Thursday 1 February 2018

GREECE: Santorini, Women Are Frequently Topless, Relatively Crime Free, Be Aware Of Rental Scams And Stray Dogs

Santorini is a volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands. It is located between Ios and Anafi islands.

Santorini is famous for dramatic views, stunning sunsets from Oia town, the strange white aubergine or eggplant, the town of Thira and naturally its very own active volcano.

There are naturally fantastic beaches such as the beach of Perissa, maybe the best beach in Santorini, the black pebble beach of Kamari, white beach and red beach.

Santorini is a popular choice for Britons wanting a cheap break away to a beautiful island.

However, the Greek destination is struggling to cope with the influx of travellers it has welcomed over the years.

This year alone, nearly two million tourists are set to visit it. Yet this is also putting pressure on the island itself.

The other side of the idyllic holiday destination is the local community, who are still suffering from the fallout of the economic crisis.

Having hit Greece hard, 23 per cent of its citizens are unemployed and struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis.

Whilst the World Travel & Tourism Council predict that tourism could boost the economy by 6.9 per cent, which in turn would lift employment by 6.3 per cent, it is still a problem that is ever increasing.

It isn't just the crowded nature of the island that is worrying.The huge influx of tourists means the island's infrastructure and resources are reaching breaking point.

A whopping 141 hotels are to stay open this winter, prolonging the season when just 35 were open during the down season in 2013.

Traffic jams are filling up the tiny island's roads with tourists taking to the streets to explore the beautiful island, and water consumption is reportedly up by 46 per cent, meaning the island struggles to keep up with the costs needed to keep it running smoothly.

Santorini’s mayor Nikos Zorzos has previously capped visitors to the island in an attempt to save it, which saw cruise passenger numbers decrease from 18,000 to just 8,000.

He said, We have reached saturation point. The pressure is too much.

Santorini has developed the problems of a city. We need desperately to increase supplies but that requires studies, which in turn require technicians and that we cannot afford.

Greece is set to receive over 30 million tourists this year, as it continues to appeal to holidaymakers.

Its popularity is following on from other increasingly popular destinations that are struggling such as Venice and Dubrovnik.

This has, in turn, led to anti-tourism marches as locals feel pushed out by the tourist influx.

The most popular Greek island could soon also feel pressured to do the same.

Santorini classically Thera is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland.

It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera.

It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550.

The municipality of Santorini includes the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana.

The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera.

A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides.

The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia.

The lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest.

The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a fisherman's harbour at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast.

The island's principal port is Athinios. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon.

The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine, and have a small presence of hornblende.

It is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera.

The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide.

The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the Minoan eruption sometimes called the Thera eruption, which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization.

The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami.

Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.

Santorini was named by the Latin Empire in the thirteenth century, and is a reference to Saint Irene, from the name of the old cathedral in the village of Perissa, the name Santorini is a contraction of the name Santa Irini.

Before then, it was known as Kallíste meaning the most beautiful one, Strongyle meaning the circular one or Thera.

The name Thera was revived in the nineteenth century as the official name of the island and its main city, but the colloquial name Santorini is still in popular use.
The present municipality of Thera or Thira which covers all settlements on the islands of Santorini and Therasia, was formed at the 2011 local government reform, by the merger of the former Oia and Thera municipalities.

The municipality of Thera includes an additional 12 local subdivisions on Santorini island: Akrotiri, Emporio, Episkopis Gonia, Exo Gonia, Imerovigli, Karterados, Megalohori, Mesaria, Pyrgos Kallistis, Thera the seat of the municipality, Vothon, and Vourvoulos.

Santorini's primary industry is tourism. The two main sources of wealth in Santorini are agriculture and tourism.

In recent years, Santorini has been voted one of the world's most beautiful islands by 2015 Travelers” Choice Awards Reader's Choice Awards, amongst others.

Santorini remains the home of a small, but flourishing wine industry, based on the indigenous Assyrtiko grape variety. White varieties also include Athiri and Aidani, whereas red varieties include mavrotragano and mandilaria.

Volcanism on Santorini is due to the Hellenic Trench subduction zone southwest of Crete. The oceanic crust of the northern margin of the African Plate is being subducted under Greece and the Aegean Sea, which is thinned continental crust.

The subduction compels the formation of the Hellenic arc, which includes Santorini and other volcanic centres, such as Methana, Milos, and Kos.

Repeated sequences of shield volcano construction followed by caldera collapse. The inner coast around the caldera is a sheer precipice of more than 300 metres (980 ft) drop at its highest, and exhibits the various layers of solidified lava on top of each other, and the main towns perched on the crest.

The ground then slopes outwards and downwards towards the outer perimeter, and the outer beaches are smooth and shallow.

Beach sand colour depends on which geological layer is exposed; there are beaches with sand or pebbles made of solidified lava of various colours: such as the Red Beach, the Black Beach and the White Beach.

The water at the darker coloured beaches is significantly warmer because the lava acts as a heat absorber.

The area of Santorini incorporates a group of islands created by volcanoes, spanning across Thera, Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palea, and Nea Kameni.

Santorini has erupted many times, with varying degrees of explosivity. There have been at least twelve large explosive eruptions, of which at least four were caldera-forming.

