Greece is synonymous with Santorini for many people. Though that is not true but it is also a fact that when in Greece, a visit to this island is a must. Santorini is dreamy and mystical. The Aegean Sea here is surrounded by volcanic islands like Nea Kameni. Landscapes showcase the colors like red, brown or greenish with white houses popping up here and there. The whole experience is very different than the other islands of Greece.
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Every place has a history of its own which dates back to thousands of years ago. Santorini is no different. A little we heard, a little we saw in the museums and a little we read about. From whatever we could gather, we figured that the island has a very intriguing history. This island was part of the famous Minoan civilization of Crete which was destroyed in the most devastating Volcanic eruption in the history of Greece back in 1500BC.
Read our account of Exploring Oia in Santorini here…
It is believed that after the catastrophe, there was no civilization on the island for a long time. Later a Theban hero “named Thiras” from Sparta is supposed to have settled in Santorini and hence the place took its name Thira from him. It was only later that it has started being called by the name Santorini named after some saint.
A caldera is said to be a large depression caused the the eruption of the volcano. As we discussed above that Crete and Santorini were believed to be one huge island in Minoan Civilization. During the volcanic eruptions, lot of massive earthquakes occurred alongwith the Tsunami which caused the center of the circular island to be sunk in the sea creating a huge Caldera. This is supposed to be the largest caldera in the world consisting of the islets of Thirassia, Nea Kameni and others.
“Some scholars believe that the Island of Santorini is the part of Legendary Lost Atlantis”
Just imagine caldera as a huge crater which is filled with water. In the middle of the crater are the few mounts called islets like Nea Kameni and Thirassis etc..The wall of the crater left today is the semi circular island of Santorini. Among the inner edges of that wall, lie the settlements of Imerovigli and Oia. Hence they provide the best Caldera views.
So when we started planning our trip, Santorini was one destination definite to find its place in our itinerary. With such an interesting history to boast of and most picturesque views, it had it all to allure us.
There are 3 ports on the island – the old port of Skala, the new port of Fira (also called Athinios port) and the port of Ammoudi.
New port operates ferries to and from the islands of Greece like Heraklion, Paros, Mykonos etc.
The Ammoudi port connect Thirasia island and Nea Kameni Island with Santorini.
While the old port operates daily private tours to Nea Kameni islet volcano and hot springs.
One can travel within the island of Santorini by few options:
Public transport – Buses scheduled for certain destinations within the island. Fare was 25 EURO one way per ticket.
Taxi or private cab
Self Drive – go to the travel agents available at the port and get a car or a bike or a quad.
Boats and Ferries for visiting nearby islets and other beaches of Santorini.
Choosing either of the above options depends on your plan, itinerary and budget. Most tourists who visit Oia have pre-bookings with either travel agents or their hotels who arrange a pick up service for them. Some like us, who are not with any tour operator have to choose wisely. It all depends on how you plan to spend your time there.
A small tip – These vehicle rental companies try to loot you by not returning the security deposit amount by making an excuse about the scratches on the vehicle which might have been present already before you even rented it out. So as a caution, always make sure you take a full 360 degree snap of the vehicle before you rent it. Security deposit is either taken in cash or blocked on your credit card. Once you return the vehicle, it takes more than a week to get the amount credited back on your card (given the fact that you used the card).
Also please make sure to check with your hotel/stay option about the availability of the parking space especially if you have a booking in Oia.
Main island of Santorini has these towns and villages – Fira, Akrotiri, Imerovigli, Oia, Kamari, Foristefani, Pyrgos, Perissa. Fira is the capital of the island.
You can buy our Digital Prints of Santorini on Etsy…
So while you plan your stay, you can choose from either of these locations. But the most famous ones are Oia, Imerovigli and Fira.
While Oia and Imerovigli offer the best Caldera views that you won’t find anywhere in Santorini, but they are a bit far off from the port and also on a bit expensive side. Fira offers sea view but misses on the charm of Caldera views and obviously is near to the port and also budget friendly.
The stays range from hostels to hotels and inns to private cave houses and resorts and taverns. And it can get really confusing to choose from the available options.
The most intriguing option you will find are the Cave Houses of Santorini. These are underground structures designed in a typical Cycladic style of architechture. In the earlier days, these houses were the abode of poverty-stricken sailors where as the merchants lived in the buildings high up on the hill. But these days, the same houses cost you a fortune for a few days stay. These are most beautiful luxury houses with the best of caldera views available with amenities like private jacuzzi, spa and swimming pool.
The most important part of any vacation is to plan what to do in a place which you are planning to visit. Santorini offers you a plethora of plans which might confuse you especially if you are there for a short period of time. Here we have listed some of the activities that you can indulge as per your interest.