Celebrity's Millennium Tendering in Santorini, Greece
Language and Currency
What is Santorini Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A valid passport is required but no visa is required for stays under 90 days
The official language of Greece is Greek, but some English is spoken in the tourist areas. Greece has accepted the euro as its formal currency. US dollars may be accepted on a limited basis, but be aware the exchange rate that you will get will be much lower than the published rate. ATMs are widely available and this is the best way to get euros.
Thirassia Volcano, Santorini, Greece
Santorini, believed by some to be the site of the “Lost Continent of Atlantis”, is the southernmost Cycladic island in the Aegean. In fact, Santorini owes its existence to a volcano whose last huge eruption dates back 3600 years ago. If you see a breathtaking picture of the Greek Isles in a magazine or ad, chances are it is a scene from this most beautiful island. The world’s largest caldera, with its magnificent contrast of colors, imposing landscape, exciting entertainment, rich history (dating back to the Bronze Age), and arid climate make this one of the most popular vacation destinations in the region. Santorini is comprised of 13 villages, covering a 73 sq. km area. Within these villages there are only 2 principal towns.
A Typical Santorini Village Clinging to the Caldera Edge
Fira, the capital, clings to the edge of a cliff (actually the rim of a crater). In the early evening, corridors of light and sound, produced by the fading sun, shadows on whitewashed houses, chants of prayers resounding from the Orthodox Cathedrals and a wild bar scene contrast with the dark sea below to provide a unique and unforgettable experience. Interesting barrel-vaulted cave houses (built for fortification against volcanic activity) dot the landscape.
View of Oia, Santorini, Greece
The second major town, Ia (or Oia), is perched at the summit of the caldera, on the northern tip of the island. This picturesque village was devastated by an earthquake in 1956 and has been completely rebuilt. Buildings and tree trunks are painted white every year and stand-out against the backdrop of rust color layers of rock, earth and volcanic ash. Ia is comprised of basically 2 streets, one with traffic and an inland pedestrian lane paved with marble and lined with jewelry shops, restaurants and bars. A volcano, black sand beaches and amazing architectural sites await the visitor to Santorini.
Santorini Sunset and Fira
Santorini is very dry, with days of unbroken sunshine. From April to October temperatures range from 62°- 86°F with an average temperature of 73°. Although the days are bright and sunny, evenings can be cool, so a sweater or jacket is advisable. Temperatures drop a bit between November and March, when the average temperature ranges in the mid 50’s. May, June and September are the absolute best months to visit. July and August can be exceedingly crowded and are also known as the “meltimi” (very severe, strong Aegean winds) season.
Ship Anchored off Fira, Santorini
Ships tender at the Port of Skala. You will find local tour companies offering both land and sea excursions here, as well aas several stores for last minute shopping.
The Port of Skala, Santorini, Greece
(Note the Donkey Staging Area)
Tenders will drop you along the shores of the caldera, at the foot of the cliffs.
Riding a Mule Up to Fira, Santorini
Interestingly, at this point, there are 3 choices to reach the town of Fira: cable car, donkey ride, or a very rough 45 minute walk uphill, on a path you will share with the mules.
Santorini Cable Cars
Cable cars run every 15 minutes from 7:30 am – 9:00pm. I suggest you take a mule up and the cable car down. Both cost about 3.50 euro.
Fira's Odos lpapantis (Street of Gold)
In Fira shopping is located along the main street, Odos Ipapantis (“Gold Street”), beginning at the north end of the cable car station. However, there is abundant shopping along the streets a run parallel and also intersect Odos Lpapantis. In Ia, shops line both sides of the pedestrian lane, Odos Nikolaos Nomikou, (actually a continuation of the same street in Fira).
A Typical Fira Shopping Alley
As the name “Gold Street” implies, jewelry, jewelry and more jewelry is sold in Santorini, which stands to reason, since world-famous, Santorini goldsmiths are experts in their field. Be aware, however, the further north you travel along the street the higher the prices. Perhaps one of the most unique finds can be found in a jewelry store in Ia, where insects are imbedded in the amber. You will also find pottery and museum replicas, as well as the requisite souvenir shops.
