Paradoxes of travelling inside of small volcanic islands – Santorini in Greece

Oia, Santorini, 2022

Topography of the island is mountainous and makes it quite difficult to move by bike. Also, the absence of pathways along the main roads connecting major communities (such as Kamari, Perrisa, Oia and Fira) is making difficult to walk between places. But with the modernization of infrastructure would it be possible?

Santorini is presenting a quite typical network of communication, where buses are the privileged transport, even between places located 5 kilometres away. To compare, the surface of the island is 90 km square which for European is the size of quite small city. Still, the existence of the characteristic flow of big roads is not inviting us to have a walk (to compare, it exists trails to go across Corse island which are 200 km long).

Compared to my previous experience, the character of communication inside of the island is similar to the Canarian islands for example, to Gran Canaria, where the main station, Las Palmas, is the centre of connection to every other direction on the island. Here, in Santorini, this role plays Fira (in Greek, Φηρά). Community is not situated at the geographical centre, but it is connecting all the flows coming from the Nord (Oya), airport and Kamari at the East side, and Perissa which is situated on the South.

Topography is the result of volcanic activity that has created the forms of the island and its impressive geology.

Heart of Santorini, viewpoint (near to Megalochori)

If we were starting to analyze the map of the transport connections, we would very quickly realize that topography has completely isolated community Kamari from Perissa, situated almost close at hand. The only land road available between two sites is across Pyrgos Kallistis by car, but you need to take a bus from Fira if you use public transport.

Unless you have a boat or would like to rent a taxi boat, which is another solution, very often used on small volcanic islands, these are your only ‘land’ options.

Transport on small volcanic islands can be very well organized, but it is adapted to the topography and interior flows between communities. Topography in many places makes difficult to walk directly from point A to point B. All public transport is centralized around one major city or community on the island. Unless you have a car, your movements inside of the island will be quite limited.

That’s one of the reasons probably, of arrival of many individual transport solutions during last decade, such as ATV, quad bikes and scooters.

But before you choose to have fun with one of these, make sure you understand the topography of the island and adapt the speed to the quality of the road 😉

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