The traditional villages of Santorini

While everyone knows about the caldera (cliffside) of Santorini and the amazing view that you can have from up there, watching the sunset or just staring at the sea, Santorini also has a few places where tourism is not so intense, meaning that the lifestyle is still pretty similar with the years before tourism begun on the island. Because of that, it must come as no surprise that people can enjoy a far more personal connection with the locals there, or maybe even getting treated like family in the case of the numerous family businesses that can be found around these villages. In many cases, the restaurant owners can offer vegetables of fruits that they produce by themselves, or wine and other kinds of local drinks and liquors.

Sounds appealing? Let’s take a look at which ones these villages are, and what is the thing that makes these places special!

Emborio

The name comes from the word εμπόριο (trade, in Greek.)

This is the most populated village of the island, with an estimated 1/5 of the population of the island living there. It’s a village which is mostly residential, meaning that there’s no big markets or a lot of shops found there, and the few businesses you can find are mostly serving the locals. What you can find in that village however, is the only castle still in a good condition all over the island, with a lot of old and new houses hidden behind its walls, and of course the typical, narrow streets which are famous all around the Greek islands.

Pyrgos

It’s name means tower in Greek.

Pyrgos is the highest located village of the island. It offers a similar experience to Emborio if you start walking around it’s small streets, but Pyrgos is located on a hill, which means the further up you go, the better the view becomes! It has an old castle as well, and even though it remains in ruins, you can still enter it and explore it. Pyrgos has the most churches around the island as well, with more than 55 of them located in this village. The whole scenery of Pyrgos offers an amazing opportunity for pictures, and it also has more than a few nice restaurants you can visit!

Megalohori

It used to be the village of the wealthier people in the past, so the name means village of the big ones, in Greek, or the big village in direct translation.

The easiest village to explore in this list. Megalohori has actually one main pedestrian street that takes you through the village, from one side to the other. In this village you can walk easily, and you can pass by the main square where there are a few restaurants, located away from touristic areas which means that the experience and interaction is more personal. You can also find a few businesses and shops, but the choices are not many, however you can still get some great pictures in this village, as it used to be a classy village in the past, with a lot of mansions and beautiful, Cycladic architecture in general!

Karterados

It’s name comes from the word καρτέρι (ambush, in Greek).

This is a village which is kind of different to the previous ones, as it was designed in order to offer the locals a place to hide, but there was no castle in it. That is the reason why you can find a lot of cave houses in this village which are literally carved into the volcanic minerals. Karterados is getting close to Emborio in terms of population, and there are some local customs you can attend too. Karterados is kind of big in terms of size as well, and it even has a coast on the east part of the island where you can find a stunning volcanic cliff, and a pretty black pebble beach in front of it!

Vothonas

Similar to Karterados in terms of the original purpose it was designed for. It offered a great hideout for the locals in case of pirate raids or other invasions, and like Karterados, you can find a lot of cave houses in this village as well! There are naturally not a lot of businesses here, like in most places of this list, but the few you can find will not disappoint you if you’re looking to get the local experience.