Your Santorini Greece Vacation to the Ruins of Akrotiri in Santorini

In this article you will find general information about the Islands of Santorini in Greece, and the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri at the southwest part of the main island. The ancient ruins of Akrotiri are considered Santorini’s Pompeii. Recall that Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near today’s Naples in Italy that was buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

The Akrotiri settlement was destroyed in the Theran eruption sometime in the 16th century BC and buried in volcanic ash. This is about 1500 years before Pompeii which makes the preservation of the buildings, streets, frescoes and pottery of this ancient city even more impressive!

You can visit the archaeological site of Akrotiri. See further in the article for guided tours to the ruins of Akrotiri to make your Santorini Greece vacation an unforgettable one,


Caldera in Santorini Island

The Greek island group of Santorini is most famous for its still active volcano. Exactly the eruption of this volcano created thousands of years ago the stunning cliffs which are so typical for Thira (which is the official name for Santorini). It also created the enormous lagoon around which the islands of Santorini are situated. This spectacular volcanic eruption caused part of the island to sink into the sea, creating a caldera or crater filled with water with a depth of four hundred meters.

A volcanic eruption created this crater in Thera
View over the caldera around which the islands of Santorini are located.

The biggest island, Santorini, bears the same name as the island group. Here you find the capital Fira on the highest point of the cliff, looking out over the caldera in Santorini.

Santorini Greece Vacation on the most photographed island of Greece

Santorini is one of the most photographed islands in the world because of it’s natural beauty. The impressive architecture of the white painted houses hanging on the cliffs, the small winding alleys and blue topped churches add to the special character of Santorini island.

If you wonder where to stay in Santorini you can choose between the famous, busy towns of Oia and Fira or for a more quiet alternative like Santorini’s Akrotiri village. The famous Akrotiri excavations in Santorini of the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri, are only two kilometers away.


The time to get from Oia to Akrotiri is only forty minutes.
Dream village Oia on Santorini by night.

Tours to Santorini:

The Pompeii of Santorini – The Ancient Minoan City of Akrotiri

Santorini is the southernmost island of the Cyclades. Already six thousand years ago it was home to one of the most important ancient Greek settlements of the Aegean. A prosperous Minoan town existed in the south of the island of which the ruins can be seen at Akrotiri. This ancient settlement is only a twenty minute drive from Fira or forty minutes from Oia. These Akrotiri ruins are even older than the ruins of Pompeii! The area is huge and only a tiny little part has been uncovered until now.

Santorini Greece vacation and the archaeological site of Akrotiri.
The Akrotiri excavations in Santorini have uncovered a complete ancient Minoan city.

The Island of Santorini once was a Naval Power

The Minoan settlement on Santorini didn’t comprise of palaces like the Minoan settlement on nearby Crete, instead it was a high functioning merchant town. The people of this town became one of the main naval powers of the Aegean. Objects found on the site of Akrotiri prove that it had relations with the Greek Mainland, Syria and Egypt.

Santorini Archaeological Site at Akrotiri

The archaeological site of Akrotiri is around twenty hectares large, but most of it hasn’t been excavated yet. After an accident they stopped the excavations for a couple of years.

Visiting the site you will notice that the stairs within the multi-storied buildings have been preserved, just like many other characteristics of the once one of the most important Minoan cities of ancient Greece. How is this possible? Actually, in Santorini exactly the same happened as what happened at Pompeii, Italy. After a series of earthquakes and a volcanic eruption the island was covered with lava, pumice and ashes. This helped to preserve the objects in the buildings, the buildings itself, the roads, the eight-meter high walls, the amazing wall-paintings and even furniture and vessels.

Santorini Tours to the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri:

A chapel nearby the Akrotiri village in Santorini
A typical Cycladic, white painted chapel with blue accents not far from Akrotiri.

Some scholars state that the volcanic eruption caused the end of the Minoan civilization because the earthquakes and tsunami even reached Crete. But actually it is still unknown how exactly the Minoan civilization ceased to exist.

Busy sea traffic around Oia and Fira in Santorini

Although Santorini Island is not a naval power anymore, it is always very busy at the sea around the island. Yachts, sailing boats and cruise ships struggle to get the best place in one of the harbors at Fira and Oia. Accessing land from sea is pretty hard.

The pottery production in ancient Akrotiri was impressive.
Pottery at the archaeological site of Akrotiri in Greece.

Visit Akrotiri, the Pompeii of Greece

Nowadays the island is immensely popular for its amazing views, and the hotels in Santorini are among the best of Greece. But even though you will have a great time in your hotel, don’t stay all day on its premises wondering what to do in Santorini. If you are interested in history, archaeology and more general, the culture of Greece, it is absolutely worth to take a guided tour to Akrotiri in Santorini, the Pompeii of Greece! Pick ups from your hotel usually will be arranged.


Nice things to bring with you on your Santorini Greece Vacation:

Moosejaw Kavu Women's Rope Bag
Moosejaw S'well Wood Collection Bottle
Moosejaw S'well Wood Collection Bottle
Moosejaw Garmin Vivoactive 3 Watch
Moosejaw Garmin Vivoactive 3 Watch

Tours to Santorini:



Maybe your tour already includes accommodation, but if not, you can search for a hotel or B&B in a specific area, city or village in Greece using If you prefer to be more independent you can rent a house on HomeAway.


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If you love walking you should take a look at the wide range of walking, hiking and trekking tours in different parts of Greece. TourRadar offers multiple day walking & hiking vacations, KeyTours and GetYourGuide offer walking & hiking day trips.


The thousands of Greek islands, are explored best by sailboat. G-Adventures and TourRadar offer different sailing vacations in Greece.


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Image credits: Featured image & Booking Resources images1,2,3: Pixabay. | Flickr: Photo 'View over the caldera' by Esteban Chiner. | Photo 'Oia Santorini at night' by David Spender. | Photo 'Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan settlement on Santorini' by Klearchos Kapoutsis. | Photo 'Church near Akrotiri' by Randy Connolly. | Photo 'Pottery at the archeological site of Akrotiri, Santorini' by Carolyn Sugg. All were made available under a CC BY 2.0 licence. | Photos tours by TourRadar.

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