Isle of Santorini Greece sights.

Santorini

Santorini (Greece) – the most detailed information about the island with photos. The main sights of Santorini with descriptions, videos and a map.

Island of Santorini (Greece).

Santorini (or Tira) is a picturesque island in Greece in the Cyclades archipelago, located in the Aegean Sea. It’s one of the most stunning places in Europe and a true Greek paradise, attracting honeymooners and lovers as the most romantic place to stay. Santorini – it’s incredible sunsets and pearly white buildings, climbing in tiers on steep slopes, churches with blue domes and charming windmills, great gastronomy and stunning beaches.

Interestingly, Santorini is actually a group of islands: Thira (the largest island), Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palea and Nea Kameni. They took their present form in 1650 B.C., when there was a strong volcanic eruption. In this case, the volcano of the same name is still active. During the eruption in ancient times formed a vast caldera (volcanic depression), which was flooded with water.

Santorini is considered a true gem of Greece, fascinating with its fantastic volcanic landscapes, steep cliffs and crystal clear sea. But the most amazing thing here is the architecture of the coastal villages, built right on the edge of a volcanic depression with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. These picturesque settlements feature fabulous white houses resembling sugar cubes, punctuated by charming cobbled streets and adorned with beautiful churches with bright domes.

Things to do (Santorini):

Kalimera, Santorini!

From €396 per tour.

Kalimera, Santorini!

Fall in love with the island of Poseidon on a large sightseeing tour

North of Santorini

From €270 for the tour

North of Santorini.

Explore the most picturesque corners of the island and see the sunset in the village of Iya

Geography and climate

Santorini is located in the southern Aegean Sea, 200 km from the Greek mainland. It is a semi-circular archipelago of volcanic islands, nestled between the islands of Ios and Anafi. The area of the island is 96 km 2 and the coastline has a length of 69 km.

The town of Iya. Santorini

The city of Ia on the island of Thira. Santorini

The most impressive part of the relief is the famous caldera, which is closely linked to the history of the island. This volcanic depression is round and completely filled with water. In fact, it is the only sunken caldera in the world. It resembles a lagoon, up to 400 meters deep. Caldera is surrounded by steep cliffs, on top of which are built beautiful villages.

The eruption that formed the caldera caused giant tsunamis that struck the northern coast of Crete and destroyed the Minoan civilization that flourished at the time.

Santorini has an arid Mediterranean climate characterized by hot, dry summers and warm, slightly rainy winters. Santorini is subject to strong northerly winds in July and August, which can interfere with calm sea walks.

Tourist information

  1. Population – 16 thousand people
  2. Capital – Fira
  3. Language – Greek
  4. Currency – Euro
  5. Visa – Schengen
  6. Time – UTC +2

How to visit the island for budget tourists

Santorini is an expensive resort, even in low season. But there are some simple ways to save a little money:

  • Don’t book accommodation in high season, choosing to visit in spring or the second half of fall.
  • Choose accommodation away from the most famous coastal villages of Caldera and visit them by public transport.
  • Eat in inexpensive eateries, cook yourself (if you have a kitchen) or buy ready-made food in supermarkets.
  • Swim in secluded natural bays, not on paid beaches.

Sunset at Ia

Sunset in Ia.

The best beaches in Santorini

  • Red Beach is one of the most beautiful and famous beaches of Santorini, located 12 km from Fira. It is covered with red volcanic pebbles, which create an interesting contrast to the blue sea.
  • White Beach is a cove surrounded by white rocks, located near the Red Beach.
  • Kambia is a secluded beach between the Red Beach and the White Beach.
  • Yalos is a small secluded beach with a beautiful view on the volcano.
  • Monolithos is a quiet pebbly beach 6km east of Fira and is perfect for families.
  • Perivolos is one of the biggest sandy beaches of Santorini, surrounded by numerous hotels and taverns.
  • Perissa is the famous black sand beach of Santorini, located 12km from Fira.
  • Kamari is a famous resort and beach in the south of the island, very close to Perissa.
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Popular cities and places

