Santorini

Photo © Kamar

Travel Guide Europe Greece South Aegean Cyclades Santorini

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Introduction

santorini

santorini

© Kamar

Santorini is a stunningly beautiful group of islands (the southernmost of the Cyclades group) in the Aegean Sea, south of mainland Greece and west of Turkey. The archipelago enjoys a superb climate, making it a favourite in summer, when tourists flock to the island's main towns to enjoy the vibrant nightlife and gorgeous scenery.

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Islands

  • Thera
  • Thirasia
  • Nea Kameni (uninhabited)
  • Palea Kameni (uninhabited)
  • Aspronisi (uninhabited)

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Villages

There are several villages on the main island, Thera.

  • Akrotiri
  • Thira is the main picturesque town perched on the cliff.
  • Emporio
  • Kamari
  • Oia is the place to go to see a good sunset.
  • Fira - the capital
  • Pyrgos
  • Perisa
  • Megalochori
  • Mesaria
  • Monolithos
  • Vlichada

The town of Thirasia can be found on the nearby island of same name.

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Sights and Activities

Archaeological Site of Akrotiri

Akrotiri Minoan Site is located on the southern side of the island, in a close distance to the famous Red Beach. It is visited by thousands of visitors each year thanks to the amazing findings of an ancient fully-working and developed settlement, which was constructed around 4,500 B.C. The town of Akrotiri was covered by ashes and lava due to the enormous volcanic eruption around 1,650 B.C., and thus, it was preserved intact through time.

Museum of Prehistoric Thera and Archaeological Museum

The Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archaeological Museum are located in Fira Santorini. They exhibit findings, such as ceramics, marble statues, tools, weaponry and frescoes that have been excavated in Akrotiri Santorini, Ancient Thera and other areas of Santorini. The Museum of Prehistoric Thera has more impressive exhibits than the Archaeological Museum, which on the other hand, has a larger collection with findings from Archaic, Geometric, Hellenistic and Roman Periods.

The excursion to volcano, hot springs and Thirassia

In the middle of the caldera, stands the famous volcano of Santorini, a place you should definitely not miss. Many boats organise excursions to the volcano, where you can swim in its hot springs, which are considered to function therapeutically. The excursion includes also a visit to the two famous islets near volcano, Nea Kameni and Thirassia. You can swim there, eat traditional food in one of the popular taverns of the islets and enjoy an amazing view of the caldera and Santorini.

Wine tasting excursion

The wine of Santorini is famous worldwide. The volcanic soil and the special climate of the island give a unique taste to the local wine. Vinsanto, Mezzo and Nychteri are the most popular wine varieties that can be found in every restaurant of Santorini as well as high quality cellars all over the world. A spectacular excursion you can do during your vacations in Santorini is to visit some wineries on the countryside of the island. In their large vineyards, you can learn about the wine-making procedure and taste a glass of their unique wine.

Boat trips to several islands

The practice of exploring several islands in the course of one greater trip has become a popular experience in recent decades. The groups of islands located around the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea have developed an enticing combination of typical Greek culture by creating their own unique history and tradition. Santorini, one of the largest and most renowned islands to visit, is a common starting point for island-hopping.

1. Paros. This island has an array of traditional Greek villages and coastal coves. Home to more than 13,000 inhabitants, Paros is a popular choice among families and younger travellers, acting as a good in-between from the totally rural, authentic islandic lifestyle and the more party-focused traditions of the more popular islands. For instance, there are a good number of beaches that are more remote and secluded as well as some that are lined with bars for you to enjoy food and drinks with friends. Ferries from Santorini usually take between 2-3 hours.

2. Tinos. Visitors flock to Tinos for its classic Greek religious symbolism and ancient historical sites. With historic monuments, gorgeous landscapes, and natural beaches, this island will offer you an alternative to the go-go-go lifestyle of some of the larger islands you might visit. Some of the larger beaches have some bars and taverns within walking distance, but for the most part, the natural beauty of the island remains untouched by commercialism and the tourism industry. You can also find a thriving windsurfing community there. History buffs and explorers alike will appreciate the unique photo opportunities of Tinos. Ferry crossing from Santorini and Tinos takes about three and a half hours, so it is up to you if you want to limit your time on Tinos to a day trip or stay overnight.

