Where To Stay in Crete

Updated: March 20, 2018

See Also

Best place to go for good swimming and snorkeling in Crete.

Balos Lagoon in Western Crete – One of the best beaches in Crete.

The 20 Best Places To Go in Crete

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikoloas, Best Place for Cheap Holiday in Crete
Agios Nikolaos is one of my favorite towns in Crete. It’s far enough away from the package holiday beaches to be considered low key, yet is little more than an hour’s bus ride from Heraklion Airport. It’s a cosy, compact town overlooking the magnificent Mirabello Bay in Crete’s mid north-eastern region. Trendy restaurants, bars and cafés cluster round the town’s showpiece – a little sea-connected lake that serves as the centrepiece of an undeniably picturesque and postcard-pretty, lived-in yet popular holiday resort. Ag Nik is ideally situated for excursions to Eastern Crete with plenty of hire car outlets and a bus station with regular connections in most directions. Its beach scene runs generally northwards segueing into the thumb-like peninsula 2.5kms from the centre where the town’s best hotels can be found and more coves and budget accommodation can be found as you follow the coastline further northwards. Closer to town a couple of cosy beaches can be found on either side of the marina. Agios Nikolaos will appeal to people who like the quieter nightlife and relaxed, unhurried dining and swimming.


For a taste of the real Crete, Anogeia can never be described as touristy, but rather traveller curious. The residents of Anogeia are in the main made up of shepherds, shopkeepers and musicians and a wedding here may mean fusillades of gunshots into the air and a party that will last all night. The residents of Anogeia are proud Cretans who commonly wear their local pantaloons and black headscarves in public and who show more than a little disdain for Crete’s tourist excesses on the coast. They do show, however, genuine interest and hospitality to slow and curious travellers. Located 37kms west of Heraklion (55kms east of Rethymnon) and under the shadow of Mt Psiloritis, Anogeia is a true, Cretan mountain village. It’s good for a leisurely day trip, but even better when a feast or wedding is on or the annual Yakinthia cultural and music Festival is held. Accommodation consists of a few hotels and scattered rooms to let. The winding main street links it all together from upper Anogeia to lower Anogeia and is peppered with little shops and taverns from which live, spontaneous Cretan music will often be heard.


Another ‘real Crete’ community worth exploring is the inland village of Arhanes, just 16km south of Crete’s capital Heraklion. Once a dusty nondescript farming village, Arhanes learnt the smart way to re-invent itself as a popular day excursion for locals and a refreshing overnight destination for visitors. Life in this sprucely made-over town with its cobbled streets and leafy squares revolves firmly around the local community and here you will get a taste of country Crete. Restaurants cater to demanding Cretan tastes and are very reasonably priced. Artisanal shops sell Cretan wares, wines and spirits and the whole place feels as comfortable as your favourite pair of shoes. The village boasts a rich panoply of some 200 heritage listed buildings and fine examples of classical architecture all stemming from its period of wealthy landowners, following the founding of the Greek State in 1832 and their desire to be seen as a worthy member of the re-born Greece. Arhanes is worth at least a couple of nights’ stay. There is some very swish accommodation where you can while away an afternoon with a book and a bottle of wine in a walled courtyard, perhaps followed by a relaxing dinner in the shaded main square of the village.


Not to be confused with its Indonesian namesake, Bali is a north coast bay and beach community just short of half-way between Heraklion and Rethymnon. Easy to miss on a fast drive between the major centres on the main north coast highway, Bali discretely hides its attractions via a series of meandering bays and beaches, peppered with tavernas, cafés, bars and souvlaki shops. Unusually, for the often-bleak north coast topography, the village consists of four sheltered beach communities each hiding its allure from the other. Bali provides a refreshing alternative to visitors who would like a new beach each day without having to travel far. Start with the furthest beach (Karavostasi) – viewed by many as the best – and work your way down through Mythos, Bali and Livadi beaches. Bali is good for a stay of a week and visitors probably don’t need to go anywhere else on Crete. Buses between the north coast towns stop on the main highway and you can pick up a cab or seasonal tourist ‘train’ down into the serpentine centre of the village.


Chania, Crete
Viewed by many visitors to Crete as the jewel in the Cretan crown, Chania wears its moniker with pride and conviction. This thriving city boasts an Old Town and Old Port that is both a photographer’s nirvana and a foodie’s fascination. The Old Town is a walled 14th Century Venetian settlement renowned today for its pretty harbour, narrow streets and abundant waterfront and backstreet restaurants some of which operate in Summer without roofs. A striking 16th Century lighthouse guarding the harbour and of Venetian, Egyptian and Ottoman construct is said to channel power from the Ley Lines. Chania boasts a Nautical and an Archaeological Museum the latter housed in a former monastery. Chania’s draw its sheer spirit of place from its busy, unavoidably likeable atmosphere, walkability and buzzing social ambiance. You are more likely to meet a long-lost friend here than anywhere else in Crete. While not a beach destination per se, you can easily walk to a couple of local beaches for a dip or take a bus or cab (5km) to Chrysi Akti. Alternatively, you can pick a place to stay on the beach annexe of Platanias/Agia Marina 14km to the East and come to Chania when the mood dictates.


Elounda, Crete
Long regarded as Crete’s playground for Greek politicians, actors and musical stars and wealthy foreigners, Elounda itself is in fact a rather compact former fishing village with quite a few tricks up its sleeve. Approaching Elounda from its neighbouring town of Agios Nikolaos in Crete’s Eastern province of Lassithi you cannot help but spot the sprawling hotel complexes along the coast. Good for all-in comfortable holidays, they can be expensive, but if you come in shoulder seasons you can find some good deals. Elounda village itself wraps itself round a sheltered port and consists of a quite compact centre around which you will find restaurants, shops, supermarkets and tour offices. Tours here usually mean to the former leper colony island of Spinalonga (recommended), or on local boat rides. Swimming can be enjoyed just north of the centre, or with a bit of effort, on deserted beaches on the causeway-connected island peninsula of Kolokytha. The harbour front and backstreets are good places to find reasonably priced, rooms, studios and the occasional formal hotel. Visitors with a car or scooter may want to explore the coastline north to Plaka Beach (5.5km) where there are scattered tavernas, pebble or sand beaches and more luxury hotels.


Iraklio, Largest City in Crete
Heraklion used to be the Cinderella sister to the other towns in Crete, then the handsome Prince came along in the form of inner-city reformation and urban gentrification. Heraklion can today stand on its own foundations as a destination in its own right. It has a lot going for it. It is the main port back to the mainland and the only exit point for the popular Crete-Santorini-Mykonos axis. Crete’s primary international airport lies conveniently no more than 3km from the town centre and the island’s primary archaeological gems – the Archaeological Museum and the Knossos Citadel are located here and nearby. Heraklion is above all the capital of Crete. Here Cretans, Greeks and foreigners mingle to live, work and have most of all have fun. Accommodation is of the upper market business hotel type, but with at least one new ‘green boutique’ hotel pitched at travellers, plus a variety of middle-market more ageing establishments. The streets have been re-paved, pedestrianised and re-humanised and each night sees a tide of people eating, drinking, walking and socialising. Heraklion is not a beach city and even those within easy reach are not rich pickings. Heraklion will suit urbanites, night-lifers and archaeology buffs and people looking for an easy transit to and from Crete.


Hersonisos, Top Holiday Vacation Spot in Crete
Considered by picky travellers as loud, brash and ‘touristy’, Hersonisos still picks up a lot of the on-island tourist trade so it must be doing something right. Its advantage to incoming tourist groups is its proximity to Heraklion’s international airport – a 21 minute, 23km drive from baggage hall to poolside cocktail. That’s a big plus in many people’s judgment. Hersonisos is loud and brash and the tourists that visit like it that way. The main street of Limenas Chersonisou (the actual resort side of the town) is packed block to block with every kind of shop, fast food joint, rental or tour office imaginable. Tourists in flip-flops gingerly thread their way through the organised chaos and everyone seems to sport a weary holiday-induced smile. The waterfront is the domain of the tourist hotels and its skinny, but always full beaches. The water is calm and overall wave-less and the whole parade is laced with the predictable cafeterias, bars and eating places. You’ll be struggling to find independent accommodation here in July and August and if you go to Hersonisos, you will in every likelihood be on a holiday package. Love it or leave it: it is Crete too.

Hora Sfakion

Hora Sfakion, Southern Crete
For the complete antidote to what may be viewed as the resort exuberance of the north, try a little corner of Crete with a reputation. Hora Sfakion is a small south coast village port known primarily as a port on the coastal ferry system linking Hora Sfakion with Loutro, Agia Roumeli, Sougia and Palaiochora. Hora Sfakion never really sold itself as a holiday destination: its residents were either sheep herders or sheep rustlers – or both. They also liked guns and knives, had a penchant for the local raki spirit, tended to be independent minded and took part in numerous rebellions and believe themselves to be the direct descendants of the Dorians who invaded Crete in 1100 BC. Tourism was a definite novelty until the commercialisation of the Samaria Gorge. It is a great spot to linger in after the Samaria Gorge walk. When the walkers have left, locals and travellers come out and mingle over rustic lamb dishes and local wine around the harbour to swap tales of derring-do. Accommodation is low-key and there is are a couple of pebbly beaches to cool off on. Transport is easy, with direct buses to Chania and the ferry to Palaiochora.


Ierapetra, Non-touristy place in Crete
Usually overlooked by most tourists and commonly stumbled upon by accident by more adventurous travellers, this small and agricultural coastal town south of Agios Nikolaos is a surprisingly enticing corner of Crete that deserves more attention than it commonly receives. It lives off its own resources – the surrounding region is Crete’s fruit and vegetable basket – and tourists and travellers are most welcome additions to the mix. Its main attraction is its simple Crete-ness. It neither depends on visitors, but welcomes them openly. The vibe of the town is soothing: slower and a little less frantic than the rest of Crete and a long, shaded beachside paved walkway occupies the best part of the town’s real estate. Here you can chill, wander at will, stop and sit down for a beer or an ice-cream without the constant pressure of touts. Ierapetra is a comfortable town, content with itself and surprised – almost – to welcome guests from way beyond its confines. Accommodation is geared to the local market and consists of family hotels and appartments. It’s not a beach town as such, but there is a tidy beach strip in front of the restaurants near the Fort. Ierapetra will appeal to independent visitors and island-tourers looking for a comfortable stop-off for a night or two.

Kato Zakros

This minuscule settlement at Crete’s eastern extreme is known to few and only because they may have been there. Certainly, not a resort and not even a village, this strip of restaurants, rooms to stay and the odd holiday house or two should probably not be on the map. It is in effect the beach annexe to the larger and more populated village of Zakros way up on the hillside above, as its name – ‘Lower Zakros’ – suggests. Connected to the parent village by a winding road and an ancient walkable gorge known evocatively and perhaps ominously the Gorge of the Dead (it holds ancient rock tombs) Kato Zakros is perhaps the ultimate Crete hideaway. There’s not a lot to do here, other than contemplate the sea, which looks impressive when the moon rises from it, read large novels, meditate, eat sleep and drink and when motivated walk the Gorge. It’s not everyone’s ideal place to stay, but it is the ultimate antidote to hyperactivity, noise and people buzz. Accommodation is limited and needs to be planned well beforehand. Food is good – four tavernas to choose from – and the beach is pebbly and the water clean and crisp.


Kissamos, Western Crete
Almost forgotten by the rest of Crete, the pretty town with the confusing twin name sits comfortably way to the west ignoring and mostly being ignored by the rest of Crete. Many Chania-based visitors will nonetheless pass through Kissamos on their way to the port (3.4 km) where the popular Gramvousa Peninsula boat cruises depart from. The town itself is relaxed, compact and well-positioned on the western end of the expansive Kissamos Bay as a base for touring western Crete. It has a breezy promenade with restaurants and cafés centred around the small jetty and a very decent beach a few hundred metres further west. Accommodation is very much low-key and inexpensive and consists in the main of studios and appartments with a couple of hotels along or near the main through road. Further to the east at Nopigeia (6kms) the scene is quieter and well-served with more studios and appartments plus a clean pebbly beach. Kissamos will please visitors looking for an alternative scene to the often hyper-busy atmosphere of Crete’s larger towns and who have a hire car to make excursions further afield to the villages and beaches of Western Crete.


Kolymvari is the Yang to the Ying of Chania’s lengthy beach and hotel strip running west of Chania. Just as you think you have run out of beach and hotels, you meet another shy, but getting popular low-key village resort – the village of Kolymvari, 25kms west of Chania. The village consists of a through road, a port and a sizeable beach strip dominated with umbrellas and beach clubs at one end and all yours at the other. Friendly and unassuming restaurants and tavernas are threaded into the mix. A couple of luxury hotels have taken up residence in the village (one of which is adults-only) and there are rooms and studios to rent also. Kolymvari is close enough to head into Chania for an evening meal, yet far enough away to feel like rural Crete, so it offers the best of two worlds. The locale favours independent travellers, adults with a taste for luxury or families who want a really posh hotel with private and public pools. Additionally, there are well-stocked shops, ATMs and rental facilities. A great spot for a quality, quiet Cretan holiday.


Malia is the good-bad boy of Cretan holiday resorts and it appeals to a lot of people. It is a countrified version of Hersonisos and can also be labelled loud and rowdy. It’s Party Town Crete #1 – so be prepared. Originally an agricultural settlement until hotel developers discovered its rather enticing location and lengthy run of exposed, but half decent sandy beaches Malia has grown out of its rural roots to become a magnet for party-mad youth. Handy to Heraklion’s airport (34kms) you can be out of arrivals and on the beach with a beer in just over 30 minutes. The strip linking the quieter village of Malia with the beach is a patchwork of soccer pubs, clubs, cafés tattoo parlours, fast food joints, mini-markets and rental outfits and the action is non-stop. You could be excused for believing you have not left home. The beach strip is a quilt of sun umbrellas, loungers, kayaks to rent, bars, studios and hotels. Get the picture? Come here if you love all this – there’s plenty of it all Summer. Stay away if you want the quiet side of holidaying. Malia is an acquired taste and there is no accounting for the differences thereof.


Matala, Southern Crete
Matala achieved accidental yet meteoric fame in the early 70s when Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell visited and wrote about the life in the village in her seminal album ‘Blue’. Back then hippies gathered to hang out – California style – in the weather-hewn rock caves that back Matala’s cosy beach. Visitors still come to this evergreen and popular south coast village resort, though the troglodyte dwellings of the 70s flower children have long been closed off to would-be campers. In its place is a busy, flourishing mini resort consisting of one large umbrella-shaded beach (with caves to the side) a packed package of attractive waterside cafés and restaurants, shops and trinket stores. Matala draws a perhaps disproportionate share of day visitors, so staying a day or three is a good idea. Accommodation runs the usual gamut of rooms, appartments and studios and latter-day hippies can even camp. No mega hotel chain has moved in yet (there’s basically no room). As befits a popular place prices can be a bit cheeky in Summer, so an off-season visit might be a better idea. Buses run from Heraklion and Rethymno and you can hire a car of motor bike in the village.


Mirtos, Northern Crete
The soothingly pleasant and mellow village of Myrtos on Crete’s southern coast and 16kms west of Ierapetra, usually gets discovered by travellers by accident. It’s not on any main route, nor near any airport or port, yet it draws a steady stream of repeat visitors and people who have heard of Myrtos on the traveller grapevine. It’s just one small and comfortable village community that lives for itself – its mainstay is agriculture – that happens to be by the sea. It welcomes visitors with a smile and blow-ins usually end up staying for a week or so. Consisting of a compact hospitality centre, Myrtos is cradled by a large stretch of smooth, dust grey sand and an incredibly blue Libyan Sea. A relaxing boardwalk binds the land and water and unsurprisingly, a rich menu of fish tavernas and genuine Cretan restaurants have popped up. Accommodation has reflected the popularisation of the village and is ample in scope and comfortable. Come here if you don’t want to move for a week. Bring a book, bathers and an appetite and still chill until the urge to leave arrives. That may be a while.


Paleochora, Crete
Palaiochora sits comfortably yet remotely at the south-eastern corner of Crete, a small community some 77kms south west of Chania and occupying a peninsula about 700m long and just 400m wide atop which lies a ruined castle. It is also a popular holiday – more a traveller – destination. The peninsula means that there are two beach spaces: a wide sandy beach on the west side and a smaller pebbly beach on the east side. The village has just about the right mix of amenities and is an ideal location for a stay of a week or so. Most of the action – restaurants and cafés – lies in the thin belt of the peninsula and everything else is within walking distance. Accommodation is comprised of small family hotels a varied mix of rooms, studios and appartments. The atmosphere is relaxed, laid back and oh-so unhurried. Because of its distance from Crete’s airports, Palaiochora does attract mainly determined and travel-wise visitors. Buses link the village with Chania a few times daily. In summary, Palaiochora is an ideal mid-sized village that has not reached resort status yet. Good for independent travellers and families who like it quieter.


Plakias, Crete, Greece
Plakias is another of those lower-key south coast village-resorts that is more a lived-in community than a seasonal tourist enclave. Easy to get to by local bus or a hire car, it is a mere 30kms south of the mid-western town of Rethymno and is located in an area that offer many options for alterative beaches and sights. A rich agricultural valley supports Plakias supports the village year-round, but in Summer visitors come here for day visits or stays of a week or so. It was for many years a popular backpacker community, though these days you will see a wide profile of mainly independent travellers of all ages. It’s a popular destination for Greeks and Cretans to and that is reflected in the quality of food on offer. Nightlife also offers a couple of music bars, though on the whole visitors spend their time strolling, socialising and eating. The village beach stretches for about 1.5kms around the wide bay, though more personal beaches can be found at Damnoni, Ammoudi and Schinari over the headland a 40-minute walk, or 8-minute drive away. No major chain resorts other than one on Damnoni beach so accommodation is the common mix of small hotels, studios and apartments.


Rethymno, Crete
Rethymnon used to be the rather looked down upon town of the north coast. Neglected over the years it was usually passed over by travellers heading to Chania further west. Today, it is a bustling pretty town every bit as good as Chania and anywhere else in Crete. It occupies the middle ground in tourism and traveller stakes and is more personable, compact and even friendlier than its larger siblings. Its real charm lies in its almost completely pedestrianised Old Town with tree-shaded or street-seated tavernas of high quality. A pretty old port (smaller though similar to Chania’s) is the focal point. From here the byzantine narrow streets of the old quarter radiate out like a spider’s web. Visitors are encouraged to stay in the Old Town, though you an opt for the beach annexe running eastwards where you can find some excellent quality hotel resorts. Access to Rethymnon is easy and although the passenger ferries no longer run, the town is the central hub of the Heraklion-Chania route and equidistant from either airport. In short, a good choice for an organised package holiday or for a 2-3 day stay for island tourers with a car.


Siteia? Where’s Siteia? Is the common catch-cry for many visitors to Crete. That’s good because you can enjoy Siteia without the crowds, but not-so-good because Siteia is a still under-appreciated town in eastern Crete that hasn’t yet seen its days of fame and glory. A sizeable town of around 10,000 residents, Siteia lies 70kms east of Agios Nikolaos and is the ideal base for touring eastern Crete. It boasts a port with links to Karpathos and Rhodes and a huge under-used airport that receives seasonal domestic and international flights. It’s a ‘good feel’ kind of town where the locals probably know after a day that you are in it. The centre is compact and easily walkable and because restaurants cater to Cretans in the main you can be sure of a good quality and inexpensive meal. There is a sizeable beach just to the east of the port while a phalanx of cafeterias and restaurants surround the port area. Siteia is no more than a 15-minute drive to the Toplou Monastery, or just over 30 minutes to the famous Vaï Beach on the far east coast. Plentiful buses connect Siteia with Agios Nikolaos and further west. Sleeping is the common mix of small hotels, studios and apartments.

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How to Get to Santorini

Updated: March 14, 2018

  • FerryHopper.com is the best way to research ferry schedules and book tickets for ferries in Greece.
  • The earlier you can book hotels and flights the better (4 to 8 months in advance). Ferries can be booked a little later, say 1 to 3 months in advance.

See Also

How To Get To Santorini

The morning ferry from Athens to Santorini. Most ferries to Santorini (but not all) leave between 7am and 8am from the Piraeus ferry port. Flying to Santorini is faster but the ferry is funner and more unique. I also find ferry travel more relaxed and hassle-free than the stress of airport crowds and security checks.

How To Get To Santorini for Most Travelers

  • Step 1: Get to Athens (there are lots of cheap flights from all over Europe).
  • Step 2: Book a ferry ticket (either online, at a travel agent in Athens, or at the ferry port).
  • Step 3: Take the train to the Piraeus ferry port. Most ferries leave in the morning, plan to arrive 1 hour in advance.
  • Step 4: Enjoy the ride to Santorini. Views as you enter the caldera are wonderful.

How To Get To Santorini from London

  • Step 1: Search for direct flights on Kayak.com. Buy the cheapest flight as there’s no difference in quality between the airlines.
  • Step 2: If there are no good direct flights search for flights via Athens, Paris, Rome, Naples, or Venice.
  • Step 3: If you want to spend time in Athens fly to Athens, then ferry to Santorini.
  • Step 4: When you arrive in Santorini take a short bus or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

How To Get To Santorini from Paris

  • Step 1: Search for direct flights on Kayak.com. Buy the cheapest flight as there’s no difference in quality between the airlines.
  • Step 2: If there are no good direct flights search for flights via Athens, Rome, Naples, or Venice.
  • Step 3: If you want to spend time in Athens fly to Athens, then ferry to Santorini.
  • Step 4: When you arrive in Santorini take a short bus or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

How To Get To Santorini from Italy

  • Step 1: Search for direct flights to Santorini from Rome, Naples, Pisa, Milan, or Venice on Kayak.com. Buy the cheapest flight as there’s no difference in quality between the airlines.
  • Step 2: If there are no good direct flights search for flights via Athens, Mykonos, or Crete.
  • Step 3: If you want to spend time in Athens fly to Athens, then ferry to Santorini.
  • Step 4: When you arrive in Santorini take a short bus or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

How To Get To Santorini from Crete

  • Step 1: There are usually no direct flights from Crete to Santorini. If you still want to fly search for flights via Athens on Kayak.com.
  • Step 2: Book tickets on either Hellenic Seaways or Sea Jets ferries.
  • Step 3: Arrive at Heraklion ferry port 45 minutes in advance to pick up tickets from ticket kiosk (located directly beside departing ferries).
  • Step 4: When you arrive at the Santorini ferry port take a short bus ride to Fira (then switch buses if you’re going somewhere other than Fira) or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

How To Get To Santorini from Rhodes

  • Step 1: There are usually no direct flights from Rhodes to Santorini. If you still want to fly search for flights via Athens on Kayak.com.
  • Step 2: Book tickets on a Blue Star ferry (usually the only ferry between Rhodes and Santorini).
  • Step 3: Arrive at Rhodes Town ferry port 45 minutes in advance to pick up tickets from ticket kiosk (located near departing ferries).
  • Step 4: When you arrive at the Santorini ferry port take a short bus ride to Fira (then switch buses if you’re going somewhere other than Fira) or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

How To Get To Santorini from Mykonos

  • Step 1: There are usually no direct flights from Mykonos to Santorini. If you still want to fly search for flights via Athens on Kayak.com.
  • Step 2: Book tickets on either Hellenic Seaways or Sea Jets ferries.
  • Step 3: Pickup tickets at designated travel agent in Mykonos Town (different for each ferry company).
  • Step 3: Be sure you know which ferry port your ferry departs from. Most ferries depart from the new ferry port (a 10 minute bus ride from Mykonos Town) but some smaller catamarans depart from the Mykonos Town ferry port (walking distance from town).
  • Step 3: Arrive at appropriate ferry port 30 minutes in advance.
  • Step 4: When you arrive at the Santorini ferry port take a short bus ride to Fira (then switch buses if you’re going somewhere other than Fira) or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

How To Get To Santorini from The US and Canada

  • Step 1: Search for direct flights to Athens on Kayak.com. Usually, Toronto and New York have direct flights to Athens, other cities will need to fly via Toronto, New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt.
  • Step 2: Search for flights from Athens (or a hub city in western Europe) to Santorini. There are no direct flights from North America to Santorini.
  • Step 3: If you want to spend time in Athens fly to Athens, then ferry to Santorini.
  • Step 4: When you arrive in Santorini take a short bus or taxi ride to Fira, Oia, or whatever town you’re staying in. (The island is small and all towns are less than 40 minutes away.)

What’s the best way to get to Santorini?

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.

But there are no direct flights to Santorini from other Greek islands – though this changes from year to year and some summers there will be flights from Mykonos, Rhodes, or Heraklion (Crete) 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. 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 (though online booking has improved the last few years).

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. The Blue Star ferry from Athens to Santorini runs 365 days a year.

There are also high speed ferries and catamarans to Santorini, most often on Hellenic Seaways and Sea Jets ferries. These ferries do not run in the off-season and in the shoulder season they can be smaller catamarans that can have a very bumpy ride. In summer they are usually larger ferries. But if you’re very concerned about seasickness then take the Blue Star.

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’s 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 ticket. For an extra few euros you can reserve an airplane style seat which is what I recommend doing.

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 when 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.

How do I get from the Santorini airport to Fira, Oia, 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.
  • Rental Car – If you’re planning to rent a car in Santorini you can pickup at the airport on arrival and then save yourself the cost of transportation to your hotel. But, if you’re arriving at night I wouldn’t recommend dealing with finding your hotel (and parking) in the dark. Just taxi to your hotel then get your rental car the next day.

How do I get to and from the ferry port in Santorini?

    All ferries arrive at Athinios port. Getting from the port to any town is easy and shouldn’t cause any anxiety. You can do absolutely no pre-arranging of pickup details and you’ll get to your hotel just fine. (It’s more important to pre-arrange transportation to the port then from the port.)

  • Bus – 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. A bus leaves from Fira to the ferry port about 1 hour before every ferry departure and arrival (a schedule of bus departures from Fira is posted 1 or 2 days before and is based on the arriving ferries).
  • 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. Taxis going to the port can be hard to find. When people miss the bus to the port (which leaves about 1 hour before each ferry arrival) then the rush to grab a taxi begins. Taxi phone number: 22860-22555.
  • Hotel Transfer – Many hotels provide transportation from the port to their hotel. For some it’s free, for others it’s charged at a rate similar to a taxi or a bit more. Don’t bother pre-arranging pickup months in advance (when you book your hotel). Send an email to your hotel a few days before so the pickup details are fresh in their minds.
  • Rental Car – If you’re planning to rent a car in Santorini don’t pickup from the ferry port. Take a bus, taxi, or hotel transfer and then pickup your rental car in Fira or Oia.
  • Cruise Ships – If you’re arriving on a Santorini cruise 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.

See Also

How To Rent a Car in Santorini

Updated: March 13, 2018

  • Renting a car is a great way to see the whole island as not everywhere is well served by bus and Santorini taxis are in short supply. About half of the best things to do in Santorini are made easier by having a rental car.
  • Book rental cars in advance for visits from June to September.
  • RentalCars.com is the best site for reserving cars in Santorini.
  • Most rental cars in Santorini have a standard transmission. If you only drive automatic then definitely reserve in advance.
  • If arriving by plane pickup your rental car at the airport to avoid the long lines for a taxi.
  • If arriving by ferry take a taxi or bus from the port into Fira and then pickup your rental car.
  • Take pictures of the vehicle (inside and out) before driving away from the rental company.

Car rental in Santorini from rental car company near airport.

How do I rent a car in Santorini?

RentalCars.com searches all the big car companies and finds the best price. Don’t be put off by the simple layout of the site – it’s all about finding the best rates. The most common pickup points are Fira and the Santorini airport. Under Pickup Location select either Santorini Airport or All Locations (which will usually means Fira).

I prefer renting from one of the international car companies that you find online but there are also local rental offices all over the island that will rent a car, scooter, or ATV to you. (The local companies are the only option for scooters and ATVs.) Many people have horror stories about dealing with local car rentals but 2 that are reliable are Vazeos in Oia and Spiridakos (which offers free pickup at the port, airport, or your hotel).

Car Rental At The Santorini Airport

For airport pickup you can reserve through Rentalcars.com and pickup from one of the kiosks at the airport. The airport is very small and it’s super easy to get your car. From the airport it’s an easy 10 minute drive to Fira. About 15 minutes to Imerovigli. And 25 to Oia (from the airport).

Car Rental At The Santorini Port

The ferry port in Santorini is chaos when a ferry arrives. I would not advise doing a rental car pickup at the port. For one, it’s very busy and meeting your person will not be straight forward. And two, the winding snaking crazy road up the caldera cliff is scary as fuck. I have not driven up it nor do I want to. Whether reserving in advance or hiring a car after arrival just do it in Fira or Oia. Much easier.

Should I Rent A Car In Santorini?

It definitely makes getting around the island much easier – especially if you’re not staying in Fira. Fira is the hub of the bus system on Santorini and there are direct buses from Fira to pretty much every corner of the island. But if you’re staying in Imerovigli or Oia, then you need to take a bus to Fira and then another bus to the Kamari Beach or Akrotiri or Perissa. So, that’s 4 buses right there. If you wanted to go (from Oia) to Kamari and Akrotiri on the same day you’d be looking at 8 bus trips. However, you’re most interested in staying at your hotel, sitting by the pool, enjoying the caldera views, eating a local restaurants, and doing the occasional bus ride to Oia or Fira, then you’d get little benefit by renting a car.

4 Reasons to Not Rent a Car on Santorini

Walking vs driving on Santorini - you don't need a rental car for the best views

The highlight of visiting Santorini: the walk along the caldera from Fira to Oia. You don’t need a rental car for this.

Santorini with rental car – finding the best views.

Sitting in your private plunge pool and staring out into the caldera. You definitely don’t need a rental car to enjoy this.

The best things to do on Santorini without a car rental.

A boat tour of the caldera and volcano is a must for Santorini. You don’t need a rental car to jump into the hot springs. (Hotel pickup and drop off are included with pretty much every tour.)

Santorini's best bars - you don't need a rental car for Fira nightlife

The best bar in Fira – the Kira Thira Jazz Bar. Having a car is more of a hassle if you’re going out drinking.

13 Reasons to Rent a Car on Santorini

Driving around Santorini - Where To Go

There are definitely places you’ll see and things you’ll do with a rental car that you wouldn’t if getting around by bus or taxi.

The best things to do on Santorini with a car.

One of my favorite restaurants in Santorini. Cava Alta in Pyrgos. You can get here without a rental car … but you probably won’t.

Exploring Santorini with a hired car.

The awesome village of Emborio in southern Santorini. You won’t be getting here without a rental car.

What's best? Getting around Santorini by bus or car?

A line-up for a bus in Santorini. I like taking the bus – it’s a fun experience. But let’s be honest: it says express, this ain’t no fucking express bus.

Car vs bus on Santorini – the bus schedule for getting around the island.

The bus schedule for Santorini. It changes all the time. On the plus side: for the main caldera towns they run pretty often. But for getting anywhere else they’re less reliable.

The best places to go with a rental car on Santorini.

The beach road on the east coast of the island. You’re not getting here unless you rent a car.

The best restaurants on Santorini with a car.

The best restaurant in Santorini is Metaxy Mas in Exo Gonia. Very difficult to get here and get back home by bus (presumably at night). Getting here by taxi is easy, getting a taxi to come back late in the evening is a challenge.

The best views and walks on Santorini with a rental car.

Great views from the mountain south of Kamari (that’s the airport out by the water). You can certainly get here by a combination of bus and hiking but much easier with a rental car.

The best beaches to go to on Santorini with hired car.

Lots of good beaches and great swimming on Santorini. This is Perissa and it would take 2 buses and 1 hour to get here from Oia (at the opposite end of the island). So, this is one example where renting a car makes things a lot easier.

Wine and wineries to go to with car rental.

Wine for sale on a roadside in Santorini. You won’t be stumbling upon this if you don’t get away from the crowds and explore the island on your own.

Fun things to do on Santorini with car?

One of my favorite things to do on Santorini is the open air cinema in Kamari. So much fun. But tricky to get to and from without a rental car. (Not impossible but just takes some planning.)

Shopping on Santorini with a rental car.

How you gonna get your meat home without a car? Can’t take this slab of cow on the bus.

Taxi or rental car for Santorini airport.

The taxi line at the Santorini airport. It can be chaotic and in short supply of taxis. If you rent a car in advance you won’t have to wait for a taxi (which can take up to an hour in the morning or evenings). And if it’s late at night some taxis will not drive to any town except Fira.

Tips for Renting a Car on Santorini

  • All local and big name car companies will do airport pickup and drop off.
  • If you’re arriving at the airport then it’s best to book in advance and do airport pickup. This way you avoid the sometimes-dreadful taxi line.
  • If you’re arriving at the ferry port I’d recommend taking a taxi or bus into Fira and then getting your rental car in Fira – whether you booked in advance or not.
  • Booking in advance is not absolutely necessary but if you require an automatic transmission during June, July, August, or September then you have to reserve it (most cars on Santorini are standard).
  • If you need an automatic and you’re booking through RentalCars.com be sure to select Transmission: Automatic.
  • I do not recommend renting scooters or ATVs. Over all my years of traveling this is the number one way that people end up in the hospital: riding a scooter, motorbike, or ATV when they don’t usually do it at home. Also, they’re fine for short trips but going from one end of the island (say, Oia) to the other (Akrotiri or the beaches) on an ATV or scooter is a long ride – at least I don’t enjoy it.
  • If you have a young child it’s best to bring a car seat from home – some rental agencies do have a few child seats but they tend to be older and not up to British or American standards (though they’ll do in a pinch).
  • If you need a larger car for a family of 4, 5, or 6 then I’d recommend booking in advance.
  • EU drivers licenses are perfectly acceptable for renting a car. But if you’re not from the EU you’re supposed to (in theory) get an International Drivers permit before leaving home. Almost all places will rent to you with only an American, Canadian, Australian, or any other foreign license but if you get into an accident your insurance will be not be valid (in theory). For the record: I do not have an international drivers permit and have never had a problem – but, I’ve never gotten into an accident either.
  • Before you leave the lot take pictures on your phone of every corner of the car (inside and out).
Driving on Santorini - Is it easy or difficult?

