Akrotiri of Thera - Santorini

The Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri was one of the most important Minoan urban centres and ports in the Aegean Sea when it was covered by volcanic ash in the 17th century BC.

The 'Spring Fresco' from Akrotiri, now in the National Archaeology Museum, Athens.
The so-called Spring Fresco depicting swallow flying above lilies and the volcanic landscape of the island, the only fresco found at the site still in situ.

The prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini (Thíra) is one of the most important sites in the Aegean. In prehistory it was a well connected Minoan port town, with connections to mainland Greece and as far afield as Egypt and Syria. As the town was covered in ash following a volcanic eruption on the island, preservation of the settlement is exceptional, making this one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece.

Today the site is covered by a bioclimatic roof and walkways are suspended above the archaeological remains, that allows visitors to walk among the two and three-storey buildings.

Walkways suspended above the archaeological ruins of the ancient port at Akrotiri.

Walkways lead visitors around an active archaeological excavation.

Did You Know? Akrotiri is referred to as the ‘Greek Pompeii’ because the site was covered in volcanic ash. And, like its Italian namesake, a charred bed was also recovered by archaeologists. This along with a number of frescoes and other artefacts are on display in the Akrotiri of Thera Room in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Although the earliest evidence of habitation dates to the Late Neolithic times (around 6,000 years ago), it was not until the Late Bronze Age (cira 4,000 years ago) that Akrotiri had developed into one of the main urban centres and ports in the Aegean Sea. The extent of the settlement is an estimated 20 hectares; although it has not all been uncovered.

The settlement has a number of notable features: it had an elaborate drainage system, and was made up of sophisticated multi-storey buildings that were decorated with exquisite wall-paintings. The quality and quantity of the furniture and ceramic vessels are evidence of the town’s prosperity. Whereas the numerous imported objects recovered by archaeologists indicate a wide network of communication across the Mediterranean; from Crete and the Dodecanese islands to mainland Greece, from Cyprus to Egypt and Syria

Sometime towards the end of the 17th century BC the inhabitants of the town were forced to leave after a series of severe earthquakes. There followed a volcanic eruption, the ash of which completely covered the island and the town. The exact date of the eruption is debated, (for the latest research, see this article in Science Advances), but it is generally accepted that this was the largest volcanic eruption in the last 4,000 years.

Where is Akrotiri

The archaeological site of Akrotiri is directly south of the modern-day village with the same name, at the south-western part of the crescent shaped island of Thíra, the largest island in the Santorini archipelago.

How to Get to Akrotiri: Private or Public Transport

Akrotiri is easy to drive to if you have a rental car. But having a car for your stay is not essential. Public transport is very good, and there are regular buses from Fira (the central bus station for the island) to the car park at Akrotiri Red Beach throughout the week. Form there it is about a 250 metre walk to the archaeological site. From Fira to the Red Beach car park takes about 20 minutes, and costs around €2 for an adult.

It is also possible to get off the bus at the village of Akrotiri, and take the well signposted path to the archaeological site. For further details of prices and timetables to both the town and the Red Beach, check the public buses KTEL Santorini website.

Alternatively, hire a private minicab/taxi to take you form your accommodation to the site.

Some of the guided tours include a hotel transfer.

Key Facts

Akrotiri is named after the nearby village, the historical name is unknown.

Period 4th millennium BC Neolithic to 16th century BC Bronze Age
Features Port town, Settlement, Minoan frescoes
Size 20 hectares

Abandoned following earthquakes, then covered by volcanic ash between 1620 and 1530 BC.

Earliest excavations were carried out in 1867, shortly after the site was found during excavation of tephra for construction in the Suez Canal. Excavations continue today with exciting discoveries being made.

Artefacts from the site are on display in the Archaeological Museum of Thera (Fira) and the National Archaeology Museum (Athens).

Visiting Akrotiri

Opening Hours
1 November – 31 March
08h00 to 15h00, Tuesday to Sunday

4 April – 31 October
Daily 08h00 to 20h00
Thursdays 08h00 to 15h00
Monday: Closed

Ticket Prices
Full €12, Reduced €6

Combined Ticket
Full €14, Reduced €7
A 4-day ticket is for archaeological Sites and museum in Thera: Ancient Thera, Akrotiri, Archaeological Museum, Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Collection of Icons and Ecclesiastical Artefacts at Pyrgos

Official Website

Guided Tours of Akrotiri

Other Sites & Museums to Visit in Santorini

Ancient Thera
Archaeological Museum of Thera (Fira)
Collection of Icons and Ecclesiastical Artefacts (Pyrgos)

Read More:

Exploring the Past in Santorini
Sunsets, History and Santorini with Kids
Thera Gallery – National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Please Note:

Every effort is made to ensure the information provided here is up-to-date. Details such as opening hours and entrance fees can change with little notice. Take the information provided here as a guide, and confirm these by visiting the official website listed (where possible). And by all means, please do make contact if the information requires updating.

Map of Akrotiri

This map of shows the archaeological site of Akrotiri today, the extent of the site and how much has been excavated. The dotted green line shows the route of the Visitor Path through the site.

Of the frescoes in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens: The Spring Fresco was found in the Delta Complex building (the greyed infill room under the letter x on the map), while the boxers and the antelope frescoes were found in Sector Beta.

Map of the archaeological site of Akrotiri today.

This map is a digitised compilation from a number of sources, by Maximilian Dörrbecker.