Santorini wins you over from the very first moment, blending as it does an otherworldly landscape that's unique in the Mediterranean, with picturesque scenes and top class infrastructure.
Newly weds choose it as one of the world's most romantic destinations. Nature lovers adore it for its 'explosive' volcanic landscape. Foodies worship it for its incredible food and outstanding wines. Fans of alternative activities love it for the diversity of extreme activities available [yachting, diving to caves, shipwrecks and sunken treasures, trekking and rock-climbing, horse riding on beaches, sea-kayaking or stand-up paddling]. Sporty types go crazy about it for the outstanding, unique events if offers such as the annual parkour championship and the Santorini Experience triathlon. And young people love it for the endless fun and intense night life they discover in the island's charming lanes.
Romantic, classy and gorgeous, Santorini is ideal for holidays all year round, though it is the summer months that see it abuzz with tourists. Having said that, in low season Santorini will show you another side to it; its authentic beauty, unparalleled Cycladic serenity and enchanting sense of calm.
The island covers an area of 76.19 km2 and resembles the shape of a horseshoe
Generally speaking, the coastline is steep and rocky, but there are quite a few pebble beaches, such as Red Beach and White Beach, as well as a few popular sandy beaches with on-beach services like Monolithos, Kamari, Perissa and Perivolos, that are ideal for families. It's easy to get to know the island through a series of short road trips, that will reveal prehistoric settlements, castles, monasteries perched on mountain tops, vineyards and wineries, plus tens of beaches.
The best and most cost effective way to explore Santorini is by road. So hire a car or minivan and explore the island independently. SANTORINI CAR HIRE's fleet has various types of vehicles, ideal for couples, young people, large or small groups and families, and our economical rates and reliability means you'll enjoy ideal excursions.
Try a small and flexible Hyundai Prime, Chevrolet Matiz, Fiat Panda, Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, Skoda Citigo or Suzuki Alto, for comfortable, dependable rides to the island's mountainous villages and coastal settlements, without having to worry about where to park or tight curves in the road. These cars literally fit anywhere.
One of the first routes to take starts from Fira heading to Pyrgos, the island's first capital with its impressive Castle (Kasteli), and then to the lovely village of Episkopi Gonia, where there is an important Byzantine church of that name, and ends at Kamari where you can enjoy a swim.
Travel in comfort with your family in a Peugeot 5008 or a Fiat Doblo 7 seater minivan as you take an enjoyable tour of the island, getting to know the Akrotiri archaeological site up close. It's one of the most important prehistoric settlements in the Aegean. Spend some time admiring the houses and amazing frescoes featuring the Saffron Gatherers, the Mistress of the Animals, the Boxers, the Antelopes, the Blue Monkeys and the Spring Fresco. And after that unique experience, head on to Kokkinopetra, or drive down to Red Beach for a swim.
If you have time, stop off for a while at Agios Nikolaos (at Balos Cove), northwest of Akrotiri village, or at Mesa Pigadia, a coastal village on the south side of Akrotiri accessible along a dirt track.
Larger groups can travel in comfort in a Fiat Doblo 7 seater minivan or Volkswagen Caddy Maxi that'll hold luggage, provisions, bikes, tents or surf boards, meaning they can relax and have fun all day long even on the most isolated of beaches on the Island's eastern and south-eastern sides, such as Vourvoulos, Exo Gialos, Monolithos and Kamari beaches. A cultural dip into Ancient Thera [9th century BC] on the south-eastern side of the island at the tip of Mesa Vouno at 369 m is definitely well worth it.
The Suzuki Jimny will easily get to you to Pyrgos, and the island's highest peak, Profitis Ilias at 567 m, where you can enjoy the panoramic view. As you drive through the wonderful villages located in the island's interior [37 minutes (14.5 km)] why not stop off at Karterados with its cave-houses, Mesaria with its old mansions, Vothonas, Exo Gonia with its amazing views and Episkopi Gonia with the Byzantine church of the same name and houses in the local architectural style.
With the Cycladic breeze cooling you as you drive a Peugeot 108 Cabrio, Peugeot 206, its larger cousin, Peugeot 207, or the much beloved Volkswagen Beetle, you'll experience the authenticity of the Cycladic landscape, as you take in the scent of the herbs and feel the warm sun caress your skin leaving you incredibly revived. A perfect drive with the rooftop down is the one along the length of the western shores, where you can enjoy the view of Palea and Nea Kameni and Thirasia islands, while a classic route to the north [39.8 km that takes 1 hour and 28 minutes without any stops] includes Fira [at an altitude of 260 m], Firostefani with its amazing view of the volcanic islands of Palea and Nea Kameni, the traditional village of Imerovigli [at an altitude of 300 m], the listed village of Oia and the nearby castle of Agios Nikolaos, and if you keep going, you can do a circular tour that includes the villages of Finikia, Tholos, Baxedes, Koloumbo, Pori, and Vourvoulos, which brings you back to Firostefani.
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Santorini has an extensive number of air and ferryboat connections
Fly here in just 35 minutes or sail from Piraeus. It takes 8 hours on a conventional new-generation boat and 5 hours on a high-speed boat. There are also regular connections to other Cycladic islands (Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Amorgos, Anafi, Ios, Syros, Tinos, Folegandros, Kythnos, Kimolos, Sikinos, Sifnos and Serifos), the Dodecanese (Karpathos), the Sporades (Skopelos) and Heraklion on Crete.
From Fira to: