The Best Greek Islands To Visit in 2018

Updated: January 14, 2018

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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.

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The Walk from Fira to Oia

Updated: January 12, 2017

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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.
  • The path is not baby-stroller friendly. But most 8 year olds would have no trouble completing the walk.
  • Walking Tour for the Fira to Oia Hike: 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. This is a good tour for the Fira-Oia hike (also includes a side trip to Pyrgos and the incredible views from Profitis Ilias Monastery).
  • 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 July 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.
  • If you enter “Fira to Oia” in Google Maps and then click the walk icon, the route you get will take a more 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 market 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).

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.

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 the market in Imerovigli take the path to the left and not this one that sticks to the caldera.

Fira to Oia Hike

The path as you leave Imerovigli.

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.

And 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 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

How To Rent a Car in Santorini

  • Renting a car is a great way to see the whole island as not everywhere is well served by bus and 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.
  • 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?

Auto Europe 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 on Auto Europe 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

Reserve through Auto Europe 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).

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 the 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 Auto Europe (recommended) 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.

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

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 Wine Tours

Updated: December 27, 2017

  • 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.

See Also

Mykonos Beach Hotels

Updated: December 26, 2017

What are 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.

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 uber-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 one 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. Saint John Hotel Villas & Spa – Agios Ioannis Beach – 5 star hotel but beach here is not as nice as the beaches above.

10. Mykonos Grand – Agios Ioannis Beach – Immediately beside Saint John’s and with a similar level of quality.

11. Sunrise Hotel and Suites – Agrari Beach – Very quiet beach and secluded vibe. Nice pool. Rent a car if you stay here.

12. 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.

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

Best Hotels for Families in Athens

Updated: December 21, 2017

Athens with Kids and the Best Family Hotels

Athens Family Hotels – Tips and Recommendations

  • Athens is packed with tourists from early May until late October – book hotels as early as possible.
  • The Plaka, Monastiraki, and Syntagma neighborhoods are the best areas for families to stay in Athens.
  • The farther north you go (away from the Plaka and closer to Omonia) the uglier and sketchier the city gets. The bad areas are generally still safe but not terribly pleasant. Stay south of Sofokleous Street to avoid the worst areas.
  • If you need to catch an early morning ferry then it’s recommended to stay close to the Monistiraki metro station (quick direct trains to the ferry port). A for Athens is a good mid-range hotel steps from the metro station yet still a short walk to the Plaka and Acropolis.
  • Athens can easily fill 2 or 3 days of sightseeing but the highlights can be seen in one full (busy) day.
  • The highlight of Athens is the Acropolis (GetYourGuide has a good skip-the-line tour). If you only have time to see one attraction then make it the Acropolis (and its most famous structure, the Parthenon).

The 5 Best Family Hotels in Athens

1. Ava Hotel and Suites

Ava Hotel is the best centrally located hotel for families in Athens.
The service and amenities of a 5 star hotel with the friendliness of a family run B&B. A perfect location on a quiet street in the Plaka. Great breakfast and close to the Akropoli metro station. Some rooms have kitchenettes.
(Hotel phone: +30 21 0325 9000)

2. Dorian Inn Hotel

Large family rooms for families in Athens.
One of the cheapest hotels in central Athens with a pool – rooftop on the 12th floor with great views. There are triple rooms (3 single beds) and family rooms (4 single beds). Located near Omonia Square which is scruffy but not dangerous. Walking distance to top sights and very short walk to the metro – with direct trains to Piraeus ferry port.
(Hotel phone: +30 21 0523 1753)

3. Astor Hotel

Big family suite for family staying in Athens.
Great location. A very good breakfast is included and served on the rooftop restaurant with amazing views of the Acropolis. Large triples and quads are available for families. Furnishings are a bit dated but the hotel makes a good mid-range choice near Syntagma Square and its metro stop.
(Hotel phone: +30 21 0335 1000)

4. Palmyra Beach Hotel

Family-friendly hotel with pool in Athens.
Good value hotel. 2-bedroom family rooms sleep 5. Nice pool and close to shopping, restaurants, and Glyfada beach. The tram to central Athens (30 minutes) is just outside the hotel.
(Hotel phone: +30 210 8981183)

5. City Circus

City Circus is the best budget hotel for families in Athens.
Nice budget hotel/hostel with a large quadruple room perfect for families. Walking distance to the Plaka.
(Hotel phone: +30 21 3023 7244)

More Family-Friendly Hotels in Athens

See Also

Cheap Santorini Hotels with Caldera Views

Updated: December 7, 2017

Budget Hotel in Santorini with good view of caldera.

