Santorini Beaches

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: May 15, 2018

  • Santorini beaches are composed of volcanic sand and pebbles. Very unique and beautiful to look at but they’re not the best beaches in Greece with idyllic white sand.
  • The best Santorini beach hotels are located in Kamari, Perissa, and Perivolos.
  • Visitors shouldn’t come to Santorini primarily for the beaches – they should come for the volcano, boat tours, incredible views, wine, hikes, nightlife, and great food.
  • Swimming in the crystal clear blue water is refreshing and wonderful. (Since the beaches have coarse sand there’s little dust to cloud the water.)
Perissa and Perivolos Beaches in Santorini

The best sand and swimming in Santorini is at Perissa and Perivolos beaches (which are essentially the same beach: Perissa is the north part, Perivolos is the south part).

See Also

The 6 Best Beaches in Santorini

My favorite beaches in Santorini are Kamari and Perissa. Great places to swim, many places to rent beach chairs, and lots of good places to eat. High quality beach resorts are plentiful (though there are very few hotels located directly on the beach – most resorts are across a small road from the sea).

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 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.

Perhaps it’s just in my head but I find the sea water around Santorini the most clear and refreshing I’ve ever swam in. It’s really wonderful.

The caldera is found on the west coast of Santorini. The beaches are on the east and southeast side of the island. So when deciding where to stay it’s either along the caldera with incredible views of the volcano or at one of the beaches.

It’s an easy drive or bus ride from Fira (the main town on Santorini) to get to the beaches (Kamari is the closest) so as much as I love the beaches I still recommend staying in Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, or Oia as these towns have the stunning caldera (volcano) views that make Santorini so unique.

(It does take an extra bus journey to go from Firostefani, Imerovigli, or Oia to the beaches as it requires changing buses in Fira. Renting a car is the best way to explore the island and this is especially so if you’re not staying in Fira.)

If you’re looking for nightlife you’re best to base yourself in Fira as that’s where all the clubs are found on Santorini. But the beaches of Kamari, Perissa, and Perivolos do have restaurant/bars that stay busy late into the night. But for clubbing, that’s Fira.

1. Kamari Beach

One of the best beaches on Santorini: Kamari Beach
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. Close to the airport (but not so close as to worry about noise). It’s the closest of any of the beaches (with hotels) to Fira and the caldera. If I were to stay at a beach town it would be Kamari.
Recommended Beach Hotels in Kamari: Santorini Kastelli Resort (luxury) • Tamarix Del Mar Suites (luxury) • Sigalas (moderate)

2. Perissa Beach

One of the best beaches on Santorini: Perissa Beach
Perissa and Perivolos Beaches are essentially one very long beach that caters to the backpacker crowd and party scene (beach style, not clubs) but still has a wide range of accommodations and restaurants. The beach becomes progressively quieter as you move south towards a third beach, Agios Georgios. (It’s much farther from Perissa or Perivolos to Fira than it is from Kamari to Fira.)
Recommended Beach Hotels in Perissa: Aqua Blue Hotel (moderate) • Meltemi Village Hotel (moderate) • Sellada Beach Hotel (moderate)

3. Perivolos Beach

Perivolos Black Beach in Santorini – good bars, restaurants and beach resorts
At some point as you move south the name changes from Perissa to Perivolos (and then to Agios Georgios) but the sand and the vibe is essentially the same. The density of hotels and restaurants declines and it’s possible to have long stretches of beach to yourself.
Recommended Beach Hotels in Perivolos: Smaragdi Hotel (moderate) • Sea Sound White Katikies (moderate) • Hotel Sea View (moderate)

4. Red Beach

Red Beach in Santorini, Greece
The pebbly sand here is red and the backdrop is stunning. There’s not a lot here besides the unique scenery (though ancient Akrotiri is 5 minutes away and definitely worth a visit in its own right). Red Beach is 20 minute drive south of Fira and the walk down to the beach can be steep for some. Warning: There have been reports of some falling rock on the path down to the beach so … uhm, watch for falling rock as you walk down to the beach … or just take pictures from a distance and skip actually walking to the beach.
Recommended Hotels: Astarte Suites (luxury)

5. Monolithos

The best beach for kids on Santorini.
Monolithos Beach (a few km north of Kamari) has the nicest sand and most family-friendly beach on Santorini (unlike other beaches you can make sandcastles here). 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. It’s nice here (but I wouldn’t recommend staying here), so don’t be expecting a lot of action. If you have a rental car and a few kids it might be worth an afternoon but most people would probably describe it as “dead”.

