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Greece without Santorini is like a Greek salad without Kalamata olives – it just doesn’t taste the same. Santorini’s awe-inspiring Caldera, a sea-filled crater, and its vineyards and unbeatable nightlife make it a popular vacation destination.

Once you arrive, hit the beaches or just explore. An island rich in ancient treasures, Santorini’s ruins from the Minoan period at Akrotiri and the wall paintings of Thera reveal one of the most fascinating prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. I toured the wineries and art galleries and bought an official hand-painted “Exact Copy” of a 7th-century B.C. pot with octopus design.

You can reach Santorini from Athens. If the sea is calm, go by ferry from Piraeus; if not, just wait it out. When the ferry docks at Athinaos port, you can hike up the steep cliffs, ride a donkey or take a taxi to Thira. Go for a room with dramatic views of the Caldera.

Loukas Katris, owner of the Hotel Katris, one of Santorini’s oldest, most traditional establishments, offers air-conditioned affordable rooms with views from 50-70 Euros per night.

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