Southernmost of the Cyclades, Santorini lies about 200 nautical miles from Piraeus and is one of the most romantic, breathtaking and beautiful spots in the world. Its about 7 to 11 hours from Mykonos depending on which type of ferry you opt for.
Ferries can be well worth the extra travel time and a good place to make friends before island arrival or one or two could fly if booked well in advance.
No where else in Greece can you find such a unique combination of magnificent views on an island setting. Santorini does receive a large amount of tourism but not "mass tourism" and has, thus far, not been ruined by over development. Still no way its your typical Greek island if such a thing ever existed.
Santorini or Thira is an excellent island choice for romantic couples and for singles looking for fun. Along with Mykonos, it's also one of the more expensive Greek Islands.
Consequently, Santorini offers a wider variety of hotel types and more sophisticated cuisine options (read as more expensive and not always worth it. See Santorini food).
Besides vacationing, many people from all over the world choose Santorini to Honeymoon, renew wedding vows or to get married.
The island is also popular with people with an interest in oeneology, geology, partyology and archeology. Cruise ships dock below Fira town, and passengers usually spend only a few hours on the island. The CALDERA is the crater left over from the eruption, a 'caldera view' lodging overlooks the crater and is where you want to stay. One with a pool. You will never forget it! Black sand is hotter than all get out and boring! You cant see into the water on Santorini's beaches like you can on Mykonos. Sure Go to the beach but get your priorities straight and pay more for the caldera view!;) You cant get that anywhere else. I promise its a feather in your travel cap!
'Saint Irene' (Santorini) island is 76 sq. km. in area and has 69 km of coastline. The population of ancient Thira, as it was known in antiquity, is currently thought to have been about 10,000. In modern times the Greek population fluctuates with the tourist seasons. Winter is generally not a good time to travel the Greek islands - to hunker down on one maybe but they get cold and windy! So many Greeks in the tourism industry head back to Athens and hope for even more business next year!
Although its often dry and wind-swept there is little potable water and most has to be imported. However, because a light mist forms practically every morning (above left), Santorini grows exceptional grapes and produces excellent wines. These grapes are grown to maturity close to the ground on unique trellises to protect them from the wind.
Santorini owes its fertility and crescent shape to the past activity of its active volcano whose most noteworthy eruption was about 1500 BC. The destructive force of that volcano, due to tidal waves and ash, was so great that many historians attributed to it, the demise of Minoan Crete (60km) and more certainly, closer civilized strongholds.
This theory, as it concerns Minoan civilization, is no longer considered likely (depending on who you read) as the dates don't seem to mesh. Since there is a distinct lack of human remains dating from the eruption, Santorini's residents at the time of the cataclysm appear to have had time to evacuate and move but we know not to where. Still others savants sell books propounding their theory that Santorini was the site of legendary Atlantis of which Plato speaks.
Whatever you personally are inclined to believe, remember only that Santorini is a unique spot in Greece and should be at the top of your list of places to visit when here. Like the Acropolis, it is unique!