SantoriniDave.com – Updated March 3, 2014
The Ultimate Guide to Santorini
- The Best Towns and Places on Santorini
- The Best Beaches on Santorini
- Booking Hotels in Santorini – Advice
- Best Time to Visit Santorini
- 5 Best Hotels in Fira
- 5 Best Hotels in Oia
- 5 Best Hotels in Imerovigli
- 5 Best Hotels in Firostefani
- 5 Best Hotels in Kamari
- Best Hotels for Families on Santorini
- Best Honeymoon Hotels on Santorini
- Honeymoon Vacation Packages to Santorini
- Weddings in Santorini
- Cave Suites on Santorini
- Quiet & Secluded Hotels on Santorini
- Budget Hotels with Caldera Views
- Hotels Near the Santorini Port
- Hotels Near the Santorini Airport
- Hotels with Infinity Pools on Santorini
- Cheap (but Good) Hotels on Santorini
- Yacht Tours to Santorini
- Package Holidays to Santorini
- Getting to Santorini
- Flights to Santorini
- Santorini by Ferrry
- Ferry Schedules
- Advanced Ferry Tickets
- Best Tours of Santorini
- Airport Transportation
- Ferry Port Transportation
- Renting a Car or Scooter on Santorini
- Best Wineries on Santorini
- 10 Best Things to Do on Santorini
- Best Sunsets on Santorini
- Day Trips from Santorini
- Cruises to Santorini
- Chartering Boats & Yachts on Santorini
- Santorini with Kids
- Best Restaurants on Santorini
- Non-touristy and Greek Restaurants
- Gluten Free Eating on Santorini
- Hotels with Kitchens on Santorini
- Santorini on a Budget
- Hospitals on Santorini
- Travel Insurance for Santorini
- Video: The Best of Santorini
- Tripadvisor Awards: Best of Santorini
- Athens Hotel and Travel Guide
Q. What are the best places on Santorini – and what town should I stay in?
- Best nightlife on Santorini: Fira
- Best beach on Santorini: Perissa or Kamari
- Best restaurants on Santorini: Fira or Oia
- Best sunsets on Santorini: Imerovigli
- Best for peace and quiet: Imerovigli
- Best budget choice: Perissa
- Best for families: Fira, Firostefani, Kamari, or Perissa (which has a waterpark). Monolithos has the most kid-friendly beach.
The first and most basic decision that needs to be made is do you want to stay at the beach or in the towns along the caldera? The beaches are situated along the eastern coast of the island. The towns (Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Oia) are located on the western edge of the island, are perched on the caldera cliff, and look out towards the volcano.
The caldera towns are trendier, the restaurants better, the clubs more sophisticated, and the hotels more luxurious. The beach towns are more relaxed, less expensive, and have a feel closer to the other Greek islands.
Fira is the island’s largest town and one of the most picturesque spots in all of Greece. Fira has the most restaurants, shops, and hotels and is the center of Santorini’s nightlife. If you like action, lots of choice for where to eat, and the most-happening clubs then this is where you’ll want to be. Many of the hotels and restaurants in Fira have stunning views of the caldera.
Firostefani is a short 10 minute walk along a footpath from Fira. If you want to be close to the action of Fira but don’t want the crowds then Firostefani is a great choice. Views are equally wonderful.
Imerovigli is Santorini’s quietest town along the caldera and has the island’s best sunset views.. The cliff is higher here and the view of the sunset is unimpeded by any neighboring islands – which isn’t always the case in Fira and Firostefani. Imerovigli is a 25 minute walk from Fira (or a very short bus or taxi ride).
Oia is Santorini’s most romantic town and has some of the island’s best hotels. It’s located at the northern tip of the island and is famous for its fabulous sunset views. The town is busy through the day up until sunset but then grows much quieter. There are many restaurants in Oia but no nightlife to speak of. The southern portion of Oia looks into the caldera. The northern portion does not have views of the caldera but does have perfect sunset views. (Only a few Oia hotels have sunset views.) The walk from Oia to Fira is beautiful but takes several hours so for the most part Oia is a taxi or bus ride away from the hub of the island.
Santorini is small and getting from one town or beach to the next is quick and easy so you don’t have to feel limited by the place you pick. (It’s less than 30 minutes from Fira to the beaches by bus or taxi. 15 minutes longer from Oia to the beaches.)
Obviously, if you’re primarily looking to spend time lying on a beach then stay there and commute to Fira and Oia for sunsets and dinner. If you’re more interested in shopping, eating, and sightseeing then Fira, Oia, Firostefani, and Imerovigli are a better base.
The beach towns are fun, full, and busy from June to September. The weather is consistently great for swimming from late May to early October. Outside of these months the beach towns will be very quiet and the weather usually isn’t warm enough for swimming.
If you’re looking to save money then the beach towns offer better value hotels for the money. Restaurants in Oia, Imerovigli, and Fira are also quite expensive (though there are cheaper options away from the views of the caldera). The beaches tend towards pub food that is not so pricey – though there are many exceptions.
As for Oia or Fira, both towns are very touristy but in different ways. Oia is quieter, more romantic, generally has more expensive hotels, and higher-end restaurants. After the sunset, Oia gets very quiet. Fira has the nightlife and lively restaurants. Fira is also closer to most of the beaches.
Fira itself can be quite busy (especially when a cruise ship or two are in port – though cruise passengers will return to their ships by late afternoon) so if you’re looking for peace and quiet but still want to be near the restaurants and nightlife then Firostefani and Imerovigli are good options. Both towns are uphill from Fira so the walk into town is easy and relaxing. If you find the uphill walk back to your hotel too taxing after a large dinner it’s easy to find a cab in Fira.
Like the beach towns, if you’re visiting outside of June to September then Oia will be very quiet – with many shops and restaurants closing from November to March. If you’re visiting Santorini in winter then Fira is by far the best choice.
Q. What are the best beaches on Santorini?
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Santorini is not known for its beaches. They are good but not great – so don’t be expecting those idyllic stretches of sand you’ve seen in pictures of Greece. (That said, many people love the beaches of Santorini and find their unique sand and natural setting to be more memorable than “just another sandy beach”.)
Most of Santorini’s beaches are composed of dark volcanic sand that gets searingly hot in the mid-day sun. Beach sandals or water shoes are highly recommended for getting around on the sand.
But what the beaches lack in typical sandy splendor they make up for with breathtaking views and scenery. The cliffs that loom around some of the beaches and the nature of the sand itself make a surreal setting for swimming and sunning. And the sea water is always cool and refreshing.
These are the most popular beaches on Santorini:
Kamari – The most upscale and touristy of the beach towns. The path along the beach is a fun and relaxing place to stroll in the evening. Lots of places to eat and drink. Kamari has a very fun vibe and one of the most family-friendly towns on Santorini. Very close to the airport.
Perissa and Perivolos Beaches – These 3 beaches are essentially one very long beach that caters to the backpacker crowd and party scene but still has a wide range of accommodations and restaurants. The beach becomes progressively quiet as you move south towards Agios Georgios.
Monolithos – The nicest sand and most family-friendly beach on Santorini. Very quiet with a small collection of hotels and restaurants. The shallow slope of the seafloor make it better for kids than the steep drop-offs at Perissa and Kamari. There’s a small play area for the kids on the sand.
