Santorini is the twiglet of the Greek islands, a head-turner whose face is straight away recognisable around the world: multicoloured cliffs jump out of a sea-drowned caldera, topped by drifts of whitewashed homes. With its reputation for wonderful panoramas, romantic sunsets and volcanic-sand beaches, it’s hardly sudden the island features on such a lot of travellers’ bucket lists.
There’s no denying the uniqueness of this vacation spot or its massive allure – Santorini hosts 2 million tourists annually. Here’s all you want to recognize if you’re planning to enroll in that crowd.
A white church with a blue dome overlooks the sea in Santorini.
Church of Anastasis in Imerovigli village © De Agostini / Getty Images
Part of the Cyclades island group, Santorini (officially called Thira, a call that encompasses the volcanic islets within Santorini’s orbit) sits in the Aegean Sea, kind of halfway among Athens and Crete.
Introducing the Greek Islands
Introducing the Greek Islands
Start exploring the Greek Islands with Lonely Planet’s video manual to getting round, when to head and the top matters to do at the same time as you're there.
The island is shaped like a wonky croissant, and the neighbouring islets trace on the reality that Santorini become once circular; it was called Strongili (the Round One). Thousands of years ago a enormous volcanic eruption induced the centre of Strongili to sink, leaving a caldera (or crater) with towering cliffs alongside the east side – now Santorini’s trademark landscape.
Restaurants with patios line the stone wall on the Ammoudi port.
Restaurants in Ammoudi port © Hackenberg / ullstein bild / Getty Images
Santorini’s commercial development is targeted on the caldera-side clifftops inside the island’s west, with huge clusters of whitewashed homes nesting at dizzying heights, spilling down cliffsides and offering gasp-inducing perspectives from land or sea.
Fira, the island’s busy capital, sprawls north into villages referred to as Firostefani (about a 15-minute walk from Fira) and Imerovigli (the highest point of the caldera side, approximately a half-hour walk from Fira). A path going for walks thru those villages is lined with upmarket accommodations, eating place terraces and countless photograph opportunities.
These 3 conjoined settlements draw most visitors, collectively with the lovely and pretty one of a kind village of Oia in Santorini’s north. There’s a growing variety of motels within the island’s south, offering caldera views to the north and northeast. Akrotiri’s views come inexpensive than Oia’s, but it’s a fair manner from the motion of Fira.
Sunset over the white hillside homes of village of Oia.
Sunset over the village of Oia © Andrew Mayovskyy / Shutterstock
Resorts far from the caldera facet
Santorini’s east coast is lesser recognised than the celebrated, improved west coast. Here, the caldera-edge heights have sloped right down to sea level, and volcanic-sand seashores and accommodations offer a totally unique drawcard. East-coast lodges such as Kamari and Perissa have a extra traditional (and more affordable) island-vacation appeal: sunlounger-filled seashores, water sports, bars and taverna-coated promenades.
The east coast’s beaches are lined with black sand; on the south coast, there’s a string of seashores famed for their multicoloured sand – dramatic Red Beach is a traveler favourite.
The island’s indoors is dotted with vineyards and traditional villages that can help you see beyond the traveller hustle. Make a prevent in Pyrgos for great eats and a wander thru charming backstreets.
Red Beach, a red, rocky coastline on Santorini's south coast.
Red Beach on Santorini's south coast © Loop Images / UIG / Getty Images
What to do in Santorini
The apparent interest is to stroll the caldera edge and admire the perspectives. Walks in and round Fira are spectacular, specially heading north to Firostefani and Imerovigli alongside the caldera-aspect pathway. Keep strolling and you’ll in the end reach Oia, however be aware that that is no small assignment and the trail beyond Imerovigli can be rough. It’s about 9km in all, and a terrific three- to four-hours’ stroll in a single direction.
Santorini’s lauded wines are its crisp dry whites and the amber-coloured, unfortified dessert wine referred to as Vinsanto. Both are crafted from the indigenous grape variety, assyrtiko. About a dozen nearby vineyards host tastings (normally with a small charge) and some offer food, with surroundings and local produce combining to exceptional effect. Start your investigations on the large, slick SantoWines.
Santorini’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating website online of Akrotiri displaying a Minoan city destroyed with the aid of the volcanic eruption of 1613 BC. In Fira, the outstanding Museum of Prehistoric Thera enables piece collectively the story of ancient Akrotiri.
Nature’s handiwork is on display from any waterfront seat come sundown, however prime sundown-viewing is in Oia, in which thousands of tourists flock to appreciate (and applaud) nightfall.
Take the plunge: at your hotel’s infinity pool or your suite’s private plunge pool, from the brink of a ship on a caldera cruise or on a black-sand seaside at the east coast.
Any tour your heart desires can be organised – there are dozens of companies geared up to assist with vineyard visits, archaeology tours, sunset-looking and more. The maximum famous alternative is a cruise, and the traditional itinerary takes within the caldera’s volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni, inclusive of a stop on the former’s crater and the latter’s hot springs.
Sure, there are perspectives that forestall you on your tracks and great glimpses into how A-listers tour. But away from Santorini journey headlines there’s masses to explore, from a appropriate open-air cinema to a groovy microbrewery, wine caverns decorated with artworks, and cooking demonstrations and instructions which have a good time Santorini’s developing foodie culture.
Picturesque alleys of Oia village covered with domed homes selling souvenirs.
Picturesque alleys of Oia village © Athanasios Gioumpasis / Getty Images
Where to stay in Santorini
If you can manage to pay for it, first-timers to Santorini should live at the caldera part to experience the full ‘wow’ factor. Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia have hotels and villas with whitewashed interiors, terraces and infinity swimming pools that have inspired marriage proposals, high-style picture shoots and lots of an Instagram post. Sadly, there’s not plenty in these view-blessed locales for budget-conscious travellers: caldera-view accommodation comes at a top rate and it’s in hot demand (e book ahead).
There are first rate midrange options in Fira and Firostefani (much less so in Imerovigli and Oia), faraway from the front-row panoramas. There’s also a splendid hostel and a budget-pleasant campground (with rooms) at the outskirts of Fira.
If you’re extra interested in a seashore spoil or activities, live in Perissa or Kamari (and seize the bus into Fira). The gain of that is a few respite from the camera-toting caldera crowds, and greater reasonable expenses.
Swimming pool with caldera views in Imerovigli village, Santorini.
Pool with caldera views in Imerovigli village © Athanasios Gioumpasis / Getty Images
When to visit Santorini
Peak journey time is July and August, while charges leap and accommodations, viewpoints and beaches are packed with tourists. The shoulder-season months of April, May, early June, past due September and October are higher times to visit – things are marginally quieter at the caldera side, and notably quieter on the east coast (where accommodation deals are plentiful).
Don’t bargain a winter smash, whilst crowds are scarce (and costs low) even as the scenery continues to be breathtaking. Santorini is operating on positioning itself as a year-spherical vacation spot.
The sky turns red and purple in the course of sunset over the white homes of cliffside Santorini.
The well-known Santorini sunset © JTB Photo / Getty Images
Frequent ferries and high-velocity catamarans link Santorini with Athens’ most important port of Piraeus, Crete and numerous Cycladic islands. Your high-quality guess for ferry timetables is OpenSeas.
Santorini Airport has year-round flight connections with Athens, and summertime European connections.
On the island, bus services are first rate (if crowded in summer); loads of agencies offer cars, mopeds and ATV four-wheeler motorcycles for rent.