6. Ammoudi Bay

One of the best beaches on Santorini: Amoudi Bay
The best swimming spot on Santorini – but not a beach. Take the path down from Oia to the Ammoudi port (where the restaurants are) then turn left and walk along the water’s edge for 5 minutes. (You can also drive down and park near the restaurants.) Then 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 walk along the sea edge can be tricky in spots and there have been reports of falling rock.
Recommended Hotels in Oia (near Ammoudi): Esperas (luxury) • Fanari Villas (luxury) • Art Maisons Oia Castle Hotel (luxury)

See Also

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30 Questions and Comments

  1. Best Greek Island for Beaches, Villages, Swimming, Shopping

    Hi Dave,

    What a great information site, I am wondering if you can give me some advise please? I live in Australia and are planning to go to Greece in the end of August 2018, I have never been before and this will probably be my only time. My sister and I are going, we are in our early 70 but very active. My dream is to go to one of the islands that has the most to offer for us, we love swimming in clear water, nice beaches, small fishing villages and some nice shopping. Can you please suggest witch Island would be the most suitable for us. But also not to long travelling time to get there. I really appreciate it!
    Thank you
    Orsa

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Paros and Naxos are probably what you’re looking for. Sifnos if you want something quieter (but not a lot of shopping).

  2. Rhodes, Santorini, Milos, Naxos, Crete

    Hi Dave!

    I wanted to thank you for this wonderful site, and also thank you for answering my question the other day about Lindos Blu. I recently became a patron and was hoping you could answer a few more questions I had!

    So my fiancée and I are planning our honeymoon trip to Greece, and have decided upon 16 days. We’ve narrowed it down to the following islands:

    -4 days in Rhodes
    -5 days is Santorini
    -4 days in Milos (possible day trip to Sifnos)
    -3 days in Naxos or Crete

    Here are my questions:

    1) Order of travel for the Islands? We thought to visit Rhodes first, and then take a flight into Santorini, and then island hop to the others by ferry. One of the main reasons we’re going to Rhodes is to visit Rhodes Town and all the historical sites. Since there will be a lot of walking around, we figured we’d do that first, then go to the other islands where it will be more about relaxation. Also, Rhodes is sort of far away from the other islands and that would help us consolidate the travel. Does that travel order make the most sense?

    2) In Santorini: Grace Santorini vs Katikies? I’m thinking Grace Santorini would be the best for us. Imerovigli seems to have the best views, and also I think we’d enjoy the food in Imerovigli a little more than in Oia. Also Imerovigli is a more central location and seems like it would be easier to explore the island. However, on the Grace Hotel website there is no availability for October 2018 (when we are going). Have they simply not opened up their reservations book that far in advance or do you think the hotel is already sold out? I emailed them and have yet to receive a response (which seems a little odd for a hotel of their reputation). Grace also seems to be more expensive by at least 100 a night. Would I be missing out on much by going with Katikies instead of Grace?

    3) Day trip to Sifnos or full stay? My fiancée and I are both lovers of excellent food, and we have read a lot about the amazing food scene on Sifnos. Since Sifnos is so close to Milos, it makes sense to take a ferry from Milos to go check out the food. Do you think it makes more sense to do a day trip to Sifnos from Milos or should we get a hotel in Sifnos and stay a full two days?

