Today Santorini represents what remains from the island Strogili. An enormous volcanic explosion called the Minoan eruption occurred around 1600 BC and destroyed the ancient settlements. The large island was torn into several smaller ones, which surround on three sides a lagoon 400 meters deep.
Santorini is considered to be one of the best vacation destinations in the world. The islands offer breathtaking natural beauty combined with unique architecture and a mystifying, enchanting atmosphere.
The Santorini beaches are one of the finest in Greece. The most popular is the Kamari Beach on the eastern side of the island. It is long more than five kilometers, with black sand and crystal clear deep blue water. Other famous beaches are the Red and White, located on the southern coast and named after the slabs of red, black and white volcanic rock found there.
There are everyday cruises to the volcano and the hot springs where the guests can swim. Various boats leave every morning from Athinios port or from Fira’s old port. The usual route is first climbing the volcano, then stopping at the hot springs for swimming, staying for about two hours at Thirasia for lunch and then a final journey back. The cost is about 20 to 25 € depending on the route, with children under 12 years old paying a reduced price.
Another popular trip is the visit of the Akrotiri settlement. It is located south of the capital Fira and is one of the most important prehistoric villages of the Aegean region, dating back to the late Neolithic era. The volcanic materials which covered the entire island after the Thera eruption have protected the ancient buildings and their contents in the same way as the famous remains in Pompei, Italy. The great development and prosperity of the settlement can be seen from the multi-storeyed buildings with extraordinary wall paintings and the elaborate drainage system. Akrotiri is known to had been in contact with other regions such as Crete, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt, however the severe volcano explosion signaled the end of the settlement.
For the tourists interested in history Santorini presents an astonishing glimpse into the past at the Thira Archeological Museum, located in Fira. It was built in 1960 in order to replace the old museum, which was destroyed by the earthquakes in 1956. The main exhibits are sculptures ranging from the Archaic to the Roman period, inscriptions, vases and clay figurines.
As one of the most popular islands of the Cyclades, reaching Santorini is relatively easy. There are two airlines currently providing flights to Santorini from Athens: Olympic and Aegean. The flying time is around 45 minutes and the most popular tourist resorts are only a 15-minute drive from the airport. Many hotels provide transfers to and from the airport and there are also taxis and local buses available.
Apart from flying there are also daily ferries to Santorini from Athens Piraeus and Rafina. From the port at Santorini there are bus lines to the capital Fira and to the major tourist destinations. It is also possible to hire cars, motorbikes and bicycles and all these modes of transportation are popular with visitors.
Hotels in Santorini are generally more expensive than those with similar facilities in other parts of Greece. During the summer the prices are the highest in the year with a peak in late August. If you book your vocation several months in advance there will probably receive a reduction in the price of up to 10-15%. To demonstrate, one double room in a standard four star hotel would cost in January 35 € per person, per day, while the same room in August will require a payment of 80 € (the current example - Aroma Suites, Fira). Of course, in order to fully appreciate everything Santorini has to offer, it is best to go during the summer.
Last but not least, the visitors are welcome to try the famous Santorini cuisine. The most popular delicacies are sun-dried tomatoes and fava – a lentil dip with onion and lemon. The wines of Santorini are spectacular as well. There are three varieties - athyri, asyrtico and aidani – and due to the volcanic properties of the soil all three of them have a special, unique taste.
As far as popular places to eat out in Santorini, Fira and Oia offer the most expensive and trendiest of restaurants, while along the Kamari Beach and in the village of Perissa you can find a variety of more relaxed, cheaper taverns.