Ready to Explore Santorini
October 1, 2019, was our last day in Santorini and we planned on exploring Pyrgos and Kamari, by driving a dune buggy!! Steve had arranged a Dune Buggy through the Concierge at our hotel, Astra Suites and it was waiting for us shortly after breakfast. Steve and I were pretty excited. We did not drive anywhere in Santorini last year as we thought the traffic was outrageous. We had not planned on driving this year, but the roads didn’t seem as busy and after talking with staff at the hotel and others, we decided it would be safe if we headed out early and returned in the afternoon.
- Note: To rent a vehicle or drive in Santorini you must have your international drivers license on you. These can be purchased in the United States through a AAA office.
We were all smiles as we headed out through Imerovigli and then Fira. The traffic wasn’t bad and the day was beautiful, although hot. We enjoyed the countryside with intermittent views of the sea on our way to Pyrgos. We really enjoyed exploring Santorini this way, the dune buggy was comfortable and fun. Pyrgos is a small village located inland Santorini, about 4.66 miles (7.5km) from Fira. In the center of Pyrgos built on a hill is a castle, or Kasteli and settlement. The Kasteli of Pyrgos is from the 13th century and is one of five in Santorini. Pyrgos Kasteli is the best preserved fortress on the island. You will get the most authentic greek village experience on the island here. Unlike Fira and Oia, life is a little slower here and you can imagine life before all the tourism.
We arrived in Pyrgos and found a spot to park near the town square. To visit the village you must park your car and walk. We had been here last year with the Blue Shades of Greece walking tour. Although the tour was fantastic and we saw so much, we knew we wanted to explore even more.
We followed the winding walkways and stairs through the village and up to the Kasteli.
There was a photo opportunity at every turn! The streets, shops, and restaurants, are all so quaint and charming. We also enjoyed the music of a man playing a lyre. Beautiful music.
A photogenic donkey was watching us after we did a bit of shopping.
Once on top of the Kasteli we marveled at the beautiful panoramic views. At times we felt we had the place all to ourselves. It was a bit hazy out so some of the photos do not do justice to the view.
1956 Pyrgos Earthquake
An earthquake hit the area in 1956. This quake caused a lot of damage to the homes built around the Kasteli. Many of these homes were abandoned and remain as they were. It is interesting to see the ruins from the earthquake among the ruins of the castle.
Churches and Steeples
There is definitely not a lack of churches in Pyrgos. Many different styles but all beautiful.
We hopped back in our dune buggy to continue exploring Santorini. We were off to Ancient Thera. Ancient Thera sets atop the Messa Vouno Mountain. It was a bumpy and fun drive. The road winding road was paved with cobblestone almost all the way to the top. The views were spectacular with vistas of the villages below and the Aegean Sea. We were happy to see a snack shop at the top and grabbed a coke.
Ancient Thera dates back to the 9th century BC. We were pretty excited to explore these ruins. Unfortunately, we found Ancient Thera to be closed on Tuesdays, and it was a Tuesday. Regardless, we were able to take a few photos from outside the gates. We also enjoyed the drive up and back down.
Our next stop was Kamari, we wanted to see the black beach, and most importantly, we were ready to eat! Kamari was a busier than Pyrgos. Kamari is situated along the shore of a beautiful rocky black beach. In addition there are many stores and restaurants throughout the town and along a promenade on the beach.
Lunch in Kamari
We ate at Amalthia Tavern, a couple of blocks from the beach. It was amazing! We had the chicken gyro plate and Fava. We loved this place and would go back again, not only for the great food, but also for the wonderful ambiance and great conversation with our waiter.
Kamari Promenade and Black Beach
After eating we strolled along the promenade which runs parallel to the beach. The beach is well organized and plenty of people were enjoying the waters but even though it was hot, we didn’t get in the water. We wanted to go back to our hotel before encountering the late afternoon traffic.
We headed back to our hotel. The traffic did pick up by mid afternoon but Steve did a stellar job driving and we enjoyed our drive back. All in all, exploring Santorini in a dune buggy was a great experience that we both enjoyed and would do again!
Where We Stayed
We Stayed at Astra Suites while in Santorini both this year and last. Astra Suites is the perfect location and is located right in front of the Rock of Skaros. In addition, the sunsets here are beautiful and I believe the best on the island! The staff are beyond accommodating and are very helpful. Equally important, the accommodations are comfortable and relaxing. The infinity pool is peaceful and in addition to priceless views and a poolside bar, it is the perfect place to relax. Not to mention, they have the most wonderful restaurant for watching the sunset at with fantastic service and wonderful food. Click here to book a room at Astra Suites, you won’t regret it!
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