Akrotiri Santorini Prehistoric City: All You Need to Know

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Written By: Pavlos Inglesis

This is my video from the Akrotiri Prehistoric City with a ton of information

The Ancient Akrotiri Prehistoric ruins is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece and definitely the most significant cultural attraction in Santorini. This is one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean that dates back to 4000 BC and flourished till the eruption of the Santorini volcano somewhere between 1650 and 1550 BC. Akrotiri Prehistoric Ruins is a beautiful excavated and preserved archaeological site that sits very close to the Red Beach of Santorini.

akrotiri santorini prehistoric city
Akrotiri Prehistoric City is considered Greece’s Pompeii and for many, this was the lost city of Atlantis; make no mistake this is the top cultural attraction in Santorini and a must do while on the island.

BEST AKROTIRI GUIDED TOUR: Akrotiri Prehistoric City Guided Walking Tour

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akrotiri santorini prehistoric city sign
it’s very easy to get to the Akrotiri Archaeological Site; the bus stop is literally outside of the main entrance

VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW

  • Akrotiri Prehistoric City Tickets Prices: Full (12€) , Reduced (6€) – for Senior EU Citizen over 65 years old and Students outside of the EU, Special Package Ticket (15€ Full) – for 3 days 1 access only to all of Santorini’s archaeological sites including Akrotiri, Ancient Thera and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera
  • Free Admission to Akrotiri: under 18 years old, EU Students, on the specific dates 28th of October, 6th of March, 18th of April, 18th of May, the last weekend of September every year and every first Sunday of the month from 1st of November til 31st of March every year
  • Online Tickets: you don’t have to pre-book your tickets online and there is barely any lines or queues in the ticket office at the entrance even in July and August; just show up and pay for the ticket. There is always availability.
  • How long does it take to visit Akrotiri Prehistoric City: you need at least 1.5-2 hours to see the whole archaeological site
  • Opening Hours Winter (November-March): 08:30-15:30 every day
  • Opening Hours Summer (April-October):
    08:30-15:30 Monday
    08:00-20:00 Tuesday
    08:00-20:00 Wednesday
    08:30-15:30 Thursday
    08:00-20:00 Friday
    08:00-20:00 Saturday
    08:00-20:00 Sunday
  • Akrotiri Prehistoric City is CLOSED on:
    1 January
    25 March
    1 May
    Greek Easter Sunday
    25 December
    26 December
  • Parking: there is a pretty big free parking lot just opposite the main entrance so that’s not an issue; expect it to be very busy in July and August though so the earliest you visit the better it would be
  • Best Time to go to Akrotiri Prehistoric City: it’s never very crowded and the bioclimatic roof offers very good ventilation so even on the hot summer days it’s very comfortable inside; overall I would suggest it’s better if you visit early in the morning around 9-10 so that you can continue your day to a nearby beach (Red Beach is in walkable distance)
  • How to Get to Akrotiri: the “Akrotiri Bus” from Fira will take you there in about 20 minutes (check the Santorini buses)
  • Best Thing to bring with you on your visit to Akrotiri: a bottle of water! There are a few vending machines in the area and some small kiosks selling snacks and drinks but you should better bring your own water; you will definitely need it in the summer
  • Where to Eat after your Akrotiri visit: there are only a few options just down the small beach from Akrotiri: Melina’s Tavern, Cave of Stolidas and Cave of Nikolas restaurants with Melina’s being my personal favourite (they are all good!)

AKROTIRI SANTORINI PREHISTORIC CITY ENTRANCE AND TICKETS

It’s very easy to go to the Akrotiri Prehistoric City Archaeological Site as there is a direct local bus from Fira (20 mins drive) but you can also take a taxi or you can even drive with your own car.

