Greece › Santorini › Beaches
by Santorini Dave • Updated: February 13, 2023
Best Beach Hotels
• Kamari: Kastelli
• Perissa: Aqua Blue
• Perivolos: Istoria
- Istoria Hotel is the best beach resort in Santorini. A fantastic luxury hotel steps from Perivolos Beach.
- Santorini beaches are composed of volcanic sand and pebbles, full of rugged charm and often striking landscapes. But they are not at all like the great, white sand beaches Greece is known for. The idyllic best beaches in Greece are located elsewhere.
- However, swimming in the clear blue water of Santorini is wonderfully refreshing. Since the beaches have coarse sand, there’s little dust to cloud the water.
- Don’t come to Santorini primarily for the beaches – come for the volcano boat tours, incredible views, wine, hikes, nightlife, and great food. Spend time at the beaches if you have extra days here.
- Most of the best Santorini beach hotels are located at Kamari, Perissa, and Perivolos Beaches.
The 8 Best Beaches in Santorini
Where to Stay in Santorini?
My favorite beaches in Santorini are Kamari, Perissa and Perivolos. Great places to swim, many places to rent beach chairs, and lots of good places to eat. Good 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 walking 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 seawater around Santorini the clearest and most refreshing I’ve ever swum 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 (except two). So when deciding where to stay it’s usually a choice between staying along the caldera with incredible views of the volcano or staying 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 takes 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 true if you’re not staying in Fira.
If you’re looking for nightlife, it’s best to base yourself in Fira, as that’s where all most bars and all clubs are found on Santorini. But the beaches of Kamari, Perissa, and Perivolos do have restaurants/bars that stay busy late into the night. But for clubbing, that’s Fira.
1. Kamari Beach
The busiest, most family-friendly of the beach towns is Kamari. The beach is pebbly, so the water is extraordinarily clear. There are a number of affordable, all-ages beach clubs along the main path offering beach chairs and umbrellas. The path along the beach is a fun and relaxing place to stroll in the evening with lots of casual places to eat, drink, and shop. Farther in from the beach, there is an open-air cinema, a mini-golf course. Kamari is close to the airport, but far away enough that it’s not noisy. It’s the closest of any of the beach towns to Fira and the caldera with great bus service; buses take about 15 minutes between Fira and Kamari. Kamari is separated from Perissa Beach by a hill called Mesa Vouno, but the two beaches are connected several times a day by water taxi. It’s also possible to hike from one beach over Mesa Vouno to the other. There are some small, ancient ruins on top of the hill and a spectacular, sunrise view. If I were to stay at a beach town it would be Kamari.
Recommended Beach Hotels in Kamari: Santorini Kastelli Resort (luxury) • Sigalas (moderate) • Bellonias Villas (luxury)
2. Perissa Beach
Perissa and Perivolos Beaches are essentially one very long beach, with Perissa at the north end turning into Perivolos to the south. Perissa is separated from Kamari by Mesa Vouno, as mentioned above, but connected by water taxi and a hiking trail. Perissa is also well-connected to Fira by bus, albeit with fewer buses running here per day and a longer bus ride (about 20 minutes). The beach at Perissa is a pebbly, sandy mix, which gets sandier farther south. This is a mostly family-friendly beach but with a little more of a party vibe at the beach clubs here, though the parties typically don’t get too crazy and the bars close earlier than they do in Fira, so it’s quieter at night. There is a wide range of accommodations and restaurants here, especially toward the north end, where the main village, bus stop, and water taxi stop are found. The beach becomes progressively quieter as you move south.
Recommended Beach Hotels in Perissa: Aqua Blue Hotel (moderate) • Anastasia Princess Hotel (luxury, adults-only) • Meltemi Village Hotel (moderate)
3. Perivolos Beach
Moving south along Perissa for a kilometer and a half, the beach changes its name to Perivolos (and then to Agios Georgios even farther south). Perivolos, especially the Agios Giorgios end, is the most upscale beach in Santorini with a good number of luxury hotels, high-end beach clubs, and fine dining restaurants. The sand is slightly finer, though still pebbly, and the hotels and restaurants are a little more spread apart. It’s possible to have long stretches of beach to yourself the farther south you go. Perivolos is pretty well connected to Fira, operating on the same bus schedule as nearby Perissa. There is no water taxi to Kamari here.
Recommended Beach Hotels in Perivolos: Istoria Hotel (luxury, adults-only) • Orabel Suites (moderate, adults-only) • Sea Sound White Katikies (luxury)
4. Red Beach
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 a 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. The beach is also accessible by boat.
Recommended Hotels near Red Beach: Cape 9 Exclusive Villas & Suites (luxury) • Santorini Princess Presidential Suites (luxury) • Kalestesia Suites (moderate)
Kamari is the most family-friendly beach town, but Monolithos (a few kilometers north of Kamari) is the most kid-friendly beach with shallow water and the nicest sand – unlike other beaches, you can make sandcastles here. Very quiet with only a handful of hotels and restaurants. There’s a small play area for the kids on the sand and a kitesurfing school/rental shop at the north end. It’s nice here and incredibly quiet for most of its length, but may feel remote for some.
