Even the most perfunctory of Aegean Sea tours would be vastly incomplete without a visit to Santorini. The fortuitous result of a colossal volcanic explosion thousands of years ago, the small archipelago is now one of the most popular summer destinations in Europe.
A relatively short jaunt from mainland Greece, Santorini is often the first port of call for cruise ships within the Cyclades island chain. Many never make it back to the ferry. The allure of sun-soaked, white-washed villas, cobblestone streets, sandy coastlines and a vibrant nightlife is a seductive mélange. Throw in postcard-perfect sunsets and a little Minoan history and you have the recipe for a memorable vacation.
Santorini Island History
- Archaeological Museum – Features Hellenistic and Roman items like vases, clay figures and sculptures.
- Akrotiri Excavations – Home to the most important archaeological site in Santorini Island, with 1500 BC Minoan settlement excavations.
- Naval Museum - Found in Oia, it contains a library, vestiges and exhibition items that reflect the Santorini’s maritime history.
- Prehistoric Thera – A Santorini museum that shows art pieces created during the Cycladic islands’ prehistoric era.
- Megaron Gyzi – Shows 16th- to 19th-century engraved pieces and pre-1956 earthquake photographs of the island.
Santorini Island Art & Culture
- Santorini Bellonio Cultural Centre – Maintains a heritage and cultural library and regularly hosts art exhibitions and cultural shows.
- Museum of Musical Instruments – Preserves a collection of local and Old Byzantine musical instruments on Santorini Island.
- Santorini Folklore Museum – Located in an 1861 cave house, it features Aegean books and manuscripts, a matured winery and valuable artefacts.
- Pyrgos Village – Called the Vanishing Village because it is composed of aged buildings and antique Grecian structures.
- Ifaisteia Festival – Celebrated in August with different cultural activities, music shows and a depiction of a volcanic explosion using fireworks.
Santorini Island Shopping
- Fira – Santorini’s capital is a main tourist-shopping destination, with its cobbled streets filled with various crafts and souvenir item shops.
- Kamari Beach- Features a wide array of local stalls selling souvenirs and popular polished lava figures.
- Hondos Centre – A massive department store with a wide selection of beauty, hygiene and cosmetic products on Santorini Island.
- Movandmay – A fashion-oriented shop that sells clothing items and accessories of well-known brands like Galiano, Versace and Just Cavalli.
- Iama Wine Shop – One of the oldest and largest wine and spirit suppliers in the island.
Santorini Island Gay & Lesbian
- Ginger Sushi Lounge – A gay-friendly spot that serves great cocktails and amazing local fish dishes.
- Taboo Bar–This bar is usually well populated by gays and lesbians because of its vibrant and all-night partying atmosphere.
- Koo Club – A popular and ideal meeting and mingling spot for gay and lesbian tourists.
- The Tropical Bar – Offers the GLBT crowd a cool ambiance matched with an amazing view of the Santorini Island sunset.
- Spash – This beach bar offers the gay community fantastic Greek dishes and features local and international music.
Santorini Island Outdoor
- Cine Kamari – This open-air cinema that shows all-time favourite Greek and American films has been in operation for 20 years.
- Perissa Beach – A lovely black beach that provides a relaxing atmosphere to both locals and visitors of Santorini Island.
- Oia – This majestic Santorini village is built on the edge of cliffs.
- Kokkini Paralia – Called the “Red Beach” because it is surrounded by red rocks, pebbles and cliffs.
- Kameni Islands – Deserted volcanic islands formed following the massive Minoan eruption.
Santorini Island Sport
- Hire and drive a scooter or moped to explore the narrow streets of Firostefani and Imerovigli.
- Experience scuba diving in the Caves Lagoon and the famous Adiavatous Reef of Santorini Island.
- Ride on the back of a mule to get to Pyrgos, the highest village of the island.
- Try sea kayaking on Ammoudi’s clear waters.
- Head out to White Beach and Thirassia Island to enjoy sport fishing.
The capital city of Fira is where most of the action takes place in Santorini. The streets bustle with life in the busy summer months as restaurants and clubs compete fiercely for tourist cash. If you want to party, Fira is the place to be.
For a less hectic pace, head to the community of Oia. Most people familiar with indelible Greek island iconography will recognize the town from the hillside homes, replete with blue doors and white walls that shimmer in the sunshine. Restaurants may be more expensive here but the thin crowds, in relative comparison to Thira, make dinnertime in Oia more pleasurable. For the best sunsets in Greece, hang around for a special show at dusk.
A volcanic tour of Santorini breathes life into the mythology that shrouds the natural disaster that formed the archipelago some 3,600 years ago. From Atlantis to the Biblical plagues to the annihilation of Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, the massive eruption has been linked to notorious phenomena by scientists and conspiracy theorists alike.
The climb up Mesa Vouno to ancient Thira is a worthwhile ascent, despite the hot, merciless Santorini sun. The classical city dates back to the 9th century BC, though present day ruins hail from the Roman and Hellenic era of occupation.
Much activity in Santorini occurs to the extreme east and south of the main island. There, dual coastlines offer a diverse array of beachfront, with white, red, gray and black sand to choose from. Whatever colour you prefer, Santorini offers seclusion for those who want to swim and sunbathe in private, or on the other end of the spectrum, lively beach areas with restaurants, bars and rooms to rent.
The Ifaisteia Festival in August features traditional dance, music and fireworks.
The International Music Festival, held every September, draws performers from around the globe to the Nomikos Conference Center in Fira.
Santorini is one place where sunscreen is an absolute must. The average temperature at the peak of the hot, dry summer season is around 30°C, with cloud cover a rare occurrence.
- Winter (December to February) 10-16°C
- Spring (March to April) 10-18°C
- Summer (May to August) 15-28.5°C
- Fall (September to November) 15-25°C
Santorini Island on Wikipedia
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