Santorini Travel Guide
Yasou travellers and welcome to our Santorini travel guide.
Top things to do in Santorini
Santorini Video Guide
Getting to Santorini
Getting around Santorini
Best Santorini Beaches
Best places to stay in Santorini
Santorini for families
Santorini for LGBTQ+travellers
Accessibility in Santorini
Sustainability in Santorini
Watch the sunset in Oia
Oia is world famous for its stunning sunsets and is sure to be a bucket-list worthy experience. One of the most popular viewpoints is by Oia Castle, where you'll be able to soak up views across the whole town, with its whitewashed buildings and windmills glowing in warm hues. Top Tip: Be sure to arrive early to get the perfect spot as it gets very crowded! A less busy but equally postcard-perfect location is right beside the famous blue domes. Click here for the exact location in Google Maps.
Take a scenic hike from Fira to Oia
Enjoy some of the most majestic views of Santorini and explore charming villages like Imerovigli and Firostefani along the way with the Fira to Oia walk. The route is about 6 miles (10 km) and is a mixture of pedestrian streets and dirt hiking trails. We recommend allowing 3-5 hours for the hike, heading off in the morning to avoid the midday sun and packing all the essentials like water, snacks and sun cream. While you can do this hike in either direction, we love walking from Fira to Oia since the route is largely downhill (always a bonus), all the best views are in front (instead of having to turn around to see them) and you'll end up in Oia, where you can spend the rest of the day/evening exploring the town and watch the legendary sunset over the caldera.
FOOD & DRINK
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 grow 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 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!
HISTORY & CULTURE
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.
Take a boat tour
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 the opportunity to jump off the boat to swim in the beautiful crystal clear waters.
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Type C and F
Santorini is one of the Greek Islands found in the Aegean Sea - just north of Crete. Check out our handy map of Santorini below to get a better feel for the island.
Some facts about Santorini
Santorini is arguably the most popular of the Greek Islands amongst tourists, and this can mean it gets busy in the height of summer.
When you think of Santorini it is likely you are picturing Oia and Fira - as these two villages are where you'll find those iconic sunset views. There is more to the island than these two places however, so make sure you check out our guide on where to stay below.
Santorini WeatherWeather in Santorini
Santorini weather during December, January, February (Winter). These are the coldest months in Santorini but temperatures are still relatively mild for winter (around 12°C). Rainy and windy days can't be ruled out, so you'll definitely need to pack jackets and long sleeves.
Santorini weather during March, April, May (Spring). From mid-March to May temperatures start to warm up to around 15-25°C and chances are you'll enjoy clear, sunny days. It's often said that Santorini weather in May is like summer weather here at home in the UK.
Santorini weather during June, July, August (Summer). The summer months in Santorini are warm and sunny with temperatures ranging from 26-30°C.
Santorini weather during September, October, November (Autumn). Santorini weather in September is still lovely and feels like summer. You'll be able to enjoy temperatures from 21- 26°C and little to no rain. In October it's getting slightly cooler with temperatures averaging around the 21°C mark but the sea is still warm enough to enjoy a swim or some water sports. The weather in November is still pleasant with sunny days and highs of 18°C, however there's a small chance you'll experience a rain shower or two during your trip.Top
Speaking the language
English is widely spoken across the island, but that's no reason not to learn a bit of lingo before you go, plus the locals really appreciate tourists making the effort.
Helpful Greek phrases
- Hello (informal) - Yassou (ya-sou)
- How are you? - Ti kanis? (ti-kanis)
- What's your name? - Pós se léne? (poss-eh-len-eh)
- My name is India - Me léne (me len-eh )
- One - Ena
- Two - Theo
- Three - Tria
- Four - Tessera
- Five - Pende
- Please - Parakaló (para-kalo)
- Thank you - Efharistó (ef-ha-risto)
- Table for two - Trapézi gia dýo (tra-pezi jiya duo)
- The bill, please - Ton logariasmó, parakaló (toh-loh-garismo, para-kalo)
- Goodbye - Antio (antio)
Getting to Santorini
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.Top
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
Santorini Airport Transfers
Book your Santorini Airport transfers, with prices starting from just £6.10 and free cancellations up to 3 days before travel.
Santorini Car Hire
Book your Santorini Airport car hire, with prices starting from just £14.17 per day with free cancellations.
Santorini Ultimate Experiences
From sunset cruises to an authentic taste of Greek food and wine - make sure to prebook your Santorini experiences.