    – The capital of Santorini and the busiest city of the island. From here you can take a bus to almost anywhere in Thira. – The jewel of Santorini, a colorful village on the rocks of the volcanic caldera, located at the northern tip of the island of Thira. It is a place with charming architecture and stunning sunsets. – a small village located at the highest point of the caldera, which offers the best view of Nea Kameni, the black volcanic island in the center of the lagoon. There is an opinion that the sunset views here are as good as those from Ia.
  • Firastefani is a small, quiet village between Imerovigli and Fira. It is located on one of the steepest rocks of the caldera.
  • Perissa is a coastal village on the southeast coast of Santorini, known for its black sand beach stretching for several kilometers and excellent Greek tavernas.
  • Votonas is a small stone village, one of the oldest settlements in Santorini.
  • Megalohori is a traditional village with many old white Cycladic churches.
  • Emporio is one of the largest settlements of Santorini, located at the foot of Mount Profitis Ilias. Emporio was once one of the main outposts of the island and still has a distinctly medieval character.
  • Akrotiri is a small village located near the famous Red Beach in the southeastern part of the island. It is best known for the ruins of an ancient Minoan city destroyed by a volcanic eruption, which are considered the most important archaeological site of Santorini.
  • Pyrgos is the former capital of the island, which consists of traditional houses built around a Venetian castle and winding streets that follow the natural flow of the area.
  • Camari is a cosmopolitan beach resort that boasts all the trappings of modern infrastructure.

Best time to visit

The tourist season in Santorini lasts from May to October. The resort is one of the most popular and expensive in Europe, so during the high season (July to September), prices can be a bit steep. To explore the nature of the island and to save a little money we recommend to visit Santorini in the transition months of April / May or October / November. This time is still warm, but no longer hot.

The island of Santorini can be divided into two parts: western and eastern. The most popular western part of the island, where there is the famous caldera and picturesque coastal villages such as Fira and Ia, built on the rocks. The eastern side of Santorini resembles the rest of the Greek islands, although also quite picturesque. Accommodations on the east side of the island should be more budget-friendly.

View from the hotel window. Santorini

View from the hotel window. Santorini

History

Recent archaeological findings indicate that Santorini was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period, about 3,600 years BC. A major city of the Minoan civilization was built on the island, destroyed by a major earthquake in 1650 B.C. In 1500 BC the Phoenicians settled there and founded the city of Thera. In 1100 BC. Santorini was conquered by the Lacedaemonians (Spartans).

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During the Hellenistic period Tira, the largest island of Santorini, due to its central position in the Aegean Sea, became an important trading center and naval base for the Greeks.

Interestingly, the modern name of the island was formed in the 13th century by the Crusaders (or Venetians) from the name of the small church of St. Irene (Santa Irini) in Perissa.

Surroundings of Firastefani

The surroundings of Firastefani

After the collapse of the Roman Empire and for most of the Middle Ages, Santorini was part of the Byzantine Empire. In the 13th century, the islands were ceded to Venice. The Venetians owned Santorini until the 16th century, when the Turks arrived and turned the local port into one of the most important ports of the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the early 20th century, after a series of wars Santorini is in decline. In 1956 there is another catastrophic earthquake, forcing the inhabitants to leave the islands. Santorini begins to “revive” only in the 1970s. And now it is one of the most popular resorts in Greece and throughout Europe.

How to get there

The international airport is located on the island of Thira, north of the village of Kamari. It has regular flights to Athens as well as seasonal flights from Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich, London, Milan, Zurich, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Paris, Barcelona, Prague, Venice, Rome. From the airport you can take a bus to Fira, from where you can take buses to other places in Santorini.

You can also go here by ferry from Athens and from many Aegean islands (Mykonos, Crete, Paros, Naxos). The port at which all ferries to Santorini arrive and depart is called Athenios (or New Port). It is located on the southwest side of the island of Thira, 9 km from Fira and 19 km from the village of Iaia.

Santorini has a well-developed bus network. Roads on the islands are good, but often quite narrow and winding. If public transport does not suit you, you can rent a car or motorcycle.

Santorini

Santorini

Shopping

A great souvenir brought back from a trip to Santorini is local wine. You can also buy cosmetics made from volcanic ash, jewelry, ceramics and fabrics made in the traditional way.

Santorini has an interesting cuisine, shaped by the climatic and natural features of the island. Here we recommend trying the local grilled fish or seafood, melidzanosalata, mashed garlic and olive oil white eggplant, tomato fritters, dolma and great local wines.

The best recommendation is to stay away from the expensive restaurants and try to find a traditional tavern where the food is much cheaper and sometimes tastier.

Attractions

Caldera

Caldera

Caldera is one of the most famous attractions of Santorini, a unique natural object, formed by a volcanic eruption more than 3,600 years ago. It is a sea-filled volcanic crater with an area of 84 km 2 , surrounded by steep cliffs. The volcano itself is located on the island of Nea Kameni, almost in the center of the caldera.

Fira

Fira

Fira, the capital of Santorini, is located in the eastern part of the caldera, on several high cliffs. It is the largest city on the island and consists of traditional whitewashed houses and terraces, pretty winding alleyways, small squares and churches with blue domes. A picturesque 10-kilometer trail connects Fira with Iaia.

Fira, like almost all settlements in Santorini, lives off tourism. Most of the buildings are small hotels, apartments, restaurants, tavernas and stores.