Budget Hotels in Santorini with Caldera Views

These are cheap hotels by Santorini standards but might still be out of some visitor’s budget. If you have to have a hotel with a caldera view these are the cheapest options. Most of these places have good sunset views (except the ones in Oia – which don’t look towards the sunset).

See Also

How To Book Hotels in Greece

Updated: December 6, 2017

How To Book Hotels in Greece and the Greek Islands

  • Book far in advance for the most popular islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Crete). Many of the best hotels are fully booked 6 months in advance.
  • Map your hotel and pay close attention to location. On most islands, you want to be walking distance from the main towns not out in the middle of nowhere.
  • Use street view to get a sense of what’s immediately around the hotel.
  • Check to see if the hotel is adults-only or family-friendly. Many hotels are either kid-friendly or the exact opposite.
  • If you’re traveling as a big group or staying for longer than a week contact the hotel directly to enquire about special deals.

What is the best website for booking hotels in Greece?

Booking.com – My current favorite for booking hotels. Free cancelations for most hotels makes it easy to plan a trip. Great rates too. The verified reviews on the site make it especially valuable. It also has good maps (most of the time) and detailed pages on individual destinations.

Booking.com island pages: Santorini HotelsMykonos HotelsAthens HotelsCrete Hotels

Hotelscombined.com – Good for finding last minute deals in Greece.

Both Booking.com and Hotelscombined have been around for years and are very reliable.

I typically use these sites to find the hotels with the best rates and then phone or email them directly to see if they’ll match the price I found online. About half the time they’ll offer the same rate. And even when they don’t you can ask detailed questions about any concerns you might have which can be helpful if you’re traveling with kids or a large group. Also, if you’re a member of a hotel rewards program then you’re more likely to get points if you book directly rather than through Booking.com or Hotelscombined (though whether that’s worth paying a little more is obviously dependent on the details).

Booking your hotel in advance is absolutely mandatory if you’re visiting Santorini or Mykonos between June and September – or any Greek island in July and August. For May and October booking just a few days in advance is usually fine. On other islands showing up without a hotel can be half the fun but that doesn’t apply to Santorini which is incredibly popular from June to September.

And one very important note: If you want to stay at one of the best hotels in Santorini or best hotels in Mykonos then you do need to book very far in advance to ensure you get a room. I recently spoke to the manager at Grace Santorini (September 2016) and she said they are taking reservations for 2017. And for weddings people are enquiring about 2018 and 2019.

For certain, there are many exceptions and it never hurts to look for last minute availability. But if you have your heart set on a particular hotel then you should book as far in advance as possible (i.e. 4 to 8 months before your trip).

If you do arrive on Santorini without a hotel reservation during high season take anything you can find for the first night and then look around for a better place once you’ve put down your bags. If there are hotel owners meeting your ferry at the port they’re an easy way to get a place to stay and a free ride into town. Be aware if they say you’re staying “right in Fira” you’re still probably going to be outside the town a little way (often in Karterados). If you’re really concerned about location get them to point to the hotel on a map. Almost all of these hotel owners are legitimate and trustworthy, though, as I say, they will fudge a little on the true location of their hotel.

See Also

Santorini Hotels with Sunset Views

Updated: December 6, 2017

What are the best hotels for sunsets in Santorini?

Imerovigli has the best sunsets of any town in Santorini. Many hotels in Oia do not have sunset views. (The hotels that have unobstructed sunset views are listed below.) Hotels in Oia generally have either a view of the caldera or views of the sunset (this is a simplification as it also depends on the time of year but for the most part it’s true). Sunset views from Fira and Firostefani are often blocked by the small island of Thirassia or parts of Santorini itself. Imerovigli has neither of the these problems and is perched high on a cliff with great views of both the sunset and the caldera. Another plus is that it doesn’t have the crowds that gather in Oia as the sun sets. None of the Santorini beaches have sunset views but they do have beautiful sunrises.

Sunset View from Imerovigli Hotels

Hotels with sunset views in Imerovigli.

Sunset from Imerovigli (from just above Grace Santorini). Imerovigli has the best sunset views of any place on Santorini.

