Remember that you are sailing into the huge crater of a still-active volcano. Cruise Passengers are brought to land with tenders (small boats), operated by the Santorini Boatmen Union
Passengers booked on the ship’s shore excursions are tendered at the ferry port of Athinios and take coach tours from there.
The remaining passengers will tender to the port of Skala below Fira, the capital of the island.
From there you can go up to Firá town for a steep and uneven flight of 600 steps on mule-back (7 Euro), or walking up or by cable-car (6 Euro one way), which cliff-top station is further from the center then the top of the stairs. Walking or mule-riding down, back to your ship, can be fun, if you feel up to it. If you do, wear sturdy footwear, it can get very slippery. When more ships are in port, the return cable car trip can be very busy with long queues!
Another fun way is to buy at the tender dock a 20 minute boat transfer to Ammoudi Port in Oia for 30 Euro, which includes a bus trip to Oia town, where you can spend a few hours, than take an half an hour bus trip to Fira.
Apart from a few stalls and lots of mules, there are few facilities until you reach the town on the cliff-top.
Please note: If there are many ships anchored off the coast and you are on one of the latest to arrive, a cruise organized excursion might be your best bet to make it to the top (Fira) of the island.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Everyone comes in search of the quintessential Santorini experience: to explore the narrow winding streets and whitewashed houses of the twin cliff-top towns of Thira and Oia, overlooking the deep blue waters of the caldera.
Human presences on the island seem to have existed since the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. The excavations at Akrotiri have confirmed that human activity on the island continued until the eruption of the volcano around 1500 B.C., which entirely buried the island beneath very thick layers of pozzuolona, At that point, all traces of human activity vanished from the island until the end of the 13th century B.C.
Santorini is one of the most magical islands of Greece. It is a barren, rocky island just opposite a volcano, with black and red beaches and towns situated on high cliffs offering breathtaking views and fantastic sunsets.
Santorini has a dramatic beauty as opposed to lush and green islands. The volcano is still active, and the last eruption was in 1950, causing an earthquake that destroyed many villages on the island.
The island's official name is Thira and its main town, Fira, is also the capital of the Cyclades islands. It is a cosmopolitan island and is therefore quite expensive. The locals live mainly off agriculture and tourism. The islands largest export product is soil; 2.000.000 tons a year are used all over the world, mainly to make concrete. The Suez channel was built with this concrete for example.
Beaches: Santorini main beaches have water sports. In general, Santorini is not the best place for children, since the beaches are stony and quite deep. There are also lots of currents and the waves can get very high. Kamari and Perissa are popular beaches with their beautiful surroundings and black sand. If you seek calmer beaches, it is better to go to Monolithos, Vlichada or Agios Georgios. For snorkeling visit Amoudi.
Santorini is quite a small island, and it is easy to get around. There are local buses to take you to most places, but of course you can also rent a car or a bike. There are also taxis on the island. The harbor where the ferryboats stop is connected to Fira and the rest of the island by a steep serpentine road. Driving up or down this road is quite a terrifying experience for anyone afraid of heights. You can also walk (almost 600steps) or take a somewhat cruel donkey ride all the way. There is also a cable car taking you straight to Fira.
Many operators at the tender port offer (boat)excursions.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
Oia (or Ia) Santorini: Oia, pronounced "ee-aa", is the
most famous of
all villages of Santorini. It is known throughout the world for its
quiet life and fantastic sunset, and is certainly the most beautiful
and picturesque village of Santorini. The village is also situated
on top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular view over the
volcano of Palia and Nea Kameni and the island of Thirassia. Oia is
situated on the north of the island, 11 km away from Fira. Taxis will
set you back around 15 euros, buses are another good alternative.
The bus station in Fira is near the Cathedral, at the far end of the pedestrian way from the cliff lift.
For approx. € 25 per person you can take a fast boat from Fira to Oia and back. You don't need to go up, but you remain down in the old port. It's well indicated. From there it's 20 minutes to Ammoudi Port in Oia. The bus from the port to the center of Oia is included and you have 1.5 hours to spend before turning back by bus to Fira.
From the bus terminal in Fira you can take a bus to Oia. The journey takes about 30 minutes and costs just € 1.80 per person (one way). You can purchase your ticket on the bus. The final stop in Oia is within walking distance from the center. You park even closer to the city center than the tour buses of the cruise lines.
Akrotiri is an ancient town that was buried when the volcano erupted 3500 years ago. Archeologists are still excavating it, but you can walk around in the little street quarters and see the buildings almost like they were back then. You'll be impressed by the modernity: the houses were two or three stories high, and they even had running water...
Santorini's shops - and especially those in Fira - will tempt you for sure. Taking a walk along the narrow cobbled streets of Fira, shop windows will definitely grab your attention. The first to catch your eye are the jewel shops that you will find along Ypapantis street, or "Gold Street" as it has been nicknamed. Not unduly, as this street is considered to be one of the biggest gold markets in Greece. Here you will find the most modern jewels designed by the most famous jewelers from both Greece and abroad.
Traditional dishes such as tomato balls, the Santorini salads, split peas in all their variations, white aubergine, stuffed round courgette's, omelets, cooked capers, fresh cheese, and local specialties including apoxti (a type of cured ham), sausages, wild rabbit with a cheese and egg sauce, brantada, sweet melitinia, and saffron bread rusks, all express the rich and varied cuisine of the island's culture.
A well stocked and very reasonable priced duty free shop is at the tender dock.
US Dollars often accepted, but the exchange rate is often not that great.
Language: Greek. English widely spoken.
At the tender dock is open free wifi, in town many cafes offer free internet if something is consumed.
Santorini web cams
Shopping hours are very liberal on Santorini.
Business holidays include New Year's Day (1 January), Epiphany (6 January), Lent (March; date varies), Greek Independence Day (25 March), Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday (March or April; dates vary), Labor Day (1 May), Holy Spirit Day (early June), Assumption (15 August), Ochi Day (28 October), Christmas Day (25 December), and Boxing Day (26 December).
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