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Cruises to Santorini, Greece help share the effortless beauty and history of the island with the world. Though it’s no longer a well-kept secret, Santorini’s charm cannot be diminished. The island’s multicolored structures pop against the blue-and-white buildings and the turquoise Aegean sea below. Less academic than Athens, quieter than summer party town Mykonos, Santorini is one of the most-visited destinations on any number of Mediterranean cruises, and for good reason.
Santorini’s cruise port was created when the island’s volcano erupted in 1650 BC. The port is located at the base of Fira, the capital city. When your Santorini cruise docks in Fira, you’ll take a small boat to the shoreline and then, in picturesque Greek fashion, make your way to the top of the island by either cable car, donkey, or on foot.
While you’re on a Santorini cruise, the island will show you its romantic, relaxed spirit. Explore the village of Oia, see the sunset from Amoudi Bay, or take a half-day excursion to Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni—two islands formed by volcanic eruptions—for a dip in their ancient, therapeutic hot springs.
Amoudi Bay is one of Santorini’s hidden gems, a tiny port on the northwest side of the island where tourists and locals intermingle for romantic evening walks along the bay’s rocky shores, or enjoy a drink and fresh seafood — like grilled octopus or a fried cheese dish called saganaki — at a variety of waterfront restaurants.
The village of Oia (pronounced Ia) is north of Fira, situated atop a sizable cliff. Oia offers a spectacular view of the island of Thirassia in the distance. While in Oia, you’ll find shops, taverns, restaurants, and attractions aplenty, from art galleries to the Maritime Museum, which memorializes the naval history of the area. Oia provides a glimpse into a bustling, traditional Greek village culture. Enjoy fresh fish and yet another unbeatable island view.
Kamari Beach is unique for its black sand and home to a famous beach resort. During the summer season, Kamari Beach is an incredibly popular destination for tourists because of its water sports, vibrant resort nightlife, and the ease of being right at the waterfront while surrounded conveniently by bars, nightclubs, and cafes.
One of the most unique wineries you’ll ever visit, Venetsanos Winery was literally carved into the cliffs just above the port of Athinios. The winery was designed and built in 1947 and active until 1967. After a 47-year hiatus, the winery became operational again in 2014. Because of the steep cliffside, the winery was built to accommodate Santorini’s one-of-a-kind environment. Note there are four different levels for each stage of the wine-making process. The incline of the soil created a natural flow of wine from one level to the next.
You’ll not only see the the ancient Minoan site of Akrotiri from Oia’s hilltop, but it’s also a fantastic vantage point from to witness a Santorini sunset. While visiting these ancient ruins, you’ll discover a rich history about the Akrotiri settlement, which was destroyed during the 16th century BC and buried in volcanic ash—similar to how the site of Pompeii in Italy was preserved. As a result, many objects and frescoes were well-preserved by the burial and excavated in 1967.
It wouldn’t be Greece without another impressive formation of ancient ruins, and that’s what you’ll find at Skaros Rock north of Fira. Skaros used to be the capital of Santorini until the 18th century, when Fira claimed capital status due to its close proximity and accessibility to the sea. Today Skaros is a popular site for hiking and photography. Don’t forget to bring your hiking shoes to reach the formation of Skaros summit with ease.
Take a short trip—about 30 minutes from the port of Athinios—to the island of Nea Kameni (which translates to “new burnt island’ in Greek) for a dip in its famous hot springs. The island is uninhabited and a protected scientific site. The last eruption on Nea Kameni happened in 1950. Don’t miss your chance to climb a gravel path to reach the top of the crater.
Santorini offers not only plentiful restaurants and taverns tucked away in every corner and alleyway, but also specific regional dishes made in homes and restaurants across the island. Try a few Santorini delicacies while you’re on the island like fava or melitinia. Fava is a creamy, split pea purée, served warm with lemon and olive oil. Fava is an ultimate comfort food and a timeless classic on the island. Or try melitinia, a traditional dessert in the form of a sweet cheese pie. It’s typically served at Easter but also can be found at various bakeries on Santorini. Many dishes at restaurants may incorporate a special variety of eggplant called white eggplant, which thrives in the volcanic soil on the island. White eggplant is sweeter to the taste than its purple counterpart.
Here are a few spots you can try during your trip to Santorini:
Address: Santorini, Greece, 84700, P.O. 87
Just 20 minutes from the Athinios port, Selene is an award-winning restaurant that offers more than just tasty dishes—they also provide cooking classes, wine tastings, and a rotating seasonal menu.