Best Imerovigli Hotels with Sunset View

Grace Santorini
Cavo Tagoo
Absolute Bliss
Astra Suites

Sunset View from Oia Hotels

Oia hotels with sunset views.

This is the sunset view from most Oia hotels. The sun sets over the town and you’re unable to see the sun set into the sea. It’s still beautiful but not a true sunset. The hotels listed below have clear views of the sunset but as a tradeoff they lack full caldera views (since they’re on the outside of the caldera with views of the setting sun).

Best Oia Hotels with Sunset View

Oia Castle Hotel
Esperas Traditional Houses
Marizan Caves & Villas
Fanari Villas
Golden Sunset Villas (awesome Windmill Suite available)

Sunset View from Fira Hotels

Fira hotels with sunset views.

Sunset from Homeric Poems hotel in Firostefani (just north of Fira). From here you don’t get the direct view like from Imerovigli but it does offer Skaros Rock and the rest of the island as a frame around setting sun – whether that’s better or worse is up to taste.

Best Fira & Firostefani Hotels with Sunset View

Homeric Poems
Belvedere Hotel
Keti Hotel
Porto Fira Suites

See Also

Santorini Boutique Hotels

Updated: December 6, 2017

  • 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 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 room there even if I did recommend it).

Needless to say, but 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. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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. 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.

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

Santorini Beaches

Updated: December 6, 2017

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

Perissa and Perivolos Beaches in Santorini

See Also

The 6 Best Beaches in Santorini

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

Santorini is not known for its beaches. They are good but not great – so don’t be expecting those idyllic stretches of sand you’ve seen in pictures of Greece. (That said, many people love the beaches of Santorini and find their unique sand and natural setting to be more memorable than “just another sandy beach”.)

Most of Santorini’s beaches are composed of dark volcanic sand that gets searingly hot in the mid-day sun. Beach sandals or water shoes are recommended for getting around on the sand.

But what the beaches lack in typical sandy splendor they make up for with breathtaking views and scenery. The cliffs that loom around some of the beaches and the nature of the sand itself make a surreal setting for swimming and sunning.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Kamari Beach

One of the best beaches on Santorini: Kamari Beach
The most upscale and touristy of the beach towns. The path along the beach is a fun and relaxing place to stroll in the evening. Lots of places to eat and drink. Kamari has a very fun vibe and one of the most family-friendly towns on Santorini. Close to the airport (but not so close as to worry about noise). It’s the closest of any of the beaches (with hotels) to Fira and the caldera. If I were to stay at a beach town it would be Kamari.
Recommended Beach Hotels in Kamari: Santorini Kastelli Resort (luxury) • Tamarix Del Mar Suites (luxury) • Sigalas (moderate)

2. Perissa Beach

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

3. Perivolos Beach

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

4. Red Beach

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

5. Monolithos

The best beach for kids on Santorini.
Monolithos Beach (a few km north of Kamari) has the nicest sand and most family-friendly beach on Santorini (unlike other beaches you can make sandcastles here). Very quiet with a small collection of hotels and restaurants. The shallow slope of the seafloor make it better for kids than the steep drop-offs at Perissa and Kamari. There’s a small play area for the kids on the sand. It’s nice here (but I wouldn’t recommend staying here), so don’t be expecting a lot of action. If you have a rental car and a few kids it might be worth an afternoon but most people would probably describe it as “dead”.

6. Ammoudi Bay

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

See Also

Where Did the Kardashians Stay In Santorini?

Updated: December 2, 2017

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 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.

