Category: Top Santorini posts (page 3 of 6)

Santorini claims #1 spot on T+L magazine readers’ ranking of best islands in Europe & the world


Oia Santorini

Luxury hotels crown the spectacular caldera cliffs in Santorini’s Oia village

 Reader favourite: Santorini is the world’s best island for 2014, according to a survey of Travel + Leisure magazine readers.

Santorini beat out three Hawaiian islands as well as Bali, Indonesia to claim top spot in T+L’s World’s Best Awards 2014. Last year, Santorini held fourth place.

The American travel magazine announced the results of its 19th annual reader poll on July 2.

Although Santorini was the top-rated island globally and the only European island to make the worldwide Top 10, Greek islands scored well on the Top Islands in Europe poll, claiming three of the top 5 spots.  Santorini captured the #1 rating, of course, while Crete took #3 and Mykonos claimed #5. (Two Italian islands, Capri and Sicily, took the #2 and #4 places, respectively).

Last year, Santorini and Crete held the same rankings for best islands in Europe, while Mykonos failed to crack the Top 5.

The annual reader survey is highly influential and should help Greece maintain its record-setting appeal to travellers from North America. Last year, Travel + Leisure had an average monthly print circulation of nearly 1 million copies, and its web edition achieved an average of 38 million page views per month. The publication has a readership of 6.5 million people, more than 2.4 million of whom are considered “affluent” travellers with a high personal net worth.

When the magazine announced Santorini’s top ranking in a post with a photograph of Oia on the T+L Facebook page, one reader added the comment: “Now I understand why gods choose Greece to live.”


You can view hundreds of photos of the world’s #1 island in my Santorini photo collection on Flickr.  There are thousands of pics of Europe’s #5 island in my Mykonos photo collection, also on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. Unfortunately, there’s no collection of Crete photos at this time — I haven’t been to that island since 2004 and don’t have images from that vacation online. Clearly, I’ve got to get back to Crete!

Petition seeks better working conditions for mules & donkeys used as ‘tourist taxis’ on Santorini


Santorini donkeys

Some of the mules used to transport tourists up and down hundreds of steps between the cruiseship tender dock and Fira, the main town on Santorini


Animal abuse: An international online petition is urging local authorities on Santorini to make significant improvements to the welfare and working conditions of dozens of mules and donkeys that are forced to repeatedly carry tourists up and down hundreds of steps on the island every day, often without adequate water, shade and rest.

The petition is the latest in a series of efforts The Donkey Sanctuary has undertaken during the past 8 years as part of an ongoing campaign to reduce and prevent abuse and cruelty toward donkeys and mules on Santorini, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

I described The Donkey Sanctuary’s earlier initiatives in my April 12 2013 post, Don’t ride the donkeys! Why tourists should avoid taking the mule ‘taxis’ on Santorini, which has since become the most-read report on my website. (Please click on the link to see the article and photos if you aren’t already aware of the Santorini donkey situation.)



Animals are denied access to shade, water & rest for long periods

The Donkey Sanctuary decided to launch the latest course of action after an independent report produced in 2013 “revealed that many of these animals are forced to carry overweight passengers and are denied access to shade, water and rest for hours at a time. Poor quality saddles and bridles are often used and safety guidelines are regularly ignored, placing tourists at risk of injury. “

“Over the past few years we have attempted to work with the town municipality to provide training and equipment for the taxi operators although unfortunately, the standards have not been maintained and the level of complaints has risen yet again,” The Sanctuary explains on its website.

The petition calls for a number of “urgent improvements” to the welfare of Santorini’s mule taxis, including provision of adequate shelter and shade, access to fresh water, predetermined weight limits for passengers, and regular veterinary and tack inspections, among others.

Names collected on the petition “will be presented to the mayor of Santorini as part of our campaign to improve standards for donkeys and mules working in the tourism industry,” The Sanctuary says.


Donkey Sanctuary

A screen capture of The Donkey Sanctuary website post explaining reasons for its petition to prevent cruelty to mules and donkeys in Santorini


Soar above Santorini!


This video, which was posted online by YouTube member neasantorinis, shows astounding aerial views of Santorini as well as the adjacent volcano island of Nea Kameni. Click the arrow to play the video, and enjoy your flight!



Aenaon Villas’ traditional design blends beautifully into Santorini’s spellbinding caldera landscape


Aenaon Villas Santorini

Aenaon Villas sits nestled against the side of a rugged cliff on Santorini’s spectacular caldera. Designed in traditional Cycladic architecture, Aenaon’s seven luxury villas boast breathtaking views of nearby Thirasia island (upper left)



Aenaon Villas swimming pool views of the Santorini caldera

as well as Imerovigli village and Skaros Rock (upper left), the Nea Kameni volcano island (top center) and of course the mesmerizing blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Click on the image to view a larger-size photo.



Perfect fit: Spectacular scenery and magnificent views are the top two natural attractions that always take my breath away on Santorini.  But the island’s outstanding architecture can leave me almost as speechless — particularly some of the traditionally-designed homes and hotels perched precariously on the crests and sides of the precipitous caldera cliffs.