Catholic Cathedral

Catholic Cathedral

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The Catholic Cathedral in Fira contrasts with the traditional Cycladic churches. It has a peach-colored facade and a beautifully decorated clock tower that towers proudly over the city. The interior of the cathedral is beautifully decorated with paintings framing the columns. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1975 after the 1956 earthquake.

Thira

Tira

Thira is the ruins of an ancient city, including fragments of Hellenistic temples and foundations of Roman and early Byzantine structures. Ancient Tira is located on the southeastern coast of Santorini and was founded in the 9th century BC.

The finds from here are on display in a small archaeological museum located near the upper station of the cable car in Fira.

Ia

Ия

Iya is a coastal village at the northernmost point of the caldera and a true gem of Santorini, famous for its incredible sunsets. It is a picture-perfect Cycladic village, most of whose houses have been converted into luxury hotels with landscaped pools and stunning views of the caldera.

Windmills are one of the symbols of Santorini. Such structures operated on most of the Cyclades Islands from the 16th to the late 19th century, taking advantage of the frequent local winds. Most modern mills are tourist attractions converted into boutique hotels.

Acrotiri

Akrotiri

Akrotiri is the most important archaeological site in Santorini. It is an ancient Minoan settlement buried under lava from a volcanic eruption that occurred in the 16th century BC.

Red Beach

Red Beach

Red Beach is one of Santorini’s most famous beaches, located near the modern village of Akrotiri, against a backdrop of red rock.

Pyrgos

Pyrgos

Pyrgos was the capital of Santorini until the 19th century. It is a tiny village located in the center of Santorini, consisting of white Cycladic houses built around the ruins of a medieval castle on a hilltop.

Perissa Beach

Perissa Beach

Perissa Beach is one of Santorini’s largest and most popular beaches, located on the southeast coast of the island between the villages of Perissa and Perivolos. It is a six-kilometer strip of fine black volcanic sand, along which there are numerous hotels, bars and tavernas.

The Church of the Holy Cross in Perissa is one of Santorini’s largest churches and is located near the famous beach. It was originally built in 1835-1840, but the church was reconstructed after a major earthquake in 1956. During the reconstruction, fragments of two older three-aisled basilicas were discovered, indicating that the original church was built on their foundations.

Panagia Episkopi

Panagia Episkopi

Panagia Episkopi is an ancient Byzantine church built in the 11th century. It has preserved many medieval frescoes and ancient icons.

Venetian Castle

Venetian Castle

The Venetian Castle was built by the Venetians near the modern village of Akrotiri in the Middle Ages. After the Ottoman Turks took over Santorini the impregnable Venetian castle was completely destroyed.

The Monastery of Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos Monastery

Agios Nikolaos is a convent located between the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli. It was founded in 1651 and is one of the oldest monasteries on the island.

Interesting excursions

Airport or Sea Port - Santorini transfer

Airport or Sea Port – Santorini transfer

Comfortable transportation, professional drivers and quality service

What to see in Santorini

Santorini is a unique Greek island of volcanic origin, incredibly beautiful and romantic. It attracts tourists with its narrow cozy streets, lots of small whitewashed houses with blue windows and doors and the azure color of the sea water. Quite often visitors to Greece, vacationing on the mainland or Crete, book a day trip to the island of Santorini, but to really get a feel for this unique place, you need to devote at least half a week to it.

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Historical Sights

History buffs will always find something to see on the island as it is considered part of the beautiful sunken island of Atlantis – and this is evidenced by the many historical monuments.

Santorini Island, GreeceSantorini Island, GreeceSantorini Island, Greece

The ancient city of Fira stands on a great hill, with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. Fragments of stonework dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries B.C. have been preserved here, and numerous buildings point to the large size of the city. In ancient Fira one can see the ruins of residential buildings and temples, the ancient theater and market square, and in the center of the modern city it is worth visiting the Museum of Prehistoric Fira with exhibitions supplementing the understanding of the ancient settlement.

The Archaeological Reserve of Akrotiri is located 2 km from the town of the same name. When the excavations began here in 1967, scientists immediately dubbed it the “Minoan Pompeii”. In the process, archaeologists found in this area a large ancient city with houses of several floors, decorated with beautiful frescoes and sculptures.

The mansion of George Emmanuel Argyros is an important architectural monument of Santorini, a true work of art of the neoclassical era. Built by George Argyros in the mid-19th century the house was badly damaged during the earthquake of 1956, but today the villa has been almost completely restored. The interior decoration is of particular value: antique Western European furniture, decorative decorations and icons, beautiful paintings and handmade kitchen utensils.

