Thera, Santorin) is on of the most spectacular natural
wonders in Europe. The once circular island blew up in a
massive volcanic eruption about 3500 years ago. The crater
collapsed and was flooded. Only a fraction of the original
island remained but by looking at the so called caldera
- although now a lagoon - you can see how big the island once
was. The most impressive feature however is the up to 300
metres high cliff which is a result of the caldera
collapsing. It's like a geological museum and most
Some archaeologists reckon that Santorini is identical to
Plato's Atlantis. There is loads of evidence against it but
since it is a nice story people keep telling it. And it does
make sense after all. How many islands do we know that
The best way to go to Santorini is a ferry. The scenery is
impressive. The ferry enters the caldera and approaches the
steep cliff. The ferry port is located near the capital Fira.
From there a bus will take you. The narrow and steep
serpentines up the cliff are both: scary and impressive. And
it is getting better.
The local capital Fira (Thira) is located north of the port
at the edge of the cliff. The view from there is spectacular.
Towards sunset sit down in one of the many cafes and
restaurants and just enjoy when the sun is setting over the
massive caldera. Despite Santorini being very touristy and
quite expensive it still is one of the most beautiful spots
in all Greece. Follow the narrow lanes through the old town;
enjoy the beautiful houses overlooking the caldera and try
the local wine. It is one of the best.
are plenty of things to do on Santorini. Most famous is the
old Minoan settlement Akrotiri. During the eruption of the
volcano the whole village was covered by ash and preserved.
The wall paintings found in situ are by far the most
impressive ever discovered. Thanks to the protective layer of
volcanic ash they appear brand new although they are more
than 3000 years old. They are kept in the National Museum in
Another place to visit is Oia which is famous for the sunsets
but also a picturesque village at the edge of the cliff. You
can also book a day trip to the two islands in the centre of
the caldera. They are the living proof that volcano is still
Nea Kameni only appeared in the 16th century. The other one
Palaia Kameni is much older. It first appeared around the
year 46. Today's shape is a result of eruptions in 726 and
1457. It is well known for the hot springs. Don't bring a
white towel though. The water is yellowish (sulphur) and will
ruin it. The trip is amazing. You can almost feel the
sleeping volcano underneath your feet. When I was there loads
white smoke came from one spot on Nea Kameni. It made us feel
a little uncomfortable but from all I know it is perfectly
safe - until the next eruption anyways.
Santorini is part of the Cyclades and an
important ferry hub. There are daily ferries to Piraeus
(Athens port), Naxos,
Ios, Paros, Mykonos,
Amorgos and most
of the surrounding islands. There are also frequent ferries
to the Dodecanese (Rhodes) and the western Cyclades Sikinos,
Sifnos, Serifos and
Milos for example.
The trip to Athens takes about 10 hours on a regular ferry
and costs about 16 Euro. During summer you can also take a
fast ferry that will get you to Athens in half the time.
Needless to say they are much more expensive.
Two to three times a week there is a ferry to
(Iraklio). The trip takes 4 to 5 hours and costs about 10
Euro. The fast ferry is twice as fast but also twice as
Coming from Iraklion you will arrive around 2 AM. That
obviously is not exactly a convenient time but not a big
problem either. Normally there will be a huge crowd of people
offering rooms to rent and they will also give you lift.
Santorini is quite big so make a wise choice and get some
info before you arrive. Among them would someone from the
youth hostel in Perissa (most of the times anyways). The
hostel is quite OK and one of the cheapest accommodations in
all Greece. Even during high season you will get a bed under
10 Euro, in low season they charge 5 Euro. They also have
cheap double rooms and the hostel is next to one of the best
beaches on the island. If you are staying in the hostel the
minivan that gets you to Perissa is free of charge.
There is another hostel in the capital
Thira but it did not
impress me. The rules are strict, the place is not exactly
clean and it lacks any kind of modern conveniences. There is
a hostel in Oia as well. It has an excellent reputation but
is quite far away from the port. I wouldn't go there if I
stayed for one night only. Another option is camping. There
are a few campsites on the island for example in Fira and in
Since Santorini is one of the major tourist attractions in
- well you have to say Europe - prices are well above Greek
average. Restaurants and bars are a rip off and especially in
the capital Fira. You will end up paying 5 Euro and more for
a beer. If you are used to Irish prices or London city centre
this may not sound like much but by Greek standards it's
At least accommodation is still reasonable. May be not in
July August but you would normally get a double room 20-25
Euro. There are countless guest houses, hotels and rooms to
rent on Santorini.
The island is one of the most beautiful and spectacular
sights in Greece if not all Europe but coming in high season
is a night mare. The island is packed with tourists, walking
through the narrow lanes in Fira becomes a struggle, queues
at for example Akrotiri seem endless and prices in the sunset
bars go through the roof. Worse case scenario is when a few
cruise liners stop at Fira. These happened to me once and
trust me on this: a cow herd rampage is nothing in
comparisons. If you can, avoid the high season. In winter for
example the island will reveal its true beauty.
The best beach on the island is Perissa at least as far as I
am concerned. Some prefer the red beach but I tend to
disagree. Perissa is a black beach, result of the volcanic
origin. Be carful when walking on it. It gets really hot. You
can burn your feet easily so get some sort of shoes.
Perissa is a good base camp. From there you get anywhere
without any problems and you have a decent beach. The bus
system is quite good so you won't have any problems.
Santorini is not a small island but it isn't that big after