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Why visit Santorini? | Where is Santorini? | When to visit? | General info | Tips for first-timers | Need help? | More
The everlasting beauty of Santorini Greece attracts thousands of visitors every year and it is no wonder that the island is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Its wild volcanic landscape, the rugged cliffs, the wild nature and beautiful beaches combined with its rich history and traditions make Santorini the gem of Greece.
Santorini got its present half-moon shape in about 1,650 BC when a severe volcanic eruption took place. In the ancient times, the shape of the island was round and in fact, a myth says that Santorini was emerged out of the sea in a miraculous way. However, the intense volcanic eruption of 1,650 BC disappeared about half of the island, covered in ashes the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri on the south of the island and raised waves so high that reached the northern coasts of Crete and destroyed the Minoan towns there, including the famous Knossos Palace.
Today, half of Santorini caldera is submerged, which makes it the only sunken caldera in the world. The volcano of Santorini remains still active and along centuries many eruptions have occasionally occurred. The latest was as recently as 1956 when small volcanic islets emerged from the bottom of the caldera. In one of these eruptions, the islet Nea Kameni emerged, just opposite the caldera villages. This volcano can be visited by boat or jet ski excursions and it is a must-see in Santorini.
The most marvellous thing about Santorini is the architecture of the villages, built right on the edge of the caldera. These picturesque villages distinguish for their sugar-cube houses, the paved streets, the wonderful churches and most of all the breathtaking view to the Aegean Sea. In fact, the marvellous architecture of the island makes it a great location for parkour, this new impressive sports. From Oia, you will enjoy the most romantic sunset of your life, with the orange sun dipping into the sea. Due to this special atmosphere, Santorini has become a popular wedding and, at the same time, honeymoon destination.
The beauty of Santorini has inspired many writers and artists along time as well as cinema makers who frequently choose this island for shooting their movies. Jules Vern had visited Santorini in one of his travels. In fact, he mentions Santorini in his book Twenty thousand leagues under the sea and also was inspired by the novel The Mysterious Island in which Captain Nemo and his crew watched a volcanic eruption. Also, the Greek poet George Seferis wrote a poem about Santorini in the 1960s, while the internationally-famous composer Yanni created a wonderful composition inspired by the island.
Many people also find connections between the island of Santorini and Atlantis, although this theory is believed to be a myth today. Apart from walking the caldera villages, also worth to visit in Santorini are the lovely beaches on the southern side of the island, including the Red Beach, Kamari, and Perissa, which have developed into large beach resorts.
Santorini is the most famous of all Greek islands and a number one summer destination worldwide. The beauty of this island is incomparable to any other in the world. The amazing Caldera formed by the volcanic eruption centuries ago, resulted in the most amazing sea views a human eye can ever see. Furthermore, the villages built with the clean, simple lines of the Cycladic architecture, the important ancient sites, the traditional blue domed churches and the impressive black sand beaches, make a visit to Santorini an experience that you will remember for a lifetime.
It's an island located on the southern side of the Aegean sea, in the region of Cyclades islands, between the islands of Ios and Anafi. View an interactive map of Santorini.
The best period to visit is between April and October. View the weather in Santorini per month.
Santorini is a small island but there are many things to see, villages and beaches. We recommend 2 to 5 days on the island. Discover our suggestions for 1,2,3 days.
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Santorini, as one of the most popular islands in Greece, proposes many tours and activities including visits to the volcano by boat or jet ski, bus rides around the island and visits to the most beautiful places such as Oia village, the Red beach, the ancient site of Akrotiri and more. You will also find in this section a selection with the best restaurants, cafe, bars and wineries, some sports that can be practiced (scuba diving, water sports, kitesurfing, sailing) but also information about shopping, cinema, yoga, workshops and more.
Apart from the caldera villages with the traditional Cycladic architecture, such as Oia and Fira, the black sandy beaches like the Red beach, Kamari or Perivolos, the many museums and churches, there are many things of historical importance to see in Santorini. The most important ancient site is Minoan Akrotiri, a town that was entirely covered by volcanic ash when the volcano of Santorini erupted in about 1,500 BC. Another less-known archaeological site in Santorini is Ancient Thera, located on top of a hill above Perissa and offering a breathtaking view.
