Santorini is an ideal destination for island lovers, as it is a very particular island, with its crescent shape, with that big bay and the islets in between. It is very easy to walk around and has some very nice beaches, archaeological sites, museums, cities with their beautiful white houses with blue roofs. So there are hundreds of things you can see on this dream island during your vacation.

If in the summer you are looking for a place where you can go crazy with the sunsets, the beaches and the views, in a breathtaking volcanic landscape, that place is SANTORINI, without a doubt

How to get to Santorini

You can get to Santorini by sea or air, we arrived by ferry and left by plane as it was our last destination in the islands.

By sea

If you access Santorini by sea, you should know that the port is not located within any city, because the whole island ends or flows into a large cliff.

The port is located a few kilometres from the capital Thira, and in order to leave the port you have to climb a super-coast, which you cannot do on foot. The rental car company came to pick us up at the port and the truth is that we found it very practical and comfortable and we avoided having to go by bus to Thira.

By air

There are direct flights to Santorini, from several European cities.

Our recommendation is that you book as far in advance as possible if you want to go in high season.

If you leave it until the last minute, the price will be that of a trans-oceanic flight.

The timetables for these flights are a little bit untimely (in the early morning) but that’s it, or make a stopover

The airport is also close to Thira, but it is not in the city, so you will need to go by bus to the capital or arrange with the rental company to be picked up there.

Transportation in Santorini

Transportation in Santorini

One of the things to decide is how you will move around the island, which fortunately is a very small island.

To give you an idea, from the most northern village, Oia, to the most southern point, which is the lighthouse of Akrotiri, you have almost 26 km, which in time is a little less than 1 hour.

I recommend that you rent a motorbike, quad or small car, as it is undoubtedly the easiest way to move around the island, logically the bike is much cheaper than the car.

You have to take into account the issue of parking, logically if you decide to move by bus you will not have that problem, but you will be tied hand and foot, you can only see the places where the buses stop and depend on their schedules.

We opted to rent a small car, in Oia it was relatively easy to park, we only had problems one day we arrived at night and it was full of cars, but finally we could park.

On the other hand it was much more complicated for us to park in Thira, where we could only get a paying car park. If you decide to stay in other parts of the island, you should have no problem parking.

If you are thinking of renting a car, my advice is to book online, if you are going in high season. On the other hand, if you are planning to go by motorcycle, you can do it peacefully at your destination.

To return the car, these local companies do not charge the One-Way fee (or charge for returning the car to different offices) and are quite flexible with schedules, so we recommend it.

We came to pick up the car at the port and could return it at the airport. We saved on public transport and were able to take advantage of it until the last minute. Although it wasn’t very cheap: we paid about 60 euros for each car day (insurance included), we were happy.

What to see and do in Santorini

1.- Oia (Must)

You can’t miss one of the “most beautiful villages in the world”, Oia.

No matter how many expectations you have, you won’t be disappointed. It is a charming little village full of small white houses, among which the churches with blue roofs stand out, and where you can take these typical and fantastic pictures:

In Oia, you simply have to get lost in the streets. I advise you to get up early and investigate the tiny streets. Without people the views and photos are a blast.

Ammoudi

In Oia, you also have the small port of Ammoudi, is full of small boats. To get there, you have to go down about 300 stairs, and you get there from the area behind the castle. If you are one of those lazy people who don’t like to walk up, you have the option to go up with a donkey, in pure Bedouin style, as if you were going up to the Petra monastery.

The reddish walls of the cliff are particularly striking. And if you want to eat there, it’s a beautiful place, with some restaurants.

From the port of Ammoudi depart the excursions to the Santorini volcano and the island of Thirasia.

2- Thira or Fira

Thira, the capital of the island, is also very beautiful, and for me, it’s the best place to watch the sunset, since it’s right in the middle of the island, and it’s perfectly facing the caldera.

Thira has a certain resemblance to Oia, but it’s bigger and to my taste it has a little less charm, because of the lots of souvenir shops and several tourist attractions.

From the walk that goes parallel to the coast/cliff, the same as in Oia, you will not get tired of taking pictures of the caldera. On the promenade there are many restaurants and bars.

If you’re a fan who loves to watch sunsets, you may be wondering where is the best place on Thira to watch the sunset.

Actually anywhere on the tour you can see the sunset perfectly. What I recommend is that you go with a little time and choose a place where you have a cool church, so you can take in the same picture, the sunset, the church and the boiler.

