Santorini | Travel Guide
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Update July 19: If you're fully vaccinated and returning to England from an amber country you won't need to self-isolate when you get back.
You'll need to take a PCR test 3 days before you travel and a PCR test on or before day 2 after you return.
Children under 18 won't need to self-isolate but will still need to take the precautionary tests. Those aged 5-10 only need to take the day 2 test and those under 4 are exempt from any testing or self-isolation.
Negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival.
If you're fully vaccinated you'll need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus one on day 2 once you return.
If you aren't fully vaccinated you'll need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus ones on day 2 and day 8 while you self-isolate on your return.
When you're there:
You'll need to wear a face covering in all public places, both inside and outside. Everywhere has a curfew in place between 12.30am and 5am.
Traffic light status:
Mainland Greece and the island of Santorini have been confirmed to be on England's amber list meaning it is legal to travel there for any reason, including a holiday. At time of writing the FCDO does advise against non-essential travel to Greece and the island of Santorini.
Santorini Travel Guide
Yasou travellers and welcome to our Santorini travel guide. We'll be covering:
- Getting to Santorini
- Useful information
- Getting around Santorini
- Top places to visit
- Best beaches
- Santorini for families
- Accessibility in Santorini
- Santorini for LGBTQ+ travellers
Getting to Santorini
As one of the most popular Greek islands for UK tourists there are daily direct flights to Santorini Airport (also known as Thera Airport). It's a really small airport, so it's easy to navigate and there's no long walk from the plane.
Once you have landed in Santorini the transfer time to your hotel is usually under an hour. We recommend pre-booking an airport transfer.
If you haven't booked a transfer you can take a taxi, but be warned they only seat four people and there are no flat rate fees, so you'll be charged by taximeter based on distance. A taxi to Fira will be around €35, depending on traffic and time of day. There is also a shuttle bus which runs between the airport and Fira (€1.70 one way ticket), but these don't run that often so you may have to wait.
Santorini is one of the Greek Islands found in the Aegean Sea - just north of Crete.
Time zone: GMT +3.
Power adapter: Greece uses type C and type F - these are both two round pins.
Flight time: 4 hours on average.
Getting around Santorini
Although Santorini is a small island, and it doesn't take long to get anywhere, the public transport can be infrequent and doesn't take you to all parts of the island. We recommend you hire a car for your visit - this gives you the freedom to see the whole island and do so at your own pace.
The roads can be quite narrow and winding in places - but will reward you with spectacular views. Just make sure to park up off the road and stop for a minute to take them in.
In some of the main tourist spots, such as Oia and Fira, the car parks can get very busy - so make sure to allow time for this in your day.
If you can't hire a car, then not to worry there is public transport available - this will get you between all the main villages and is very affordable. There's also plenty of lovely walks that will take you between the villages, as we said nowhere is really that far on Santorini!
Top places to visit in Santorini
Oia (pronounced ee-yah) is the most iconic spot on the island - chances are when you think Santorini you're actually thinking of Oia. The town has the white washed buildings and famous blue domes, all with the stunning backdrop of the caldera below. Most people will visit Oia for its sunset - and wow does it get busy. Everyone will crowd the steep steps to get that instagram shot. So our tip - reserve a spot at one of the cliffside restaurants, that way you are guaranteed a view of the sunset and also get to enjoy some amazing Greek food!
Fira, or Thera, is the capital of Santorini and is home to the old port. The main town of Fira is set in the cliffside, about 400m above sea level, and the port lies down the Karavolades Stairs (487 steps - yes we counted!). There is also a cable car that will take you down to the old port, and back up again. If you plan to walk up the steps it may seem hard work, but there are plenty of places to rest and take in the views along the way. Going down via steps and up via cable car may seem the most logical (and many prefer it) but your legs will definitely still feel the downhill walk the next day! You can also take a donkey ride, up or down, but we do advise against this - although donkeys are of cultural and historical important in Fira we aren't sure this is entirely harmless to the donkeys.
The most iconic view in Fira is probably that of the Three Bells of Fira - technically they are found in Firostefani, which some consider a separate village, but really this is just an extension of the main village. It's simply named Firostefani as stefani translates to "crown" and this is a high point of the town.
Fira is also where the many cruise ships that visit Santorini dock, which can makes the town really busy at certain times. It's worth checking the port schedule to see when a cruise ship is planned so you can avoid these times.
One of our favourite things to do in Santorini is to take a boat tour around the caldera. It's a great opportunity to see the island from a different angle, and get some amazing caldera views. The boat will take you out to the hot springs, where you can get out and take a swim in the warm water. Bring a snorkel (or most boats will have some you can use) as you'll also get opportunity to jump off the boat to swim in the beautiful crystal clear waters.