Red Beach – The pebbly sand here is red and the backdrop is stunning. There’s not a lot here besides the unique scenery. To get to Red Beach you need to take a taxi, a bus to Akrotiri from Fira, or a boat from Perissa. The walk down to the beach can be steep for some.
Amoudi Bay – The best swimming spot on Santorini – but not a beach. Take the path down from Oia and jump from the rocks into beautiful blue water. There’s a small island that you can swim out to that has glorious views of the caldera. The best swimming is at the end of a seawall that begins at the wharf. The walk from Oia takes about 15 to 20 minutes and can be tricky in spots.
Q. What is the best website for booking hotels?
Booking.com/Santorini – My current favorite (as of February, 2014). It’s the best website for booking a particular hotel and finding specific rooms (e.g. “Caldera View Honeymoon Suite”).
HotelsCombined.com/Santorini – Great for finding discounts and last minute deals.
Both websites have been around for years and are very reliable.
I typically use these sites to find the hotels with the best rates and then phone or email them directly to see if they’ll match the price I found online. About half the time they’ll offer the same rate. And even when they don’t you can ask detailed questions about any concerns you might have which can be helpful if you’re traveling with kids or a large group. Also, if you’re a member of a hotel rewards program then you’re more likely to get points if you book directly rather than through HotelsCombined (though whether that’s worth paying a little more is obviously dependent on the details).
Booking your hotel is absolutely mandatory if you’re visiting in July and August. It’s recommended for June and September. You can get away with not booking for visits in May and October. On other islands showing up without a booking can be half the fun but that doesn’t apply to Santorini which is packed with tourists from June to September.
If you do arrive on Santorini without a hotel reservation during high season take anything you can find for the first night and then look around for a better place once you’ve put down your bags. If there are hotel owners meeting your ferry at the port they’re an easy way to get a place to stay and a free ride into town. Be aware if they say you’re staying “right in Fira” you’re still probably going to be outside the town a little way (often in Karterados). If you’re really concerned about location get them to point to the hotel on a map. Almost all of these hotel owners are legitimate and trustworthy, though, as I say, they will fudge a little on the true location of their hotel.
Q. When is the best time to visit Santorini?
- Best Time for Swimming and Sunbathing: The warmest weather is between June and September when the weather is hot and the water is perfect for swimming. Water temperature heats throughout the summer months and is warmest in late August and early September. Swimming in May and October is often possible but can not be guaranteed with any certainty.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: If you’re visiting Santorini more for the sights, views, wineries, and food and are not so interested in the sun and sand then early Ocotober to late November and late March to late May are great times to avoid the crowds and the heat. The weather is still warm by northern european standards though there can be some rain and some warmer clothing should be packed.
- Best Time for Saving Money: Hotels are much cheaper in the low season (December to March) and shoulder season (April to May and late September to November) than in the summer months. Transportaion, food and drink prices tend not to vary much though it is easier to get seats at the most popular restaurants.
- High Season (July and August): Hot, sunny weather with lots of crowds. Prices are at their peak. Sea water at its warmest and best for swimming. Ferries and flights run with the greatest frequency.
- Shoulder Season (May and June, September and October): Great weather. Sunny and warm but not blazingly hot like the summer. Tourists are many but not overwhelming. Everything is open and ferries are running nearly all of their routes. The sea might not be warm enough for swimming in May and October.
- Low Seasons (November to April): This is winter and that means gray skies, cool weather, and rain. Few hotels and restaurants are operating (but enough to get by). Ferries have very limited schedules though there’ll be one a day going to all main destinations.
Santorini Weather by Month
The best weather on Santorini is from June to September. July and August are the busiest months when hotels are full and restaurants are crowded. If you’re more interested in sightseeing, hiking, and great views then May and October are great months to visit.
- January Weather on Santorini: Damp, cold, and windy (by Santorini standards). January is the rainiest month and one of the coldest. The island is very quiet with few tourists. Many restaurants and hotels are closed but you will always be able to find something open in Oia and Fira. The beach towns are completely shutdown. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Rainfall: 42mm.)
- February Weather on Santorini: Much like January. February is Santorini’s coldest month. There is a little less rain than December and January (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Rainfall: 35mm.)
- March Weather on Santorini: A noticeable change occurs in March from the previous 3 months. There is less rain, more sun, and warmer temperatures. This can be a nice time to visit for hikers and sightseers but visitors should be prepared for some rain and cold nights. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Rainfall: 32mm.)
- April Weather on Santorini: A great month for hiking, sightseeing, and touring the wineries. By the end of the April most hotels and restaurants are open. On warm years it’s possible to have a few beach days at the end of the month. (Average Max Temperature: 19°C. Average Rainfall: 12mm.)
- May Weather on Santorini: There are big differences between early May (when cool cloudy days can still be the common) and late May (when the days are consistently sunny and warm). May is the month when the beach towns dust off the cob webs and open for business in earnest. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Rainfall: 7mm.)
- June Weather on Santorini: June is a hot sunny month and the start of beach season when tourist arrive in large numbers. (Average Max Temperature: 26°C. Average Rainfall: 0.3mm.)
- July Weather on Santorini: Hot and sunny. Along with August July is the busiest month on Santorini. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Rainfall: 0.9mm.)
- August Weather on Santorini: Hot and sunny with occasional strong winds (called the meltemi) that can cancel ferries and catamarans. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Rainfall: 0.4mm.)
- September Weather on Santorini: Hot and sunny but cooling a little from August. The weather is similar to June but the water tends to be warmer as it heats over the summer months. Winds have died down. September is the best month to visit Santorini. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Rainfall: 6mm.)
- October Weather on Santorini: October is much like May but the weather is moving in the opposite direction. There is often a large difference between early October (when days can be hot and sunny) and late October (when you can find some cool rainy days and visits to the beach seem a distant memory). (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Rainfall: 18mm.)
- November Weather on Santorini: The cool and cloudy days of winter arrive in November. Early November can still see some warm days when a visit to the beach could be possible for the very brave. The restaurants and hotels at the beaches are all closed by mid May. Oia and Fira stay moderately active until the final cruise ship of the season makes its visit (usually in mid to late November). (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Rainfall: 44mm.)
- December Weather on Santorini: Cool, cloudy, and rainy, though there are often stretches of sunny days. Fira is the hub of most activity during the winter as most other towns are completely shut down. Oia will have at least a few restaurants and hotels open as well. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Rainfall: 46mm.)
How long to visit? – You need 2 to 3 days minimum to get a feel for the island, see the top attractions, experience the sunset from a couple of different locations, and eat lots of great food. You could easily fill a week with long walks, swimming and sunbathing, and lots more eating, clubbing, and dancing. If you have more than a week in Greece then I’d encourage you to spend 7 to 10 days on Santorini and then travel to a different island as there are so many great islands you’d experience more by seeing Naxos, Mykonos, Crete, or Rhodes than staying in Santorini for a second week.
Q. What are the best hotels in Fira?
Fira is the largest town on Santorini and where you’ll find the most restaurants (many with amazing views of the caldera), clubs, and shops. In high season it gets busy (especially through the day when cruise ships are in port) – but it never seems to lose its charm.
