There are unique reasons to visit each of the many countries that make up Europe, but there are some that stand out above the others. The likes of France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom are among the most visited nations in Europe due to their rich cultures, amazing cities, incredible scenery, world-famous landmarks, and more.

More ideas: Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips

Greece is another wonderful example. One of the major birthplaces of modern civilization, Greece has played a highly significant role in the development of science, medicine, politics, art, culture, philosophy, and many other aspects of human society over the years, and the nation’s incredible history and culture helps it to draw in millions of visitors each year.

Many visitors to Greece spend most of their time in the country’s capital city of Athens. The hub of one of the most historically powerful empires in the world, Athens is home to landmarks and buildings that have been standing for thousands of years, with the likes of the Acropolis and the Parthenon standing out as key examples.

Athens is a truly extraordinary city to explore, particularly for art, culture, and history buffs, but there's much more of Greece to see beyond the city limits of its capital. Greece is also famous for its gorgeous islands in the Aegean Sea, with Santorini being a prime example. It’s actually possible to do a day trip to Santorini from Athens. Read on to find out how.

All About Santorini

Santorini is one of the many Cyclades islands dotted around the Aegean Sea. It has a unique past, having been heavily affected by a major volcanic eruption back in the 1500s. This eruption shaped and changed the landscape of the island, which has since recovered from this natural disaster to become one of the most popular island resort locations in all of Greece.

With pebble-strewn beaches and cliffside villages to explore, Santorini is a special place that leaves its mark on every visitor, and some of the top sites to check out during your trip to Santorini include the Akrotiri ruins, the Santorini caldera, the ruins of Ancient Thera, and the charming white towns of Fira and Oia.

Getting to Santorini from Athens

Santorini isn't too far away from Athens, but since it's an island, the only ways to get there are by air or by sea. Most people tend to take the ferry from Athens to Santorini, but you can also choose to take a plane or even a helicopter if you’d like to get there much faster.

Getting to Santorini from Athens by Sea

If you choose to take the ferry from Athens to Santorini, it's a wise idea to book your ticket in advance, reserving your spot on the crossing and ensuring you get the best price. The ferry is slower than the plane, but it offers a unique and highly scenic experience, with lots of good photo opportunities. Plus, taking the ferry is generally considered to be more relaxing for many people.

To take the ferry, you'll need to buy your ticket and then travel to the Piraeus port, which is about half an hour outside of Athens by taxi or metro. Be sure you arrive at the port about an hour before the ferry is set to leave. You can travel with different companies, including SeaJets and Blue Star, and the earliest crossing leaves at 7am, arriving at Santorini by midday.

Getting to Santorini from Athens by Air

If you're planning a day trip to Santorini, it might make a lot more sense to take a plane rather than the ferry. The plane will get you to the island much more quickly and give you a lot more time to explore before having to head back. The ferry ride can be highly enjoyable and scenic, but if you purely want the maximum amount of time on Santorini, taking a plane or helicopter tour is the best option.

Planes will leave direct from Athens airport and only take about 45 minutes to get to Santorini. You'll need to add on the time needed to get to the airport and check-in, but this is still a lot faster overall than the ferry crossing. Plus, if you book in advance, you can get plane tickets at very affordable prices.

Important Information and Things to Do at Santorini

- Getting Around Santorini - Getting around Santorini can seem quite tricky when you first arrive, but there are actually a few different options available to you. If you're landing at the airport or arriving at the ferry port and want to quickly get somewhere, the best option is to take a taxi. There are no rideshare services or apps like Uber operating on Santorini, so you'll need to take an old-fashioned taxi. The island also has a local bus service, and there are some rental cars available.

- Best Time to Visit Santorini - Santorini is a beautiful island at any time of year, but if you want to have the best weather and the most opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, fun tours, and exciting excursions, visiting in the summer months is the best option. If you prefer visiting the ruins and aren't too interested in working on your tan or dipping your toes in the Aegean Sea, you might prefer to visit in spring or fall when the weather is a little milder but there are far fewer tourists.

- Things to Do - There's plenty to do in Santorini. If you'd like to meet some locals and taste some island cuisine, you can visit one of the main towns of Fira or Oia. Fira is the biggest town, and Oia is the second largest. Fira offers super views over the caldera, while Oia is well-known for its shopping and dining. There are some wineries on the island, as well as lots of great beaches, some featuring black or red sand and stones. You can do hikes around the island, including a particularly scenic one from Fira to Oia, as well as hiking along the caldera, taking boat tours, visiting ruins of Ancient Thira and Akrotiri, and much more.