Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands and belongs to the Cyclades group. It is highly renowned for its volcano, unique caldera, and breathtaking sunsets. Santorini is a top tourist destination for vacations. Santorini belongs to the volcanic arc of the Aegean and is considered an active volcano, along with the islands of Milos, Nisyros, and Methana.
History of Santorini
One event that had a significant impact on the island's history was the powerful volcanic eruption during the Bronze Age, which resulted in the destruction of the island.
Among the many conquerors of the island, the Phoenicians and Dorians were impressed by its beauty, while the Spartans, when they settled on the island in the 8th century BC, named it Thera for the first time after their leader.
During the Byzantine Era, the island appointed its own bishop, establishing a Christian church. After the fall of Constantinople in 1204, Santorini was conquered by the Venetians, who named the island Santorini, derived from the church of Santa Irene. In the 18th century, Santorini experienced significant development, mainly due to wine exports. The famous "vin santo" (Santorinian wine) reached as far as Russia. The earthquake of 1956 caused serious damage to the island's infrastructure, disrupting the course of Santorini and its inhabitants. Since the 1970s, Santorini has become globally renowned for its unique landscape and has rapidly evolved into one of the world's top tourist destinations.
Beaches in Santorini
- Kamari: One of the largest beaches in Santorini offers black volcanic sand, deep turquoise waters, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. On its right side, the Mesa Vouno cliff dominates, creating a breathtaking scenery, especially when illuminated during the evening hours. The organized area provides umbrellas, sunbeds, and wooden walkways to access the warm sandy shore.
- Red Beach: The most famous beach in Santorini resembles a scene from the Red Planet. Impressive red lava cliffs, red sand mixed with black pebbles, and crystal-clear azure waters. The beach is located near the archaeological site of Akrotiri and is accessible by car or boat.
- Monolithos: A large beach on the eastern shores of Santorini with dark gray sand. The shallow shores and the numerous organized water sports activities make it ideal for families with children.
- Vlychada: Its lunar landscape with a wall of soft volcanic ash creates an impressive sight. It is a wide beach with fine black sand and dark pebbles, offering a paradise for those seeking tranquility and isolation (especially in most parts of it).
- Perivolos: It is the largest beach in Santorini, connecting with Perissa Beach. It has a cosmopolitan character and is popular among young people, with many beach bars for day-long clubbing. Its black sandy shore is fully organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, beach clubs for water sports, and diving centers. It is one of the most beautiful locations to enjoy the sunrise if you travel by boat to Santorini.
Food in Santorini
- The remarkable Santorini tomato, known as the "red queen" of Santorinian gastronomy, has a unique sweet flavor. It's worth trying fresh tomatoes in salads, sun-dried, in tomato paste, sauces, and, of course, the famous fluffy Santorini tomato fritters.
- Capers are one of the exquisite products of the Santorinian land. You can enjoy their flavor in salads or in fava bean puree, adding a distinctive note.
- The island is also famous for its white eggplants. You can savor the eggplants fried, grilled, in puree, or even in the form of a spicy eggplant salad.
- You shouldn't leave Santorini without experiencing the island's distinct wines. You can try the renowned Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, red Mandilaria, and Mavrotragano. And of course, you must not miss the famous Vinsanto dessert wine of Santorini, which will impress you.
Sights in Santorini
- Enjoy a swim in the enchanting cove of Ammoudi, with its crystal-clear waters in the Oia area. You can take a leap from the cliffs of the islet of Agios Nikolaos. Access can be either by road or through the 235 steps that connect Oia with the small port. Afterwards, it's worth trying a meal at one of the taverns located by the water.
- Take a walk along the path that connects Fira to Oia, one of the most beautiful hiking routes in the Aegean. This three-hour hike covers a distance of 9.5 kilometers and traverses the edge of the cliff, offering stunning views. The ideal time to do it is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
- Visit the Tomato Industrial Museum in Vlychada, housed in a beautiful building that used to be an old tomato canning factory (1945-1981). The museum offers a rare opportunity to explore the industrial heritage of Santorini's famous product through machinery, tools, canned packaging, photographs, and other artifacts. Tastings also take place within the museum, while part of the complex serves as a Center of Contemporary Art.
- Discover the impressive underwater world of Santorini by following the footsteps of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who searched here for the Lost Atlantis. You can make a reservation at one of the island's certified diving centers and enjoy the breathtaking underwater topography, including caves, canyons, shipwrecks, and marine life.
- Upgrade your experience and climb the rock of Skaros to admire the white chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti. Formerly the island's capital until the mid-18th century, the Venetian castle was connected to Imerovigli via a wooden bridge. The path leading to the summit starts from the chapel of Agios Georgios in Imerovigli and includes 300 steps. The view towards the caldera and the volcano will reward you with its panoramic magnificence.
