Santorini Holidays 2018 / 2019
Santorini, part of the Cyclades island group, is one of the most romantic and glamorous of the Greek Islands and one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Greece for 2018 / 2019 holidays. With cheap flights, a range of deals on classy hotels and lots to do packed into this charming Greek Island, you can see why Santorini holidays are so alluring.
An enormous volcano destroyed the island of Santorini four thousand years ago, causing most of it to collapse into a vast caldera now hidden beneath the Aegean Sea, leaving only a crescent-shaped strip of land visible. Whitewashed tumbles of houses are strung out along the caldera rim of Santorini, a towering lava-striped cliff, and offer some of the most unforgettable views of the sea. Santorini’s famed sunset views, impossibly picturesque villages, its multi-hued beaches and turquoise seas are complemented by a unique local cuisine, excellent wines and welcoming people. No wonder enchanting Santorini attracts one and a half million tourists annually.
If you want even more ideas for what to see and do on this beautiful Greek Island, take a look at these fifteen reasons to visit Santorini.
Most popular hotels in Santorini
Afroditi - Venus Beach Hotel & Spa
Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites
Mediterranean White Hotel
Antinea Suites & Spa Hotel
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Average flight time: 4h 5m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
The main commercial hub in Santorini is the string of towns perched dramatically on the edge of the caldera. Fira is the vibrant island capital, a tumble of cubic houses. Beyond it is Firostefani, followed by Imerovigli which stands at the highest point and is known as the ‘Balcony of the Aegean’ for its tremendous views. The two towns are linked by a path, which takes about 30 minutes to stroll. At the northern tip of the caldera’s edge is the chi-chi enclave of Oia, loftily set above a tiny port and also blessed with breathtaking views of Santorini.
The highest village on Santorini is Pyrgos, which was the capital until the 19th century and is still crowned by a handsome and substantially intact castle. It’s a lively little spot, packed with restaurants and cafes, and also enjoys sweeping views across Santorini and out to sea. Few ancient ruins have survived the volcanoes that have devastated Santorini over the centuries, but in Akrotiri you can admire the remains of a Bronze Age Minoan settlement. Finds from the excavation are displayed in the excellent Museum of Prehistoric Thera. (Thira was Santorini’s name in Classical times, and its official name is currently Thira.)
The curious lava beaches of Santorini are also a big attraction of Santorini holidays, although they are quite unlike the golden sand you’ll find on other Greek islands. The beaches on the east coast of Santorini feature dark basalt sand, while those on the south of Santorini (Red Beach in particular) are famous for their multi-coloured sands. There are water sports galore, but scuba diving and snorkelling are especially popular. The coastal resorts of Kamari and Perissa have a buzzing nightlife and a score of restaurants.
Inland, you can explore traditional villages and vineyards (the island has a long wine-making tradition), and enjoy some of the fantastic hikes across Santorini.
Wine and Dine
Islanders claim the abundant fresh produce grown on Santorini is sweeter and tastier than anywhere else in Greece, thanks to the rich volcanic soil that made the historic island of Thira so alluring to its original settlers. Food will be a big part of your Santorini holidays, so prepare your bellies. Local Santorini tomatoes, fava beans, white aubergines, capers, cucumbers and other veggies form the basis for lots of delicious recipes, including Domatokeftedes (tomato fritters), poulia yemista (stuffed courgette flowers), and Santorini salad (a Greek salad topped with the local chlorotyri cheese). Seafood, as you might expect from a Greek Island, features prominently on menus, along with rabbit and cured pork.
The regional wines also benefit from the volcanic soil, and Santorini’s wineries produce some excellent crisp, dry white wines from the indigenous assyrtiko grapes. Rosé and red wines are also available. Don’t miss the vinsanto, a sweet, amber-coloured wine that has been produced here for centuries. You could also try the local ‘Donkey’ beer, which is brewed on Santorini.
Santorini doesn’t offer major theme parks or much in the way of glitzy attractions like other parts of Greece, but it does offer life’s simple pleasures in spades – perfect for enjoying with the family on Santorini holidays. Kids will marvel at the volcanic sand, and enjoy splashing about in the crystal-clear sea on the beaches of Perissa, Kamari and Monolithos. There are fantastic boat trips around Santorini, which will keep kids gripped with fascination.
Then there is the amazing panoramic path that links the villages from Fira, Firostefani and then Imerovigli: Imerovigli is where everyone gathers to watch the sunset and applauds when the sun slips over the horizon, which kids always enjoy. Older kids will enjoy the opportunities for snorkelling and other water sports across Santorini, and might enjoy the lively cafés and shops of Fira. If you want to introduce them to Santorini culture, take them to visit the ancient ruins of Akrotiri.