- Cosmopolitan Suites Hotel – An infinity pool perched right on the cliffs overlooking the caldera. This is one of the most praised hotels in Fira. Only 10 rooms here (individually furnished) so it’s perfect for honeymooners – yet located in the heart of Fira. (Hotel phone: +30 22860 25632) • Reviews
- Aria Suites – An amazing mix of luxury and friendliness, incredible views and exemplary service. Suites are beautifully decorated. The pool is one of the best in Fira and comes with views of the caldera. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 028650) • Reviews
- Anteliz Suites – Small family run hotel located on the foot path that runs along the caldera. Spectacular views. Nice pool that looks out onto the caldera. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 028842) • Reviews
- Aigialos Luxury Traditional Houses – Large rooms with private balconies. Incredible views of the water and volcano. Located very close to the center of Fira. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 025191) • Reviews
- Kavalari Hotel – The best value hotel in Fira. Not as luxurious as the other 4 hotels but so affordable it’s one of my favorites. Central location, incredible views, simple clean rooms. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 022455) • Reviews
Q. What are the best hotels in Oia?
The 2nd busiest and most developed town on Santorini’s caldera. It’s busy through the day and up until sunset then quiets quickly. There are many great restaurants here but for any nightlife you’ll need to head to Fira – 15 minutes away by taxi or bus.
- Canaves Oia Hotel – A small intimate luxury hotel with few peers on the island. The view is absolutely stunning – perhaps the best hotel view on Santorini. Small pool with views of the caldera. Rooms are simple in a traditional Greek ambience. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 071453) • Reviews
- Katikies Hotel – A larger resort than Canaves with 5 star everything. Incredible swimming pool, fantastic service, surreal architecture. All suites have their own plunge pool (honeymoon suite has a jacuzzi too). This is one of the best hotels in Greece. (Hotel phone: +30 22860 71401) • Reviews
- Mystique – An incredibly special and unique hotel. Wonderful “cave” suites each with a private patio. Infinity pool with gorgeous views of the caldera. Great breakfasts served overlooking the cliff edge. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 071114) • Reviews
- Oia Castle Hotel – Luxurious boutique hotel. Wonderful views and private jacuzzis. Aqua suite has a small private indoor pool as well. One of the few hotels in Oia with sunset views. (Hotel phone: +30 22860 71831) • Reviews
- Ikies – Traditional Houses – Great choice if you want a quiet hotel away from the crowds. Small plunge pool and private jacuzzis. Beautiful 10 minute walk into Oia along a foot path. Staff are wonderful. (Hotel phone: +30 22 860 71 311) • Reviews
Q. What are the best hotels in Imerovigli?
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Imerovigli has wonderful views of the caldera and the best sunset views of any town in Santorini. Some of the best hotels on Santorini make their home on Imerovigli’s cliffside perch. (It’s a beautiful 30 minute walk from Fira to Imerovigli – or a very short taxi ride.)
- Astra Suites – A cliffside perch offers incredible views. Great pool, friendly staff, kitchenettes in all rooms. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 023641) • Reviews
- Chromata Hotel – Fantastic in every way. Stunning pool and wonderful service. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 024850) • Reviews
- Absolute Bliss – Wonderful honeymoon hotel. Romantic, quiet, picturesque. Incredible views of both the caldera and sunset. All rooms have private balconies, some with jacuzzis. Breakfast delivered to your room every morning. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 021310) • Reviews
- Aenaon Villas – A small intimate hotel that exudes luxury and romance. A great choice but book far in advance. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 027014) • Reviews
- Aqua Luxury Suites – Large suites, some with plunge pool or hot tub, and all with above average privacy for Santorini. Located right on the caldera with great views. A little piece of paradise but not for someone with mobility problems as there are many steps. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 023107) • Reviews
Q. What are the best hotels in Firostefani?
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Firostefani is a 10 minute walk from central Fira. So you get easy access to the restaurants and clubs of Fira – but without the crowds. Great views too. These five hotels are all fantastic.
Q. What are the best hotels in Kamari?
Kamari is a wonderful beach town on the east coast of the island – the opposite side of the island from the caldera. The town is filled with restaurants, bars, and shops and always has a very relaxed feel. It’s an easy bus or taxi ride from Kamari to Fira (to get to Oia you’ll have to change buses in Fira). In summer there are late buses running from Fira to Kamari – the last one will leave Fira after midnight sometimes as late as 3:30am. A taxi from Fira to Kamari will be about 15€. Taxi from Oia to Kamari is 20€ to 25€.
- Santorini Kastelli Resort (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031530) • Reviews
- Tamarix Del Mar Suites (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031809) • Reviews
- Acqua Vatos Hotel (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031660) • Reviews
- Aegean View Hotel (Hotel phone: +30 2286 032790) • Reviews
- Aegean Plaza Hotel (Hotel phone: +30 2286 028740) • Reviews
Q. What are the best family hotels on Santorini?
On Santorini – for a family – a large hotel room probably means something around $150 to $200. Hotel rooms along the caldera (which include the towns of Fira, Imerovigli, Oia, and Firostefani) are priced at a premium. Families needing larger rooms or a bigger pool are better off at the beach resorts on the opposite side of the island. It’s about 30 minutes by bus from Perissa or Kamari beaches to Fira.
Large rooms are rare and fill quickly. Book early!
- Astra Suites – incredible 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom suite with full kitchenette and private balcony with caldera and sunset views. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 024763) • Reviews
- Caldera Butterfly Villas, Fira – great pool with caldera views, large family suites have kitchenettes. (Hotel phone: +30 22860 24856) • Reviews
- Pension George, Karterados – large rooms and a nice pool, 15 minute walk to Fira. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 022351) • Reviews
- Smaragdi Hotel Perivolos, Perivolos – great pool near Perissa beach. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 082701) • Reviews
- Aegean Plaza Hotel, Kamari – friendly staff, nice pool, minutes from the beach. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 028740) • Reviews
- Vallas Apartments, Firostefani – for the location and amenities these are good value. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 022050) • Reviews
More family hotels in Santorini: Samkip.com/Santorini.
Q. What are the best hotels for a honeymoon on Santorini?
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- Aria Suites – Fira
(Hotel phone: +30 22860 28650) • Reviews
- Aigialos Luxury Traditional Houses – Fira
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 025191) • Reviews
- Porto Fira Suites – Fira
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 022849) • Reviews
- Sun Rocks Hotel – Firostefani
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 023241) • Reviews
- Absolute Bliss Imerovigli Suites – Imerovigli
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 021310) • Reviews
- Chromata Hotel – Imerovigli
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 024850) • Reviews
- Canaves Oia Hotel or Suites – Oia
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 071453) • Reviews
- Perivolas Hotel – Oia
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 071308) • Reviews
- Vedema Resort – Megalochori
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 081796) • Reviews
- Santorini Kastelli Resort – Kamari
(Hotel Phone: +30 2286 031530) • Reviews
- Zorzis Hotel Perissa – Perissa Beach
(Hotel phone: +30 2286 081104) • Reviews
Some slightly cheaper hotels for romantic honeymoon lodging are the following.
Q. How do I book a honeymoon vacation package to Santorini?
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Answer: You don’t.
You can get better deals and have a more interesting vacation by booking your air and hotel separately.
You get the dates you truly want, the flights that work best for you, the hotel with the best reviews. With packages it’s all about compromise. Agents have blocks of reservations for certain flights and certain hotels. Their goal is to squeeze you into one of those blocks. I’m not suggesting this can never workout. It can.
