Cliffs on the western side of the island give way to long stretches of sand (black, red, and white) and “shingle” (small black pebbles) on the eastern side. Top beach draws include Kamari (five miles of black sand – and the most tourists) and Akrotíri (red sand set against lava cliffs). This being Greece, a taverna is never far away.
The most famous view in the Greek islands is from the walkway edging Thíra, the island’s main town. The panorama is breathtaking – and so is the climb: 800 or so steps zigzagging from the old port up the steep cliff. After drinking in the view (and perhaps sipping a glass of Santorini’s wine), set your course for Akrotiri. This village at the southwestern corner of the island has kept much of its traditional character and is the site of an ongoing excavation of a Minoan city.
Yes, there are discos and bars in Thira, but start your after-dark activities at one of the more than 100 restaurants. The dinner hour usually begins around ten o’clock, with a steady parade of appetizers (deep-fried meatballs in tomato sauce, called keftedes, are a local specialty), fresh seafood, pastries, and wines (some 50 from the island alone; try the dry white nichteri with seafood) that should keep the most dedicated night-owl happy – and well fueled for a 2 a.m. appearance on the dance floor.