Santorini is the most famous Greek island and it justifies its reputation through incredible landscapes and unique experiences that will leave you speechless
If there is an island that captures the imagination about a trip to Greece, then Santorini is the place that most people will think about as their dream destination. And for good reason as its volcanic origins make its landscape and half moon shape are just out of this World.
Santorini can be enjoyed by any traveller , either a couple, families, a group of friends or single travellers looking for some great day trips around the most popular towns and then some night entertainment in the active nightlife of Fira Town. Santorini is not for beach/ resort holidays, even if it has some nice beaches on the South or for people looking for quiet holidays, away from crowds. But feel free to take your own decision after reading through my post to the end.
In this map, you can see that Santorini is located South in the Cyclades islands group, between Crete and Athens.
WHEN TO GO TO SANTORINI
Like most Greek islands, the best time to go to Santorini is during European Summertime. In June and then mid August to September is normally less hot and cheaper than during the school holidays high season from July to mid August. Temperatures will be in the low 20s degrees celsius (even below on windy nights) but will reach 30s and more during the day, especially in early August it will be on the 40s degrees celsius zone. Expect no rain during these months.
Best time to swim in Santorini is from mid May to October as sea temperatures will be ranging from 23 degrees by mid May to 28 degrees in high Summer in August. Some currents might change this slightly, especially in windy areas.
Even if it might get busy, Summer in Santorini is when most shops, restaurants, bars and all air/ ferry connections will be at its maximum.
HOW TO GO TO SANTORINI
The best way to get to Santorini is by air. From June onwards, you can fly directly from most European cities with charter flights done by holidays companies or low cost companies such as Ryanair, Wizz Air, Condor, TUI, Transavia, Eurowings and several others. Also bigger companies like Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France/KLM increase their flight offer during this season. The local company Aegean Airlines and its subsidiary Olympic Air provide great service but always need to connect via Athens to all islands flights.
If you are already in Greece, the best way to travel to Santorini is then by ferry rather than flying- its cheaper and more flexible. Ferry services run all Summer long , starting usually in June and ending in September.
The biggest ferry companies that can take you to and from Santorini are Blue Star ferries and Seajets. Both are good and rekiabe. Seajets is much quicker as it has an Express connection between all Cyclades Islands. You can check schedules and book tickets here:
HOW TO GET AROUND SANTORINI
Santorini has a good public transportation system that is great to connect between different towns, especially in the West Coast, but if you want to go inland or then to the beaches South it might get tricky. Here below you can find the main bus routes and in this link you can see the schedules of the Santorini Bus.
My recommendation is that you get a taxi or a shuttle with your hotel to go to your hotel/ accommodation and then arrange a transportation on your own, either a shuttle or just rent a car/ quad/ buggy depending on your travel mode and amount of people travelling. There are many local reliable rental car companies that you can use on the island, but call before to make sure you get a vehicle during July/ August they are often sold out. Expect to pay 45-50€/ day, discounts are not common on high season.
On Taxis, most importantly only use the official taxis standing on a line near the airport / town/. Never go to a taxi driver at the arrivals , offering you a cheap transfer. Also beware of luxury transfers kiosks inside the airports that will ask you 2x the price that you would pay for a normal taxi. of course if you want privacy and some more comfort, then don’t hesitate to book them.
Road conditions are mostly good in Santorini and except for Fira Town and main crossroads on the West coast, don’t expect major traffic jams. And beware of the Greek driving style – I was fine with it that but you must be aware that they drive really fast.
Finally do tour excursions if you prefer not to have worries with transportation, want to party/ connect with others or simply have limited time.
WHERE TO STAY IN SANTORINI
Santorini has some great places to stay but to be easier to commute to other parts of the island, especially if you don’z have your own transportation, usually Fira Town is a great choice and my recommendation. Here you can select the more fancy seaside, that comes with a price or then stay on a secondary street behind, that its better value for money and still withing walking distance of the top sights in Fira Town and Buses. Here are my top Hotels for Fira Town:
- Keti Hotel: great breakfast ,spacious rooms with beautiful views and a nice infinity pool, its just a great experience
- Dream island Hotel: with a view to the east coast of Santorini to see the sunrise, rooms are large, pool and jacuzzis are great and its still close enough to have dinner in Fira Town
- Athina Luxury Suites: If you want to splurge a little more than usual, its going to be the ultimate experience with a gkorious pool, great views of the caldera and amazing breakfast
- Villa Soula: For some better valueb for money, without breakfast or other catering, places like Villa Soula are quite cosy and this even has a pool
I can also recommend hotels in the southern part of Santorini to be closer to the beach area. Here my choice would be Kamari, that has a beautiful sea promenade and several good hotels. but my favorite was the Aegean Plaza Hotel. Great hotel grounds with a lovely pool, very good breakfast and 2 minutes from the beach and the promenade with several restaurants and bars
Lastly cave hotels could be also an option , in case you want to experience something unique and usually quite luxurious as most of of them come with pools or jacuzzis. Its not that they are actually inside a cave, but their format reminds you of one in a very white setting. From these I can clearly recommend the Divine Cave or Iconic Santorini in Imerovigli and Lava Caves or Oia White Caves. Do reserve in advance here as they are expensive but due to its limited amount they are quickly sold out.
WHERE TO EAT IN SANTORINI
If you had only one meal in Santorini, then Fira Town is the best place as where you can see amazing sunsets over the volcano caldera while experiencing .