The most famous eruption is the Minoan eruption, detailed below. Eruptive products range from basalt all the way to rhyolite, and the rhyolitic products are associated with the most explosive eruptions.

The earliest eruptions, many of which were submarine, were on the Akrotiri Peninsula, and active between 650,000 and 550,000 years ago. These are geochemically distinct from the later volcanism, as they contain amphiboles.

Over the past 360,000 years there have been two major cycles, each culminating with two caldera-forming eruptions.

The cycles end when the magma evolves to a rhyolitic composition, causing the most explosive eruptions. In between the caldera-forming eruptions are a series of sub-cycles.

Lava flows and small explosive eruptions build up cones, which are thought to impede the flow of magma to the surface. This allows the formation of large magma chambers, in which the magma can evolve to more silicic compositions.

Once this happens, a large explosive eruption destroys the cone. The Kameni islands in the centre of the lagoon are the most recent example of a cone built by this volcano, with much of them hidden beneath the water.

The devastating volcanic eruption of Thera has become the most famous single event in the Aegean before the fall of Troy. It may have been one of the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth in the last few thousand years, with an estimated VEI (volcanic explosivity index) of 6 according to the last studies published in 2006, confirming the prior values.

The violent eruption was centred on a small island just north of the existing island of Nea Kameni in the centre of the caldera.

The caldera itself was formed several hundred thousand years ago by the collapse of the centre of a circular island, caused by the emptying of the magma chamber during an eruption.

It has been filled several times by ignimbrite since then, and the process repeated itself, most recently 21,000 years ago.

The northern part of the caldera was refilled by the volcano, then collapsing once more during the Minoan eruption.

Before the Minoan eruption, the caldera formed a nearly continuous ring with the only entrance between the tiny island of Aspronisi and Thera.

The eruption destroyed the sections of the ring between Aspronisi and Therasia, and between Therasia and Thera, creating two new channels.

There are several villages and towns on Santorini Island, four of which are perched along the top of the crescent-shaped cliff of the caldera.

Fira - the main stunning cliff-perched town, featuring all that Oia has, but much more overcrowded.

Karterados - 2km south of Fira. Here you can find the traditional Santorini architecture

Kamari - black pebble beach. Has stunning views of Sunrise.

Firostefani - just 10 minutes walking distance from Fira, offering unique views of the volcano and sunset from it cliff-perched site.

Imerovigli - small resort town perched on the cliff a short bus ride away from Fira. Has absolutely stunning views of the sunset all the way down to the horizon and of Oia.

Oia or Ia - for unforgettable sunsets, probably the most charming cliff-perched place on the island.

Pyrgos - highest point on the island; picturesque monastery and streets, can compete with Oia.

Perissa - Nice, well-organized beaches and good Greek fish taverns.

Megalochori -Traditional village with a lot of old white cycladic churches.

Akrotiri -Visit the archaeological site of Aktotiri. Stunning history.

Akrotiri-Visit the Venetian Castle and on the top with amazing views the tower La Ponta- Greek Bagpipe exhibition workshop-Daily music.

Mesaria - The centre of the island. There is a small market on the road every morning with fresh fish. Do not miss the Argiros Estate to see a 19th century house fully rebuilt.

Monolithos- Nice beach and a few good taverns. Very good for children, as the water is shallow.

Vlichada - a small village and a beach.

Vothonas - a small rock village, the church of St. Ann is here. Architecturally it is the strangest village on the island, as all the buildings were cut from the ravine that it is in.

Also there's Thirasia, a village on the nearby island with the same name--visited by fewer tourists. There are daily excursions to the Kameni (volcano) Island which also reach Thirasia island.

An alternative name for Santorini is Thira. Santorini is also a name for the family of islands surrounding Thira, once forming a single island prior to a major volcanic event in approximately 1628 B.C.E.

The small island cradles a rich variety of landscapes and villages.

Visit traditional architecture in the small village of Mesa Gonia containing a mixture of ruins from the 1956 earthquake and restored villas as well as a winery at the foot of the settlement.

Pyrgos is another notable village set inland with its grand old houses, remains of a Venetian castle and several Byzantine churches.

The island has one natural source of fresh water, a small spring situated in a cave behind a small chapel located halfway up the steep footpath between Kamari and the entrance to Ancient Thira.

This spring only provides a small quantity of water; however, it is of good quality as it comes from the only remaining limestone outcrop of the pre-volcanic island.

Prior to the early 1990's, it was necessary for water to be delivered to the island via tanker from Crete. Now most hotels and homes have access to water provided by a local desalination plant.

While this water is potable, it is still rather salty, so most visitors drink bottled water while in Santorini.

Fira is the fiery capital, a marriage of Venetian and Cycladic architecture, whose white cobblestone streets bustle with shops, tavernas, hotels and cafes, while clinging to the rim of the caldera nine hundred feet above the its port.

If arriving by sea you can take a cable car up from the port or alternatively take a trip on one of the hundreds of mules up the 588 zigzagging steps.

You could also attempt to walk up the steps but be warned, they are winding, narrow in parts with only low walls, they are covered in donkey excrement and the donkeys themselves will make no attempt to avoid you.

Walking north from Fira for about twenty minutes will bring you to Imerovigli, where you can take in the magnificent views of the island’s unique scenery from the tiny town.

