Nearly every travel path to Santorini requires a stop in Athens. While there are some international flights directly to Santorini airport from larger European cities such as London and Frankfurt, these are infrequent compared to the flights from Athens. In addition to the information below, there are many travel guides and web sites on Santorini, such as www.santorini-island.biz.
Getting to and from Athens (ATH)
Air transportation to Athens International Airport (ATH) is available on a regularly scheduled basis through nearly all of the major international airlines. Most arrivals from the United States will be in the afternoon or just after midnight; we recommend arriving in the afternoon. If you elect to fly to Santorini (JTR) from Athens, you will need to pass though customs and immigration in Athens. Departures from Athens for the United States tend to be in the morning or early afternoon. It is normally possible to arrange flight schedules so that overnight stays in Athens are not required when flying to and from Santorini.
Getting to Santorini (JTR) from Athens (ATH) by air
Air transport to Santorini takes less than an hour and is available multiple times per day. The airport is about 10 km from the central town of Fira where the Nomikos Conference Centre is located, and transportation to Fira is normally by taxi or hotel shuttle service. Airlines servicing Santorini (JTR) from Athens include the Greek flagship carrier Olympic Airways and the newer independent carrier Aegean Airlines, although Aegean has a more complete schedule. Flights take 40-50 minutes.
Getting to Santorini from Athens by sea
Boats to Santorini leave from the Athenian port of Piraeus (TZE) located about an hour's drive away from the airport. There is public transportation from the airport and other parts of Athens to Piraeus. The train station in Piraeus is directly across the street from the port itself. Boat tickets can be arranged beforehand, or purchased as late as the day of travel, but often the less expensive classes of travel fill up early. If you are flying in to Athens and want to take a ferry the same day, we strongly recommend arranging the sea tickets beforehand. If you are planning a few days' stay in Athens before going by ferry to Santorini, then it is possible to purchase tickets in Athens. Ferry ticket prices are controlled, so shopping between agents for price is not necessary, although some agents do not represent all carriers and not all agents accept credit cards. Boat schedules are available on line through www.gtp.gr.
There are two broad classes of boats which service the Aegean islands: traditional ferries, and high-speed ferries. The traditional boats are slower, have open decks, often make more stops, and are relatively inexpensive. The high-speed ferries are faster, enclosed, and are more costly. Be sure to check the transit time in addition to the departure time for any boat you are considering, as some boats make many stops on the way to Santorini. There is only one seaport in Santorini (ATI). Slower boats can take 10 hours, and high-speed boats as little as 4 hours, depending on schedule and number of stops. Be sure to check the route and schedule when booking. As of Summer 2005, passage on a high-speed boat from Piraeus to Santorini was approximately EUR 50. Smoking is permitted on ferry boats, and non-smoking sections are available.
Upon arrival in the small port of Santorini you will be greeted by many hoteliers clamoring to make last-minute bookings, and taxi drivers looking for fares. Be aware that taxi prices vary considerably with negotiating skill. An inexpensive public bus to the center of Fira is available and meets most boats; tickets are purchased on the bus. Some hotels have pickup service from the port if you arrange the details beforehand; we recommend phoning from Athens to confirm. The drive up the caldera face to the town of Fira can be breathtaking; be sure your camera is handy!
Getting Around Fira/Firostefani
The town of Fira, where the conference is held, is continuous with the town of Firostefani. These towns are readily explored on foot, and many establishments are not accessible by any other means. Vehicles, even scooters, are not allowed on most of the pathways in the heart of the town.
Getting Around Santorini
The island of Santorini is small enough that it can be circumnavigated in a single day by motorized vehicle. There is frequent bus service from Fira to all of the other towns and beaches; the bus depot is near the center of town and the inexpensive tickets are purchased in cash on the bus. Cars, motorized scooters, and bicycles are readily available for hire, but you must have a motorcycle license to rent even the smallest of scooters. Filling stations are strategically placed around the island. The central taxi station is in Fira. Although it is possible to hail cabs, they are relatively infrequent, and best arranged by phone. When calling for a cab, be prepared for a long and somewhat ill-defined delay before one arrives. Make sure that the taxi driver sets the meter when you enter the cab. Longer taxi rides should normally not exceed 20 euros.
Local travel agencies offer day trips to the nearby islands and especially the volcano and hot springs in the caldera. If you visit the volcano, be prepared to walk uphill for 20 minutes. You will need a hat, suncream, and sturdy shoes as the volcanic rock is sharp and hot. If you visit the hot springs, be aware that the high mineral content, especially sulfur, can discolor swimwear.
What Santorini Looks Like Right Now
The Hotel Heliotopos has a nice webcam of Santorini showing a view of the caldera (don't forget that Greece is on Eastern European Time, GMT+2, when viewing). Find it here, along with a second webcam of the central volcano: http://www.santorini.net/caldera.html. Our conference currently has no association with Hotel Heliotopos; while they aren't on the list of recommended hotels, that should not be taken as a negative endorsement, as we just haven't visited it.
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