When one thinks of the Greek Islands, with those whitewashed houses featuring vivid blue detailing, they picture Santorini. These houses in hues that match the Greek flag and reflect the tones of the surrounding sea and endless sky entirely are no accident: the white walls were meant to protect inhabitants from the heat of summer. The unforgettable looks may be what draws people to come and visit Santorini. Still, it’s everything else that makes them want to go back: the people, the food, the way it makes you feel like you can be closer to nature, the fact that you are inconsolable on your way back to the airport.
The volcanic island of Santorini dials up the drama, with little towns perched on cliffs from which you can admire the arguably most beautiful sunset in the world — and a whole lot of people do argue this — or the best beaches in all of Europe to spend a lazy afternoon. One famous bathing spot, Kamari, even features jet black sand instead of the fine, pale variety found elsewhere on the island. Only a couple hundred kilometers from the Greek mainland, Santorini is easy to reach thanks to its international airport, even if it feels like a distant land where troubles can’t reach and the idea of scrolling idly through your phone as a pastime feels ludicrous. Once you’ve settled in on Santorini, be sure to visit some of the smaller surrounding islands which provide fantastic options for day trips when you’ve had it with lazing around on the beach and want to feel even further removed from the life you are used to.
The sort of Mediterranean Island aridity seen throughout the south of Europe makes Santorini a paradise of iconic flavors. Fish and seafood that has been caught in the morning ends its life of absolute freedom on your lunch plate, beautifully arranged aside fresh, seasonal vegetables that grow on the island. In a quirky coincidence, even the beloved eggplants are white on this island full of wonder: try those, and try the wine, which is delicious and authentic. There’s a healing quality to eating right, clean, local food shaped by the marine breeze that blows in from the Aegean Sea and the glistening, honest sunshine of the Greek Islands.
Owing to its natural beauty and remote flair — even though it isn’t actually that far from anywhere in Europe — the Greek archipelago is what Ibiza was a few decades ago: the epicenter of who-cares-what-time-it-is escapism. Whether your thing is a beach bar overcrowded with people who look like they have school the next day or a more dignified, remote dining experience in the hills of Santorini, you are sure to find your favorite spot. You may even be tempted to step out of your comfort zone for a night.