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Santorini

 
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Santorini

The shape of Santorini has changed over the years as a result of its volcanic past, an earthquake and the explosion of tourism.

It was originally a circular landmass before a huge volcano erupted in 1650BC sending the middle section of the island crashing into the sea forever.

The landscape these days is stark and dramatic, with villages clinging onto the sheer red and grey cliff-tops.

Note: Santorini is a mountainous island, therefore driving and coach journey's are not for the faint-hearted.

Cruise Ship Tip: Long queues can form for the cable car down to the harbour especially in the late afternoon. It may be worth opting for a guided tour up to Thira in the morning.

Flight time: Approx 3� - 3� hours from UK

Time difference: Summer: + 2.

Currency: Euro see Travel Tips

  • Small water park outside Perissa with a few water slides and two bathing pools. Not too exciting!
  • The ruins of ancient Akrotiri have recently been excavated from and preserved by, a thick blanket of volcanic ash and rock..
  • Boat trips to the neighbouring island of Palia Kamini  where visitors can wallow in hot mud baths - courtesy of the volcano.
  • Boat trips around the island combined with a trek to the mouth of the volcano - a 40 minute climb. Trainers are a recommended for climbing.
  • Oia (pronounced Ea) and its neighbour, Thira are magnets for sunset fans and attract huge crowds towards early evening for the 'show'. So spectacular is the sight it often draws a spontaneous round of applause. Drivers should always use the official car parks as the local police will hand out hefty fines.
  • Donkey ride to the monastery of Profitis Ilias

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Kamari

Kamari was rebuilt several years after the original village was destroyed by an earthquake in 1956 and what we see now is a ramshackle mish-mash of architectural styles, mostly designed around the tourist industry.

The town has spread along its two-mile beach with bars/tavernas and souvenir shops creating a colourful and lively seafront.

Wall-to-wall parasols and bodies compete for space on the beach during the peak months. The water here is beautifully clear although the shoreline shelves steeply in places and care should be taken when children are in the sea.

Wall-to-wall parasols and bodies compete for space on the beach during the peak months. The water here is beautifully clear although the shoreline shelves steeply in places and care should be taken when children are in the sea.

The volcanic black sand is extremely heat absorbant and therefore impossible to walk on barefoot. It is also a playground for stray dogs.

At night the town comes alive with music bars, clubs and 'live' shows but nothing too rowdy. English and German-owned bars are a rarity.

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Perissa

Built on the site of ancient Thira, Perissa is a fairly basic resort with a busy main road running through it.

Separated from its livelier neighbour, Kamari by a mountain (Mesa Vouno) it has thankfully prevented the two resorts meeting and combining to form a tourist Mecca.

Protected from the elements, the beach is the main attraction and the longest on the island.

The black sand absorbs heat making it uncomfortable to walk on barefoot, and it shelves steeply into the sea.

Perissa has a large selection of supermarkets and souvenir shops along the main street, with enough bars and restaurants to provide a fortnight's worth of variety. Tavernas closest to the beach tend to have slightly higher prices.

Many of the smaller roads around the resort are unlit at night and a torch is recommended.

Fira/Thira

The attractive, white-washed capital of Santorini (see photo top) stands perched on a mountain in a precarious and picturesque way, hiding some rather barren countryside inland.

Fira or Thira is becoming more popular every year and in places has let itself succumb to tourism but without losing its charm and authenticity. Narrow, winding streets and magnificent views make up for its shortfalls.

Coaches and bus tours disembark close to the village but there is still a fairly arduous walk up to the village street with those picture postcard views. There are regular donkey rides to the top while a cable car provides the quickest mode of transport up to the village from the small harbour.

Prices in Fira are as steep as the climb up and because much of the trade is based on day-trippers and cruise ship guests, there are plenty of people willing to pay as a one-off treat.

Thira does not have a beach.

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