At the northern end of the caldera is the quintessentially Santorininian town of Oia, with its whitewashed walls sunk into the volcanic rock and its blue domes rising above the sterling beauty of the stunning, russet Ammoudi Bay.

At dusk, the town attracts crowds of people venturing to see the sunset. Santorini's sunsets, as viewed from Oia, are reputed to be among the world's most beautiful.

Due to the spectacular and unique natural beauty of Santorini, many Greek singers have chosen the island as the setting of their videos.

Greek and Brazilian TV series have been shot of Santorini, as well as some Hollywood movies e.g. Tomb Raider II. Generally Santorini is a pole of attraction for Greek and international celebrities.

The tourist season starts April 1, or around Greek Easter. The period from December through March is very much the off-season and marked by colder temperatures, rain and winds.

Although the temperature is rarely cold, the poor weather makes for a less than optimal experience on this beautiful island. Most of the businesses, including hotels and guest houses, may be closed.

The air is usually hot and dry during the busy summer months with very little rain between May and September. Ideal times to visit, for milder weather, lower prices and crowds, are April-June and September-October.

The 1956 Amorgos earthquake resulted in the demolishing of many buildings in the north of Santorini, leading to the desertion of many of its villages.

The expansion of tourism has resulted in the growth of the economy and population.

The major settlements include Fira (Phira), Oia, Emporio, Kamari, Perissa, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, and Therasia. Akrotiri is a major archaeological site, with ruins from the Minoan era.

Santorini's primary industry is tourism, particularly in the summer months. In 2007, the cruise ship MS Sea Diamond ran aground and sank inside the caldera.

The island's pumice quarries have been closed since 1986, in order to preserve the caldera.

Santorini was ranked the world's top island for many magazines and travel sites, including the Travel+Leisure Magazine, the BBC, as well as the US News. An estimated 2 million tourists visit annually.

Santorini has no rivers, and water is scarce. Until the early 1990s locals filled water cisterns from the rain that fell on roofs and courts, from small springs, and with imported assistance from other areas of Greece.

In recent years a desalination plant has provided running, yet non-potable, water to most houses.
Since rain is rare on the island from mid-spring till mid-autumn, many plants depend on the scant moisture provided by the common, early morning fog condensing on the ground as dew.

Because of its unique ecology and climate, and especially its volcanic ash soil, Santorini is home to unique and prized produce.

Santorini tomatoes are renowned; they are cherry tomatoes that are extremely tasty and sweet, and with an intensely red, staining colour. Santorini fava is a puree made of the hulled, then sun-dried, then boiled legume Lathyrus clymenum, not from the yellow split pea as in the rest of Greece.

The white eggplants of Santorini are very sweet, with very few seeds, and can be eaten raw.

The katsouni is a unique local variety of large cucumber which, if left unpicked when green, turn yellow and acquire a sweet taste almost indistinguishable from that of melon.

Capers with their unique flavor are used in Greek salads and other local dishes.

Santorini Cuisine

Brantada – A local Santorinian fish dish. Cod fillet coated in a mixture of flour, water, salt and sometimes beer, normally served with garlic salad. The best place to try it is in some less touristic villages, like Exo Gonia.

Koskosela (local Strapatsada)
Santorinio Sfougato – A traditional Santorini dish. Ingredients: small zucchini, onions, extra virgin olive oil, flour, eggs, rosemary leaves or spearmint tea leaves or dill, xinomyzithra or other sour milk cheese or soft feta, naxos sweet gruyère, salt and fresh ground pepper, sweet peppers, sesame seeds.

Tsounisti (Manestra)

Fava – A local Santorini dish, originally made with the broad bean. Later on, the broad bean was replaced with an easier version, the yellow shelled lentil. Its name originates from the word favus which is the Latin word for broad beans.

Melitinia (dessert) – Melitinia are cookies that are made for weddings, engagements and festivals. They are made of unsalted mitzithra cheese and yogurt and they also have a beautiful smell of mastic.

They can be found in the traditional bakeries of Santorini.

Tomatokeftdes – also known as tomato fritters, is made with Santorini cherry sized tomatoes. It is cooked in olive oil with onions, peppers, mint and other herbs.

The island remains the home of a small, but flourishing, wine industry, based on the indigenous grape variety, Assyrtiko, with auxiliary cultivations of two other Aegean varietals, Athiri and Aidani.

The vines are extremely old and resistant to phylloxera attributed by local winemakers to the well-drained volcanic soil and its chemistry.

In their adaptation to their habitat, such vines are planted far apart, as their principal source of moisture is dew, and they often are trained in the shape of low-spiralling baskets, with the grapes hanging inside to protect them from the winds.

The viticultural pride of the island is the sweet and strong Vinsanto or holy wine, a dessert wine made from the best sun-dried Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani grapes, and undergoing long barrel aging up to twenty or twenty-five years for the top cuvees.

It matures to a sweet, dark amber-orange, unctuous dessert wine that has achieved worldwide fame, possessing the standard Assyrtiko aromas of citrus and minerals, layered with overtones of nuts, raisins, figs, honey and tea.

White wines from the island are extremely dry with a strong, citrus scent and mineral and iodide salt aromas contributed by the ashy volcanic soil.

Whereas barrel aging gives to some of the white wines a slight frankincense aroma, much like Vinsanto.

