Besides being one of the most beautiful islands in the world, Santorini is also one of the most geologically and archaeologically dramatic. Often called Thira, the island is shaped like an enormous pair of jaws encircling a lake filled with pure blue water. This is the core of an ancient volcano, which according to legend, destroyed the lost continent of Atlantis.
Santorini's capital, Fira, perches on a cliff top. Ferries arrive and depart in the harbour below, while visitors walk or ride donkeys up the steep winding path to the town. Fira has hotels, good restaurants, bars and plenty of nightlife to keep tourists happy.
History buffs should visit Ancient Thira's archaeological remains. They date back to the 9th century BC, and they're on the island's east side. Other attractions include the excavations at a Minoan Bronze Age settlement called Akrotiri, an archaeological museum, and an 18th-century monastery. Santorini has two swimming beaches, Perissa and Kamari, both characterised by their volcanic black sand.