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Santorini has been called several things over the ages—including Kalliste, meaning “The Most Beautiful One”—and it’s an apt description of an island with high cliffs set around a volcanic caldera in the azure Aegean Sea. Fira, the capital, is an enchanting mix of Venetian and Cycladic buildings set into steep cliffs, which are often climbed by cable car or donkey. Meanwhile, Oia's whitewashed walls and blue domes show off one of the most famous and beautiful sunsets in Europe. On a guided tour, these towns reveal Santorini’s charm, which also extends to the sea. Take a boat tour to experience the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, the hot springs of Palia Kameni, and the ancient lighthouse Akrotiri. There are beaches of many colors to enjoy on shore excursions: white, red, and even the black beaches of Perissa and Kamari. More private tours take visitors to traditional villages such as Megalochori and Pyrgos. The highest point on the island is the Monastery of Prophet Elias, and it’s a popular spot on guided tours for its views. Of course, no outing would be complete without sampling the Santorinian wine, distinctive for its minerality courtesy of the volcanic soil—sip while touring the wineries where each bottle was made.
If you like your holidays sizzling, hot, and sociable, June to September is the ideal time to visit Santorini. In summer, travelers cram onto the island and take advantage of its average 82°F (28°C) temperatures and enjoy annual events like July’s Jazz Festival and September’s Ifestia fireworks. The island is less crowded before and after the summer crush, so consider visiting in April, May, or October if you prefer milder temperatures, less crowded beaches, and a quieter island vibe.
Santorini’s busy towns are laced with pedestrian-only lanes, so you’ll need to explore those areas on foot. That said, there are many ways to get around the rest of the island. There are buses that run between towns and to the beaches, and plenty of cabs available. Nevertheless, a rental car or moped is the most convenient way to explore if you want to see the island; just be prepared for heavy summer traffic and limited parking around Fira and at popular beaches.
Many travelers pass through Santorini’s inland towns on route to its beaches. If you can, however, take an afternoon to visit the small town of Emporio, nestled below Profitis Ilias, the island’s highest peak. Look for To Kafenedaki, a tiny, traditional coffee shop next to a beautiful church, and enjoy an ice-cold vanilla frappé at one of the simple tables and drink in the setting—it’s traditional Santorini at its best. On the way to or from town, you can also stop at the Monastery of Profitis Ilias.
Santorini is famous for its cliff-top villages, with white houses and blue-domed churches clinging to the edge of a volcanic caldera. Island sunsets can be spectacular, while Santorini beaches come in three colors: black, white, and red. Santorini wines, grown in volcanic soil on ancient stock, are unique in the world....More
Many travelers visit Santorini as one stop on an island-hopping adventure by ferry (which is cleaner and greener than flying). You can see the essentials in three days or spend a week or even a fortnight enjoying the beaches, the nightlife, the restaurant scene—and those fantastic views....More
Those dramatic caldera cliffs are the focal point of any Santorini visit: savor a sunset and stroll some of the Fira-Oia hike. Don’t miss a sailing cruise, with stops at hot springs and a gently smoldering volcano. Wine tastings are a must for foodies, while history buffs will adore the Akrotiri ruins....More
Nestled into the edge of the volcanic caldera, the cliff-top villages are the most famous parts of Santorini. Oia is the best known village, thanks to glorious sunsets, gorgeous hotels, villas, and restaurants, and striking historic windmills. But bustling, lively Fira also has a claim to fame: it’s the island’s capital....More
Santorini nightlife varies depending on location. On the cliff-top west coast, Oia offers stylish restaurants and elite lounge bars, while the capital Fira boasts some lively bars and clubs. The seafront resorts of Perissa and Kamari on the east coast have beach bars, beach clubs, and restaurants....More
No. It’s possible to live a very luxe lifestyle in Santorini, but the island does not have to be expensive. Staying in the stunning cliff-top village of Oia will cost top dollar, but Perissa and Kamari, on Santorini’s beach side, are popular vacation destinations for ordinary European travelers....More
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