In fact, one of the things I enjoy most about walking the scenic clifftop path from Fira to Oia is admiring the architecture and design of buildings we pass along the way. I am absolutely fascinated by the sight of hotel suites, terraces and infinity swimming pools built into the sides of sheer cliff walls that rise hundreds of feet above the sea. I am also amazed to see villas and boutique hotels under construction on cliffside real estate I would have considered to be unlikely places for new building development.


Captivating views on the Fira to Oia cliff walk

We haven’t done a cliff walk since our last visit to Santorini in 2006, but I know I will blown away by the natural and man-made scenery whenever we return to take the hike again. The views of the caldera, the sea, the Nea Kameni volcano and nearby Thirasia island are timeless, and will eternally be captivating. The four cliffside villages (Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia) will still be impressive, too. And some new (since our last visit) developments along the caldera — like Aenaon Villas near Imerovigli — will be waiting to “wow” me.

A complex of seven luxurious villas, Aenaon was built in 2009 and occupies a superb vantage point along the cliff path between Imerovigli and Oia. Its traditional Cycladic architecture, designed by Giorgos Zacharopoulos, features natural elements including boulders and stone walls that enable the villas to blend perfectly into their surroundings. Though they’re certainly eye-catching and beguiling, the brilliant white buildings don’t detract from the spectacular scenery or appear out of place — they actually complement the rocky, rugged terrain and add drama to the location’s imposing landscape.


Killer views from terraces and the infinity pool

But Aenaon isn’t just beautiful buildings with killer views from the villas, terraces, infinity pool and other points on the property. According to travellers who have reviewed the villas on sites like, Aenaon is a “paradise” and a place “dreams are made of.” As of May 10, Aenaon was the #1 B&B and Inn property on the TripAdvisor chart for Imerovigli (out of 23 listings). It had 297 reviews, 293 of which rated it “excellent” and the other four “very good.”

Below is a series of photos of Aenaon Villas which proprietors Giorgos and Alexandra have kindly permitted me to republish on my blog. Check the Aenaon Villas website for further information about the villas as well as more stunning photos of the property, including the interiors of the suites. The website includes a chart listing rates for the four main travel seasons that Aenaon is open, and has a section where you can check availability and book online. Dozens more beautiful photos of the villas can be seen on the Aenaon Villas Facebook page, or by clicking on this link to the Aenaon Villas Pinterest profile.


 View toward the villas from the infinity pool at Aenaon Villas in Santorini

An evening view of the villas from the terrace next to the infinity pool. Click the image to view a full-size photo.



Aenaon Villas Santorini

A panoramic view from the infinity pool terrace at sunset



Aenaon Villas Santorini

Villa view from the far side of the infinity pool



Aenaon Villas  Santorini

Villa Elidami, one of the seven luxury villas at Aenaon



Aenaon Villas Santorini

I love the sharp colour contrasts between the brown volcanic landscape, the cobalt sky, the turquoise pool water and the stark white buildings and grounds



Aenaon Villas Santorini

This photo by Vangelis Beltzenitis captures the infinity pool and terrace at sunset. The pool and deck offer jaw-dropping views of Imerovigli village and Skaros Rock (left) as well as the volcanic isles Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni (center).



Aenaon Villas

Swimming pool and terrace view toward Thirasia island



Aenaon Villas

I could admire the scenery from one of those lounge chairs for hours on end



Aenaon Villas

The caldera cliffs loom large to the south of the infinity pool



Aenaon Villas

This photo by Vangelis Beltzenitis shows two of the beautiful pools and a view of the marvellous caldera scenery



Aenaon Villas

Photographer Louisa Nikolaidou captured this side view of Aenaon Villas with part of Oia village visible in the background.



Aenaon Villas

The entrance to a quiet courtyard sitting area



Aenaon Villas

Another view from the swimming pool



Aenaon Villas

A Vangelis Beltzenitis photo capturing the sky, one of the villas, and some of the surrounding landscape



Aenaon Villas

Twilight view from the seaview terrace



Aenaon Villas

Twilight view of one of the villas



Aenaon Villas

The villas and a large stone wall behind the swimming pool



Aenaon Villas

A breathtaking view from the swimming pool at sunset



Aenaon Villas

This photo of a surreal cloud formation passing above the infinity pool was posted on the Aenaon Villas Facebook page on May 3



Giorgos and Alexandra from Aenaon Villas

Giorgos and Alexandra are the proprietors and hosts at Aenaon Villas 



Aenaon Villas

Succulent vegetation on the rugged landscape beside the villas



Aenaon Villas

Just one of the many exhilarating views from Aenaon Villas



Aenaon Villas

This is my favourite photo of Aenaon Villas because it highlights the buildings’ traditional Cycladic architecture while clouds provide a dramatic backdrop. The villa complex was designed by Giorgos Zacharopoulos.



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