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Besides being one of the most beautiful islands in the world, Santorini is also one of the most geologically and archaeologically dramatic. Often called Thira, the island is shaped like an enormous pair of jaws encircling a lake filled with pure blue water. This is the core of an ancient volcano, which according to legend, destroyed the lost continent of Atlantis.
Santorini's capital, Fira, perches on a cliff top. Ferries arrive and depart in the harbour below, while visitors walk or ride donkeys up the steep winding path to the town. Fira has hotels, good restaurants, bars and plenty of nightlife to keep tourists happy.
History buffs should visit Ancient Thira's archaeological remains. They date back to the 9th century BC, and they're on the island's east side. Other attractions include the excavations at a Minoan Bronze Age settlement called Akrotiri, an archaeological museum, and an 18th-century monastery. Santorini has two swimming beaches, Perissa and Kamari, both characterised by their volcanic black sand.
Electrical current is 230 volts and 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European-style two-pin and the round three-pin.
Greek is the national language, but English is widely spoken.
Travellers don't need to worry about specific health risks when visiting Greece. Most health problems come from too much sun and too much food or alcohol, though there's also the risk of encountering sea urchins, jellyfish and mosquitoes.
Medical facilities in major cities are excellent but some of the smaller islands are a long way from a decent hospital. Larger towns and resorts have English-speaking private doctors and the highly professional local pharmacies can usually deal with any minor complaint. Travellers should take along any necessary prescription medication.
Food and water are safe, but those visiting for short periods should consider sticking to bottled water. UK nationals are entitled to a refund on emergency hospital treatment under a reciprocal agreement between the UK and Greece, and a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be taken on holiday for this purpose.
A service charge is automatically added to most restaurant bills and an additional tip it not expected -- though always welcome. Rounding up the bill is sufficient for drinks at cafes; taxis, porters and cloakroom attendants will expect a tip.
Though Greece is a safe destination, peak tourist season usually sees a spike in petty theft cases, especially in crowded areas. Visitors should conceal valuables or store them in hotel safes and watch out for pickpockets. Violent crime is rare but there have been incidents on some islands; visitors travelling alone should not accept lifts from strangers.
Though more traditional than the British in some ways, most Greeks are friendly and welcoming enough to seem intrusive to reserved British tourists. Greeks are also the heaviest smokers in Europe and will often ignore the smoking ban in public places. Swimwear is expected on the beach but tourists should dress properly in bars and restaurants.
Santorini has some great attractions, including volcanoes, beaches and museums.
Visitors will find the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni (Young Burnt Island) and Palea Kameni (Old Burnt Island) in the Santorini caldera. They're the youngest volcanic lands in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Nea Kameni having formed less than 500 years ago.
Perissa and Perivolos are two of Santorini's most popular beaches. Hungry travellers can choose from a selection of tavernas and restaurants on their black-sanded shores. Agios Georgios also has some amenities and tavernas, but the southern tip of the island tends to be quieter.
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera is worth a visit, with its wall-paintings, golden ibex figurine and Neolithic pottery exhibits. Santorini's wineries are appealing, as are the island's smaller villages, where visitors can enjoy a more traditional atmosphere. Megalochori, Pyrgos, and nearby Thirasia Island are all options.
Santorini has many cafes, bars and nightclubs. Indeed, it has one of the best nightlife scenes in the Cyclades. Visitors will find lots of action along the caldera. Most nightclubs are in the capital, Fira, which is the best place for all-night partying.
As with shopping and accommodation, Santorini is not the cheapest Greek island to party on. That said, it can be very rewarding for visitors who are prepared to pay a little bit extra.
Classical-music performances at the Nomikos Centre in Fira are a good option for visitors who prefer more relaxed evenings. Santorini also has some quieter, more authentic restaurants, where visitors can enjoy drawn out meals with lovely views.
Finding somewhere away from the crowds and bustle can be challenging in summer. As a rule of thumb, visitors should avoid resort areas and big towns, and look out for places that locals frequent.
Santorini is part of the Cyclades Islands, where the climate is almost typically Mediterranean. The North African climate does influence it to some degree. Visitors will find hot, dry weather in summer and mild winters.
Peak-season temperatures (July and August) range from 86ºF (30ºC) during the day to 72ºF (22ºC) at night. Conditions can get hotter during heat waves. Summer is crowded and temperatures can get oppressively hot. Rainfall is almost non-existent in summer but showers can be expected between October and April.
Spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit Santorini. More specifically, beach lovers will enjoy the sea towards the end of spring, when the water gets warmer. The beginning of autumn is another good moment on the island. The ocean is still very warm, most tourist have left and the rainy season hasn't started yet.
Same-sex sexual relations are legal in Greece and civil unions between same-sex couples have been legal since 2015. The age of consent of 15 is the same as for partners of the opposite sex. Transgender people are able to change their legal gender. Anti-discrimination and hate speech laws apply to gender identity.
Public attitudes towards homosexuality vary throughout the country; public displays of affection by same-sex couples may be frowned upon, especially in rural areas.
Attitudes are generally much more welcoming in Athens and on many Greek islands, particularly on Lesvos, Mykonos and Skiathos, which are well known for their gay and lesbian scenes.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine.
Country specific diphtheria recommendations are not provided here. Diphtheria tetanus and polio are combined in a single vaccine in the UK. Therefore, when a tetanus booster is recommended for travellers, diphtheria vaccine is also given. Should there be an outbreak of diphtheria in a country, diphtheria vaccination guidance will be provided.
Those who may be at increased risk of an infectious disease due to their work, lifestyle choice, or certain underlying health problems should be up to date with additional recommended vaccines. See the individual chapters of the ‘Green Book’ Immunisation against infectious disease for further details.
There are no certificate requirements under International Health Regulations.
The vaccines in this section are recommended for most travellers visiting this country. Information on when these vaccines should be considered can be found by clicking on the arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.
The vaccines in this section are recommended for some travellers visiting this country. Information on when these vaccines should be considered can be found by clicking on the arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.
Rabies (Bat Lyssavirus) Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)