Santorini, Greece is a stunning destination that has captivated people from all over the world. Its beauty and history are effortlessly shared with visitors through the various cruises that take them there. Though the island is no longer a secret, its charm remains unimpaired. The blue-and-white buildings, together with the multicolored structures, stand out against the turquoise Aegean sea, making for a picturesque view. It is one of the most popular destinations on Mediterranean cruises, and for good reason.
The cruise port in Santorini was formed when the island’s volcano erupted in 1650 BC, and it is situated at the base of Fira, the capital city. Upon docking in Fira, a small boat will take you to the shoreline, after which you can either take a cable car, ride a donkey, or walk to the top of the island in true Greek fashion.
While in Santorini, you will experience the island’s romantic and relaxed atmosphere. You can explore the charming village of Oia, witness the breathtaking sunset from Amoudi Bay, or take a half-day trip to the islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni, formed by volcanic eruptions, and take a dip in their ancient and therapeutic hot springs.
Nestled on the northwest side of Santorini, lies the charming Amoudi Bay, a hidden treasure waiting to be explored. Here, visitors and locals alike come together to enjoy a delightful stroll along the rocky shores of the bay, bask in the romantic ambiance, and relish in the delectable offerings of local waterfront eateries. From the mouth-watering grilled octopus to the scrumptious fried cheese dish called saganaki, there is something for everyone to savor at this quaint port.
If you venture north of Fira, you’ll come across the charming village of Oia (pronounced Ia) perched atop a massive cliff. From this vantage point, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the distant island of Thirassia. Oia itself is bustling with activity, offering a variety of shops, taverns, restaurants, and attractions to explore. Whether you’re admiring art in the local galleries or learning about the area’s rich naval history at the Maritime Museum, there’s something for everyone in this traditional Greek village. Don’t forget to indulge in some fresh seafood while basking in yet another unforgettable island view.
Kamari Beach stands out for its distinctive black sand and is also home to a renowned beach resort. With its exciting water sports, lively nightlife, and convenient location right by the waterfront, Kamari Beach is an extremely popular tourist destination during the summer season. Tourists can enjoy the beach and the ease of having bars, nightclubs, and cafes just a stone’s throw away from the shore.
Venetsanos Winery is a truly unique experience for any wine enthusiast. What makes it so special is that it was actually carved into the cliffs above Athinios port. The winery was originally built back in 1947 and remained active until 1967. However, after a 47-year break, the winery was re-established and opened its doors once again in 2014. The steep cliffside location was utilized to create a winery that harmonizes perfectly with the natural environment of Santorini. As a result, there are four different levels that accommodate each stage of the wine-making process. Due to the slope of the soil, the wine is able to flow naturally from one level to the next, making it a truly unique and remarkable experience.
On the hilltop of Oia, one can behold not only the ancient Minoan site of Akrotiri but also a stunning view of Santorini’s sunset. The visit to these ancient ruins presents an opportunity to uncover the fascinating history of the Akrotiri settlement. This area was destroyed during the 16th century BC and subsequently covered in volcanic ash, similar to the preservation of Italy’s Pompeii. Due to this event, numerous objects and frescoes were well-maintained by the burial and discovered during excavations in 1967.
When in Greece, you simply cannot miss the awe-inspiring ruins of the ancient times, and Skaros Rock situated to the north of Fira is no exception. Skaros used to be the capital of Santorini until the 18th century, when Fira replaced it as the capital due to its accessibility to the sea. However, Skaros still remains a popular tourist destination today for its scenic beauty and hiking trails. To reach the summit of Skaros with ease, make sure to bring along your hiking shoes and camera to capture the breathtaking views.
Embark on a brief excursion, only 30 minutes away from the Athinios port, and arrive at the Nea Kameni island (meaning “new burnt island” in Greek) to relish a soak in its renowned hot springs. This island is uninhabited and is a safeguarded scientific location. The most recent eruption on Nea Kameni occurred in 1950. Make sure to seize the opportunity to ascend a pebbled path to reach the apex of the crater.
The capital of Santorini, Fira, is home to the island’s cruise port known as the port of Skala or the old port. Unlike most ports, this one is unique in that it is located at the base of Caldera Cliffs and doesn’t have a large cruise terminal. Instead, passengers are ferried to the port via small boats, which makes for an unforgettable experience. At the Skala pier, visitors can explore duty-free shops and restaurants. Additionally, during the summer season, tours to the volcano and hot springs are available from Skala.
Upon arrival, there are three options for getting to the top of the island. The first option is to take the cable car available from the pier. The second option is to take a mule ride for approximately €8. Finally, visitors can opt for a bit of exercise and hike up around 600 steps to the top. No matter which option you choose, you are guaranteed to have a memorable time in Santorini.
