Santorini – On the Cusp between Europe and Mythical Greece

Santorini is perhaps one of the more famous of the Greek islands. Part of a circular archipelago – the remnants of a gigantic caldera which once rained terror down on what was the civilized world at that time – Crete and the Minoan civilization, effectively bringing to an end, archaeologists and volcanologists believe, an entire culture with the resultant tsunami around 3600 years ago. Legend also has it that the single island which existed before the eruption was the location of Atlantis.

Certainly, you could be forgiven for thinking that Santorini does sit over the fabled land. Before being renamed by the Latin Empire in the 13th century after Saint Irene, the island was known as Kalliste – the most beautiful one. There can be few islands better named. Situated on the marine borders between the Mediterranean and Aegean, this lovely island surely has to contain the best elements of both.

Unless you are planning on being a complete couch (or beach) potato where you are staying, you will need a car to get around the island and take in the sights. You may have arrived on Santorini by car ferry, bringing your own vehicle and already have arranged international breakdown cover in case of an accident or mechanical failure spoiling your stay. There are quite literally hundreds of policies available, so shopping around will get you the best deal for you; making sure you get an English speaking helpline, hotel and onward travel cover is the minimum you should look for. Should you have arrived by plane or on foot by boat, Santorini Car Hire will be pleased to arrange a vehicle for you, either from the seaport, airport or from your hotel or apartment, and offer free delivery and pick up anywhere on the island. Hiring a car will include your insurance costs, with a choice of full cover or third party only. There is a good range of vehicles to choose from, from smaller vehicles if you are on your own or traveling as a couple, to larger people carriers for small groups.

Have Wheels Will Travel

Once you are mobile, there are numerous locations to visit on Santorini. Whether you want to relax on one of the dozen beaches the island has to offer, or are interested in exploring the island and discovering the many interesting locations and activities. Car hire is an excellent way of getting to see the sights and will give you the freedom to pick and choose where you want to go and how long you want to spend there, making your stay on the island really worthwhile, relaxing and enjoyable. You could visit the outdoor cinema at Kamari and visit the ancient ruins there; explore the ancient city of Akrotiri; visit one of the art galleries on the island – perhaps Mnemossyne Artists House at Oia or The Art of the Loom Gallery in Firostefani; or take a trip to Pyrgos to see the cultural village, showcasing the cultural history of Santorini.

There are numerous museums on the island, a surprising number considering the island’s size. Some are covered here, but not all. The Santorini Wine Museum at Kamari is worth a visit. The museum is located in a natural cave, 8m below ground and is labyrinthine in layout. Explore the history of local wine between the 17th and 20th centuries and experience the wine making process from vine to bottle through the chronologically arranged exhibits. For groups at harvest time, there is the opportunity to tread the grapes in the first stages of making the red, white and rose wines produced by the Koutsoyannopoulos family from the vineyard. The Museum of Pre-historic Thera, in the capital of Fira, is not by any standards a provincial museum and its collection of prehistoric art, including the Akritiri wall paintings, is definitely worth a visit. While in Fira, you might want also to pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum or the Megaron Gyzi Museum (housed in a 17th century mansion). Take a drive over to Oia and you will find the Naval Museum and the Museum of Musical Instruments, featuring a fine collection of instruments used from around 2800 BC up until the early part of the 20th Century. While you are travelling around Oia, don’t forget to visit the Byzantine castle ruins.

The Volcanic Arc

Those who think that Santorini is now a very extinct volcano may like to take a closer look at the ongoing volcanic activity. In the arc of the island, the largest remaining fragment of this ancient caldera, nestle like offspring the “new” islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni. Palia Kameni is the older of the two, being something under 2,000 years old, while Nea Kameni began its formation around 450 years ago, with the youngest lava present on the island being around 60 years old. There are panoramic views of the caldera driving from Oia at the north end of the island, following almost unbroken road all the way to Faros at the south end of Santorini. Take your camera with you to make sure you capture the stunning scenery as you explore the caldera at your leisure. Driving to one of the start points, Fira, Athinios or Oia, you can take a boat tour over to these young islands, enjoying an unrivalled sea view of the caldera and experiencing the hot springs at Nea Kameni.

Choosing Where to Eat

Needless to say, there are literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from, scattered across the island, and you are sure to find something to please your taste buds. Santorini is renowned for the distinctive flavours of its locally grown food with thanks to the volcanic soils in which much of it is grown. In keeping with Greek island cuisine, much of the menu is likely to comprise fish, with lamb and goat for the meat eaters amongst the group. With so many places to eat, you are not going to go hungry, but if you want to try a particular restaurant and you are staying during high season (early July to end August), you may want to think about phoning ahead and booking a table before you drive over from your hotel or apartment.