Driving on Santorini’s narrow roads can be challenging and comical. Once again: be patient.

Getting rental car at the ferry port in Santorini.

If you arrive by ferry it’s going to be busy and crazy at the ferry port. Take a bus or taxi to your hotel and get your rental car in Fira later that day or the next day.

Driving rental car from ferry port to Fira or Oia.

The winding road from the ferry port up to island’s towns. Scenic and beautiful but sort of scary to drive. (It’s actually a lot steeper than it looks here.)

Parking on Santorini with rental car.

Parking on Santorini is always an adventure. This is the “parking lot” in Imerovigli. Just have lots of patience and know you’ll always be able to find something.

Is it safe to drive on Santorini with a rental car?

I love Greek people but they’re terrible drivers. And in all honesty, crazier than the donkeys.

Prices on Santorini for car, scooter, and ATV rental.

Car rental prices at local rental car companies in Santorini. There will also be some additional charges (insurance, transfer, taxes).

See Also

Santorini Wine Tours

Updated: March 12, 2018

  • Santorini wine is wonderful and unique owing to the dry and unusual climate. Be sure to try some even if you don’t go on a tour.
  • Wine tours are incredibly popular on Santorini and they fill up quickly – book early.
  • It’s possible to visit wineries on your own but a tour makes getting from one to the next much quicker and easier. Plus, drinking and driving is very fucking uncool.
  • The Santorini wineries with the best caldera views are Santo and Venetsanos. Most wine tours will visit one or both of them.
  • Boat tours don’t sell out as early, so book your wine tour first.
A vineyard at a Santorini winery near Oia.

Highly recommended: A Santorini wine tour that visits multiple wineries.

The Best Wine Tours in Santorini

Santorini is famous for its wine and wineries. Many wineries offer tours and wine tasting but if you want to visit multiple wineries then book a wine tour (most wineries are small and hard to find if you don’t know the island well). Most tours include hotel pickup and drop off.

  • Santorini Half-Day Wine Tour – This is the best wine tour on Santorini for most people. Small-group tour that visits three traditional wineries and vineyards scattered around Santorini. 12 different tastings and 4.5 hours long. Hotel pickup and drop off makes it all super easy. Will usually visit Santo Winery or Venetsanos (both with great caldera views) or Gavalas (my favorite) and 2 others. There are two times for the tour: 10am and 4pm. (The later one will have sunset views but will only visit two wineries.)
    View of Santorini caldera on wine tour.
  • Santorini Private Wine Tour – This is a private wine tour for serious wine lovers. Definitely worth it for the intimacy and attention to detail, but maybe not for everyone. Most people do it as a couple but the tour allows for a group of 6. Starts at 10am or 4pm with the evening tour having a sunset vies from either Santo or Venetsanos Wineries.
    Private tour of Santorini winery and wine making.
  • Santorini 4-Hour Sunset Wine Tour – Wonderful small group tour in the early evening. Visit 3 wineries and have 12 tastings. Starts at 3:30pm and usually finishes at Venetsanos Winery for fantastic caldera views of the sunset.
    Santorini wine and food tour.

The Best Santorini Wineries

  • Santo Winery (Pyrgos) – The most comprehensive tours of any one winery. It has a large shop filled with wines and local food specialties. Fantastic views of the cliffs and caldera. (Most wine tours above visit Santo.)
  • Gavalas (Megalochori) – My favorite winery on Santorini. Small, friendly, intimate (but hard to find if you’re driving on your own).
  • Sigalas (Oia) – A small winery a 10-minute walk from a bus stop on the Fira-Oia bus route. It has wine tastings with appetizers from March to November.
  • 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.

Read More:

Is Santorini Safe?

Updated: March 11, 2018

Is Santorini safe to visit in 2018?

Yes, Santorini is a very safe destination. Of course, there are risks everywhere and Santorini has it’s share of freak accidents: falling rock, aggressive donkeys, crazy young guys on ski jets. And like everywhere the biggest risk in Santorini is vehicle accidents. Always wear a seat belt, don’t drive drunk, don’t tour wineries while driving, give local buses a wide berth while walking (there are many spots around the island where buses and pedestrians share the road), and don’t rent a motorbike, ATV, or scooter if you don’t regularly use or drive one at home.

An Extra Word About Motorbikes and Scooters

This is the number one way people (at least people I know) get injured while traveling. I’ve had friends, family, readers, and many many people I’ve met while traveling that were seriously injured riding a motorcycle or scooter when they’re not used to driving one. Actually, I’m not sure I can think of someone who went to the hospital while traveling where a motorbike or scooter wasn’t the cause. The roads in Santorini are narrow, have lots of loose gravel, and locals drive fast and carelessly. This is not the place to learn how to drive a motorbike.

Is Santorini safe at night?

Any place where there is alcohol, there is some risk. Usual precautions apply but Santorini has very few problems with fights, violence, drugs, or organzied criminal activity. The biggest risk at night is walking home down the caldera after too many drinks. (I’m only half-joking.)

Is Santorini safe for single travelers and female travelers?

Once again, yes, Santorini has a safe vibe and little outright criminal activity. Single female travelers will be fine throughout the day in every corner of the island. At night common-sense precautions are still advised. If you want easy access to the nightlife in Fira while staying at a nearby hotel these are good choices: Cosmopolitan Hotel (luxury hotel on the caldera a 2 minute from clubs) and Petini’s Place (nice budget hotel a 1 minute walk from clubs). Both hotels are a short walk down busy pedestrian lanes from the main Fira clubs like 2 Brothers, Koo Club, Kira Thira Jazz Club, Tropical, and Enigma.

Read More:

Where Is Santorini?

Updated: March 10, 2018

Santorini is a Greek island, located in the Aegean Sea, 200 km southeast of Athens, 150 km south of Mykonos, and 140 km north of Crete. Santorini has a population of 15,500 and a land area of 76 sqare miles (a little bigger than Manhattan). The length of the island is 16 km and its width varies from 1 to 5 km. It takes about 45 minutes to drive from one end of Santorini to the other (i.e. Oia to Akrotiri). Flights to Santorini take 4 hours from London, 3.5 hours from Paris, 2 hours from Rome, and 1 hour from Athens. There are no direct flights to Santorini from the USA, Canada, or Australia.

Where is Santorini located in Europe?

Santorini is an island in Greece. It is one of the few Greek islands with direct international flights from London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Flights from Athens to Santorini take 1 hour. Flights from Italy to Santorini take 2 hours. And flights from western Europe to Santorini take 3 to 4 hours. Most routes to Santorini do involve flying via Athens.

Where is Santorini located in Greece?

Santorini is part of the Cycladic Islands that are located north of Crete and southeast of Athens (the capital of Greece). It has direct ferry connections to Athens and the popular islands of Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Ios, Milos, and Crete. Ferries from Santorini take about 1 hour to Ios; 2 hours to Naxos, Paros, Milos, and Crete; 3 hours to Mykonos, and 5 to 8 hours to Athens.

Read More:

Where Did the Kardashians Stay In Santorini?

Updated: March 8, 2018

Volcano View Hotel in Santorini

Volcano View Hotel is where the Kardashians stayed on their trip to Santorini.

The Volcano View Hotel in Santorini. You can see the 5 villas with private pools in the foreground: Saphire (where the Kardashians stayed), Artemis, Aphrodite, Iantha, Erotas. And back a bit there are the main pools with the grand, junior, and honeymoon suites, and the superior and standard rooms spread around the area.

The Kardashians stayed at the Volcano View Hotel in Santorini during their vacation in Greece. It’s an awesome luxury hotel, located south of Fira (about a 30 minute walk into town or an easy ride with a taxi or the hotel’s free shuttle bus). Views are incredible. A great hotel for a honeymoon or quiet romantic stay though some people might find it a little too far from the shops, restaurants, and nightlife of Fira. There’s not much within walking distance and a rental car is recommended if you want to explore the island.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

One of 3 pools at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Another pool with a caldera view.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

And one more pool with a view at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

View of caldera from Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed

The restaurant with caldera view at Volcano View Hotel.

The Suites and Villas at the Volcano View Hotel

Villa with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed

The Saphire Villa – this is the villa where the Kardashians stayed during their stay at the Volcano View.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Private Jacuzzi in the Saphire Villa.

Villa with private pool in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

View from one of the bedrooms in the Saphire Villa.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Iantha Villa at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed

Erotas Villa at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Aprodite Villa at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Artemis Villa at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed

Honeymoon Suite at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed

Grand Suite at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Junior Suite at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Superior Room at Volcano View Hotel.

Hotel with caldera view in Santorini where the Kardashian's stayed.

Standard Room at Volcano View Hotel.

Where is the best place to stay in Santorini

The Volcano View Hotel is wonderful but a little isolated and not much within walking distance. These are my favorite places to stay in Santorini and these are my favorite hotels.

Where did the Kardashians stay in Mykonos?

The Kardashians went to Santorini and Mykonos during their summer vacation in 2013. When in Mykonos they stayed at My Mykonos Retreat located near Ornos Beach and about a 10 minute drive to Mykonos Town.

Read More:

Santorini Tours and Things To Do

Updated: March 4, 2018

  • One Day in Santorini: Hike the caldera path between Fira and Oia. Boat tour of the caldera. Dinner at Mezzo or Metaxy Mas.
  • Two Days: Add a wine, food, or helicopter tour.
  • Three Days Or More: Visit ancient Akrotiri and Pyrgos. Lots more walking (the best way to explore Santorini).
  • Most important tip: Do at least one tour. You might not usually do tours. It might be outside your comfort zone. But they’re awesome. Do it! You won’t regret it.

Santorini Tours – The Best and Funnest

The boat tour of the caldera and volcano is the best tour in Santorini.
Every tour I’ve taken on Santorini has been great (or very very good) – and I’ve never had a bad experience. It’s not absolutely necessary to pre-book tours before arriving but if you’re on a short visit (less than five days) it’s probably a good idea to reserve your tour in advance. From June to September the best tours can be fully booked weeks in advance.

The Best Tours in Santorini

  • Get Your Guide – The most complete list of Santorini tours. Good site for getting tour discounts.
  • Santorini Private Wine Tour (5 Hours) – Santorini has some great fucking wine (Assyrtiko is my favorite). This is an intimate private tour for 2 to 6 people that visits 3 wineries and finishes with sunset views of the caldera (if you book the evening tour). There is also a less expensive Santorini Sunset Wine Tour that is almost as good. It will have a few more people but it’s still a small group tour (and some people enjoy meeting other travelers so the fact that it’s not private may be a plus).
  • Sunset Sailing Cruise in Caldera – Every boat tour is different. The options include: hike the volcano, swim in the hot springs, visit Thirassia, stop at Red Beach and White Beach to swim and snorkel, eat lunch/dinner on board, and watch the sunset below Oia. This one is the simplest (but still awesome) – it’s basically just sailing through the caldera, stopping at a few beaches (outside of the caldera), then the hot springs, with swimming, eating, and sunbathing. And finally watching the sunset on the boat from below the Oia cliffs (the highlight). Bring a change of clothes to change into for the evening as it gets a little cool if you’re still in your wet swim clothes. All boat tours mentioned here provide meals onboard and have hotel pickup to start and finish the tour.
  • Luxury Catamaran Day Cruise – The most luxurious boat tour with the best food and friendliest smallest group. This is a caldera boat tour with lots of swimming and snorkeling. Unlimited drinks and free hotel pickup and drop-off. It’s similar to the Sunset Cruise but without the sunset and there’s more swimming and time in the sun. (I just did this tour in September and it’s as fun as ever.)
  • Santorini Private Tour (6 Hours) – The best private tour of Santorini. No boats, this is a sightseeing tour of the island itself with a professional guide. The tour visits three of my favorite places: Akrotiri (the fantastic ruins of the ancient town destroyed by the volcano eruption), Pyrgos (old town with twisting pathways and churches galore, incredible views too), and Oia (the single most beautiful village on Santorini). There are also stops at Red and Black beaches, a local winery (Venetsanos), and the picturesque town of Firostefani. Hotel pickup and drop-off make this a super easy way to see the island in one day.
  • Santorini Helicopter Flight – Amazing and unforgettable (though obviously not cheap). Incredible views of the caldera, cliffs, volcano, vineyards, and towns. The ride is 30 minutes long, which is a perfect length for seeing every angle of the island from above. Most people do this as a couple but the price allows for a group of 5.
  • Santorini Photography Tour – Amazing tour of Santorini’s best views and shots. (For all photographers: from beginner to expert.)
  • Santorini Fishing Tour – Wonderful tour of the waters around Santorini on a local fishing boat. Fresh seafood lunch or dinner served on board (eat what you catch and empty from the nets). The daytime tour is best for families and serious fishermen. The sunset tour best for couples.

The Best Activities and Things To Do in Santorini

1. Hike From Fira to Oia

The best thing to do in Santorini is the hike from Fira to Oia.
This is the single best thing to do on Santorini – and it’s free! The views are incredible. The hike takes somewhere between 2 and 5 hours depending on your speed and how many pictures you take along the way. Start in Fira and move north through Firostefani and then Imerovigli (this part of the path feels more like a village sidewalk). From Imerovigli to Oia it’s largely rural with only a few shops or restaurants on this stretch of path. Most people will want to wear a sturdy running shoe for the walk but I’ve certainly seen people do it in flip flops. The route isn’t completely marked but it’s fairly intuitive: stay on the path that follows the edge of the caldera and walk north (when in doubt stay to the left/west). Of course, it’s fine to do the walk in the opposite direction but it feels more natural (to me) to walk north to Oia and the island’s tip. And walking into Oia from the hills above is an awesome finish. If it’s July or August I’d highly recommend starting before 8am.

2. Santorini Photography Tour

Santorini Photo Tour of the best spots on the island
I can not say enough great things about this wonderful tour. It’s run by a guy from New Zealand named Olaf. The tour is for small groups of 1 to 4 and he tailors it based on the skill and interests of the group. Are you just figuring how to use your new camera? Olaf’s your man. Are you a serious enthusiast looking to find the best shots on Santorini? Olaf knows the places. It’s a little expensive but this is a great way to see the island from a number of unique spots. Highly recommended – but book far in advance.

3. Cable Car from Old Port to Fira

Cable car views in Fira.
Walk down the stairs to the Old Port, grab a drink, then take the cable car back up (though you can walk or cable car both ways if you want). From May to October the cable car runs every 20 minutes, 6:30 to 22:00 – a little longer hours in July and August, and a reduced schedule from November until April. It costs 4€ for adults and 2€ for children.

4. Santorini Winery Tour

Santorini food and wine tour.
Santorini wine is great, the wineries are beautiful, and the people super friendly. It’s a fun and easy way to see the island away from the caldera. A tour is the best way of exploring more than one winery.

5. Santorini Helicopter Tour

Helicopter Tour in Santorini with views of volcano and caldera.
This is pretty close to unforgettable. A wonderful tour from above of Santorini, the volcano, the caldera, and all the villages perched along the cliff. If you’re going to Mykonos you can also do a helicopter transfer between the two islands – which is fun, easy, and way faster than the ferry.

6. Walk the Volcano

Hiking up the volcano in Santorini.
The island in the middle of the caldera is Nea Kameni and where you’ll find the island’s active volcano and the top point of interest in Santorini. The crater is 130 meters up and takes about 20 minutes to walk to. Sulfur vents are found along the way. The only way to get here is by doing a volcano boat tour or hiring a chartered boat.

7. Ancient Akrotiri

Archaeological Museum in Akrotiri.
See the village left behind after the devastating volcanic eruption that made the island uninhabitable. The site is very well done and I highly recommend getting a guide to show you around the site and discuss the history of the island, the eruption, and the following destruction. Sometimes there can be guides waiting at the entrance but it’s better to book a good tour guide in advance.

8. Outdoor Cinema in Kamari

Watching a movie outside in Kamari.
Family-friendly fun (depending on what’s playing, of course). Watch a movie outside as the sun sets and the sky grows dark. Wine, beer, and simple snacks available. Movies start around 9:30pm. Lots of fun.

9. Sunset, Caldera, and Volcano Boat Tour

The boat tour of the caldera.
You can do both the volcano walk and the hot springs as part of a boat tour. Be sure to get a tour that takes in the sunset too. There are also tour options to visit Thirassia (a small populated island that forms part of the caldera ring with Santorini) and Red and Black beach. The boats start from either Athinios port (where the ferries arrive), the Old Port below Fira (for this you can take the cable car down), or Ammoudi Bay (below Oia), and most tours offer hotel pickup to get you to the boat. All the tour companies are legitimate so buy the tour that suits your needs best as far as timing, interests, and transportation.

