Attracting throngs of tourists annually, Greece is haven to some of the world’s most beautiful islands and known for exotic delicacies such as Moussaka, Fasolada and Skordalia. The country is an archipelago of about 1,400 islands which include the Aegean archipelago, the Ionian Islands and Crete. Among these islands is Santorini, one of the most popular islands in Greece and one of the well visited tourist destinations in Europe. Another name for Santorini is Thira.
Blessed with clear blue seas, rocky landscapes, amazing beaches and dazzling natural beauty, Santorini is a hotbed for romantic getaways and has a growing reputation as an ultimate wedding destination for couples. Located in the southernmost part of the Cyclades, the crescent-shaped volcano island’s impressive caldera, breathtaking views and romantic sunsets makes it a small paradise on earth.
The capital, Fira is the main hub of activities; it is here you find lounge bars, cocktails bars and clubs. The picturesque views of the island are best seen from the village of Oia. Kamari is popular for the black pebble beach and wine making; if you are interested, you can learn the history of wine in Santorini, watch the production and enjoy wine tasting. Akotiri, a 3,500 year old Minoan town preserved in volcanic ash is also one of the must-see attractions of the island.
Perissa is a sea side village with a 4km long beach with black sand. It is an ideal destination for basking in the sun and there are many restaurants, beach bars, cafes. The highest point on the island, Pyrgos, is another notable village with picturesque monastery and streets. Holidays in Santorini is the ‘dream of a lifetime’ for many and can easily be combined with that of other islands due to the ferry connection with other Greek islands.
Santorini: Things to Do
Santorini Island promises to offer more than the ordinary to visiting tourists. From ‘Shopping in the city of Fira’ to ‘Going sightseeing in Oia’ and ‘Going for a Donkey Ride’; there are various activities to indulge in while on there. You could also decide to ‘Visit the Fish Spa’, ‘Head out on the calm waters’, “Lounge in the Volcanic Beaches’, ‘Go on a hike’, ‘Visit the many Archaeological Sites’ and take time to ‘See the famed Captivating Sunset’.
Santorini: When to Go
The most enjoyable time to visit is during the peak season (starts early April and ends by early November). At these times the scenery is not only buzzing, ‘you will be treated to sweeping, dramatic ocean views, pristine beaches, including the black pebble beach of Kamari, traditional Grecian architecture, fine dining, and numerous, excellent local wineries’. Things happen to get expensive during this period.
There is no point going during the off season (December through March) as most facilities on the island are closed down, temperature is much lower and the weather is not much favourable for vacation.
How to Get There
Served by two major ports – Athinios (Ferry Port) and Skala (Old Port), Santorini is easily accessible by ferry which happens to be the most affordable option and the major airport – Santorini (Thira) National Airport receives regular flights from Athens and from various destinations during summer and sparsely during other times of the year.
Using the public bus service (KTEL) in navigating the island is much cheaper than hiring a taxi. Renting a car is also advisable, however caution is advised, as the roads are very narrow and a general driver’s license is required. The island can also be explored by boat, foot or by bicycle.
Hotels and Accommodation
Although Santorini offers hotels and accommodations that meets any budget, however, the Cyclades is home to some of the finest (and priciest) hotels in Greece. Also hotels in Santorini are categorised into two – those on the eastern side of the island and the western side. Most of the hotels and accommodations in/around the western side of Santorini have terrific views of the caldera, volcano, the Seas and sunset.
Hotels in the western side are like the rest of the islands in the Cyclades; they are mostly beach hotels and offers larger rooms and pools. Prices are generally usually high during the peak tourist season while those booking towards the end of May get better and affordable prices.
Santorini is a bit of a cosmopolitan island and a paradise for shopping lovers. You can find a range of shops gathered all around Santorini providing visitors with everything he/she has dreamt of. From classic and modern gold and silver jewellery, antique reproduction jewellery to leather goods. Modern Jewellery Shops, Traditional Art galleries, Antique carpets, furniture, paintings and porcelain, souvenirs, clothes, shoes, books, wines are also available in various shops all around the island.
Santorini Quick Tips
- Country: Greece
- Currency: Euro
- Dialling Code: +30 (International Access Code)
- Time zone: GMT +2
- Area: 76 square km
- Language: Greek
- Main Airport: Santorini (Thira) National Airport
- Population: 15,550 (2011)
- Driving Side: Right