See Also

The Best Hotels in Athens

Updated: December 2, 2017

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On This Page

Athens Hotels – Tips and Recommendations

  • Where To Stay in Athens: The best neighborhoods for visitors are The Plaka, Monastiraki, Syntagma, and Koukaki – all are walking distance to the Acropolis and other top historical sights.
  • Athens is a great city. You might have heard it’s ugly (and some areas are) but there’s lots to see within the walkable central area. It has the Acropolis and the two best museums in Greece. The streets are filled with great food and lively restaurants. Athens can easily fill 2 full days of quality sightseeing. Recommended stay: 1 to 3 full days.
  • Athens is packed with tourists from May to October. Book hotels early for the best deals.
  • Best Luxury Hotel in Athens: Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square. (10 minute walk to the base of the Acropolis.)
  • Best Boutique Hotel in Athens: Electra Palace Hotel in the Plaka. (5 minute walk to the base of the Acropolis.)
  • Best Cheap Hotels in Athens: Phaedra Hotel (Plaka) • A for Athens (Monastiraki) • Athens Center Square (Monastiraki) • Myrto Hotel (Syntagma/Plaka)
  • Most ferries to Santorini, Mykonos, and the Greek Islands leave between 7am and 8am from the Piraeus ferry port. If you’re catching one of these ferries then stay close to the Monastiraki metro station (which has quick direct trains to the ferry port for just 1.40€). If you take a taxi it doesn’t matter where you stay.
  • Good hotels close to Monastiraki Station (for easy access to the train to the ferry port): A for AthensPlaka Hotel360 DegreesAdrian Hotel
  • Taxi from the airport to downtown hotels costs 38€. From downtown hotels to the ferry port costs about 15€.
  • Don’t stay in Omonia Square or in Piraeus (ferry port). They’re not unsafe but gritty, ugly, and unnecessary.
  • The best restaurant in Athens is Psarras (Fisherman’s Taverna) – magical location on the steps of the Plaka with fantastic traditional Greek dishes.
  • The best bar in central Athens is Brettos in the Plaka. Great friendly vibe.
  • Best Tours in Athens: Ancient Athens Private Walking Tour (4 hours) • Hidden Athens – Plaka and Athens Hills (4 hours) • Half-Day Athens Food Tour (4 hours) • Greek Cooking Lesson & Dinner (3 hours) • Day Trip to Delphi (10 hours)

The 7 Best Hotels in Athens

1. Hotel Grande Bretagne – Syntagma Square

The best luxury hotel in Athens: The Grande Bretagne near the Acropolis and Plaka
Hotel phone: +30 210-3330000
The best hotel in Athens. Situated on Syntagma Square in the center of the action and walking distance to nearly all major attractions. The spa, rooftop restaurant, and bar are wonderful – the latter worth a visit even if you’re not a guest.

2. King George – Syntagma Square

The best hotel views of the Acropolis: King George Hotel in Syntagma.
Hotel phone:+30 210 322-2210
Wonderful location (adjacent to the Grande Bretagne) with Syntagma Square at your door, shops all about, and the Plaka and Acropolis a short walk away. Rooms are beautifully decorated. Staff top notch.

3. Electra Palace Hotel – The Plaka

The best hotel in the Plaka: Electra Palace Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 210-3370000
The best hotel in the Plaka. The rooftop pool has amazing views of the Acropolis (there’s also an indoor pool in the basement). Beautiful grounds in a great location with restaurants only steps away. The large triple rooms are good for families.

4. Royal Olympic Hotel – The Plaka

The best hotel near the Plaka: Athens Royal Olympic
Hotel Phone: +30 210-9288400
A great hotel with a wonderful central location – cross one busy street and you’re in the heart of the Plaka. Acropolis and Acropolis Museum are a short walk away. The rooftop restaurant has incredible views of the sights. Suites are huge and luxurious.

5. Hilton Athens – near Kolonaki

The best hotel swimming pool in Athens: Hilton Athens.
Hotel phone: +30 210-7281000
Good sized rooms, the best swimming pool in Athens, and exemplary service make the Hilton a great pick. Located a 15 minute walk from the Plaka and Syntagma Square in a quieter section of the city (not far from the trendy cafes of Kolonaki). A nearby metro station connects you with everything.

6. InterContinental Athenaeum – Koukaki

The best business hotel in Athens: Athens Intercontinental.
Hotel phone: +30 210-9206000
Rooms are huge and some have amazing views of the Acropolis. The swimming pool is great. The hotel is located a 20 minute walk from the Plaka and a free shuttle bus runs guests to the main tourist spots every 30 minutes. There’s also a tram and metro station nearby to take you to Syntagma Square. If location is of prime importance then this might not be your place, but the hotel itself is a great choice.

7. Westin Athens Astir Palace Beach Resort – The Coast

The best beach resort near Athens.
Hotel phone: +30 210-8902000
Update: Recently changed ownership and closed for renovation.
Stunning setting on a private peninsula on the stretch of coast south of Athens. Great beach, pool, restaurants, kids club, and every kind of outdoor activity you can name. 10 minutes to the shops, restaurants, and nightlife of Glyfada, 20 minutes to the airport, and 40 minutes into central Athens. A free shuttle bus takes you into Glyfada (the hotel will pay for a taxi if the shuttle is delayed or full).