10. Swim at Ammoudi Bay

Cliff jumping in Santorini.
One of the best swimming spots on Santorini is down the cliff from Oia at a spot just south of the Ammoudi port. Walk or drive to Ammoudi Bay then take the path that leads south from the restaurants in the port (can’t miss it, there’s only one way to go). It’s a 5 minute walk to a small island (Agios Nikolaos) that you can swim out to. Then jump from the ledge (if you want).

11. Santorini Cooking Course

This is so much fun. Start with a visit to two wineries for 9 tastings then move to a kitchen to cook your lunch (traditional greek dishes) and eat what you’ve made.
The best food and cooking course on Santorini.

12. Explore the Paths, Alleys, and Stairwells of Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli

Walking path along the caldera in Imerovigli.
This is basically the hike from Fira to Oia but instead of continuing to Oia you can stop in Imerovigli, explore a little, and turn back around. All 3 towns have beautiful views and are worth a walk-through.

13. Walk to Skaros Rock

Walk to Skaros Rock in Santorini.
Descend the cliff to the path to Skaros Rock and explore the far side of the outcrop (there’s a little church hidden on the far side) and climb to the top of the rock if you’re brave enough. Great views too. The path starts just south of Grace Santorini hotel.

14. Take a Private Tour of Santorini

Private Tours in Santorini, Greece
Find the hidden paths, alleys, beaches, photo shots, amazing villages, and quiet spots all around the island. All tours are good but there’s something a little extra special about doing a private tour (if it works with your budget, not cheap).

15. Explore the Paths, Alleys, and Stairwells of Oia

Exploring Santorini's cliffs.
Oia has even more hidden pathways than Fira. Be sure to get off the main path and explore the magical views you’ll stumble upon. A good place to start is to find the restaurant Lotza then take the path down the cliff directly to the right of the restaurant.

16. Ride the Donkeys

A donkey tour in Santorini.
Ride the donkeys either from the Old Port up to Fira or from Amoudi Bay up to Oia.

17. Explore the Santorini Countryside

The Santorini countryside is filled with wineries.
This is one of the advantages of renting a car – you can get away from the main towns and explore the beautiful Santorini countryside. The island’s small – you can almost always see the sea – but there’s lots of farmland (especially in the south) and you can’t drive for very long without stumbling across a winery.

18. Dinner with a View

Best view restaurant in Oia.
The food is often better when you go to a restaurant without a view. But regardless, you have to have dinner with a view of the caldera at least one night while in Santorini. Mezzo is my favorite restaurant with a view on Santorini. (And these are my favorite restaurants on Santorini.)

19. Kamari Beach

The best resort in Santorini – Kamari Beach.
Good swimming and lots of restaurants. The pedestrian only street along the beach is fun to walk along at night when it gets quite busy.

20. Swim in the Hot Springs

The boat tour to the hot springs and swimming.
Jump from the boat into the cold water of the caldera then swim towards the warm water of the volcanic hot springs. It never gets hot but it’s warm enough to never feel the need to get out.

21. Emborio

Old Town in Emborio near Perissa Beach.
On the way to Perissa beach in the south of Santorini you’ll find this magical little town. There’s almost never any tourists here and though it’s small it’s still plenty big enough to get good and lost in the tangle of alleyways.

22. Lioyerma Public Swimming Pool

Public swimming pool in Santorini.
If your hotel doesn’t have a pool this is a good option if you’re staying in Oia – but I don’t think I’d come all the way from Fira just for the pool. No fee, just buy a drink or some food and you can sit all day. Nice view. (And has a sunset view too.)

23. Watch the Sunset in Oia

The best place to watch the sunset in Santorini is in Oia.
Bring a bottle of wine and hang out on the cliffs of Oia watching the sun set. It is busy so be prepared for crowds. Forget about finding a taxi back to Fira or Imerovigli but there are extra buses waiting for the crowds after the sunset so there’s often no wait.

24. The Seafood Restaurants Of Amoudi Bay

Eating at Ammoudi Bay in Santorini.
Walk down the stairs from Oia to the Ammoudi Port and find a little port with 4 restaurants serving ridiculously fresh seafood. All the restaurants are good but Ammoudi Taverna is my favorite. It’s surprisingly quiet down here and you can usually get away without a reservation.

25. Atlantis Books in Oia

Atlantis Bookstore in Oia.
This is a classic little bookstore. Often named as one of the top 10 bookshops in the world. Simply wonderful. Be sure to support the store and buy something. They also sell a self-made map of Santorini (worth the 5€) with the staff’s favorite things to do around the island.

26. Museum of Prehistoric Fira

Museum of Prehistoric Fira in Santorini.
On the main street in Fira this small museum is worth a 45 minute visit. It’s not huge but is especially interesting if you visit Akrotiri first.

27. Red Beach

The most beautiful beach on Santorini.
Just down the road from the Akrotiri ruins, Red Beach is the most spectacular and picturesque of any Santorini beach. From the bus stop or car park it’s about a 15 minute walk into the beach. (Sometimes closed due to the risk from falling rock, proceed at your own risk.)

28. Lighthouse on Southern Tip of Santorini

Lighthouse in Akrotiri.
The lighthouse is the destination but the draw is the incredible views looking north into the caldera – very different than the views from Fira or Oia and you can really see the circular nature of the caldera from this vantage point.

29. Explore the Fishing Villages on East Coast of Island

Fishing villages in Santorini.
There are several small villages on the east coast of the island (north of Monolithos) that are worth a visit. Yalos is one of the better restaurants on the island and a good stop.

30. Take the Boat to Thirassia Island

Day trip to Thirassia from Santorini
Thirassia forms the western side of the caldera and was connected to Santorini before the volcanic eruption. It’s inhabited, has some good tavernas, and is worth the 1€ boat ride to visit. Boats leave several times a day from Ammoudi and the Old Fira port. Last one back is usually around 5pm so plan wisely or you’ll be spending the night on the island.

31. Santorini Wine Museum

Wine Museum in Santorini.
The winery has a 300 meter long wine cave that shows the history and development of Santorini wine over the previous 5 centuries. Admission to the museum includes 4 wine tastings from the Koutsoyannopoulos winery.

32. Perissa Beach

The best sandy beach on Santorini is at Perissa.
Perissa is the best swimming beach on Santorini and has the nicest sand. Good restaurants are spread along the beach front. Perissa is about a 30 minute drive from Fira and 45 minutes from Oia.

33. Jet Ski Tour to Volcano

Tour of caldera and volcano on jet ski in Santorini.
A fun and unique way of seeing the caldera. There are different tours that go different places – all leave from Perivolos in the south of the island. Short tours visit nearby Red Beach and White Beach. Longer tours go all the way to the caldera (and volcano) and stop for a swim in the hot springs. Email Wavesports to enquire about openings on required dates: [email protected]. Staff are friendly and helpful. They also do parasailing, tubing, and water skiing.

34. Do A Food Tour

Traditional greek food tour in Santorini, Greece.
The food in Santorini is amazing. Obviously, it’s easy to enjoy plenty of great food without doing a tour but the guides are so knowledgeable and the tours so fun it’s really worth doing one. Like any Santorini tour the odds of doing one and then regretting it are almost zero.

35. Best Dance Bar

The best dance bar in Santorini.
The Koo Club is in central Fira and gets going about 11pm.

36. Funnest Bar in Santorini

The funnest bar in Fira is 2 Brothers.
200 meters south of the Koo Club is the crazy little bar 2 Brothers. If you let the bartender hit you over the head with a bat (while wearing a helmet) you get a cheap liquor shot. It sounds obnoxious (and it is) but the saving grace is that everyone here is super friendly and there’s very little attitude. Good times.

37. Best Greek Bar

Best Greek Bar in Fira.
If you want to party with the locals (or Greeks from the mainland) then Mamounia is the place. Of course, being a Greek bar, it doesn’t get busy until after 1pm.

38. Best Singles Bar or Place to Meet Other Travelers

Best bar in Santorini for solo travelers.
Tropical is one of my favorite bars in Santorini (single or not) and has great views. Friendly staff and something about the layout make it the best place to meet solo and single travelers.

39. Best Bar in Oia

Hasapiko is the best bar in Oia.
Hasapiko (also called Mary Kay’s) is a great throwback bar with old timers and tourists sitting around while the music thumps. A small crowd usually moves about on the tiny dance floor.

40. Best Dessert

Best desserts in Santorini.
You have to try a baklava and ice cream if you’re in Greece. Lotza in Oia serves the best baklava on the island. (Zotos in Fira has the best gelato on Santorini.)

41. Best View of Santorini

Best view of Santorini.
Walk up the meandering lanes of Pyrgos (15 minutes south of Fira) to the top of the hill. There you’ll find a castle, a church, and these marvelous views of the entire island. The 6-Hour Best of Santorini is an easy way to visit the most interesting Santorini villages (Pyrgos, Oia, and others).

42. Eat Local Farm Food

Farm fresh organic food in Santorini.
There are many little farms on Santorini and they produce some wonderful local food. A good way to experience this is at the rustic Good Heart restaurant (they have their own farm) in south Santorini (about a 15 minute drive from Fira and easy to find).

43. Best Gyro In Santorini

Best gyro and souvlaki in Santorini is at Lucky's in Fira.
Many of the gyro and souvlaki shops that target tourists make some pretty average food. Not Lucky’s. This is the real thing and just as good as anything you’ll find in Athens or mainland Greece. Lucky’s is on the main street of Fira and a 3 minute walk from the bus station. (Ask anyone and they’ll point you in the right direction.) Pito Gyros in Oia is also good.

44. Greek Easter

Enjoying Greek Easter on Santorini for tourists.
If you happen to be in Santorini for Greek Easter (usually different dates than western Easter) be prepared for something special. On the night of Easter Friday go to Pyrgos where the whole town is magically lit with candles. Saturday night be prepared for fireworks (Fira is the best spot to see them) when the fast ends at midnight. And on Easter Sunday many Greek restaurants will have a special menu with roasted pork and greek dishes (be sure to reserve a table in advance).

45. Day Trip or Overnight Trip to Ios

Day trip from Santorini to nearby island of Ios.
The great beaches on Ios and its proximity to Santorini make it the best day trip island from Santorini … but an overnight trip is better.

46. Most Unique Place To Stay On Santorini

Stay in a Windmill on Santorini.
You can stay in this windmill. Really! It’s the Windmills Suite at Golden Sunset Villas in Oia and it’s pretty incredible. It sits at the tip of Oia where everyone gathers to watch the sunset – but you have this huge patio with incredible views all to yourself (it can easily fit 20 people if you had friends staying nearby and wanted to host a sunset party). My wife, 2 kids, and I stayed in the windmill this past summer and absolutely loved it. There’s a kitchen, full bathroom, 2 “bedrooms”, and plenty of room. The stairs are steep, narrow, and admittedly, a little tricky. The good news: there’s only one windmill suite on Santorini. The bad news: there’s only one windmill suite on Santorini. – So book early. Free breakfast is included.

Santorini Day Trips

My recommendation: Don’t do day trips from Santorini to other islands. Santorini has so much to see and do you’re better to focus on staying and enjoying it. If you really want to see other islands then you’re better off traveling there and spending a few nights rather than wasting your time going there and back on a ferry. (Ios is a bit of an exception as its so close.)

Besides the islands visible in the caldera (like nearby Thirassia and Nea Kameni), Santorini doesn’t have great day trip options. To visit an island on a day trip you need to get an early morning ferry from Santorini and a late-day ferry returning to Santorini. Since most ferries are based on other islands (or back in Athens) it’s usually mid-day before they arrive in Santorini. And even when there is an early morning ferry there likely won’t be an evening ferry that would provide you with the time necessary to make the journey worthwhile.

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 ask 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. If the schedule works for a day trip then you’ll have no problem buying tickets.

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 get to partake. 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 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 possible (from April to October) 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.

See Also

Santorini Villas – The 2018 Guide

Updated: February 28, 2018

Santorini Private Pool Villa at Grace Santorini
Villa with Private Pool at Grace Santorini

Santorini Luxury Villas – How To Rent

Renting a Santorini villa or house is a great choice if you’re staying for a week or longer – any shorter than that and I don’t think it’s worth the effort (and many villas have a minimum one-week stay).

Here are some tips for choosing and booking a holiday villa in Santorini.

  • The Villa with Private Pool at Grace Santorini is the best luxury villa on Santorini.
  • In general, stay in a villa if you’re in Santorini for longer than a week – or are traveling with a large group. The best hotels on Santorini are stunning and not many villas match them for luxury, convenience, and views.
  • It takes more effort to rent a villa than to book a hotel. That’s not to say it takes hours and hours of research but be prepared for a little more time to plan your stay.
  • Reconfirm your reservation (at least once). If you book a villa 6 months in advance double check the dates with the owner 3 months later and then again a week before your arrival.
  • Booking.com is the best site to use for renting villas. Like with booking hotels, the site has verified guest reviews so you’re not reading fake reviews written by the owners.
  • Most private villas are located in Oia. Villas in Fira and Imerovigli tend to be part of a hotel.
  • Check and double check the location of any villa. Many look like they’re close to the main towns (or close to the beach) but are located in the middle of nowhere. Which can be fine, but obviously good to know what you’re getting. If you can’t get a good feel on where it’s located ask me and I’ll take a look.
  • Book early. People plan trips to Santorini months (sometimes years) in advance. Hotels fill early in the year, and villas get booked even earlier.
  • If you’re paying the owner upon arrival you’ll sometimes need to pay cash, even if you booked online and used a credit card to reserve the villa.
  • Weddings and wedding receptions are common at villas and rental homes. If you need more info ask the owner.
  • Is AirBnb good for Santorini? Yes and no. It is getting more rentals but few of them are right on the caldera with good views. Airbnb (and VRBO) are good if you’re looking for inexpensive places to stay without a caldera view. If you do see a good place with a caldera view it’s often a hotel listing some of their rooms on Airbnb (and usually charging more).

The 21 Best Villas in Santorini, Greece

Most of these rentals have full kitchens. Some have internet (free wifi), washer/dryer, and either a pool or jacuzzi. Book very early in the year as the best places fill up more than 6 months in advance.

Grace Santorini Villa with Private Pool – Imerovigli

Sleeps 4 – Part of the Grace hotel but with its own private pool and huge living area and deck. It’s the best of both worlds: the convenience and service of a hotel with the privacy of a private villa. This is the best villa on Santorini.
Best Santorini Villa: Grace Santorini Private Villa in Imerovigli

Oia Mansion – Oia

Sleeps 8 – This is a marvelous villa for larger groups perfectly located in central Oia. Good restaurants within steps. Incredible views (one of the few villas in Oia with both caldera and sunset views). Huge kitchen and rooftop hot tub.
Luxury Villa in Santorini with View

Windmill Villas – Imerovigli

Sleeps 5
Best Santorini Villa: Windmill in Imerovigli

White Pearl Villas – Oia

Sleeps 2
Best Santorini Villa: White Pearl in Oia

Virginia Traditional Cave Houses – Oia

Sleeps 2
Best Santorini Villa:  Virginia Traditional Cave Houses in Oia

SeaHorse Residence – Firostefani

Sleeps 10
Best Santorini Villa: Seahorse Residence in Oia

Pegasus Villas – Imerovigli

Sleeps 2
Best Santorini Villa: Pegasus Villas in Imerovigli

Onar Villas – Oia

Sleeps 4
Best Santorini Villa:  Onar Villas in Oia

Kastro Oia Houses – Oia

Sleeps 2
Best Santorini Villa:  Kastro Villas in Oia

Fira White Residences – Fira

Sleeps 6
Best Santorini Villa: White Residences in Fira

Villa Estelle – Imerovigli

Sleeps 6
Best Santorini Villa:  Estelle Villas in Imerovigli

Celestia Grand – Fira

Sleeps 2
Best Santorini Villa: Celestia Grand Villas in Fira.

Blue Canaves Luxury Villa – Oia

Sleeps 2
Best Santorini Villa: Blue Canaves Luxury Villas in Oia.

Blue Angel Villa – Fira

Sleeps 9
Best Santorini Villa: Blue Angel Villas in Fira.

Villa Ariadni – Oia

Sleeps 4
Best Santorini Villa: Ariadni Villas in Oia.

Anemi House – Oia

Sleeps 3
Best Santorini Villa: Anemi House in Oia

Anema Residences – Imerovigli

Sleeps 4
Best Santorini Villa: Anema Residence in Imerovigli.

See Also

Santorini or Mykonos? – The 2018 Guide

Updated: February 24, 2018

See Also

Mykonos or Santorini – Where To Go?