Visit the historical sites
Although Santorini is very much a modern tourist destination whose popularity has skyrocketed in the age of Instagram, the island itself has a rich history. So a trip to Santorini really isn't complete without a visit to some of the historical sites. To the south of the island is Akrotiri, where you can find an ancient Minoan settlement that dates as far back as 4000 BC. The settlement was buried in ash in the volcanic event in 1627 BC - it is now being unearthed and you can visit the site and see the village preserved in time. It is also believed that Akrotiri was the inspiration for the story of Atlantis.
Elsewhere on the island there is another important historical site between Kamari and Perissa - Anicent Thera. This archaeological site on top of mountains of Mesa Vouno gives you a chance to wander the ruins of this ancient settlement. You'll also get great views out over the Aegean!
Tour a vineyard
Santorini is a unique Greek island, and this carries over to the food and drink, too. The most unique thing on Santorini is the wine! Due to the volcanic history of the island, and the lack of water - the vines here do not grown in a typical fashion. Rather than the typical tall vineyards you can see elsewhere, vines here are grown in trenches in the soil. Due to the soil (a mixture of pumice, volcanic ash and lava) the small insects that like to feed to vine roots can't survive - this makes the the vines on Santorini some of the oldest in the world. This also gives Santorini wine a unique, almost metallic flavour. We highly recommend a wine tour during your stay on the island. Ya mas!
We'll preface this section with, if you're going on holiday for the beach then you'd be better off visiting a different Greek island, such as Zante or Kefalonia. Santorini is not known for it's beaches, largely because the ones it have are volcanic beaches, with coarser black sand. That being said, this makes them an interesting and photo-worthy beach visit!
This is one of the most tourist friendly beaches on the island, with plenty of bars and restaurants. You can hire sunbeds and umbrellas here - perfect for a longer day at the beach. The water here is beautiful and this is a great spot for those who enjoy water activities.
One of Santorini's most famous beaches - mostly due to the unusual red sand and cliffside. The beach is in the Akrotiri region, so can be combined with a visit to the lighthouse. The beach itself is quite small, so it can get crowded. Even if you don't set up towel for a day at the beach here, it's at least worth a visit for a view of the cliffs.
If you're looking for a more remote and less crowded beach then head to Cape Columbo - it's only 8.5 km from Fira. This beach can get quite windy, but the water gets really hot as it's closest to the active volcanic area of the island.
Santorini for families
Santorini has a reputation as a romantic location for couples, so you may be wondering if Santorini is a suitable choice for your family holiday. There are definitely some pros and cons to consider when deciding if Santorini is right for your holiday, but overall there's no reason why you shouldn't choose Santorini - the views aren't just for couples after all!
The busy season for Santorini is July through August, and it gets busy - really busy. So we advise avoiding visiting at this time, it'll also save you money to go off season. The other main consideration is how easy it is to navigate around Santorini - it is after all a rugged volcanic island and the main attractions are built into the cliffside. The main pathways in Oia and Fira are easily accessible by pushchair, but when you start to head towards the caldera views the paths get much narrower and steeper. So if you have little ones, you may want to limit how far off the main path you go.
In terms of things to do, this is a great island to explore with kids. If they are learning about geology or love volcanoes they'll get a real kick out of the black sand beaches, a boat ride round the volcanic caldera or the mountainous red rocks. Or if history is their thing, then you can visit the bronze age settlement at Akrotiri - it was buried by the volcanic eruption that shaped the island and is now being slowly uncovered.
We'll be honest, you may have more to do and see on one of the other Greek Islands, Naxos in particular is very child friendly. The caldera side of Santorini does have a lot of accommodation that doesn't accept children, so you may be better off staying at one of the smaller resorts (these also have better beaches!) such as Pyrgos or Perissa.
Accessibility in Santorini
Getting around Santorini may pose some challenges for those with limited mobility, but this doesn't mean you can't access the famous views. The main towns of Fira and Oia are largely pedestrianised, with relatively flat main routes which can be navigated. However, once you leave the main routes the paths become much narrower and have a number of stairs due to the fact they are built into the cliffside.
But there is more to Santorini than these two villages, the village of Perissa is on the non caldera side of the island and is a mostly flat resort. In Perissa there is the famous black sand beach, with plenty of swimming opportunities. It's also much cheaper than staying in the main villages - and the money saved here can be used to day trip to Oia or Fira to take in the views.
Santorini for LGBTQ+ travellers
Santorini is one of the most romantic travel destinations out there, and with gay rights in Greece improving in recent years you are unlikely to come across any trouble here.
That being said there are no gay venues on the island - if that's your scene you'd be better off heading to Mykonos. Santorini is more laid back - perfect for you and your partner to relax together.
That's it from us in Santorini. We hope this guide gave you all you everything you need to know for your trip. If you're reading this and think we have missed out a top tip then let us know and leave a comment to share with other travellers!
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