Pyrgos Kallistis – the hidden gem of Santorini
You’ll definitely have heard, read and seen a lot about Santorini. Instagram feeds, magazine covers, and cruise ship itineraries are full of iconic images of this unique Cycladic island. Cue blue-domed churches, sheer cliffs that fall hundreds of metres to the sea filled caldera, swanky hotels with infinity pools and instagrammer influencers all vying for the perfect shot. The villages of the caldera, namely Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia are heavily publicised. In fact, most people when asked about Santorini think about just these places.
Chances are, however, that you’ve probably not heard of Pyrgos. Just a few miles inland from the busy caldera lies one of the most beautiful villages of the island. It’s not brash, it’s not fancy and it certainly manages to maintain a balance between tourist facilities and preserving the real life of the Santorini families who live there. The result is a wonderful mix of authenticity, under-stated luxury and a vibe that is refreshingly Greek. You won’t find tourist traps here. What you will find is a stunning village with a big heart and soul; somewhere where you will feel home and welcomed by the locals.
Pyrgos Village – some interesting facts!
Pyrgos village is the highest village on the island. Situated at the base of Profitis Ilias, the highest point of the island, its position provides sweeping views of the whole island and archipelago.
Pyrgos was once the capital, or more accurately the administrative centre of Santorini. As a result, many of the residents held positions of authority or were involved in lucrative industries, such as shipping and wineries. Quite a few of the buildings have an aristocratic feel about them.
There are over 40 churches in Pyrgos. From the typical, blue-domed churches to small chapels, all of the churches have a history and play a big part in the life of the locals, even today.
Surrounded by wine growing countryside, Pyrgos also boasts some excellent wineries. The volcanic soil and climate conditions of the island gives the wines an incredibly unique mineral quality and taste.
During Easter time, Pyrgos has the most beautiful of traditions. Hundreds of candle lanterns are lit all over the roof tops of churches and buildings. The whole village is lit up providing an unforgettable spectacle.
The location of Pyrgos is very central in the island. The capital is just 4km away and the airport and port remarkably close too.
Pyrgos boasts one of the Venetian castles on the island, arguably the best preserved too.
Best Things to Do in Pyrgos
When you stay in Pyrgos without a doubt one of the things that you will enjoy the most is wandering around the village. The village is mainly pedestrianized apart from an odd donkey or two that you’ll encounter in the narrow and steep cobbled streets. Some people describe Pyrgos like wandering around an open-air museum. All streets lead up to the castle which sits proudly at the top of the village. Around every corner you will see traditional cave houses, cute little boutique shops and restaurants spilling out onto the narrow pathways. Churches are visible all over the village and in the distance the sparkling blue Aegean Sea. Pyrgos really is like a picture-perfect postcard.
Prygos is also a foodies dream. With many great places to eat you’ll have plenty of choice for leisurely lunches of Greek mezes (small sharing plates), candle-lit dinners and traditional taverns offering great value tasty homemade Greek and Santorinian specialities.
When you stay in Pyrgos, you are well positioned to visit local wineries. One of the largest and most visited is the Santo Winery located 5 minutes’ drive from the centre of Pyrgos. The winery is exceedingly popular mainly because of the excellent wines and stunning location on the cliff edge. You can choose to sample 6, 8, 12 or 18 wines or simply order your favourite bottle and admire the breath-taking views. There is also an on-site shop selling wines and delicacies from the island of Santorini, like tomato paste, capers and dips.
If you want to explore the island of Santorini, then Pyrgos’ central location makes this very easy. The volcanic beaches of the east coast are within easy reach. Either take the local bus or hire a car and in 15 minutes you can be swimming in the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea.
FIra, the capital of Santorini is also close by. There’s a local bus that goes from Pyrgos square to the centre of Fira. Go there for shopping, visit the museums, grab a coffee in one of the caldera bars or book a table for a sunset meal overlooking the caldera.
Accommodation in Pyrgos – Hotels and Villas
One of the best things about Pyrgos is the excellent choice of accommodation in Pyrgos Village. You won’t find large, impersonal hotels here. Instead, expect family run guest houses, small complexes of suites and unique Santorini Cave Houses that have been lovingly restored and with all the mod cons.
Best Restaurants and Bars in Pyrgos
As previously mentioned, eating out in Pyrgos is true pleasure. The quality of places to eat and drink in Pyrgos is matched no where else on the island. Traditional Greek food can be found in lovely, friendly tavernas dotted around the village. Cocktails at sunset time are best had in Francos bar at the top of the village. Down in the main square, there are several great places to sit for coffee, drinks and sharing Greek platters. There’s also an excellent bakery there too. It’s not a surprise that many of the local Greeks from all over the island come to Pyrgos to eat out.
So there you have it. There’s more to Santorini than just what you see on the front of glossy magazines and Instagram feeds. If you’re looking for an authentic stay in Santorini, then head inland just a few kilometres to magical village of Pyrgos Kallistis. For more information on why you should stay in Pyrgos when you visit Santorini, check out the Cave House Blog at Demeter Cave House, Pyrgos, Santorini.