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Visit the volcanoes and thermal springs of Santorini

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Visit the volcanoes and thermal springs of Santorini

Walk on an active volcano in Santorini Greece

I think I’ve said many times before that we are not huge fans of doing anything ‘organised’ when we travel.  Largely this relates to tours, and dedicated trips that involve large groups of people, and someone out the front on a microphone.  I’m also not a real fan of playing follow the leader, preferring to set our own pace and be masters of our own travel destiny.

There are plenty of comments in forums about not bothering with boat tours on Santorini, but here I will disagree.  Unless you have a boat at your disposal, the only way to get out on the water is to hire one or go on an excursion.  To go to Santorini and not get out on the water is paramount to missing out on some great times and some great views.

And so we found ourselves on a boat tour to visit the volcanoes and thermal springs of Santorini.

We caught a boat from the Old Port.  There are plenty of tour companies that will pick you up from your hotel if this suits you better.  I would have been happy just cruising around the caldera all day on this beautiful timber boat.  Instead, we had a couple of stops, to take in some of the main features of this Greek Island and its surrounds.

First stop was the volcano.  An active volcano, last erupting in 1950.  Not as far back in history as I would like when I realised we were not just going to sail past it.  We pulled into the harbour of Nea Kameni and learnt that we were about to walk up to the top of the volcano.  It was a very hot walk.  Hotter than any walk I’ve ever been on.

The heat of the late morning sun combined with the thermal heat coming from the ground was stifling.  It’s a tricky walk as the tracks are just part of the volcano, crumbly, rocky and uneven.  There is no shelter, no vegetation.  Just rock and heat.  When I saw a tourist walk past me clad only in a bikini it gave credence to my feeling of discomfort!

It’s good to remember that this is not really a tourist attraction as such.  It’s a geographical feature.  If you go here expecting some form of great excitement or activity you will undoubtedly be disappointed.  This is an educational visit.

This is a chance to learn about the history of the volcano from the guide, and understand a little more about how volcanoes work.  It’s a chance to feel the thermal heat coming up out of the holes.  It’s the smell of the sulphur, which once again reminds you of just how alive this island really is.

It offers stunning views back to Fira, and to the other islands dotted around.  And, it’s a chance to do something that you just don’t get the opportunity to do every day.

Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini
And so we walk…..
Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini
H2O required
Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini
Feeling the heat come from underground
Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini
An instrument for measuring volcanic activity
Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini
Made it to the top of the volcano

Boats moored in the harbour at volcano Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of SantoriniSwimming in the thermal waters off Santorini

Ever since I swam in the thermal pools of Hungary, I’ve never passed up a chance to swim in them again.  These pools, found on one side of Palia Kameni, offer a chance to swim around in the warmer waters.  The big boats can’t get close in to the shore so we pulled up in the deeper (and much colder) waters offshore.  This allowed for a bit of fun as we jumped off the boat into the waters below, having to duck from a few clowns who thought it was appropriate to jump off the bow.

Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini
Time for a swim in the thermal springs

Time for lunch in Thirassia

After the refreshing swim, we were off to Thirassia for lunch.  Thirassia, a quiet, undeveloped island is the complete opposite of it’s fancier neighbour Santorini.  As we approached their port, the guide gave a few tips for lunch, with her strong preference being the local “buffet” which had ready-made food and allowed for quick service.

We steered away from this and found a restaurant that looked more authentic, and were treated with some wonderful food and some ice cold Mythos beer.  Others walked around the island, some swam again, whilst we were happy just to sit looking out at the ocean and enjoying our meal.

Volcanoes and Thermal Springs on Santorini
Time for lunch
Volcanoes and Thermal Springs on Santorini
Fresh octopus for lunch

Last stop Oia

After we had seen the volcanoes and thermal springs of Santorini, it was time to head back to shore.  The final journey was back towards Oia and Ormos Armenis.  Whilst the tour officially ends back at the Old Port, many use the opportunity to get off here and explore Oia.  We did exactly that. 

Oia is another beautiful part of Santorini and is a great shopping destination, especially for jewellery.  The streets here are narrow and resemble a rabbit warren, swelling to overflowing when the big boats are in port.

All of this was comfortably achieved in a day, and with the long summer nights experienced here on the Greek Islands, there’s still time to fit more into your day.

Volcanoes and Thermal Springs on Santorini
Oia and Ormos Armenis (sea level)
Volcanoes and Thermal Springs on Santorini
Maybe we ate his friend for lunch?
Volcanoes and thermal springs on Santorini
Time for a beer after a big day in the sun
Volcanoes and thermal springs on Santorini
Beautiful buildings of Oia
Volcanoes and thermal springs on Santorini
A stunning view across the caldera
Volcanoes and thermal springs on Santorini
I could look at these photos all day long
Santorini view
One of the most photographed scenes on Santorini

Volcanoes and Thermal Springs of Santorini


7 thoughts on “Visit the volcanoes and thermal springs of Santorini”

  1. I wasn’t able to go on a tour to the volcano nor swim in the thermal waters when we went to Santorini. My Greek husband (then boyfriend) hates doing anything touristy so we basically just explored the island on our own in our rented car. I should drag him out there again to do this. :p

  2. Which tour place did you take? Do you have any recommendations on companies? Should we book ahead of time or when we are there?

  3. Hi Julie

    We just went with a company that was located down at the old port. Most of them are fairly similar but you really just need to check a)where they go and b) how long they stay there for and c) what you actually get to do (ie do you get out at the volcano and walk over it, do you get to swim in the thermal pools etc) A lot just sail you past them. We actually went in peak time in August and were able to just go straight up and buy our tickets. We did however go there the day before we wanted to take the boat and found out their sail times etc to make sure we were there early enough for it to not be a problem. If you are getting off on the volcano I’d recommend having good shoes. I didn’t realise that we were doing this so had shoes that weren’t appropriate.

  4. We are here now in Santorini and have already planned the day with everything you have done. Thank u for the helpful tips on the Volcano. Blessing!

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