Lying in the Southern part of the Cyclades group – Aegean Sea, the world famous island of Santorini (or Thira) is real exciting summer holiday spot. Santorini owes its existence to the volcano activity in prehistoric times. It was then that the largest active caldera in the Mediterranean was formed (there are only 2 Calderas in the world, the first one in Santorini & the second one in China which is not inhabited). Santorini is also included among the best sailing destinations around the world. It is worth paying a visit there!
Thira differs from any other island in the Cyclades group due to its geological morphology. The island is treeless owing to the lack of water and the landscape presents a rare and breath sight with steep cliffs (height 200-400m) and fertile slopes covered with vineyards in the inner part of the island.
Santorini is famous for its colourful white painted villages at the top of Caldera. The phenomenon of Caldera occupies the Western part of the island with Fira, Imerovigli & Oia to be really beautiful villages. Needless to say that the sunsets, sunrises & the breathtaking view from there are unique! Fira is the capital of Santorini & the touristy area of the island. It is amphitheatrically built on the top of Caldera with very–very good accommodation & night life facilities. Its style is lovely and very cosmopolitan. Another pleasant village is Megalochori, 10 minutes ride West from Fira, which is very traditional with nice & narrow alleys dedicated for romantic walks! Do not forget to visit the old harbour of Santorini which you can reach either through a narrow path with approximately 590 steps (fortunately there are donkeys that transfer visitors up and down) or through the cable car (more convenient).
There is also much night life along Santorini especially in Fira, Oia, Perissa and Kamari. Bars in Fira, at the top of Caldera, are must for any individual! Food is excellent in Thira but restaurants usually charge a fortune. So, choose villages for eating, such as Megalochori and Akrotiri, where the food is delicious, very fresh with more reasonable prices. Do not miss Geromanolis family tavern – Restaurant in Megalochori village, Santorini (Tel.: 22860 82892) and ask for fish or meat & other special cooked recipes.
Last but not least, even if you are not a keen shopper, Santorini’s shopping market will prove to be more than tempting. There are many shopping hubs, especially in Fira & Oia, giving the chance for buying gold, jewellery, souvenirs and why not the well known Santorini wines. If you are really interested for good wines, you have to also visit and test (free of charge) Santo-Wines in several wineries around the island.
Santorini is not reputed for its beaches and ONLY the Southeast coastline consists of some good beaches (Perissa, Perivolos, Vlychada, Kamari, Monolithos, red beach). Most of them have a common characteristic of stony ground & dark black sand (volcanic scenery). In my opinion, the best one is Perivolos bay whose beach bars are excellent, much organised but very EXPENSIVE as well (Santorini is expensive island indeed!).
NOTE: There are some very nice bays and coves (mostly from the Caldera side) accessibly only by sailing or motor boat with attractive atmosphere and privacy. Such example is the white beach and not only! You can also spend a daily sailing trip around Santorini settlements and Thirasia, Old & New Kameni (the two volcanoes) and the old harbour of Santorini.
The prevailing winds in Santorini blow from North and North-West, though in spring and autumn there are South winds too. In July and August, the prevailing wind is the Meltemi, which comes from North-East and is less strong compared to the winds in the Northern Cyclades. Occasionally, winds can reach the force of 6-7 beaufort scale.
The climate in Santorini is similar to the rest Cyclades islands with general extended periods of sunshine throughout most of the year, relatively warm and dry summers and mild winters with frequent rainfalls.
There are actually NO anchorages around the island! Athinios is the main ferry port of Santorini. In Scala Thira (the main harbour of the capital) there is only a small dock (usually unavailable) and the large buoys are dedicated strictly to the big cruise ships. The entire coastline has too deep waters to anchor with the exception of Akrotiri (S) and Monolithos (E) – still not quite protected. Vlychada little port at the South of Santorini, is actually the only port where you can safely moor a yacht but it is not wise to count on this as the number of berths are limited.
Then, how can one visit Santorini while on sailing boat holidays? The advisable solution is to safely moor the yacht in Ios island (1 hour away) and take the day-trip boat to Santorini. There are smaller and bigger vessels that leave from Ios every morning and return back late in the evening, giving the opportunity to spend a whole day in Thira.
Keep in mind: Alimos marina and Lavrion port both in Athens are our charter bases so as to sail the Cyclades sailing area. You can also depart (upon request & boat availability) from Paros port in Paros island.
Santorini was geologically created by a series of volcanic eruptions which affected the whole Aegean. Many people inhabited the island starting from the Pre-Hellenic tribes, the Phoenicians and then the Dorians who named the island Thira after their King Thiras. On 1600 BC, the Minoans brought the Minoan civilization to the island. Some of the ancient names of the island were Kallisti and Strogyli.
Around 1550 – 1500 B.C. a violent volcanic explosion caused the submergence of the central part of Santorini, creating a huge basin of 83 square miles called the Caldera.
In the Byzantine Era, Santorini adopted the Christian faith. In 1204 AD, after the Fall of Constantinople, the Venetians took over the island and it was during this time that the island was named Santorini, after Santa Irini. Although Santorini was taken again by the Greeks for a short while, it remained under Venetian Rule until 1579 when the island came under Ottoman Rule. The island relatively maintained its autonomy and was delegated by Greeks had finally gained its independence in 1821 and joined the Greek Republic in 1830.
In 1956, another severe volcanic eruption caused much destruction in Santorini, but the island has managed to re-build and develop into one of the most popular and well-loved vacation spots in the world.
There are countless sights/ excavations around Santorini island. Worth seeing: The archaeological site of Akrotiri, the volcano at Nea Kammeni islet, the ancient Thira or its archaeological museum, the wine museum, more than 250 churches of all shapes and sizes and more yet.
Numerous watersports such as windsurfing, water skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling, pedal boats and jet skiing are available in the beaches of Perissa, Perivolos & Kamari in Santorini island. One of the most popular activities in Santorini is sea kayaking though. Visitors can rent all the required equipment, kayaks and life preservers & enjoy either full or half day trips.
There are plenty of choices so as to rent a car, motorbike or bike around almost all the island.
Last of all the Santorini water park, located between the beaches of Perissa and Perivolos, which is one of the few attractions in Santorini specifically devoted for children.