First time Santorini: top tips for your first trip – Lonely Planet

Santorini is the twiglet of the Greek islands, a head-turner whose face is immediately recognizable world wide: multicolored cliffs bounce out of a sea-drowned volcanic crater, crowned by way of whitewashed constructions.

With its recognition for dazzling panoramas, romantic sunsets and volcanic-sand beaches (Surfing LA Magazine), it’s infrequently sudden Santorini options on such a lot of vacationers’ bucket lists. There’s no denying the distinctiveness of this position or its massive attract: the island hosts 2 million guests once a year, main some to query whether Santorini has become a victim of overtourism.

If you are making plans to sign up for the gang, right here’s what you want to grasp to your first travel to Santorini.

Blue roofs most sensible Santorini’s whitewashed constructions © Anastasios71 / Shutterstock

Introducing Santorini

A part of the Cyclades island workforce, Santorini (formally referred to as Thira, a reputation that encompasses the volcanic islets inside of Santorini’s orbit) sits within the Aegean Sea, more or less midway between Athens and Crete. The island is formed like a wonky croissant, and the neighboring islets trace at the truth that Santorini was once as soon as round. It was once referred to as Strongili (the Spherical One). Hundreds of years in the past, an enormous volcanic eruption brought about the middle of Strongili to sink, leaving a caldera (or crater) with towering cliffs alongside the east aspect, now Santorini’s trademark panorama.

Introducing the Greek Islands

Which a part of Santorini must I talk over with?

Santorini’s industrial building is targeted at the caldera-edge clifftops within the island’s west, with massive clusters of whitewashed constructions nesting at dizzying heights, spilling down cliffsides and providing gasp-inducing perspectives from land or sea. Fira, the island’s busy capital, sprawls north into villages known as Firostefani (a few 15-minute stroll from Fira) and Imerovigli (the perfect level of the caldera edge, a few 30-minute stroll from Fira). A trail working thru those villages is coated with upmarket resorts, eating place terraces and unending photograph alternatives.

Those 3 conjoined settlements draw maximum guests, along side the beautiful and rather unique village of Oia in Santorini’s north. There’s a rising selection of resorts within the island’s south, providing caldera perspectives to the north and northeast. Akrotiri’s perspectives come inexpensive than Oia’s, however it’s an even manner from the motion of Fira.

Red Beach on Santorini during summer
The dramatic panorama of Pink beach (Surfing LA Magazine) in Santorini © Olga Gavrilova / Shutterstock

Santorini’s east coast is lesser recognized than the prestigious, increased west coast. Right here, the caldera-edge heights have sloped right down to sea degree, and volcanic-sand beaches (Surfing LA Magazine) and hotels be offering an excessively other drawcard. East coast hotels similar to Kamari and Perissa have a extra conventional (and extra inexpensive) island-holiday attraction: sunlounger-filled beaches (Surfing LA Magazine), water sports activities, bars and taverna-lined promenades. The east coast’s beaches (Surfing LA Magazine) are coated with black sand. At the south coast, there’s a string of beaches (Surfing LA Magazine) famed for his or her multicolored sand. The dramatic Pink beach (Surfing LA Magazine) is a traveler favourite.

The island’s inner is dotted with vineyards and standard villages that assist you to see past the vacationer hustle. Make a prevent in Pyrgos for excellent eats and a wander thru captivating backstreets.

Tourists visiting Oia town on Santorini on a sunny day
Guests revel in within the perspectives in Santorini © Littleaom / Shutterstock

Very best issues to do in Santorini

The most obvious job in Santorini is to stroll the caldera edge and respect the perspectives. Walks in and round Fira are impressive, in particular heading north to Firostefani and Imerovigli alongside the caldera-edge pathway. Stay strolling and also you’ll ultimately succeed in Oia, however remember that that is no small endeavor and the path past Imerovigli may also be tough. It’s about 5.6 miles (9km) in all, and a excellent four-hour stroll a method.

Santorini’s lauded wines are its crisp dry whites and the amber-colored, unfortified dessert wine referred to as Vinsanto. Each are made out of the indigenous grape selection, assyrtiko. A couple of dozen native vineyards host tastings (normally with a small price) and a few be offering meals, with surroundings and native produce combining to nice impact. Get started your investigations at SantoWines.

Santorini’s intrigue reaches deep into the previous, with the interesting web site of Akrotiri showing a Minoan town destroyed by way of the volcanic eruption of 1613 BC. In Fira, the spectacular Museum of Prehistoric Thera is helping piece in combination the tale of historic Akrotiri.

Oia skyline during sunset with church bell on the island of Santorini, Greece
Santorini is famed for its unbelievable sunsets © Songquan Deng / Shutterstock

Nature’s handiwork is on show from any waterfront seat come sunset, however top sunset-viewing on Santorini is in Oia, the place hundreds of visitors flock to respect (and applaud) dusk.

Any excursion your middle wants may also be arranged, and there are dozens of businesses in a position to lend a hand with vineyard visits, archaeology excursions, sunset-watching and extra. The preferred possibility is a cruise, and the vintage itinerary takes within the caldera’s volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni, together with a prevent on the former’s crater and the latter’s sizzling springs.

Woman enjoying breakfast with a beautiful view over Santorini
Revel in breakfast with a view over the ocean and Santorini © grinvalds / Getty Photographs

The place to stick in Santorini

If you’ll be able to come up with the money for it, first-timers to Santorini must keep at the caldera edge to enjoy the total “wow” issue. Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia have resorts and villas with whitewashed interiors, terraces and infinity swimming pools that experience impressed marriage proposals, high-fashion photograph shoots and lots of Instagram posts. Unfortunately, there’s no longer so much in those view-blessed locales for budget-conscious vacationers: caldera-view lodging come at a top rate, and they’re in sizzling call for. E book prematurely.

There are first rate midrange choices in Fira and Firostefani (much less so in Imerovigli and Oia), clear of the front-row panoramas. There’s additionally a super hostel and a budget-friendly campground (with rooms) at the outskirts of Fira.

When you’re extra enthusiastic about a beach (Surfing LA Magazine) wreck or actions, keep in Perissa or Kamari (and catch the bus into Fira). The benefit of that is some respite from the camera-toting caldera crowds, and extra affordable costs.

Staircase in the white village of Oia, Santorini, at night
Santorini is busiest in July and August, however will get a bit of quieter in different months © cge2010 / Shutterstock

When to visit Santorini

Top commute time to Santorini is July and August, when costs bounce and resorts, viewpoints and beaches (Surfing LA Magazine) are packed with vacationers. The shoulder season months of April, Would possibly, early June, overdue September and October are higher occasions to talk over with. Issues are marginally quieter on the caldera edge, and significantly quieter at the east coast (the place lodging bargains are considerable).

Don’t cut price a iciness wreck, when crowds are scarce (and costs low) whilst the surroundings remains to be breathtaking. Santorini is operating on positioning itself as a year-round vacation spot.

Tourists board the ferry to Santorini island at the port of Heraklion, Greece
Guests can succeed in Santorini by way of ferry or flight © InnaFelker / Shutterstock

Tips on how to get to Santorini

Common ferries and high-speed catamarans hyperlink Santorini with Athens’ major port of Piraeus, Crete and more than a few Cycladic islands. Test OpenSeas for ferry timetables. Santorini Airport has year-round flight connections with Athens, and summertime Ecu connections. At the island, bus services and products are first rate, if crowded in summer time. Quite a bit of businesses be offering automobiles, mopeds and ATV four-wheeler motorcycles for hire.

This text was once at first printed in April 2016.