If you want to know everything about winter in Santorini then you are in the right place. The beautiful volcanic Greek island of Santorini is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. With its breathtaking, picturesque ambiance, this idyllic island with cute blue and white houses stands over crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean sea and attracts over 2 million tourists yearly.
But what about the winter season? Visiting Santorini in winter is a great idea especially if you are looking to avoid large crowds and swarms of tourists. This also means that you will most likely find great deals on hotels during this period. Even though the Santorini winter weather is not warm, it offers some of the best sunsets. One thing you will want to keep in mind is that a lot of hotels and restaurants only open during the high season, so you will come across some closures.
Santorini Winter Weather
December and January are top winter months in Santorini. Although unpredictable, temperatures sometimes reach up to 77°F (25°C) and can drop as low as 34°F (1°C). The average temperature for Santorini in January is highs of 57°F (15°C) and lows of 47°F (9°C). So plan for layers and ensure you have some warm base layers if the weather happens to be cooler than normal.
The low temperature typically makes the sea unsuitable for swimming during the winter months. However, the cooler winter weather makes it easier to explore the island on foot during winter as opposed to the hot summer months.
What to Do In Santorini During Winter:
While you might not be able to engage in as many activities as you would have in the summer, visiting Santorini is not an entire waste. There are still lots of fun stuff to do during winter in Santorini. Here are a few of them:
Go Wine Tasting
Did you know that Santorini is Greece’s top wine-growing region? For thousands of years, Santorini’s volcanic slopes have produced grapes and Santorini’s wine has been traded throughout Europe and neighboring areas.
Santorini produces top-quality wine, including the impeccable white wine similar to those in Italy. To fully enjoy the Santorini wine experience, join an organized wine tour. This is one of my suggestions on my 2 days in Santorini post. On the tour, you will be able to learn about the various styles of wine production and the different tastes of wine. Premium wine education, if you ask me!
Note that wine tours are limited during the winter months and this might make them more expensive than summer tours. If you are traveling on a budget and looking to reduce costs, consider visiting the Santorini Wine Museum where you will learn about the history of wine in Santorini. You will also be able to taste a few wines.
Want to read more about Santorini Wine Tours, I have a post all about choosing the best tour.
Tour the Ruins of Akrotiri
The ancient city of Akrotiri was covered in a heap of volcanic ash in the late 17th century BC and it has been preserved for both archaeologists and tourists. Also known as the Pompeii of the Aegean, this ancient city features a Venetian Castle that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1956 and a charming old lighthouse situated on the edge of a cliff.
Visiting the ruins of Akrotiri is best done via a guided tour. The guide will be able to give a detailed explanation of the thrilling history of the city and the erased Minoan civilization. Although tours are limited during the winter season, you can still enjoy a private tour which typically accommodates up to 15 persons.
Due to the cool temperatures, winter is a perfect time to go hiking in Santorini.
The hike between Fira and Oia is one of the most popular hiking trails on the island. Being only 10 kilometers long and featuring plenty of rests stops, this trail is suitable for all ability levels. Such a great way to keep up your fitness routine while on holiday. While this hike is packed in the summer months, when visiting Santorini in winter, you will find few others on the trail.
Look out for stunning views from the cliffs along the trail with breathtaking views of the Aegean sea. Remember to pack some snacks so you can refuel during the rest stops.
Explore The City’s Vast Cuisine
Due to its history, Santorini has become home to several rare, unique ingredients. With restaurants serving a wide array of seafood and the best collection of fruits and vegetables, any food-loving tourist will have more than enough options to try out during their stay in Santorini.
If you are really looking to experience genuine Santorini culture, ensure to try meals that include Fava beans. Fava beans have been a staple Santorini meal for over 3000 years.
An easy way to explore the culinary goodness of Santorini is to join the Santorini Local Taste Food Tour. It is a trip around the island where you enjoy local delicacies and learn about their agricultural processes. It typically lasts for 5 hours.
What To Expect During Winter In Santorini
Winter in Santorini is usually quiet and cozy. This is because most of the tourists come during the summer months and as it gets cold, only a few people are seen strolling around the streets of Santorini.
Most businesses also close up shop during the winter months. However, visitors who come during the winter season are still able to find many restaurants to visit, shops for souvenirs, and hotels to stay in. Sadly though, most beaches and pools are closed during winter in Santorini.
With daily cruise ships on break and very few tourists prowling the streets, Santorini now becomes a serene haven with beautiful quiet streets, wonderful cool weather, and tidy little cafes. It is easier to explore the towns and villages without having to deal with claustrophobia. Visitors are also able to experience the genuine Santorini tradition without the buzz of visitors swallowing everything up.
It is best to rent a car when visiting Santorini in winter. Since bus schedules are tricky and the weather is unreliable, having a car at your disposal is the best bet. The roads are free during the winter months and journeys between top spots are typically smooth and easy.
The Best Place To Stay In Santorini During Winter
As earlier mentioned, fever tourists mean better rates on hotels and restaurants. So if you are looking to travel on a budget, winter is the perfect time to visit Santorini.
The best place to stay in Santorini during winter is Fira. Fira is the capital of the beautiful island and the one place that remains bubbly all year round. Fira offers a wide range of accommodation options for every kind of traveller. Being a central spot on the island, it is also a perfect take-off spot for touring Santorini.
If you are looking to stay in a luxury guest house in Fira, check out On The Cliff Suites. It offers beautiful rooms with views over the caldera. A private hot tub with direct views of the island’s stunning sunsets.
For mid-range accommodation, consider staying at the Tataki Hotel in Fira. This hotel features luxury accommodation at an affordable price. You can enjoy evening drinks on the balcony while soaking up the beautiful views of the island.
Traveling on a budget? The Antonia Hotel is a great option. Set in the heart of Fira, this charming, cosy hotel offers a balcony or terrace for each room. It is only a few minutes away from Fira’s hot spots.
How to Get to Santorini in Winter
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 in the winter season, do not expect sell outs.
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.
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. After you read this article, check out the other mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to Santorini
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
Part of the reason I put this Santorini blog together is because I found a lot of the information online quite confusing when I was looking to plan. 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 sea port 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.