The Greek island of Santorini has once again been voted ‘Best Island in Europe’ according to the readers of US’ travel publication, Global Traveler, a monthly magazine published mainly for frequent business and luxury travellers.
“Santorini is unique and a true magnet to travellers the world over. It is hard not to be impressed by the volcanic island whichever way you approach it, therefore anyone coming to Greece is recommended to experience it at least once,” says travel writer and photographer Paul Hellander, who has visited an astonishing 90 per cent of the Greek islands.
Ireland came in second place followed by Mykonos and Sicily.
Santorini has held the ‘Best Island in Europe’ title for six consecutive years.
“By sea the approach to the island is magnificent, as your catamaran or fast ferry slips into the Caldera Bay. The tall and raw volcanic caldera walls are softened by a rim of white, which, on further examination, turn out to be buildings built precariously on the precipitous cliffs whilst by air you see the raw nature of an island torn apart,” says Hellander.
Santorini’s geography is truly a dramatic and unique sight.
The island’s life hums with glitz and bling throughout the three contiguous caldera communities Imerovigli, Firostefani, and Fira, and the sunset favourite Oia that grips tenuously to the gritty ridge of the volcano rim. It is simply vibrantly stunning.
“It is about some of the most spectacular marine scenery in the world, picture postcard pretty cubist boxes perched precariously on the rim of a collapsed volcano that once exploded with the force of two million Hiroshima atomic bombs. It looks and feels absolutely stunning but of course it helps if you dig deep into your pocket and splash out on luxury with the view, because this is the only way to really experience Santorini.
“You can rub shoulders with the glitterati or the persistently curious of the world but at the same time, behind the caldera veneer small villages such as Megalochori or beach resorts like Perissa offer another side of Santorini often forgotten by the caldera-struck aficionados of the island,” continues Hellander.
The Greek islands are the main characteristic of Greece’s morphology and an integral part of the country’s culture and tradition. The Greek National Tourism Organisation lists Greece’s sovereign land as including 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 islands are inhabited.
This is a unique phenomenon for the European continent therefore it is no surprise that Greece commanded a significant portion of Europe’s best 10 islands with Santorini ranking first place, Mykonos ranking third, and Crete coming in at number eight.
“The best Greek island is always subjective to who you are and what you seek but there is an internationalism pervading Santorini like no other Greek island, whilst it does have ‘spirit of place’ – that undefinable visceral sense that you are in a place that makes you feel good instantly. After all, watching the sunset over the satellite island of Thirasia is unbeatable.
“If you are an international guest, seeking an idealised Greek island experience, have a robust budget and have only a few days to indulge in your experience, then of course Santorini is the winner,” concludes Hellander.