Santorini may be best known for its alluring inner curve, telling the ancient story of the destruction of the island formerly called Kalliste (meaning “the most beautiful one”) some 3,600 years ago by what is thought to be the most explosive volcanic eruption in the known history of the world. The island is renowned throughout the world for its beauty and the stunning views around this sheer coastline. The caldera is a safe haven for ships and boats and is a regular stop off point for cruise ships on their European itineraries. While many people choose to spend their vacation on Santorini centred on the inner curve of the caldera, this is notall there is to discover of Santorini. Less developed, quieter and perhaps more leisurely, much of the land formingthe outer curve of Santorini, running from the northern coast around the eastern shoreline and down to thesouthern tip, slopes comparatively gently down to sea level. For anyone who does not want to spend their entireholiday walking up and down flights of steep steps, or is confined to a wheelchair, this side of the island is perfect and there is more to explore than just the steep western coastline. Whether you fly in or come by boat for a vacation or your cruise ship stops off for a day, the best way to get to see as much of the island as possible is to hire a car and like this you really can have the best of both worlds. It’s a good idea to have all your arrangements in hand before your arrival on Santorini to ensure that your holiday goes smoothly and there are some good basic guidelines to follow which should ensure that it does. There is a booklet available online from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee which gives invaluable advice for disabled air travellers. Most travel agents will be able to give advice and support for disabled travelers and the cruise lines will have their own guidance for disabled holidaymakers available on request. Santorini car hire has a good range of vehicles, including models (such as the Peugeot Expert and the Fiat Doblo) suitable for disabled use, and can arrange free delivery and collection toany point on the island.
Great Places to Visit
Drive the caldera. There are the most stunning views across the caldera and along the amazing coastline of Santorini. With roads running the entire length of the inner curve, starting at Oia in the north and passing through Imerovigli, Fira and Megalochori until you reach Akrotiri in the south, you are guaranteed scenery to please your sense of beauty. Santorini is renowned around the world for its spectacular sunsets and you will have a grandstand view anywhere along the coast roads – all without having to leave your vehicle. At the north end of the island lies Paradisos with its black volcanic sand beach (also known as Baxedes) and the small fishing harbour which you can drive down to and walk around quite easily. Following the coast around, you can explore the small villages that mark the coast road, such as Ormos Armenis, Kolompos and Panagia Kalou; the road then veers inland towards the place of the windmills and on to Vourvoulos. There are small country roads aplenty to follow, discovering tiny villages, beautiful churches, great tavernas and the good food and hospitable welcome to be had wherever you find yourself. This is truly the way to meet the real Greece, away from the tourist hotbeds of the caldera. Kamari lies to the south of Santorini Airport on the east coast. The 2km long, black volcanic sand and pebble beach is easily accessible from the road, which runs parallel to it through the village, and there is plenty of parking available. Rebuilt following the 1956 earthquake, the village is quite well developed for tourism, with plenty to offer in the way of accommodation, restaurants, bars and shops and is famous for its jazz festival, which takes place annually for 3 days during July. The village has an outdoor cinema and you could sample some of the locally produced wines at the Gaia Winery or visit the wine museum located on the Kamari road.
Akrotiri is at the south end of Santorini on the south west coast and is one of the historical treasures of the island. Known as the “Minoan Pompeii”, Akrotiri was an outpost of Crete, settled as long ago as 3000BC. The first signs of habitation at the site date back to late Neolithic and there is evidence that people lived here during the early Bronze Age and during the Middle to Late Bronze Age, Akrotiri was one of the main ports in the Aegean, with links to mainland Greece, Syria, Cyprus and Egypt. The early town was abandoned during the latter part of the 17th century BC due to earthquakes and was subsequently buried beneath volcanic material. Although closed to visitors for several years, the ancient Akrotiri site re-opened in April 2012 and is wheelchair accessible. Don’t forget to take a look at the lighthouse while visiting Akrotiri, which is one of the oldest in Greece and last but most definitely not least drive up to the Venetian castle at the top of the village to see this fortification built during medieval times and later torn down by the Turks during their invasion of the island.