Santorini, or else called Thera, is a unique destination famous for its great allure. It is a volcanic island included in the Cyclades group of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Thousands of years ago a huge volcanic eruption caused the center of the island to collapse creating a caldera (or crater). The present crescent-shaped island encompasses the volcanic islets which were created after the volcanic eruption. Specifically, the municipality of Santorini includes the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia as well as the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni and Aspronisi. Santorini’s stunning sunsets, dramatic views, multicolored cliffs, whitewashed buildings and volcanic-sand beaches are only some of the reasons why the island hosts millions of tourists annually.
Cost of Living:
When to Visit
January – March Low season; many businesses are closed. However, the weather can be very unpredictable but it’s usually windy and cold. Fira is the best place to visit during this period.
June – August High season; prices are at their peak. It is the best time to visit if you are interested in the island’s nightlife. The Ifestia Festival takes place every August and involves a representation of the volcano’s eruption with a series of interesting events and concerts.
September & October Still high season; the weather gets colder but you can still enjoy a swim in the sea. During September, the International Music Festival welcomes artists from the international music scene to perform for two weeks in Fira.
Fira is the capital of Santorini and it is the most important of all villages. Located on the west coast of the island, it is one of the islands caldera view towns. Fira is also considered the cultural and commercial center of Santorini, filled with museums, galleries and cultural events. Ideal for those who seek an entertaining day or night, Fira includes the best options for dining and partying at one of the numerous bars, cafés and restaurants found here. Visit this typical Cycladic village with the beautiful white houses and the small paved streets, and enjoy the incredible view of the volcano and the sunset.
To the northernmost part of the Caldera is the town of Oia, the most famous of all villages in Santorini. Situated on top of a stunning cliff, this scenic village offers a spectacular view over the volcano and the island of Therasia. It is located 11 kilometers away from Fira, the capital of Santorini. Oia is a traditional village with whitewashed houses in narrow streets and blue domed churches. It is the commercial part of the island, filled with tourist shops, taverns and cafés. This picturesque village offers memorable views of one of the most breathtaking sunsets in Greece.
Oia also has a charming port, Ammoudi, which can be reached by a set of approximately 300 steps leading down. Around the natural bay there are only a few traditional buildings and a few taverns where you can enjoy meals of fresh fish in picturesque scenery. Next to Ammoudi, there is a small rocky beach, ideal for diving. Also, there are small boats that can take you opposite, to the island of Therasia.
The short boat ride from Ammoudi takes you to an unimproved rural place in Santorini without tourists. Therasia is a small island which was separated from the rest of the land mass due to the volcanic eruption of the late 17th century BC. It shares with Santorini the same architectural design of the houses and churches as well as the breathtaking views; however, it differs from the cosmopolitan and active atmosphere that Santorini has. Known for its serenity and natural beauty, Therasia is a wonderful place to visit if you seek for quietness. It is also an ideal place for trekking through the plenty natural paths of the island.
Nea Kameni is another Greek island of volcanic origin within the Caldera of Santorini and today it is protected as a natural monument and a national geological park. It has erupted eight times in the past 1,900 years and it has been dormant since 1950. Plenty of tourists visit the place in order to climb to the top of the 130-meter-high volcanic crater and enjoy the amazing views it offers. Nea Kameni can be reached by a boat from the port of Fira and you can also enter the National Geological Park.
Imerovigli is one of the caldera view towns situated at the north of Santorini, only 2 kilometers away from the capital of Fira. Its name comes from the word vigla which means view spot, indicating the fact that Imerovigli is one of the most beautiful balconies of Santorini. It is a traditional settlement filled with traditional houses, taverns and cafés where you can enjoy the amazing views to the caldera. It also has plenty of chapels and churches built on the rocks. Imerovigli is considered as the ideal romantic destination.
Only 9 kilometers away from the capital Fira, Megalochori is one of the most picturesque villages in Santorini. Famous for the numerous vineyards on the countryside, the village offers top quality wine which you definitely need to experience. The popular Boutari winery is situated here. Megalochori is a traditional village filled with white Cycladic houses, historical mansions and scenic churches.
Santorini can be reached either by plane or ferryboat. The flight lasts about 45 minutes and from April till the end of October there are various charter flights as well. The airport of Santorini is about 3 kilometers outside Fira. As for the ferryboats, there are 3 types of ferries that can take you to the island.
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera, located in Fira, houses a large number of artifacts from various excavations such as: the excavations at Akrotiri, conducted under the auspices of the Archaeological Society of Athens, the excavations at Potamos by members of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and other excavations at various sites on the island. It covers the island’s history from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Cycladic I period.