Where To Stay in Athens

The neighborhoods below are centrally located, safe (though be careful in Omonia at night), and within walking distance of the most popular tourist attractions. If you’re still unsure of where to stay (after reading this) then find a hotel in the Plaka.

The Plaka Neighborhood

My favorite neighborhood in Athens. Yes, it’s very touristy but it also has a lively and friendly vibe. It’s a pedestrian-friendly warren of ancient streets nestled at the base of the Acropolis (the one must-see attraction in Athens). The Plaka is filled with restaurants, tourist shops, and hotels. Sights include the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments, and the Museum of Greek Folk Art. Served by Monastiraki station on metro lines 1 and 3.

The Plaka neighborhood in Athens.

A view of the Plaka neighborhood from the Acropolis.


The Plaka neighborhood in Athens.

Brettos Wine Bar in the heart of the Plaka. Many places are very touristy but this cool little bar gets plenty of locals too.

The Plaka neighborhood in Athens.

Historical sites like the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, and the Stoa are sprinkled around the Plaka neighborhood.

The Plaka neighborhood in Athens.

There are many quaint and friendly restaurants throughout the Plaka. Most are pretty good but for better quality food and prices try to leave the main thoroughfares and find a restaurant down a quieter street or alley.

The Plaka neighborhood in Athens.

The Plaka has lots of tourist shopping.

The Best Hotels in the Plaka

Monastiraki Neighborhood

Neighboring the Plaka and having a similar feel, Monastiraki is also a great area to stay with many places to eat and shop. The neighborhood is a little less touristy and has more antique, arts, crafts, and clothing shops than the Plaka. It’s also home to a large Flea Market every Sunday morning. The area is served by the Monastiraki station (lines 1 and 3). Line 1 is a direct route to both Piraeus and the Athens airport making Monastiraki a good choice if you have an early ferry or plane to catch.

Monastiraki neighborhood in Athens.

Monastiraki Square is a great area to stay in if you need to catch an early ferry or flight. Monastiraki metro station (the building on the right) has direct trains to both the ferry port of Piraeus and Athens International Airport.

Monastiraki neighborhood in Athens.

Monastiraki is filled with great restaurants that serve traditional Greek food. The area is a little less touristy than the Plaka and the restaurants attract more locals.

Monastiraki neighborhood in Athens.

A street in Monastiraki with the Acropolis perched overhead.

The Best Hotels in Monastiraki

Koukaki Neighborhood

After the Plaka and Monastiraki, this is my favorite area of Athens to stay. Like the Plaka and Monastiraki the area sits at the base of the Acropolis and looks up at the Parthenon. It’s an easy walk from here to the Plaka and Syntagma but the area has a more local feel and not so touristy. There are many local restaurants and cafes on the streets and squares around the neighborhood. The Koukaki (and Makrigianni) area is served by the Akropoli and Sygrou-Fix stations on metro line 2.

The Koukaki neighborhood in Athens.

Looking down from the Acropolis on the Koukaki neighborhood and the Acropolis Museum (large building with black windows).

The Koukaki neighborhood in Athens.

There’s a large farmers market in Koukaki every Sunday.

The Koukaki neighborhood in Athens.

There are lots of good local restaurants in Koukaki where you won’t see another tourist.

The Best Hotels in the Koukaki

Syntagma Neighborhood

The business and tourist hub of Athens. In Syntagma you’ll find 5 star hotels, restaurants, shopping, banks, airline offices, and the Greek Parliament buildings. Served by Syntagma metro station (lines 2 and 3). The National Historical Museum is located in the old Parliament building on Stadiou street and the National Gardens are a cool and shady retreat from the sweltering Athens’ summers.

Syntagma neighborhood in Athens.

Syntagma is a hub for getting around Athens. You can catch the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus here as well as the bus to the airport.

Syntagma neighborhood in Athens.

Syntagma Square at night with the Greek Parliament buildings in the background.

The Changing of the Guards at the Greek Parliament buildings on Syntagma Square.

The Changing of the Guards at the Greek Parliament buildings on Syntagma Square.

Syntagma neighborhood in Athens.

The Syntagma metro station is in the middle of Syntagma Square and has direct trains to the Athens International Airport. To get to the ferry port you need to change trains in Monastiraki.

