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Guide to The Most Iconic Greek Island of Santorini

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Last updated on May 14th, 2023 at 09:42 am

Santorini is a Greek island known worldwide for its stunning views, picturesque villages, and beautiful beaches. It’s an island belonging to the Cyclades cluster in the middle of the south Aegean Sea.

The island was formed from a volcanic eruption about 36 centuries ago, and as a result, the landscape is unique and dramatic. Its Greek name is Thera.


According to the latest official census conducted in Greece in 2021, the population of Santorini is approximately 14,000 people. However, the population of the island can vary significantly throughout the year due to tourism.

During the peak tourist season, which runs from May to September, the population of the island can swell to well over 100,000 people. This influx of visitors puts pressure on the island’s infrastructure and resources, but it also drives the local economy and supports many businesses and jobs.

Where the name Santorini came from?

The famous blue domes of Oia - Santorini
The famous blue domes of Oia – Santorini – Photo by Alberto Lora on Unsplash

Santorini is named after Saint Irene, an Italian church on the island since the era of Venetian occupation. The name “Santorini” is a contraction of the name “Santa Irini”, which means “Saint Irene” in Italian.

The island has had several other names throughout its history. In ancient times, it was known as Thera, which is the modern Greek name too and is believed to have been derived from the ancient Greek word for “Door” as Door in Greek is Thera.

During the Venetian period, the island was called “Kallisti”, which means “most beautiful” in Greek. This name was later changed to “Santorini” by the Italian rulers of the island, who gave it its current name in honor of Saint Irene.

Today, Santorini is known around the world for its unique beauty and stunning landscapes and is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations in Greece.

How to come to Santorini

The distance between Athens and Santorini is approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) if traveling by air. The fastest and most convenient way to travel between the two cities is by taking a direct flight, which takes approximately 45 minutes.

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Alternatively, it is also possible to travel by ferry from Athens to Santorini. The journey time by ferry can vary depending on the type of ferry and the route taken, but it typically takes between 5 to 8 hours. High-speed ferries tend to be faster and more expensive, while conventional ferries are slower but more affordable.

It’s worth noting that travel times and schedules can vary depending on the time of year, so it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time and book your travel arrangements in advance, especially during peak tourist season.

Santorini as a honeymoon destination

Santorini is a popular honeymoon destination and is often referred to as one of the most romantic places in the world. With its stunning views, beautiful sunsets, and luxurious accommodations, it’s no surprise that many couples choose Santorini as the perfect place to celebrate their love and start their new lives together.

There are many activities and attractions on the island that make it ideal for honeymooners, including:

  1. Watching the Sunset – Santorini is famous for its stunning sunsets, which can be enjoyed from various locations around the island.
  2. Exploring the island – Santorini has many charming villages, beautiful beaches, and scenic walking trails to discover.
  3. Enjoying the local cuisine – Santorini has a rich culinary tradition, with many restaurants offering delicious local dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
  4. Relaxing at the beach – The island has several beautiful beaches where couples can sunbathe, swim, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
  5. Staying at luxurious accommodations – Santorini has many luxurious hotels and villas that offer private pools, spa treatments, and other amenities to make your honeymoon extra special.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, Santorini offers a perfect blend of romance, beauty, and luxury, making it an ideal honeymoon destination.

Cruising including Santorini as a stop

Santorini is a popular stop on many Mediterranean cruise itineraries, and for good reason. The island is renowned for its stunning views, picturesque villages, and beautiful beaches, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the region.

Cruise passengers typically arrive at the port of Athinios, where they can take a cable car, a donkey ride, or hike up the cliff to reach the town of Fira, the capital of Santorini. From there, visitors can explore the town’s narrow streets, traditional houses, and local shops and restaurants.

Other popular attractions on the island include the village of Oia, famous for its beautiful sunset views, and the archaeological site of Akrotiri, a well-preserved ancient Minoan settlement, which in fact was an ancient town buried under volcanic ashes when the volcano erupted destroying the Minoan civilization in Crete.

In addition to sightseeing, visitors to Santorini can also enjoy a range of activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, and water sports at the island’s many beautiful beaches, including Perissa Beach, Kamari Beach, and Red Beach.

Cruise passengers typically have a limited time on the island, so it’s important to plan ahead and prioritize the attractions and activities that are most important to you. Many cruise lines offer shore excursions and guided tours that can help you make the most of your time on the island.

Villages in Santorini with or without Caldera views

Santorini is known for its picturesque villages that offer stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the island’s unique landscape. Here are some of the most popular villages in Santorini:


Santorini Cyclades - Greece
Santorini Cyclades – Greece – Photo by Alex Azabache on Unsplash

The village of Oia is often referred to as the “balcony of Santorini” because of its location on the northern tip of the island, overlooking the caldera.

Oia is known for its picturesque white-washed houses, blue-domed churches, and narrow streets that wind their way through the village.

From the many terraces and balconies of Oia, visitors can enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the caldera, including the famous sunset view.