A Typical Fira Shop
One will also find wonderful pieces of art painted on the spot by local artists, clothing unique to Santorini, Santorini Wine (taste it first to make sure that you want to buy it) local pottery and handicrafts and other unique items and souvenirs.
There is so much to see I would make sure you get an early start and plan your route ahead of time. Once you traverse the cliff to Fira from the tender port, I would suggest you tour the island and the archaeological sites first and save your stroll around Fira for later in the day.
You can elect to use the excellent public bus system (Buses leave every hour for Akrotiri and every 30 minutes for Oia, Kamari and Perissa), hire a private car and guide, or rent a jeep or moped (all readily available in Fira). One word of caution, however, regarding moped rentals: Although the roads are relatively good, they are narrow, winding and somewhat treacherous as shoulders can give way on steep slopes. There are numerous moped/motorcycle accidents, so use this mode of transportation only if you are a seasoned motorcyclist. If you are planning to do a lot of sightseeing, it is cheaper to hire a car and guide, rather than just planning to grab a cab from the taxi stand south of the main square in Fira for a simple drop-off, then hiring a different cab along the route, as anywhere outside of Fira there is a pick-up fee.
Akrotiri, Santorini, Greece
Now that you have chosen your vehicle of choice, head south to Akrotiri. This is the most important prehistoric settlement found anywhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. Known as “Prehistoric Pompeii”, it was once an ancient Minoan city that was destroyed by a volcano in 1522 B.C. Protected under a tin roof, only a small route of the excavation site is available, but a definite “must see”. While in Akrotiri, head to the southern end of the island village for a glimpse of the Red Beach, named for the unique color of the sand and the hill behind it. Small red volcanic pebbles create a very unusual red glow. By now, some real beach time and lunch may be in order, so it’s on to Kamari Beach.
Kamari Beach, Santorini
This resort beach is definitely the most popular on the island and sports numerous restaurants, bars and hotels. Try one of the locally grown fish/seafood dishes, tomato croquettes (made from unusual, small delicious island grown tomatoes), or one of the numerous fava (native yellow split peas) creations, along with a local white wine. This is probably a good place to mention, that if you have any extra time, a visit to one of the local wineries is another excellent excursion (Boutari Winery is the largest). Santorini is noted for its excellent dry white wines and heavier dessert wines.
Ancient Thira, Santorini, Greece
Now that you have taken your break, it is time to move on to the next major archeological site: Ancient Thira. A paved, but very steep road leads from Kamari up to the site of Hellenic, Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine ruins. The city is divided down the middle by the Sacred Way and agoras, public baths, etc. are all on display. Not only are the ruins awesome, but incredible views of the neighboring islands can be seen from this vantage point. After visiting the major historical sites return to Fira in the late afternoon for an incredible stroll around the town. The lights and sounds at this time of day are mesmerizing. Do some shopping as you head north on the footpath to Ia. If you are physically able and have the endurance, I highly recommend the 10 km walk from Fira to Ia. The path follows the edge of the Caldera and is incredible. Just make sure you are on the footpath or at Lontza Castle (on the western end of Oia) at sunset – spectacular! Finally, return to Fira and sample the exuberant, non-stop nightlife, before departing the island.
Yes, a stroll in Fira along Odos N. Nomikou, watching the sunset in Ia and a visit to Akrotiri and Ancient Thera are all high on my “Must Do” list.
Typical Fira Restaurant with a View to Remember
In Santorini there are over 300 restaurants to choose from and just as many bars – take your pick. However, don’t leave the island without sampling some of their excellent dry white wine or tomato croquettes (not your ordinary tomato). Although I have not personally had the pleasure of the experience, if you are looking for “the happening spot on the beach”, I have very trusted friends who rave about Dolphins Beach Bar on Kamari Beach. Let me know if you agree.