    4) Naxos vs Crete? My fiancée and I love great beaches, and it seems that Crete and Naxos have the best beaches in Greece. My first instinct is go to Naxos because it is a shorter ferry ride from Santorini/Milos, and the island is also a lot smaller so we can simply get to all the places on the island quicker and thereby experience more things. It also seems that since Crete is such a large island, you really need more than 4 days to fully explore it. If we went to Naxos, we’d probably stay in the Nissaki Beach hotel as that seems to be the nicest beach hotel on the island. The one reason I question going to Naxos is because of the Caramel Grecotel in Crete… after viewing its website it looks to be one of the most stunning/beautiful properties I have ever seen… my fiancée and I love sitting under a beach cabana with an amazing view to a sandy white beach, and I feel like perhaps we would be missing out on something special by not visiting it. Any thoughts on that?

    5) Staying in Rhodes Town vs Lindos: My fiancée and I really enjoy beach-style hotels, and I think we’d enjoy Lindos Blu more than one of the castle-style hotels in Rhodes Town. Plus from your previous post, you said Lindos Blu has an amazing restaurant which we would also really enjoy. But we also want to visit Rhodes Town for at least a day, possibly two. Would it make sense to stay in Lindos and take a bus up to Rhodes Town, or would it be a huge hassle and would we be better off staying somewhere in Rhodes Town like Spirit of the Knight? How much time would you spend in Rhodes Town if you were visiting Rhodes?

    6) Transportation? Will any of those islands require a car rental or are the bus/taxi situations good enough on the islands that I won’t need to? Also, if I do rent a car, is it better to rent one car and take it on the ferry, or should i rent a different car in every island.

    7) Ferry situation… with island hopping a big worry of mine is that if the boat ride is cancelled due to bad weather it could make the situation very difficult with us missing a hotel reservation and being stranded without a room. Is this something we need to be concerned with or are the ferry schedules punctual for the most part?

    8) Tipping customs? In the US we typically tip the service staff 15%- 20% for food/beverage in restaurants. Is service included over in Greece or do people tip?

    9) Pocket cash… will most restaurants/stores take credit card? How much cash would you recommend to keep on hand? And is it easy to get cash if we run out?

    A lot of questions! I know! Am very excited about this trip! Any advice you have would be very much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Jon

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      1. You’ll want to do Rhodes either first or last and keep the Cyclades all together. There are usually no direct flights between Rhodes and the Cyclades so you’d have to fly via Athens (2 different flights). If you were to do Crete then ferry might make more sense as there are regular ferries from Rhodes to Crete and daily ferries from Crete to Santorini. Ferry schedules won’t be out for a few more months for all those routes.

      2. Both Grace and Katikies are the best of the best. The experience is different at each based more on their location than their quality. Grace does have sunset views while Katikies doesn’t. (Yes, their website probably has not opened up those dates yet. Try Booking.com.)

      3. I always recommend staying on islands rather than doing day trips and Milos-Sifnos is no exception.

      4. Naxos has that small-island idyllic vibe. It’s one of my absolute favorites. There are a half-dozen great restaurants within a 10 minute walk of Nissaki. The Caramel Grecotel is wonderful but there’s not as much of interest close to the resort.

      5. I prefer staying in Rhodes Town as one visit to Lindos is usually good for most. While Rhodes Town has more to wander and explore.

      6. Bus transportation on most islands is excellent. But renting a car will always allow you to see a little more of an island than you will on a bus. Santorini and Naxos are two islands where renting a car is good idea. But you can’t take a rental car on the ferry. Most cars are owned locally. You’d need special permission and have to reserve a car space on the ferry. Not worth it.

      7. Ferry cancelations do happen but they’re ultimately pretty rare. There’s often another ferry that you can jump on if your original one is canceled. In any case, there’s not much you can do about it. You have to reserve hotels in advance and you’ll never know which ferries are going to be canceled.

      8. Tipping is not the rule in Greece. On the more touristy islands, like Santorini, it’s subtly expected at the better restaurants but still not the norm.