The village has become a popular tourist destination, with many cafes, restaurants, and shops offering a variety of local products and souvenirs.

Despite its popularity, Oia has managed to maintain its traditional character and charm, making it one of the most iconic and photogenic places in Santorini.


Stairs in Fira-Santorini
Stairs in Fira-Santorini – Photo by H Fall on Unsplash

The capital of Santorini is also a great spot for caldera views, with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering stunning vistas of the sea and the surrounding cliffs.


Pyrgos in Santorini
Pyrgos in Santorini – Photo by Julia Solonina on Unsplash

This traditional village is located on a hill and offers panoramic views of the island and the caldera. Visitors can explore the charming streets and traditional houses while taking in the stunning scenery.


Megalochori Santorini
Megalochori Santorini – Photo by Chloé Chavanon on Unsplash

Megalochori is a charming village located in the southern part of the island and is known for its beautiful architecture and traditional atmosphere.


Emporio village - Santorini
Emporio village – Santorini – Photo by Matheus Oliveira on Unsplash

Emporio is a traditional village located in the southeastern part of the island. It’s known for its beautiful narrow streets, traditional houses, and impressive fortress that dominates the village.


View from Imerovigli-Santorini-Greece
View from Imerovigli-Santorini-Greece – Photo by Hello Lightbulb on Unsplash

Imerovigli is a tranquil village located at the highest point of the caldera and offers some of the most panoramic views on the island. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful surroundings and stunning sunsets from one of the many hotels, restaurants, or cafes in the area.

These villages offer unique experiences and beautiful scenery, making Santorini a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Greece.

The Caldera in Santorini

The Santorini caldera was formed by a massive volcanic eruption that occurred around 3,600 years ago, during the Minoan civilization. The eruption was one of the largest volcanic events in recorded history and is estimated to have been four to five times more powerful than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

The eruption caused the central portion of the island to collapse into the sea, creating a large, sea-filled caldera. The eruption also produced large amounts of ash and pumice, which blanketed the island and reached as far as the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt.

After the eruption, the caldera continued to be shaped by volcanic activity, with numerous smaller eruptions occurring over the centuries. The most recent volcanic activity on Santorini occurred in 1950, with a small eruption on the island of Nea Kameni, located in the center of the caldera.

Today, the Santorini Caldera is one of the most popular attractions on the island, with visitors coming from around the world to admire its dramatic beauty and learn about its geological history.

Beaches in Santorini

Santorini is home to several beautiful beaches, each with its own unique charm and features. Here are some of the most popular beaches in Santorini:

Perissa Beach

Located on the southeastern side of the island, Perissa Beach is known for its black volcanic sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s also home to several beach bars and restaurants.

Kamari Beach

Located on the eastern side of the island, Kamari Beach is another black sand beach that’s popular with visitors. It’s lined with restaurants, bars, and shops, and offers beautiful views of the sea.

Red Beach

Red beach-Kamari Santorini
Red beach-Kamari Santorini – Photo by Ronak Mokashi on Unsplash

Located on the southern coast of the island, Red Beach is known for its dramatic red cliffs and crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling.

Vlychada Beach

Located on the southern coast of the island, Vlychada Beach is known for its unique landscape of white volcanic cliffs and black sand. It’s a quieter and more secluded beach compared to others on the island.

White Beach

Located on the southern coast of the island, White Beach is accessible only by boat and is known for its white volcanic cliffs and crystal-clear waters.

Perivolos Beach

Located next to Perissa Beach, Perivolos Beach is also known for its black sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular spot for water sports and beach activities.

These beaches offer a variety of experiences and stunning views, making Santorini a must-visit destination for anyone looking for beautiful beaches and natural beauty.

Nightlife in Santorini?

Santorini has a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to suit different tastes and preferences. Some of the most popular nightlife destinations on the island include:

  1. Fira: The capital of Santorini is home to many bars and clubs that offer a lively atmosphere and a variety of music genres, from traditional Greek music to modern pop and electronic music. Some of the popular spots in Fira include Koo Club, Tango Bar, and Enigma Club.
  2. Oia: The picturesque village of Oia is known for its romantic atmosphere and stunning views, making it a great spot for a romantic evening out. There are several bars and restaurants in Oia that offer a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, such as Kastro Oia Restaurant, Lotza Restaurant, and Oia Vineyard.
  3. Kamari: The seaside village of Kamari is another popular destination for nightlife in Santorini, with several bars and clubs along its promenade. Some of the popular spots in Kamari include 2 Brothers Bar, Tropical Bar, and the beachfront club, Escape.
  4. Perissa: This lively village on the southern coast of Santorini is known for its black sand beach and vibrant nightlife scene. There are several bars and clubs in Perissa, such as Jungle Bar, Jojo Beach Bar, and Wet Stories.
  5. Akrotiri: This quiet village on the southern end of the island has a few bars and tavernas that offer a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, such as the Red Beach Bar and the Sunset Taverna.