  • Both are incredibly beautiful islands. It’s easy to visit both on the same trip. A ferry from one to the other takes about 3 hours.
  • Go to Mykonos for beaches and nightlife. Go to Santorini for views, scenery, wineries, tours, and hikes.
  • Both are great for a honeymoon (depending on your interests, of course) but Santorini has a slightly more romantic feel.
  • Santorini tourist season: April to early November. Mykonos tourist season: June to September. (Santorini has far more to see and do in the winter, off-season months.)
  • Tip: If you do visit both fly into one, ferry to the other, and fly out of the other so you don’t have to retrace your steps back to the first island to catch your flight home.
  • Both Santorini and Mykonos have international airports with direct flights from Athens, Rome, Paris, London, and Amsterdam.

Santorini vs Mykonos – Summary


  • Incredible caldera and volcano views
  • 20 to 30 phenomenal luxury hotels • Read: The Best Hotels in Santorini
  • Stoney pebbly beaches
  • Great swimming
  • Great food is easy to find
  • 20 to 30 flights per day from Athens (in summer)
  • Many direct flights from western Europe
  • 5 to 8 hours by ferry from Athens
  • Many tours, day trips, wineries, and activities
  • Very family-friendly but few kid-oriented attractions
  • Several good bars and 2 dance clubs
  • An expensive island but cheap food and hotels are surprisingly easy to find


  • Beautiful island but few memorable views
  • 5 to 10 good luxury hotels • Read: The Best Hotels in Mykonos
  • Sandy beautiful beaches
  • Great swimming
  • Good food is easy to find
  • 10 to 15 flights per day from Athens (in summer)
  • Many direct flights from western Europe
  • 2.5 to 6 hours by ferry from Athens
  • Few tours, day trips, wineries, or activities
  • Very family-friendly but few kid-oriented attractions
  • Lots of nightlife, beach parties, clubs, and live DJs
  • An expensive island but cheap food and hotels are surprisingly easy to find

Santorini vs Mykonos: The Differences

Restaurants with a view of the sea in Little Venice, Mykonos.

Mykonos: The sea is always nearby in Mykonos.

A view of the caldera from the cliffs of Santorini.

Santorini: The sea is often far below in Santorini.

Paradise beach on Mykonos.

Mykonos: Paradise beach on Mykonos. Mykonos has better beaches.

Red Beach in Santorini.

Santorini: The red volcanic rock at Red Beach on Santorini. Santorini has more memorable and truly unique beaches.

A restaurant in Mykonos Town.

Mykonos: A restaurant in the Little Venice section of Mykonos Town.

Tourists eating dinner in Fira with a view of the volcano.

Santorini: The restaurants of Fira looking out into the caldera.

Windmills in Mykonos.

Mykonos: A windmill perched above Mykonos Town.

Boats and cliffs in Santorini.

Santorini: Amoudi Bay below Oia.

A beach party on Mykonos.

Mykonos: The parties can get a little crazy at some of the Mykonos beaches. Though there are many quieter family-friendly beaches too.

Tourists watching the sunset in Oia, Santorini.

Santorini: Every night people gather around Oia for a view of the sunset. It’s busy, touristy, and tons of fun.

Ancient attractions on the island of Delos.

Mykonos: The ancient island of Delos is an easy day trip from Mykonos.

The historical site of Akrotiri.

Santorini: The ancient site of Akrotiri on Santorini.

A pelican in Mykonos Town.

Mykonos: Pelicans wander the streets of Mykonos.

Donkeys in Santorini.

Santorini: Donkeys wander the streets of Santorini.

Santa Marina Resort in Mykonos.
Mykonos: The best hotels are all about being close to the sea on Mykonos. (Santa Marina Resort)

The best hotel in Santorini: Katikies in Oia.
Santorini: The best hotels have amazing views on Santorini. (Katikies Hotel in Oia.)

Where to go: Santorini or Mykonos?

Mykonos is a fun island that has a great buzz. Mykonos Town is as enchanting as any town in the Greek islands. Santorini is a stunning island that you’ll never forget. The views and the setting are among the most impressive anywhere.

So my short answer would be: if you have 5 days or less then go to Santorini.

If you have 6 days or more then visit both islands but with 2/3 of your time in Santorini.

My longer answer would be: It depends what you’re interests are and how you want to spend your time. They are very different islands and complement each other nicely – thus a trip that takes in both islands makes a lot of sense.

Go to Santorini if you’re interested in:
Scenery, natural beauty, sunsets, romance, fine dining, wineries, boutique hotels, boat tours of nearby islands, and, uhm, volcanoes.

Go to Mykonos if you’re interested in:
Beaches, nightclubs, dancing, and partying.

That said, Mykonos has many wonderful places to eat and Santorini has some pretty cool beaches and no shortage of places to party.

Santorini vs Mykonos

  • The scenery, views, sunsets, and natural beauty of Santorini are unrivaled by Mykonos or any other Greek island. Mykonos is not without its beautiful spots but for scenes that are truly jaw-dropping Santorini wins hands-down.
  • Santorini is more romantic and much better suited to a honeymoon or couples vacation.
  • Mykonos has great beaches with beautiful sand and turquoise water. Santorini does not have the typical white or golden sandy beaches that Greece is known for. The beaches on Santorini are made of volcanic rock. Most are composed of a mix of sand and pebbles with a red or black color. Since the sand is darker it gets very hot through the day – aqua socks or sandals are close to a necessity at mid-day. But…some visitors love the beaches of Santorini and treasure their uniqueness. “I’ve seen sandy beaches many times but where else can I walk into the Mediterranean on red volcanic sand.”
  • Mykonos has more of a club scene and party vibe. You won’t have any shortage of places to drink and party on Santorini but if you’re in Greece to hit the clubs and dance then Mykonos is your island.
  • Mykonos Town has an enchanting maze of narrow lanes and alleyways that are fun to explore. Shops and restaurants are tucked into the classic white stone buildings that the Greek islands are famous for. At night, when visitors flock to the clubs the lanes are jammed with partiers. It’s a fun vibe and never too crazy but it can be overwhelming for some.
  • Santorini handles the peak summer crowds a little better than Mykonos. The streets and walkways of Fira and Oia are wider and roomier than Mykonos town so never feel quite as crowded.
  • Both Santorini and Mykonos are very gay friendly. Not to stereotype but Santorini might be called the wine drinking gay scene. Mykonos the club-going gay scene.
  • Santorini has more sightseeing and activities: excavation sites to explore, day trips around the island, winery tours, and boat tours around the volcano. Mykonos has some fine scenery, beautiful walks, and picturesque windmills but in general, Santorini just has more to see and more to do. Mykonos does have the nearby island of Delos (one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in the Greek islands) to explore by day trip.
  • Both islands are very quiet in winter. The beach towns shutdown and even in the main towns many hotels and restaurants close. That said, Santorini gets more off-season visitors and is never as quiet. Plus, without the beach and party scene Mykonos doesn’t offer much to do. On Santorini, the cliffs, views, and caldera don’t go away in the slow season.
  • Both Santorini and Mykonos have airports which only a handful of Greek islands have. Both islands have direct flights from Athens and northern and western Europe – they’re the only islands in the Cyclades that have international flights.
  • Niether Santorini nor Mykonos have direct flights from the USA (nor anywhere outside of Europe). All visitors originating outside of Europe will need to stop somewhere in Europe to catch a flight bound for the Greek islands.
  • Mykonos is a couple of hours closer to Athens when traveling by ferry. Ferry from Athens to Mykonos takes 3.5 hours (high speed ferry) or 5.5 hours (cheaper car ferry). Ferry from Athens to Santorini takes 5 hours (high speed) and 8 hours (car ferry).

The weather in Santorini and Mykonos

There is no appreciable difference in climate between Santorini and Mykonos. The best weather for both islands is from late May to early October. Since Santorini is more of a sight-seeing island than Mykonos it allows for visits in spring and fall that still offer lots to see and do (the views don’t go away with the hot weather). Since most people go to Mykonos for the beaches a visit outside of the warmest months has less to offer. The tourist season on Santorini is from April to early November. On Mykonos it’s from late May to early October.

Visiting Both Santorini and Mykonos

Santorini and Mykonos are so different that visiting both is a great choice. The two islands complement each other very well. They are 3 hours apart by ferry so getting between Mykonos and Santorini is fairly easy.

Some summers there are direct flights between Santorini and Mykonos. And some summers there isn’t. When they fly, it takes 30 minutes and costs between €30 and €80. There are many more flights (that run throughout the year) via Athens but these cost 3 times as much and take 2 to 5 hours (so if there’s no direct flight it’s best to take the ferry).

The most popular way to get between Santorini and Mykonos is by ferry.

In summer, there are 2 daily high speed ferries that run from Santorini to Mykonos and then return Mykonos to Santorini. The ferries leave Santorini (for Mykonos) about noon and leave Mykonos (for Santorini) in the mid-afternoon. The trip takes 2.5 hours and the ferry stops in Paros and Ios in between and in both directions.

You can buy ferry tickets for the route between Mykonos and Santorini – but you will rarely need advance tickets outside of July and August. If you’re already in Greece you can buy tickets from any travel agency a few days in advance of your ferry trip.

Day Trip to Santorini or Mykonos

I do not recommend doing a day trip from Mykonos to Santorini or Santorini to Mykonos. Depending on the ferry schedule, some years in July and August it’s just possible to get 5 to 7 hours of time at the destination island. But this is after spending 3 hours each way on a high speed ferry. The high speed ferries can be rough and unpleasant rides on windy days – so you could find yourself “recovering” from a bumpy journey for the better part of your visit. Only to have to get on it again in a few hours for the ride back.

If you’re interested in seeing both islands then you should visit both islands for at least a few nights. Visiting either island for a few hours in the afternoon is not a good way to appreciate each island’s highlights.

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Delos Tours and Information

Updated: February 18, 2018

Delos, Greece

Touring historical sights of Delos.

The stone lions of Delos.

The mythical birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis, this Unesco World Heritage Site on the small island of Delos is one of the best-preserved and most important archaeological sites in Greece. First settled by the Greeks around 3000 BC, the island became a shrine to Apollo around 800 BC and a thriving, multicultural centre of trade in the centuries that followed, with Syrians and Egyptians adding shrines of their homeland gods to the existing Greek ones. Under the Romans, Delos became a duty-free port and important slave market, but the island’s importance diminished as trade routes shifted and by 300 AD the island was languishing in obscurity, used as a hideout by pirates. Delos is accessible by boat from Mykonos. Use your imagination to transform these extensive, well-preserved ruins into the gleaming city that once stood here.

As you make your way around the ruins from the Sacred Harbour, where the tour boats dock, sights not to miss include the Sanctuary of Apollo, lined with the remains of three temples dedicated to the god, the Artemision – a sanctuary of Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, and the Terrace of Lions, lined with the much-photographed replica lion statues. Nearby is the overgrown Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis after hiding from the wrath of Hera, Zeus’ wife, Zeus being the twins’ father.

In the Theatre Quarter, formerly home to Delos’ wealthiest inhabitants, spot the mosaic depicting the wine god Dionysos riding a panther at the House of Dionysos, and another superb mosaic featuring lions, dolphins and griffins at the House of Dolphins. If you have time, it’s well worth climbing Mt Mynthos for great views of the surrounding islands and to visit the Sanctuaries of Zeus and Athena.

Mykonos to Delos

Ancient Theatre and Ruins on Delos.

The boat pier on Delos where tours dock and depart from.

There are four boats daily from Mykonos Town (Hora) to Delos during high season, with departures from 9am to 5pm. Return boats run between 12.15pm and 8pm. There are fewer boats from November to March. Buy tickets from the kiosk at the southern end of Mykonos Town harbour. When purchasing tickets, find out which return boats they’re valid for.

Visitors to Delos are given a map outlining three self-guided walking tours. Depending on which one you opt for, these take from 90 minutes to five hours, so decide in advance how much time you’d like to spend on the island.

You can purchase detailed Delos guidebooks both at the Delos ticket office and in book stores on Mykonos. Guided tours can be booked at the same time as the boat tickets (adult/child €50/25 including boat, entrance fee and guide). Wear a hat, sunscreen, and good walking shoes. The only place to eat is a basic café at the Delos museum; it’s worth bringing a picnic lunch and plenty of drinking water.

Mykonos to Delos Tours

Guided boat tour of Delos.

A guided tour of Delos is recommended. Without a guide it’s just a collection of ruins without much meaning or context. With a guide it’s a very interesting introduction to Greek history.

Guided Boat Tour to Delos

Great tour of Delos with professional guide. Leaves from Mykonos Town. If you’re staying at one of the beach towns select hotel pickup/dropoff as it makes the tour much easier. There’s also a private tour option for groups of 2 to 10.

Boat Tour to Delos and Rhenia Island

The Delos tour is great if you’re into Greek history but can be a little dry if you’re not. To make the day more interesting for those not excited by Delos than do this tour. It takes you to beautiful Rhenia island for swimming, snorkeling, and a bbq lunch (onboard). Then to Delos for a guided tour when the island is usually much quieter than in the morning. Highly recommended.

Guided Tour from the Cruise Ship Port

If you’re on a cruise and have a limited amount of time then do this Delos tour which will pickup and dropoff at the cruise ship port in Mykonos.

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The Best Mykonos Tours

Updated: February 18, 2018

Best Free Thing To Do in Mykonos

The best boat tours to beaches and day trip islands from Mykonos.
Walk from Platys Gialos Beach to Paradise Beach making stops at beach bars and restaurants along the way. You’ll pass Agia Anna and Paraga beaches and several other small swimming coves. Super fun and free! (Besides what you spend on food and drinks, of course.) If you’re staying in Mykonos Town take the bus to Platys Gialos then start walking along the beach towards the east (if you’re facing the water walk to your left). There are several great places to eat along the walk. If you hike straight to Paradise Beach it will take about an hour (without stops). Then bus back from Paradise to Mykonos Town. Or take the water taxi back to Platys Gialos.

The 5 Best Tours in Mykonos

Mykonos Cooking Class (Traditional Greek Food)

Best activity in Mykonos: Cooking Class with lots of wine, conversation, and traditional Greek food.
This is an absolutely wonderful cooking class: fun, informative, great food. And the wine flows freely. Also, super family friendly. It lasts a little less than 6 hours and starts at 10am or 4pm with free transfer from hotel or cruise port. Highly recommended. If you only do one tour in Mykonos make it this one.

Delos 4-Hour Tour

Day tour of Delos island from Mykonos.
It’s a 45 minute boat ride to Delos and then explore the ancient island with a fully accredited guide. Delos is one of the best preserved and most important historical sites in Greece and the most popular day trip from Mykonos. Note: If you’re a history buff, you’ll love this tour. If you’re not, you’ll be bored to fucking tears.

Small Yacht Cruise to Delos & Rhenia Islands

Best yacht cruise of Mykonos beaches, swimming, and snorkeling.
Swim, snorkel, and sunbathe from the yacht and along the coast of the uninhabited island of Rhenia. Light lunch (on the yacht) and a couple drinks are included. Then have a 90 minute guided tour of the ancient island of Delos. This is a semi-private tour and there is a maximum of 10 guests on the boat.

Explore the Island of Mykonos: Half-Day Tour

Mykonos day tour of best attractions and sightseeing in Mykonos.
Starts in Mykonos Town and visits the best beaches, small villages (like Ano Mera, above) and small hidden chapels all over the island.

7-Hour Catamaran Cruise with BBQ and Drinks

Mykonos day tour with beer, wine, good food, swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
A super fun way to spend a day out on the water. Lots to eat and drink (and food is surprisingly good quality). Lie on the deck, swim, snorkel, or sightsee as you make your way around the Mykonos coastline. This one is a little expensive but worth it for the small group size and luxury service.

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Santorini Boat Tours

Updated: February 14, 2018

  • My favorite tours in Santorini are the boat tours of the volcano. A must!
  • All boat tours have great views of the caldera cliffs but can be different from each other in important ways.
  • The options include: hike the volcano; swim in the hot springs (you can always stay on the boat if you wish); visit Thirassia and explore its villages; stop at Red Beach and White Beach to swim and snorkel; eat lunch/dinner on board; and watch the sunset below Oia.
  • GetYourGuide.com is the best way to book tours on Santorini.
Santorini caldera tour from Fira.

A boat tour of the caldera is just stunningly awesome. There’s no way you should visit Santorini and not do a boat tour.

The Best Boat Tours of the Caldera & Volcano in Santorini

All boat tours below provide meals onboard and have hotel pickup and drop off (which doesn’t sound like a big deal when you’re booking but makes the day so much easier and hassle free when the time arrives).

  • Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise in Caldera (5 Hours) – Awesome cruise around the volcano, staring up at the cliffs of the caldera. You stop at a few beaches for swimming and snorkeling, then swim in the hot springs near the volcano, eat a huge dinner, and finally see the sunset from the cliffs below Oia. Lots of fun!
    Sunset boat cruise of caldera and volcano in Oia, Santorini.
  • Semi-Private Luxury Catamaran Day Cruise (5 Hours) – The most luxurious boat tour with the best food and smallest group. Staff are super friendly and you can’t go more than 5 minutes without someone asking if you want another beer or glass of wine. But it’s far from a drinking cruise – the emphasis is on swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on the top of the catamaran. You’ll visit a few beaches and the hot springs and have plenty of time to explore the sights of the caldera. (I did this boat tour last summer and it was awesome.)
    Santorini volcano and caldera boat tour.
  • Volcano Boat Cruise (6 Hours) – Much less expensive and with a larger boat and group of people but still very fun. This tour is almost the opposite of the Sunset Catamaran Cruise. You get the volcano, hot springs (with swimming), and a visit to Thirassia island – but no beaches or going outside the caldera, and no sunset. This is the cheapest boat tour of the caldera.
    Best boat tours in Santorini.

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The Walk from Fira to Oia

Updated: February 14, 2018

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Things To Know About Hiking from Fira to Oia

  • The Fira-Oia Hike is a highlight of visiting Santorini. It takes you along the caldera cliff and through the villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia.
  • The hike takes between 2 and 4 hours depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop.
  • The hiking trail from Fira to Oia is just under 10kms (6.2 miles). Part of the path is similar to a sidewalk, parts are cobblestone, and parts are a dirt path.
  • In summer, start early. It gets hot by 11am.
  • Buy water the day before as there won’t be much open if you start early in the morning. There are places to buy drinks along the way but it’s much easier to begin the trip with water and not have to worry about finding an open market.
  • Most 7 year olds would have no trouble completing the walk in terms of difficulty but it is a long walk.
  • Do not take a baby stroller on the hike.
  • Best Walking Tour for the Fira to Oia Hike: Santorini Walking Tours. This is run by Nikos. He’s passionate about both Santorini and hiking and does a wonderful job guiding visitors along the best spots of the caldera. Note: You don’t have to do a tour (it’s fairly easy to figure out the route on your own) but doing one will make it more rewarding, interesting, and memorable.
  • It’s easy to get a little lost on the Oia-Fira walk. But it’s hard to get really lost. Most of the time you can see the next town or landmark up ahead on the caldera cliff and if you’re walking in that direction you’re going to get there eventually.
  • I enjoy walking from Fira to Oia but it’s essentially the same walk from Oia to Fira. I’ve seen Tripadvisor posts saying it’s harder from Oia to Fira because “it’s all uphill” (not true). Fira and Oia are roughly the same altitude so direction does not affect how much you go up and down. There is a fair bit of climbing and descending regardless of the direction.
  • There are small shops to buy water and snacks in Firostefani and Imerovigli (assuming they’ve opened for the day).
  • Between Imerovigli and Oia there are two shops/cafes but they aren’t always open.
  • From June to September return buses between Oia and Fira will be busy in the afternoon and taxis hard to find. A good option is to grab a taxi or take a bus in the morning (before your walk starts) and then walk back to your starting point (i.e. your hotel).
  • If you enter “Fira to Oia” in Google Maps and then click the walk icon, the route you get will take the most direct route that misses some of the best views. This map of the Fira to Oia hike (that I edited) shows the most scenic route (though it does bypass the markets in Imerovigli).
  • Good restaurants to stop at on the Fira to Oia walk are Avocado in Imerovigli (open lunch and dinner) and Cafe Galini in Firostefani (open breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

Fira To Oia Walk – Tips

Start of Fira to Oia Walk

The “start” of the path begins in the square beside Hotel Atlantis in Fira.

Hiking trail from Fira to Oia.

Then start walking north. You might make a few wrong turns as you try to get out of Fira. But there are a couple of signs and you’ll figure it out. (In general, go up, not down, as you’re starting out from Fira.) Keep moving north towards Skaros Rock (the big hump of rock you see there to the left).

Fira to Oia Walk

The path out of Fira starts with a steep climb before you reach the next village (Firostefani), then it levels out for a bit.

Fira to Oia Walk

As you turn the corner that marks the divide between Fira and Firostefani, you can now see Skaros Rock clearly, and Oia in the far distance.

Fira to Oia Walk

There are often a few fruit sellers along the way. This one is in Firostefani.

Sign posts and distances for Oia - Fira walk.

Direction posts in Firostefani showing the distances south to Fira (10 minutes) and north to Imerovigli (15 minutes) and Oia (2 hours, 45 minutes).

Hiking trail from Fira to Oia.

In Imerovigli there is a fork in the path at Blue Note restaurant. The signs will encourage you to go to the right. This is a less scenic route that goes through town. Go this way if you need water or snacks from a market. But go left for caldera views, 5 star hotels, and an (optional) visit to Skaros Rock.

Directions for Fira-Oia hike.

If you go right you’ll come upon some makeshift directions that point you into town. These are probably made by shop owners who want walkers to go through town and spend money.

Hiking trail from Fira to Oia.

When you turn left (at Blue Note) you’ll see the Church of Anastasi. Walk onto the patio area for great views then continue to the right to keep going to Skaros Rock and Oia.

Hiking trail from Fira to Oia.

Skaros Rock. It’s a beautiful walk out to Skaros Rock but this will add at least a half-hour to your hike (and lots of steps up and down). Getting out there and back to the path is a lot longer than it looks.

Hiking trail from Fira to Oia.

If you do decide to go to Skaros Rock this is where you turn off (down to the left). Stay to the right to continue to Oia. This is the only access path for Skaros Rock so you’d take this one even if walking Oia to Fira.

Fira to Oia Walk

The walk out to Skaros Rock.

View from Skaros Rock of Fira-Oia hike.

The view of Imerovigli looking back towards the village from Skaros Rock.

Fira to Oia Walk

The view of Oia from Skaros Rock (looking north).

Fira to Oia Walk

The view of Fira from Skaros Rock (looking south).

Fira to Oia Walk

The path as you continue through Imerovigli (after the turn-off for Skaros Rock). Here you’ll pass some of the top hotels on the island: Grace, Astra, Tholos, Kapari, and Sophia Suites.

Fira to Oia Walk

If you’re walking from Oia to Fira this is the route that takes you to Skaros Rock (as you enter Imerovigli from the north) and is more scenic. If you want to visit a market (for water, snacks) in Imerovigli take the path to the left of Avaton hotel and not this one that sticks to the caldera.

Fira to Oia Hike

The path as you leave Imerovigli heading north towards Oia.

Fira to Oia Hike

Oia is visible in the distance but it’s still a good hour’s walk away.

Fira to Oia Hike

The path passes a handful of hotels as it leaves Imerovigli. This is West East hotel.

Hiking Trail from Oia to Fira.

The bus stop beside Cavo Tagoo hotel (about 10 minutes walk north of Imerovigli). Get off here if you want to do a shorter walk. This is roughly half-way between Oia and Fira and you can walk south towards Fira (1 hour or more), or north towards Oia (75 minutes or more).

Fira to Oia Walk

The path in this section is actually a small road as you pass the hotels (West-East, Rocabella, Cavo Tagoo, Santorini Princess) of northern Imerovigli.

Fira to Oia Walk

Looking back (south) towards Imerovigli and Skaros Rock as we’re moving north.

Fira to Oia Hike

And a little farther as the road turns to gravel and then to a path.

Fira to Oia Walk

Cafe Monopati beside Pantheon Villas. Usually open but I wouldn’t count on it.

Fira to Oia Walk

The route keeps going to Oia. To the left there is a detour to the small Church of San Antonio down the cliff.

Fira to Oia Hike

As you approach the church of Ekklisia Profitis Ilias there is a fork in the path. The left side sticks close to the caldera. The path along the caldera is a little trickier while the right side is a better quality path but less scenic. If you have young kids do the less scenic route. There is an unmarked washroom at the church but it’s often locked so don’t count on it.

Fira to Oia Hike

The route to Oia when you take the caldera-side of the fork.

Fira to Oia Hike

The caldera side of the fork is much more scenic but the path is not great quality.

Fira to Oia Hike

The view as you descend on the caldera side above San Antonio and Aenaon hotel.

Fira to Oia Hike

This is the divide (in front of San Antonio hotel) between the two paths if you’re approaching from Oia. To the left is the easier, better quality path. To the right is the trickier more-scenic path along the caldera.

Fira to Oia Hike

There is a 5 minute stretch from San Antonio hotel until the snack shop (below) where there is no path and you’ll need to walk on the road. It feels a little risky but locals know to look out for walkers. Just be quick. In the morning it’s usually very quiet.

Fira to Oia Hike

There is a snack shop as you rejoin the path and leave the road-portion of the walk behind.

Hills on Fira to Oia path.

The path goes up again as you get closer to Oia.

Views on Fira - Oia hike trail.

To the left of Oia is the island of Thirassia.

Fira to Oia Hike

Then back down as Oia comes into view. Almost there!

Fira to Oia Hike

Entering Oia and heading towards town.

Market for drinks, water, snacks on Fira-Oia hike.

The first market you’ll come upon as you enter Oia (or the last one you’ll see as you’re leaving town).

Fira to Oia Walk

There is a small stretch as you enter Oia where there is no path and you need to walk on the road for a minute or two. Traffic moves very slowly here, so not a big concern.

Fira to Oia Walk

Lioyerma pool in Oia. A good place to finish the walk. You can use the pool as long as you buy a drink or some food. Also has great sunset views.

Fira to Oia Walk

The view of Imerovigli from Oia, with Fira the clump of white buildings to the far right. It’s a good feeling knowing you just walked that entire way.

End point on Fira-Oia hike.

Meteor Cafe is a good stop for drinks and snacks. Sit here and look out on the caldera. You’ll have a pretty good view of your entire route along the caldera edge.

Place to eat on Fira-Oia walk.

Keep walking through Oia and descend to Ammoudi Bay where you’ll find 4 or 5 really good seafood restaurants. After you eat, restaurant staff will call a taxi for you that will take you all the way back to Fira.

Swimming spot on Oia-Fira walk.

If you turn to the left (from the Ammoudi Bay restaurants) and walk along the sea path for 5 minutes you’ll arrive at a great swimming spot where you can jump from the ledges. Super refreshing after a long walk. Imerovigli is visible in the distance.

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Santorini Beach Hotels

Updated: February 12, 2018

Santorini beaches are mostly composed of volcanic sand and small pebbles. These are not white sand beaches but the water is the most pure and refreshing I’ve ever swam in. The beaches are on one side of the island (the east) and the caldera on the opposite side (the west). Almost all of the very best luxury hotels in Santorini are located along the cliff of the caldera but the hotels I list below are the best of the beach resorts and good quality 4-star hotels.

Hotel on the Beach in Santorini.

Sigalas Hotel on Kamari Beach in Santorini. This is the only hotel that sits directly on one of Santorini’s main beaches. The rest are across a small lane from the beach or a short walk from the beach.

The 13 Best Beach Hotels in Santorini

1. Sigalas Hotel – Kamari Beach

Small, friendly, and right on the beach, with beautiful rooms decorated in traditional Greek style. The lovely pool terrace overlooks a quiet stretch of sand – just a 10 minute walk (along beach or road) to Kamari’s shops and restaurants. Located very near the airport, with incoming flights passing directly overhead. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031260)

2. Santorini Kastelli Resort – Kamari Beach

Calming grounds feature lush lawns, olive and pistachio trees, and cheery bougainvillea. Rooms are bright, spacious, and modern, all with stylish tiled bathrooms and terraces or balconies. 4 pools, great spa, restaurant, small gym, and tennis court. 4 minutes to the beach. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031530)

3. Tamarix Del Mar Suites – Kamari Beach

Great for families, with maisonettes that can accompany up to 5 guests; high chairs, cribs, and a kids’ pool and playroom. Some suites feature outdoor jacuzzis. Lovely swimming pool and bar, just 2 minutes from the beach. (Hotel phone: 30 22860 34172)

4. Cavo Bianco – Kamari Beach

Spacious rooms and suites feature modern minimalist decor, spacious bathrooms, and private balconies. Most suites have private jacuzzis; Senior and Pool Suites have loft-style bedrooms – the Pool Suite has a private (but not secluded) pool. 2 shared pools, small gym & spa. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031366)

5. Zephyros – Kamari Beach

Family-run and cozy, Zephyros has a lovely garden and pool area, and guests can enjoy privileges and the private beach at their sister Hotel, Elixir Studios. Choose a Superior room or above for their crisp furnishings and modern bathrooms. Quick walk to the beach and the bus. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031108)

6. Acqua Vatos Santorini Hotel – Kamari Beach

Modern accommodations with a colorful, quirky, pop-art vibe and a small private vineyard. Good sized shared pool with plenty of cushioned sunbeds. 50m from Kamari Beach. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 031660)

7. Santellini Hotel – Kamari Beach

24-room hotel with shared sun terrace and lovely pool. Rooms are clean and bright, with traditional furnishings and modern bathrooms. Two story Maisonettes can sleep up to 4. Breakfasts feature homemade preserves and garden-grown fruits. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 028866)

8. Meltemi Village Hotel – Perissa Beach

Bright and traditionally-styled rooms and suites. Suites feature private outdoor jacuzzis, villa has a full kitchen and can accommodate 6 guests. Mature palm trees give the large, lovely pool area a tropical feel. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 081325)

9. Aqua Blue Hotel – Perissa Beach

Set right on Perissa’s black sand beach, with a private area reserved for hotel guests. The pool area is beautiful, with double sun-loungers, and rooms are modern and spacious. Each accommodating up to 4 guests, the Family Room and Maisonette are ideal for groups. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 085015)

10. Veggera – Perissa Beach

Elegantly and traditionally furnished, great for families. Suites and maisonettes sleep up to 4, apartments sleep 5. Central sundeck with two adult and one kids’ pool. Located just opposite the beach, with a good selection of shops and restaurants nearby. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 082060)

11. Sellada Beach Hotel – Perissa Beach

Set right on Perissa Beach, with a well-maintained pool (that never gets too crowded) and beachfront bar service. Rooms are fresh and clean with modern bathrooms. Split-level maisonettes sleep 5. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 081859)

12. Smaragdi Hotel – Perivolos Beach

A great value hotel, just a few meters from the beach. Lovely shared pool and hot tub. Luxury Suite has a private jacuzzi, while the trim Budget Rooms are ideal for travelers looking for a hotel near the beach. Great location, near restaurants, bars, and a small supermarket. (Hotel phone: +30 2286 082701)

13. Sea Sound White Katikies – Agios Georgios Beach

Cycladic-style houses and suites with private beach access. All have kitchenettes and sea views. The villa can sleep 8. Lovely shared pool and gardens. Located on a black sand beach between Perivolos and Vlychada (perhaps too isolated for some). (Hotel phone: +30 2286 082701)

See Also

Mykonos Beach Hotels

Updated: February 11, 2018

The Best Mykonos Hotels On The Beach

There are many great Mykonos beaches and many great Mykonos hotels. But there are only a handful of hotels that are directly on a Mykonos beach. I’ve listed these hotels below. Mykonos beaches are best visited from late May to early October.

Resort in Mykonos on the beach.

The pool and nearby beach (Psarou) at Nissaki Boutique Hotel in Platys Gialos.

The 12 Best Mykonos Beach Hotels

1. Mykonos Blanc – Ornos Beach

Pool and hotel look out onto beautiful Ornos Beach (the most family-friendly beach on Mykonos). Several beach restaurants are just out the door.

2. Mykonos Ammos Hotel – Ornos

Nice hotel right on the beach. Small pool is back from the sand (inside the property).

3. Mykonos Blu – Psarou Beach

The pool and hotel overlook one of the best beaches on Mykonos (and location of the popular Namos beach club). Platys Gialos Beach is a 3 minute walk in the other direction if you need a change of scenery.

4. Branco Mykonos – Platys Gialos

Wonderful new luxury beach hotel right on the sand at one of the best Mykonos beaches. Great restaurant and beach bar (house music playing from 1pm to 7pm every day).

5. Nissaki Boutique Hotel – Platys Gialos

I love this place and have to include it here even though it’s not truly a beach hotel. It sits directly between two of the best beaches on Mykonos (Psarou and Platys Gialos) and looks out towards Psarou Beach. It’s a lovely hotel and idyllic location.

6. Acrogiali Hotel – Platys Gialos

Great hotel steps from the sand (and restaurants) of Platys Gialos. Hotel has quadruple suites and family rooms that sleep 5.

7. Mykonos Palace Beach Hotel – Platys Gialos

Just down from Acrogali, but this hotel has a pool and a trendy little beach bar that gets a nice crowd at night.

8. Mykonos Kosmoplaz Beach Resort Hotel – Platys Gialos

In the middle of Acrogiali and Mykonos Palace. Has a small pool and is the cheapest hotel right on the beach.

9. Sunrise Hotel and Suites – Agrari Beach

Very quiet beach and secluded vibe. Nice pool. Rent a car if you stay here.

10. Myconian Imperial Resort & Villas – Elia Beach

Awesome 5-star hotel sits above idyllic Elia Beach. The best choice for quiet and solitude – but a rental car is highly recommended.

11. Saint John Hotel Villas & Spa – Agios Ioannis Beach

Luxury hotel but the beach here is not as nice as the beaches above.