My absolute favorite restaurants in Santorini were:
⭐️Barolo restaurant right at the southern entrance of Santorini‘s Fira Town – wine & food pairing lighted by beautiful lamps
⭐️Niki restaurant in Fira Town has probably the highest terrace in Fira, doesn’t get much better than this with local Greek food
⭐️Volcano Blue Seafood still in Fira Town was for me the best restaurant of them, great food and service with astonishing views
⭐️If you want some great beach Restaurants, you can find them at Kamari beach, terrific location on a promenade by the sea. My recommendations are Almira and Gia Mas
⭐️In Oia village, the most photogenic of all places in Santorini, you can’t go wrong with Black Rock Restaurant or Pelekanos
⭐️In Imerovigli the restaurant Five senses is simply an hidden gem you need to experience before or after you hike to Skaros rock and church
Expect to pay 15-20€per person plus drinks and dessert, so 25-30€ would be a normal meal cost .
If you go for a quick lunch like sandwiches or kebab then you will be paying up to 10€ per person.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN SANTORINI
Santorini is not a typical Greek beach holiday island like many in Greece but its the most incredible nature wonder of them all as it lays its foundations on a thousands years old huge volcano crater that makes it so unique and special.
Therefore the best locations in Santorini are its main towns / villages and some nature places to admire the sea
- Oia village
- Fira Town
- The three church bells of Fira
- Keri lighthouse
- Pyrgos village
- Skaros Rock
- Megalochori village
In this map of Santorini, you can see the location of all the top things to do plus the best beaches
Oia village with its white housing and blue domes perching on the cliffs of the northern coast of Santorini offers you the most perfect postcard pixtures of Santorini. Try to arrive shortly after sunrise in Summer as you will have great lighting and will avoid the crowds. Sunsets here are also magical. You can get here by bus from Fira Town or if you have your own transportation, park the car at the entrance and then walk into the 100% pedestrian village of Oia.
Fira Town is as spectacular as Oia, especially because it’s located even more dramatically high above the sea. Like Oia and most Santorini towns its a full pedestrian town but it has bigger steep streets than Oia. Still the views from the area of the lift that goes down to the new harbour, close to black Lava café and near the Keti Hotel & Church are postcard perfect places. For sunset views i highly recommend that you get closer to the city center and dine with the most stunning views.
Quite close to Fira town, circa 15 minutes on foot, you have the scenic viewpoint of the three church bells of Fira, with stunning views of the islands and coastline of Santorini.
If you wnat more quiet yet beautiful charming villages in Santorini then Imerovigli (between Oia and fira Town) plus Pyrgos and Megalochori in the South are the best places. Any of them has its won beauty but all prime for their narrow white and blue streets, lovely fassades and great views. If you have time, do enjoy drinks or even a meal at one of the many cafés on these villages. Easily accessible via car or other own transportation, you can also get the bus from Fira Town to any of them.
Then the incredible Keri lighthouse offers amazing views of the whole caldera and the Aegean Sea, an excellent secret spot to see the sunset or just get away from the more crowded spots in the Santorini island. There’s also a small café right before the lighthouse to get a drink, before after climbing going to the lighthouse. Also go to the hill behind for a beautiful lighthouse panoramic. To come here then ideally ride a car or get a scooter/ quad. On the way to Keri lighthouse, you will have some beautiful caldera view scenic spots, so do stop on the way.
My final recommendation is to hike to Skaros Rock, just in front of Imerovigli,. for beautiful views of the caldera, Imerovigkli, Fira Town and Imerovigli and the island in a great qiuet and scenic spot where few people would go in Santorini but reward you with stunning views! It takes only circa 1 hour to hike there and back but do thake water as it might be hot and there are few shadows. Make sure you go down all the way to the small church!
BEST BEACHES IN SANTORINI
For beach lovers in Santorini, not all is lost as in the South of the island, the colourful trio of the Red Beach, White beach and Kamari Black beach do offer you the chance to swim in Santorini ‘s waters and enjoy a great beach day.
Kamari is the widest and for me the better developed beach town in Santorini, with all amenities, beach bars, restaurants and any main shops near to the beach. Its also a great spot to see planes getting over the beach, but you don’t hear them at night I found it very special to see the planes flying over! And Kamari also offers spectacular sunrises! Its then accessible from Fira Town by bus or from the airport. There ‘s actually another black sand beach on the other side of the cliffs called Perissa that I also found really good but Kamari was somehow better.
Red beach is a sight to see in Santorini as its quite unique , even in whole Greek islands there is no other beach with this color. Here you need to hike 15 minutes to get to the beach from the parking lot, but its an easy hike (do bring good shoes to pass across the rocky areas). The beach itself is a little stony but you can still swim , ideally with reef shoes. Currents are fine but beware of the rocks.
Finally the scenic White beach. This is a fine sandy beach in Santorini but actually not with white sand, as the name derives from the huge white sea cliffs that serve as a backdrop to the bay and the local beach. There a few bars here with some nice cocktails and sun lounges. The best option is to arrive here by car/ buggy or scooter.
Stay also tuned for posts for more Greece islands and have a look to the posts already published. Send me any questions per message or comment below.
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My name is Renato Azambujo. I live currently in Hamburg, but was born and raised in sunny capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I also lived in Switzerland for some years, before settling in Germany for the last years.
I am huge passionate about travel, photographer and a global explorer, always looking to the next destination.
I have so far visited over 70 countries across the 5 continents, because I really love knowing about new places, interact with different cultures and get to know myself better after each journey.