Overall, Santorini has a diverse and exciting nightlife scene that caters to different tastes and preferences. Whether you are looking for a romantic evening out or a lively night on the town, you are sure to find something that suits your style in this beautiful destination.

Where to Stay in Santorini

For an amazing view of the famous Santorini Caldera and the Aegean Sea, staying in a hotel or villa in Imerovigli is a perfect choice.

Imerovigli is a village that offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea and some of the best Santorini things to do.

Santorini is home to an incredible selection of activities, ranging from archaeological sites, historical monuments, and charming villages, to excursions, cruises, wine tasting, and a variety of water sports.

Whether you’re looking for cultural experiences, epic sunsets, or simply bask in the sun on one of the island’s many beaches, Imerovigli is definitely the perfect place to stay during your vacation in Santorini.

Santorini is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world with its iconic white-washed buildings and views of the sky-blue sea.

Although Santorini can be quite expensive, there are still a number of affordable accommodation options available. From small boutique hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts, visitors will have no shortage of options when it comes to budget-friendly stays, there are plenty of budget-friendly hotels in Fira and Thira that still offer stunning views of the Aegean Sea, and you will be able to take in all the beauty that Santorini has to offer without breaking the bank.

Additionally, if you’re looking for nightlife and culture, Fira is the place to go. There you’ll find plenty of restaurants, clubs, and live entertainment.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a private getaway, then Kamari or Perissa are the perfect locations to stay with plenty of beachfront villas and suites to choose from.

No matter what kind of trip you’re looking for, Santorini has something to offer everyone!

Exploring Greek Cuisine in Santorini

One of the best ways to explore Santorini is through its local cuisine. From succulent seafood dishes and traditional Greek salads to homemade cheese pies, Santorini offers a unique culinary experience that you won’t want to miss.

Locals are passionate about their food and take great pride in the preparation of each dish. The signature ingredient of most dishes is feta cheese, while many meals include a generous helping of olives and other locally sourced ingredients.

Whether you’re dining in a traditional tavern or exploring the renowned street food vendors, you’ll be sure to find something that tantalizes your taste buds. Santorini is the perfect destination to explore Greek cuisine and learn more about this ancient culture.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two or a hearty family meal, there are plenty of restaurants in Santorini that serve up some of the best Greek dishes in the country.

Be sure to sample the fresh seafood, and don’t forget to try some local wines to complement your meal Furthermore, sampling the culinary delights of Santorini is one of the best things to do in this Mediterranean paradise.

With so many restaurants offering up delicious classic Greek dishes and fresh seafood, it’s an experience not to be missed. Don’t forget to try some of the local wines too – they’re sure to make your meal even more special.

Visiting one of the many wineries

Visiting one of the many wineries on the island is also a great way to experience the culture of Santorini. Organized tours and tastings allow visitors to sample some of the region’s best wines, as well as learn about the history and production process behind them. Moreover, they can sample some of the finest wines produced in this region.

Tips for Navigating the Island

Getting around Santorini is easy and convenient – explore the island by taking buses, renting a car or moped, or even hopping on a donkey ride!

Whether you’re taking in the stunning views from the top of a cliff or discovering hidden gems in the vibrant cobbled streets of Fira, there’s no better way to explore Santorini than by getting around independently.

To get around more efficiently, consider purchasing a Santorini Pass that allows you to enjoy discounts on entrance fees to attractions, restaurants, shopping, and transportation while helping you navigate the island with ease!

Archaeological interest in Santorini

Akrotiri in Santorini
Akrotiri in Santorini – Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unsplash

Santorini is home to several significant archaeological sites that provide valuable insights into the island’s ancient past. The most famous of these is the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption around 1600 BC and buried under layers of ash and pumice.

Excavations at the site have revealed a well-preserved Minoan town, with multi-story buildings, streets, squares, and public spaces, as well as a variety of artifacts, such as pottery, jewelry, and wall paintings. The site is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the Aegean region and provides valuable insights into the culture and lifestyle of the Minoan civilization.

Another significant archaeological site in Santorini is the Ancient Thera, located on a hilltop above the village of Kamari. The site includes ruins from several different periods, including Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine. Visitors can explore the remains of a theater, a marketplace, temples, and houses, as well as enjoy panoramic views of the island and the sea.

Other archaeological sites on the island include the ruins of a Venetian castle in Pyrgos, the remains of an ancient cemetery in Fira, and the ruins of a prehistoric settlement in Akrotiri, called the Potamos site.

Santorini’s archaeological sites provide an important glimpse into the island’s ancient past and offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the rich history and culture of this beautiful and fascinating destination.

Wrapping up

Overall, Santorini is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Greece. With its unique landscape, picturesque villages, and stunning views, it’s no wonder why Santorini is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

So if you’re planning a trip to Greece and are looking for an unforgettable adventure, make sure to consider Santorini as one of your destinations. There’s no doubt that you’ll be rewarded with an incredible experience that you won’t soon forget.

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