      9. ATMs are everywhere and reliable. Credit cars are widely accepted. Have 500€ on you for backup but don’t need more than that.

  3. Beach Safety

    Hi Dave,

    I’m wondering how “secure” the beaches are in general. We live in Barcelona, Spain, and here you can’t leave your personal belongings unsupervised for a second before they disappear. Can you leave your stuff on the beach, go for a swim and expect it to still be there when you get back?
    Emma

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      I leave my stuff on the beach unguarded all the time and have never had a problem. Mind you, I do that all the time pretty much everywhere and have never had a problem.

  4. Where To Eat at Ammoudi Bay

    Any recommendations for lunch at Ammoudi bay?
    Jen D.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      They are all good but the Ammoudi Fish Taverna (far right when looking at the water) is the best.

  5. Snorkeling Near Santorini

    Which islands have good snorkeling? Is it possible to pair one of them with an Athens/Santorini trip?

    Thank you,
    Jen

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Paros is the island with the most snorkelling near Santorini and on the direct Athens to Santorini ferry route.

  6. Water Taxi from Fira to Kamari

    Hi Dave GREAT website. Can you tell me. Can we get a water taxi from Fira to Kamari.
    Thank you,
    Steve

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Short answer: no. Longer answer: if you’re willing to pay, someone (private boat, charter) will do it for you, but this is not a scheduled route.

  7. Santorini Parasailing and Jet Ski

    Hi Dave,

    We were hoping to go to a beach for a little bit of a day while in Santorini. We are staying in Oia. While at the beach we wanted to go parasailing and or jet skiing. Which beach would be best for this, and have the prettiest views while doing this?
    Reed

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Most of the water sports is on Perivolos Beach (south of Perissa). Try Wavesports which has an excellent jet ski tour to the volcano and caldera.

  8. Pool for Non-Guests in Oia

    Dave,
    Is there a swimming pool in Oia hotel that allows non-resident to pay to swim?
    Just for our kids, you know.
    Thanks,
    Tito

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Lioyerma is a cafe pool bar in Oia. Free use of the pool when you order something.

  9. Best Santorini Beach for Sunbathing and Swimming

    Hello Dave,

    I go to Greece every year and this year I am planning to try Santorini (first part of July). Usually I go alone and I like just to stay on the beach all day, sun bath and swim. Which part of Santorini would you suggest? (P.S. I do not have driving licence).

    Thank you,

    Violeta

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Perissa is the best beach with a relaxing beach scene. Sand is still “pebbley” but lots of sun loungers and beach bars. Swimming is great.

  10. Hotel near Nightlife for 3 Forty Year Old Women

    We are 3 40+ ladies planning a 5 day trip to Santorini in June 2017. We want good nightlife-bars/restaurants/dancing (love traditional Greece). We are looking for somewhere classy to stay-a pool and a pool bar is a must with nice rooms (not basic) We will not be hiring a car so walking distance to everything is a must although happy to bus/taxi to beaches if not in a beach resort. Can you recommend any hotels and would you say Fira would be our best bet?

    Lisa Craig

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      I’d highly recommend Cosmopolitan Suites in Fira. Nice pool has incredible views of the caldera and you’re less than a 3 minute walk to the clubs and nightlife (though not so close for it to be a bother). Bus station is about a 6 minute walk so it’s a great location if you don’t have a rental car.

  11. Ios in October

    Hey David,

    Thanks for the great site!

    I’m in airport headed for Santorini now – have 3 nights booked.
    Also had 4 nights in Ios planned but a friend recently came back and said it’s dead now (first week of October). So I cancelled hotel.

    Would you advising spending all 7 nights chilling in Santorini – or would you still take 4 nights and head to Ios?

    I’m solo and just hang out on the beach, love food, and a few drinks.

    Thanks.
    Rice

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      I would stay on Santorini as Ios will be very quiet. But if weather is nice over the next few days and you’re happy with sitting on a near empty beach then sure. But if weather is on the cooler side then there’s far more to do in Santorini.