3. Anafi. Another island that is less popular amongst tourists. Anafi will provide you with a true foray into the authentic, genuine Greek island experience. Lovely family-owned taverns and hole-in-the-wall cafes to enjoy the relaxed Greek way of life. Anafi is one of the few islands that have kept their magic over the years, a great destination to relax and unwind. The ferry ride to Anafi from Santorini should take only 1-2 hours, making it the ideal stop for a day trip, as longer ferry rides only give you a few hours to spend time on the island itself.

4. Ios is a largely underrated island. Recovering from its reputation as a thoughtless party-crazy island, Ios offers some of the best beaches in Greece, with gorgeous golden sand. It has plenty of natural beauty, walking paths and camping sites making it ideal for nature lovers as well. Plenty of bed-and-breakfast establishments make this island very appealing to travellers. Ios is usually popular amongst younger tourists rather than families. A perfect day-trip from Santorini since the ferry ride lasts about 45 minutes.

5. Folegandros is a popular choice among those who wish to avoid the crowds and masses of the other islands during high-season. The main town is built on top of a cliff, considered to be one of the most beautiful sites in all of the Greek islands. The beaches of Folegandros are a bit harder to reach than those you would find on a larger island, usually requiring a trek through a rocky path or even a ride on a small boat. If you’re looking to hike your way to stunning natural views over the crystal-clear ocean, Folegandros won’t disappoint you. Between the little shops, taverns, and natural beauty, you’ll probably find enough to keep you occupied on Folegandros for more than just a day, which is a plus since the ferry ride is going to take around 3 hours (a time that can be slashed in half if you shell out the cash for a speedboat trip instead of a passenger ferry).

6. Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades group although living in the shadow of its neighbouring island, Mykonos. With over 18,000 inhabitants, Naxos is famous for its cheese, sausages, beaches, and potatoes. Naxos is the kind of place where you’ll want to rent a bicycle, if not a car, to explore. If you’re looking for golden or soft-sand beaches (including some nudist beaches), you’ll want to make it a point to visit Naxos at some point during your trip. In addition to its half a dozen or more beaches, some main attractions include the Cave of Zeus, the Eggares Olive Press Museum, the Temple of Apollo, the Venetian Museum, and more. Daily ferries will shuttle you between Santorini and Naxos at about 1-2 hours each way, plenty of time to squeeze it in as a day trip.

Beaches

The geographical features of this volcanic island along with the wild landscape and the caldera have created a special landscape with red and black colors that impress everyone. Very much different than the long, sandy Greek beaches, with the golden sand and turquoise waters that you might have been used too...

1. Red Beach - Red Beach (Santorini) is the most famous beach in Santorini thanks to its outstanding scenery. Black and red volcanic pebbles create an astonishing setting, and the hot waters make the place a natural spa. Red Beach (Santorini) is located in a close distance to Akrotiri Minoan Site (Santorini), so you can combine the archaeological excursion with this beach.

2. Perissa - Perissa Beach (Santorini) is a popular tourist resort that provides you everything you need for a perfect day by the sea. Crowded beach bars, young people due to the famous camping, sunbeds, taverns, diving club and water sports facilities. Perissa Beach (Santorini) is an impressive shore with black sand, and in a close distance to it, are located the remains of Ancient Thera.

3. Vlychada - Vlychada is the most impressive beach in Santorini with extraordinary beauty. It is sandy, organised and nudism-friendly, but it is worth visiting mostly thanks to its lunar landscape that is one of a kind.

4. White Beach - White Beach (Santorini) is the cove next to the Red Beach (Santorini). Therefore, it is similar to the Red Beach (Santorini), with black, volcanic pebbles, but the surrounding cliffs are white.

5. Monolithos - Monolithos is a family-friendly long, sandy beach with a playground and a beach volley court. It is not organised, but it is surrounded by a few hotels, where you can eat or drink something.

6. Vourvoulos - Vourvoulos with its huge waves is the ideal spot for wind surfing. Although it is uncomfortable for swimming and it is also a secluded bay, if you are a fan of water sports that need strong wind, this is the place to be.

7. Kamari - Kamari Beach (Santorini) is located in the area of Kamari Santorini, which is a popular tourist resort and one of the most crowded villages of the island after Fira Santorini. It is located next to Perissa Beach (Santorini), with an enormous rock separating the two beaches. It is a fully organised beach, with sunbeds, many taverns, water sports facilities and diving club.

