Santorini Greece - Walks, Beaches and Holiday Guide.
The Greek Island of Thira (Santorini) and it's lovely beaches, amazing cliff top scenery, beautiful villages and churches to tour around.
Island of Santorini (also known as Fira, Thera or Thira) lies within the South Aegean Sea, is part of the Cyclades Island Group and covers an area of around 28 square miles.
Originally a much larger island, today's Santorini was created as a result of a massive volcanic explosion in the 13th century leaving it now with a
huge and extremely deep central lagoon - which is surrounded by 980 foot high cliffs.
These multi-coloured cliffs create a quite unique and spectacular sight which is particularly excellent when seen as you travel to the island via cruise ship or ferry.
Santorini's modern capital of Fira has it's generally white houses and buildings layered across the top of the cliffs overlooking the lagoon way below - creating yet another of Santorini's unique views to enjoy. The island's main
ferry port is situated down a really steep 4km road which zig-zags it's way below to the lagoon. Santorini is very much on the cruise ship itinerary and even in early May it's not unusual to find two or three of these huge boats laying up close to the
cliffs. The area around Santorini is still actively volcanic - there have been several eruptions during the 20th century - the last being in 1950 - and there was also a severe earthquake in 1956. Note where prices and information on ferries to Santorini, timetables, buses etc. are mentioned below these obviously can only reflect the time of our holiday period and should be used as guidance - things do change.
Various ways of travelling to and from Santorini - Flights and Greek Ferries. Many people especially from northern Europe going on holiday to Santorini will arrive by air - for instance the flight time from Gatwick in England is about 3.5 hours and it's only a 3 hours flight from Moscow. Santorini's
airport is fairly small but seemed very efficient in "processing" us holidaymakers - at least it did when we arrived with a quick passport check and also our cases were quickly onto the belts.
And leaving Santorini: When you leave the island by air the first thing that happens is that you have to put your suitcases through scanners - as the airport is small this does mean you have to queue up outside and if several coaches arrive at the same time these queues do grow somewhat (there are only 2 scanners). However the authorities have
provided overhead shading to keep the sun off whilst you wait your turn. Again on the subject of departure - once you have put your cases through etc. you can leave the airport and use one of two quite large cafe/tavernas which are situated by the airport if you wish. Alternatively there is a small seating area
at the departure gates and also a larger area higher up where you can buy snacks, drinks and even have a cigarette if you wish whilst watching the planes come and go.
Another popular way to get to the island is by using the extensive and frequent Greek Ferry systems - many ferries have Santorini on their schedules with car ferries arriving all the time from Naxos, Paros and the mainland as well as from islands
further afield. The ferry port has little in the way of facilities with one rather overpriced cafe/taverna and also a more "fast-food" type facility.
A bus meets most inbound ferries and goes to Thira however it fills up quickly as people rush to get on and if you have suitcases you may have little chance.
Taxis are also in extremely short supply down at the port - you do really need to try and pre-book a taxi if possible.
As mentioned Santorini island is a very popular stopover for the boats doing the Mediterranean Cruises - these ships look really spectacular as they are moored right up against the high cliffs with Thira high above.
On arrival these ships disgorge their passengers onto the shore and then these tourists are all shipped out on dozens of coaches for round the island trips etc. and also taken up to Thira for the views - Oia is another popular destination for cruise-ship passengers. The cruise ships do often seem to arrive overnight and the day escursions go off quite early in the day so if you are staying for a while on Santorini then the best times to visit Oia and Thira etc is probably after 11a.m..
Getting Around Santorini.
There is an apparently frequent bus service running on the island - by our second week there were quite a few buses scheduled out of Perissa and Kamari into Thira (these are two very popular locations for tour company destinations on the island) - the problem is quite often the buses were
late running or sometimes did not run. It was also not that cheap a way to travel - for instance if two of you wanted to go from Perissa to Kamari you would pay to get to Thira and then pay again to continue to Kamari - then do it all over agin should you want to return by bus.
An alternative especially in early season is of course hiring a car. There are loads of car-hire companies around and with things being fairly quiet they usually quite keen to "do a deal". In May the roads were pretty quiet - the main thing to worry about avoiding were the increasingly popular quad bikes which especially the younger people hired out and often were driving too fast.
The other "getting around" was by taking advantage of some of the nice moni-paths and donkey and mule paths which are available to walk on the island. There were quite a few of these to use - we have several pages on walks we did whilst on holiday on Santorini using these paths which may be of interest.
General costs whilst staying on Santorini Island.Santorini Tavernas
- food and drink. Apart from Thira itself the price for a nice meal in one of the island's tavernas was pretty reasonable - you could get perhaps a starter and a main course plus some wine etc. for around 18 Euros each -
the menus were quite varied and extensive although sadly nearly everything came with the dreaded chips. Up in Thira the tavernas charged quite a bit more of course mainly because they had the cruise ship visitors always turning up for one off meals. We found the house red
wine to be very drinkable on Santorini - perhaps since frequently we were given a big top up of wine -on the house-.)
Sunbeds and chairs - varied between 5 and 6 Euros per set
at the time of our holiday. In some cases these were being offered free if you used the relevant taverna for a meal or drinks that for some reason the sand where it did exist was very course and often
interspersed with much heavier pebbles.
We thought Perisa had the best of the beaches to be on with Kamari a bit behind that. The famous Santorini Red Beach did look very spectacular but somehow we did not think we wanted to be crashed out half
asleep on a sunbed there. The cliffs are suffering from heavy erosion and in fact they are slowly becoming white cliffs instead as the next layer appears - and the whole cliff area looked like it was ready for another heavy collapse.
There are beaches marked on Santorini maps from Cape Mavropetra going clockwise round the island to Karterradhos - actually these are quite narrow and are
mostly of heavy shingle with sometimes huge pebbles - the beachesare often lined with washed up seaweed - not particularly attractive to spend the day on to say the least. You do need to take some "jellies" with you to protect your feet whilst using
the beaches on Santorini - the pebbles and rock shelves become extremely hot very quickly.
Our Greek Island of Santorini Topics
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External Resource: VR Santorini A virtual tour of Santorini, Greece.