Don’t be afraid and go inside the small streets, even though they seem private, nobody will tell you anything for taking 4 pictures. And while you’re at it, take a can of Mythos, the quintessential Greek beer, and drink it there “so agustito”.

But if you insist on seeing the sunset in the best possible place, go to Skaros Rock in Imerovigli.

It was once a Venetian castle but was destroyed by an earthquake in the 19th century, today you will only find the ruins. It’s 2 km from the center of Thira, so if you have to go on foot, go with time, don’t let it happen like we did, who didn’t arrive in time to see the sunset (parking problems) and we saw it entering from “strangis” to some villages of Thira, and the truth is that that day, we took some breathtaking pictures.

Although that in Santorini is not difficult.

3- Excursion to the Volcano (Must)

As you may know, Santorini is a volcanic island, and the whole west coast, where the villages of Oia or Thira are located, are hanging from the abyss of a large cliff. Just in front of it is the crater of the volcano, which is the famous caldera.

You will not get tired of taking pictures of it, it is what gives the island of Santorini that special attraction.

You may think it’s crazy to go visit a volcano…..and that it can be even dangerous…

Well, to your surprise, you can go! Moreover, I recommend you to go because walking through the volcano inside and having the panoramic view of Santorini from the sea is something you will not forget.

You can hire a private charter or a group excursion in a big boat, and then it will cost you about 20 euros per person. We opted for an all-day excursion. You leave the port at 9:30 and you’re back at about 4:30.

4- Visit Wineries

Although the Cyclades Islands are volcanic islands with little rain, in Santorini there are very good wines and several wineries to visit. And from here it is something we recommend.

We were recommended several wineries, one very simple, which produces a fabulous wine and has received several awards is Domaine Sigalas.

We were able to see how the grapes were grown, with the special “vine” technique, and to do a small tasting in the shade of the vineyards. We loved to taste the Arsítico, which is the white grape variety typical of the volcanic island.

In addition to this small family winery, we also visited one of the most famous and best located, as it has impressive views. We are talking about the Santo Wines winery We didn’t book, we went straight to the winery and signed up for the first tour there was.

They showed us the facilities and explained to us how they manage to produce such a good wine in such unfavourable conditions, since it really rains very little. Finally we enjoyed a wine tasting and were delighted by the magnificent views.

This winery and its restaurant and bar is also a great place to watch the sunset, so another option is to do the wine tasting in the late afternoon.

5- The Akrotiri lighthouse

It is located at the southern end of the island, just on the opposite end of Oia. From the lighthouse to Oia you have about 27 km and to Thira there is just over 15 km.

It was renovated in 1892 by a French commercial company. It is another incredible place to watch the sunset. Besides, you won’t find as many people here as in Oia.

6- Best Beaches

And of course, if you’re on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea and it’s summertime… you’ll tell me! Shall we go to the beach?

Here I leave you the best beaches of Santorini, even if you are not going to swim, the first 3 you have to see yes or yes.

They are beaches of volcanic stone, so you don’t come back full of sand, and they all have a special charm.

Vlychada Beach, you will love it for the big walls that form the cliffs. It is located right next to the port of Vlychada, from where several boats also depart to see the nearby islands.

The Red Beach (Kokkini Paralia), owes its name to the fascinating red cliffs of reddish volcanic stone. The nearest town is Akrotiri.

White beach, right next to the red beach, you have the white beach, famous for its pale colored rocks.

Baxedes Beach, if you are one of my people and you like quiet beaches, this is your beach. It is also ideal if you are staying in Oia, as it is only 3 km away.

Eros Beach: I leave this one for the end, since this small cove, at the south of the island and of difficult access, captivated us in such a way that if we didn’t have that crazy desire to know new things, we would have spent the three days there lying down to the bartola.

Practically without people, it’s a recommendation that was made to us from our hotel and they were right on target. It has a restaurant and a chiringuito to spend the day, drinking Mojitos. Quite expensive, by the way.

Kamari Black Beach, probably the most famous, is about 4 km long and very wide, with shallow waters ideal for families with children. It is on the opposite side of Thira and very close to the airport. From Kamari the tourist boats also sail to the boiler.

Perissa Beach, Kamari Beach style, and believe it or not, it is even longer. As in Kamari Beach, there are many hotels, restaurants and shops. It is located on the same coast as Kamari, but in the south of the island.

Monohitos Beach, is on the same coast as the other 2, although a little further north. It also has black sand. This beach is not as crowded as its neighbors Kamari and Perissa Beach.

For me, the one that impressed me the most was Red Beach, it seems to be taken from another planet, with that reddish color, it’s shocking.