You could also take in the charming Lignos Folklore Museum in Fira, the capital of Santorini, which has a reproduction of a 19th-century cave house and displays of local crafts. Eating out with the family is a pleasure on Santorini: the locals dote on children, and almost all kids enjoy Greek cuisine.
Action and Adventure
One of the most satisfying adventures on Santorini is the hike along the caldera’s edge from Fira to Oia. This takes around 4 hours, and, if you time it right, you can arrive in time to take the steep zig-zag path down to the little port of Ammoudi to enjoy a delicious supper in one of the harbourfront taverns. There are scores of great hiking routes across Santorini, or you could rent a mountain bike for some off-road biking.
Santorini is one of the best diving destinations in Greece, with a fabulous marine landscape that includes submerged caves to explore. Take a cruise around the caldera lake and you’ll be taken to some of the best, hidden swimming spots, as well as being able to enjoy dramatic views of the little white villages strung out like icing sugar. A visit to the volcanic island of Palia Kameni includes a chance to take a tip in natural hot springs.
Life's a Beach
Santorini’s beaches are not the golden strands found on other Greek Islands, but remarkable stretches of black and red volcanic sand. The most visited on Santorini holidays are Kamari and Perissa, which, like most of the island beaches, are on the east coast. Perissa and Kamari are the two best equipped, with sun loungers, lifeguards, facilities for water sports and plenty of tavernas and restaurants within easy reach. Perissa and Kamari are stunning, dark sand beaches fringed by cliffs, and the sea is blissfully clear – ideal for snorkelling.
Perivolos adjoins Perissa and has much the same range of amenities, plus scores of lively bars. You'll find that Perivolos, Perissa and Kamari are the places to be for the island's beach parties and buzzing after-dark scene.
Further north, Monolithos beach is one of the best for families, with finer sand than elsewhere on Santorini and shallow waters. Monolithos is split into two beaches, one with shallower waters great for kids, and the other half with deeper waters for adults. Vlichada beach is also known as ‘moon beach’ for its surreal rock formations, which resemble a lunar landscape. Catamarans depart from here to explore Santorini.
Santorini’s most spectacular cove is Red Beach (Kókkini Ámmos). The sand is a spectacular vivid red, and the bay is framed by ochre cliffs.
Near Oia, there are the little sandy coastlines at Baxedes and Kouloumbos: Baxedes has lovely views and Kouloumbus has a small taverna.
The island capital of Fira is where most of Santorini’s nightlife is concentrated, with everything from traditional bars where you can catch some live Greek music to jazz bars and lavish nightclubs.
There are more fun nightspots in the popular seaside resorts of Kamari, Perissa and, in particular, Perivolos, which attracts a younger crowd. Some of the bigger clubs in Perivolos have indoor and outdoor dance floors, and you can expect the party to last most of the night in Kamari and Perissa. In the peak season, beach parties are organised in many of the larger resorts.
For a more relaxed and sophisticated vibe, head to Oia, perched vertiginously on the northern tip of Santorini, which has several intimate cocktail bars. The hilly towns of Imerovigli and Firostefani provide breathtaking views to enjoy a drink with.
Santorini’s famous sunsets and picture-postcard villages are the perfect backdrop for a romantic holiday with your partner. No wonder it’s such a popular honeymoon destination. Oia is the most beautiful and romantic of all the sunset viewing points, its sinuous whitewashed streets dotted with taverns and cocktail bars that ooze charm.
The walking path that links Fira with other towns offers panoramic views and is a deeply romantic thing to do as the sun is setting. The beaches are spectacular, particularly the famous Red Beach, which enjoys stunning views.
You could also tour Santorini vineyards, or take a cruise out to the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni, which include a stop at the hot springs. And if you like nightlife, you’ll find plenty of fantastic clubs in the island capital of Fira, or if you prefer, the coastal resorts of Perissa, Kamari and Perivolos.
Fira is home to some excellent museums, including the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (Thira, Santorini's local name), which contains well-displayed finds from Santorini's ancient Minoan settlement. The second of the town’s two archaeological museums contains some fine Classical pottery and sculptures. The delightful folklore museum has a recreation of a 19th-century cave house, which explains how the houses were built into the rock in order to protect them from the sun and wind. The ancient site of Akrotiri enjoys a sublime setting and reveals the remains of a Bronze Age settlement that was completely destroyed by the devastating eruption that occurred around 1620 BC. You can also visit the ruins of castles and watchtowers built across Santorini by the Venetians, notably in Oia, Pyrgos and Emporio.