Every summer, thousands of holidaymakers flock to Greece’s most sought-after destination: Santorini. This remarkable island was formed through a volcanic eruption and is part of the iconic Cyclades complex. Its picturesque landscape consists of many parts—the majestic caldera, seemingly suspended Fira and Oia perched atop gorgeous cliffs, as well as several ancient sites—all of which contribute to its one-of-a-kind beauty that entices visitors all year round!
Santorini, the sublime Mediterranean gem tucked away in the Cyclades complex of Greece, is a prized summer destination. Its unparalleled beauty draws thousands of travelers from around the world year-round to admire its picturesque landscape formed by volcanic activity and comprised of numerous small islands. From its captivating caldera to Fira and Oia perched atop majestic cliffs, Santorini’s scenic spots are nothing short of breathtaking – not to mention its ancient sites that harken back centuries!
The picturesque island of Santorini (or Thera) is located 200 km/125 miles from Athens and is part of the Cyclades in the southern Aegean Sea. It can be reached by both air and sea. Its close proximity to Mykonos at 150km/93 miles away, Crete 140 km/85 miles away, Ios between them, and Anafi further south make it an ideal destination for travelers looking for beauty without straining their resources too much. This small archipelago spans 90 square kilometers (35 sq. miles) consisting of Thirasia, Aspronisi as well as two volcanic islands – Palea Kameni & Nea Kameni, making it one extremely captivating locale!
Long ago, the islands that now make up Santorini were connected to each other and collectively known as Strongili. Located in Greece, this dreamy oasis leaves a lasting impression on all who visit with its remarkable beauty and mind-blowing views. Whether you’re looking for classic or contemporary lodgings, there are options to suit every traveler’s needs here – not to mention countless unforgettable strolls through charming streets perched atop crystal waters! Read also our article “How Big is Santorini?”
Santorini – formally known as Thera or Thira- is a volcanic island located in the southernmost part of the Cyclades. There are 13 towns in this beautiful paradise with fewer than 14,000 inhabitants that become increasingly full during the peak summer season since its gorgeous beaches turn into an oasis for sunseekers from around the world. From the map, you can see the volcanic structure that, before exploding, formed a single island.
What else can you experience in such a limited area? In Santorini, you’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and impressive sunsets. This Greek island is also home to historic cities, delectable restaurants, remarkable wine, and breathtaking treks atop an active volcano! Don’t forget to bask in the glory of Santorini’s renowned tomatoes; at the Tomato Industrial Museum, you can explore their distinct water-free cultivation process and how nearby seawater is used for making tomato paste.
Getting to Santorini
You can easily visit Santorini from Athens with a domestic flight that will land you at the National Airport of Santorini, located just 8 kilometers (5 miles) away from Fira. After arriving, it should take about 20 minutes for you to get to the city center by car or bus. If time is not an issue and budget fares are more appealing, then taking a ferry could be your best option since they tend to have lower prices in summer compared to other seasons (7-9 hours). However, make sure that before booking any tickets, double check their availability as ferries might become scarce during winter months!
Reduce your travel time by a few hours with the help of a catamaran or hydrofoil. Once you reach Santorini, it’s easy to hop on one of the many ferries that can take you to other Cyclades islands, such as Rhodes, Crete, and Thessaloniki. And from Rhodes, why not explore further and take the ferry across to Turkey?
Places to Visit in Santorini
Fira, the capital of Santorini, is perched on a 260 meter/850 feet high cliff overlooking the caldera side of the island. Its archaeological museum has artifacts from Akrotiri’s Minoan settlement, and its Megaron Gyzi Museum features photographs taken before and after the 1956’s earthquake in Fira. The city also provides tourists with cruise boats departing from its old port or ferries and cruises leaving from further south. Moreover, there are plenty of tourist shops selling jewelry to fit every taste!
A stunning, picturesque footpath from Imerovigli to Fira is a trek you won’t soon forget – be sure to have your camera ready for the Kodak moment when you look back. The postcard-worthy views of Santorini at sunset can only truly be appreciated near Kastro (castle) walls in tranquil Oia, which does, however, become quite busy by summer’s end. Have we mentioned Perissa yet? It houses one of the most popular beaches on the island! A whopping 7 kilometers (4 miles) long with black sand and many activities available, this beach also holds two traditional festivals: 29th August and 14th September. Not far away lies Kamari boasting another beautiful black beach and diving centers galore!
If a tranquil beach day is what you seek, Vourvoulos in the northeast of Santorini will make all your wishes come true. For those with an appreciation for architecture and wine tasting, Megalochori holds many charming churches as well as tasteful local wines to sample. Messaria, too has much to offer – ranging from winding streets that captivate visitors through shopping opportunities, characteristic churches, and traditional tavernas.
Step back in time as you explore the majestic Emporio castle and its mysterious alleyways – where pirates once used to lurk. Then, visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera before heading down south to uncover archeological discoveries dating all the way back to the 17th century BC. After that, head over to Akrotiri’s enchanting red sand beach for a boat ride towards other beaches nearby, and don’t forget your sunscreen! On top of that, Santorini is also well-known for producing some fine wines – just ask any local what hot winery they’d suggest visiting.
When to Go
Santorini’s climate is hot and arid during the summer, but its numerous beaches make it an ideal place to cool off. This beautiful island is one of two places in Europe that has a desert climate, making it perfect for those looking to escape their everyday lives! Spring and fall are renowned as being the best time of year to visit Santorini; however, many tourists flock here during the summer months too.
The Archaeology of Santorini
Alongside Akrotiri Museum, two of the primary archaeological sites in Santorini are Ancient Akrotiri and Ancient Thira. The eruption from 1450 BC was so large that it earned a comparison to Pompeii – dubbed “Minoan Pompeii” by historians. Interestingly enough, archaeologists had found no traces of human remains near this ancient site, suggesting that people at the time managed to evacuate safely before disaster struck.
Hovering above the renowned beaches of Kamari and Perissa, Ancient Thira has maintained a distinguished presence since its occupancy by Dorians during the 9th century BC.
Where to Stay
For those dreaming of an idyllic vacation, the caldera in Oia and Firá provides a breathtaking backdrop for hotel stays or luxe villas – if you’re willing to pay. If your wallet can’t take that kind of hit, why not rent a villa on the island instead? Or just go all out with a unique cave house experience!
Traveling to 🇬🇷 Greece soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Greece that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Greece. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Greece, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 Airport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer from the airport and beetween destinations with Welcome Pickups. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Greece, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Greece. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
Santorini is celebrated for its long-standing winemaking history, boasting abundant vineyards and a selection of exceptional wines. Visiting the local boutique wineries should be on your bucket list as you’ll get to revel in an unparalleled oenological experience.
The stunning Santorini archipelago, comprising five volcanic islands situated in the Greek Cyclades group of isles in the southern Aegean Sea, lies 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of mainland Greece. It occupies a prime position between Ios and Anafi Islands.
Oia, a classic village in Greece and the Greek islands, is renowned for its extraordinary beauty; making it one of the most photographed locations on Santorini. From Oia’s incredible vantage point on the caldera, you can take in stunning views of both the volcano and spellbinding sunsets that are sure to leave an indelible impression.
The coveted cliffside views of Santorini can be found on the western side of the island, in quaint towns with captivating names like Fira, Imerovigli, Firostefani and Oia. Here you will find a wide array of premium hotels and accommodations to choose from – making it the premier place to stay while visiting this idyllic isle.
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