But Santorini is such a unique treasure this is one trip you don’t want to be a cookie-cutter experience.
- For flights to Santorini use Kayak.com – Great site and very easy to use. (If you want a direct flight to Santorini from Europe – without going through Athens – then search these airlines.)
- For hotels in Santorini use Booking.com – A very easy to use site and awesome customer service on changes and cancelations.
- For ferries to Santorini use gtp.gr – Booking ferries more than a few days in advance is rarely necessary (so you can wait to buy most ferry tickets until after you arrive – when it’s super simple). But if you need to book ferries in advance this is the site to use.
And that’s it. It’s pretty easy.
Getting married in Santorini is not easy. It takes a lot of preparation, planning, and paperwork. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from doing a Santorini wedding. But you need to know from the start what’s involved. Much of the wedding can be prepared by wedding planners in Santorini (including getting your personal documents translated into Greek) but there is still much to be done so be prepared.
An alternative to an official wedding in Santorini is to have a symbolic ceremony that doesn’t require the legal documentation. The vows, ceremony, location, and wedding reception are all the same but without all the extra hassle. (You would, of course, have to take vows in your home country before or after your trip to make it official.)
What documents are needed for a wedding in Santorini?
Passports, full birth certificates, certificate of non-impediment to marry from both bride and groom, affidavits stating the bride and groom are free to marry, as well as a few more depending on circumstances. (More info on required documents for a greek marriage for: American citizens, Canadian citizens, British citizens, Australian citizens, Chinese citizens.)
All documents related to the marriage must be translated into Greek, certified in the Greek embassy or consulate in your home country or certain documents must also have an apostille stamp.
Can you recommend any wedding planners in Santorini?
What venues are available for a wedding in Santorini?
Popular choices for a Santorini wedding are the Santorini Princess Hotel in Imerovigli, Katikies Hotel in Oia, Dana Villas in Firostefani, Suites of the Gods in Megalochori, Pyrgos restaurant in Pyrgos village, Sphinx restaurant in Fira, Santo winery in Pyrgos, and Santa Irini Chapel with caldera views.
Q. What are the best cave hotels on Santorini?
Cave hotels are very popular in Oia and are pretty much what they sound like – rooms and suites that are built into the cliffside to form a cave. They’re usually decorated simply and sparsely, but when done right they’re close to magical.
If you need a cave house then Dream Blue (+30 21080 02307) is a privately owned home that sleeps 6, has a fully equipped kitchen, a hot tub, 2 bathrooms, and free wi-fi. It’s 350€ to 450€ a night (depending on season and number of guests) but it’s an amazing house and worth it if you can afford it. The owner also rents a smaller house, My Blue, with traditional Santorini architecture. It sleeps up to 4 and costs between 290€ and 390€.
Q. What are the best hotels for quiet and solitude?
Three hotels stand out as providing a quiet and peaceful setting far from the crowds of Fira and Oia.
Q. What affordable hotels have caldera views?
These hotels are not cheap but for budget-minded travelers that still want a caldera view they’re the best hotels.
Q. What hotels are near the ferry port?
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Fira is only 8 km from the port so you’re fine staying there if you have an early or late ferry. But there are closer hotels in Megalachori and Pyrgos – which are just a few km from the port.
Good hotels near the port:
- Suites of the Gods Spa Hotel, Megalochori – The closest hotel to the port. On the caldera with great views.
- Volcano View Villas – Half-way between the port and Fira. Free shuttle into Fira. On the caldera with great views.
And these hotels offer free transportation to and from the ferry port:
- Villa Manos, Karterados – Free pickup to and from ferry port and airport with stay.
- Anemomilos Suites, Fira – Free pickup to and from ferry port and airport with stay. Hotel is a 10 minute walk to central Fira.
- Stelios Place Hotel Perissa, Perissa – Free pickup with stay. Must stay 2 nights for free ride to port. Close to the beach.
Q. What hotels are near the airport?
Santorini is not a large island so getting from even the most distant town (Oia) to the airport takes no longer than 40 minutes. Unless being close to the airport is super important to you I’d stay in your preferred town and not try to get a hotel near the airport.
If you do need a hotel near the airport the closest are in the beach towns of Monolithos and Kamari just minutes from the airport. These 2 hotels come highly recommended.
- Scorpios Beach Hotel, Monolithos – 2 minutes from the airport. Near the beach, small pool, family rooms. Free airport transfers and 24 hour check in.
- The Boathouse Hotel, Kamari – On the beach, in the center of Kamari with lots of shops and restaurants within steps. Very nice pool. 5 minutes from the airport. Free airport transfers.
Q. What hotels on Santorini have the best infinity pools?
The best infinity pools with views of the caldera are at these hotels.
- Perivolas Hotel – Oia
- Kirini Suites – Oia
- Katikies Hotel – Oia
- Tsitouras Collection Hotel – Firostefani
- Chromata Hotel – Imerovigli
- San Antonio Hotel – Imerovigli
- Grace Santorini – Imerovigli
Most pools on Santorini are heated by the sun so won’t be terribly warm outside of June to September – and perhaps closed from November to April.
Q. What are some cheap hotels on Santorini?
If you’re looking for a cheap room don’t try to book specific hotels. Search for hotel discounts during your dates and go with the hotel that has the best mix of amenities you’re looking for. Rates will vary depending on how many bookings the hotel currently has. And there are so many hotels in the budget and moderate price ranges it’s really hard to narrow it down.
I have never stayed in a bad hotel in Santorini. Even the budget ones are clean and refreshingly simple.
Here are the best links for finding cheap hotels in Santorini:
Generally, the hotels on the caldera (that is Fira, Imerovigli, and Oia) are much more expensive than the hotels on the east side of island (which is where all the beaches are located).
Of the towns near the caldera, the one that will have the least expensive hotels is Karterados. It’s 1 mile from Fira and does not have views of the caldera but it’s an easy walk into town and has much cheaper accommodations.
Q. Are there yacht tours to Santorini?
I am not a big fan of package tours – they’re usually lame and boring – and have little to do with exploration and travel.
But the packages put together by Gap Adventures are truly unique, lots of fun, and run by a great group of people.
In 2014 they’re offering a handful of small-group yacht trips around the Greek islands. There are a maximum of 8 guests on each yacht. You do have to get yourself to Greece but travel and accommodations are handled from there.
I also love these tours because they begin and end at interesting places. One of the huge disadvantages of a typical cruise or tour group is that you never get time to stay on the Greek islands – apart from a few hours with a hoard of fellow travelers. But with Gap you can begin or end your trip on Santorini (or Mykonos or Athens) and then spend a few days on your own exploring the island. A perfect mix.
“We go way way off the beaten tourist path.” – watch this short video from the yacht’s skipper with Gap Adventures.
Yacht Trips Around the Greek Islands in 2014
All trips are aboard a 15m (50 ft) sailing yacht. Fully licensed skipper. Snorkelling equipment. Some food and meals onboard. Trips run from May to October.
- SAILING GREECE – SANTORINI TO MYKONOS – 7 night yacht trip via Folegandros, Sifnos, Ios, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos.
- SAILING GREECE – MYKONOS TO SANTORINI – 7 night yacht trip via Folegandros, Sifnos, Ios, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos.
