Santorini (its official name being Thira and pronounced Fira by the locals) is the most famous Greek island. If someone cant remember its name, he or she definitely remembers the photos of white-washed houses and blue-domed churches perched on the slopes of a rock, with a stunning view to the sea. It can be reached by ferry or by plane. Ferries arrive at the port of Athinios.
If you search for photos from Greek islands on the internet, most of the results will lead you to Santorini because it is the most photographed place in Greece. Santorini’s landscape is very unique and like no other place in Greece or worldwide. A powerful volcanic eruption in the past resulted in the formation of a caldera – collapse of land following the eruption, which had split the former island into five separate islands: Santorini, Thirasia, and the three small islands of Nea Kameni, Palea and Aspronisi. Nea Kameni and Palea are the youngest volcanic islands in Europe. A new theory about the eruption says that the island has never split and what we see nowadays as separate islands is just the upper part of the volcano and its craters, the rest of island being under water.
Santorini is the largest island of the group, in the shape of crescent. Its west part consists of high volcanic rocks on the top of which buildings overlook the sea and the caldera. The villages in this part of the island are Fira (the capital), Firostefani, Oia, Imerovigli, Finikas and Akrotiri. All of them are visited by millions of tourists yearly for the fantastic view and the unique atmosphere. If you expect a beach holiday, the beaches are located on the east where the relief is flat. Some of them are very long and have black and dark grey sand, excluding the peculiar Red beach which is, as the name suggests, a strip of reddish sand with red cliffs hanging over it. The most famous beach resorts of Santorini are Kamari and Perissa/Perivolos. The distances on the island are small but the roads are narrow and traveling takes more time than you expect. If you have reached the island without a car, you can use the local bus system or rent a car.
Interesting places to visit in Santorini:
- Fira, the capital, with the narrow streets and numerous cafes and restaurants overlooking the caldera
- Firostefani - it has the best caldera view
- The Skaros rock in Imerovigli which used to be a Medieval fortress
- Oia (for the sunset) and the harbor of Oia
- Ancient Thira - excavations of an antique town on a hill between Kamari and Perissa
- The Monastery of Prophetis Ilias, the highest point of the island offering panoramic view
- Pyrgos, an old village in the inner part of the island
- The volcanic island of Nea Kameni (boat trips with a guide are organized)