akrotiri prehistoric city parking
The parking lot just outside of the Akrotiri Prehistoric City Entrance which is also where the local Santorini Bus will drop you off
akrotiri prehistoric city main entrance
This is the main entrance of the Archaeological Site (yes, stray dogs and cats will be around and they are very well treated and taken care by the Museum staff)
akrotiri ticket office
This is the ticket office of the Akrotiri Prehistoric City Archaeological Site; there are barely any queues even in the busiest of times in July or August so it’s really not necessary to book anything online in advance
akrotiri tickets prices
You can find the latest details for the tickets and the opening hours just posted on the ticket office itself, so please check before buying any tickets to see how many you need (children and Seniors over 65 go for free for example)
akrotiri excavations prehistoric city
The outdoor area of the Archaeological Site is really well maintained with plenty of space and dedicated paths
akrotiri prehistoric city vending machine
There is even a vending machine with drinks and cold water but I having your own drinks and water is highly advisable as I cannot guarantee these will be working when you visit
akrotiri prehistoric city wifi
There is even a local WiFi that you can use around the area
akrotiri prehistoric city toilets
there are lots of available toilets and amenities in the site and they are all very clean and accessible
akrotiri prehistoric city entrance
This is the main entrance of the archaeological site itself
akrotiri prehistoric city dogs
Some super (and not prehistoric) dogs are around that are taken care by the staff of the museum

THE HISTORY OF THE EXCAVATIONS IN AKROTIRI

Archaeological excavations in Akrotiri started in 1867 when some locals found some artefacts in the area. The main excavation though was initiated by the visionary Greek Archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos (died in 1974) and his assistant Christos Doumas who is still the main Lead Archaeologist in the ongoing Akrotiri excavations.

akrotiri santorini excavations old
Photo from the main Akrotiri excavations in 1967-1974 (yes, these were found during the military Junta in Greece; Spyridon Marinatos was a supporter of the regime)
akrotiri santorini spyridon marinatos
Spyridon Marinatos in 1971 posing with his camera on top of the freshly excavated ruins of prehistoric Akrotiri (Photo: S. Meletzis)
akrotiri santorini christos doumas
Christos Doumas (on the left and Marinatos on the right) took over the responsibility of Director of Akrotiri Excavation till today. He is at the moment the single most knowledgeable person for Akrotiri on earth. Here is a great mini-documentary (in Greek) for him.
akrotiri santorini prehistoric map
A maps showing exactly how the area looked back in the day is available in the site

INSIDE THE AKROTIRI SANTORINI PREHISTORIC CITY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

The main archaeological site in Akrotiri is covered in an impressive bioclimatic roof that has recently transformed the whole area. The new roof was installed and is in operation since 2012. It was built to replace an old and rusty roof that was originally installed in the 70’s.

akrotiri prehistoric city
The archaeological site is one of the most impressive in Greece with wide wooden dedicated pathways and a massive bioclimatic roof.
akrotiri guided tour
Once you get in, you will see lots of groups from guided tours and I highly recommend you get on one guided tour such as this one.
akrotiri prehistoric city
There is also a miniature model that shows a complete overview of how the whole excavation site looks like
There is also lots of pics showing the history and the progress of the excavations in Akrotiri
akrotiri prehistoric city restoration
This is the Akrotiri Excavations Lab where restorators work on a daily basis to collect, categorize and store all the artefacts and pieces of prehistoric ruins that are found on-site during the excavations.
akrotiri wooden deck
The dedicated path for the visitors is wooden and very smooth
akrotiri prehistoric city
The findings are impressive as this is a small city that flourished and it was one of the richest in the Meditteranean sea back in the day (1600 BC)
akrotiri santorini archaeological site
There are lots of rooms from buildings of the town; most of them were rebuilt after several earthquakes and volcanic erruptions.
akrotiri prehistoric city
The Akrotiri prehistoric city is believed to have had at least 30000 people with excellent urban design, storage buildings, a complete drainage system and paved roads and streets.
akrotiri prehistoric city
The main building materials were stone, clay, hay, wood and gypsum
akrotiri prehistoric city
There were 2 and 3-storey buildings that were decorated with impressive colourful frescoes that evidently showed this was an elegant society fully appreciating art and luxury
akrotiri prehistoric city
The most interesting fact is that no human remains were ever found in the excavation which led the Archaeologists to believe there was a catastrophic event that made people get on the nearest ship and abandon their city; this event was believed to be one of the biggest volcanic eruptions ever happened in human history, that occurred in Santorini around 1500 BC
akrotiri prehistoric city
Everything was pretty much covered in volcanic ashes and the archaeologists had to invent new methods in order to make sure the findings were not damaged
akrotiri prehistoric city
There are lots of clay pots that were mostly used for storage of flour, oil, olives, weed and other edibles
akrotiri prehistoric city
There were lots of storage rooms because Akrotiri was flourishing as it was one of the largest ports in the area at its time
akrotiri ruins santorini thera
You awill be getting very close to all the artefacts and findings but you won’t be able to touch or get very close to them as they are extremely sensitive.
akrotiri prehistoric city
The city itself had lots of squares and impressive roads
akrotiri house of the ladies
The House of Ladies is one of the less stable at the moment and it is the one where some of the most impressive frescoes of the excavation depicting the women’s life in the Minoan culture and society
akrotiri prehistoric city
The excavation is still on going and you may see people working on some of the rooms when you visit
akrotiri prehistoric city
You will see lots of supporting beams as most of the buildings are very unstable and the slopes need additional support
akrotiri prehistoric city
The buildings of the city are still impressive as we are basically talking about a city that flourished 1500 years before the Roman Empire for example. These are some of the oldest buildings in the world ever found.
These are believed to be prehistoric beds and furniture.