8. Perivolos - Perivolos Santorini is also a popular tourist resort with every facility you may need. Family-friendly, sandy and organised beach, Perivolos Santorini is a comfortable beach for a nice day with your children.

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Weather

Santorini has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry and sunny summes and mild but somewhat wetter winters. Summers from June to September see daytime temperatures between 26 °C and 30 °C and nights of 20 °C or a little more. December to February is wintertime with temperatures usually around the 15 °C mark and nights about 5 °C cooler. Most of the rain falls from November to February, summers are almost completely dry.

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Getting There

By Plane

Santorini (Thira) National Airport (JTR) offers a range of flights. Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways fly to/from London, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham, while Easyjet flies to/from London as well. Air Berlin flies to/from Nuremberg and several other airlines serve Brussels, Oslo, Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos, Milan, Vienna, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. Note that some of the charter and lowcost airlines only fly during the summerperiod (April-October).

By Boat

There are at least four boats daily to Naxos (three hours), Paros (three to four hours), Ios (1¼ hours) and Piraeus (nine hours) and two boats a week to Tinos (five hours), Kythnos (eight hours) and Folegandros (1½ to 2½ hours). Change at Naxos for Amorgos. Seven boats weekly go to Anafi (one hour), Sifnos (7¾ hours), Sikinos (2½ hours), Heraklion on Crete (4½ hours) and Skiathos (18½ hours).
There are two weekly ferries running to Mykonos (six hours), Milos (four hours), Kimolos (3½ hours), Syros (5¼ hours), Serifos (nine hours) and Thessaloniki (25 hours).

Check the Greek Travel Pages for an impression about companies, schedules and prices, as the choice is very wide. Or check the Greek Ferries or Blue Star Ferries or Hellenic Seaways websites, or another one about Ferries between islands in Greece.

To add, there are also fast boat and catamaran services, being more expensive though:
Daily services run to and from Ios (30 minutes), Naxos (1½ hours), Paros (2¼ hours), Mykonos (three to four hours), Folegandros (45 minutes), Sifnos (1¾ hours), Heraklion on Crete (1¾ hours) and Piraeus (5¼ hours).

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is widely available throughout the country. Almost all hotels provide internet access, either free or paid. Local coffee shops usually offer free Wi-Fi access, as many other public places do. Feel free to ask for the password, if the network is locked. Internet cafes however tend to be expensive, about €1.5-2 per hour.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The cheapest way to call someone abroad is to use a pre-paid calling card and call from a land line anywhere (also from your hotel room). Pre-paid calling cards are sold in many shops and kiosks. The calling card is not much more than a phone number and a pin code, which you dial prior to dialing the usual phone number. If you want to call internationally, ask for an international calling card. For one euro you can call for about 45 minutes, so buy a card in the cheapest value (which is about €3). Calling someone for half an hour is cheaper than sending one email from an internet café. Cards expire usually 90 days after first use. You can also use this pre-paid calling card at public phone boxes, which are widely available.

Mobile phones are prevalent in Greek's communication, and if you need to talk with your co-travelers it is advised that you buy a local prepaid plan instead of using roaming, as it is far cheaper. There are at least three mobile carriers, Cosmote, Wind and Vodafone all of which require by law presenting some form of identification in order to activate your prepaid plan. Choose whichever has better reception in your area, keeping in mind that GSM 900, GSM 1800 and UMTS 2100 bands are supported. Data usage is cheap, costing about €3 per 100 MB. Ask the mobile carrier for more information.

Post

Hellenic Post is the Greek postal service. On their website you find more information about options to send letters, postcards and parcels and there is a search function regarding post offices and post boxes. It also has information on services like paying bills, transferring money, financial products etc. Greek post codes are five digits long and are usually written as follows; 123 45. The first three digits are used to identify the city, municipality or prefecture, for example the digits between 100 and 180 relate to the city of Athens. The last two digits identify a street or part of a street. Most post offices are open Monday to Friday from 07:30-14:00, although the largers ones usually have longer opening hours. For sending packages, you can also use international courier services like DHL, UPS or TNT.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 36.41818
  • Longitude: 25.43115

Accommodation in Santorini

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Santorini searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Contributors

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Santorini Travel Helpers

This is version 41. Last edited at 16:32 on Apr 23, 18 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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