Antique TheraAkrotiri Archaeological SanctuaryGeorge Emmanuel Argyros's Mansion

Agiu Mina Church is a snow-white cathedral with a bright blue roof, located high on a cliff. This world-famous symbol of the island was built in the 17th century, and now the temple not only welcomes visitors, but also decorates many Greek postcards.

The monastery of Elijah the Prophet is situated at 550 meters above sea level on the top of the mountain and from here you have a beautiful view of the surrounding area. In 1711 it was built by monks from Pirgos. Today the monastery has a rich collection of icons and church relics, and in the library of the temple there is a large collection of ancient manuscripts. During Turkish rule there was an underground school where one could learn the native Greek language.

The church of Panagia Episkopi is one of the oldest orthodox churches in Greece. The church, located on a hill near the settlement of Pyrgos, was built in the 11th century. The church has a large collection of ancient frescoes and icons, the most famous of which is considered to be the miraculous icon of the Mother of God “Glikophiloussa” (XI century).

The Church of Agiu MinaElijah the Prophet MonasteryChurch of Panagia Episkopi

Interesting places

Ancient Iya is a picturesque town with a fabulous view of the bay. In this place, traffic is completely prohibited, and the houses huddle on the rocks, like small bird’s nests. On the main street of the town you can find small souvenir shops with handicrafts or exhibitions of paintings, but most tourists come here to admire the incredibly beautiful sunset.

From a distance, the old port seems completely unsuited to the marina. However, it perfectly fulfills its function and serves to send the tourists to the neighboring islets of Nea Kameni and Tirasia. Its location at the foot of a submerged volcano forces people arriving on the island to climb a staircase 300 meters high. For those who can not overcome this difficult path, caring Greeks launched a cable car, which can be used to admire the magnificent sea views and openwork white stone city of Fira. A trip to the island of Nea Kameni is considered one of the most interesting excursions in Santorini and is a journey through the still hot earth to the crater of the volcano, where you can see the jets of hydrogen sulfide breaking through the rock. The island of Paleo Kameni is worth a trip to take curative mud baths.

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Ancient IaOld PortThe Island of Nea Kameni

The Balcony of Santorini is the name of an unusual rock that survived even the earthquake, and, at the same time, the most romantic place of the island. Many lovers choose it for their wedding ceremony, which looks especially stunning against the background of the setting sun. The rock is located in the picturesque village of Imerovigli and is one of the highest points on the island.

Santo Wines . Quite often excursions to Santorini include a visit to one of the largest wineries on the island. Founded back in 1947 “Santo Wines” willingly acquaints visitors with all the stages of production of the hop beverage and offers visitors to taste its products.

The Wine Museum, founded in 1870 by two brothers, is located not far from the spa resort of Camari and it also offers wine tastings of the most important vintages. Moreover, a guide will tell you the whole history of wine making on the island and visit the wine bottle cave, which is three hundred meters deep.

The Balcony of SantoriniWine MuseumMaritime Museum

The Maritime Museum is located in a mansion in Fira that once belonged to the Birbili family. Here you can see models and sketches of ships, special equipment, see the personal belongings of sailors, their old photographs and historical documents.

Unusual beaches

Santorini was formed on the site of an extinct volcano, subsequently flooded by the sea and now one of its “highlights” are beaches with an unusual color of sand.

Kamari beach is one of the longest on the island, attracting tourists with its black volcanic sand and crystal clear water.

The beach of Perissa is famous for its unique combination of the bright blue of the Aegean Sea and the black coastal strip. All this natural splendor complements the landscape of Mount Mesa Vouno, at the foot of which the beach is located. The coastal strip of one of the most popular resorts on the island is a succession of stores, cafes and hotels.

Kamari BeachPerissa BeachRed beach Akrotiri

The red beach of Akrotiri is studded with brick-colored mineral crumbs, the source of which is a break in the rock. The paradise place looks especially picturesque from the sea, but you can’t call it secluded – too many people want to admire the unique coastline.

The white beach of Akrioti is a quite secluded and quiet place, because to travelers the coastline, studded with ordinary white sand, may seem trivial. However, white sand is rare for Santorini. Another attraction is the Faros lighthouse, which is a short distance from the beach and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

Vlihada beach is located near the village of Perivolos, in the southernmost part of Santorini. Everything here resembles a Martian landscape – the bizarrely shaped rocks, the coastline and the sand and pebble beach.

White beach AkrotiriVlychada BeachSantorini Island, Greece

You can get to Santorini by speedboat from the port of Heraklion (Crete), spending about two hours one way and 55 euros. A similar journey by ferry will be longer (6 hours), but will cost half as much. The average cost of a day trip to Santorini from Crete is about 200 euros.

Remember, whatever the cost of a trip to this fabulous island, it will be more than repaid with a new experience of natural beauty and historical heritage of Greece.

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