Santorini Pictures Guide, Greece
View from Fira on Santorini’s caldera rim with Thirasia island on the left and Oia a distant right. Considering the steep views a steep café tab is acceptable.This is Greece’s most unique island and the heady romance of the place is undeniable especially since it’s all going to end in a big bang and a short slide one dark day.
The best time for moderate heat and bearable crowds is May-June and September-October. Mid summer is survivable but book hotels well in advance and be prepared for heat, sun and other people.
Avoid December to March when many businesses are closed and the weather is likely to be cold, wet and windy.
Things to do on Santorini
More things to do
• hit the beaches, but you’ll have to tolerate hot stones and cool water, apart from Red Beach where they take the trouble to lay wood shavings on the pebbles. Kamari has a pleasant promenade environment, Red Beach is the fashionable one and near to Akrotiri ancient site while other isolated beaches await the adventurous. You’ll probably need your own transport. Beaches pictures and more information.
• Driving around to visit villages though we were very disappointed by much touted Pyrgos, the highest point in the island (Picturesque? No. Friendly? No. Interesting. No. Great views? No. etc. etc. ) and see some delightful modern adobe architecture.
• Cycling. Nope, biking is not so good here as the landscape is hilly, there are no dedicated bike trails and rentals are few and far between
• visit Akrotiri ancient Minoan site, preserved by volcanic ash from the massive eruption about 3, 500 years ago that arguably spawned the Atlantis legend. If the ruins and frescoes ring your bell then you could also visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira in Fira to see a lot more recovered artefacts.
• take a ferry/excursion across to Nea Kameni and/or Thirasia islands for a short hike and long view or even to Palia Kameni for a dip in the hot springs.
• tour the wineries and taste locally grown wines. Mesa Gonia and Megalochori both have a couple of wineries that welcome tourists.
• Scuba dive the caldera. There are several dive shops on Santorini, including on Kamari, Perissa and Caldera beaches. All scuba centres dive in the same location to protect the environment, though not at the same time! Visibility is extremely good but fishy life forms quite limited, other than octopi that are thriving. The main sights are a wreck near the volcano and a popular wall dive.
• Snorkelling. Again, very clear, warm waters and some extravagant rock formations though not a lot of fish. Caldera Beach near Akrotiri is popular, as are Perissa and Perivolos beaches and Potamos beach off Thirasia island.
Shopping in Fira after dinner.
Akrotiri Minoan site
Archaeologists are still excavating Akrotiri, a Minoan site in the far south of Santorini that was buried in the massive volcanic eruption in 1640BC. Building remnants reveal beautiful frescoes and a very sophisticated society that had street drains and inside toilets 3, 500 years ago – not a feature in Europe until 100 years ago. Photo by K. P. Kapoutsis.
A very interesting Deco-Dali house design in the centre of Santorini island.
It’s well worth hiring some transport and taking a drive around the island or even staying outside the main towns and just visiting the caldera edge.
Some guidebooks recommend visiting Pyrgos, the highest point on the island. We did and were very disappointed. It was charmless, unfriendly and unattractive. However, there are quite a few spectacular modern buildings scattered around the island that make an afternoon cruise a treat.
Note that exploring Santorini caldera edge will require plenty of step climbing. Some hotels hanging onto the caldera slope can only be reached by severely steep steps such as the one below in Imerovigli. If you have walking problems but still want to visit San torini ensure you book a hotel with few or no steps.
Make sure that you book hotels in Greece – and especially Santorini – well in advance for the summer months including June and September. If you want a room with a magnificent view then you should expect to pay extreme rates. The further you go from the edge the lower the rates.
Santorini is still terrific in May and October but advance booking is not necessary and crowds will be way down. Even so we’d suggest the best time to visit Santorini is June or September, with less crowds and less heat.