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Greece: Santorini

99 Coastal Destinations Rated: In the Balance

Score: 60

History, culture, and geologic drama collide on spectacular Santorini, making it "one of the world's most outstanding places to visit"—and daily submerging it in the tide of cruise-ship passengers that such a reputation attracts. But although tourism has washed away much of the island's authenticity, "care has been taken in recent years to restrict new development."

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"One of the most photogenic Greek islands. Has lost much of its authentic character to the pressures of short-stay cruise liners and low-yield package holidays. It remains a delight; the conversion of traditional cave houses into accommodation facilities has generally been done with taste and sensitivity."

"An absolutely amazing destination. Unfortunately, an increase in cruise tourism to the island has caused the major towns, Ia and Fira, to become overrun in peak summer months. Luckily, the southern half of the island has managed to retain most of its original charm and beauty. Care has been taken in recent years to restrict further development."

"Peak-season crowds keep this score from being higher. A fabulous destination with an excellent built heritage and a stunning natural setting. But, oh, the crowds."

"Charming despite overwhelming numbers of cruise-ship visitors. The ancient city of Thera is fascinating. Getting to it requires effort, which is good. Unfortunately, a dearth of quality heritage interpretation means that the authentic stories of the island largely go untold."

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