- SAILING GREECE – SANTORINI TO ATHENS – 14 night yacht trip via Folegandros, Sifnos, Ios, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Syros, Kea, Kythnos, Mykonos, Hydra, Aegina.
- SAILING GREECE – ATHENS TO SANTORINI – 14 night yacht trip via Folegandros, Sifnos, Ios, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Syros, Kea, Kythnos, Mykonos, Hydra, Aegina.
- SAILING GREECE – SANTORINI TO SANTORINI – 9 night yacht trip via Ios, Small Cyclades, Naxos, Mykonos, Syros, Paros, Sifnos, Folegandros.
Q. What is the best company for booking a package holiday to Santorini?
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Package holidays are not my favorite way to see Greece – traveling independently and booking your own hotel and flights is a much more rewarding way to see the islands (and it’s far from difficult). But if you’re short on time or only going to Santorini then package trips can provide good value.
Sunshine Holidays offers some cheap flight and hotel packages to Santorini from the UK.
Vacation packages from North America or Australia are not as common and thus have limited variety and choice. It’s much better to book travel on your own.
Q. What’s the best way to get to Santorini?
- See also: How to Find Cheap International Airfares
Flying to Santorini is the quickest and easiest way. You can fly to Santorini from Athens or directly from cities in western Europe such as London, Manchester, Paris, and Amsterdam.
For summer 2014, there are no flights to Santorini from other Greek islands – though this changes from year to year and some summers there will be flights from Heraklion (Crete) and Rhodes to Santorini. Also for summer 2014, there are no flights from Istanbul to Santorini.
If you’re already in the center of Athens it can be easier to take a high speed ferry or catamaran from Piraeus (the Athens port) than to deal with getting to the airport and through security. But flying would still be a few hours faster.
The big advantage of flying to Santorini is that it’s much easier to book flights in advance than to book ferries in advance (see below). But if you’re on a flexible schedule or you’re already in Greece (and can book the ferry at a travel agency) it’s very easy to book ferry tickets. It’s the booking in advance, figuring out routes and timetables from outside the country, that makes ferry planning difficult.
Arriving by ferry in Santorini is a great experience. The cliffs loom over your boat and it’s a really awesome first impression of the island. (Less so if you arrive by a high speed ferry as you’re trapped inside, behind sea-sprayed windows.) On the Blue Star ferry you can wander the decks and you’ll have a great view of the volcano and caldera.
There are cabins available on the Blue Star ferry to Santorini. But since the most popular ferry leaves form Athens early in the morning it seems silly to spend the time in a cabin when you could be walking the decks and enjoying the view of passing islands. A 2nd class or “deck” ticket is the cheapest and the ticket I recommend you buy.
A good compromise between flying and ferry is to take the ferry to Santorini and then fly back. It does take some planning to find the right tickets but the perfect route is to fly to Athens, ferry to Santorini (perhaps stopping at a few islands along the way), then flying from Santorini back to Athens – or fly directly from Athens to Western Europe as you will have already been to Athens and don’t need to visit again.
If you’re island hopping Santorini has good connections with most of the other popular islands like Crete, Mykonos, Naxos, and Paros. Rhodes is more difficult to get to from Santorini (and a longer ferry ride) but still doable.
There are no direct ferries or flights from Santorini to Istanbul. If you want to travel from Santorini to Istanbul the quickest and easiest way is to fly to Athens and then fly to Istanbul. If you want to take the ferry from Santorini to Turkey the easiest route is to ferry to Rhodes (usually an overnight ferry where a cabin would be recommended) and then a short 90 minute ferry to Marmaris on the Turkish coast. Ferries between Santorini and Rhodes run 2 or 3 times per week and take 7 to 15 hours.
Q. What airlines fly to Santorini?
Direct Flights from Europe to Santorini
A great way to see more than one island is to fly into one island (e.g. Santorini), take a ferry to another island (e.g. Mykonos), and then fly home from there. You save the time, hassle, and cost of returning to your initial destination.
Many airlines fly to Santorini from large cities in Western and Northern Europe. Here are some of them though the list is constantly changing:
- EasyJet – Flights from Rome, Milan, London Gatwick, and Manchester to Santorini. Also has flights from Western Europe to Athens, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and several other islands.
- Air Berlin – Flights from Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, many more German cities, Paris, and Copenhagen to Santorini and many other Greek Islands.
- FlyThomasCook – Flights from Manchester, London Gatwick, and Birmingham to Santorini. Also flights between the UK and Rhodes and Heraklion, Crete.
- Thomson Flights – Flights from Manchester, Birmingham, and London Gatwick to Santorini. Flights from many UK cities to Rhodes, Crete, and Mykonos. Also, if you’re traveling to Turkey there are flights from Bodrum, Dalaman, and Antalya to the UK.
- Lauda Air – Flights from Vienna to Santorini.
- NIKI – Flights from London, Paris, Copenhagen, Munich, Berlin, Milan, Rome, and Vienna to Santorini. Flights between Europe and Rhodes, Crete, Athens, Samos, Kos, Lesvos, and Corfu. One of the few airlines to offer flights from Barcelona to Mykonos.
- Germanwings – Flights from Bonn/Cologne to Santorini. Flights from Crete and Rhodes to many European cities as well as Crete to Izmir which could be handy if you’re traveling to Turkey.
- TUI Fly – Flights from many German cities and Vienna to Santorini, Crete, Karpathos, Rhodes, and Kos, as well as several cities in Turkey.
- Transavia – Flights from Paris and Amsterdam to Santorini. Also flights from many European cities to many Greek islands including flights to and from Chania which could be of interest to travelers who want to see Crete.
- Norwegian – Flights from Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen to Santorini. Connecting flights to New York City.
- Meridiana – Flights from Rome, Milan, Verona, and Bologna to Santorini and Mykonos.
- Condor Air – Flights from Dussledorf, Hamburg, Bonn/Cologne, Frankfurt, and Munich.
- Jetairfly – Flights from Brussels to Santorini. Also flights from Brussels to Chania, Heraklion, Rhodes, Kos, Samos, and Mykonos.
- Edelweiss Air – Flights from Zurich to Santorini. Flights from Zurich to Mykonos. And flights from Zurich and Geneva to Heraklion, Crete.
- Air Baltic – Flights to Athens and Santorini from Riga and other European capitals (though as of spring 2013 not showing many flights).
- AtlasJet – No direct flights to Santorini but does have flights from Istanbul to Mykonos making it the most direct way from Turkey to Santorini.
Flights from Athens to Santorini
- Olympic Air – 4 to 6 flights a day from Athens to Santorini.
- Aegean Airlines – 3 flights per day from Athens to Santorini. 1 flight per day from Thessaloniki to Santorini for late June to early September.
- SkyExpress has a route map that is always changing but will sometimes have flights from Crete to Santorini and Rhodes to Santorini. (Update February, 2014: It does not appear that SkyExpress is flying to Santorini for the summer of 2014. There are flights from Crete to Rhodes that might be of interest to visitors to Santorini.)
- Astra Airlines – In summers past has run flights from Thessaloniki to Santorini but as of Spring 2014 nothing planned.
- AirSeaLines has ceased operations so if you read they have flights from Santorini to Athens, Crete, and Rhodes this is no longer the case.
- Athens Airways ceased operations in the fall of 2012.