Santorini boasts an abundance of eateries tucked away in every corner and alleyway, offering regional dishes that are specific to the island. While you’re there, make sure to try some of Santorini’s delicacies, such as fava or melitinia. Fava is a warm and creamy split pea puree, served with lemon and olive oil. This is a classic and comforting dish that has stood the test of time on the island. Alternatively, you can try melitinia, which is a traditional sweet cheese pie, often served during Easter but available in various bakeries in Santorini. Many restaurants on the island use a special variety of eggplant called white eggplant, which is sweeter in taste than its purple counterpart, owing to the volcanic soil on the island.
If you’re looking for some places to try out during your visit to Santorini, here are a few suggestions:
Selene: An award-winning restaurant that offers not just delicious dishes but also cooking classes, wine tastings, and a rotating seasonal menu. It is located just 20 minutes from the Athinios port.
1800: A small and intimate restaurant located in an authentic Santorini captain’s house in Oia. It has a roof garden that’s perfect for a romantic date, and a sizable wine cellar for all palates.
Santa Irini Bakery: A top-rated bakery in the area, located in Main Road Perissa, Perissa 84703, Greece. You can grab a Greek coffee and a pastry or two (or three) while you’re there, and try out their chocolate-filled croissant and a range of traditional Greek sweets.
Throughout thousands of years, the culture of Greece has undergone significant evolution. The first settlement in Ancient Greece dates back to the Paleolithic era, which spans from 11,000-3,000 BCE. The foundations of western civilization took root in the Classical Period, from the 6th to the 4th century BCE. During this time, democracy and the city-state (polis) were established, and they continue to have an indelible impact on the history of the world.
Santorini is a part of the Cyclades, a complex of Greek islands located in the Aegean Sea, south of the mainland of Greece. It is now recognized as a caldera, which is a large crater formed by a major volcanic eruption. The oldest signs of settlement in Santorini date back to the Neolithic period, and its establishment greatly impacted the whole of Greece, even influencing significant migrations. During the Hellenistic period, the area became an essential port city and naval base, serving as both a center for trade and military operations of the time.
Despite having a cuisine that reflects the Mediterranean environment, the volcanic soil and low precipitation in Santorini result in unique crops. Due to its pleasant climate and Mediterranean weather, depictions of the island in film and photography, and its hallmark painted houses at the top of the caldera, Santorini has captured our cultural fascination as a destination where one can be fully immersed in Greek culture, both ancient and modern.
Fira, the capital of Santorini, is a bustling hub of shops and boutiques. Whether you’re looking for a unique statement piece of jewelry or fashionable clothing for a night out, Fira has something to offer.
Oneiro Jewelry is a must-visit for jewelry lovers. The owner, George, creates stunning pieces that embody the spirit of Santorini. Plus, the shop offers custom designs to make sure you find the perfect piece to fit your style.
If you’re looking for unique fashion pieces, head over to Spicy Shop Boutique. This boutique has a special focus on Greek designers and offers a variety of clothing options. Their motto, “Be chic…Wear Greek,” encourages travelers to sport a new outfit from the island.
Lastly, Bazaar is another excellent place to find fashionable clothing. Located on the main street in Fira, this boutique offers a wide range of boutique fashions, including handmade bags and menswear. Dress to the nines with the help of the fashion experts at Bazaar and make your Santorini experience unforgettable.
Traveling to Santorini, Greece on a cruise? Here are the different transportation modes that you can use to explore the beautiful island:
If you want to experience the authentic Santorini, opt for a donkey ride. Donkeys have been used as a means of transportation for centuries, especially in the uneven terrains from the old port of Fira to the town and from the port of Ammoudi to Oia.
For budget travelers, the central bus station in Fira offers the cheapest way to travel around Santorini. The bus routes cover most tourist destinations on the island.
Taxis are readily available outside the port and central squares of Fira and Oia. Although taxis are more expensive than public transport, they’re a faster option.
Car or bike rental
Renting a car or motorbike is a thrilling way to explore the island at your own pace. Many car rental agencies are scattered throughout Santorini. It’s advisable to book in advance, particularly during the peak season.
Boat or ferry
Take an excursion boat from the old port of Fira to the island’s volcano, Palea Kameni, hot springs, and the small island of Thirassia. Ferries depart from the port of Athinios, which is about five miles south of Fira.
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, it’s important to know about the country’s local currency and tipping customs. The Euro is the primary form of currency used in Greece, and credit cards are widely accepted. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check before using your credit card.
When it comes to tipping, it’s not common to tip taxi drivers in Greece. That being said, if your taxi driver provides exceptional service, it’s polite to leave a tip of about 10% of your fare. Similarly, at restaurants, it’s customary to leave some Euros behind if you’re satisfied with the service or your meal. If there is no service charge included in your bill, it’s typical to leave a 10% tip.
If you’re planning on taking a tour in Greece, it’s also customary to leave an additional tip of €5-€10 for your tour guide. By following these local customs, you can ensure that you have a pleasant and respectful experience during your trip to Greece.