The pearl of Aegean
You can’t say you have been to Greece on holiday without seeing the natural wonder of Santoríni. As our MSC cruise ship manoeuvres into the great caldera of Santoríni (Thíra), the land seems to rise up and clamp around it.
Gaunt, sheer cliffs loom hundreds of metres above the deep blue sea, nothing grows or grazes to soften the awesome view. The only colours are the reddish-brown, black and grey pumice layers on the cliff face of this, the largest island in the mini-archipelago.
A shore excursion on your MSC Mediterranean cruise can be the perfect chance to experience Firá (also known as Hóra) which clings precariously to the edge of the enormous caldera. Although Firá’s restaurants are primarily aimed at the tourist market, the food can be very good. Using a spectacular two-hour footpath along the lip of the caldera you reach the village of Imerovígli and further to the north Firostefáni, both of which have equally stunning views.
The only alternative location is Karterádhos, a small village about twenty minutes’ walk southeast of Firá. MSC Mediterranean cruises also offer excursions to Santoríni’s beaches, on the island’s east coast, which are long black stretches of volcanic sand that get blisteringly hot in the afternoon sun.
Evidence of the Minoan colony that once thrived here has been uncovered among the resorts at the ancient site of Minoan Thira at Akrotíri, on the south-western tip of the island; the site was inhabited from the Late Neolithic period through to the seventeenth century BC. The Archaeological Museum of Firá, near the cable car to the north of town, is well presented, and has a collection from the excavations of Ancient Thira.