A tour to the volcano in Santorini, Greece should not be missed during your trip. Walking around the crater of an active volcano, especially one which dramatically changed the island’s landscape when it erupted, is definitely an unforgettable experience.
If you are visiting the breath-taking island of Santorini, a tour to the volcano is a must as it is intrinsically tied to the island’s geography and history. The volcano has been an invisible hand in the island’s history as Santorini was once a major center of pre-ancient Greece until that one fateful explosion.
The volcano’s massive explosion was responsible for not only wiping out this bastion of culture, but it dramatically changed the geography itself. When the volcano exploded, the majority of the island collapsed into the sea, and created five separate islands, Santorini, Therasia, Aspronisi, along with the volcanic islands of Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni.
The volcano will form a strong presence throughout your visit to Santorini as it is visible all over the island from its place in the middle of the sea. Each time you enjoy one the island’s famous sunsets, you’ll see the volcano in ominous silence looking back at you. Regardless, the volcano adds immensely to the setting’s beauty and you’ll find yourself taking several pictures with it in the backdrop.
There are several tours that offer trips to the Volcano by boat from both the old (Gialos) and new port (Athinios). Keep in mind that to reach the old port you’ll have to descend the long stairs that lead from the top of the town to the harbor, which is not as tiring until you have to go back up. Alternatively, there is a cable car that takes only 3 minutes or you can ride the local donkeys. The new port is located approximately 10 kilometers from the capital Fira, at the bottom of the caldera.
Getting to the volcano
There are several boats tours that will take you to the volcano. As always, we recommend you book it through Viator – we never had an issue and had booked several tours throughout the years. Once you get into the boat, you will sail for approximately 15 minutes until you reach the volcano, which will be your first stop.
From here, you will walk an ascending path (a moderate to easy hike of around 20 minutes) to the crater of the active volcano; all the while you’ll be taken in by the magnificent views along the way of the island and caldera. As you walk, you will notice the gray and black volcanic rocks juxtaposing with the deep blue color of the sea – this tiny detail only emphasizes the deadly nature of the volcano next to the lifegiving sea.
Tip: The hike might require some physical effort so bring comfortable shoes. Also note that the dust will probably make them dirty so don’t wear new shoes.
Note that it will get hot in Santorini, which already has little natural shade, during the summer with temperatures rising significantly. Come prepared because it will be even hotter in the volcano. Take all precautions to avoid getting heat sick – a bottle of water, sunscreen and a hat are mandatory.
Visiting the hot springs
After some time enjoying the walk on the volcano, tours will usually make a stop in Nea Kameni, where you can swim in thermal, mineral rich, waters which are known for their therapeutical properties. The thermal “lake” is literally in the middle of the sea, so keep in mind the water is hotter in this spot. You’ll notice the temperature difference as you swim into the area and you’ll immediately smell Sulphur; the color of the water will also change giving it a rusty/yellowish color.
This is a popular area, and you will see plenty of small boats sailing alongside luxury yachts; there will be plenty of people sunbathing and jumping off the boats into the thermal waters. See if you can spot the lovely church located at the edge of the sea.
What to bring:
Comfortable shoes: As I mentioned before, bringing comfortable shoes is key as the terrain can be uneven and you want to make you have good support for your feet. I’d also bring flip flops for your dip into the thermal waters, as everything will be wet afterwards.
Sunscreen: Santorini’s hot summer days urgently call for sun protection. Make sure you use a good sunscreen for your face (such as Supergoop!) and also for your body (like Coppertone). Since the tour takes a couple of hours, bring the sunscreen with you and reapply – there will be no shade during this tour.
Hat: Bring a hat with you to further protect you from the extreme heat and sun. I recommend The North Face Washed Norm Hat – it comes in wide variety of colors.
Water: Make sure you stay hydrated. Bring a plastic bottle or alternatively your own water bottle which you can refill at the hotel when necessary. I recommend the Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle, which rolls up for compact travel.
Bathing suit & towel: Do not forget to bring a bathing suit so you can enjoy swimming in the thermal waters. Bring also a small towel to dry yourself. I recommend the Youphoria Microfiber Travel Towel Fast Drying.
Tip: Don’t wear a white bathing suit as the minerals in the water will stain it. My husband wore white trunks into the water and then noticed they were permanently orange afterwards.
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