This Santorini blog is designed to help you plan the perfect trip to Santorini. Santorini is a bucket list destination for many travellers thanks to its picture perfect views, stunning sunsets, warm climate and dramatic whitewashed cliffs. Thousands of postcard pictures grace the internet and magazines and woe travellers to this tiny island in Greece.
I put together this Santorini travel guide with everything you need to know about visiting Santorini all in one place. By clicking on the links inside this blog post you can get more information on each topic to help with your planning.
By the time you get to the bottom of this Santorini guide I doubt you will have any questions, but if you do, I am happy to help you out! Just leave a comment at the bottom or contact me via the contact us page!
Santorini Blog 2020: The Complete Santorini Greece Travel Guide
This Santorini travel blog post includes:
How to get to Santorini
The best time to go to Santorini
What to do in Santorini including where to catch one of Santorini’s sunsets
Sample Itinerary for Santorini
How to get around in Santorini
Best Beaches in Santorini
Best Sunset spots in Santorini
Safety Tips for Santorini
Honeymoon tips for Santorini
Tours in Santorini
What to do with Kids
What to Pack and What to wear in Santorini
Electricity, Wifi and SIM Cards for Greece
Visa, Safety and Vaccinations for Santorini
Santorini hotels and Santorini AirBnbs
Other Cyclades to visit
Santorini Quick Facts
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 neighbouring Islands
You can book ferry tickets in advance for peace of mind but most do not sell out. If you are not flexible in your itinerary, you might want to book in advance. Personally, I booked the day before I wanted to travel by walking into a ferry office. This worked on all of the Greek Islands we visited.
But if you are a planner and want to know that you are booked, book online in advance.
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.
If you are arriving by cruise ship you will drop anchor in the Caldera and make your way to land. You will arrive into what is known as the old port, Fira Skala and directly above you is the town of Fira.
In order to get to the top of the hill you can choose to climb the steps, take a donkey or use the cable car.
Note that when you return, the lineups can be long to get back down. Ensure you have enough time to get back to the cruise ship.
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.
When to visit Santorini
Santorini is mostly a summer destination with July and August being the busiest time to visit the Island. July and August are major travel times for almost all travellers as most countries have school holiday and most vacationers want to enjoy the summer sun on the Aegean.
May, June, September and October are much less busy and you can still enjoy the sunshine, warm temperatures (not the scorching hot sun that is experienced in July and August)
If you are planning on visiting in high season book your hotels well in advance and expect to wait for popular restaurants at meal times.
When a cruise ship arrives into the caldera, thousands of cruise ship passengers take donkeys, the tram or walk up the steep cliffs by foot and arrive right into the middle of Fira (Thira).
In the off season (November to April) many tourist shops and hotels are closed, but it is a great time to visit the island without other tourists. The weather will be cold, so if you are not a sun chaser, the off season might be a good time for you to visit.
- Best Time To Visit Santorini for Beaches and Swimming: June to September
- Best Time to Visit Santorini for Sightseeing: March to June and September – October
- Best Time to Visit Santorini without crowds: October to April
- High Season in Santorini: Mid June until Mid September
- Low Season in Santorini: November to March
Visas for Santorini
Greece is part of the Shenegan Zone and many travellers can visit for 90 days without a visa. Countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are examples of overseas countries that do not need a visa.
You need a passport if you do not live in one of the EU countries and that passport will need to be valid for 3 months after the date you intend to leave the Shenegan Zone (not just Greece).
Several countries require a Shenegan Visa before travelling to the Shenegan zone, you can find out which ones here
Sim Cards in Santorini
A Sim Card can be purchased at the airport in arrivals. I purchased mine on the mainland before coming to Greece. Sim Cards in Greece are quite inexpensive compared to other European countries.
Highlights of Thira: What to Do in Santorini
This Santorini blog aims to cover the best things to do in Santorini for all types of travellers. Whether you are coming for your honeymoon, want a weekend getaway, are island hopping or are enjoying summer break, there is something for everyone to explore in Santorini.
