This tiny Greek island is famous for one of the most beautiful views on earth.
Add in jumbled cliffside villages full of traditional blue and white architecture, dramatic black and red sand beaches, craggy cliffs and its own volcano, and it becomes clear that Santorini is an island unlike any other.
Arriving at Santorini Airport
Coming in to land on Santorini is an experience in itself, as the island (and the airport) feel impossibly small on approach. The airport is the only one on the island and also serves as a base for military aircraft. It's small and basic; you won't find coffee shops and duty-free at this little island hub, although limited arrivals mean that you should move through the airport pretty swiftly.
Many hotels on the island offer an airport collection service, which may be the easiest option. There will usually be some local taxis waiting outside, but these can quickly disappear when faced with a plane-full of new arrivals. There's also a bus service going to the island's capital, Fira (20 minutes away). While this is a super-cheap option at just €2 a ticket, there are only three to four departures per day, and the buses can be very crowded – often with standing room only.
Your other option is to hire a car, although you'll need to be a confident driver to cope with the winding island roads, crowded driving conditions (especially in Fira), and the local drivers who may take a less cautious approach than you're likely to.
Due to its diminutive size, Santorini has no train or metro service. The bus service is good, but don't expect it to necessarily run to timetable – you're on island time here. You'll also have a couple of more unusual modes of transportation available to you.
Santorini is a tiny island. So tiny, in fact, that you can walk its length from top to bottom in around five hours. This means that walking is usually a feasible way to get between attractions. And the island's wealth of hiking trails (often boasting incredible views) make it a pleasant option for anyone who enjoys a good stretch of the legs. Just be sure to pack your sturdiest boots, as the pathways can be muddy, stony and unstable.
There's a regular bus service running island-wide, although many journeys require a change at Fira bus station. At around €2 per trip, it's a cheap way to get around. Although it's not always comfortable, depending on the number of passengers. Buy your tickets on the bus.
There are a limited number of taxis running on the island, and prices for official taxis are reasonable. You'll find taxi ranks in Fira and Oia bus stations.
If you choose to hire a car in Santorini, booking before you travel will give you the best choice and peace of mind. Be aware that driving is on the right.
As Santorini is an island, water taxis are an option for some coastal journeys. For example, there's a cheap water taxi that runs between Kamari and Perissa on the island's east coast – although don't be surprised if you have to wade out into the water to catch it.
Expect to see quad bikes zipping around the island, and plenty of quad hire places in Fira. They're an affordable option, from as little as €20 for 24 hours, but nerves of steel and good driving skills are essential.
Fira: the charming capital
Despite being the busiest spot on the island, lively Fira has managed to remain largely unspoilt, clinging to the cliffside with views overlooking Santorini's famous caldera and the volcanic peak that breaks its waters. There's a maze of cobbled streets at its heart, lined with tiny shops selling traditional souvenirs, and Greek tavernas complete with blue and white-checked tablecloths. The area around the city's central square and bus station are a touch more commercial, and not really worth exploring. If the mood takes you, you can experience a nail-biting cable car ride down the cliffs to the Old Port. From there you can cross the caldera by boat to visit the volcano.
Oia: sunset city
Oia is the essence of Santorini condensed into one impossibly pretty town at the north of the island. A pastel jumble of white, peach and lemon-coloured cubes dotted with the occasional bright blue dome, Oia is the best place to watch the sun setting on the caldera – although, be warned that the waterfront vantage points get very crowded at the magic moment approaches. Oia is also a great place to shop for upmarket and unique souvenirs, from original artwork to handcrafted jewellery set with precious stones.
Akrotiri: red sands and ruins
Santorini's caldera-curving west coast is the most popular place to stay on the island, but there are some hidden gems to discover elsewhere. Akrotiri in the south has an ancient Minoan settlement known as the Pompeii of the Aegean, where the ash-preserved ruins and artefacts give a fascinating glimpse back in time over 3,000 years. You'll also find Santorini's incredible red beach nearby – a unique experience, although it does get crowded in summer.
Voltage: 220V (round two-pin plugs)
Time: Eastern European Time (GMT+2) and Eastern European Summer Time (GMT+3)
Climate: Greek, although the island is very geared up to welcome tourists so English is widely spoken