Santorini, or Thira as it is also known, is in the Cyclades islands and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Greek islands. As well as being a busy vacation spot, with travelers and tourists coming by ferry and by flights (from Athens during the main holiday season), it is an essential port-of-call for cruise ships in the Aegean.
However you arrive, your first sight of Santorini is dramatic and unforgettable, which is one reason we chose a photo of Santorini to appear at the top of every page on our website. For us Santorini captures the breathtaking beauty of the Greek islands.
Santorini was once one larger volcanic island, until its volcano erupted in a mighty explosion which scientists believe happened sometime in the 17th century BC. Its main town of Thira was destroyed, and the shock waves were felt as far away as Crete. One theory is that it was this explosion which destroyed the Minoan civilisation on Crete, and the Palace of Knossos. Santorini's volcano disappeared beneath the waves, leaving a crater, or caldera, where the volcano once stood, and several islands where previously there had only been one.
The name Santorini more correctly refers to the whole group of islands, with Thira being the name of the main island in the group. Thira is also the name of the archaeological site where the town of ancient Thira once stood, and the present-day main town on the island is also sometimes called Thira, or more frequently Fira. Today, though, most people use Santorini or Thira interchangeably, with Santorini having a more romantic lilt to it.
Santorini has an international airport but many of the international flights are seasonal. At other times international travelers must change to a domestic flight to get to Santorini.
Flights to Santorini from Athens, Rhodes and Thessaloniki operate year-round, but flight services do change regularly so double-check. The airlines with flights to Santorini are Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines.
Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.
Santorini has everything from luxury hotels to cheap hotels, plus hostels and camping. Only the last two are the really cheap accommodation options, as Santorini is expensive by Greek island standards. Check our Hotels on Santorini page for some suggestions for both luxury hotels and cheap hotels on Santorini.
There are several car rental companies on Santorini. See our Santorini Car Rental page for full details. You can also rent motor bikes, regular bikes, mountain bikes, and quad bikes. If you don't want to hire a car but still want to see the island, use the good local bus service or hire a taxi. Most taxi drivers will drop you off somewhere and pick you up again later in the day, which can be much cheaper than paying for car rental.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.
Here's a very thorough and helpful city guide to Athens from the UK's Guardian newspaper, for anyone planning a visit.