For The Honeymooners
- Watch the Sunset in Oia
- Check out the beaches
- Enjoy a Cooking Class and Wine Tour
- Stay in a Cliffside hotel with a private pool
- Eat Seafood at Amundi Bay
- Book a boat cruise
For the Adventurer
- Rent an ATV and explore the whole island
- Get out on the Caldera by boat
- Hike from Fira to Oia
- Volcanic Islands Cruise
For the History Lover
- Ancient Thera
- Profitis Ilias Monastery
Best Beaches in Santorini
Although Santorini is not known for its beaches, that does not mean that you should not visit them. If you are a beach lover, there is plenty of sun to be had, warm water to swim and beautiful scenery to look at. What you do not find in Santorini is the soft white sand of other islands. This is because Santorini beaches are all rock or volcanic sand.
Kamari beach is a funky beach with plenty going on! There are touristy restaurants, places to walk and chairs to sunbathe on (I think it was 10 EUR). The rocks are very hot in the sun so bring your shoes to the shore. There is a decently steep drop off just offshore which means you can swim just off shore but it is not good if you have kids with you (that do not swim).
Monolithos is close to Kamari and is the most family friendly beach on the island as there is decent sand and a shallow slope for the kids to play. Right next to Monolithos you can watch watersports just off short as kite surfers will be plentiful, especially in the wind!
Red Beach is located in the south near Akrotiri. It is famous for its red rock and red sands. You can reach the beach by boat or by foot (about a 10 minute walk). Its soaring red cliffs and unique red sand are the reason people visit.
Perissa is another popular black sand beach. It gets crowded with tourists in the summer months.
Perivolos has the longest stretch of black sand beach in Santorini. As with the other beaches it is hemmed in with cliffs.
Santorini Beach Tips
Most of Santorini’s beaches have dark sand or smooth rocks, both of which get extremely hot in the sun! Do not attempt to walk on the sand or rocks barefoot!
One of the downsides that we experienced was wind. It was very windy while we were in Santorini (July) and so bad that you could not sit on the sand as the wind was lifting the sand and hitting you with it! We stood in the water and were fine. If you were on a lawn chair you still likely would be hit with the sand.
If you want to visit the beaches, it is easiest to have a rental car or Quad or Scooter. Makes it much easier!
My Santorini Blog Suggested Itinerary
My personal suggestion for Santorini is 2-3 days and then visiting another Island. All of the islands are so different and offer a different vibe and it is well worth visiting a few others depending on your timeframe and your travel plans in Greece.
You can read my suggested Santorini Itinerary
Santorini Blog Tour Suggestions
When planning a trip of a lifetime, some people want every part of the puzzle put together before they leave and others are more spontaneous! Either travel style is just fine for Santorini (but book a hotel and airfare before you try and visit if you are arriving in high season!)
I also suggest if there are a couple activities you do not want to miss, to book those at least a bit in advance! You do not want your dates to sell out if your schedule is tight.
Volcanic Island Tours
This is a popular activity to do in Santorini. Visit this site to book tours.
If you are a wine lover, or want to learn more about Santorini’s unique grape growing, I have a whole post about choosing the best wine tour
Bus Sightseeing Tour
If you want someone to show you the best of Santorini, check out a bus tour like this one.
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.
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. With that being said, We rented two ATVs and had a great time bombing around the island. If you want to rent a scooter, you must have a motorcycle or scooter license (a scooter license is not a thing in Canada so we went for the ATV and I have kids anyways so it just worked for us)
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.
Where to Stay in Santorini
There are hundreds of places to stay in Santorini. Most of them are small boutique style accommodations that are locally run. Fira and Oia will offer stunning views, but there are more budget friendly accommodations outside of the main areas. They do not offer the views, but some are closer to the beaches.
Santorini Blog Safety Tips
Santorini is a safe destination for travellers to visit and violent crime and theft is minimal. I wrote this Santorini blog to ensure all travellers are aware of the safety issues that may come up in the country. One of the biggest dangers in Santorini is traffic traffic! There is a LOT of traffic on the small island in high season and accidents are common. The roads are narrow and windy and full of tourists who are unfamiliar with the roads and impatient locals who are frustrated with the giant tour busses and tourist vehicles. Tourists also need to be careful when driving ATV’s as gravel on roads can cause vehicles to skid!