Travel Insurance for Santorini
Whether you're hiking to Fira or sipping wine in Oia, you'll want a reliable travel insurance policy for your trip to Santorini.
Santorini ranks 36th on the Good Trip Index
This score is calculated based on Sustainability, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Press Freedom, Quality of Life, LGBTQI+ Rights and Animal welfareFind out more
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.Top
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 for a day trip to Oia or Fira to take in the views.Top
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.Top
Best places to stay in Santorini
At Holiday Extras we want to help take the hassle out of finding where to stay in Santorini, so we've handpicked our top 5 locations, along with what kind of traveller they would suit and what makes them tick.
A top pick for first-time visitors | Best for unmatched panoramic views
Oia (pronounced ee-yah), the second largest town in Santorini, 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!
Loved by honeymooners | Best for peace and relaxation
Imerovigli, also known as "The balcony to the Aegean", due to its position as the highest point of the caldera cliffs, is a small, picturesque village located just 2 miles away from Fira. Thanks to its position, those classic Santorini views we all know and love aren't disturbed by neighbouring areas. So, if you're looking for somewhere quiet with an abundance of luxury hotels, plenty of restaurants and of course, spectacular views, Imerovigli is the perfect choice for you.
There's something for everyone | Best for shopping and nightlife
Fira, or Thera, is the capital of Santorini and the largest town on the island. It's undoubtedly the best place to stay for restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, plus if you're visiting in low season (November to April) it's a great choice as most other towns on the island will be pretty deserted with many places closed until the summer months.
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 stunning caldera 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 importance in Fira we aren't sure this is entirely harmless to the donkeys.
A great choice for families | Best for beach lovers
Located at the south-eastern end of Santorini, Kamari is a seaside village known for its rugged volcanic landscapes, black sand beach, open air cinema and trendy bars and cafes along the promenade. Kamari is only a 15-minute bus ride away from Fira so day trips to the vibrant capital and other nearby caldera towns can be easy if your base is Kamari. It's also a great option for anyone who has trouble with mobility as Kamari is largely flat with open spaces, unlike the caldera side of the island, where there are lots of staircases and narrow, cobbled streets.
Perfect for budget-conscious travellers | Best for laid back vibes close to the capital
Although Firostefani is considered a separate village, it's actually an extension of Fira, sandwiched between the capital and Imerovigli. The village offers beautiful views, tasty restaurants and bars, and plenty of cheap accommodation, making it the perfect choice for budget-conscious travellers who still want a stay with a caldera view. It's also calmer than Fira, so is perfect if you want to be within easy reach of the hustle and bustle but would prefer to settle down somewhere a bit more quiet.
Best beaches in Santorini
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 its beaches, largely because the ones it does have are volcanic beaches, with coarser black sand. That being said, this makes them an interesting and photo-worthy beach visit!
Kamari, aka 'Black Beach', is one of the most easily accessible and visited beaches in Santorini. With hundreds of sunbeds along the beautiful black sand, lifeguards, diving centre, beach volleyball area, plus various shops, restaurants and bars, Kamari has everything you need for the perfect beach day.
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.
Located on the south coast of Santorini, Vlychada Beach, also referred to as 'Moon Beach', is known for its striking mixture of black and white sand and unique, lunar-esque rock formations. While there are taverns, snack bars and sun loungers available for rent, it has a less touristy feel, making it ideal if you're looking for a quieter beach with local charm.
How many days do you need to visit Santorini?
To really experience Santorini and everything it has to offer, we'd recommend anywhere between 3-7 days.
What is the best way to travel in Santorini?
If you're staying in Santorini for 1-2 nights, getting around by foot or by bus is probably the easiest and cheapest option. If you're staying longer than a couple of nights, and looking to explore more of the island, hiring a car will be the most convenient choice. You'll have the freedom to explore at your own pace and discover off the beaten track sights.
What is the best time of year to visit Santorini?
The best times to visit Santorini are from September to October and April to May. You'll still be able to enjoy warm weather, many of the tourist hot spots will still be open but there will be fewer crowds. For the hottest weather, you'll want to visit in June to August, however be prepared for high season prices and heavy crowds. The best time to visit if you're looking to save money is in winter between November to March. You'll find some awesome deals but be sure to consider the higher chance of cooler weather and rain, plus more shops, restaurants and hotels will be closed.
Is Santorini safe?
Yes, Santorini is a safe destination to visit. Tourists are unlikely to experience any crime or violence - the biggest risk you'll find on the island comes from vehicle accidents.