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Santorini - Island of the Week

Is this island lost Atlantis? It's definitely a paradise

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The banded cliffs of Santorini Greece

The banded cliffs of Santorini Greece

Photo © deTraci Regula
Few visitors to Greece willingly miss the island of Santorini, the most mythical spot in the Cycladic Islands. Once a round, ordinary island, an ancient volcanic explosion left nothing but a crescent-shaped rim around the underwater caldera. Some claim that Santorini is the "real" Atlantis. It certainly was a major Minoan outpost which slipped beneath the sea in a single night, leaving nothing but floating pumice covering the surface of the water and memories of a beautiful city.

Santorini's Volcanic Heart

The volcano that erupted still smoulders, and the intrepid traveler will want to take a caique boat tour to the island of Thirassia, and to the Kamenos, a new island group which has slowly emerged from the waters over the past three thousand years. In geological time, this makes them the new kids on the block. Sulphurous emissions and the occasional red glow remind visitors that Santorini's fiery dragon is merely sleeping. In fact, it made the 1990 Decade Volcano list of the fifteen most potentially active volcanoes. Though it passed that decade safely, rising lava levels, increased microquakes, and the discovery of a second undersea volcano nearby have experts monitoring it carefully.

Beyond Santorini's Caldera

If volcano chasing is not your hobby, Santorini still offers abundant beauty for visitors. The steep cliffs left from the eruption are banded with brown, black, and white layers, making for a striking appearance, particularly if you arrive by sea.

What to See on Santorini Island

While simply sitting on a terrace and staring at the V-shaped wakes from the cruise ships arriving far below is more than enough sightseeing for many, Santorini has other charms to offer. One of these is Ancient Thira, where temples are carved into the cliffsides.

The most renowned site on the island of Santorini is the famed Minoan city of Akrotiri, buried under a surprisingly gentle layer of volcanic ash which left walls and artifacts intact. The residents appear to have had warning of the eruption and escaped, but to wander the excavated streets is unnerving. It is definitely a town of ghosts.

Near Akrotiri is some of Santorini's best wine-growing country. Keep an eye out for the unusual treatment of some vines, which are placed in hollows and then encouraged to grow basket-style. The volcanic soil of Santorini promises unusual, complex wines, and virtually all of them are very palatable. Don't miss the sweet "Vinsanto". Wineries in Santorini are only now catching on to the idea of tasting rooms and tours. The "Vulcan" winery is an exception, with a winemaking museum and tastings.

Santorini After Dark

Santorini has an active nightlife, centering around Fira and, to a lesser extent, Oia. The crowds are very bad in July and August, which are also the hottest months in terms of temperature. Try to schedule your visit in May or early June, or late August through September. This gives you the best of both worlds - great temperatures and lighter crowds.

Where to Stay on Santorini

The Greek island of Santorini has great luxury hotel options, like the Ikies. The Hotel Aressana, named for a local Bronze Age goddess, is unique in that it uses Santorini lava stone as flooring in the hotel lobby and in the luxurious spa area beneath the hotel. But Santorini island also has some terrific cheap hotels. The most dramatic views are on the "caldera side" of the island; cheaper accommodations often face the rest of the Aegean.

Events in Santorini

International Music Festival - September
Santorini Biennale - August/September in even-numbered years, including 2012 and 2014
Santorini Jazz Festival - June

Getting to Santorini

Santorini has its own airport with flights from Athens and elsewhere. It's also served by traditional ferries from many locations in Greece and the Greek islands. Santorini also enjoys a high-speed hydrofoil making regular stops on the island.

Many companies offer quick trips from Athens to and from Santorini. Here are some that you can book yourself ahead of time: Book Direct 4-Day Athens-Santorini-Athens Trip and the Two-Day Athens-Santorini-Athens Trip

Find and compare hotel rates on the island of Santorini: Search prices on Hotels in Santorini
Compare airfares to Greece here: Find Greek Airfares

More Links of Interest:

Virtual Tour of Santorini Island
Beautiful photos guide you through the sights of the island. From Greek Hotels.

Santorini Island - Dining
Abundant dining choices are offered by Santorini, covering the spectrum of Greek food and adding some unusual choices, even Mexican food. Hints on meals and good view spots from GNTO.

Fira - El Greco
Beautiful rooms, moderate rates given in US dollars, and a special Internet User discount characterize El Greco. Request a room with a caldera view.

Greek Hotels - Santorini Island
Listing of many hotels and other accommodations on the island.

Find & Compare Discount Flights to Athens

Find & Compare Discount Rental Cars in Athens

Book your Own Day Trips Around Athens

Book your Own Short Trips Around Greece

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