Q. How do I get to Santorini by ferry?
Up to 8 ferries a day sail the route from the Athens’ port (Piraeus) to Santorini. The ferry from Piraeus to Santorini takes 5 hours by high speed ferry or catamaran (cost: 60 euros) and 8 hours by the slower car ferries (cost: 34 euros).
During rough seas and windy weather the large car ferries (e.g. the Blue Star ferry) provide a much smoother ride than the high speed ferries. If you’re sensitive to seasickness then avoid the high speed ferries (and definitely avoid the flying cat and flying dolpin).
Ferry Schedule: Athens to Santorini for 2014
These are the 2 most popular routes from Athens (Piraeus) to Santorini:
- Blue Star Ferry
Leaves Athens at 7:25 every morning with stops in Paros, Naxos, and Ios (doesn’t stop in Ios on Wednesday and Saturday). Return trip from Santorini to Athens leaves at 19:00.
- Highspeed 6
Dates 30th June to 7th September 2014: Daily from Athens (departs 7:15) to Ios and Santorini. Return Santorini (departs 12:00) to Ios and Athens.
Dates 16th June to 29th June 2014: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: Athens (07:15) to Ios and Santorini. Santorini (12:00) to Ios and Athens (*except Sundays when departure is at 17:00).
Highspeed ferries are more likely to sell out than the large conventional ferries. Buying tickets a few days in advance should be enough to secure a 2nd class seat on most high speed ferries (airplane style seating) – but there are no guarantees in July and August so if you’re on a tight schedule then buy in advance. Tickets for the Blue Star ferry rarely sell out so you should be fine buying a ticket the day before or even the morning of your trip. (The days before and after the national holiday of August 15th are one time all ferries can be full.) Book several weeks in advance if you want a cabin or need to take a vehicle.
The highspeed ferries between Crete and Santorini do regularly sell out in July and August so this is one route that should be purchased in advance.
Buying tickets online in advance is a pain (routes aren’t officially published until 2 or 3 weeks before the date, the websites are confusing, and you need to visit 3 or more websites to see all the available ferries) – but you’ll sometimes need to book in advance (or want to for peace of mind). You’ll rarely, if ever, need advance tickets for ferries to Santorini from other Cycladic islands so just purchase these a day or 2 before sailing at a travel agent on whatever island you happen to be on. When you do need to buy tickets in advance these are the most useful websites:
- Pelican Travel – If you need help from a travel agency to book your ferry tickets then Pelican can do it for you (with added fees). Then pick up your tickets after you arrive in Santorini. Their office is in central Fira.
- Greek Travel Pages – This is the single best page for finding routes and timetables for all Greek ferries – but it is still challenging to use.
- Hellenic Seaways – The fastest ferries to Santorini from Piraeus but only one departure a day, usually in the early morning. Also have ferries from Santorini to Heraklion, Paros, and Ios and the only service between Mykonos and Santorini.
- Blue Star Ferries – Departures everyday from Piraeus. Also ferries from Santorini to Naxos and Santorini to Rhodes.
- Anek Ferries – Departures most days from Piraeus. Also ferries from Heraklion, Crete and Rhodes to Santorini.
- SeaJets – Runs from Santorini to Crete and several Cycladic islands. These are the smaller catamarans and the route to Crete can be especially rough.
Q. What is the Santorini ferry schedule?
The most important ferries to and from Santorini are:
- Blue Star – Daily ferries to Santorini from Piraeus, Naxos, Paros, and Ios. And from Santorini to Ios, Paros, Naxos, Piraeus and Rhodes (summer only). If you’re prone to seasickness this is the best ferry to take..
- Flying Cat 4 – From Heraklion (Crete) to Santorini continuing on to Paros and Mykonos.
- Sea Jets – High speed catamarans between Santorini and Heraklion, Ios, Paros, Naxos, and Mykonos.
- Anek Ferries – The only year-round ferry from Santorini to Rhodes. Also service to Heraklion, Karpathos, and Piraeus.
Santorini Ferry Schedule, Summer 2014
- Heraklion (Iraklio), Crete
1 to 2 highspeed ferries per day: 2 hours, 56€ (schedule for Hellenic Highspeed5). Also 1 large ferry per week.
2 large ferries weekly: 3.5 hours, 17€. 1 highspeed daily: 2 hours, 40€.
2 highspeed daily: 2.5 hours, 50€ (schedule for Highspeed5).
2 highspeed ferries daily: 40 minutes, 18€. 4 weekly large ferries: 1.5 hours, 8€.
2 highspeed ferries dayily: 1.5 hours 37€. 5 large ferries daily: 2 hours, 17€.
2 highspeed ferries daily: 2.5 hours, 45€. 5 large ferries daily: 3 to 4 hours, 19€.
- Piraeus (Athens)
3 highspeed ferries daily: 5 hours, 60€. 4 large ferries: 9 hours, 34€.
2 to 4 large ferries weekly: 9 to 18 hours (Blue Star is faster than ANEK), 36€ (cabins are more expensive but recommended).
2 ferries weekly: 5 hours, 30€.
1 to 4 large ferries daily: 3 hour, 14€.
High speed ferries are about twice as fast as conventional car ferries and cost about twice as much. During rough seas high speed ferries are canceled much more frequently than the slower conventional ferries. When they do run during rough or windy conditions life on board can be brutal for those prone to seasickness.
If you want to avoid taking a highspeed ferry from Santorini to Mykonos (or vice versa) take the Blue Star ferry to Paros and then switch to a high speed ferry for the short trip to Mykonos.
Q. Should I book my ferry ticket in advance?
If you have a car and need a spot on the ferry for your vehicle then yes, you need to book your ferry in advance.
If you are traveling overnight to Rhodes, Crete, or Athens and want a cabin then yes, booking in advance is a good idea as well.
Otherwise, the large ferries almost never sell out. Occasionally the high speed ferries will sell out but usually buying a day or 2 in advance is fine. Purchasing ferry tickets from outside the country is a pain and if you can avoid doing so you should.
Once again (repeating myself here), booking ferry tickets in advance from outside the country is head-bangingly difficult. But in-person, and in-country, it’s pretty easy. Ferries rarely sell out so if you can buy a day or two in advance you’ll be fine most of the time. On the popular routes there will be more than one ferry a day (e.g. Athens to Santorini) so even if a ferry did sell out, as long as you have a flexible schedule, you can jump on a later ferry, or at worse, one the next day.
Oh, and ferries can be cancelled due to rough seas, high winds, and strikes. (It’s always a good idea to arrive in Athens a full day before your flight home to allow for any ferry cancellations.)
But, all in all, traveling by ferry is fun and an authentic way of seeing the country. Just be flexible and patient.
Q. How do I get from the airport to Fira and the rest of the island?
- Taxi – The easiest and quickest way to get into Fira and to the rest of the island is by taxi. There will always be taxis available at the airport though it can involve a long wait (especially if 2 flights arrive at the same time). It costs about 15 euros to Fira and 20 to 25 euros to go to the rest of the island. Taxi rates and reservation info. Taxi phone number: 22860-22555.
- Bus – In high season (roughly June to September) buses run every hour between Fira and the airport. Most of these buses are running the Fira to Monolithos route and make a stop at the airport – although there might be a few additional buses each day that do only the Fira to airport run. There are fewer buses on the weekend and also fewer buses during the low season. It takes about 15 minutes to get from the airport to Fira by bus and costs about 2 euros. Plan to have small change available so that you don’t need to ask for change from a 50 euro note. If you want to go anywhere else other than Fira (or Monolithos) you’ll need to change buses in Fira (which is easy enough, but time consuming). Santorini bus schedule.