THE AKROTIRI PREHISTORIC CITY SHOP

The Akrotiri Prehistoric City site has a small but lovely shop that sells books and copies of some of the artefacts found in Akrotiri.

akrotiri prehistoric city shop
The Museum Shop in Akrotiri is small but interesting
akrotiri prehistoric shop sign
The shop is open at the same opening hours as the archaeological sites
akrotiri prehistoric city shop
The shop sells copies of some artefacts
akrotiri santorini prehistoric site shop
akrotiri prehistoric shop
There are some impressive copies that you can buy
akrotiri prehistoric shop
The shop also sells books about the excavation in Akrotiri
akrotiri prehistoric shop
Some of the copies are extremely detailed
As you get out of the Akrotiri Prehistoric Site you will see a small kiosk selling books and souvenirs. This is set up by the people who are actively working in the excavations and are supporting them and their work directly (yes, the Greek State is not funding the excavations enough and it is a fact that these people working there are paid peanuts, so please support these teams as much as possible)
The kiosk is run directly by the people who work in the excavations. The museum shop and the archaeological site itself are run by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

NEARBY RESTAURANTS AND CRUISES FROM AKROTIRI

akrotiri beach
There is a small beach a few meters down the road as you exit the Akrotiri Archaeological site.
There is a small port from where you can get a boat to other islands and to some of the main beaches of Santorini
Directions from Akrotiri are clear…
You can get a small cruise boat to these areas from Akrotiri
Just outside of the ticket office you will find all the details about the available tickets and the opening times
akrotiri santorini restaurant
The small beach with a few fish restaurants just meters away from Akrotiri Prehistoric City
akrotiri santorini restaurant
Melina’s Tavern is one of the best restaurants in Akrotiri
Photo of author
AUTHOR
Pavlos Inglesis
Greek, born and raised in Athens. I have been to almost every greek island and pretty much in every region of mainland Greece. I have also been eating souvlaki and gyros since the 80s. I love being a dad to my 2 beautiful daughters and also taking great photos of the places I visit. This is my blog to help you out explore the places I have visited with my inside tips as a Greek, knowing the ins and outs of my country and culture. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section under the post you are interested in and I wIll try my best to respond asap.

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1 thought on “Akrotiri Santorini Prehistoric City: All You Need to Know”

  1. Hi, I’m Renato Jordan Leite, I took my wife and son to Akrotiri in Dec 2007. It was no possible to visit the site, since the old structure from the 70’s was in place and it was forbidden the presence of visitors. As a an avid archeologist lover, geologist by formation, I had to see the site. I found my way to the site and got close enough to peep through the structure. I took a picture of the city. Immediately, some archeology student lady in the headquarter in place yelled “police”, and pointed at me, releasing the two dogs. I believe two more people were also there, but stayed behind. Fortunately I did not get hurt, I raised my hands, showed my camera, and approached her, dogs were around but it was OK, I explained to her I was a geologist with a passion, but it looks she could barely understand english. She guided me to the metal gate, I went back to my wife and son and then we visited the nearby beach. No restaurants in the area at that time. Went back to the city, had wine and olives and a wonderful meal, with an interesting adventure to tell about Akrotiri. Today I discovered the site was rebuilt as a touristic place in 2012. I would like to make a donation to the archeologists team, hopefully the ones that were present during my “unfortunate” contact with them, please let me know if you have an account for donation. If not, one day I will be back, will tell my story again, and place a donation in person. I wish all the best to the archeologists team, you are in my heart, and your achievement was great, intangible!!

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