You Should Know: Santorini, Greece
Santorini is one of those places that leaves you breathless and in awe upon experiencing it’s beauty for the first time.
I remember when I first laid eyes on a picture of what I now consider one of the most beautiful places on earth, I could not help but stare with mouth ajar. It simply blew me away that there was a place on earth this gorgeous!
Santorini is a volcanic Island group at the central south end of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea (Greece). The island group of Santorini is the most well-known and active volcanic centre of the Hellenic Volcanic Arc in the south Aegean Sea. It is a very complex stratovolcano dominated by a large, sea-flooded caldera created by several large explosive eruptions.
Santorini, also called Thira, is located about 120 miles southeast from mainland Greece. Today, as a popular tourist destination, Santorini is renowned for its spectacular sea-filled volcanic caldera sourrounded by steep colorful cliffs.
There are several villages on Santorini island including Oia which is regarded as the most charming place on the island, Fira which is the main town with amazing views of Oia, and Pyrgos which is the highest point on the island with picturesque monasteries and streets.
The village of Oia is on the northern tip of the island and is a very popular site because of it’s amazing cliffs, beautiful cobblestone roads and breathtaking views at any time of the day, but particularly as the sun sets.
Some random facts about Santorini
– The island of Santorini has changed names a few times through history. Initially it was called Stroggyli (which means “round”) because of the shape of the island. Under the Phoenicians, the name was changed to Kallisti (which means “the very best”), and finally it got the name Thira after its first ruler
– Greek is the official language, and while it is possible to find English speakers in tourist areas, it’s also a good idea to bring a phrasebook or dictionary
– Fira is the largest town on the island and it also the capitol town. It is known for its great shopping, bars and nightlife including clubs and traditional Greek dancing
– There are all kinds of beaches in Santorini, and with different colors, for instance, White Beach, Red Beach and Black Beach
– You are in Greece, so of course, Gyro places are everywhere in Santorini. You’ll never go hungry
– Santoríni is regarded as one of the safest places on earth and is relatively crime free. In fact, in contrast to most European destinations, you are quite unlikely to be pick-pocketed in Santorini
Want to Go?
How to get in
Santorini (Thira) National Airport (IATA code – JTR) is the main airport for domestic and international flights to Santorini.
Getting to Santorini isn’t cheap, but also not too expensive (comparatively speaking); flights will run you about $1200+. The good thing is, with direct flights to Athens from NYC, getting to Santorini needs not be an hassle. However, some thought should be put into how to plan the itinerary to get the most value for your money. For instance, a round trip economy class flight from JFK to JTR on Delta Airlines in September is coming up to well over $4000 when priced as a straight through itinerary. It flies direct from New York to Athens, then from Athens to Santorini. However, when priced as separate itineraries, you are able to get the same nonstop round-trip flight from JFK to Athens for $1450, then another round-trip from Athens to Santorini for just $184 on Aegean Air – a savings of more than $2500.
If you do not mind two connections however, there are several options to get from JFK to Santorini including Air Berlin with stops in Dusseldorf and Vienna for $1296 (direct flight from Vienna to Santorini) or on Iberia with stops in London and Barcelona for $1397 (direct flight from Barcelona to Santorini).
If you instead fancy getting into Santorini by sea, there are also high speed ferries to Santorini from Athens Piraeus 2-3 times a day which takes about 4.5 hours and costs around $55.
Hotels and accommodations
There is no shortage of hotel options on the island. Accommodations in Santorini are comparatively priced with most European island destinations and a 4-star hotel will run you between $150 and $250 for standard rooms per night. However, there are some villa and apartment options that one can get at stunningly cheap prices, such as the Galatia Villas in Fira town, a 3-star property for just around $73/night.
If you are celebrating a special occasion such as a wedding, honeymoon, a milestone birthday, or are just in a splurge and treat yourself mode, check out the stunning 5-star+ properties on the island such as the Mystique Resort Santorini, a Starwood luxury collection property, where you would be lucky to find rooms for less than $700/night.
Greece is a part of the Schengen Agreement. Thus, U.S. and Canadian citizens may enter Greece for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Stiff fines may be imposed for overstaying the 90-day period. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of your stay. You may also need to demonstrate at the port of entry that you have sufficient funds for your trip and that you have a return airline ticket.
Quick Travel Tip
To get the most value out of your vacation, opt to vacation in the fall and spring seasons which are known for warm weather – though very few tourists take advantage of it. You can find some great deals on prime hotels if you avoid the summer crowds.
Now that I have sufficiently whetted your appetite (and mine) to pack your bags and head for this very magical place on earth, well, what are you waiting for? Get to planning!
Have you been to Santorini? How was your experience? If not, would you like to go?
Disclaimer: Since I have not yet visited Santorini at the time of this posting, this post was written through my research and textbook knowledge only and not from in person experiences. This post is for informational purposes only. Please note, experiences may vary.