Activities in Santorini
- Experience one of the most impressive sunset views in the world, where golden and pink reflections transform Santorini into a living postcard. Enjoy the spectacle from some of the best spots, such as the castle of Oia, the summit of Prophet Elias above the village of Pyrgos, the lighthouse at Akrotiri, and the beach of Vlychada.
- Explore the dazzling archaeological site of Akrotiri, which is one of the most significant prehistoric settlements in Europe. Known as the "Pompeii of the Aegean," this mythical city (circa 1500 BCE) reveals an architecture and urban planning of high cultural sophistication, as well as an advanced society.
- Discover a winemaking tradition that dates back over 4,000 years by participating in wine tasting sessions at modern wineries and the island's stunning cellars.
- Visit the outstanding Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira and admire the unique treasures of the Theraic civilization. There, you will find impressive frescoes from the "House of the Ladies" and the intricate gold idol of a goat.
- Don't miss the opportunity to watch the theatrical play "Volcano," a spectacular representation of the volcano eruption using fireworks and pyrotechnics, which takes place in late August.
How to travel to / from Santorini?
The trip from Piraeus to Santorini (Thira) is very easy throughout the year. There are 8 ferry companies that operate the route: Blue Star Ferries, Seajets, Aegeon Pelagos, Zante Ferries, Minoan Lines, Sea Speed Ferries, Fast Ferries, and Aegean Sea Lines. Ticket prices vary depending on the type of vessel, ranging from 20 to 138 euros. Tickets are available for both passengers and vehicles (cars and motorcycles).
On this route, there are both direct routes and routes with intermediate stops at other islands. The intermediate stops usually include the following destinations: Syros, Ios, Milos, Anafi, Heraklion, Crete, Sitia, Kasos, Karpathos (All Ports), Halki, Rhodes (All Ports), Paros, Naxos, Syros, Mykonos, Serifos, Folegandros, and Sikinos.
During the summer season, there are 3 - 5 routes from Piraeus to Santorini:
- The "World Champion Jet" operated by Seajets, which is the fastest among all, departs daily at 7:00 AM. It follows the route Syros, Mykonos, Naxos, Ios, Santorini, with a travel duration of less than 5 hours, arriving at the port of Santorini at 11:45 AM. The ticket cost is approximately 90 euros.
- The "Blue Star Delos" departs daily at 7:25 AM and covers the route year-round. It takes about 7.5 hours to reach the destination, passing through the intermediate stops of Paros and Naxos. Ticket prices start from 45 euros.
- The "Speedrunner Jet" operated by Seajets departs at 9:00 AM and covers the route to Santorini with a cost of about 85 euros. It has intermediate stops at Milos, Folegandros, and Ios. The vessel can accommodate 660 passengers and 153 vehicles, and the travel duration is less than 5 hours, with an estimated arrival in Santorini at 2:00 PM.
- Additionally, there is the "Thunder" operated by Fast Ferries, which also departs at 9:00 AM and makes the itinerary with intermediate stops at Syros, Mykonos, Paros, and Ios. The travel duration is 6 hours and 45 minutes, and the ticket cost is approximately 70 euros. The vessel can carry 1100 passengers and 215 vehicles.
- Finally, the "Blue Star Patmos" operated by Blue Star Ferries offers the route from Piraeus to Santorini in 9 hours and 15 minutes, departing at 5:30 PM. During the summer period, it passes through the intermediate stops of Syros, Paros, Naxos, and Ios. The arrival at the port of Santorini is expected at around 2:45 AM. The vessel can accommodate 2000 passengers and 430 vehicles, and the ticket cost starts from approximately 45 euros.
The most popular routes to Santorini are as follows:
- Ferry routes from Rafina to Santorini: During the summer period, there is a ferry route connecting Rafina to Santorini with the "SuperExpress" vessel operated by Golden Star Ferries. This high-speed catamaran with a length of 91 meters can carry 1070 passengers and 200 vehicles. The journey from Rafina to Santorini takes about 6 hours and 10 minutes. The vessel departs daily at 7:15 AM, with an estimated arrival time in Santorini at 1:25 PM. During the trip, there are intermediate stops at Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, and Ios. The vessel offers only airline-type seats, and the cost for a one-way trip is about 80 euros.
- Ferry routes from Mykonos to Santorini: You can travel from Mykonos to Santorini by choosing between conventional ferries and high-speed/catamaran ferries. The itineraries are seasonal and operate from late March to mid-October. All ships depart from the Port of Tourlos (or New Port) in Mykonos and arrive at the Athinios Port in Santorini. The cost of a ticket ranges from 67 euros to 89 euros for a regular seat.
- Ferry routes from Heraklion to Santorini: From Heraklion, you can travel to Santorini by conventional ferries or high-speed/catamaran vessels. The itineraries between these two islands are available from late March to mid-October. The ships depart from the Port of Heraklion and arrive at the Athinios Port. The travel duration can range from less than 2 hours to 6 hours and 20 minutes, and the cost for a one-way trip can range from 16 euros to 95.7 euros for a regular seat, depending on the ferry company.
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