Fantastic, fabulous Santorini deserves all the superlatives. Even the most jaded traveller succumbs to the awesome drama of this surreal landscape, relic of what was probably the biggest eruption in recorded history. That you share the experience with hordes of other visitors is inevitable. Embrace it all.
The caldera and its vast curtain wall of multicoloured cliffs is truly awesome. If you want to experience the full dramatic impact it’s worth arriving by a slower ferry with open decks, rather than by enclosed catamaran or hydrofoil.
Santorini is famous for its spectacular sunsets. The village of Oia on the northern tip of the island is a hugely popular sunset viewing site because there is an uninterrupted view of the sun as it finally sinks below the horizon. From farther south down the caldera edge, the last of the setting sun can be obscured by the islands of Nea Kameni and Thirasia. Take your pick, however. You can enjoy most of the sunset from almost anywhere along the rim of the caldera, especially if you want to avoid the sometimes feverish crush at Oia.
The main port, Athinios, stands on a cramped shelf of land at the base of Sphinxlike cliffs and is a scene of marvellous chaos that always seems to work itself out when ferries arrive. Buses (and taxis) meet all ferries and then cart passengers through an ever-rising series of S-bends to the capital, Fira, which fringes the edge of the cliffs like a snowy cornice.
The fame of the Santorini Caldera View is based on the 85 meter (300 feet) high cliff that many of the island's villages are built to perch on top of, offering a sea view as far as the eye can see. The cliff is the wall of the submerged volcano crater caused by the cataclysmic eruption of this volcano around 3000 BC. In addition to creating the best views of the Aegean Sea for present day visitors to enjoy, this eruption also caused the demise of the Minoan civilization.
Steeped in history, Santorini has plenty of archaeological sites to visit including the ruins of Ancient Thira, Akrotiri and the Venetian fortress at Pirgos.
Santorini also offers unique accommodation, inspired by the distinct Santorinian-style, and on the south side of the island there are beautiful beaches with many beach sports and activities available. On the highest peak of Santorini is a monastery of the Prophet Elijah (Profitis Ilias), where there is a picturesque religious feast on 20 July each year.
Highlights of Santorini:
• Sailing excursions to the Volcano which is a semi active crater with smoke that comes from the ground
• Sunset sailing excursions around the island to see the caldera face from the vantage point of the sea
• SCUBA and beach sports in Perissa
• Romantic meals in the charming village of Oia watching the sunset
• The Nautical Museum in Oia, with rare marine items, models of old and new ships and library
• A visit to the Minoan village of Akrotiri which was destroyed but preserved similarly to Pompeii when the Santorini volcano erupted
• The New Museum of Fira, which opened in March 2000, is the second largest pre-historical museum in Greece. It exhibits frescoes from Akrotiri and the first golden find in Cyclades
• The Old Historical Museum in Fira, with finds from Santorini and the Greek Hellenic Period
• Boutaris Winemakers, in Megalohori. Excellent decoration, wine tasting and multimedia history of the island
• Megaron Gyzi in Fira, with old clothes, maps and cards from Santorini before the earthquake in 1956
Distances from Fira (km):
• Firostefani 0.5
• Imerovigli 1.0
• Karterados 3.0
• Airport 5.0
• Monolithos 5.0
• Vothonas 5.0
• Athinios Port 8.0
• Kamari 8.0
• Oia 12.0
• Akrotiri 12.0
• Perissa 15.0