Santorini Car Hire’s website is full of useful information, including feedback on their services from previous clients, to help you to plan your stay on the island and they can be contacted either by telephone or by email if you have any queries. With an effective online booking system and offering some great rental discounts, Santorini Care Hire are also committed to offsetting their carbon footprint, planting a tree for every booking taken by them (in partnership with Plant-trees.org) and aiming to migrate to a full fleet of hybrid vehicles as cars need replacing.Santorini is perhaps one of the more famous of the Greek islands. Part of a circular archipelago – the remnants of a gigantic caldera which once rained terror down on what was the civilized world at that time – Crete and the Minoan civilization, effectively bringing to an end, archaeologists and volcanologists believe, an entire culture with the resultant tsunami around 3600 years ago. Legend also has it that the single island which existed before the eruption was the location of Atlantis.

Certainly, you could be forgiven for thinking that Santorini does sit over the fabled land. Before being renamed by the Latin Empire in the 13th century after Saint Irene, the island was known as Kalliste – the most beautiful one. There can be few islands better named. Situated on the marine borders between the Mediterranean and Aegean, this lovely island surely has to contain the best elements of both.

Unless you are planning on being a complete couch (or beach) potato where you are staying, you will need a car to get around the island and take in the sights. You may have arrived on Santorini by car ferry, bringing your own vehicle and already have arranged international breakdown cover in case of an accident or mechanical failure spoiling your stay. There are quite literally hundreds of policies available, so shopping around will get you the best deal for you; making sure you get an English speaking helpline, hotel and onward travel cover is the minimum you should look for. Should you have arrived by plane or on foot by boat, Santorini Car Hire will be pleased to arrange a vehicle for you, either from the seaport, airport or from your hotel or apartment, and offer free delivery and pick up anywhere on the island. Hiring a car will include your insurance costs, with a choice of full cover or third party only. There is a good range of vehicles to choose from, from smaller vehicles if you are on your own or traveling as a couple, to larger people carriers for small groups.

Have Wheels Will Travel

Once you are mobile, there are numerous locations to visit on Santorini. Whether you want to relax on one of the dozen beaches the island has to offer, or are interested in exploring the island and discovering the many interesting locations and activities. Car hire is an excellent way of getting to see the sights and will give you the freedom to pick and choose where you want to go and how long you want to spend there, making your stay on the island really worthwhile, relaxing and enjoyable. You could visit the outdoor cinema at Kamari and visit the ancient ruins there; explore the ancient city of Akrotiri; visit one of the art galleries on the island – perhaps Mnemossyne Artists House at Oia or The Art of the Loom Gallery in Firostefani; or take a trip to Pyrgos to see the cultural village, showcasing the cultural history of Santorini.

There are numerous museums on the island, a surprising number considering the island’s size. Some are covered here, but not all. The Santorini Wine Museum at Kamari is worth a visit. The museum is located in a natural cave, 8m below ground and is labyrinthine in layout. Explore the history of local wine between the 17th and 20th centuries and experience the wine making process from vine to bottle through the chronologically arranged exhibits. For groups at harvest time, there is the opportunity to tread the grapes in the first stages of making the red, white and rose wines produced by the Koutsoyannopoulos family from the vineyard. The Museum of Pre-historic Thera, in the capital of Fira, is not by any standards a provincial museum and its collection of prehistoric art, including the Akritiri wall paintings, is definitely worth a visit. While in Fira, you might want also to pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum or the Megaron Gyzi Museum (housed in a 17th century mansion). Take a drive over to Oia and you will find the Naval Museum and the Museum of Musical Instruments, featuring a fine collection of instruments used from around 2800 BC up until the early part of the 20th Century. While you are travelling around Oia, don’t forget to visit the Byzantine castle ruins.

The Volcanic Arc

Those who think that Santorini is now a very extinct volcano may like to take a closer look at the ongoing volcanic activity. In the arc of the island, the largest remaining fragment of this ancient caldera, nestle like offspring the “new” islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni. Palia Kameni is the older of the two, being something under 2,000 years old, while Nea Kameni began its formation around 450 years ago, with the youngest lava present on the island being around 60 years old. There are panoramic views of the caldera driving from Oia at the north end of the island, following almost unbroken road all the way to Faros at the south end of Santorini. Take your camera with you to make sure you capture the stunning scenery as you explore the caldera at your leisure. Driving to one of the start points, Fira, Athinios or Oia, you can take a boat tour over to these young islands, enjoying an unrivalled sea view of the caldera and experiencing the hot springs at Nea Kameni.

Choosing Where to Eat

Needless to say, there are literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from, scattered across the island, and you are sure to find something to please your taste buds. Santorini is renowned for the distinctive flavours of its locally grown food with thanks to the volcanic soils in which much of it is grown. In keeping with Greek island cuisine, much of the menu is likely to comprise fish, with lamb and goat for the meat eaters amongst the group. With so many places to eat, you are not going to go hungry, but if you want to try a particular restaurant and you are staying during high season (early July to end August), you may want to think about phoning ahead and booking a table before you drive over from your hotel or apartment.

 

Santorini Car Hire’s website is full of useful information, including feedback on their services from previous clients, to help you to plan your stay on the island and they can be contacted either by telephone or by email if you have any queries. With an effective online booking system and offering some great rental discounts, Santorini Care Hire are also committed to offsetting their carbon footprint, planting a tree for every booking taken by them (in partnership with Plant-trees.org) and aiming to migrate to a full fleet of hybrid vehicles as cars need replacing.

 

 

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