Syntagma neighborhood in Athens.

Athens’ best hotel, the Grande Bretagne, overlooks Syntagma Square.

The Best Hotels in Syntagma

Kolonaki Neighborhood

A residential neighborhood northwest of Syntagma Square that’s filled with upscale shops, restaurants, boutique hotels, and cafes. Sights include the Benaki Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, and National War Museum. It’s walking distance from here to the Plaka and the Acropolis. Served by Syntagma station on metro line 2 & 3 and Evangelismos on metro line 3.

Kolonaki neighborhood in Athens.

Kolonaki is northwest of Syntagma and a 15 minute walk from the Plaka. Here you’ll find small boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and stairways (Kolonaki is on the side of a hill and depending on where you’re going can require lots of steps).

The Best Hotels in Kolonaki

Piraeus Ferry Port

The port of Athens where the ferries arrive and depart for the islands. There’s not much here for tourists besides the ferries but if you need to catch an early ferry staying here is an option (but I would still recommend staying in Athens). In high season there are always tourists milling about the area near the port and the metro station so you need not fear an early morning departure or a late night arrival. It’s about 30 minutes by metro (on line 1) from downtown Athens to the port.

Recommended Hotels in Piraeus

photo credits

What Hotels in Athens Have the Best Location?

The Plaka is the best area to stay in Athens. It’s very central for seeing all the best historical sights in Athens (except for the National Archaeological Museum which is a little out of the way and requires a short metro or taxi ride). It’s also busy day and night and feels very safe.

But you don’t have to stay right in the Plaka to get that safe, busy, central feeling. Being a little outside the Plaka area is fine too. Syntagma Square, Monastiraki, and Koukaki border the Plaka and there’s no clear boundary as you leave the Plaka and enter these neighborhoods.

The following hotels all have great locations in central Athens and are an easy walk to all the major sights in the area. The Acropolis, the Plaka, the Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora, and a half-dozen historical sights of Ancient Athens are within walking distance of all the hotels listed below.

  • Electra Palace Hotel Athens – The best hotel location in the heart of the Plaka. Great views of the Acropolis. On a quiet street but steps from shops and restaurants.
    Location of Electra Palace Hotel
  • Electra Hotel – On a funky pedestrian-only street, close to Syntagma and walking distance to the Plaka and Monastiraki metro station.
    Location of Electra Hotel
  • Divani Palace Acropolis – In the non-touristy neighborhood of Koukaki. Close to the Acropolis and steps from the Acropolis Museum.
    Location of Divani Palace Akropolis Hotel
  • Ava Hotel and Suites – Great location in the Plaka and a stones throw to Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
    Location of AVA Boutique Hotel
  • The Athens Gate Hotel – Very close to the Plaka and Acropolis Museum and directly across from Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
    Location of Athens Gate Hotel
  • Royal Olympic Hotel – Close to Hadrian’s Gate and across a busy road from the Plaka and Acropolis Museum.
    Location of Royal Olympic Hotel
  • Hotel Grande Bretagne – Athens’ best hotel right on the city’s most famous square. The Syntagma Metro Station is steps away from the hotel.
    Location of Grande Bretagne Hotel
  • King George – Directly beside the Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square.
    Location of King George Hotel
  • NJV Athens Plaza – Beside the King George Hotel and on Syntagma Square.
    Location of NJV Athens Plaza Hotel
  • Plaka Hotel – In the Plaka and close to Monastiraki metro station (which has a direct link to the Piraeus ferry port so is perfect for catching early morning ferry departures).
    Location of Plaka Hotel
  • Phaedra Hotel – Great location in the Plaka
    Location of Hotel Phaedra
  • Best Western Amazon Hotel – Very close to Syntagma Square and a short walk to the Plaka and the Acropolis.
    Location of Best Western Amazon Hotel
  • A for Athens – Steps from the Monastiraki metro station (for direct trains to the Piraeus ferry port and the airport).
    Location of A for Athens Hotel

