Santorini, also known as Thera or Thira, is a volcanic island, the southernmost island of the Cyclades (see our Cyclades Map). There are thirteen villages on Santorini and fewer than 14 thousand people, a number which swells during the summer months, when Santorini's beaches are clogged with sun worshipers. From the map outline you can see the volcanic structure that, before blowing its top, formed a single island.
Santorini Travel Toolbox
The National Airport of Santorini is located near Monolithos as marked on the map, eight kilometers to the southeast of Fira. You can get there on a domestic flight from Athens which takes a little less than an hour and a half. It takes about 6 minutes by taxi to get from the airport to Fira, and about 10 minutes on the bus, which costs the equivalent of about three dollars. A shuttle from the airport costs about $5.
Santorini's best beaches are marked on the map.
In Greece, ferries are far more numerous in summer than other seasons. Beware of this when researching ferry tickets. Get the low down on low-season travel with: Greek Ferries. The ferry from Piraeus (the port of Athens) will get you to Santorini in 5 1/2-7 hours. Check ferry schedules from Piraeus to Santorini. Once on Santorini, you can get frequent ferry connections to other Cyclades islands as well as Rhodes, Crete and Thessaloniki.From Rhodes you can take a ferry to Turkey.
Where to go on Santorini
Santorini's capital is Fira, which sits on the caldera side of the island perched on a cliff 260 meters above the sea. It hosts an Archaeological museum with the finds from the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri, shown by the red box south of the modern village of Akrotiri. The Megaron Gyzi Museum contains a collection of pictures of Fira from before and after the earthquake of 1956. Fira's old port is for cruise boats, the port further south (shown on the map) is used for ferries and cruise ships. There are the usual tourist shops with a heavy emphasis on jewelery in Fira.
Imerovigli connects to Fira via footpath through Ferastefani, where you'll get that Kodak moment when you look back.
Oia is famous for the views over Santorini at sunset, especially near the Kastro (castle) walls, and is quieter than Fira, although it does get quite packed on a summer's eve.
Many people think that Perissa has the best beach on the island, a 7 kilometer long black sand beach with lots of facilities for beach bums. Perissa has religious festivals on the 29th of August and 14th of September. Kamari has the island's other black beach. Both Kamari and Perissa have diving centers.
If you're looking for a more quiet beach experience, difficult on Santorini, Vourvoulos in the northeast is about as good as it gets.
Megalochori has several interesting churches, and is a center for tasting the wine of Santorini along with Messaria, which also features lots of shopping for those of you who do that sort of thing on vacation. Messaria also features winding streets and characteristic churches as well as good tavernas.
Emporio has a castle and winding streets that confounded pirates in the olden days.
You'll find the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Akrotiri, along with excavations from the 17th century bc found to the south of the modern city. The red sand beach of Akrotiri is near the ancient site and there you can catch boats to other beaches.
The Archaeology of Santorini
Besides the Museum in Akrotiri, the two major archaeological sites on Santorini are ancient Akrotiri and ancient Thira. Ancient Akrotiri is sometimes called the "Minoan Pompeii" because of the huge volcanic eruption of 1450 bc that froze time. In Akrotiri the people seemed to have escaped; no human remains have been discovered by archaeologists.
The main archaeological sites in Santorini are marked on the map.
Ancient Thira is high above the popular beaches of Kamari and Perissa (a black sand beach). The town was occupied by the Dorians in the 9th century bc.
Where to Stay
Romantics usually stay in hotels or villas with a view of the caldera, often in Oia and Fira. These can be expensive, although there are huge variations across the island. Hotels and guest houses are found on the map below, along with current prices.Booking.com
Top Foods of Santorini Island
Santorini's volcanic soil is known for producing fine tomatoes and favas (try the tomato fritters). The seafood, of course is top quality. Santorini is also famous for its wine.
There are plenty of fine restaurants and traditional tavernas to try. To get an idea of what it's like to eat on Santorini, see: Where to Eat in Santorini.
When to Go
There's not many "bad times to go" to Santorini. The island has a desert climate, and the famous wines are pruned in such a way as to catch what they can of the morning dew. Find the historic climate and the current weather on Santorini Island.