  12. Airport to Kamari Beach

    Hello,
    We will be arriving in Santorini airport (JTR) on a Friday morning (8am) in late May. We were thinking of going straight to Kamari beach from the aiport, before checking into our Fira Hotel in the afternoon.

    Is there a public bus that goes from the JTR airport to Kamari? or one must go to Fira first and then change? Also, how much should a taxi charge from the airport to Kamari beach?

    Thanks!

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      There’s a bus from the airport to Fira and then Fira to Kamari. You can also get the bus to drop you on the road where the bus paths cross, you’d then wait there for the bus to Kamari. Buses from the airport are not common – it could be a 30 minute to 1 hour wait. (You could actually walk from the airport to the main road then wait for the Fira-Kamari bus there, but you’d need to ask directions.) Taxi is about €10 to €12 from the airport to Kamari.

  13. Honeymoon in Greece

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for the details provided on Greece, it’s very helpful.
    After reading your article on the difference between Santorini and Mykonos we decided to plan our 5 days, late June, honeymoon in Santorini for the next summer despite the fact that Mykonos has better beaches.
    I reserved a hotel/appartment in Kamari next to the the beach. Was that a good choice? Staying in Kamari on the beach and going for Fira and Oia by bus in the afternoon till night? Are we gonna miss the beauty of Fira and Oia if we stayed in Kamari? Is it better to do it differently and stay in Fira instead and go by bus to kamari beach?
    One more question, can we find buses from Fira to kamari late at night?
    thank you!

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      There is no right answer but I prefer to stay in the caldera towns and go to the beach through the day. Back to the towns at night for the best restaurants and nightlife. Kamari is cheaper so you can save money by staying there. What makes Santorini so special is the caldera so to stay somewhere else and only experience it in bits and pieces is not my first choice. But it’s a great island regardless of where you stay so it’s not as if staying in Kamari is going to be bad.

  14. Swimming on Santorini in November

    Hi Dave,

    My girlfriend and I are going to Santorini next week, November 8. Is it going to be too cold for swimming? We are from Boston so chilly water is not foreign to us. I felt the water in Amalfi, Italy today and it was warm to me. Just curious if it is the same there.

    Thanks,

    Josh

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      In November, it’s going to be too cold for 98% of visitors to swim.

      I can’t say whether that will apply to you. It’s certainly not freezing, so if you’re used to going for a cool swim in the Atlantic in late September – then I’m sure you’ll be able to brave it. And you could get some unseasonably warm weather that makes the sea a little more inviting than usual. I think water temps will be close to Amalfi, maybe a little cooler.

  15. Best Things To Do on Kamari Beach

    Hi dave
    Me and my husband are going to Santorini on July and I was womdering if you could give me some tips on things to do while we are at Kamari.
    We like boat trips.
    Thanks dave,
    Michelle

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Best Things To Do at Kamari Beach
      1) Hike up to Ancient Thera. Takes a couple hours, great views of the island.
      2) Take boat to Perissa Beach. They leave every 30 or 40 minutes. It’s a short fun trip. Can also combine this with the hike to Thera. Go up the Kamari side, down the Perissa side, and boat back to Kamari.
      3) There are boat tours of the volcano, hot springs, Thirassia, and the cliffs around Oia. The bus picks you up in Kamari and takes you to the port on the opposite side of the island. Be sure to get a tour that includes the sunset. Dinner is served on the boat. All the companies that offer it are pretty good so just pick the tour with the best times. No need to book in advance.
      4) Eat at Metaxy Mas. The best restaurant on Santorini and about a 8 minute drive from Kamari.
      5) The Wine Museum is pretty close to Kamari and worth a visit.
      6) Go to the Outdoor Cinema in Kamari. This is so much fun. Don’t miss it. Drink some wine or beer in the warm night air as you watch a movie (recent ones and they’re usually pretty good).
      7) And obviously, be sure to get to Fira (direct buses from Kamari take 20 minutes) to walk along the caldera path and enjoy the incredible views.

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