Closed to the public for over six years, the newly reopened Minoan settlement of Akrotiri is the tour's highlight, but you also visit several of Santorini's picturesque villages. One of the Aegean's most important archaeological sites, Akrotiri was abandoned after severe earthquakes, then covered in pumice by a volcanic eruption in about 1625BC. A visit tells the tale of an affluent society who farmed, built two-story homes and indulged a taste for frescoes, furniture and jewellery. Today's tour includes a visit to the ongoing excavations, where you can walk amid the well-preserved streets, view the workshops and squares.
Start your adventure with a transfer from the ship by local boat, then drive to the northern tip of the island to the village of Oia with its whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches and coffee shops carved in the cliffs. Stroll along the cobblestone streets where wealthy sea captains built their mansions, now converted to cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Take in breathtaking views in all directions.
Continue to the southern end of the island and the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The excavations, led by Professor Spyros Marintos, began in 1967. Walk around this amazing city and get an insight into the culture that laid the foundation for Greek civilisation. Then continue to tiny Pyrgos, once the capital. View the distant Venetian castle, then sit down to lunch before your adventure concludes in Fira, the scenic capital. From here, you'll have the option of remaining in town or returning to the ship by cable car.
Note: The price of this excursion already allows a credit for the unused half day excursion
In prehistoric times, the people who inhabited Santorini (or Strongyle, meaning “round”, as it was known) enjoyed a relatively advanced standard of living, until 1650BC, when a volcanic eruption caused the centre of the island to sink, leaving a caldera with high cliffs that has remained one of the world’s most dramatic geological sights.
Nowhere is this ancient legacy more apparent than during a stroll through the beautiful village of Oia, on the northernmost tip of the island, where many of the clifftop dwellings were built into niches hewn from the steep volcanic rock face. These delightful buildings are painted a spectrum of pastel colours, reflecting the wealthy seafarers of the past who first developed the village. Walking around its narrow cobblestone streets you will come across shops offering handmade works of ceramic art, paintings and semi-precious jewellery, as well as coffee shops with spectacular views across the island and the sea.
Santorini’s highest peak is crowned by an excellent example of Cycladic architecture, the 18th-century Monastery of Mount Profitis Ilias. The scenic drive then continues from Oia to the Argyros wine estate. Founded in 1903, this family run vineyard combines ancient traditions with modern technology to produce some of the most prestigious wines on the island. After enjoying some wine-tasting, a traditional Greek lunch will be served before a short drive brings you to Fira, the picturesque capital of Santorini, with free time to explore before returning to the ship via cable car.