If you had to imagine a holiday in the Greek Islands with your eyes closed, you’re probably picturing Santorini. Its quintessential white walled villages embedded into towering, rocky cliffs as well as its crystal blue waters, are a famously photographed and shared sight. But this Aegean gem possesses plenty of other wonders as well, which is what makes this so much more than your usual beach vacay.
The island itself is a geological wonder of the world, having been formed over years of volcanic activity that’s left it with a magnificent crater filled with water, right in the centre of the island. The crescent shaped island is all that is left of the volcano, while the rest is submerged. That’s why Santorini boasts exquisite beaches including ones with white, red and black sand! During non beach seasons, the island will enchant you with its romantic appeal and spectacular sunsets. It will draw you in with ancient ruins, treasure-filled museums, serene hiking trails, sumptuous local food and wine as well as a thriving party and nightlife culture.
It may have taken the elements countless millennia to bring Santorini into existence. But now, in barely moments of reaching its shores, this pearl of the Aegean Sea will take your breath away.
|Santorini Tourism : A Quick Overview|
|Dial Code||(+30) 22860|
|Population||15,550 (As of 2015)|
Fira — Perched atop a cliff along the west coast of the caldera, is the island’s main town called Fira. This is the main tourist hub, with transport connecting it to the rest of the island and also the liveliest in terms of people, bars, hotels and attractions. The main attractions here are the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, churches, wineries, a hot spring and spectacular views overlooking the sea.
Oia — Most European cruise ships to Santorini moor off the town of Oia, another one of the island’s tourist-favourite towns on the west coast. There is great cultural value here, as it is the location of the old Fort Londsa, archaic churches and houses as well as the Naval Maritime Museum.
Akrotiri — This village is where the site of an ancient Minoan settlement was uncovered, making it Santorini’s most archaeologically significant attraction. Apart from witnessing the antiquated sights, there are many fun beaches and towns to be accessed from here.
Perissa — A must-visit for anyone who wishes to see the famous Black Sand Beach of Santorini, as well as enjoy some peace and quiet. Water sports and its humble yet flavourful local cuisine make Perissa a must visit. From here, you can make a trip to Ancient Thira, an archaeological site tracing back to the Dorian Age in 9th Century BC. The ruins include temples, an agora, theatre and gymnasium.
Red Beach — One of the most visited beaches on Santorini for the geological wonder of its iron-rich rocky cliffs and red sand. There are tavernas built into the base of the rock, just beyond the beach. The shimmering waters invite you in for a swim, snorkelling or simply lazily floating about.
Agios Georgios - This stunning beach sits on the southern tip of the island and can be reached from Perissa by car, bus or hike. It’s an idyllic spot to indulge in thrilling water sports, leisurely swims and sunset gazing from coastal tavernas, away from the crowds.
White Beach — A secluded beach that can only be reached by boat from Red Beach and Akrotiri. This paradisiacal seascape is perfect for group getaways, romantic swims or just a memorable day excursion.
Santorini has great geological, cultural, architectural and culinary heritage, all of which is part of its holiday experience. Its volcanic black and red sand beaches were formed millennia ago and are a magnificent sight to behold. It has beautiful villages, from the archaeological Akrotiri to the picturesque Fira and Oia, with their iconic white walls hugging the seaside cliffs. There’s even an ancient monastery and a medieval era castle, for those who love culture. Take your pick of restaurants and wineries whichever part of the island you are visiting. They’re all just as wonderful under the blissful mediterranean sky.
If you’re coming from the mainland, you might be familiar with some Greek cuisine such as Gyros, but the island has specialty dishes that simply must be sampled. Most tavernas will serve you Favas, Sfougato and Tomatokeftedes — all traditional dishes made entirely of vegetables. Brantada is a famous local fish dish, while many other seafood preparations are also available. Complementing the food of Santorini is its very own wine culture, with many wineries dotting the island, some that are restaurants too.
Put away your usual shopping list when visiting Santorini, for the island is well-known for certain products that are worth taking back. At the top of that list, is the famous Vinsanto wine that’s grown from the very volcanic soil of the island. Other things you could buy include the local goats cheese variety as well as souvenirs and handicrafts that you chance upon at the village markets.
Santorini sits about 200 km off the mainland of Greece, in the southern Aegean Sea. It is the largest in a small archipelago of volcanic islands, most of which are uninhabited. The island is also part of the Greek Cyclades, the name given to the group of islands that surround Delos.
Like the mainland, Santorini experiences the conventional four annual seasons and welcomes visitors throughout. Peak tourist season is in summer, which is the best time to visit for a beach vacation. Spring and autumn are shoulder seasons when the crowds have subsided and the weather is more amiable, a great time for sightseeing, hiking or romance. Winters are off-season, with much of the island closed including restaurants, hotels and ferries. However, there are still plenty of available options for those who make it during this cool, wet time of the year.
By Air : There are no direct flights from India to Santorini, but plenty of international airlines have flights to Athens, from where local budget airlines provide daily departures to Santorini Airport. This is the quickest way to reach the island, with the flights from the mainland only taking about 45 minutes.
By Sea : The Piraeus Port in Athens has regular departures to the Athinios Port in Santorini, by ferries, high-speed catamarans and cruise liners. They could take anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days to reach, depending on your choice of vessel. The most preferred and affordable are the local ferries, which take about 8 hours to reach Santorini.
The earth had decided to create the island of Santorini, millions of years before the Greeks decided to give it that name. In one of the great geological eras, it was here an active volcano stood. And over the thousands of years that followed, it went into a cycle of eruption and collapsing upon itself. This is what eventually formed the “caldera” or crater in the middle of the island, which in itself is made of volcanic remnants. Deep underwater, some volcanic activity still persists. But that hasn’t stopped Santorini from becoming one of the hottest beach, party and sunset destinations of Greece and the world. The years of habitation have seen the dramatic cliff-sides become home to ancient settlements, be invaded and occupied by foreign empires and later armed forces, and ultimately becoming a part of modern Greece. Since the late 2000s, tourism in Santorini has picked up, especially as a continental summer spot and exclusive getaway to the globally rich and famous. Still, the charming villages, historical landmarks and most importantly, the absolutely free, breathtaking sunsets of Santorini make this an amazing place to visit for any kind of traveller irrespective of their budget.