Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea.
Crescent-shaped Santorini (or Thíra), the precious gem of the Aegean, is actually a group of islands consisting of Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni in the southernmost part of Cyclades.
It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the sea, small islands to the west and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
Here you will find a brief travel guide about your visit to Santorini volcano island.
Where is Santorini
Santorini is the world-famous volcanic island located in the most southern part of the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean Sea, in Greece. Great poets have sung its praises, a 4.000-year-old history. The eternal rock continues to stand, strong and majestic rising proudly from the sea and guarding well the secrets of Atlantis.
Santorini's Island Map
How to get to Santorini
Santorini!!, the youngest volcanic land in the Eastern Mediterranean, is waiting for you! You can reach it by plane or by ship from Piraeus. You can book a cruise, which departs from Heraklion, Crete. The way to Santorini from Heraklion, Crete takes about 2 hours.
Don’t think twice! Experience for yourself the once-in-a-lifetime romance and charm of this pearl of the Aegean.
In ancient times they called the island “Kalliste” (the most beautiful). In fact, there is a theory that this was the legendary “Atlantis” mentioned in Plato's dialogues. Today it is known as “Santorini”
Santorini caldera is a large, mostly submerged caldera, located in the southern The Aegean Sea, 120 kilometres north of Crete in Greece. Visible above water is the circular Santorini island group, consisting of Santorini, the main island, Therasia and Aspronisi at the periphery, and the Kameni islands at the centre
Ancient Therais an antique city on a ridge of the steep, 360 m high Messavouno mountain on the Greek island of Santorini. It was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD. Ancient Thera is today open to the public and can be reached on a winding road that starts at Kamari or several footpaths from both sides of the mountain.
What is Santorini known for?
Arguably the most famous of the Greek islands, Santorini island is instantly recognizable for its whitewashed, cube-shaped buildings adorned with blue accents, steep cliffs and tangerine sunsets that light up the sky and sea.
Santorini island is famous also for the best wine, tomatoes and split pea.
The cultivation of the vine in Santorini goes back 3.500 years ago. Findings from the excavations of the prehistoric town of Akrotiri show that vine cultivation, winemaking and wine trade were the habitants’ important activities.
The Santorini wine reflects the pure character of the variety, the micro-climate and the volcanic soil. High acidity, intense minerality and citrus flavours up front are the key elements creating the complex character of Assyrtiko, highlighting the Santorinian earth in perfect harmony.
The main local grape varieties (Assyrtiko, Aidani, Athiri, Mavrotragano, Mantilaria) produce high-quality wines that fully express Santorini’s unique ecosystem.
The famous wine of Santorini is Assyrtiko, which dominates the vineyards on the island. The over century-old vines of Santorini find their best expression in the Assyrtiko grape by giving world-class wines.
What places to visit in Santorini
Oia Santorini: Oia, pronounced Ia, is the most famous of all villages of Santorini. It is known throughout the world for its beauty, the fantastic sunset
It is certainly the most beautiful and picturesque village of Santorini (and some say of Greece). The village is situated on top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular view over the volcano and the island of Thirassia.
Oia is situated on the north of the island, 12 km away from Fira.
Oia is a traditional village with charming houses in narrow streets, blue-domed churches, and sun-bathed verandas. Its streets have plenty of tourist shops, restaurants, cafes, and other shops. Oia is quieter than Fira and the busiest area is the main pedestrian that runs along its length. At the entrance of the village, there is a car park where visitors can leave their vehicle and enjoy long walks in the picturesque paths. The volcano from here is much less imposing but you can still get some gorgeous views.
Oia has several cultural attractions like the Maritime Museum which houses a small library, items from the maritime life of the area, and the vestiges of a Venetian fortress.
Many artists fell in love with the area and settled there. For that reason, the village of Oia has many art galleries.
Oia also has a small port, Ammoudi, which can be reached by a set of 300 steps leading down. There, small boats can take you opposite, to the island of Thirassia. The beach of Armenis is also located there. Taverns in Oia offer visitors tasty meals of fresh fish.
Fira Santorini: The first and foremost thing to know about the settlement of Fira is that it stands as the capital of Santorini. It is the largest one on the island, expanding every year. Located on a 400m altitude on the western edge of the crescent Caldera, it is perched atop the cliffside. The low-ceiling, cubic buildings are whitewashed with blue details according to the Cycladic architecture.
Fira lies only a short, 10-minute drive from the international airport and 8.5 kilometres from the Athinios port, the main port of Santorini, which gets very busy during the summer season.
Access to the village of Fira is conducted primarily via roads on the eastern side.
The undisturbed panoramic vistas of the Aegean Sea and the Volcano are approximately 18km (11 miles) long, from the southern Cape of Akrotiri to the northern Cape of Agios Nikolaos. For an alternative, the sea-level viewpoint of the sunset, visitors may also, descend to the old port of Fira named Gialos. A cable car route will conveniently transport travellers up and down the steep cliff; once on the promenade, one can capture beautiful photos of the picturesque port and the stunning Aegean Sea.
Fira is a wonderful place to stay when seeking luxury, vivid nightlife, top-caliber restaurants and convenient transportation. Moreover, the charming shopping district houses lavish boutiques, cocktail bars and will keep you busy until it's time to savour the most romantic sunset over dinner.
Moreover, the Santorinian capital hosts some of the island’s notable cultural institutes, such as the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, the Folklore Museum, the cultural institute of Megaron Gyzi along with the Bellonio Cultural Center.For visitors more keen on the ecclesiastic attributes of Santorini, the Catholic Cathedral, the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral and the Dominican Convent will definitely inspire them with their religious ambience and serenity.
