Santorini is the southernmost of the Greek Cyclades Islands, located in the Aegean Sea 233 kilometres south east of the mainland port of Piraeus. It's one of the most spectacular islands in the world - a place where honeymooners come from as far afield as Mexico and Australia to start married life in an impossibly romantic setting. Arrive here by boat if you can because the entrance into the famous Caldera, a bay caused by one of the most cataclysmic eruptions in the history of the planet, will take your breath away.
The Caldera is without doubt Santorini's star attraction. The word means cauldron - a fitting name for this flooded volcanic basin created by a colossal eruption around 1650 BC. The explosion was the equivalent of thousands of atomic bombs being detonated simultaneously. It sent columns of lava and ash 36 kilometres skywards and caused tidal waves which wreaked havoc as far afield as Israel.
The entire centre of this once circular island collapsed, leaving a crescent shaped island where the buildings perch perilously on the cliff tops which form the rim of the ancient volcano. Holiday accommodation, bars and restaurants here fall into two main categories - those with a view of the Caldera and those without. It's easy to see why. Watching the sun go down over the Caldera is one of the most magical experiences you're ever likely to have.
This is one of the most exotic locations in the world. The island jealously guards its reputation as a likely location for the Lost City of Atlantis - the splendid and mysterious island written about by Plato in 350 BC. No-one knows whether the city actually existed before its sudden disappearance overnight (perhaps due to a massive volcanic eruption?) and certainly no trace of it has ever been found. But that doesn't stop the excursion boats here boasting of their ability to show you the "lost traces of Atlantis".
The island has an indigenous population of just a few thousand but more than one million visitors come here to enjoy this extraordinary geological marvel every year. Avoid the overwhelming crowds of July and August if possible and take the time to escape the tourist-orientated capital, Fira, to explore the island's ancient sites, black volcanic beaches and unspoilt inland villages.
You can reach Santorini by ferry or hydrofoil or use Olympic Airways or Aegean which have daily flights to and from Athens and less frequent services to Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete. There are also regular ferry connections with the other main islands of the Cyclades.
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