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Santorin, Bild: Zick Svift / shutterstock

Santorini – A Greek fairy tale of deep blue and bright white

The bright whitewashed houses of the southernmost island of the Cyclades can be seen from afar. Its beauty is further enhanced by the azure blue of the Aegean Sea that surrounds the crescent-shaped island. Santorini actually consists of the three volcanic islands Thira, Thirasia and Aspronisi, which are arranged in a ring, the islands of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni located in the interior of the ring, as well as the Christiana Islands and the underwater volcano Kolumbos.

Santorini
Image: David Ionut / shutterstock

The most famous and at the same time largest of the islands, the main island of Thira, is also called Santorini. The archipelago, once formed by volcanoes, is located north of Crete and is also known for its mostly black lava beaches. But Santorini, which also has the most hours of sunshine in Greece, is not only an ideal holiday destination for sun worshippers and beach vacationers, but also for nature lovers and active vacationers. The landscape is varied and characterized by numerous different rocks. In the ash layers of the lava flows, fossils up to 150 million years old have been preserved, including remains of the former deep-sea fauna and even charred olive trees. A holiday destination for explorers with a wide range of leisure activities and exciting excursion destinations.

Unforgettable holiday experiences

Oia
The coast of Oia, Image: Feel good studio / shutterstock

The small archipelago in the Aegean Sea already has an eventful history behind it. The first settlement dates back to the 5th millennium BC. Santorini was used by various peoples as an important trading post. The historical traces of the Minoans, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Venetians and the Ottomans are still visible today and are among the destinations worth seeing, for example Old Thera. The settlements of Ia, Emborio, Pyrgos and Akrotiri, surrounded by fortress walls, bear witness to the pirate raids and wars of the peoples. The tower castles of the Venetian feudal lords, such as the Goulas in Emborio, are also impressive remains from this period.

From the main tourist towns, such as the capital Firá, Oia or Perissa, there are regular excursion buses to the most famous sights. Island hopping to the other Santorini islands with an excursion boat is also eventful. Often the programs of the various excursion providers include packages including a barbecue or beach picnic. Due to the volcanic activity, several so-called cauldron-shaped caldera basins have formed in the interior of the island ring, which are up to 400 meters deep. For this reason, a unique flora has developed, especially on the islands of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, which is protected as a Natura 2000 area. The caldera pools are also a popular diving spot and perfect for exciting sailing turns. There are also ferry connections from Firá to the Greek mainland to Piraeus, the port of Athens, several times a day.

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Everything on Santorini is extraordinary

Kokkini Ammos Santorini
Kokkini Ammos, the red beach, Image: Lucian BOLCA / shutterstock

During a holiday in Santorini, you can discover a new beach every day. The rugged, red rock face that rises up behind Red Beach has given the beach its name. The beach, dotted with red and black pebbles, runs gently into the sea and is therefore also ideal for families with children. In the summer high season, it can get really crowded here. If you are looking for a quiet place, Vlichada beach is the right place for you. This also impresses with its black beach, which is interspersed here and there with white pumice stones. From Firá you can reach the Vlichada beach very well by bus.

The beaches of the islands are also connected by their own boat line. If the weather is really bad, it is worth visiting one of the museums and galleries in Santorini, such as the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum in Megalochori, the Mnemossyne Gallery in Oia or the Museum of Prehistoric Thira in Firá. While you’re at Vlichada Beach, you can also visit the Tomato Industrial Museum. And what would a Greek holiday be without the culinary delights? Hardly anything is more reminiscent of a holiday than sitting on a terrace covered with vines, gazing out over the vastness of the sea and being pampered with Greek specialities.

A tip is to visit the town of Oia in the north of Santorini, where the numerous restaurants, bars and traditional taverns offer unforgettable sunsets. Add stuffed vine leaves, spicy olives and a glass of fine Greek wine and you’re already floating in seventh heaven. For night owls, there are even discotheques in the capital Firá, where you seem to dance directly into the sunrise.

The best time to visit Santorini

In just five hours of flight time from German airports, you can breathe in the fresh sea air of Santorini. Perfect for a short break to gather new energy for everyday life in between. Outside the main summer travel season, which lasts from June to September, there are cheap offers that make a trip to Santorini even more interesting for last-minute travellers. The small island archipelago is a worthwhile destination all year round. In the hottest months of July and August, it is mainly beach vacationers who are drawn to the beautiful beaches.

