Santorini off-season is uncrowded with a much slower pace of
life. Cafe goers enjoy a coffee and the view on a warm late September
One of the most stunning aspects of Santorini is the amazing
Panoramic view of the Caldera with the whitewashed houses of
Fira clinging to the top of the cliffs on the
left. The top of the cable-car to the old port is just visible
on the lower right of this panorama. Click the picture above
to see a high resolution version.
towns clustered on top of the towering cliffs on the west side
of the island, Fira and Oia,
command a marvellous view over the Caldera.
The island of Santorini
was once circular and was called Strongili
( the Round One). However, around 1650 BC a massive
volcanic eruption sunk the centre of the island, leaving
the Caldera surrounded by huge, towering
cliffs. The eruption and tsunamis that followed are believed
to have been responsible for the demise of the Minoan people
Further volcanic eruptions shaped
the island as it is today and created black sandy beaches,
lava striped cliffs and fertile vine-growing soil. Later
eruptions caused Thirasia to be split from the main island,
and two islets to appear in the caldera : Palia
Kameni and Nea Kameni.
The volcano is still active - steam can be seen venting
on the islet of Nea Kameni and occasionally
small tremors can be felt on the island.
to the volcano
It is also possible to visit the largest and
youngest islet (50 years old), in the Caldera - Nea Kameni
(meaning 'new burnt'), via a boat trip. Guided boat trips
leave the Old Port at Fira daily and also from
Ammoudi Port at Oia.
The volcano tour lasts around 2 hours, incorporating a swim in
the hot thermal springs of Palia Kameni (meaning
'old burnt') or you can take a Caldera full day tour, which also
takes you to the nearby island of Thirasia. Here
you can lunch at a harbour taverna, and take a donkey up 250 steps
to the village of Horio or Manolas. There are also extended boat
trips which will include a sunset cruise.
It is around 150 metres from landing to the rim of the crater
on Nea Kameni, where you can see the fascinating
lava formations and gaze up at Santorini’s cliff top villages,
like Oia and Fira. The striped
cliffs are reddish brown, grey and black pumice. You should be
able to spot steam and sulphur escaping from vent holes. There
is a hiking trail to follow.
Tip: Take an early trip as it can get very
hot on the volcano in the afternoons. Wear flat, comfy shoes
is quite a hike on rough ground, and a hat, sunscreen and take
in the hot, thermal springs of the Caldera
The thermal springs at Palia Kameni are in shallow
water, so the boats tend to moor about 50 meters( depending on
their size) off the coast, at the bay of Aghios Nikolaos. Look
out for the ancient church set in the cliff's edge. In order to
reach the hot springs you will need to jump off the boat and be
able to swim at least a couple of pool lengths in order to reach
Once you reach the springs you will find the water is waist deep,
so you can easily walk around. You will feel the soft volcanic
mud beneath your feet, and as it is good for the skin many people
rub the reddish brown mud on their arms and face as a treatment.
Think of it as an outdoor spa!
The warm waters are caused by underwater venting from the live
volcano, and they are full of minerals and salts so you will find
you can float in the water easily.
Tip: If you're swimming in the hot springs don't
wear your best swimwear, as the sulphury waters can stain them
over the Caldera
The fantastic panorama from the clifftop villages of Fira
and Oia over the Caldera in the sunshine seems
even further enhanced as the sun sets.
There are many sunset bars, restaurants
and boat trips where you can watch the sun sink into the deep
blue Aegean sea, falling behind the islets in the Caldera.
If you take a sunset cruise you can experience
the sun setting magnificently behind the islets, Palia
Kameni and Nea Kameni in the Caldera.
You can gaze up at the clusters of whitewashed buildings on the
edge of the towering colourful, lava-layered cliffs and enjoy
the sun sinking behind the volcano.
As you return in the boat you will see
all the twinkling lights of the island high up on the cliff tops.
It is a magical view of a beautiful island.
Click the picture above to see a high resolution
View of the Caldera from the south
Panoramic view of Santorini's west coast
from the road near Akrotiri (seen on the left).
Click on the picture for a high resolution version and you'll
be able to see the picturesque white painted towns of Fira
and Oia on the cliff tops across the the Caldera.
The enormous cliffs dwarf the cruise liners which visit the
island almost every day during the summer. A couple of donkeys
graze in the field near one of the many bars which are popular
places to sit over a glass of wine or two and watch the sun
go down. On the right, you can see the mountain of Profiti
Illia, the highest point on the island and a great
place to go for some more spectacular views.
Click the picture above to see a high resolution version