It is not easy to be a winegrower in Santorini, the hot and dry conditions give the soil a very low productivity.

The yield per acre is only 10 to 20% of the yields that are common in France or California. The island's wines are standardised and protected by the Vinsanto and Santorini OPAP designations of origin.

The traditional architecture of Santorini is similar to that of the other Cyclades, with low-lying cubical houses, made of local stone and whitewashed or limewashed with various volcanic ashes used as colours.

The unique characteristic is the common utilisation of the hyposkapha: extensions of houses dug sideways or downwards into the surrounding pumice.

These rooms are prized because of the high insulation provided by the air-filled pumice, and are used as living quarters of unique coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter.

These are premium storage space for produce, especially for wine cellaring, the Kanava wineries of Santorini.

When strong earthquakes struck the island in 1956, half the buildings were completely destroyed and a large number suffered repairable damage.

The underground dwellings along the ridge overlooking the caldera, where the instability of the soil was responsible for the great extent of the damage, needed to be evacuated.

Most of the population of Santorini had to emigrate to Piraeus and Athens.

Getting in from Athens by air is faster and not prone to sea sickness, compared to ferries. However, in season air tickets sell out well before most of the ferries.

Santorini is one of the few Cyclades Islands with a major airport, which lies about 6 km (4 mi) southeast of downtown Thera.

The main asphalt runway is 2,125 metres (6,972 feet) in length, and the parallel taxiway was built to runway specification.

It can accommodate Boeing 757, Boeing 737, Airbus 320 series, Avro RJ, Fokker 70, and ATR 72 aircraft.

Scheduled airlines include the new Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines, Ryanair and Athens Airways, with chartered flights from other airlines during the summer.

Transportation to and from the air terminal available through buses, taxis, hotel car-pickups and rental cars.

Santorini or Thira National Airport is an airport in Santorini/Thira, Greece, located north of the village of Kamari.

With regular flights from Athens by Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines and AirSea Lines a seaplane airline.

Flight duration from Athens to Santorini is about 30 minutes. During summer, Sky Express connects Santorini with other popular islands such as Crete (Heraklion), Rhodes and Mykonos.
During the months of July and August Astra Airlines flies from Thessaloniki.

From May till October charter airlines fly directly to Santorini from many European airports.

- Condor flies from Dusseldorf (DUS), Stuttgart (STR), Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC);

- EasyJet flies from London Gatwick (LGW), Manchester (MAN) and Milan Malpensa (MXP);

- Edelweiss Air flies from Zurich (ZRH);

- Germanwings flies from Cologne/Bonn (CGN), Munich (MUC) and Stuttgart (STR);

- Jetairfly flies from Brussels (BRU);

- Meridiana flies from Milan Malpensa (MXP));

- Norwegian flies from Copenhagen (CPH), Oslo (OSL) and Stockholm (ARN);

- SAS flies from Oslo;

- TAROM flies from Otopeni Bucharest (OTP);

- ThomasCook flies from London Gatwick (LGW), Manchester (MAN) and Brussels (BRU);

- Thompson flies from Manchester (MAN)

- Transavia flies from Amsterdam (AMS).

From the airport there are buses to Fira, where you can change to buses for other towns. Taxis are also usually waiting at the airport, but competition for them can be keen.

You should agree on the fare with the driver, €10 - €14 to most places is acceptable before departing.
Many Santorini hotels offer airport transfers, usually for a fee that's more than a taxi would charge you, but some may find it worth it for the convenience.

There is also the alternative of using the Aegean Taxi App.

Instead of waiting in line for a taxi, you can simply download the app from Play Store or App Store and request a taxi to pick you up and drop you off to any destination on the island.

Santorini has two ports: Athinios (Ferry Port) and Skala (Old Port). Cruise ships anchor off Skala and passengers are transferred by local boatmen to shore at Skala where Fira is accessed by cable car, on foot or by donkey.

Tour boats depart from Skala for Nea Kameni and other Santorini destinations.

Take the ferry from Piraeus past Paros and Naxos to the new port of Athinios on Santorini. There is also daily connection between Heraklion (Crete) and Santorini during high season.

If you prefer traveling by sea, your best bet is high-speed catamarans. The trip from Pireaus to Santorini takes 4.5hrs with a high speed ferry.

Ferries dock at the new port of Athinios, where buses and taxis meet each arrival to transport passengers to Oia, Fira, and elsewhere.

All vehicles climb a very steep, winding road with seven 180 degree turns to get anywhere from Athinios.

If you arrive by cruise ship, the experience will surely leave you with lasting memories.

Cruise ships that call on Santorini do not dock but hold position in the caldera near the Old Port of Fira and require tendering, which is usually provided by the Union Boatman of Santorini.

Locals with fishing boats occasionally transfer cruisers to the Old Port at Fira.

From the Old Port (Skala Pier), there are three ways to reach the top of the cliff and Fira, which is 260 metres above sea level:

cable car daily, 6.30am-10pm, every 20 mins, €5/£4.15; takes about a few minutes to reach the top,
mule ride (€5/£4.15; there's a weight limit and it'll take longer than the cable car.

A tough hike up 580 steps following the same path as the mules; you must be fit and should inquire if you want to hike up; no charge.

With one or more large cruise ships off-shore, long lines may queue at the bottom of the cable car.

