If you are fascinated by the uniqueness of natural landscapes, make Santorini your next holiday destination and see the caldera mystery close by. Let your eyes wander around the unbeatable views of the volcanic islands and contemplate the enchanting sunset, a spectacle that generates the strongest feelings.
Santorini is a perfect destination whether you travel with friends, family or if you want to spend romantic moments with your loved one.
Santorini at a glance
Typical Cycladic towns comprised of small cubist homes, tightly packed against each other as they blanket the irregular contours of the landscape, take a whole new meaning in Thera as they cling precariously to the edge of the largest volcanic caldera in the world, which is filled with the azure blue waters of the Aegean sea. The acute drop of the cliff traverses down from the town’s edge all the way to the sea level, abruptly exposing hundreds of thousands of years worth of earth strata while the inhabitants of the towns are treated to unparalleled views of the Aegean.
What makes Santorini unique is the coexistence of grand geologic time in contrast to perpetual ephemeral human activity. The geologic history of the volcano dwarfs the considerable human presence on the island that reaches back to prehistory, and which in other places would have acquired center stage.
Santorini is an island of extremes. The volcanic explosion, that some say destroyed the Minoan civilization, was one of the largest in human history and the views it left behind are some of the most spectacular on earth. Tight clusters of bright, geometric human dwellings flow atop organic, dark igneous rock formations in a peculiar balancing act against the blue horizon of the Aegean. The eyes can rest on many landscapes; geologic, cultural, or architectural, but they always return to the same point of reference prehistoric man gazed upon the infinite horizon of the azure-blue sea as it appears a bit more distant and mysterious from the edge of the volcano.
What I found interesting about Santorini was the constant reminder of man’s existence in perspective with nature’s longevity, and the ability of a culture to flourish despite the harshness and dangers of life on the volcano. Every square centimeter of Thera speaks of time. Time eternal, in the form of rock formations and dramatic terra-forming, and Time ephemeral in the form of little cubist clusters of homes hanging precariously at the edge of the sleeping volcano. Even human civilization that reaches back to prehistory is exposed as ephemeral in Santorini.
On Thera one anticipates the tremendous forces of nature that tend to emphasize our mortal fragility a bit more than usual. A reminder that makes the present moment even more meaningful, its enjoyment even more imperative, and its existence a bit more exhilarating.
How to get to Santorini Island
You can go both by boat and by plane. Fortunately, in recent years the launch of fast ships has brought the island closer.
Santorini is connected by air with Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete and the other Aegean islands with flights throughout the year. During the summer season, flights are denser to serve the increased tourist needs, while direct flights are also made from cities abroad.
The island has a very good coastal connection. Daily ferry and high-speed ferry connections between Santorini and Piraeus, Rafina, the rest of the Cyclades islands and Crete. The trip takes 8.30 hours with the conventional ship and 6 hours with the speedboat from the port of Piraeus.
On foot: There are numerous hiking routes that many people take.
By car, or a motorbike: This is the best way to discover the island.
By bus: The bus connects Fira town with most of the local villages around.
The town of Skiathos is the life and soul of the island. Here you can relax and people watch. There are tavernas and restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets. As usual, the prices seem to reflect the location. Sitting around by the old harbor will cost. But, hey, you are on holiday. Probably best seen at night when it really comes alive.
Most of the beaches of Santorini are lined with black volcanic smooth pebbles. The black color retains an incredible amount of heat and as a result, most swimmers end up high stepping as they speed through the short distance between the umbrella and the cool waters. Speaking of umbrellas, most of the beaches we visited were lined up with umbrellas and beach beds for which bathers paid a fee for their use. You can choose any beach umbrella you like, assuming it is free of occupants, and an attendant will arrive shortly to collect the money. We found the prices to be extremely high, as we paid €5.00 at the Perissa beach the first day, and the very next day we paid €7.00 at the Kamari beach for the same kind of accommodation. The way the beach umbrellas are organized they give the impression that one must purchase an umbrella to use the beach, but in reality, anyone can secure their own umbrella (assuming they bring one) at any part of the beach. Beach umbrellas can be purchased at any beach shop around the towns for anywhere between €5 and €15 — an excellent value if you plan to visit the beach more than once during your visit (unless of course, you like parting with your money for no apparent reason).
During our stay of four days, we visited Perissa beach, Kamari beach, and Red beach. All three provided the excellent, clean, and cool Aegean waters that were very refreshing after hours under the summer sun.
Restaurants and Dining in Santorini
There is no shortage of restaurants in Santorini, and most of the ones that line the caldera in the towns of Fira and Ia are of the expensive variety. As a rule of thumb restaurants with a view are pricey.
Useful Santorini Telephone Numbers
Tourist Police: 22860-22649
Santorini is a famous thanks to the magnificent volcano with the hot springs and the enormous volcanic caldera, which is the most beautiful place to admire the sunset. Santorini is unique as it is probably the only volcano in the world with its caldera in the sea.
While the spectacular views of Fira (or Phira), Ia, and Imerovigli are enough to enchant the most demanding traveler, Santorini’s history which reaches back three thousand years, offers another dimension to the natural beauty of the island. The excavations at Akrotiri have unveiled a plethora of prehistoric frescos which speak of the existence of a joyous society before it was abruptly interrupted by one of the largest volcanic explosions known in the history of mankind. In addition to the Prehistoric history of Santorini, evidence of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine cultures are also exposed on the barren rock they call Mesa Vouno on the South shore of the island.
The Museum of Prehistoric Art in Santorini, located in the town of Fira, is one of the most important museums of Cycladic Art in the world, and it mostly houses artifacts unearthed during the excavations in Akrotiri. The entrance to the museum costs € 5.00 and the same ticket allows entrance to the museum of ancient art which exhibits a collection of artifacts from the Ancient Thera archaeological site. I was also impressed with the exhibition of exact replicas of wall paintings from Akrotiri. I found the exhibit in the Nomikos Conference center at the highest part of Fira, and while the climb there was steep, the view from the veranda and the exhibit more than made up for the effort.
The incredible views of the Aegean from atop the caldera will always be etched in your memories.
What to See in Thira
There are so many sights that your holidays will not seem to be enough to admire them all.
Here are just some of them.