Santorini Greece is probably most distinguished by its impressive sea-filled crater called “caldera,” which has an extraordinary shape you can trace back to around year 1600BC. Back then a volcano gave a massive explosion blowing out the middle of Santorini island.
The caldera’s charred lands are famous for their volcanic muds’ therapeutic health effects; but aside from that, Santorini, Greece today is one of world’s most stunning island destinations.
Santorini Greece Travel Guide
Discover the Cyclades where you can witness stunning sunsets, enjoy the black sand beaches, and indulge in the island’s gourmet cuisine and boutique hotels.
Santorini’s Ia and Thira towns are whitewashed settlements on a cliff overlooking the sea-filled crater (“caldera”). So too are Fira (the capital) and Oia. The upmarket Fira and Oia perch up on the reddish-black cliffs 980 feet into the caldera’s deep-blue waters. Both offer extravagant gourmet dining experience and sophisticated boutique hotels.
Fira and Oia had been featured on countless of postcards and mainly popular for catering to couples on a romantic escapade. When you think about a great wedding and honeymoon destination, you think about Fira and Oia.
But, perhaps the most quintessential Santorini experience for many people is watching the sun set into the caldera-viewed horizon on high season from the Oia. The spectacular view overlooking the caldera are a must-see for its typical Cyclades postcard-perfect sceneries–cubic whitewashed buildings with blue-domed churches. It’s an image you won’t easily forget.
When you get to the town you’ll see the winding, cobbled streets of Fira packed with boutique hotels and cafes and restaurants—some of which are the most expensive yet most memorable for their excellent views of the caldera. You may also visit a couple of local museums.
One of Santorini’s most famous attractions is its top archaeological site, Akrotiri. Akrotiri is an ancient Minoan town that had been buried by lava in the year 1600 BC.
Connoisseurs may also visit the vineyards: Santo Wines and the Boutari winery, for guided tours and wine-tasting sessions. (Both are near Pyrgos.) Santorini, Greece produces some of the islands’ best white wines and the island’s largest producer is Boutari.
Dinning and Shopping
Popular main courses in Greek cuisine include fresh seafood, hearty stews, and charcoal-grilled meat. Most dishes are also healthily based on fresh Mediterranean ingredients (in season) and are simply prepared with an abundant use of extra virgin olive oil.
When it comes to shopping, you can shop in Fira for some fine silver and gold jewelry, leather goods, painted ceramics, and their world-famous hand-blown glass. You can also find contemporary paintings that depict the island as well as some replicas of Ancient Greek masterpieces/artworks.
Everywhere, you can buy locally-made white wine and dessert wine called Vin Santo, shipped directly from the Grecian wineries. A cheerful and inexpensive memento you can take home for your bathroom is a local pumice stone.
Santorini’s busiest beaches include Perissa and Perivolos with its soft, blackened volcanic sands located on the east coast and the Kamari pebble and black-sand beach on the southeast coast. Note: the black sands can feel ultra-hot barefoot so wearing sandals is highly recommended.
The “Red Beach” (Kokkini Paralia), on the southwest coast just below Akrotiri also makes a memorable beach-day trip–its sights backed by terracotta-colored cliffs.
Alternatively, visitors can also explore the tiny uninhabited black volcanic islets of Palea Kameni (famous for its therapeutic muds and hot springs) and the Nea Kameni (dwelling place of the smoldering volcanic crater).
Enticing excursions from Santorini, Greece include boat trips or cruises around the deep-blue caldera seas. Cruise ships offer a range of excursion options including upmarket Oia, which is again noteworthy for its unforgettable sunsets and trademark Cycladic architecture.
Cruise ships lay anchor in the caldera, then tender boats take passengers ashore to Skala below Fira. Via cable car or mule-ride, tourists then comfortably ride up to town, but athletic-types can also choose to climb all the way to the top of the 580-step footpath.
Also on the east of Santorini is the Anafi un-spoilt island. It has pleasant south-coast sand beaches accessible only via ferry.
Santorini island caldera Greece ferry cruise
When to Go
Although the Mediterranean cruise season starts late April running through late October, try visiting Santorini in May or June or September or October. You can enjoy milder weather and avoid crowds then. Peak season in Greece is from July to August. During these months, all main destinations are very crowded and very hot.
Note: Santorini, Greece also caters more to couples than families with some of its exclusive west-coast hotels, and accommodation overlooking the caldera are not accepting any guests under 16 of age.
Santorini, Greece – Other Places of Interest
- Naval Museum (in Oia)
- Folklore Museum (in Fira)
- Museum of Prehistoric Thira
- Therasia, Santorini group’s second largest island, opposite the caldera. It hosts several seafood tavernas and offer fine panoramic views of Santorini, Greece from Thirassia.
Visit Santorini Greece!