24 Hours In Santorini

A leisurely lunch, a spot of culture, charming shops and jaw-dropping views. This Cycladic island provides the perfect recipe for a relaxing day

Adrian Mourby
Sunday 04 June 2006 00:00
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Breakfast with a view

07.30: Why go out to breakfast when there are such fabulous views from your own terrace? The cliff face overlooking Santorini's caldera was once honeycombed with fishermen's dwellings. These have been converted into luxury apartments with sun terraces and swimming pools. The Ikies apartments in Oia (00 30 22860 71311; ikies.com) are typical. Every morning breakfast is laid out for you on the terrace by friendly but discreet staff. A week's rental costs from €1,400 (£1,000).

Stroll to the shops

09.00: Fira is the new capital of Santorini, built for its access to the sea and visiting cruise ships. The whole town clings dramatically to the cliff face and is well worth strolling around in the morning sun. Make for Agiou Mina, the main street running along the south edge of the caldera, which has several shops worth a browse. This leads to the 18th-century church of the same name, whose blue dome and white campanile have become the defining symbol of Santorini - and of the whole Cyclades. Grab a coffee nearby at Café Classico (00 30 22860 23112).

Pick up a bit of culture

11.00: Time for a spot of culture. The Megaro Gyzi Museum (00 30 228 602 2244), located opposite the Roman Catholic cathedral, displays old photographs of the island before and after the big earthquake of 1956, and of the birth of the new volcano. There's usually a display of island costume and local art too. It opens daily from 10.30am-1.30pm and 5pm-8pm. Admission €1.50 (£1.05).

Fancy lunch? Try mezze and wine

12.30: Lunch! If you're staying in Fira go back to the main square to find Nikolas (00 30 22860 24750) which serves huge helpings of mezze plus wine from the barrel. If you fancy heading somewhere quieter try Skala (1) (00 30 22860 71362) in Oia which is a good, open air taverna with great views down into the caldera and friendly service from Sophie, the multilingual waitress.

Take a cruise to a baby volcano

14.00: Set sail on the Jason for a three-hour cruise to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni - you can get down to the port of Skala Fira by donkey, cable car (€3.50/£2.50) or on foot. The Dakoutros brothers (00 30 228 602 4286; dakoutros-boats@santorini hotel.gr) who operate the return trips will give you the chance to swim in the hot springs that are caused by a submarine vent from the volcano. It costs €15 per person but there's an extra charge (negotiated on the ship) if you want to be taken ashore to explore the baby volcano.

Drinks on your own terrace

16.30: Enjoy a snooze on board ship as you head back across the caldera to Skala Fira. Once you dock, head home to shower and change for the evening. Settle down to a drink and a few olives on your terrace while you decide how best to enjoy the sunset this evening.

Pick a seat at a nice taverna

19.30: Head for the tiny harbour of Amoudi and its two tavernas - the Sunset Restaurant (00 30 22860 71606) and Katina's (00 30 22860 71280), which are the perfect place to eat and drink as the sun sets over the Cyclades. Alternatively, there's 1800, an old sea captain's house on the main street in Oia, (00 30 22860 71485; oia-1800.com), which has a deserved reputation for fine dining in one of the oldest houses on the island (but not such a great view).

Art, bars and a jewel or two

22.00: Make your way back through Oia. Shops and bars stay open late on summer's evenings. The Aiolos Gallery (00 30 22860 71053) is one of the island's best for jewellery. Visit the studio of Stavros Galanopoulos

(00 30 22860 71448; galanopoulos.com) for traditional paintings of the island.

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