Santorini : A Volcanic Island

Located in the southern Aegean Sea, is Santorini, a group of islands consisting of Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni in Cyclades. Named by the Latin Empire in the thirteenth century, the word Santorini is a reference to Saint Irene, an old cathedral in the village of Perissa. With a rich variety of landscapes and villages, Santorini has emerged as the most sought after romantic getaway in Greece. In fact, it has also earned a reputation as a wedding destination, attracting couples from all over the world.

The formation of Santorini is an interesting story. In around 1620 BC, a huge eruption caused the Cyclades islands to collapse. This was followed by intensive volcanic activity with twelve huge eruptions occuring every 20,000 years approximately. Thus, a large caldera was created in the volcano’s centre. Ultimately, the Aegean Sea came pouring into the resulting caldera, leaving the crescent-shaped volcanic rock which is now know as Santorini.

Today, it is probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea.

As far as the best time to visit Santorini is concerned, visitors should note that the period from December through March is characterized by colder temperatures, rain and winds. Thus, most of the hotels and guest houses are closed during this period. Between May and September, the air is usually hot and dry and there are usually plenty of visitors during this time in Santorini. Thus, travel enthusiasts suggest that April-June and September-October are the best months to visit Santorini islands.

In order to reach Santorini, the best option is to first go to Athens via flight. Numerous flights connect Santorini to Athens. From Athens to Santorini, the travelling time by flight is approximately 40 minutes. Another way to reach Santorini island is by ferry boat service from the port of Piraeus or Crete. The boat trip takes approximately 5 – 9 hours depending on the ferry and the ports of call.

Santorini island comprises numerous villages and towns which are perched on the cliff of the caldera, some of which are Fira, Firostefani, Akrotiri and Odia among others. Each of the village or town is stunning and has its own unique beauty to offer. When in Santorini, the must visit places, which should top your itinerary include:

• Fira: Perched on the edge of the caldera, Fira is the busiest and most commercial town of Santorini. Fira is an extremely picturesque town with a beautiful countryside where tradition still survives. Explore Fira on foot to discover its cave houses, vineyards and cathedrals.

• Akrotiri: A pre-historic Minoan town, your trip to Santorini would be incomplete without paying a visit to Akrotiri. Admire the elegant mansions and high finesse of the 17th century as you explore these well preserved ruins in volcanic ash.

Venture into Santorini’s beaches to enjoy the spectacular rock formations and deep blue waters. As for the sand type, you can choose from white, red or black sand. Kamari and Perissa are the black beaches here.

• Santorini is counted amongst the top destinations in the world for scuba diving. Get the chance to see the distinctiveness of the sea bottom and the bottomless depth of the caldera.

Santorini is a culinary’s paradise and a visit here would be incomplete without indulging your tastebuds in the lovely food here. Some famous traditional products like cherry tomatoes, white egg plants, fava, caper should definitely be sampled when in Santorini. Santorini is also famous for its wineries. Assyrtiko, Athyri, Aidani, Mantilaria and Mavrotragano are some of the distinctive varieties of wine that you can taste at the island’s wineries.

For a unique holiday experience, Santorini is the best place to visit!