- Minivan/Airport Transfer – This is a good choice for singles going anywhere or couples going to a town other than Fira (if there are no buses or you don’t want to take a bus). But for 3 or more it’s cheaper to take a taxi as the fare is about 9 euros/per person. Contact Santorini Transfers to arrange pick up at the airport or your hotel.
- Hotel Pickup – If your hotel offers free pickup and dropoff be sure to take advantage. Most do charge but as long as it’s close to the taxi rate it’s a good choice.
Q. How do I get to and from the ferry port in Santorini?
All ferries arrive at Athinios port. If you’re arriving by cruise ship you’ll be tendered in a small boat from the ship to the Skalafira port directly below Fira. From there you can either climb the steps (a lot of them) or take a cable car (which will probably involve waiting some time in a line). There are also donkey rides up the path you walk but many find their use offensive so be prepared for some dirty looks by people who don’t think donkeys should be used (abused) in this manner.
- Bus – A bus leaves from Fira to the ferry port about 1 hour before every ferry departure and arrival. There will always be a bus waiting as your ferry arrives at the port no matter what time of day or night. If you’re staying in a town other than Fira you’ll need to get to Fira first and then switch buses there. The cost form the port to Fira is about 2 euros. The bus from the port to Fira takes about 20 minutes and drops you at the bus station in the middle of Fira. The bus, like all buses on Santorini, is air conditioned and has plenty of room for luggage.
- Taxi – There will usually be taxis waiting as ferries arrive but if it’s late at night you might want to arrange pickup in advance. It costs about 15 euros from the ferry port to Fira, 25 euros from the ferry port to Oia, and somewhere in-between to go anywhere else on the island. A taxi ride from the port to Fira takes about 15 minutes. Taxi phone number: 22860-22555.
Q. What are the best tours of Santorini?
There are 2 main types of tours in Santorini: boat and bus tours.
- Bus tours visit the following attractions: Akrotiri, Ancient Thira, different wineries, Oia, Pyrgos and potentially a few other sites. If you’re able to rent a car you’re probably better doing it yourself but if you’re short on time, don’t feel like driving, or want a quick sprint around the highlights they’re a good choice.
- Dakoutros Bros has the glass bottomed Calypso boat that visits the nearby islands in the Santorini caldera. There are full and half day tours that take in Thirassia, Nea Kameni (where you climb the volcano and swim in a hot spring), and Red Beach. (There are also sunset boat tours as well.) Tours will leave from both Amoudi Bay (near Oia) and Athinios (near Fira) with bus connections from both towns included. Tickets are available from any travel agent in Santorini so don’t bother booking in advance unless you’re on a very tight schedule. Tickets coast between 20 euros and 40 euros. This is a cheap way to do a boat tour but be warned you could be on a boat with up to 50 other guests and this can turn some people off.
- For a much more intimate (and costly) tour of the same attractions you can do a semi-private boat tour with Captain George or Captain Ted. These are on smaller yachts or catamarans with 6 to 12 guests. You can charter the whole boat too if you’re willing to pay a bit more. Per person these tours run about 150 euros or 600 to 1000 euros for a private charter.
- Santorini Wine Adventure does half and full day tours of 3 wineries around Santorini. They also offer a Wine and Food Lovers tour that combines visits to 2 wineries with a Greek food cooking class.
Q. Where and how do I rent a car or scooter?
There are rental offices all over the island that will rent a car or scooter to you. Two that are reliable are Vazeos in Oia and Spiridakos (which offers free pickup at the port, airport, or your hotel).
Booking in advance is not absolutely necessary but if you require an automatic transmission during July and August then it’s recommended (most cars are standard).
If you have a young child it’s best to bring a car seat from home – some rental agencies do have a few but they tend to be older and not up to British or American standards (though they’ll do in a pinch).
EU drivers licenses are perfectly acceptable for renting a car. But if you’re not from the EU be sure to get an International Drivers permit before leaving home. Some places will rent to you without an EU or international drivers license but if you get into an accident your insurance will be not be valid because you will have been driving illegally. If you don’t have the International Drivers Permit the Greek police will have a lot of questions too. Greek Law requires an IDP and if you don’t have it, you could be detained until you pay for repairs to the damaged vehicles.
It’s fine to rent a motorbike, scooter, or ATV by showing your passport and a current drivers license from your home country.
Q. What are the best wineries to tour on Santorini?
Santorini is famous for its wine. Many wineries offer tours and wine tasting. Most wineries are closed on Sunday so check their schedules online before visiting. If you want to visit multiple wineries (or combine a wine tour with a Greek cooking course) then contact Santorini Wine Adventure.
- Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum, Kamari – A 300 meter long cellar (8 meters underground) that hosts a wine museum. The museum presents the history of Greek wine and the life of vine-growers in Santorini since the 1600s.
- Santo Wines, Pyrgos – The most comprehensive tours of any winery. It has a large shop filled with wines and local food specialties. Fantastic views of the cliffs and caldera.
- Boutari, Megalohori – Taste 8 high quality wines for 8 euros from Santorini’s largest winery.
- Sigalas, Oia – A small winery a short walk from a bus stop on the Fira-Oia bus route. It has wine tastings with appetizers from April to October.
Q. What are the best things to do on Santorini?
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Q. What’s the best town for sunsets on Santorini?
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Imerovigli has the best sunsets of any town on Santorini. The hotels in Oia generally have either a view of the caldera or views of the sunset (this is a simplification as it also depends on the time of the year but for the most part it’s true). Fira’s sunset views are often blocked by the small island of Thirassia out in the caldera. Imerovigli has neither of the these problems and is perched high on a cliff with great views of both the sunset and the caldera. Another plus is that it doesn’t have the crowds that gather in Oia as the sun sets.
Q. Where can I go on a day trip from Santorini?
Besides the islands visible in the caldera, Santorini does not have any nearby islands which makes a day trip impractical for most visitors. Most ferries are based on other islands or back in Athens and thus it’s usually mid-day before they even arrive in Santorini.
If you really want to make a day trip to another Greek island your best bet is to wait until you’ve arrived in Santorini. Then visit a travel agency and enquire about the ferry schedule to and from Santorini’s neighboring islands. If it seems like the amount of time you’ll get on the island is worth the journey then book the ticket. If not, then don’t. Ferry schedules are always changing and rarely are released more than a few weeks in advance. A day trip requires fairly precise timing to pull off so it’s best to wait to arrange until you’re in Greece and can be certain of the schedule. Ferries on these short routes from Santorini will almost never sell out so don’t worry about finding a spot onboard.
The most likely candidate for a day trip from Santorini is Ios. It has fantastic beaches and a young and fun party vibe – though the clubbing doesn’t get going until late at night so day-trippers won’t encounter anything too hedonistic. With a little luck you could have 6 or 7 hours on the island making the 35 minute boat trip from Santorini worth the effort. Mylopotas Beach (one of the best in Greece) and the Chora (the main town up a steep cliff from the port) are well connected to the harbor by a short bus ride. The ferry from Santorini to Ios is €20 one way.
