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Greek Islands Travel

Santorini Island Guide

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Santorini is one of the hottest spots in the Mediterranean, geographically as well as touristically.

The ancient volcano (still active) boasts a fabulously dramatic holiday setting as well as providing the most astonishing sunsets.

Santorini is a favourite Greek Island for honeymooners as well as a regular port of call for scores of Mediterranean cruise ships, so it's not a quiet or secluded spot.

Located in the south Cyclades between Crete to the south and Paros to the north, thousands descend on Santorini for the glamour, the buzz and the beauty.

Villages of white cube building and blue domed churches creep along the tops of the near vertical western facing 300-metre high cliff that overlooks the massive water-filled caldera, all that's left of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption still smouldering away after more than 3,000 years.

Sulphur-spouting islets in the caldera centre help create spectacular sunsets with the caldera's cliffside villages creating ideal viewing platforms.

The immense popularity with holiday visitors has made its mark. The village houses have been rebuilt as upmarket cafes and clubs, interspersed with luxury fashion boutiques and high-end jewellery shops.

Expect to pay top prices for the best taverna tables and eye-watering bills in bars with the most sizzling views of Santorini's famous sunsets.

Cruise ships regularly queue to berth before disgorging thousands of passengers at the main port of Fira, who ascend the cliff in packed cable cars or tackle the hairpin path on the backs of long-suffering donkeys.

By mid-day the main clifftop villages of Fira, Imerovigli and Oia are heaving with photo-snapping tourists soaking up the scenery and burrowing around the boutiques.

Holidaymakers looking for a beach must head to the east coast, away from the glittering clifftops, and they may be disappointed; these are not the best beaches in the Greek islands.

The black and grey volcanic sand is gritty underfoot and soaks up the summer heat to reach furnace-like temperatures with 14 hours of daily sunshine in July and an average high of 29°C in August.

The most popular beaches Kamari, Perissa and Perivolos, are sprayed with expensive sunbeds and backed by seasonal beach tavernas, most blasting out ear-drumming music throughout the day and well into the night.

There are less crowded beaches to the northeast and along the south coast but they are clothed in an unkempt and shabby indolence; wild and windswept in the north, long flat and featureless to the south.

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