Other things to think about with regards to safety is more to do with health. There are a lot of stairs in Fira and Oia and twisted ankles and falls are common. Pay attention in crowds and wear comfortable shoes.
If you are bringing your children to Santorini ensure they are road wise as there are very few sidewalks. It is not stroller friendly so baby wear your little ones.
You can read more on Safety in Santorini
Health and Vaccinations
Can you drink the tap water in Santorini?
Santorini does not have good drinking water from the tap. It is advisable to bring a bottle with a filter (like this Grayl one that I use, or Lifestraw is another option) and then you can safely drink the tap water. Otherwise buy bottled water for drinking. I like to suggest a water bottle with a filter to help cut down your plastic uses while travelling.
Vaccinations for Santorini
It is advised that visitors to Santorini and Greece are up to date with regular vaccinations. These include: MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) , Diptheria-tetanus-pertussis, polio, chickenpox and a flu shot. Hep A and Hep B are also suggested.
Rabies is present in bats in Greece and those planning on caving or working with bats should have a rabies shot before visiting.
There are a few ways to stay healthy regardless of where you are traveling. This starts with frequent hand washing with soap, avoid sharing bodily fluids, keep away from animals, avoid non-sterile medical equipment.
Santorini has a very high UV index. Ensure you wear sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids so you do not burn or end up with sunstroke.
If you do find yourself ill or injured in Santorini the main health clinic is in Fira. The emergency number is 112
Restaurants are commonplace for tipping. But it is not 15-20% like a North American standard. 5% to 10% or rounding the bill up if often fine. You should leave the tip on the table or give it to your server when paying for your bill. Check that a tip is not already charged on your bill before leaving something additional.
It is customary to tip a tour guide in Greece. About 3-5 EUR per person per day for a group tour or 20 EUR per person per day for a private tour.
Round up the fare of a taxi meter or give up to 10% for an excellent experience
1 EUR per bag is a nice gesture if they helped with your luggage
If your hotel delivers your luggage to your room, tip 1EUR per bag
1 EUR per day
Food to Try in Santorini
Greek food has some amazing options and you should not leave before trying Moussaka, Spanakopita, Greek Salad (ohhh the feta!), Souvlaki and Gyros, and Greek Wine
Shopping in Santorini
Whitewashed walls, stunning cliffs and donkey’s might be what comes to mind when you visit Santorini. Whether you are enjoying your honeymoon, arriving for the day on a cruise ship, a solo traveller, or island hopping with your family there are a few cute souvenirs you can pick up while visiting.
I have a whole post about the best things to buy in Greece.
What to Pack for Santorini
Santorini is a typical beach destination with hot summer days. Evenings will find most people dressed nicely for dinner. You can get away with a full wardrobe of casual wear and summer dresses but you will see many couples dresses smartly in the evenings.
Ensure you bring comfortable shoes for walking as there are a lot of stairs and twists and turns. You will also want good shoes for hiking from Fira to Oia.
Sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and sandals would be on my packing list as well!
Is Santorini Good for Families?
Overall, YES Santorini is good for families to visit but it is not a destination that caters to children. Finding rooms for 4 people can be difficult in high season so ensure you plan ahead. I took my children to Santorini because it was a bucketlist destination for me, and since I travel with my two boys, they came along too!
There is fun to be had on the beaches in Santorini but there are steep drops in some areas right off shore.
As mentioned above, there is a LOT of traffic and crowds in high season and very few areas have sidewalks.
Santorini is NOT stroller friendly and you are better to babywear young children.
What my kids LOVED about Santorini:
- Riding an ATV around the Island
- Seeing the Donkeys
While I say that YES Santorini is good for families, there are definitely other islands that are better! If you are bringing your children to Santorini I suggest max two day and then hop to another island. After 2 days of hills and steps we island hopped over to Naxos where Naxos town was almost completely flat!
Did my Santorini Blog cover all of your travel questions for your trip? If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email and I am happy to help!