12. Mykonos Grand – Agios Ioannis Beach

Directly beside Saint John’s resort and with a similar high-end quality.

See Also

Cruises to Santorini

Updated: February 8, 2018

  • Don’t do a cruise to Santorini. They suck. You only get a few hours to see the island and it’s busy, hectic, and packed with tourists whenever a cruise ship is in port.
  • All of the best things to do in Santorini are hard to enjoy on the limited time you get on the island with a cruise.
  • If you want to see what makes Santorini the most magical island in Greece you need to stay overnight.
  • Santorini hotels are some of the most awesome and incredible anywhere. Staying here can be very special.
  • Five to seven days is what I recommend for most visitors but even a one night stay is better than visiting on a cruise.
  • If you absolutely must do a Greek island cruise then book a small yacht sailing tour.
Should you take a cruise to Santorini? How to decide between staying in Santorini and visiting on a cruise ship.

The view of a cruise ship in the caldera from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Fira, Santorini. (Staying in Santorini is much better than visiting on a cruise.)

See Also

Cruises to Santorini and the Greek Islands

Santorini is a popular cruise destination but I don’t recommend visiting Santorini on a cruise ship for two reason: you get a limited amount of time on the island (just 4 to 8 hours) and only see the island when it’s crowded with other cruise ship passengers (your shipmates).

After the cruise ships have departed, Santorini 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. It’s just much funner, more relaxing, and more beautiful on the island after the cruise ships have departed.

Tour group with view of caldera and volcano.

This is what visiting the island is like when you come to Santorini on a cruise: You walk around the busiest parts of the island as part of a large group. You’ve got limited time and can only see a few spots in Fira and Oia.

Tour group on day trip to Santorini from cruise ship.

Here’s one of the large tour groups from a cruise. Are you in group 20?

Tour group in Greece with visit to winery.

Maybe you’re in group 22?

Day tour group on Santorini cruise ship.

Or maybe it’s 32? Regardless: this sucks.

Cruise tours and shore excursions to Santorini.

The good news: you get your own sticker. Holy fuck. Shoot me.

Group returning to cruise ship in Greek islands.

This looks fun: waiting for the cable car ride back to the cruise port.

Cable car group tour from cruise ship in Fira.

This is just a small part of the line – it can stretch far back and around a corner. Occasionally cruise passengers will be left behind on the island because they can’t get back to the ship in time. They then have to arrange their own transportation to another island to meet-up with the cruise. Certainly this is rare, but it’s always in the back of your mind: what time is it? – we can’t miss our departure time.

Small group tour of Oia.

Oia is a great town, but everyone staying on the island knows: don’t go mid-day because it’s packed with tours from the cruise ships.

Best attraction in Santorini with day tour group from cruise.

This is the Santorini you get to experience when you stay on the island and enjoy it at your own pace.

Morning tour with donkeys in Santorini.

Get up early and there are more donkeys on the streets than people.

Breakfast restaurant with views of caldera.

A quiet breakfast view in Imerovigli.

Quiet lunch with views in Santorini.

When the cruise ships have departed even a popular restaurant can be quiet and relaxing. And the views just seem better when there aren’t mobs of people.

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Sophia Suites in Santorini

Updated: February 7, 2018

Sophia Suites Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in Santorini. It’s in Imerovigli and has incredible views of the caldera, volcano, and sunset. There are several great restaurants within a 5 minute walk – or climb. The hotel is recently opened so everything looks and feels fresh. If you need a last minute luxury hotel in Santorini then Sophia Suites is a good candidate since it’s so new. The Sophia Honeymoon Exclusive Suite is one of the best on Santorini.


Video of the Honeymoon Suite at Sophia Suites

Review of Sophia Suites in Imerovigli, Santorini

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

One of the patios at Sophia Suites. This one is shared between 3 suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Bathroom in one of the suites at Sophia Suites. Everything is new here.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

View from private patio looking south.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Balcony at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Balcony of Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

View from a private jacuzzi looking west at Skaros Rock.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Private indoor pool in the honeymoon suite at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

View from one of the private jacuzzis looking north towards Oia.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Private patio for one of the suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

View from a private jacuzzi looking south towards the volcano.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Bathroom sink in one of the suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Bedroom in one of the suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Kitchen table in one of the suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Sitting area in one of the suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Kitchen in one of the suites at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

View of Skaros Rock from one of the private jacuzzis at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Looking down the stairs at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Bedroom and indoor pool at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Indoor pool in one of the suites at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Bathroom and indoor pool in one of the suites at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Indoor pool in one of the suites at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Honeymoon Suite at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

The bedroom in the Honeymoon Suite at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

The bathroom in the Honeymoon Suite at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

A well stocked fridge at Sophia Suites.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

A sitting area at Sophia Suites looking out into the caldera.

Sophia Suites in Santorini.

Sophia Suites in Imerovigli.

Other Great Hotels in Imerovigli

Santorini Boutique Hotels

Updated: February 2, 2018

  • Fira, Imerovigli, Oia, and Firostefani are the main towns in Santorini. All have incredible views. Stay in one of these four towns.
  • Fira has the most shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.
  • Imerovigli is quiet, charming, and has the best sunset and caldera views. Fantastic restaurants but no nightlife.
  • Oia is a mix of both: not as busy as Fira but more to do than Imerovigli.
  • Firostefani is a short walk from Fira but far less busy.
  • The best boutique hotel with sunset view is Art Maisons Oia Castle in Oia.
  • The best boutique hotel with caldera view is Cosmopolitan Suites in Fira.

The 13 Best Boutique Hotels in Santorini

I’ll be honest: there isn’t a huge difference between these hotels and my favorite luxury hotels in Santorini. There’s a lot of overlap between the two lists. On this page I did try to pick out the hotels that offer a more intimate experience. But it’s very subjective. Even now as I look over the list I’m wondering why I didn’t include the marvelous Perivolos Hotel in Oia and I can’t come up with much of a reason (besides the fact that it’s often fully booked and you probably won’t get a reservation).

Needless to say: book these hotels as far in advance as possible.

1. Katikies – Oia

The hippest hotel in Oia. Awesome pools, great service, 5-star vibe. Hasapiko (Oia’s funkiest bar) is a 10 minute walk away. Only caveat: Katikies could feel a bit too trendy for some.
Best Boutique Hotels with pool bar on Santorini: Katikies

2. Cosmopolitan Suites – Fira

The best boutique hotel on Santorini for easy access to clubs and nightlife. The pool is awesome and I’ve been known to down a bottle of wine over the course of an afternoon as I sit at the edge and stare out into the caldera. Highly recommended.
Best Boutique Hotels on Santorini: Cosmopolitan with infinity pool in Fira.

3. Andronis Luxury Suites – Oia

Relaxing feel with great views and pool. A bit more central (and it’s busier just out the door) than Katikies. The restaurant here is one of the most romantic on Santorini (but book early – there are only a handful of tables).
Best Boutique Hotels for Honeymooners on Santorini: Andronis in Oia.

4. Aspaki by Art Maisons – Oia

The best caldera view of any Oia hotel – it’s located out on a perch that gives incredible all-around views. This small church sits just above the hotel. Suites have private hot tubs with great views. Its sister hotel Oia Castle has awesome sunset views (instead of caldera views) and suites with private cave pools.
View from Aspaki Oia Castle Hotel.

5. Esperas – Oia

One of the few Oia hotels with sunset views. Great restaurant with a fun evening scene.
Best Boutique Hotels with Sunset View on Santorini: Esperas in Oia.

6. Cavo Tagoo – Imerovigli

The newest 5-star hotel on Santorini. Quiet location on the path north of Imerovigli (to Oia). 12 minute walk to Imerovigli. Service here is impeccable.
Best Boutique Hotels with pool and great views on Santorini: Cavo Tagoo in Imerovigli.

7. West East Suites – Imerovigli

Large trendy suites with incredible views. It’s a 10 minute walk outside of Imerovigli (where there are many fantastic restaurants). Drinks and music are going all day at the beautiful pool.
The huge pool at West East Suites in Imerovigli near Wedding Locations.

8. Honeymoon Petra Villa – Imerovigli

Beautiful spot overlooking the volcano in the center of the caldera (but no sunset views). Rooms have a variety of shapes, sizes, and views so do some research so you’re not disappointed.
Best Boutique Hotels on Santorini: Honeymoon Petra Resort.

9. Sun Rocks – Imerovigli

Adults only hotel with a magnificent perch on the caldera’s edge. A fun easy-going vibe is the rule here. Pool and views are wonderful.
Best Boutique Hotels with pools that have caldera views on Santorini: Sun Rocks in Imerovigli.

10. Tsitouras Collection – Firostefani

The friendliest boutique hotel on Santorini. If you want luxury without the attitude this is the place. Not many steps to access this hotel from the road so a good choice if you have trouble with stairs.
Best Boutique Hotels on Santorini: Tsitouras Collection in Firostefani

11. Belvedere – Firostefani

Get the quieter vibe and better views of Firostefani – but the shops and nightlife of Fira are just a 5 minute walk away (downhill to Fira, uphill coming back). Great pool and wonderful, jaw-dropping views.
Best Boutique Luxury Hotels Close to Nightlife on Santorini: Belvedere in Firostefani.

12. San Antonio and Aenaon Villas

I took this pic on a morning walk from Fira to Oia. The closer hotel is San Antonio and the farther is Aenaon. They’re both wonderful. The one drawback (for some visitors) is there’s nothing much nearby – though there is a bus stop right on the road in front of the hotels. These are two of the best hotels for a quiet secluded visit.
View of caldera and San Antonio and Aenaon Resorts.

13. Keti – Fira

This is the king suite with private whirlpool and it’s one of the best deals on the island. Awesome for those who want privacy (located down at the bottom of the hotel with just one nearby room) but still want to be close to the action of Fira. I’ll admit the free breakfast here sucks but who cares, I still love this place.Best Boutique Hotels with plunge pool and privacy on Santorini: Keti Hotel close to shopping and nightlife in Fira.

See Also

Where To Stay On Santorini

Updated: January 27, 2018

  • My recommendation: Stay in one of the four towns (Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostafani) that are located on the Santorini cliff.
  • These towns have great views of the caldera, volcano, and sunset.
  • Almost all of the best hotels in Santorini are located in these four towns.
  • Most luxury hotels have awesome caldera views but there are fewer hotels with sunset views.
  • The key to saving money on Santorini is to stay (and eat) at places back from the caldera edge. The best cheap hotels in Santorini are very nice but do not have volcano views.
View of Imerovigli from Homeric Poems in Firostefani.

A view of the caldera cliff looking north towards Imerovigli and Oia (in the far distance).

See Also

What are the best hotels in Santorini?

What are the best places to stay in Santorini?

The best places to stay in Santorini are the towns of Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostafani that are located along the caldera cliff on the western side of the island. All of these towns have wonderful views of the volcano and caldera. They each have different pros and cons, but for most visitors they should stay in one of these four towns.

  • Most romantic towns: Oia or Imerovigli
  • Best views: Oia or Imerovigli – but Fira and Firostefani have wonderful views too
  • Best shopping: Fira
  • Best for honeymoon: Imerovigli (quiet and romantic), Fira (nightlife), Oia (a bit of both)
  • Best clubs and nightlife on Santorini: Fira
  • Best restaurants on Santorini: Imerovigli
  • Best beach town on Santorini: Kamari (wonderful swimming, lots of restaurants)
  • Best sunsets on Santorini: Imerovigli
  • Best for peace and solitude: Imerovigli
  • Best place to stay on a budget: Firostefani (if you want a caldera view) or Fira (if you don’t need a view)
  • Best for families: Fira (the most to do), Oia (the fewest stairs of any caldera town and the most stroller friendly), or Kamari (great swimming, kid-friendly vibe)
  • Best hotels in Santorini: Grace Santorini and Katikies

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. Pub grub is the rule at most (but not all) of the restaurants along the beaches.

I strongly recommend that you stay in one of the caldera towns as this is what makes Santorini so special – the incredible views and almost surreal setting. But to each their own. If you do stay at one of the beach towns Fira and caldera are only 20 to 30 minutes away. Oia is an additional 20 minutes. Akrotiri is another area that has great caldera views but most hotels here are semi-isolated away from any towns and there’s little within walking distance (which is fine if you have a rental car and/or just want to spend most of your time by a pool enjoying the caldera views).

Staying in Fira

View of Fira and the caldera from Hotel Keti.

Fira is the island’s largest town and one of the most picturesque spots in all of Greece. Like Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani it’s perched on the caldera cliff and has marvelous views of the volcano. Fira has the most restaurants, shops, and hotels and is the center of Santorini’s nightlife. It’s the hub of Santorini’s bus network so you can get pretty much anywhere on the island with just one bus ride. If you like action, shopping, lots of choice for where to eat, and dance clubs then this is where you’ll want to be. If you want peace and solitude then you’ll likely find Fira busy, hectic, and touristy. (That said, if you’re just a little off the main street it’s pretty quiet.) Fira has many hotels with wonderful caldera views but also a large number that are back from the cliff and have no view (which means they’re cheaper and makes Fira a good choice for travelers on a budget). The closest swimming spot to Fira is Kamari Beach which is about 20 minutes by bus.

Best Hotels in Fira: Aria SuitesCosmopolitan Suites

Staying in Firostefani

View from Tsitouras Collection of the caldera.

Firostefani is a short 10 minute walk along the footpath from Fira. If you want to be close to the action of Fira but don’t want the crowds then Firostefani is great. Views are equally wonderful in Firostefani. There are 10 to 12 restaurants in Firostefani, a bakery, and a couple markets but no bars or nightlife.

Best Hotel in Firostefani: Tsitouras Collection

Staying in Imerovigli

View of the caldera and Skaros Rock from Grace Santorini in Imerovigli.

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 20 to 30 minute walk from Fira (or a very short bus or taxi ride). Imerovigli doesn’t have a lot of restaurants (fewer than 10), but the ones that are here are all very good to great. No bars or nightlife in Imerovigli.

Best Hotels in Imerovigli: Grace SantoriniAstra Suites

Staying in Oia

View of Oia and the caldera from Perivolos Hotel.

Oia is Santorini’s most picturesque 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 (when it’s packed in high season) but then gets quiet quickly after the sun sets. There’s lots of high end shopping and many restaurants in Oia but only one bar (Mary Kay’s – which is great). The southern part of Oia looks into the caldera. The northern part does not have views of the caldera but does have perfect sunset views. (Only a few Oia hotels have unimpeded 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.

Best Hotels in Oia: KatikiesCanaves SuitesPerivolos

The Island & Beaches

Santorini is a small island 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. 20 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 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 consistently warm enough for swimming.

If you’re looking to save money then the beach towns offer better value 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.

Similar to the beach towns, if you’re visiting outside of March to November then Oia will be very quiet – with many shops and restaurants closing from late November to early March. If you’re visiting Santorini in winter then Fira is by far the best place to stay.

Read More

The Best Greek Islands To Visit in 2018

Updated: January 14, 2018

See Also

The Best Islands in Greece

Best Greek island for romance and honeymoon: Santorini.

Santorini – My favorite Greek Island.

The 5 Best Greek Islands

1. Santorini

My favorite island in Greece is Santorini. If you can only make visit one (and you shouldn’t) make it Santorini. Loaded with great boat tours, wine tours, fantastic hotels, restaurants, and things to do.

Best Greek island for views and beauty: Santorini.

Oia in Santorini.

Best Greek island: Santorini.

Ammoudi Bay for fresh seafood and incredible sunset views.

2. Mykonos

The best nightlife and clubbing is found on Mykonos. Also has great beaches and an incredibly charming capital village, Mykonos Town.

Best Greek island: Mykonos.

Ornos is one of my favorite beaches in Greece.

Best Greek island: Mykonos.

Little Venice in Mykonos Town. Filled with small restaurants and trendy clubs.

3. Crete

The largest Greek island and rich with beaches, historical sights, hikes, and small cities. So big that if you only have a week it’s good to limit yourself to only this island. If you have two weeks it makes a great pair with Santorini.

Chania's beautiful harbourfront.

Chania is the most charming town on Crete and a great base for exploring western Crete.

Best Greek Island: Crete.

Rethymnon has a cool old town and good beaches walking distance from most hotels.

4. Naxos

The most family friendly island in Greece is Naxos. Wonderful beaches and main town is crammed with wonderful local tavernas serving some of the best food on the Greek islands.

Best Greek island for families: Naxos.

The town beach in Naxos Town – shallow and very kid-friendly. Even better beaches are a short drive down the coast.

Best Greek island for local food: Naxos.

Naxos Town has some of the best restaurants in Greece.

5. Antiparos

If you want quiet idyllic beaches then Antiparos is a great choice. It’s reachable only by boat from nearby Paros.

Best Greek Island for quiet and solitude: Antiparos.

The beaches of Antiparos are quiet, secluded, and some of the best in Greece.

Best Greek island for boutique hotels: Paros.

