Exploring Santorini's most picturesque villages

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

Santorini is often pictured as the epitome of Greek island bliss, with its deep blue ocean views, distinctive Cycladic blue-domed rooftops, and white-washed villages. But, while the postcard-perfect town of Oia often steals the spotlight, there’s much more to the Island. Santorini is home to several other picturesque villages with their own distinct styles and personalities that deserve equal attention. We’re here to take you on a journey through the island's lesser-explored gems, inviting you to discover the treasures that lie beyond Oia.

Pyrgos: A maze of Greek architecture

Nestled in the heart of Santorini, Pyrgos beckons with its maze-like streets and dazzling white houses and establishments. As you navigate the narrow cobblestone alleys, you'll find yourself immersed in a captivating labyrinth of Greek architecture.

Enjoy the classic Cycladic architecture and pretty courtyards adorned with vibrant flowers, with fewer tourists than busy Oia.

Pyrgos is situated on a hilltop, making it one of the highest points on Santorini, so be sure to climb to the top for splendid views of the stretching blue sea. There you’ll have the opportunity to explore the remnants of Kasteli Castle, a Byzantine fortress that serves as a testament to Pyrgos' interesting history. 

Megalochori: Timeless tradition and wineries

Take a visit to the delightful village of Megalochori, where time seems to stand still, and tradition weaves its way through every stone. Located amidst vineyards and surrounded by vine-covered stone houses, Megalochori offers a glimpse into Santorini's past.

Stroll through the village’s winding streets and take in the preserved traditional architecture, with Santorini’s iconic white-washed facades and blue-domed churches creating a serene setting.

Megalochori is renowned for its wine-growing heritage, and a visit to one of the local wineries is a must – we recommend the Gavalas or Boutari wineries. Sample the distinct flavours of Santorini's volcanic wines and learn about the art of winemaking on the island that’s been passed down through generations. 

Emporio: A lesser-known gem

Nestled away from the tourist crowds in Southern Santorini, the village of Emporio has a warm medieval allure and off-the-beaten-path charm. You may feel like you've stepped into a storybook as you admire Emporio’s fortified walls, ancient archways, and secret passages.

Make sure to visit one of the local bakeries, where you can indulge in mouthwatering Greek pastries crafted with love and tradition. For example, melitinia, which are traditional Santorinian cookies made with a sweet semolina dough that’s flavoured with mastic resin and filled with sweet cheese or almond paste, or amygdalota almond cookies that are common in Santorini and other parts of Greece.

Emporio's authentic local atmosphere and warm hospitality show you a peek into the soul of Santorini that most tourists rarely make an effort to discover.

Where to stay

When planning your visit to Santorini, choosing the right place to stay is essential to make the most of your experience. While Oia may be the most famous village on the island and is definitely a must-visit, other areas offer a different type of charm and a quieter ambience.

Within Megalochori, you'll find Vedema, a luxurious Cycladic-style property that epitomises historic charm. This hotel is designed around a beautiful 15th-century winery and is surrounded by a traditional stone wall reminiscent of a fortified Greek town.

The spacious suites and villas, decorated with distinctive cupola structures and Greek island-style furnishings, provide a comfortable and elegant retreat. Guests can enjoy the resort's romantic restaurant, Alati, housed within a stone-walled original wine cavern, as well as the Canava Wine Bar for tastings.

While each village offers its own special travel experience, all of Santorini's villages provide easy access to the island's stunning beaches, iconic views, and delicious local cuisine. Whether you choose to stay in Pyrgos, Megalochori, Emporio, or other areas, Santorini promises an unforgettable holiday filled with Greek island bliss.

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