Halfway between Athens and Crete there is Santorini, the Greek island par excellence: it is Greece as we imagine and dream of it, postcard Greece, the tourist jewel of the country.
Its curious shape, with the caldera in the center of the island, is the result of a volcanic eruption 10,000 years ago that had immediate disastrous consequences, with the sinking of most of the island but has become the reason for the success of tourism in Santorini.
The breathtaking views of the caldera, the extraordinary colors of the rock formations and the spectacular sunsets that are considered the most romantic of all the Greek islands attract 1.5 million tourists every year to the southernmost of the Cyclades.
Despite the crowds and high prices of its chic hotels, Santorini remains an ideal destination for a dream vacation.
Compared to other Greek islands, Santorini is a fairly expensive destination, so it’s a good idea to plan your vacation early.
From mid-June to the end of August hotel prices soar: it is the season of greatest tourist influx and it becomes absolutely necessary to book well in advance.
If you can choose when to go on vacation, the best periods to visit Santorini are spring, from April to early June, and the beginning of autumn. Consider that in September and early October temperatures are still good and swimming in the sea is almost guaranteed.
In winter everything quiets down: very few tourists, hotel prices at a minimum. Of course, it will not be warm enough for a dip in the sea, but you can still enjoy the panoramic views of the caldera, the spectacular sunsets and the delicious dinners in typical taverns.
The most striking area of Santorini, where everyone wants to stay, is of course the ridge of the caldera, from which you can enjoy breathtaking views and the best sunsets. This is where Santorini’s tourism industry is concentrated: you will find the widest choice of hotels, resorts and villas, but also the highest prices. If your budget allows it, book a room with a pool and a view of the caldera: a truly unique and unrepeatable experience!
To spend a little less you have to move away from the caldera and be content, so to speak, to enjoy the beautiful views of the area during a day trip.
If you are looking for an accommodation, but do not know where to book it, we have selected for you the best accommodations in Santorini divided by area, discover them in the section Places to stay in Santorini.
If it is true that the unique volcanic landscape of Santorini is the main tourist attraction of the island, it must be said that there is no lack of interesting historical and cultural attractions.
Fira, the capital of Santorini, is the nerve center of tourism on the island: a jumble of brand-name stores and kitschy souvenirs, traditional taverns and rowdy beer halls, an impressive number of bars, restaurants and tourist agencies offering tours and excursions.
Why does Fira continue to attract droves of visitors despite this chaos? Because it is simply stunning: the cascade of whitewashed houses overlooking the caldera and the spectacular colors of the rock formations at sunset are incredible sights that leave visitors speechless with wonder.
The beauty of Fira comes at a price: don’t expect to find cheap accommodation in this area.
Refined Oia is Santorini’s chic resort, where designer hotels, exclusive resorts and luxurious pool villas worthy of a Hollywood star abound.
It’s hard to imagine that only sixty years ago there was nothing of this abundance of luxurious accommodations: the traditional village, already underwhelming compared to the current tourist megastar, had in fact been completely devastated by a terrible earthquake.
Reconstruction brought greater luster to Oia, which today is without a doubt one of the most charming villages of the Cyclades.
Despite the high prices of hotels, many tourists choose it as a base for their vacation on the island to admire in its full beauty this beautiful town that extends along the steep slopes of the caldera; others choose it because they want to try the exciting experience of sleeping in a room carved out of a niche in the volcanic rock.
To the tourists who stay in Oia must be added the day vacationers, including those who get off the cruise ships for a hit and run visit.
Staying in Oia allows you to visit the town early in the morning, before the crowds of tourists arrive. The price, you already know, will not be low cost.
Abandon the front row views and move a little further into the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli to find a good choice of mid-range hotels and lodges: you won’t be at the center of the action, but you’ll still get breathtaking views of the caldera and you’ll have a little extra left in your wallet.
With a 15-minute walk from Firostefani and half an hour from Imerovigli (highest point on the ridge of the caldera) you can reach the capital and its multitude of bars and clubs.
If you have read this far and you are despairing at the thought that a vacation in Santorini is out of your reach we have good news for you.
In the villages of Perissa and Kamari you can find cheaper accommodation, including a hostel and camping. They are less touristy locations, and therefore the hotels offer lower prices.
They are also suitable for those who don’t like to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle, but if you want an occasional crowd bath you can take the local bus that will take you to Fira.
Akrotiri is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Aegean and is a mandatory stop on any Santorini vacation.
The phenomenal discovery of the ancient Minoan city buried under the ashes of the volcano after a tremendous eruption took place in 1967 and excavations continue to this day.
The ruins open to the public are protected by a structure made of concrete, wood and steel, an exceptional work of ingenuity that allows visitors to wander around the ancient city totally immersing themselves in the atmosphere of classical Greece.
Less amazing but not without charm is the archaeological site of Thira, where you can walk among Hellenistic, Byzantine and Roman ruins.
Absolutely to do, during a stay in Santorini, anexcursion by boat or catamaran between the islands of the caldera: a unique experience of its kind, you can swim in the hot springs of Palea Kameni, swim in the waters of the islet of Thirasia or reach the two beaches Red and White Beach, in the south of the island.
Curiously, the most famous Greek island does not owe its fame to the beaches: this does not mean, of course, that you will not find beautiful beaches on the island of Santorini.
The beaches of the island reflect its volcanic origin and are therefore mostly black sand beaches, but once again Santorini amazes everyone and its most famous beach is Red Beach an expanse of reddish sand bordered by imposing cliffs, also reddish in color.
Red Beach is an equipped beach, but being rather small and very famous you’ll have to arrive early to grab a beach umbrella.
Other beaches not to be missed in Santorini include:
Discover more about the most beautiful beaches of Santorini
The easiest way to reach Santorini is by plane: during the summer are available direct flights departing from various European cities, also with low cost airlines.
If you want to reach Santorini by sea or combine the visit to other islands, consider that Santorini is connected by ferries and hydrofoils with Athens, Crete and other Cyclades islands.
The name Santorini is a corruption of Sant’Erini, a name that was given to the island by the Venetians to honor St. Irene, an early Christian martyr to whom was dedicated the basilica of Perissa, in the south-east of the island.
In ancient Greek Santorini was called Thera, while the modern official name is Thira, which also includes the islets around the main island.