The island's beauty has been waxed lyrical over the years, fully earning the epithet "kalliste" (the most beautiful). Along with "Strogili", this was one of the former names lent to the island over its troubled history. Its history is one of battles and conquers, of a tragic eruption and a blossoming renaissence – events that haven't altered Santorini's charm but that undoubtedly scarred it.
Together with the inhabited Therania and five other smaller islands, Thera (Santorini's Greek name) belongs to the namesake archipelago which is the vestige of a volcanic caldera. Places of unspoiled nature and postcard-like views, the islands are reachable by boat and bear the original appeal of the old-fashioned Santorini.
The main island is split further into picturesque villages masterly painted in dazzling blue and white hues, outlining the holiday resort's multi-faceted personality and its extraordinary variety of landscapes.
The scent of wine grapes and vineyards stretching lazily down Santorini's unrefined hills; the unique taste of tomatoes grown solely on volcanic soil and the soaring temperature of the island; the subtle sand or the smoothness of white pebbles and turquoise waters of some of Europe's most suggestive beaches; the upbeat sound of the buzzing nightlife; the spectacle of the sun setting behind the village of Oia and the caldera to finally plunge into the skyline. Santorini gratifies all 5 senses, treating the traveler to enchanting views and thousands of colours.
Without mentioning dazzling panoramas, the mesmerizing sea or vibrant villages, Santorini's culinary tradition would be something worth experiencing on its own.
Borrowing a pronounced Mediterranean diet from the mainland, Santorini shares a tendency to use vegetables, quality olive oil, meat and fresh seafood generously, creating its own cuisine by adding products that are cultivated solely on its fertile soil.
Try the island's peculiar white-eggplants with mozzarella, or sample the unique "Tomatokeftedes", tomato fritters made of Santorini's own produce, and accompany it beautifully with a glass of Vinsanto - the experience will be matched by an unrivaled view from one of the picturesque taverns the island is studded with.
A laid-back attitude accompanies the whole Greek lifestyle, and it is little wonder that in Santorini and the Greek Islands it is emphasized even more. Coffee breaks are a serious matter and a remarkable part of the day, making "kafeterias" appealing hangouts in the suggestive towns.
The most popular version of the traditional coffee is an espresso-like brew that tends to share similarities with the Turkish coffee, infused with a sharp flavour, escorting the hearty Greeks throughout the day.
Santorini's scorching sun has led both locals and tourists to opt for a more chilled, and yet equally efficient, option, creating a break that is ideal for an iced-coffee, a frappe or an ice-cream.
Santorini's nightlife revolves around its bustling capital, a buzzing hub that houses most of the island's foreign-patronized clubs and happening hangouts. The hectic town-centre livens up at night, rocking until dawn in a uniform mixture of tourists and locals.
Despite the other villages' less renowned bar-scene, Santorini's holiday resorts, having developed substantially around tourism, are certainly not to be underrated. Picturesque bars litter the main drags, often gifting the travelers with breath-taking panoramas.
Santorini is in all aspects a work of art, and its souvenirs and local produce doubtlessly reflect the island's beautiful facets. Oia and above all Fira are the island's major shopping destinations, places of unrivaled charm where traditional shops line up neatly down narrow streets.
In Santorini a visit to one of the local art galleries is a must: evocative handicrafts, folk art and jewelry can be bought at accessible prices, guaranteeing a souvenir that mirrors the authenticity of the villages.
Another worthy shopping experience is all about local produce. The diversity of products makes it hard to choose from the numerous delicacies grown on the island's volcanic soil. Fava, the Greek version of split peas, is particularly unique in Santorini and it is used to make a down-to-earth, yet scrumptious, puree. The island's grapes make a heavenly wine that is exported worldwide and can be bought in any of the local wineries. Last but not least comes Santorini's trademark tomato, the locals' pride and a must try for food-aficionados - wonderfully appetizing and juicy.
In Santorini, go for local produce, handicrafts or jewelry - either way, it will be an unmatched experience.
Santorini National Airport
Situated North of Kamari village, Santorini's Airport (JTR) is only 6 km away from downtown Fira. The airport is connected to the capital by a bus service, and the journey takes approximately 20 minutes. Buses are not frequent and may not run throughout the whole day: you will find a schedule outside the airport, before the exit. If you wish to get a private or shared transfer, you can either book it in advance (one option: www.santorinitransport.com) or find one of the companies located at the arrivals terminal. As the bus service is not particularly efficient, renting a car is also a valid option, especially if you are planning on going on a tour of the island. You will find 3 car rental desks located at the arrivals terminal.
Address: Santorini Airport, Santorini
Phone: +30 22860 28400
Santorini's "mule taxi" is a tradition that is unfortunately renowned worldwide, as donkeys are used to walk up the steep climbs of the island and are a main attraction for tourists. Travelers are urged not to use donkeys as means of transportation because of the poor condition in which the animals are kept.
A network of buses connects the capital, Fira, to all the major holiday resorts, running to Oia, Perissa and Kamari every 20 minutes. Buses run also from Fira to Vourvoulus, Exo Gonia, Akrotiri, Monolithos, Vlihada, Baxedes and to the airport, but they are less frequent. Please note that there are no direct buses from one side of the island to the other, and changeovers must be done at the Fira bus terminal.
Address: Stathmos Leoforion, Fira
Phone: +30 22860 25404
Several taxi companies operate in Santorini, and, though there are fixed fares, you should always negotiate the price before booking. You can book a taxi for a ride or for the entire day and visit the different seaside resorts and sights, or you can opt for a shared transfer by booking a shuttle service.
You can rent a car, a motorbike or a scooter, which allows you to explore the island with no time limit.
Santorini Easy Car Rental: Epar.Od. Mesarias-Archeas, Fira Santorini +30 2286 082652
Santorini Car Rental: Kamari, +30 21 1800 1258 www.Santorini-Car-Rental.com
Santorini Car Hire: Kamari +30 21 1800 3693 www.SantoriniCarHire.com
Address: Santorini Airport, Santorini
Phone: +30 21 1800 3693
The main post offices are situated in Fira, Emporio and Oria. Here, you will be able to mail letters, buy stamps and postcards. Mail boxes are located in all major holiday resorts and they are always yellow with a blue sign. The service is run by a company called ELTA, which is the name you will find outside every post office in blue and yellow colours.
Address: Fira, Santorini
Pharmacies in Greece tend to be small, sometimes family run, private businesses. You will find pharmacies in all major holiday resorts, with a great concentration in Fira.
Pharmacies are closed on Saturday and Sunday: this implies that you will have to buy your supplies before the weekend starts and, if you need some urgent medication you will have to contact a doctor.
Pharmacy Zacharopoulos: Fira, Santorini, +30 2286 023444
Pharmacy Gazi: Fira Central Square, +30 2286 022700
The Central Clinic of Fira provides health services 24/7 .
Health Centre (Fira): +30 2286 022237 , +30 2286 022237
Address: Fira, Santorini
Phone: +30 2286 023444
Country code: +30
Area code: 22860
220-250 volts, 50 cycles