A great place to take pictures of the beautiful seascape and the city of Oia. The Byzantine Castle Ruins are the remains of a castle that dates back to the 15th century and it is situated between Oia and Ormos Ammoudia. Visit this place and enjoy the amazing panoramic views as well as the famous sunset over Oia.
Visit one of the top 10 wine museums in the world. The Koutsogiannopoulos Wine Museum is housed in an amazing natural cave, 6 meters below ground and 300 meters long. Situated on the way to Kamari beach, the museum has everything a visitor would like to know about winemaking. It offers a personal tour, accompanied by audio guides and sound effects. Every Friday the visitors can enjoy a traditional Greek night and meal with live music and dancers in traditional costumes.
November-March Monday – Saturday: 09:30AM – 02:00PM (Closed on Sundays)
April-May Monday – Sunday 10:00AM – 05:00PM
June-October Monday – Sunday 10:00AM – 07:00PM
For more information visit www.santoriniwinemuseum.com.
This Roman Catholic Church is located in the city center of Fira and it was built in 1823. The architecture of Saint John the Baptist Cathedral is in the Baroque Style and it stands out for its colors and size. It suffered from the earthquake of 1956 but it was reconstructed and renovated in 1970.
The archaeological site of Akrotiri is located on the southern side of the island, between the village of Akrotiri and Red beach. It is a Minoan Bronze Age settlement which was destroyed by the volcanic eruption and it was buried in volcanic ash. Get here and walk down streets thousands of years old and explore the remnants of an ancient city.
1 November-31 March Tuesday – Sunday 08:00AM – 03:00PM
1 April-31 October Tuesday & Thursday–Sunday 08:00AM–08:00PM/ Thursday 08:00AM–03:00PM
Price:€12/reduced ticket €6
Excavations in the area have revealed a Hellenistic settlement dated back to the 9th century BC. Ancient Thera is an antique city worth visiting with splendid views. The ruins include temples, pottery from Geometric period, sculptures and houses with mosaics.
Open: Tuesday–Sunday 08:00AM–03:00PM (Mondays closed)
Price:€4/reduced ticket €2
It is one of the most unique and famous beaches in Greece. Its name derives from the red and black volcanic stone and sand that make it one of the island’s most photographed sites. Located next to the archaeological site of Akrotiri, Red Sand Beach can be reached either by walking from Akrotiri or by car; in this case you can leave it in the parking space and continue all the way down to the beach. It is mostly famous for sunbathing and snorkeling due to the interesting rocks that surround the area. Keep in mind that the beach can be really crowded especially during warm months.
Located 10 kilometers southeast of Fira and near the National Airport, Kamari is one of the most visited resorts in Santorini. The beach is covered by black sand in an extremely attractive beachscape. It offers plenty facilities, such as sunbeds, umbrellas and a variety of water sports. You can easily access the beach by the bus that departs from Fira and other places of the island. There is also a big parking area where you can leave your vehicle. There are also plenty hotels, restaurants, cafés, snack bars as well as night clubs at the village of Kamari.
Perissa is an attractive beach located 15 kilometers southeast of Fira. Its black sand and crystal clear waters, in combination with the amazing view of the rocks that shine in the dark, make Perissa a unique beach. It is organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, beach bars as well as a playground for children. Perissa village offers a variety of facilities like hotels, restaurants, taverns and bars.
This beautiful beach with clean waters is located 4 kilometers south of Fourni village, on the southernmost spot of Santorini. Surrounded by high rocks, Vlihada has warm and shallow waters, making the area a safe place for children. There are no tourist facilities here, and you can get at the beach either by boat or a car.
This pebbled beach is more of a harbor that a beach. It is usually full of garbage and the blustery sea breeze makes sunbathing difficult. It is located 7 kilometers from Fira, at the northeastern side of Santorini. During warm days without winds, the beach is ideal for those who seek a quiet place to relax.
Situated in the village of Akrotiri, 14 kilometers away from Fira, you can find one of the most remarkable beaches. It owes its name to the white pebbles and the surrounding white cliffs. Just like most beaches on the island, this tiny beach is composed of volcanic sand and stones. It is a quiet beach with no facilities, only a few sunbeds and umbrellas as well as a canteen. It is a perfect place for snorkeling due to the interesting underwater caves. Ideal if you look for a peaceful and relaxing place!
Santorini is not famous for its beaches; they are good but not great. Don’t expect the idyllic beaches like the ones that other Greek islands have. However, the natural setting is the main reason that makes these beaches stand out.