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Tom Sheridan's Port Guides

Explore Santorini, Greece on your own

By Thomas Sheridan

It's difficult to find the location of the cruise ship dock relative to tourist sites and public transit. The solution is to create maps and combine them with photos, public transit routes, and links to the best websites. Tom's website, www.TomsPortGuides.com is uniquely useful for self-guided touring from a cruise port. And it's FREE.


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Rent a Car to Explore this Tiny Island; Public buses are crowded, and service is unreliable. Cabs are difficult to find outside the capital city.

Consider yourself lucky, if Santorini (Thira in Greek) is on your cruise itinerary. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful, charming, romantic, small island. The operative word is “small,” only 10.5 miles long and 3.5 miles wide. That’s too far to walk, but ideal for car rental because travel distance is short and traffic is low due to the small population. Renting a car is inexpensive and allows you to spend time as you choose to explore this beautiful island. Shore excursion options: Cruise ships offer bus tours, which may be combined with a short boat ride around part of the island to see the magnificent 700 foot high cliffs.

Popular personal tours include: • Booking a reservation on a 67-foot catamaran to sail around the island, stop at a few beaches, swim, sunbathe, and have a great lunch on the catamaran. • Renting a car to explore the island on your own. You’ll have maximum flexibility to spend time as you choose and can visit most of the island. Car rental is low cost; about 60 euros for a car you can share with four people. • There is bus service, but the buses can be so crowded they don’t pick up everyone at a stop and they don’t follow the time schedule. There are cabs in the capital of Fira, but it’s difficult to get a cab from other locations when cruise ships are in port.

Renting a car requires some planning. Book the car long before your cruise and determine where you will pick it up. Our rental agent met us at the top of the cable car with a sign for our group. I recommend carrying a GPS with maps for Greece. There are not many street signs and you can’t read them anyway. It’s also a good idea to get an International Drivers Permit. Buy one at a AAA office in the US. Ships anchor next to 700 feet high cliffs. Take the ship’s tender to shore and the cable car (5 euros) to Fira at the top of the cliff. Meet your rental agent and you’ll be on your way.

The suggested driving route includes: • Santos Winery for breathtaking views of the cliff and ships at anchor, • Pyros Kallistis a beautiful village with churches, restaurants, shops, etc. • Perissa, the famous black beach, and • Oia, the city that everyone goes to visit on Santorini. THE END

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