One of the most beautiful Greek Islands, Santorini is a popular summer vacation destination. Depending on what your interests are and what you are looking to enjoy, the best time to go to Santorini is between May and October. If you are looking to save cost, it is better to travel to Santorini during the low season. Hotels, flights and car rentals are cheaper and do not require booking months ahead. When you are planning your 2 days in Santorini, or maybe you even have more time, take these seasonal recommendations into account.
No matter what time of the year you choose to visit, Santorini has a lot to offer. From its beautiful hiking trails, crystal clear waters, breathtaking sunsets, captivating nightlife and rich unique cuisine; there is something special for everyone.
Greece is one of the top destinations to visit right now. Some factors to consider when deciding the best time to visit Santorini are the weather, the crowd and the number of activities available. Here’s what to expect when visiting Santorini.
Why Spring is the Best time to Visit Santorini
Spring in Santorini marks the arrival of the first cruise ships. The weather is great and prices are generally still cheap. If you are planning to visit in May, you might want to check out the popular day tours around the Island. Some top day tours include the Santorini Volcano Tour, the Santorini Sunset Cruise, Helicopter Tour and the Caldera Tour.
Another upside to visiting Santorini in springtime is the convenience. It is easier to move around and transportation around the island is cheap. If you love taking long walks or go hiking, you would love visiting Santorini around this time. The grassy hills filled with breathtaking blooms are a feature you can only enjoy during spring.
It is also a wonderful time to enjoy the island’s food produce. Santorini is well known for its unique fruits and spices. Since spring heralds the harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables, it is the perfect time to indulge. Its vast seafood options and unique wine collections make this beautiful island the dream of all food lovers.
Spring is also the perfect time for honeymooners. With the summer crowds yet to troop in, couples can enjoy relative privacy while lounging on the balcony or the beach. You will also be able to take beautiful pictures and make wonderful memories together without interference from random strangers.
Spring is Santorini is still too cold for swimming so unless you stay in a hotel that offers heated pools, there will be no swimming.
Why Fall is the Best Time to go to Santorini
With the warm weather, reduced summer crowds and beautiful sunsets, Fall seems to be the best time of the year to visit Santorini. After the dispersal of the July and August crowds, it is a wonderful time to enjoy quiet walks along the streets of Santorini, swim in the warm waters and sunbathe on the glorious beaches.
With the weather being so great, you can enjoy outdoor dining, watch the glorious sunset from Oia Castle without the clamoring from summer crowds, go sightseeing on the red beach, go on a hike through the ancient city of Thira or climb the highest point at Thirassia and be rewarded by a panoramic view of Santorini and its environments.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, Fall is definitely the best time to experience the eclectic mountain bike hike. It is adventurous and best enjoyed in the cool Fall weather. You can also go on a wine tasting tour where you will learn a great deal about wine production, the history of wine in Santorini and of course, try different types of wines.
If you are interested in visiting any of the other Greek Islands, then Fall is the best time to do so.
Why Summer is the best time to go to Santorini
The summer months are Santorini’s peak season. This means that thousands of tourists troop onto the beautiful blue and white Greek island to experience its purity and glorious beauty. If you are not a fan of large crowds, this is not the best time to travel to Santorini.
This also means that the island bubbles with activity. You are sure to enjoy the vivid Santorini nightlife, complete with its beach parties and night clubs. During the day, the weather is very hot and sunny so make sure to pack your beachwear and spend some time sunbathing and swimming.
Tons of cruise ships come to the island during the summer months as well. Feel free to join the cruise crowd on any of the numerous island tours. You can explore the Santorini cuisine while on a food tour or learn about the Santorini’s evergreen wine production on a vineyard tour.
Although the weather might be too hot for a hike, you can join a tour group or hire a local guide to take you through other notable sights on and around the island.
Be sure to book your flights and accommodations at least 3 months ahead. If you’re looking to stay at a luxury hotel, you will have to book up to 6 months ahead.
Why visit Santorini in the Winter
Santorini and the other Greek Islands are typical summer destinations. However, the rustic appeal of Santorini in winter, reduced cost of hotels and flights and lack of crowds has made it become an in-demand winter holiday destination.