7- Seeing sunsets

Every afternoon, during our trip to the Greek Islands, we looked for the best place to watch the sunset. We could not go to all these places at sunset in only 3 days, but from here I leave you a list of the places we liked the most:

  • In the castle of Oia.
  • Thira, in any of its cafes, or villas overlooking the boiler
  • Skaros Rock in Imerovigli
  • The Akrotiri lighthouse
  • On board a cruise ship or boat. You have them of all prices and sizes.
  • In the St. Wines warehouse.

There are few places in the world that can beat the sunsets of Santorini.

Santorini, Greece
The view from Oia into the Santorini caldera.

Read more about Santorini:

Santorini Hotels – My Top 5

FAQ

What is the exact location of Santorini?

Santorini is located in the country of Greece, close to Italy. 

It is one of the islands that adorn the famous Aegean Sea. It would take a four-hour flight to get from London to Santorini, three and a half hours if you’re coming from Paris, almost 2 hours if you’re coming from Rome and an hour or so if you’re coming from Athens.

What is the size of Santorini?

Only slightly bigger than the U.S city of Manhattan, Santorini is a 76 square mile stretch of land. Unlike Manhattan, this island only has 15,500 residents. Far too few, given its 16 kilometer length and almost Five kilometer width. If you travel by car from one end of Santorini to the other, it will take you about 45 minutes to complete the journey. 

How do I go to Santorini?

If you’re coming from outside the country, there are direct flights to Santorini from London, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and Venice. The travel should take you about four hours maximum. 

If you happen to be in the country, you can reach Santorini through a ferry from Piraeus in Athens which would take you about 5-7 hours of sailing. You reach the island by plane from the airport in Athens. It’s only going to take you an hour to get there. A ferry from the islands of Naxos, Milos, Folegandros, Mykonos, Crete and Los also dock in Santorini and the journey should only take you about 1-3 hours.

When is the best time to go to the island?

The answer depends heavily on what you’re going to the island for. If you came for the beaches, the cold sea water, the golden sun and the entire summer package, then the best time to visit Santorini is from June to September. If you came to immerse yourself in the culture, the history and the sights of this magnificent island, then you could come literally any time.  

What’s Santorini’s origin story?

Santorini is the product of the hardened lava of a volcano that erupted more than 3 millenniums ago. Following the eruption of a volcano, santorini was destroyed. A part of it, Thirassia, became its own separate island. This event formed the Caldera. Another new volcano is located in the middle of it now. Although it’s active, it’s not scheduled to erupt anytime soon. 

What are the names of Santorini’s Towns?

The best place to stay in Santoriniare the ones with the view of the Caldera. These are  Oia, Firostefani, Fira, Imerovigli, and Akrotiri located on the west side of the island. On the other side of the island are the towns of Perissa, Kamari, Perivolos and Agios Georgios who have the best access of the beach. 

What are the best areas in Santorini?

Where is the best place to look for a hotel in Santorini?

When booking a place in the area, aim to get a room with a view of the Caldera to experience Santorini’s one of a kind sunset. Look for a place west of Santorini. Start with the villages of Fira, Oia, Imerovigli and Firostefani.

What activities would make up the best Santorini vacation?

Sightseeing is one of the best things to do in Santorini. Hiking is also really high up on the list of activities on the area. Walk around the island and explore its culture filled neighborhood and if you think you’re up for it, join the island’s incredible night scene and brighten up your nights in santorini. Before you go make sure to take a tour of the wineries and the Caldera,  both of which are not something you want to miss. 

What’s the recommended number of days to get the full santorini experience?

There is so much to do in this paradise that a week is barely enough. But if you don’t a choice and can only stay for short time, then a day or two will do. They will surely be packed and you’ll be really exhausted. 

Never pass up on historical sites like the Ancient akrotiri and Thera settlements or the medieval villages of Emporio and Pyrgos. Wander into the Fira and Oira footpathand be a part of Santorini’s one of a kind night scene. Find the best places to eat on Santoriniand make sure to take either a wine tour  or a boat touror both of them before your trip ends.

Santorini on a budget

It’s not impossible to experience Santorini on a budget. Though the island is packed with high end hotels, fine dining and expensive memorabilia, there are also cheap hotels in Santorini. The technique is to get as far away from the caldera as possible. The closer you are to the historical sites, the higher the room value goes. Seeing the sights in Santorini is free so you just have to worry about saving on accommodations.

Read more about Greece:
Mykonos Travel Guide
Athens Travel Guide
Greece Travel Guide