It is very easy to travel to Santorini. The island is connected by plane and by ferry. Santorini has an international airport with domestic flights from Athens but it is also connected with many international airports around Europe. You can also travel to Santorini by ferry from Athens and from many islands in the Aegean sea. Ferries depart for Santorini on a daily basis from the port of Piraeus in Athens and from the port of Rafina during summertime.
Santorini offers a good public bus network. The central station is located in Fira, the capital of the island and offers routes to almost all places around the island and certainly to the most touristy villages and beaches. Buses is the cheapest way to discover the island. But buses do not cover all the island. In the case someone is adventurous and wants to discover some hidden gems, we highly recommend to rent a car. Avoid renting a bike if you are not an experimented driver. There are many accidents every year. An other way to explore the most famous places of Santorini is with an organized tour and there are many of them on a daily basis.
The first human presence on Santorini is dated back to the Neolithic Period. One of the most important civilization of Ancient times, the Minoans, had a colony on the island around 3600 BC. There were victims of the eruption of the volcano that was so strong that it destroyed the entire island. Some people associate this destruction with the legend of the lost Atlantis. The remain of their town is still visible today at the Ancient site of Akrotiri. Many other civilization settled there during its history, like the Phoenicians. The remains of their town is visible at the site of Ancient Thera.
Santorini consists of a semicircular archipelago of volcanic islands located on the southern Aegean Sea, between the islands of Ios and Anafi. In Greek, Santorini is also known as Thira or Thera. Santorini is a part of the Cycladic group of islands. The area of the island is 96 sq km whereas the coastline surrounding the island stretches for almost 69 km. The capital of Santorini is Fira and the entire population is about 13,500 people.
Santorini is characterized by its Cycladic architecture: white painted villages that stand on the top of the high red-coloured cliffs. Santorini architecture is featured uniquely throughout its settlements. Whitewashed houses in complete harmony with its volcanic scenery, it is without a doubt that the villages of Santorini were built to meet perfection. Such an example is the beautiful village of Oia.
The island of Santorini hosts many international events like the Jazz Festival and the Ifestia Festival but also many local religious festivals. The island has many churches and every church's patron saint is celebrated. We recommend visitors to attend to such feats as the major ones offer festivities, dancing and cooking.
The unique volcanic land of Santorini and its perfect climate lead to the production of high-quality products, even if water is not present in great quantities. The volcanic activity has made the soil very fertile and methods were invented to avoid the use of too much water. The island is famous for its vineyards and wineries and some of the wines produced have became renowned around the world. The island is also famous for its fava, a vegetable that looks smaller than a pea, and the very tasty cherry tomatoes that only grows on Santorini.
Apart from the magical setting and the volcanic landscape of Santorini, the island is also known for the lively atmosphere. When the night falls, visitors will experience the nightlife in the high cliff bars and some legendary clubs.
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Santorini is a marvellous island that gets very popular in July and August, so if you like calm vacations go from April to June or from September to October. Do not miss the boat trip to the volcano and the sunset in Oia (or at least to another caldera village, like Fira and Imerovigli). The beaches are not the highlight of Santorini, but nice enough if you want to enjoy a swim. Most popular beaches are the Red beach, Kamari and Perissa. Also visit the Minoan town of Akrotiri, which reopened in April 2012 after seven years of reconstruction.
Read also: Santorini last minute holidays | Santorini in winter | The famous wine of Santorini | Santorini or Mykonos?
Arriving at the port
The main port of Santorini is Athinios, located 10 km from Fira, the capital of Santorini. This is where ferries arrive and depart from Santorini. There is a taxi rank at the port and public buses every time a ferry arrives, even at night.
The other port of Santorini, the old port in Fira, is used only for cruise ships to dock and for tour boats, not for ferries. All ferries arrive and depart from Athinios.
Arriving at the airport
The airport of Santorini is located in Monolithos, close to the beach resorts of the island. There are taxis outside the airport as well as a public bus.
Santorini is considered a luxury destination so be prepared for an expensive visit. It is a tourist island and most services, from food to taxis, are a bit expensive. Still, you can find better prices if you make early bird bookings or visit low season.
Roads are very good in Santorini, although they are narrow (one line per direction). Cars are not allowed to enter the caldera villages (Fira, Oia, etc), so you have to park outside the village and then walk. Be careful if you are driving scooter/ motorbike because accidents are pretty frequent.
There are frequent buses that work from early in the morning till midnight in Santorini. The central bus station is located in Fira and from there you take the bus to the north (Oia and other villages) or south (Kamari, Perissa, Akrotiri).
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