Santorini, otherwise known as Thira, is in the Cyclades islands. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations among the Greek islands. Aside from being a busy vacation spot with tourists and travelers coming in by flights and ferry, Santorini is an essential port-of-call for cruise ships in the Aegean. When one arrives, the first sight of the island is dramatic and breathtaking. After all, photos of Santorini are all over Greek tourism websites. Many believe that it captures the stunning beauty of the Greek isles.
Santorini or Thira?
Santorini used to be a big volcanic island, until the volcano erupted in a huge explosion sometime during the 17th century BC. Thira, its main town, was destroyed, with shock waves felt as far away as Crete. One theory of this explosion was that it destroyed the Minoan civilization on Crete, and the Knossos Palace. Santorini’s volcano appeared under the waves and left a crater where the volcano once stood, and islands previously there had only been one. The name “Santorini” actually refers to a whole group of islands, with Thira being the name of the group’s main island. Thira is also the name of the archeological site where the town of old Thira once stood, and the present-day main town on the island is also sometimes called Thira, or Fira. Today, most people interchangeably use Thira or Santorini, with the latter having a more romantic feel to it.
Getting to and around in Santorini
Visitors can get to Santorini via ferry or plane. It is connected by ferry to Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Rhodes, and many other Greek islands. Santorini has an airport, but there are currently no direct flights to Santorini from outside Greece. International travelers will have to change to a domestic flight to Santorini at either Thessaloniki or Athens. There are also flights to Santorini from Rhodes. The flights to Santorini from Thessaloniki and Rhodes operate year-round, with flights to Athens mostly only operating during the summer holiday season.
There are a good number of car rental companies in Santorini. You can also rent motor bikes, regular bikes, quad bikes and mountain bikes. If you do not want to hire a car but would still want to see the island, you can hire a taxi or use the local bus service. Most taxi drivers will drop you off somewhere and pick you up again later in the day, which can be cheaper than renting a car.
Hotels in Santorini
Santorini has everything from cheap hotels to luxury hotels, along with hostels and even camping. Only hostels and camping are the only really cheap options, as Santorini is considered to be expensive by Greek standards. From these hotels, you can avail of sailboat rentals so you can sail Greece and enjoy its beautiful sights.
Santorini and Mykonos
A vacation that combines Santorini and Mykonos is very popular. Santorini is in the far south of the Cyclades, while Mykonos is in the north. There are daily ferries that go from Santorini to Mykonos, with a journey that takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes. If you want, you can cut the journey and spend a night or two in Naxos.