Imerovigli has views of the volcano, breathtaking sunsets and tranquillity. There is the main square which leads up to the Caldera and the traditional hillside cave settlements. If you continue on the road to Oia, the lower plains of Imerovigli also have wonderful sunset east coast views.The largest part of Imerovigli was destroyed in the 1956 volcano eruption. Some of the population perished, while others moved away to the mainland. Imerovigli has since then been restored and is home to some of the most beautiful hotels and traditional cave house settlements on the island.
In Medieval times, Akrotiri was one of the 5 fortified settlements on the island. Akrotiri is a village of great interest on the south the west coast of Santorini. Apart from having some of the best views on the island which reaches as far as Oia, magnificent sunsets, wonderful fish taverns, quiet undeveloped beaches, and tiny churches, it is also home to two of Santorini's jewels, the Akrotiri Excavations and Akrotiri Castle.Akrotiri lies exactly on the axis of the shipping lane from Piraeus to Alexandria. The lighthouse is one of the best in Greece. It can be found 18 kilometres from Fira at an altitude of 58 meters. The geographical coordinates are Latitude 36° 21' 05" N. and Longitude 25° 21' 05" E.
Santorini Caldera: The Santorini Caldera undoubtedly is one of the natural wonders on planet earth. The volcanic explosion that occurred here 3500 years ago forever changed the topography of the Mediterranean coast.
The caldera of Santorini island is actually a basin, four miles in diameter which scientists and archaeologists have linked with the myth of Atlantis. The landscape consists of steep rocks and cliffs that tower above almost touching the sky. It is more than a thousand feet above sea level and extends underneath the sea for an additional thousand feet, thereby creating a perfect harbour. The caldera has an elevation, which varies between 150 to 350 meters. The distance from one end of the island (Cape Exomitis) to the other end (Cape Mavropetra) is 18 km. The island's breadth varies from 2 to 6 km.
To the northernmost part of the Caldera is the town of Oia. This town is much preferred by the tourists and throbs with activity with plenty of bars, restaurants, and hotels that are ideally positioned on rocky promontories which provide fabulous panoramic views to the Santorini Caldera. Oia can be reached by a road that meanders along the steep cliffs located to the eastern periphery of Santorini. At certain points, this road is so narrow that it looks more like a ridge that can barely accommodate two lanes with no railing for protection.
The capital city of Fira is ideally located at the eastern elevation of the Caldera. The town is well spread over several high cliffs some of which towers above reaching heights of 1,200 feet above sea level which makes for an awesome spectacle. Fira like Oia is replete with bars, restaurants, and hotels that have been built in vantage locales with a view to providing the discerning tourists with amazing panoramic vistas of the Santorini caldera. The principal port of Santorini is just below the cliff.
Today, the caldera of Santorini is one of the most important geological configurations on planet earth and rightfully, it has been the subject of higher research in the domain of Geology as well as Archaeology.
Strongly recommend it for your to-do list !!
Venture into Santorini’s seaside treasures and enjoy deep blue waters and beaches with white, red or black sand or volcanic pebbles, spectacular rock formations and impressive lunar landscapes. Kamari, Perissa,Armeni, Ammoudi
On the northwest coast of Santorini, below the spectacular settlement of Oia, you can find the quaint Armeni cove that offers scenic views of the caldera and the island of Therasia that lies just across the sea. It is located a few meters south of Ammoudi Bay and is accessible by boats that depart from there. Other than that, you can reach it by descending almost 300 steep steps on foot or by a donkey ride. Armeni was the old harbour of Oia but today only a few ships anchor in the small pier. For yacht owners, it is a safe place to drop anchor.
Armeni is a small, charming place where you can find quiet and relaxation. You can swim in the deep crystal clear waters of Armeni Beach. It is a tiny, pebbly beach with big black and red rocks that protrude from the sea. There are no facilities on the beach but you can chill out, enjoy an appetizing meal and try local recipes in a small, traditional tavern. The fact that it remains unspoiled and undeveloped, plus its size and the wonderful surroundings, makes it very inviting. Last but not least, there is a diving centre in the area that is perfect for wall dive.
Ammoudi port can be reached by car (you have to circle round the bottom road of Oia village), by walking down the 235 steps, or by catching a ride on the back of a mule. At the bottom is a small harbour with fishing boats, waterfront taverns and restaurants, and a path that leads you around the base of the mountain to an excellent diving area. It was from Ammoudi that they used to load ships with two centuries ago. Sea trading was a way of life. Theran pumice and wine were exported, while imports included porcelain, timber and silverware, fabrics, furniture, perfumes, food supplies and hardware.
Kamari is a cosmopolitan beach resort on the south-east of Santorini, which has been awarded the Blue Flag. The long stretch of beach lies under the impressive mountain of Mesa Vouno. The water is deep and blue, the sand is black and there is a lifeguard on duty.
A stone-paved promenade for strolling that runs parallel to the beach stretches across the crescent moon shaped bay. This is closed off to traffic during the summer months.
Kamari offers a wealth of cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and supermarkets, as well as a lively nightlife. The beach is organized, with sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports and diving.
Perissa is a seaside village on the south-east coast of Santorini with several kilometres of black sand beach. Towering over the beach on the north side is the mountain of Mesa Vouno, the site of Ancient Thira. Perissa connects with Perivolos, and the collective area is the longest stretch of beach on the island. Both beaches are organized. Perivolos in particular is a more up-market clubbing scene, an extension of Santorini’s nightlife by day.