Greece / Santorini

Akrotiri Guide in Santorini – Prehistory, Lighthouse, and Red Beach

The village of Akrotiri in Santorini is known worldwide thanks to the fame of its archaeological site. Dating back thousands of years, it is undoubtedly one of the must-see attractions on the island. Located near the most famous lighthouse in the Cyclades and several beaches, including Red Beach, Akrotiri is undoubtedly a place not to be missed during your next visit.

Discover my thoughts and tips to make the most of your Akrotiri exploration.

Akrotiri City in Santorini in Video

1. Explore the Ruins of an Atlantis Village

It may seem obvious to think that the island of Santorini in Greece is composed only of whitewashed villages, views of the caldera, and incredible sunsets. But when you head south of the island, a few kilometers from Fira, you can find another type of attraction – the ruins of Akrotiri City in Santorini.

Among the historical sites of the Aegean Sea, Akrotiri is undoubtedly one of the most important. According to Plato, it might even be the lost city of Atlantis! It is a relatively well-preserved site where you can discover the ruins of a glorious civilization that thrived thousands of years ago in Santorini.

Practical Information

The prehistoric village of Akrotiri is only a few minutes by car from the city, halfway to Red Beach. There’s no trouble finding it because, being one of the island’s main attractions, it is well signposted.

You will find a large paid parking lot just 10 meters from the entrance, but you will need to pay a modest fee of 5 euros. However, you can also park for free a bit further away.

The entrance fee is 12 euros per person, but if you are 25 years old or younger, you can enter for free. Paper guides in various languages are available, as well as tour guides, but they come at an additional cost.

An Extraordinary Prehistoric Village

The prehistoric village of Akrotiri was founded at least three millennia before Christ, at the beginning of the Bronze Age. It was a Minoan colony that was destroyed in a manner similar to Pompeii by the massive eruption of the island’s volcano. The lava buried and preserved a fascinating place, which was revealed to the world through 40 years of archaeological work.

Visiting Akrotiri is like having a window into the past, into the life of a distant people, the opposite of today’s Santorini. In its early days, Akrotiri was a simple fishing and farming village, cultivating olives and grains. But thanks to its ideal location on the trade route between Europe and the Middle East, money flowed in, turning Akrotiri into a prosperous port city.

Unlike other cities and similar ruins from the same era, Akrotiri impresses with several fascinating features, including multi-story buildings with beautiful facades, wall paintings, and high-quality furniture. It was also one of the few cities to have such an elaborate drainage and sewage system. The city of Akrotiri clearly experienced a golden age, and it’s no wonder it served as inspiration to Plato.

You will also find a wonderful collection of artifacts in the Prehistoric Museum of Santorini in Fira. However, it is definitely worth visiting the Akrotiri site and glimpsing into the past, tracing the footsteps of our ancestors.

2. Relax at Red Beach

Red Beach in Santorini is considered one of the most beautiful and recognizable beaches in the Cyclades. It promises a stunning contrast of colors between the towering red cliffs and the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea. The setting seems perfect, but what is it really like?

Also known as Kokkini Beach, I will provide you with all the information and my opinion on Red Beach in Santorini.

Getting to Red Beach

There are several ways to reach Red Beach. The most popular is undoubtedly by boat/catamaran. Many excursions offer a few hours to a full day on the waters around Santorini. Generally, they make several stops at different beaches on the island during the day, and Red Beach is included 99% of the time.

The easiest way, however, is by car/quad/motorcycle, as you will not be dependent on anyone. I recommend parking in the free parking area near Saint Nicholas Church, as the other road that arrives from the north of the beach is much too rugged.

Apparently, there are also buses and tour operators that can drop you off just steps away from Red Beach.

A Dangerous Beach

It is written everywhere around the beach that it is a dangerous place. Hotels have even been asked to discourage tourists from visiting this beach.

Regularly, accidents occur due to landslides. Indeed, the beach is literally at the foot of a cliff that is slowly eroding. Setting up your towel at the base of this house of cards is simply reckless.

Red Beach – Way Too Touristy

Even though I suppose the situation is more pleasant in the off-season, it was just unbearable in the height of summer. Hundreds of tourists were crammed onto a small, dangerous red beach.

The setting is beautiful… from a distance. Indeed, I recommend only stopping at the viewpoint on the way to the beach. From there, you’ll have a wonderful view of the turquoise sea and the red cliffs. In my opinion, it’s really not worth venturing further. There are much nicer and more pleasant beaches all around the island.

3. Incredible Sunset at Akrotiri Lighthouse

The Akrotiri Lighthouse on Santorini was built in 1892 and is among the most famous in the Cyclades. Located about 18 kilometers from Fira, it sits atop a hill at the southwest end of Santorini, overlooking the caldera. Despite its remoteness, the idyllic setting of the lighthouse makes it a must-visit during your stay in Santorini. With its breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and stunning sunsets, I must say it was a real favorite of mine.

Not surprisingly, the lighthouse is quite popular at sunset. So, my advice for truly enjoying it is to climb the small hill behind it. You will undoubtedly find a little rock to sit on peacefully, rather than being packed at the base of the lighthouse.

Admiring the sunset from the Akrotiri Lighthouse is an exceptional, timeless moment away from the hustle and bustle of Santorini. Thanks to our location on the hill, we had a peaceful experience with the best possible view.

It’s a good alternative to the crowded and overcrowded sunsets in Oia. Just like in Immerovigli, Akrotiri is an excellent spot that I absolutely recommend!

Article mis à jours le 20 September 2023 par Pierre Bouyer

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