Recommended Beach Hotel in Monolithos: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa (luxury, adults-only)
6. Ammoudi Bay
The best swimming spot on Santorini – but not a beach. Take the footpath down from Oia to Ammoudi Bay where the restaurants are (or drive/taxi down), then turn left and walk along the water’s edge for 5 minutes. From here, jump from the rocks into the gorgeous 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. Many caldera cruises either begin or end at Ammoudi Bay.
Recommended Hotels in Oia near Ammoudi Bay: Charisma Suites (luxury, adults-only) • Esperas (luxury, adults-only)
7. Vlychada Beach
One of the more unusual beaches in Santorini, Vlychada is a long stretch of coarse black sand with white, moon-like, volcanic cliffs looming behind, shaped over millennia by the wind, sand, and sea. This is a semi-organized beach, with umbrella and sunbed rentals and dotted with a few tavernas. Like Ammoudi Bay, many caldera cruises begin or end here. Adding to the scenery are two large chimneys formerly used by an old tomato canning factory, now converted into a museum and cultural center. The end southern end of the beach has a small port. At the far north end of the beach, a good hike away from the sunbeds and restaurants, there is a nude-friendly section popular with gay travelers and locals.
Recommended Hotels near Vlychada Beach: Sea Sound White Katikies (luxury) • Orabel Suites (moderate, adults-only) • Ambassador Aegean Luxury Hotel & Suites (luxury)
8. Caldera Beach
Caldera beach is one of only two beaches located in the caldera (the other, Gialos Beach, has only recently been made accessible via a dirt trail). Caldera Beach is one of Santorini’s best-kept secrets, offering gorgeous caldera views, great swimming, a wonderful taverna, a tiny port, and a dive shop, while still being incredibly quiet. There are no beach clubs or sunbed rentals, and very few visitors to the beach itself (most people come here for diving or sailing). The beach is a mix of black pebbles and sand, and because it’s right on the caldera it gets very deep very close to shore. The eastern part of the beach is wider and quieter than the western part near the port and taverna.
Recommended Hotels near Caldera Beach: Ambassador Aegean Luxury Hotel & Suites (luxury) • Astarte Suites (luxury) • Santorini Princess Presidential Suites (luxury)
Map of Santorini Beaches
Dear Dave! What a great and helpful website you run!
Which beach in Santorini is calmer compared to the others? I am not a good swimmer. I would need a floating tire or something similar to go into the water because I don’t feel safe around waves. What I like to do is put on a life-saving jacket and do a bit of snorkeling close to the beach.
There are no beaches that are calm or shallow in Santorini (or none of the main beaches, anyways). All have a pretty quick drop-off. Be sure you have a life jacket with you.
Me and my husband are going to Santorini in the beginning of August.
I use to sunbath topless and would like to ask in which of the Kamari or Perissa beaches it is allowed and more common?
It’s more common in Perissa but still fairly rare.
HI Dave, can you recommend any hotels with Caldera views that don’t cost over $300 a night? Thanks so much.
On this page, you’ll find some cheaper hotels with caldera views.
Great website! We are staying in Imerovigli and would like to take our kids to a beach for a half day (without going across the Island). Is there a beach we can walk to from Imerovigli? Thanks!
There is no place to swim near Imerovigli. The east coast of the island is a short drive (though definitely not walking distance). Try Vourvoulos Beach for a spot to jump in the water (but it’s not really a beach).
Hi Dave. Thank you for this great website!! Looking at hotel options for Santorini and found two great options – one in Pyrgos and the other in Karterados. Which is best for getting around with public transportation (we do not plan on renting a car). If we were to rent a car, is Fira the best place to rent it? Thank you!!
Karterados has more buses going to Fira – and you could always walk in a pinch. Fira has many places to rent a car but the airport is easier for pickup if you pre-book. The airport bus goes right by Karterados too.
Thank you for the great info.
We’re visiting Santorini in August and can’t do the boat tour as one of us suffers terribly with sea sickness. Which is the better beach for snorkelling?
The good news is that the water around Santorini is crystal clear. The bad news is that there isn’t a lot to see in terms of marine life. All the beaches are OK and none are great. The areas with rock (as opposed to sand) are generally best. Black Beach (and nearby areas) and the swimming area around Ammoudi Bay are probably best.
What a great information site, I am wondering if you can give me some advice, please? I live in Australia and are planning to go to Greece at the end of August, 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 have 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 which Island would be the most suitable for us. But also not too long travelling time to get there. I really appreciate it!
Paros and Naxos are probably what you’re looking for. Sifnos if you want something quieter (but not a lot of shopping).
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 in 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 (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 on 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 cards? 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.
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.
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?
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.
Any recommendations for lunch at Ammoudi bay?
They are all good but the Ammoudi Fish Taverna (far right when looking at the water) is the best.
Which islands have good snorkeling? Is it possible to pair one of them with an Athens/Santorini trip?
Paros is the island with the most snorkelling near Santorini and on the direct Athens to Santorini ferry route.
Hi Dave GREAT website. Can you tell me. Can we get a water taxi from Fira to Kamari.
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.
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?
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.
Is there a swimming pool in Oia hotel that allows non-resident to pay to swim?
Just for our kids, you know.
Lioyerma is a cafe pool bar in Oia. Free use of the pool when you order something.
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).
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.
We are 3 40+ ladies planning a 5 day trip to Santorini this summer. 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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.