The temperatures between 27 and 32 degrees Celsius are then only bearable by swimming a lot and by the cool north wind Meltemi. In May, June, October and November, the daytime temperatures are ideal for active holidaymakers. Hiking, cycling and cultural excursions are just a small excerpt from the wide range of leisure activities. During these months, however, you can also go swimming. Nature lovers like to come in the cool winter months, when the landscape turns into lush green. The first flowers begin to bloom as early as January, giving the man-made cultural landscape a special flair. Santorini is therefore worth a visit at any time of the year.

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Holidays in Santorini: The most important information

Journey

  • Airport: Santorini (Thira) National Airport (JTR), about 6 km southeast of the capital Fira.
  • Ferry: Regular ferry services from the Greek mainland and other islands of the Cyclades. The main ferry port is Athinios.

Important telephone numbers

  • Police: 100
  • Fire brigade: 199
  • Ambulance service: 166
  • General emergency: 112
  • Tourist information: +30 22860 22230

Supermarkets

  • Carrefour: Fira and Kamari
  • Lidl: Mesaria
  • AB Supermarket: Fira
  • Slaveitis: Different locations on the island

Doctors and hospitals

  • Santorini Hospital: Fira, +30 22860 35300
  • Dr. Athanasios Kyrgiou: Private Clinic, Fira, +30 22860 23001
  • Health Center of Santorini: Fira, +30 22860 23123

Important words with translation

  • Hello – Γειά σου (Yiá sou)
  • Thank You – Ευχαριστώ (Efcharistó)
  • Please – Παρακαλώ (Parakaló)
  • Yes – Ναί (Ne)
  • No – Όχι (Óchi)
  • Sorry – Συγγνώμη (Signómi)
  • Where is…? – Πού είναι…? (Poú eínai…?)
  • How much does it cost…? – Πόσο κοστίζει…? (Póso kostízei…?)
  • Emergency – Έκτακτη ανάγκη (Éktakti anánki)
  • Doctor – Γιατρός (Yatrós)
  • Hospital – Νοσοκομείο (Nosokomío)

Holidays

  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Epiphany: January 6
  • Independence Day: March 25
  • Good Friday: variable (March/April)
  • Easter Monday: variable (March/April)
  • Labour Day: 1 May
  • Assumption Day: 15 August
  • National holiday: October 28
  • Christmas: December 25
  • St. Stephen’s Day: December 26

Opening hours

  • Shops: Usually Monday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Many shops are also open on Sundays, especially in the tourist season.
  • Supermarkets: Usually daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Restaurants: Lunch from 12:00 to 15:00, dinner from 19:00 to 23:00.
  • Banks: Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Things to see and do

  • Oia: Famous for its spectacular sunsets and picturesque alleys.
  • Fira: The capital of the island with many shops, restaurants and nightlife.
  • Akrotiri: Archaeological excavation site of a Minoan city.
  • Volcano and Hot Springs: Boat tours to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni and the hot springs of Palea Kameni.
  • Wine tastings: Visit the local wineries and taste the famous Santorini wine.
  • Beaches: Red Beach, Kamari Beach, and Perissa Beach are some of the most popular beaches.

NUDISM

  • Official nudist beaches: Santorini does not have official nudist beaches, but some secluded areas, such as parts of Vlychada Beach, are occasionally used for nude bathing.

Post / Stamps

  • Fira Post Office: Plateia Theotokopoulou, Fira. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Stamps: Available at the post office, kiosks and souvenir shops.
  • Costs for letters and postcards to Germany: Standard letter up to 20g: approx. 0.90 EUR; Postcard: approx. 0.90 EUR

Safety

  • Crime: Santorini is considered safe. Take the usual precautions as in any tourist destination, especially in busy areas.
  • Emergency number: 112

Current

  • Voltage: 230 volts
  • Sockets: Type C and F (as in Germany)

Tip

  • Restaurants: 5-10% of the bill amount, often included in the bill.
  • Taxis: Round up the amount
  • Hotels: 1-2 euros per day for cleaning staff

Customs

  • Allowances within the EU: No customs restrictions on personal belongings.
  • Alcohol: Maximum 10 liters of spirits, 20 liters of alcoholic beverages with less than 22%, 90 liters of wine, 110 liters of beer.
  • Tobacco: 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1 kg of tobacco.