From north to south:
The traditional settlement of Oia is located on the northern tip of the island, high on the cliff-top, particularly popular with the honeymooners and couples as Oia hosts some of the most magnificent views on Santorini.
The village square overlooks the sea and from here at sunset you can view and capture on your camera some fantastic sunset images. Amoudi bay is directly below the village, accessible only by a steep path down the cliff.
The unique appeal of Oia lies in its village houses, many hewn out of the volcanic rock, with some whitewashed and others painted blue and ochre. There are neoclassical mansions with their courtyards, narrow cobbled alleys and blue domes sparkling in the sunlight.
The naval museum (10AM-2PM and 5PM-8PM, closed Tuesday) is housed in an old mansion and portrays the maritime history of the island and its inhabitants. There are many exhibits that include rare figureheads, old maritime equipment and models of ancient and modern Thiran ships.
Oia also has a cultural centre, an art gallery and a host of shops that sell handicrafts, jewellery, and a variety of souvenirs.
This is a small village just outside Oia, which preserves many of the architectural and social elements of old Santorini. A lovely place to take a stroll and take in all the amazing colours and styles of the local houses.
Located north of Fira and really a continuance of the town, it also is perched on the edge of the cliffs. Once again from here you get stunning views of the caldera and volcano and there are a number of interesting churches to visit.
Imerovigli is situated at the highest point on the rim of the caldera at over 300 metres above sea level. The village is a short distance from Fira and one of the villages that should not be missed during your vacation.
Beside the village is the castle of Scaros that guarded the western entrance to the island from attacks and its defences were never breached during its 600-year life. It was at the castle in 1207 that the Venetian leader Marko Sanouthos, after conquering the island, renamed the island Santorini, after Saint Irene.
Messaria is a very picturesque village, surrounded as it is by gardens and vineyards, situated 4 km from Fira in the centre of the island to the southeast. As the prime location of wine production on the island, Messaria has recently seen the development of luxury hotels and specialist shops. The churches of Metamorphosis tou Sotiris and Agia Irini, both built between 1680 and 1700 and the church of Metropolis are all worth a visit.
Messaria has a Cycladic charm with its picturesque white washed houses and tiny winding streets.
The village of Vothonas is 6 km from the town of Fira. It is one of the most picturesque villages of Santorini. You can usually be assured of peace and quiet to walk and enjoy this quaint village carved out of rocks. There are many inspiring facades of houses that are conspicuous by their stylish doorways and pilasters that blend perfectly with the profusion of white domed houses.
A visit to Vothonas is incomplete without visiting the magnificent church of St. Anna, which happens to be the oldest church in the village, being built in 1827. The main focal point in the church is the intricately carved wooden panel, depicting scenes from the Old Testament.
On the road to Kamari beach, the Wine Museum (12AM–8PM daily), presents the history of wine making on the island from 1660. There are auto-guides and audio-visual effects and the visitor can watch the film "The history of Santorini". The museum is located in a natural cave 6 metres underground and 300 metres long.
Santorini is famous for its wine and therefore, whilst on the island, a visit to a winery should be on your itinerary. Too many to mention in detail, but I can mention the Canava Roussos (Mesa Gonia, Kamari) and Hatzidakis (Pyrgos Kallistis). They are open to public and will let you taste some good dry white wine they produce.
The village has some fine old houses, the remains of a Venetian castle (worthy only for the views from its "battlements") and several Byzantine churches; the most notable is the Theotokaki, with some interesting frescoes.
The Monastery of Profitis Ilias, lies 3 km from the village. Located on the peak of the mountain of the same name, its construction started in 1771. The monastery"s museum is full of ecclesiastical articles, including icons from 15th and 18th centuries, a 20th century iron cross, silver bound scriptures, and the diamond-adorned mitre of the Patriarch Gregory 5th.
The monastery plays host to a fascinating religious feast on the 20th July each year.
The village of Megalochori is 6 Km from Fira and contains the churches of Agia Anargyri, Isodia tis Theotokou and Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis (marmaro is the Greek name for marble) on the road to Emborio, all worth a visit.
Emborio is a larger village with small picturesque streets and pretty whitewashed houses. The village also had a castle during the medieval age, remains of which are still visible. North of the village there is a strong, square fortified building named "Goulas", in which the inhabitants sheltered during pirate raids.