White walls, blue domes, sunsets and a volcanic caldera; Santorini is one of those holiday destinations that is so unique it can be conjured into the imagination in just a few words.

Once a single landmass, the islands that make up Santorini are famous for their rugged landscapes, which were shaped by the same volcanic eruption that split them apart. Far from diminishing the island’s beauty, the volcanic activity is what has made Santorini so special. All along the curved western coast, picturesque whitewashed villages nestle against black rocks, offering stunning sea views and sunsets that are out of this world.

The two main towns on Santorini are Oia and Fira, and both are notable for their beautiful scenery and luxurious resorts. For the best historic highlights, head to Fira, where you’ll find the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, the Archaeological Museum of Thira and the Santozeum. They all offer a tantalising glimpse into Santorini’s past.

Oia, meanwhile, is the place to be if you’re seeking the ultimate sunset shot. With its blue-domed churches, pretty winding streets and family-run taverns it has a quieter feel to it than Fira. For the best experience of the village, spend the night and use the following morning to explore before it gets busy. If possible, you’ll also want to visit the tiny fishing village of Ammoudi, accessible from Oia via a set of steep stone steps.

With Fira and Oia exhausted, you can make your way south to Megalochori, renowned for its vineyards, the archaeological site at ancient Akrotiri, and the Red and White beaches. Out on the southeastern coast, Perissa will treat you to glorious sunshine, laid-back nightlife and resort relaxation. Here, a long strip of sandy coast is backed by a chilled promenade of hotels, bars and restaurants – not to mention a decent water park.

Lastly, don’t forget to make time for Santorini’s smaller islands. Uninhabited Nea Kameni boasts hot springs and steaming volcanic walks, while Thirasia is known for its traditional taverns and an appealingly undeveloped atmosphere.

Greece is full to the brim with great beach destinations. If you like Khania, you're sure to love our great cheap beach holidays to Crete or maybe check out our Cyprus beach holiday selection.

Guide to Exploring Santorini Island

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