Santorini is the southernmost of Greece’s Cycladic Islands.Its port, Athinios, lies 147 miles southeast of Athens’ port, Piraeus. Santorini Airport is located 4 miles southeast of the island’s capital, Fira.
Santorini’s extraordinary shape is attributed to a massive volcanic explosion (around 1600BC), which blew out the middle of the island, creating the impressive sea-filled caldera (crater).
Santorini remains a favourite destination for romantic escapes. It’s popular with couples of all ages, and also makes a stunning wedding and honeymoon venue. It attracts visitors from all over the world, the west coast being popular with celebrities and moneyed travellers, while the east coast is more popular with travellers on bargain holidays. Most cruise ships sailing the East Mediterranean stop here for a day.
Santorini is orientated more towards couples than families. Families are best catered for in the beach resorts of Kamari and Perissa. Not far from Perissa is the Santorini Water Park which has three pools, three water slides and a children’s playground. Some of the exclusive west-coast hotels overlooking the caldera do not accept guests under the age of 16.
From July to August temperatures can exceed 38°C (100°F). It is probably best to visit during the mid season (May-June and September-October) when the weather is warm and the island is not overcrowded. In the low season (November-April), most tourist facilities shut down completely.
Santorini’s busiest beaches are the black-sand-and-pebble beach of Kamari on the east coast, and the soft black volcanic sands of Perissa and Perivolos on the southeast coast. Both Kamari and Perissa have watersports facilities. The Kokkini Paralia (Red Beach), backed by terracotta-coloured cliffs on the southwest coast, below Akrotiri is another beach worth a visit.
The cliff-top towns of Fira and Oia, overlooking the caldera, have whitewashed, cubic buildings and blue-domed churches that are typical of the Cyclades. Santorini’s top archaeological site is Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan town buried beneath lava in 1600 BC. It is currently closed for restoration. Beautiful ancient frescoes and ceramics from Akrotiri are on
display in the Museum of Ancient Thira in Fira. Santorini produces some of Greece’s best white wines, and several vineyards, including Santo Wines and Boutari, both near Pyrgos, are open to the public for wine tasting sessions and tours.
Popular excursions from Santorini include boat trips around the deep-blue caldera, where you can explore the tiny uninhabited black volcanic islets of Palea Kameni (with hot springs and therapeutic muds) and Nea Kameni (home to the smouldering volcanic crater). On the opposite side of the caldera, the island of Thirassia has several seafood tavernas. East of Santorini is the unspoilt island of Anafi, which can be reached by ferry, with it’s nice south-coast sand beach.