Naxos and Paros are both (just) possible but even with the best possible ferry connections you’d have little more than 2 or 3 hours to explore the island. Except in rare circumstances a day trip to Mykonos is not possible from Santorini. The journey from Santorini to Mykonos is more than 2 hours and 30 minutes and there are rarely returning boats that make the trip doable in a day.
A day trip from Crete to Santorini is sometimes possible with Hellenic Seaways from Heraklion. But a trip going from Santorini to Crete does not work with the ferry timetable.
Anafi is another island that would seem to allow for a day trip but since ferries run to Santorini in the morning and back to Anafi in the afternoon any visit would require staying a night on Anafi.
Q. What cruises go to Santorini?
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Santorini is a very popular cruise destination but I don’t recommend visiting Santorini on a cruise ship as you get a limited amount of time on the island (just a few hours) and only see the island when it’s inundated by cruise ship passengers (your shipmates).
After the cruise passengers have departed the island returns to a calmer and more tranquil pace. So if you can stay a few nights on the Santorini you’ll see a completely different side of the towns, restaurants, and attractions.
If you insist on doing a cruise to Santorini then the best site to search for good deals is Travelocity.com/Cruises.
Q. How do you charter a yacht or boat on Santorini?
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Renting a yacht is a great way to see Santorini and a few neighboring islands at your own pace. Sleep and eat on board and stop at lots of interesting out-of-the-way sights you wouldn’t see on the scheduled ferry.
- Santorini Yachting – Captain George has a crew of 3 and a 55-foot boat that will hold up to 22 passengers. Chartered trips around the caldera or a full day trip to nearby Anafi.
- Santorini Sailing – Captain Ted does hourly, sunset, full day, or overnight trips around the caldera.
- Spiridakos Yacht Cruises – Yacht, catamaran, and motor boat charters.
- Archipel Club – Private yacht charters for 2, 4, 6 passengers or large families.
Q. What are the best things to do with kids?
Santorini is one of the 6 best Greek islands for kids. There’s lots to do to keep kids busy – but I will say it’s not the typical Greek island with beautiful sandy beaches – so be prepared for a vacation with more hiking and sightseeing. If you want the best beaches for kids look to the nearby islands of Naxos, Paros, and Crete.
Santorini has a water park in Perissa, the boat tours around the caldera are great for kids and feature plenty of activity (including swimming and hiking), and, of course, swimming at the beaches is always fun (Monolithos has a kids’ play area, nice sand, and a shallow slope to the water). Kamari has a very family-friendly vibe. And the beach towns of Perissa and Perivolos are great for families too.
Read 11 Tips for visiting Santorini with kids for a full rundown.
Q. What are the best restaurants on Santorini?
Selene in Pyrgos (10 minutes from Fira) is widely considered the best restaurant in Santorini and one of the top in Greece. Reservations are (almost) mandatory in summer and must be made at least 48 hours in advance – though I would reserve as soon as you have a date in mind. The restaurant also offers one and three day cooking courses for traditional Greek food.
For a romantic dinner with cliffside views of the caldera Ambrosia in Oia is one of the best on Santorini.
In Fira, the best restaurant is likely Koukoumavlos. Housed in a former sea captain’s house and with good views, wonderful service, and inventive local food. Reservations recommended.
Q. What are some good traditional restaurants on Santorini?
All restaurants receive tourists but some that have a more Greek feel (and might be less expensive) are:
Q. Is gluten free food available at restaurants and grocery stores?
Finding gluten free food is relatively easy in Santorini. Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and seafood are readily available and form the basis of traditional Greek cooking. Grocery store sell some gluten free items but not as many as you’ll find in Athens or Western Europe. Most restaurants cook from scratch which makes it easier to derive the ingredients of different dishes. Most servers and cooks on Santorini will have heard of gluten free diets (this might not apply if you’re traveling to other smaller Greek Islands). If you’re ordering a meal without bread you might also want to say no pita as your server might not equate the two.
Print or bookmark this glossary of eating, cooking, and food terms in Greek and this card which explains gluten free dietary requirements in Greek (here’s the english version).
Q. What hotels on Santorini have kitchens?
These hotels have fully equipped kitchens with cutlery, dishes, and some cookware. (Almost every hotel on Santorini will have a fridge and coffee maker.)
Q. How do I see Santorini on a budget?
4 tips for saving money while visiting Santorini.
- Search for hotel deals on Hotelscombined.com/Santorini – This is the best way to find discounts, rather than looking at specific hotels.
- Get a room without a view – If you’re staying at any of the towns along the caldera having a view will cost a premium. Many restaurants have views of the caldera and there are great walks along the caldera edge – so it’s not as if you’re foregoing the enjoyment of the Santorini cliffside.
- Eat where the locals eat – Santorini is mainly geared around the tourist trade but there is still a vibrant local community that has its favorite restaurants. If a restaurant has a touristy feel (which will of course include the restaurants along the caldera) then you’ll be paying more for food. Look away from the touristy areas for less-trendy local eateries that will be less than half the price of the touristy restaurants.
- Get a hotel with kitchenette – Eating in for one or two meals a day is a great way to save a lot of money. (Breakfast is an especially easy meal to prepare in a hotel.) Grocery stores and fresh produce markets are easy to find. See above for a list of hotels with kitchenettes.
Q. Is there a hospital on Santorini?
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The Central Clinic of Santorini is a small medical clinic located in Fira, near the bus station. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (although serious medical issues will need to be evacuated to Athens). Map of clinic. Emergency phone number: +30 22860 21728. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Do I need travel insurance for Santorini
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Travel Insurance is worth the money. Get some before traveling. I always recommend it. Partly for the financial security. But mainly for the peace of mind that comes with having a policy. It’s just easier to enjoy a trip when you have that security. And yes we have bought insurance and filed claims on our policies – and the insurance companies have always covered the costs, no questions asked. (The big name companies make their money because few people make claims not because they scam people out of legitimate coverage.)
The big thing you want covered in a location like Santorini is emergency evacuation coverage so be sure any policy you get has this covered. (Some plans don’t so read the fine print.)
World Nomads is my favorite. They offer full coverage plans at very affordable rates. They’ve been around for years and are recommended by everyone from the New York Times to Lonely Planet travel guides.
Video: Santorini Travel Guideback to top
Tripadvisor Awards: Best of Santorini
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Best Luxury Hotels in Greece
- #3 Katikies Hotel, Oia
- #6 Canaves Oia Hotel, Oia
- #7 Andronis Luxury Suites, Oia
- #8 Oia Castle Hotel, Oia
- #9 Aigialos Luxury Traditional Houses, Fira
Best Small Hotels in Greece
- #3 Enigma Apartments & Suites, Fira
- #5 Ikies – Traditional Houses, Oia
- #6 Mill Houses Elegant Suites, Firostefani
- #10 Anassa Deluxe Suites, Kamari
Best Bargain Hotels in Greece
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- How to Find the Best Hotel Deals
- Losing the tourists on tourist-mobbed Santorini
- Santorini Sailing (5 minute video)
- Stunning Views and Crazy Donkeys in Santorini
- A Visit to Santorini – lots of great photos
- Exploring Santorini’s Caldera and Volcano
- Cruising in Europe: Santorini, Greece
- Santorini – A Mini Guide
- Tour of Santorini and Crete – Food and culture in September, 2014
- Santorini’s beaches – Great summary of Santorini’s best beaches