Apart from hotel prices being relatively cheaper, they are also readily available. You do not have to worry about booking months ahead. Since most bars and restaurants will be closed, it is best to stay in Fira during the winter months. Being the capital of Santorini, businesses in Fira stay open all year long. It is important to note that nightclubs stay closed from November to March so if you’re a night owl looking to experience nightlife in Santorini, this might not be the best time to go to Santorini.
Some of the activities you can enjoy during winter in Santorini are hiking between Fira and Oia, visiting the medieval town of Skaros, touring the Akrotiri ruins, exploring the elevated town of Imerovigli, going on a wine tour and exploring the island’s exotic cuisine.
Remember to pack clothes fit for the cold weather and expect some light showers from time to time.
More Santorini Travel Resources
Start with these funny Greek puns to get you in the mood!
How to Get to Santorini
Ferries stop in Santorini every day bringing passengers and goods to the port. Blue Star Ferries has year round service and SeaJets and high speed ferry service offers seasonal options. In the summer season there will be dozens of ferries coming in and our of Santorini each day, some from Athens and some from neighboring Islands. But in the winter, expect a very reduced schedule.
You can book ferry tickets in advance for peace of mind, but this is only essential in very peak periods or if you have an inflexible schedule.
Note that when using the ferries, they usually depart from their first port on time (unless they have a mechanical problem etc) but they can become late as their day progresses. Often they have long voyages and they can encounter rough seas or port delays.
We were personally delayed 4 hours on one of our routes, so ensure you do not have plans set for your arrival in case of any ferry delays.
There are plenty of nonstop flights to Santorini (Thira) International Airport (Airport Code JTR) from European cities and domestically in Greece from Athens.
Flying from Athens to Santorini on Ryan Air can be incredibly cheap! Ryan Air is a ULCC so ensure you read all o the fine print from checking bags to choosing seats so there are no surprises when you get to the airport counter.
How to Get from Santorini Airport to Fira or Oia
One of the top mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to Santorini is to not arrange your transport to your hotel in advance.
If you are looking to take a taxi from the Santorini Airport to Fira or Oia expect to pay around 35 Euros
The bus is the cheapest option to get to Fira and it costs EUR 1.70
The downside to the bus is that it is infrequent.
If you need to go to Oia you will have to transfer at the Fira station to the Oia bus. If you are staying in Fira the bus stops at the central bus station. Expect to be walking UPHILL from there to your accommodation. Something that could be 500m on Google Maps might feel a lot farther when you are pulling a suitcase up a busy street.
By Hotel Transfer
Many hotels will offer a hotel transfer service. Check with our hotel when you book. If you have not arranged a transfer with your hotel, you can arrange a Private Transfer Online.
How to Get Around in Santorini: Rental Cars, ATV’s, Busses
It is very popular for visitors to Santorini to rent cars, scooters or ATVs. You will find dealerships all over, with a large concentration of them in Fira. You can rent a car from the airport or seaport but most scooters and ATV’s are rented in town.
I suggest booking in advance as it was extremely expensive to rent a car from the airport on arrival. You can get information on rental cars here
ATV’s and Scooters
ATV’s and scooters are super popular and come with the risks inherent to them: unfamiliar roads, lots of traffic, inexperienced drivers etc. These are one of the biggest things you need to worry about when it comes to Santorini safety. They are a popular choice in the hot summer months, but not as much in the chilly winter air.
Busses and Taxis
There are some taxis on the island. They get stuck in the horrible traffic that you will find on the island. We personally did not use them. When we looked at taking a taxi from the airport to our hotel in Fira, they quoted us EUR35 and it is max a 15 minute drive. There is no UBER or Lyft in Santorini so if you do not want to drive nor wait for a bus, taxi is your other option.
A bus trip from the Airport to Fira is EUR1.70 and takes about 45 mins as the bus winds around and stops a few times before Fira. As I mentioned above, they are infrequent. That is the downside to busses in Santorini. And in the summer with the island full of backpacker budget travelers, it can be chaotic!
You can check the timetable here. It also lists the prices of each ride, around EUR2.00
The busses are coach style busses with room for luggage in my experience.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.