Casual Fira walkers/shoppers may meet many others at the top returning after a few hours, and long queues may form at the top of the cable car before passengers are expected back aboard their ship(s).

There are six small cable cars ganged together each holding six persons maximum, taking about a couple of minutes to descend. Do the maths, and plan accordingly.

Alternatively, you could take a speedboat, run by the Union Boatmen of Santorini, who also operate the tenders for the cruise ships, from the Old Port pier to Oia.

Tickets are sold at the Old Port pier for €20/person. That covers a 12-minute speedboat ride to Ammoudiou Bay at the bottom of the cliff next to Oia, and a private bus ride up a switchback road to a NST bus parking lot in Oia.

After you explore Oia for 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours, you can then board a private NST bus included in the price to Fira.

One still have to contend with the long queue for the cable car or walk down with the messy donkeys.

For cruise-ship excursions, the cruise ship may tender passengers to the new port at Athinios, where chartered buses wait to start the excursions. Typically, excursions end at Fira.

Transport by sea is always dependent on weather. For safety, especially in winter or raining monsoon, cruise ships may delay or cancel shuttles to/from shore, and ferries their departure times to or from the island.Bus services depart from Fira to most parts of the island.

The island has a public bus service, with buses costing € 1.60, € 1.80 and € 2.20.There are no daily or weekly bus passes available. The bus stops do not resemble the ones you usually find in other cities in Europe.

They are a white closed small places with low roof. There might be a bus sign near the bus stop, if you look for it closely. Buses run between every 30 minutes to every other hour.

The buses occasionally miss trips, and some drivers are less than friendly. Buses are air-conditioned but may be overcrowded during the high season.

If you prefer getting a private or shuttle transfer from airport or port to your destination or even a private tours service throughout the island, there are companies such as Santorini Transport offering such services.

In addition, there are hop on hop off private bus services. Boats also run between major coastal towns on the island.

Cars can be rented from € 22 a day. An international driving permit is recommended. Without one, many car rental places will rent cars, but travel guides have mentioned tourists having insurance problems in case of accident.

Scooters and 4-wheelers quads or all-terrain-vehicles are available to rent starting at about €15 or €30 per day, respectively. A drivers license is required to rent these 4-wheelers.

Be aware that most of the people in Santorini are tourists. As a result, road conditions are extremely unsafe, with many people driving by the laws and conventions of nearly every country in the world.

A popular method of getting around is to rent ATVs, though the all-terrain part is a misnomer, as most ATV riders are tourists riding on the paved road.

ATVs share the road with other drivers and are usually all over the island.

The island is small enough to travel around on an ATV, and is a cost-effective way to self-explore the further reaches of Santorini. ATV rental shops are all around the island, so it's best to ask your hotel owner/concierge on the closest/most trusted vendor.

You will need your local driver's license to ride one of these, and a helmet is recommended.

Some hotels advise booking a taxi in advance, as there are not enough available taxis on the island during high season.

As is the rule in the Cyclades, taxi fares are typically shared between multiple passengers, so don't be surprised if your cabbie picks up more passengers during your trip.

The Aegean Taxi service makes transfers in Santorini easier, since it allows you to book your ride through the Aegean Taxi App at any time and to any destination on the island.

You can book a transfer in advance or on request for a taxi on the spot.

It takes about 50 minutes to drive the island from end to end from Vlichada to Ia.

The island is small enough that it can be thoroughly explored by bicycle, or with a few bus trips, by foot.

Bicycle rentals are fairly hard to find, most places advertising bike rentals refer to motorbikes, rather than bicycles. The maps are designed for hikers, however, so the recommended routes are impassable by bicycle.

Santorini is not very bicycle-friendly, there are no dedicated bicycle routes, so you must share roads with vehicular traffic. In addition, the island is very hilly.

The traffic is more friendly to bicycles than to pedestrians or other vehicular traffic, however.

Recommended routes by foot include the amazing walk from Fira to Oia along the caldera, as well as the paths over Perissa Rock connecting Perissa, Kamari, and Pyrgos.

The walk between Perissa and Kamari is fairly short via Ancient Thira, while the walk to Pyrgos is somewhat longer, passing through the highest point on the island.

The views are breathtaking and you could find different kinds and colours of rocks and plants as you walk. The walking route is different from where the city buses go.

Santorini is one of the great natural wonders of the world, and its main attraction is the landscape and seascape of the island itself.

The configuration of the present, roughly semicircular island is the result of an enormous volcanic explosion which occurred probably around 1630 bc.

Completely blowing the top off the island and changing what had been a typical half-submerged mountain of an Aegean island into a flooded crescent caldera, in the middle of which a few small smoking islands still bear witness to volcanic activity.

Another popular reason for visiting Santorini are the legendary sunsets, some of the most spectacular in the world.

Ia is one of the few places on the island which is both close to a sea and offers a good view to a sunset over the sea: in other towns, the sun disappears behind the volcano.

Additionally the town of Fira is stunning.

Be sure to explore the areas outside of the towns. There is beautiful countryside where tradition still survives.

Cave houses both abandoned and occupied, gardens, vineyards, small family business, and tiny churches are there to be discovered.

Santorini ranks among top destinations for wedding celebrations for at least 4 years primarily for sunset and peace, like those in Oia.

Couples often arrive with few friends, stay in Ia at places like Fanari Villas.