Address: Oia (Ia), 84702, Santorini
In Oia you’ll find this small, intimate restaurant located in an authentic Santorini captain’s house. A roof garden makes 1800 great for date night, and they have a sizable wine cellar for all palates.
Santa Irini Bakery
Address: Main Road Perissa, Perissa 84703, Greece
Buy a Greek coffee and a pastry or two (or three) while at Santa Irini bakery, a top-rated bakery in the area. Try their chocolate filled croissant and any number of traditional Greek sweets while you’re there.
The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years. In fact, the first settlement in Ancient Greece dates back to the Paleolithic era (11,000-3,000 BCE). The foundations of western civilization saw their start in the Classical Period (6th - 4th century BCE), where democracy and the city-state (polis) would have an indelible impact on the history of the world.
Santorini is just one island in a complex of Greek islands called the Cyclades, located in the Aegean Sea and south of the mainland of Greece. Today, Santorini is considered a caldera, or a large crater formed as a result of a substantial volcanic eruption. The oldest signs of settlement in Santorini date back to the Neolithic period, and its settlement impacted the whole of Greece, even influencing major migrations. During the Hellenistic period, the area became an important port city and naval base, a center for both trade and military operations of the day.
Food in Santorini reflects the Mediterranean environment, but the area’s volcanic soil and sparse rainfall makes for unique crops. Whether through its fair climate and Mediterranean weather, depictions of the island in film and photography, or its signature painted houses at the top of the caldera, Santorini has captured our culture fascination as a destination where one can be fully immersed in Greek culture both ancient and modern.
Santorini’s cruise port—called the port of Skala, or the old port —is located at the base of the Caldera Cliffs in Fira, the capital of Santorini. Because the island doesn’t have a large cruise terminal, passengers are brought ashore via small boats. It’s a truly unique experience for visitors in one of the most serviced ports in the world. From the Skala pier, you’ll find a few duty-free shops and restaurants. During the summer season, tours are offered to the volcano and hot springs from Skala.
Then, you have three options for reaching the top of the island: take the cable car available from the pier, take a mule ride for about €8, or, for a little exercise, hike up around 600 steps to the top.
While on cruises to Santorini, Greece, use one of these available transportation methods:
Locals have used donkeys as a mode of transportation since ancient times. Due to the uneven landscape of the island, donkeys are highly used in the routes from the old port of Fira up to the town, and from the port of Ammoudi to Oia.
The central bus station is in Fira, the island’s capital, and is the cheapest way to get around in Santorini. The buses cover routes around the island and to most tourist destinations.
Find taxis available outside the port and in the central squares of Fira and Oia. Though taxis are a quicker option, they tend to be more expensive than public transport.
Car or bike rental
Renting a car or motorbike is an exciting way to explore the island on your own. There are many car rentals agencies all around Santorini; however, booking in advance is recommended, as demand is very high during peak season in Santorini.
Boat or ferry
Excursion boats take passengers from the old port of Fira to the island’s volcano (called Palea Kameni), the hot springs, and the small island of Thirassia. Cruise and excursion boats depart from the old port of Fira, while ferries depart from the port of Athinios, about five miles south of Fira.
Bazaar - Fira
Address: 84700 Thíra, Greece
Bazaar is centrally located on the main street in Fira, offering boutique fashions perfect for an unforgettable summer night out in Santorini. Whether you’re looking for a handmade bag or menswear, dress to the nines with the help of the fashions at Bazaar.
Oneiro Jewelry - Fira
Address: Thera 847 00, Greece
The owner, George, creates jewelry to embody the spirit of Santorini, catering to customers who are searching for that perfect statement piece at an affordable price by a local artisan. Staff can also custom-design something just for you at this highly-rated shop.
Spicy Shop Boutique - Fira
Address: Fira 847 00, Greece
This boutique has a special focus on Greek designers. Their motto? “Be chic...Wear Greek,” A worthwhile stop for travelers looking to sport a new outfit from the island.
The Euro is Greece’s primary form of currency. While credit cards are widely accepted, it’s recommended to double check before using a credit card. Tipping taxi drivers isn’t common, but it’s polite to do so when given great customer service, and a typical percentage would be 10% of your fare. It’s also customary to leave some Euros behind at a restaurant if the service or meal was very satisfactory. If there is no service charge included in your bill, a 10% tip is customary. Finally, if you’re taking a tour in Greece, leave an additional tip of €5-€10 for your tour guide.