Bringing to mind images of turquoise waters, cubical white hilltop homes, and the mythical Aegean Sea, Santorini rises up from the ocean with rugged and dramatic scenery. A massive volcanic eruption around 1450BC left behind a ring of surrounding islands and a central bay that is officially the world’s largest volcanic crater. Many believe the sinking of the middle part of the island during the volcanic event was what inspired the legend of Atlantis.
Considered one of the most spectacular Greek Isles, Santorini is home to white washed houses, sandy pebbled beaches and striking geological profiles that are a result of the different shades of solidified lava. With cliff faces of up to 300 metres high, and towns perched atop these hills, the largest city Fira is the central point for day excursions around Santorini and offers a good variety of dining and shopping choices.
Santorini has two ports. Cruise ships will anchor in the bay before tendering passengers to Skala Pier.
Fira ranks number one in Greece for cruise ship arrivals, hosting around 900,000 passengers each year from a number of cruise lines including Costa, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Cunard, and Royal Caribbean.
- Travel agencies
- Souvenir shops
- Cafes and bars.
Fira town centre is perched on the cliff face above the port and can be accessed via cable car, by donkey or by walking up the 587 stone built steps.
How to Get Around
While the cable car trip to Fira is only around 5 minutes, queues can be lengthy. If you are fit and active, consider doing the 20-minute walk uphill from the port to the town centre.
In town, quad bikes or scooters can be hired from one of the many rental agencies. Those staying in Fira will find the town easy to explore on foot. Other villages, including Oia and Akrotiri, are best accessed by bus. Buses depart hourly from the end of Gold Street and cost €1.60. Trips take about 30 minutes.
Taxis may also be a more reliable option for limited time with most drivers speaking English. It is recommended to negotiate a fare in advance.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 20 minute walk uphill from Skala Pier to Fira.
- It is a 35 minute journey to Akrotiri
- It is a 30 minute journey to Oia.
- It’s a 9 minute journey from Fira to Santorini Airport by car
- It’s a 20 minute journey from Fira to Oia by car.
- Currency - The currency used in Santorini is the Euro. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, and €1 and €2 coin denominations. Euro bank notes are available in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, and €5 denominations.
- Time Zone - Santorini is in the Eastern European Time Zone (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - Santorini has a dry arid climate with hot summers. Two seasons characterise the island with the colder season lasting from November to March, and the warm dry season between April and October.
- Greek Cuisine and Wine - Dine at one of the many spectacular cliff top restaurants in Fira, overlooking the caldera ring of islands below. If the weather is too hot for serious heavy eating, order some tzatziki, gyros, white eggplant and olive platters and sit back with an icy local beer or local wine from the flourishing Aegean wine industry. There are no shortage of hilltop restaurants around Fira.
- Shoping at Erythrou Stavrou - Whether to just people watch, or shop for handmade jewellery and local crafts, there are a number of unique boutiques, plus high-end designer goods along this stone cobbled (and vehicle free) thoroughfare. Most stores open until 9pm.
- The town of Oia - Situated 15 kilometres from Fira, with some of the most best views from the island, shop for souvenirs in the many galleries and walk down to one of two of the black sand beaches to watch the sunset.
- Archaeological Museum of Fira - Home to artefacts dating back to 2000BC and sculptures from the Byzantine and Hellenistic periods, the Archaeological Museum of Fira is the perfect attraction for those wanting to get a feel for the area’s past. The museum is open daily, except Monday, between 8.30am-3pm and the entrance fee is €3.