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Things to Do in Cyclades Islands - page 2

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Fira
3 Tours and Activities

Santorini’s main town perches on the cliff top overlooking the caldera, with better daytime views than Oia and twinkling night-time vistas.

Fira swarms with holidaymakers and cruise visitors, so find some quiet time in the town’s museums and churches. One museum focuses on Ancient Thira, with relics and figurines unearthed from Ancient Akrotiri. For local history and before-and-after displays on the devastating 1956 earthquake, visit the Megaron Gyzi Museum. Pop into the cathedral next door while you’re here. To find out about local traditions, visit the folklore museum housed in a cave.

There are some lovely jewelry shops to browse in Fira, running along the edge of the caldera, and a paved walkway runs beneath the edge of the lagoon, heading north to meet the cliff-top path to Oia, 8km (5 miles) away. Tours run from Fira over to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, or you can take a dusk cruise to catch a legendary Oia sunset from the water.

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Port of Santorini (Athinios Port)
4 Tours and Activities

One of the most memorable places in Greece, the volcanic island of Santorini - located in the Cyclades group - is a spectacular Mediterranean paradise known for its dazzling views, fine beaches and unforgettable sunsets. Without much need for modern amenities, the place is lined with historic sights, and more than enough natural and ancient wonderment to go around. It's no wonder why so many people love Santorini.

There are a few ways to get into Santorini, either by land or sea, depending on your budget and how much time you have to explore. By air, there is Santorini National Airport, which during the summer months flies directly to several destinations in Europe. If the water highway is your transportation method of choice, you can either grab a ferry from domestic locations in Naxos, Paros, or more commonly Piraeus. Big cruises will reach Santorini through the old port in Fira (take note: not the newer one located just 2 miles away in Pyrgos).

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Thirasia (Therasia)
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3 Tours and Activities

The little island of Thirassia has a population of only 200 or so, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing lunch at a cliff-top taverna, with views over to Santorini. The island used to be part of Santorini’s mainland, until the violent volcanic eruption of 1650 BC set it free.

Sail over from Santorini to escape the crowds on Thirassia’s lovely beaches, and bring a traveler’s dictionary as not many people here speak English. Those tavernas are clustered in the village of Manolas, near the ferry stop, and the tranquil island also has scattered blue-domed churches, ancient monasteries and stone villages.

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Paros
2 Tours and Activities

The holiday island of Paros is the place for chilling out and napping on the beach, soaking up the relaxed Aegean vibe. Away from the beaches, terraced hills climb up to the mountainous interior, where the island’s famous pure white marble is quarried. The Paros marble has been famous for millennia, used by the ancient Greek genius who carved the beautiful Venus de Milo and by the sculptors who adorned Napoleon’s tomb. Your main base on the island is the port of Parikia, at the head of the bay on the northwest coast. There’s a labyrinthine old town to explore, a 13th-century Venetian fort and taverna-thronged waterfront for sunset drinks and seafood meals. The Panagia Ekatontapyliani church is a highlight of the entire Cyclades, with an ornate interior dating from the year 326. Make sure to visit the Byzantine Museum while you’re in the church grounds, filled with icons and other artifacts from the early Christian era.

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Pyrgos (Pyrgos Kallistis)
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1 Tour and Activity

Pyrgos is a picturesque hillside village set on a volcanic crater at the highest point of the Greece’s Santorini, offering panoramic views of the rest of the island. At the top of the village sit the ruins of Kasteli Castle, remnants of the former capitol of the island before it was moved to Fira (where it remains today.)

Pyrgos is as beautiful as the rest of the island, but also has a special historic charm — with traditional white houses, Byzantine churches, Cycladic architecture, and small winding cobblestone lanes and paths. Some of the churches has beautiful old frescoes visible on the walls. The area sees far fewer tourists than the rest of the island, so it keeps a peaceful atmosphere. Though the town has merely 700 inhabitants, there are tavernas and local restaurants. Visiting the village is a way to experience the traditionally preserved culture of the Greek islands.

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