Groups often arrive in the beginning of the week judging by demand for cabrios and number of corteges seen on Mondays compared to weekends.

Certainly to mention the viticulture and winemaking of Santorini. One of the most ancient vineyards of the world has been developed on this island, a veritable monument created by nature and humans.

Vineyards are seen anywhere on Santorini, especially on the central and northern parts of the island. The volcanic soil and the special climate contribute to the unique character of the island's wines.

While the island is full of medium- and top-cost hotels and villas, there are still lots of abandoned caves and modest private houses where no one seems to live for a long time, even in western Oia where every inch seems to be occupied by some villa.

Thirassia: small island near Santorini; place with more authentic villages, buildings and even churches. Take a look at hymnasia: in the yard, pupil painted children on the walls.

Boat excursions: volcano island (Nea Kameni) - hot springs (Palia Kameni) – Thirassia

From Ia: departure from Ammoudi bay at 10:50AM starting and end point; a bit later from Armeni bay.

1hr 30min at volcano island; 45min for hot springs; 2hrs for Thirassia (incl. time for lunch).

Meals are not included, normally the guide advises you to visit Captain Jack's tavern, which is self service if you arrive with a big group or operates with waiters if you don't.

This restaurant serves amazing fresh seafood at the cheapest prices. Testament to how good it is, is the fact you will notice that none of the adjacent restaurants are ever busy. Only this one.

Faros. A lighthouse near Akrotiri, west of the southern part of the island. Rocky cliff, interesting for taking photos.

Although you cannot enter the lighthouse, which is run by Greek Navy, it's a great and tranquil place for taking photos.

A viewpoint behind Iris hotel close to center of the island: great for taking sunset photos with a sea and palm trees.

Public beaches do not seem to have showers or places for changing.

Red Beach- it's worth taking the Red Beach/Akrotiri bus from Fira and then climbing over the very rocky trails to get here though there are water taxis and various schooners that make their way here as well.

Red Beach earns its name from the iron-rich sedimentary rocks in the cliff face towering above you, as well as the red sand.

It's quite crowded; you can rent an umbrella and a pair of chaise lounges for € 8, though there is also some good free space nearby that gets packed by midday.

The first few meters of the water near the shore are quite gravelly, so be prepared to step on some stones. Women are frequently topless.

Many distant yachts can be seen from the beach, it looks really romantic at sunset time. Great snorkeling, an abundance of sea life is present, as with Perissa.

The tavernas built into the caves on Red Beach seem to have no electricity or running water, so if you eat or use the washrooms there, bring along hand sanitizer.

White Beach- available only from the sea; get there by boat from Red Beach or Akrotiri.

There is no pier so the only way to get there is by getting of the boat and walking through water that starts at about you waist. It is very small with only a few beds.

Vlychada- this is a nude beach. On the left side of the beach, you will see that people are clothed, but as you go toward the right, you will find everyone in nude.

An umbrella with 2 chaise lounges cost €5 if you stay on the left side of the beach.

Amoudi- this is not really a beach with sand, but is a wonderfully secluded swimming area reachable from Oia. There is a road around the far side of Oia that leads down to a small parking lot.

From there, you can reach the swimming area on foot past a few small restaurants. There is also a platform on a large rock that people can swim to and dive off.

Perivolos- lighter sand than Perissa beach, and is very enjoyable when the North Wind is blowing. It has beach bars and restaurants that makes it feel like a beach day club.

Monolithos- quiet but well organized beach with all the comforts of the other beaches such as clubs, restaurants, and umbrellas.

Baxedes- this is the main beach at the north side of the Island. Baxedes is a peaceful place with black sand, it is much more like how Santorini was like before tourists discovered the island.

This is not the best beach when the north wind is blowing. It is easiest to get there by rented or private car or motorbike.
Pori- this is an amazing beach on the east side of Santorini where the rocks have a very unique red color to them.

This is an excellent beach for those who do not mind walking a bit to get there. No facilities, restaurants, or shopping are located here.

Mesa pigadia- A beautiful rocky beach near the nature side of the island by the town Akrotiri. About 800 meters away from the Akrotiri main road there are restaurants on the beach itself.

There are several ways to reach the beach which include driving, biking, or taking a small boat from Akrotiri. The price is about € 7 for the ride and another € 7 to rent an umbrella.

Agios georgios- at the southern tip of the Santorini this beach has everything from water sports to beach bars.
There are a few small taverns here and it is the perfect spot to have a quiet swim and avoid the massive crowds. You can reach this beach from Emporio and Perissa by rented or private car.

Walking is also an option.

Santorini Wineries

- Volcan Wines Museum & Winery: open 12PM-8PM.

- Santo Wines: open 9AM-sunset the only winery that charges a fee for a tour.

- Argiros Estate: Mesa Gonia near Kamari

- Roussos winery: Mesa Gonia near Kamari

- Boutari winery: Megalochori

- Venetsanos Winery: Megalochori [34]; open 10:00 - 22:00

- Hatzidakis winery: Pyrgos

- Domaine Sigalas: Oia;

Activities in Santorini

- Walk along the caldera from Fira to Oia.

- Climb to see Ancient Thira, or more ambitiously, the monastery, for an amazing view of the ocean, beaches, and island from up high.

- Horseback riding in Exo Gonia.

