.
READ > Oia, Santorini with Kids
The name means tower or castle and this small town is perched on Mt. Profitas Ilias. This hillside village is a wonderful example of medieval architecture. You’ll enjoy getting lost in the tight paths that lead up towards the Church of Agios Nikolaos Theotaki- it’s pure Greek beauty all white with a blue dome. There are many small souvenir shops and cafes along the way. What makes Pyrgos special though are the views-- you can see Santorini for miles and you realize just how small this island is when you see most of it from this vantage point.
Some of the cafes offer panoramic views as well, but if you want to treat yourself then just outside of the Pyrgos is Pyrgos Restaurant which is an elegant restaurant with amazing food and views.
Not far from Pyrgos, are the the ancient ruins of Akrotiri. This archeological site is what is left of an ancient Minoan city. Santorini, which was originally a round island, had Minoan settlements. Historians believe that a series of seismic activity by the volcano caused a lot of the inhabitants to escape to Crete before the devastating eruption that changed the shape of Santorini. However, the remains of their living quarters are still here and are kept in a shaded structure. Archaeologists are still working on the sight and if you are lucky, you can see them at work. It was interesting to be able to see the sight and be able to walk around and through it. There was also a video playing that showed what it would have looked like originally. The only disappointing feature was that all the amazing wall paintings and such are in the museums in Fira and are not there- I didn’t know this beforehand. However, having said that, we felt it was still worth the visit. You only need a couple hours maximum to visit unless you are really keen. The kids and hubby were a bit sceptical beforehand, but they all enjoyed it.
While I wouldn’t head to Santorini for its beaches there are some interesting shorelines around the island. Perissa Beach and Kamari beach are the islands most famous beaches. Being the most popular places makes them also accommodating to families. They are both black sand beaches. There are plenty of hotels and resorts nearby if you prefer to stay near the beach. There are buses that connect the towns with Fira. However, Monolithos has shallow water and is known as the “family beach.” It does have some of the typical beach facilities- sun umbrellas etc. but it is not as touristy and quieter than the other beaches.
Red Beach is literally up the road from Akrotiri, so of course we had to have a look. The path though from the parking along the cliff side to the beach is very rough and not secure. You can see in the photo the people walking along the cliff side.
There is a vantage point that allows you to have a full view of the beach though. We decided to stop there and enjoy our ice creams and not continue the walk down to the beach, but it was definitely interesting to see a beach like this. The water looked amazingly clear. However, there signs of falling boulders, so it’s not the safest beach to spend the day at. If do you go down to the beach, make sure you bring sneakers as you will want safe non-slip shoes to climb up and over the boulders. There are also catamaran tours you can do that will let you see the beach from offshore.
We ended our day in Imerovigli where we explored what is known as the balcony of Santorini. It’s really high up and some of the pathways have very steep staircases, but the views are magnificent. You’ll also want to check out the Anastasi church with its lovely blue domes as well. After all the walking up, down and around Imerovigli in the sun we ended our day with another, much deserved ice-cream in Oia of course!