Nearby Paros is busier and has two of the most charming towns in Greece, Naoussa (above) and Parikia (the ferry port). Either island makes a great base for exploring the other.

Greek Islands – Where To Go

The best greek island for a honeymoon is Santorini.
The most romantic greek island and the best one for a honeymoon is Santorini (Mykonos is great if you want more nightlife). This is the Kings Suite (with whirlpool) at Keti Hotel in Fira – one of the most private and romantic suites in Santorini.

The best greek island for clubs and nightlife is Mykonos.

Mykonos has the best nightlife and club scene of any greek island. It usually starts with dinner and drinks by the water and then hit the clubs in Mykonos Town.

Best Greek island for nightlife: Mykonos.

Beach parties in Mykonos take place at Paradise and Super Paradise beaches and run from mid-June to mid-September. Other beaches, like Platys Gialos above, Paraga, or Psarrou have beach clubs that have thumping music and dancing through the day until about 10pm. Then the party moves to Mykonos Town or the Paradise beaches.

Old Town in Rhodes.

Rhodes is one of the best islands for historical sightseeing (Crete, Naxos, and Santorini are also great). This is the main entrance of the famous Knights Grand Master Palace (also known as Castello) in Rhodes Town, a must-visit museum.

The best greek island for scenery and natural beauty.

Santorini and Milos are two of the most beautiful islands in Greece and have a similar other-worldly feel. This is the fishing village of Firopotamos on Milos.

The best greek island for beaches is Ios.

The greek islands are loaded with great beaches. Some of the best are on Naxos, Crete, and Ios. This is Mylopotas beach on Ios.

The best greek islands for island hopping are Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, and Mykonos.

Island hopping by ferry is one of the highlights of the Greek islands. Sitting on the deck of a ferry and watching the islands pass by until you arrive at your destination.

The best greek island for walks and hiking.

Folegandros is the best greek island for hiking – great paths all around this beautiful island.

The best greek island for food is Crete.

All the greek islands have great food and restaurants. This is a gyros plate from a restaurant in Crete.

The best greek island for families is Naxos.

Naxos is a wonderful family destination. Great beaches, a relaxed vibe, cheap hotels (and luxury ones too), and there’s even a water park.

The best greek island for families with teens is Paros.

Paros is also a great island for families and it’s got a bit more shopping and activity for teens – and nightlife for older family members.

Greek Islands – When To Go

Best Greek island: Crete.

Chania, Crete. One of the most wonderful towns in Greece.

Best Greek Islands in March, April, October, and November

This is shoulder season. The busiest islands and those with a local population are quieter but still humming along with plenty of hotels and restaurants open. Santorini, Crete, and Rhodes are the best Greek islands to visit in the spring and autumn period.

Best Greek Islands in May, June, and September

The Greek islands have beautiful weather in the months just before and after peak season. It’s a great time to see the islands, save money, avoid the crowds, and still have great weather (though not as hot as July and August). If you want to see the super-popular islands of Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu, and Crete without the tourists then this is a great time to visit.

Best Greek Islands in July and August

The busiest and hottest months. If you like beach parties and packed clubs then Mykonos is the place to be. The less-busy islands (Antiparos, Sifnos, Ikaria, Folegandros, Milos) have short tourists seasons and this is when they’re fully open and running. Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu are in peak-season but all are large enough to retain their charm.

Best Greek Islands in December, January, and February

Most islands are very quiet in the winter. Crete and Santorini are the best islands as they still have plenty to do even in winter and there are lots of (open) places to stay and eat.

See Also

Santorini Day Trips

  • Day trips to Santorini from Athens, Mykonos, Crete, or other nearby islands are usually not worth the time and effort. Staying on the Santorini for several nights is awesome, visiting for a few hours in the middle of the day is hectic and busy.
  • Ferry schedules are inconsistent and ferries are often late, cancelled, or delayed. Even under perfect conditions a day trip to Santorini will rarely allow more than 4 or 5 hours on the island. It’s difficult to experience any of the best things to do in Santorini on a day trip.
  • If possible try to spend a night (or more) on Santorini. Otherwise use that day exploring the island you’re currently on.

Day Trip to Santorini from Other Greek Islands

Getting to Santorini for Day Trip

This is the ferry from Crete to Santorini that you would take for a day trip. (Day trip ferries from Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Ios, and Athens would be similar and dock at the same port.) After you arrive in Santorini you still need to get up the cliff to the main caldera towns.

Is a day trip to Santorini worth it?

Generally, no. It’s much better to spend that time on the island that you’re currently staying on and use it to explore there. But can you have a great day while doing a day trip to Santorini? For sure. I would just set your expectations to the lower end of the scale. If you think you’re going to get to do a boat tour of the caldera, a wine tour of the local wineries, or a long walk from Fira to Oia along the caldera then you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re thinking, hey, we’ll take a ferry to Santorini, walk around a bit, see the caldera at least a little bit, and be back to our home base by early evening, then sure, you could have a fine day. As I say, just don’t have sky high expectations for what you’re going to be able to do on Santorini.

Why is a day trip to Santorini so difficult? It looks easy enough.

The main difficulty is the ferries and the ferry schedule. They usually don’t allow enough time on Santorini to make travel times worth the effort. It’s different for every island, every month, and every year but for most schedules you can catch an early morning ferry that will get you to Santorini around 11am. Then you need to catch a bus to Fira or taxi to Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli. This will take 30 to 45 minute and it will likely be noon before you’ve made your way to the caldera and are looking out into the caldera. The last ferry returning to your island could be anytime between 4pm and 8pm. Let’s say it’s 6pm. If you’re catching the bus it will probably leave for the port at 4:30 so you’ll need to head back to the bus station at about 4:00. In this scenario you’ve had 4 hours to explore Santorini. Not nothing and it could certainly be an enjoyable 4 hours. But, as I say, it’s a lot of time and effort for a pretty small payoff.

My Recommendation: An Overnight Day Trip

Instead of making a day trip try to spend a night on Santorini. Don’t check out of your hotel on your home base island (too much of a hassle). Pack a small bag with just a few necessities for an overnight stay at a cheap Santorini hotel. This will expand your time on Santorini from 5 or 6 hours to almost 30 hours all for just an extra €50 to €100 (the hotel cost). Yes, you are “wasting” the hotel night you’re spending on your home base island. But it’s worth it for the ease, convenience, and extra time you’ll get on Santorini. Of course, even better is to include Santorini in part of your plans and spend 3 to 7 nights here. But assuming that’s not possible, an “overnight day trip” is much better than just the few hours you’ll get if you do a normal Santorini day trip.

Crete to Santorini Day Trips in 2018

Starting April 4 there are morning ferries from Heraklion to Santorini that arrive at the Santorini port between 9:20am and 10:45am depending on the month and ferry company. The return ferries to Crete depart Santorini between 5:00pm and 5:25pm. On Tuesday and Saturday (from February to September) there is a Rethymnon to Santorini ferry that arrives in Santorini at 10:20am. The return ferry to Rethymnon departs Santorini at 5:30pm. Book tickets through Hellenic Seaways or SeaJets. There are no ferries from Chania to Santorini in 2018.

Mykonos to Santorini Day Trips in 2018

Starting March 23 there’s a morning ferry from Mykonos to Santorini. The earliest ferries depart Mykonos at 9:35am and get to Santorini around noon. For most months, the last ferry back to Santorini departs around 2:00pm. This makes a day trip from Mykonos to Santorini basically impossible. The best option is to spend a night on Santorini.

Naxos/Paros/Ios to Santorini Day Trips in 2018

Starting in April there are morning ferries that will arrive in Santorini around noon. The latest ferries back to Paros, Naxos, or Ios depart Santorini at around 3:30pm. This makes a day trip from Naxos, Paros, or Ios to Santorini basically impossible. The best option is to spend a night on Santorini.

Athens to Santorini Day Trips in 2018

The earliest ferries leave Athens (Piraeus) at between 7am and 7:30am and get to Santorini around noon. The last ferry from Santorini to Athens departs at 3:30pm (though there are later ferries on some days, in some months). If you did this you’d get 3 hours (at most) on Santorini and 10+ hours on a ferry. A better option (though still not great) is to fly. The first flights from Athens arrive in Santorini around 7:30am. The last flight to Athens depart Santorini between 9:00pm and 11:00pm. This would give you 12+ hours on Santorini. This would be a long full day but you would have a decent amount of time on the island. If possible, try to spend at least one night on Santorini.

Things To Do on a Santorini Day Trip

The highlight of Santorini is to hike the caldera between Fira and Oia – though you don’t have to do the entire walk.

Day Trip from Santorini to Nearby Islands

The same factors apply here as for day trips to Santorini. It’s hard to make a day trip from Santorini to other Greek islands worthwhile. If you’re interested in visiting other islands then try to spend at least one or two nights there rather than do a day trip.

See Also

The Best Bookstore in Santorini

Atlantis Books in Santorini is one of my favorite bookstores anywhere. Definitely stop in for a visit (and support the store by buying something) if you’re in Oia. It’s on the main footpath that runs through town (and pretty much marks the end of the Fira to Oia hike). The owners and staff are smart and helpful and like to help customers find a great book or a good gyro so feel free to start of a conversation. The shop is on your left as you’re walking north (towards the sunset). But it’s small and easy to miss – just ask any store owner, “Bookstore?” and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books in Oia

Santorini Books

Santorini Books in Oia, Santorini.

Santorini Bookstore in Oia.

It’s a small bookshop but still manages to stock titles in multiple languages and in many genres. (Photo: flickr/philk37)

Santorini Bookstore

The rooftop deck above the store.

Bookstore in Santorini

Interesting and fun quotations are found inside …

Good Santorini Bookstore.

… and outside.

Is there a bookstore in Santorini?

Down the stairs into the mecca.

Best Santorini Bookstore.

Books are crammed into every little corner …

Books in Santorini.

… up above too.

Travel books about Santorini and Greece.

They have a good section on Santorini, Greece, and Greek history, myth, and classics. (Photo: flickr/Peter)

Santorini Bookstore in Greece

The owners put a lot of care and thought into what they sell (no crap) – and it shows. (Photo: flickr/Klearchos Kapoutsis)

Santorini Bookshop

Another route to the rooftop. (Photo: flickr/Robert Patton)

Video of Atlantis Books – A Quick Tour

Close To Atlantis Books

Bar in Oia near Atlantis Bookstore.

Mary Kay’s bar is very cool and steps from Atlantis Books.

Restaurant in Oia with caldera views.

Lotza is nearby and has delicious baklava and great views. Not the best restaurant in Oia, but open for lunch and has good snacks.

Cafe with views of caldera near Atlantis Books.

Meteor Cafe is a good place to relax with a new book – the opposite direction from Mary Kay’s.

See Also

The Best Restaurants in Athens

Updated: December 30, 2017

Best restaurant in Athens, Greece with rooftop view of Acropolis and Plaka.

The rooftop view of the Acropolis from the 360 Degrees bar and restaurant. The best view of the Acropolis from an Athens’ restaurant.

5 Best Restaurants in Athens, Greece

Best Area to Eat in Athens

One of the best things to do in Athens is to eat at an outdoor restaurant in the Plaka or Monastiraki neighborhoods of central Athens. Tables spill out into the squares and alleys as Greeks sit late into the evening talking, laughing, yelling, and eating. It’s lots of fun.

The best area to go is around Monastiraki square and metro station. The alley named Mitropoleos (to the east of the metro station) is lined with lively restaurants that are packed with local Athenians and serve good inexpensive food.

This is technically not the Plaka neighborhood but is very close. If you eat in the Plaka area you’re more likely to be surrounded by fellow tourists. Whereas in the Monastiraki area you’ll be eating with more locals. There’s lots of traditional Greek food on the menu and gyro, souvlaki, hummus, and greek salads are very popular.

Certainly, this isn’t the absolute best food you’ll find in Athens – it is a little touristy – but it’s still very good. It’s a short walk for most tourists from their hotel, easy to find, and safe.

Best Place to Eat in Athens: Plaka and Monastiraki Neighborhoods
This is the start of Mitropoleos Alley as it meets Monastiraki Square. The yellow building on the opposite side of the square is the Monastiraki metro station. The A for Athens hotels (not visible) is off to the right.

Map of the best area of the Plaka in Athens to get good traditional Greek food.
I’ve marked Mitropoleos Alley/Street with a red line. Walk to the Monastiraki metro station and you can’t miss the restaurants. They’re very easy to see and find. Pick the first one that has an open table – they’re all good.

See Also

Santorini in 1, 2, 3, and 7 Days

Updated: December 22, 2017

  • The single best thing to do in Santorini is to walk the caldera footpath and experience the incredible views of the volcano.
  • The best tours in Santorini are the boat tours of the volcano and the wine tours of the local wineries.

One Day in Santorini – The Highlights

Enjoy The Views Of The Caldera And Volcano

Views of caldera and volcano from Oia.
The caldera and volcano is why Santorini is so spectacular and unique and a good chunk of your one day should be spent experiencing it in one way or another. The main towns of Santorini (from south to north: Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia) are spread along the cliff overlooking the caldera. It would be easy (and fun) to spend your entire day somewhere along the rim of the caldera. You could do the complete walk from Fira to Oia. Or do just part of the walk. If staying in Fira, you could walk to Imerovigli, have lunch, and return to Fira for shopping, dinner, and an evening of nightlife. If staying in Oia, you could walk to Imerovigli for lunch, then bus or taxi back to Oia for dinner and sunset. There are a hundred variations on this and more than enough awesome viewpoints, enchanting little lanes, and spellbinding stairwells to easily fill a day.

Do A Boat Tour Of The Volcano

One day in Santorini – Boat tour of volcano.
Most boat tours of the volcano begin in the late morning or early afternoon and include hotel pickup. If you got an early start you could explore the views of the caldera in the morning (as described above) then hop a boat tour in the afternoon. All boat tours have incredible views of the caldera cliffs but offer many different options: private boat tour for a small group • boat tour with volcano hike and swimming in the hot springs • boat tour with hot spring swimming and sunset.

Do A Santorini Wine Tour

Wine tour in Santorini – Best tour for one day
Santorini has some wonderful wines and charming family-run wineries. Doing a wine tour is one of my top recommendations for Santorini. However, most wineries are located inland from the caldera so you are giving up some time experiencing the caldera views. It’s a tough trade-off and there’s no easy answer. I think for most people the best way to spend one day in Santorini is walking the caldera path and doing a boat tour. But if you’re not fond of boats (or just had enough ferry time to make a boat tour sound unappealing) then doing a wine tour is a great second option.

The Very Best Restaurants In Santorini

Best restaurant with caldera and sunset view – Mezzo in Imerovigli
With just one day you’ll only have two meals to enjoy the incredible food that Santorini has to offer. (Most hotels provide free breakfast and there are few good breakfast options so it’s only lunch and dinner.) If you do a tour that will further cut into your options but assuming you have two meals to fill I’d do Ouzeri in Fira or Avocado in Imerovigli for lunch, or Naoussa in Fira if you really want a view restaurant. (Not all restaurants are open for lunch so some planning is wise.) For dinner go for Mezzo or Athenian House in Imerovigli, Roka in Oia, Ammoudi Taverna in Ammoudi Bay (for fresh seafood right on the water), or Metaxy Mas in Exo Gonia (but does require a taxi or rental car to get to).

Santorini Nightlife

Best bars with view of volcano and sunset in Santorini.
Most of the nightlife options are found in Fira. (Don’t bother mapping any of these places. They’re all located on little lanes that don’t map well. Just ask and any shop owner will point you the right direction.) My favorites are 2 Brothers (crazy fun), Kira Thira Jazz Club (small and intimate), Tropical (cool vibe with great views), Franco’s Bar (just below Tropical and more of a wine bar usually playing classical music), and the Koo Club (dancing late into the night). If you’re in Oia you’ll only have one choice for nightlife but it’s a good one: Mary Kay (very small but super fun and a local old-school vibe).

Two Days in Santorini

  • Do the Fira-Oia Hike or if that’s too much explore the caldera paths in Oia and between Fira and Imerovigli.
  • Do a boat or wine tour. Could do both with good use of time.
  • Eat at more of the restaurants mentioned above.

Three Days in Santorini

  • Do the Fira-Oia Hike or if that’s too much explore the caldera paths in Oia and between Fira and Imerovigli.
  • Do both a boat and wine tour.
  • Visit Akrotiri and Pyrgos (if you have a rental car) or one of the beaches (Kamari or Perissa) if you don’t.
  • Eat at more of the restaurants mentioned above.

Seven Days in Santorini

  • Do the Fira-Oia Hike or if that’s too much explore the caldera paths in Oia and between Fira and Imerovigli.
  • Do both a boat and wine tour.
  • If budget allows do one or more of the private Santorini tours.
  • Rent a car for at least one day.
  • Visit Akrotiri, Pyrgos, Emborio, Kamari Beach, and Perissa Beach.
  • Buy a book from the most enchanting bookstore in the world.
  • Eat at more of these restaurants. Be sure to try a gyro at Lucky’s in Fira.

See Also