- Scuba diving and snorkling. Even non-qualified divers can dive up to 14 metres down on a wreck next to the volcano.

- Caldera Cruise and Oia Sunset.

- Tour in vineyards and wine tasting in a traditional winery.

- Plan your wedding in Santorini.

Santorini Yachting club Oia 84702, Santorini, Greece. Live an incomparable experience that provides the opportunity to explore virgin bays, swim in transparent waters and gaze at a fantastic scenery.

Historic Attractions

Akrotiri, in the south, a roughly 3,500 year old Minoan town preserved in volcanic ash like Pompeii, is one of Santorini's must-sees.

The excavation site is covered by a roofing system, which makes it something that you can comfortably visit no matter what time of year.

The ruins are extremely well preserved. Streets, buildings, stairs and even second floors of buildings are still visible.

Visitors can stand in the ruins and look at Minoan pottery and frescoes, and with a little imagination, feel what it would have been like to live in ancient Greece.

Due to an accident in September 2005, the excavation site was temporarily closed to the public, but as of April 2012, the site was once again open.

Ancient Thera, the Classical city of the island is on Mesa Vouno, 396 m. above sea level.

It was founded in the 9th century B.C. by Dorian colonists whose leader was Theras, and continued to be inhabited until the early Byzantine period.

The preserved ruins belong to the Hellenistic and Roman phases of the city. The residential area and the larger part of the cemeteries were excavated by German archaeologists between 1895 and 1902.

The cemeteries on the NE and NW slopes of Sellada were excavated by N. Zapheiropoulos in the years 1961-1982.

Fira has the Museum of Prehistoric Thira that contains some of the artifacts, which were found in the ruins of Akrotiri.

So first visit Akrotini, where the items came from and then Thira to understand what the items are.

The museum has more pots, pottery and other household items than you can shake an antique stick at, but the highlight is the frescoes of the blue monkeys, a mystery since historians say there is no evidence that there were ever monkeys on Santorini.

Also in Fira, near the cable car station, is the Archaeological Museum that contains artifacts from various eras.

Most of the exhibits are dated from the Classic and Roman period from the ancient town of Thera and it's cemeteries.

The Cycladic Islands are world-famous for their picturesque towns of cubic white-washed homes and blue-domed churches.

Santoríni is especially famous for the towns of Firá and Oía, whose white and pastel-colored homes and churches seemingly stacked on top of each other are perched on the cliffs of the caldera.

Many of these traditional homes are built on cliff-side caves, thus having a much larger interior than their exterior would suggest.

The architecture of Santoríni's picturesque towns is typically Cycladic, but with strong neoclassical and baroque influences visible in many of the island's churches and public buildings.

While Santorini cannot claim a prominent art collection, why not see some local and international artists work by visiting the Art Space Gallery and Winery in the small village of Exo Gonia, on the way between Fira and Kamari.

Art Space is a winery built in 1830, an old canava. Also an museum with old installations for raki and tomato-juice. Owned by the same family of Argyros for three generations.

The landscape here the blue sky, the little white houses perched on gigantic rocks on hills that plummet to the sea, the lemon and orange groves, the pink and white churches that look like pastrycakes.

The faces and warmth and expressiveness of the Greek people little wonder this may be the most photographed scenery in the world.

Santorini has 5 dive shops. Prices are typically around € 80 for two dives, including equipment rental, transport, and usually, a light lunch.

The offerings are otherwise quite similar. Prices are sometimes lower when booked directly through dive shop, rather than through a travel agency.

Try the Mediterranean Dive Club. Their office is on Perissa Beach near the Tranquilo Bar. There are also two dive shops in Kamari: Navy's Waterworld Dive Center and Aegean Divers.

Diving, visibility is amazing, but there are not as many fish as more popular scuba and snorkeling locations.

Dive sites include a wreck near the volcano, caverns, reefs, as well as wall diving. The wall dive is the most interesting.

Octopus are not uncommon. To minimize environmental damage, all five dive shops go to the same locations though not at the same time, with moorings shared by all the dive shops.

If you want to go to a specific dive site, call ahead, and find out which dive shops are heading to which locations on which day or ask to go to a specific location.

Recommended sites for snorkeling include Mesa Pigadia beach, somewhat out some people recommended a diving buoy for boat safety, the beach South of Oia, as well as Perissa Rock especially somewhat further around the rock.

There are supposed to be some nice spots between Perivolos and Vlichada Beach as well. The beach on Thirasia also has some reasonable snorkeling. Caldera Beach, near Akrotiri, has a few amazing snorkeling spots.

When walking down to Caldera Beach follow the signs to Santorini Dive Center, you will see some rock formations further out into the water.

If you can find those once in the water, and swim to them, you will find wonderful snorkeling.

Virtually all beach-side shops will sell cheap, low-quality snorkeling gear, mask for around 10EU, fins for around 20EU.

Atlantis Books. The largest selection of English language books on the island. Also stocks Greek, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.

Santoríni is one of Greece's most prominent wine regions, whose wines enjoy special designation of origin status from the European Union.

The method of growing grapes with vines close to the earth and individual vines spaced far apart from each other is unique to the island, with its dry soil and windy climate.

Wineries open to the public are located throughout the island.

Buy Santorini wines on Iama Wine Store in Oia. Very nice shop with all Santorini wines and over 350 labels of other Greek and international wines.

