Santorini perfectly illustrates why tourists adore the Greek islands. The vivid hues of the sea and sky are awe-inspiring, the climate is consistently warm and the atmosphere is unhurried.
The island may be tranquil today, but its beginnings were very different. A massive volcanic explosion occurred about 3,600 years ago. This “Minoan eruption” formed the crescent-shaped basin, or caldera, now recognized as Santorini. The island gets its name from the 13th-century Venetians, who dedicated it to Saint Irene. In 1956, Santorini was devastated by a major earthquake and much of its ancient architecture was destroyed. However, rebuilding has been considerate of historic style.
Firá is Santorini’s capital; it’s a major port of call for cruise ships, and one of the best spots for food and nightlife. Picturesque Oia is one of Santorini’s oldest villages. Based at the north tip of the island, Oia is the perfect place to snap pictures of Greece’s iconic whitewashed houses. The spectacular sunsets here have inspired many an artist. In the village of Pyrgos you will see blue-domed churches, old-fashioned tavernas and houses, and a castle dating back to the 15th century.
There are plenty of beaches to visit on Santorini. For comfortable sunbathing, head for the black-sand strips of Perivolos or Perissa. Mesa Pigadia and Pori are good spots to see dramatic rocky coastline.
Santorini’s climate is pleasant throughout the year. Its average daytime temperature is 84 F (29 C) in the summer and 59 F (15 C) in winter. Parts of the island are heavily frequented by tourists in the peak season of summer.
Santorini is served by an airport located on the east side of the island. A decent road network links most major sites. Because Santorini is so small, it’s possible to see most of it affordably by rental car or taxi.