Santorini owes its unusual shape to a massive volcanic eruption around 3,500 years ago - the magnificent submerged caldera (crater) is the epicentre.
As well as wiping out the thriving Minoan civilization with huge tidal waves, the explosion led to the centre of the island collapsing to form the caldera or crater. The caldera has very steep sides (essentially the cliffs you see above sea level continue down for a further 400 metres or so below the surface of the water).
This allows even the largest cruise ships to enter the shelterd waters of the Caldera and anchor safely. As a result, the island has become one of the most popular destinations on the Mediterranean cruise circuit with two or three liners arriving and departing every day.
Remains of the historical Minoan civilization, which was highly advanced, can be seen at the spectacular mountaintop village of old Thira. At the recently re-opened Akrotiri archaeological site excavations have revealed some fascinating aspects of how life was lived on these sunny islands, thousands of years before Christianity.
Climb up the steps
587 from the Old Port to Fira or 250 steps from Ammoudi to Oia.
Monastery view of island
Drive up to the highest part of the island and see for miles across the sparkling waters of the Aegean Sea
Ancient city ruins at Akrotiri and Ancient Thira
See fascinating Cycladic, Hellenistic and Roman sculptures at the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.
Traditional Greek villages
Imerovigli, Pyrgos, Megalohori and Emporio. Experience the timeless tranquility of rural Greece
to nearby Thirasia or further afield to Ios and Sikinos
In the far south of the island for a fabulous view.