Activities Santorini Sea Kayak, Akrotiri, Sea Kayak, Stand Up Paddling, Rock Climbing and hiking activities.

A combination of climatic factors and the tastes of those who have occupied and lived on the island have formed an eclectic cuisine.

Santorini specials include: the white aubergine (eggplant); fava caper ; a variety of tomato keftedes, with whole slices of tomatoes fried in butter; dolmades, stuffed vine leaves.

Another must-try is fresh fish grilled in tavernas, especially those close to a sea.

If you decide to eat or drink in a taverna overlooking the caldera or having a good view to a sunset, expect higher prices than a similar establishment in one of the many side-streets as you are charged extra for the view.

For those who enjoy the Mediterranean diet fresh fish, vegetables, and meat dishes can be found at several moderately priced restaurants, average 40 Euros for two in Imerovigli, Oia, and Fira.

To save money, stay away from places that are overtly commercial and go to the family run fish taverns located nearby the smaller beaches and communities.

Gyros places are everywhere.

Don't miss the traditional fried tomato balls of tomato keftedes and be sure to ask for local tomatoes in your salad. They may be the best tasting you have ever had.

Santorini is particularly well known for its cherry tomatoes which are very sweet. The cherry tomatoes are usually sun dried or sometimes made into sweet tomato marmalade.

Assyrtiko grape dominates Assyrtiko-Santorini(PDO Santorini) wines are rare and distinctive.

These wines are born in some of the world’s oldest vineyards, dating back 3.500 years, on the volcanic island of Santorini.

Visit local wineries and enjoy the local wines, Assyrtiko, Aidani, Athiri, Vinsanto, Mavrotragano.

Santorini island could be divided into two parts, the western side of the island and the eastern. Santorini mainly owes its popularity to the western side.

This is where the caldera is, and the villages, like Fira and Oia, that are built on the cliff. On this side of Santorini most hotels have terrific views of the caldera, volcano, the sea and sunsets.

There is of course a drawback that you have to keep in mind before making your reservation.

The majority of the hotels built on the caldera have many stairs, which is usually annoying for tourists not willing to climb up and down all the time.

Some of them do not accept children under 13, because they do not offer any children' facilities, due to their dangerous location on the cliff.

There are hotels that are specially oriented to couples and honeymooners. Most of Santorini luxury resorts can be found on the western side of the island.

Not all hotels which are on the western side of the island offer views, as some of them are in town.

The eastern side of Santorini resembles the rest of the Greek islands in the Cyclades. There are many beach hotels, especially in Kamari, that also attract a lot of tourists, mainly youngsters and families.

These hotels usually offer larger rooms and pools than those on the other side of the island.

Keep in mind that the room rates are often set according to the view of the room, which makes the hotels on eastern side of Santorini much cheaper than those on the western side.

Moreover keep in mind that booking your accommodation in advance would be very helpful, as most hotels have few rooms, usually not more than 20 and quickly fill.

Most of the island's hotels are closed during winter. They open during or after Greek Orthodox Easter (April or May) and usually close by the end of October.

As in other Greek Islands, July, August and September are considered high season.

Be aware of rental scams, especially with agencies working only with motorbikes and ATVs. Using these types of vehicles is very common on Santorini and there are a lot of rental agencies.

Some of them are ready to cheat. They will offer faulty motorbikes or ATVs for a lower price, but in case of accident they will demand that the customer pay for the whole cost of damage.

They are offering only basic insurance but will present it like full insurance. Also, there is a big possibility of serious injuries.

It is possible to recognize these rental agencies by observing them aggressively attracting tourists and offering lower prices than others.

Employees in front of these type of agencies will be loud and ready to promise everything until the contract is signed.

It is necessary to check the vehicle before making any decision. Their vehicles are in most of the cases dusty, dirty and look old.

Santoríni is relatively crime free, you are quite unlikely to be pickpocketed. On the other hand you may feel you have been ripped off by some restaurant or bar bills.

Carry with you some sunscreen. A bottle of SPF30 sunscreen will run about 20 Euro, with higher SPF sunscreen costing appropriately more.

While this is obvious, remember not to shop at stores or order at restaurants without posted prices.

Physically the cliffs and low walls guarding large drops pose a danger to children while the elderly may encounter problems with the many steps.

Cave exploring can be fun too but it is not recommended to deviate from the paths because of the unstable rocks made of tufa.

Like most areas of Greece, Santorini has a very high number of stray dogs, or dogs otherwise left to roam as they please.

While the majority of Santorini's large dogs are generally friendly they have been known to follow large tourist groups, with some going as far as to follow hiking groups travelling from Fira to Oia.

Pack activity is common and basic precautions involving stray or feral dogs should be followed should a pack form around your group.

There are some local radio stations in Santorini, mainly in Greek language. When in Santorini, turn your radio at: Volcano Radio at 106.4 MHz and Top Melody Fm Radio at 104.9 MHz.

You can find internet cafes in Kamari, Perissa, Thira wireless access also available and in Oia. Most hotels and cafes offer free Wi-Fi Internet access, available even on the beach. Especially, in Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari.

Try getting out on by boat, south to Crete or north to Ios, Naxos, Paros or Mykonos.

Enjoy Santorini!

Tourism Observer

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