the supermodel of the greek islands (santorini, greece) by karen kranenburg

You feel you know stunningly photogenic Santorini even if you have never been there, Instantly recognizable; all whitewashed buildings spilling down lofty cliffsides, offering gasp inducing panoramas from land or sea and a myriad of churches with electric blue domes. 

Santorini is all that and so much more‚Ķ‚Ķ that is why it features on so many travellers ‚ÄúBucket Lists‚Ä̂Ķ..High on that list is the experience of photographing the sunset in the Caldera; day after day nature‚Äôs handiwork is on display. Prime viewing is in Oia, where thousands of tourists literally flock to applaud the nightfall.¬† One stops, sits, sips and just watches the spectacle unfold; it‚Äôs an Instagrammers paradise.

Part of the Cyclades island group, Santorini (officially known as Thira) sits in the Aegean Sea, roughly halfway between Athens  and Crete.   In recent years it has undergone dramatic changes and humble yposkafa have been transformed into expensive cave hotels; once a subdued traditional village with black clad grandmothers hanging out laundry, it is now an urbane destination for the discerning traveller.

From its bustling capital Fira in the West  which sprawls North to Firostefani and the star scathing Imerovigli, all offering great views of the sunset, volcano and the Caldera. To Santorini’s more affordable less glitzy East Coast, where resorts and volcanic sand beaches filled with sun-loungers offer a very different drawcard. From the South Coast, that has a string of beaches famed for their intense multicolored sand to the island’s interior, dotted with vineyards and traditional villages that let you see beyond the tourist hustle, Santorini has something for everyone.

But the jewel in this crown is the exclusive village of Oia in the absolute North of the island, a warren of alleyways, and stairways ¬†(for the less agile amongst us the traditional donkey is still used to traverse the Village‚Äôs meandering passageways)¬† filled with gift shops, restaurants and luxury boutique hotels, with whitewashed interiors, terraces and infinity pools that have inspired many a marriage proposal, and provided the backdrop for numerous high‚ÄĒfashion photo shoots.¬†

Greece has 6,000 islands of which 227 are inhabited, and while  other islands might offer a more authentic Greek flavour, none of them have the same magnetic pull like Santorini; there is no denying the uniqueness of this destination or its titanic allure.

Better know to her friends as the Global Nomad, Karen Kranenburg has traveled to over 94 countries; from scaling the heady heights of Mount Everest to diving with sharks in Borneo… Her travel stories have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers around the world. For more photos of Santorini and other inspirational destinations from her global travels, check her out on Instagram @karenkranenburg