The 3 Best Budget Hotels in Athens

  • Athens Center Square Hotel – This is a wonderful hotel with a rooftop bar with views of the Acropolis, good free breakfast, and trendy large rooms. It’s a 5 to 10 minute walk to Monastiraki Square and metro station. A good popular restaurant and the Athens Central Market are steps away from the front door. The caveat is that it’s located down an unappealing side street in a less-than-beautiful area. Though it feels a little unsafe it’s heavily trafficked and perfectly fine for most people. But if you’re a single female traveler you might want to stay at the Phaedra or Myrto which are a little less polished but have more central locations.
    Center Square Hotel: The best budget hotel in Athens
  • Hotel Phaedra – In the heart of the Plaka and the best located budget hotel in Athens. A popular pedestrian street is just outside the door. The Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, and Hadrian’s Arch are all very close. Single, double, and family rooms available.
    Phaedra Hotel– Cheap hotel in the Plaka
  • Myrto Hotel – Very close to Syntagma Square (the metro and airport bus). This is the cheapest hotel in central Athens that isn’t terrible. It’s definitely rough around the edges (the carpet in the rooms is in bad shape) but the rooms are clean, the location great, and the staff super friendly. If you have an early ferry or plane to catch they’ll give you your breakfast the night before so you can store it in the fridge and eat it in your room the next morning.
    Large room in Myrto Hotel

Video of Athens’ Best Hotels

A quick guide to the best hotels in Athens.

Hotels Shown in Video (in order):
Grande Bretagne (luxury)
The King George Hotel (luxury)
NJV Athens Plaza (moderate)
St George Lycabettus (luxury)
Royal Olympic Hotel (luxury)
Athens Gate Hotel (moderate)
Divani Palace Acropolis (luxury
Ava Hotel and Suites (luxury)
Electra Palace Hotel (luxury)
Electra Hotel (moderate)
Best Western Amazon Hotel (budget)
Myrto Hotel (budget)
Phaedra Hotel (budget)
Hotel Byron (budget)
A for Athens Hotel (moderate)
Plaka Hotel (moderate)
Athens Center Square Hotel (budget)
Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel (moderate)

Map of Athens

Yellow Pins – Top 10 Things To Do in Athens
Blue Pins – Top 15 Hotels in Central Athens
Green Pins – Bus and Trains to Airport and Ferry
Blue Area – Area of Athens that is best to stay in
Red Area – Plaka Area of Athens

Hotels on Map
Grande Bretagne (luxury)
The King George Hotel (luxury)
St George Lycabettus (luxury)
Royal Olympic Hotel (luxury)
Divani Palace Acropolis (luxury
Ava Hotel and Suites (luxury)
Electra Palace Hotel (luxury)
NJV Athens Plaza (moderate)
Athens Gate Hotel (moderate)
Electra Hotel (moderate)
A for Athens Hotel (moderate)
Best Western Amazon Hotel (budget)
Myrto Hotel (budget)
Phaedra Hotel (budget)
Hotel Byron (budget)
Plaka Hotel (moderate)
Athens Center Square Hotel (budget)

See Also

Milos Hotels

Updated: December 2, 2017

Milos hotels near beach.

The fishing village of Mandrakia in Milos.

The 10 Best Hotels in Milos, Greece

1. Hotel Rigas – Adamas

Milos Rigas Hotel in Milos Island, Greece
Inviting, excellent-value-for-money aparthotel with bright, white toned, comfy rooms and apartments, with small kitchenettes (stoves, fridges), bunk beds (some) and good-sized furnished balconies with garden/village/sea views. Good location that’s within walking distance of many restaurants, the center, the port and the beach. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 23450.

2. Olea Bay Hotel – Adamas

Large luxury suite at Olea Beach Hotel.
Contemporary, fresh, small Greek hotel with pristine, beautifully modern, minimalistic rooms and suites with mini-bars, mini-fridges, tiled floors and gorgeous sea views from balconies/verandahs. Suites add living areas with built-in sofas. There’s a small beach right across the road and the hotel is within walking distance of the town. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 31003.

3. Miland Suites – Adamas

Luxury Milos hotel with swimming pool and sea view.
Set on a hill overlooking the bay, around 3 km from Adamas town, this top-notch, 9-suite hotel has captivating, individually decorated suites with kitchenettes, Nespresso coffee machines, mini-bars, four-poster beds (top category), and balconies with sea/pool/mountain views. Has a lovely outdoor pool & sun terrace with superb views. Hotel Phone: +30 6947943468.

4. Milos Breeze Boutique Hotel – Pollonia

Boutique hotel with pool in Milos, Greece.
Spectacular, clifftop boutique hotel fusing traditional Cycladic architecture with modern elements, featuring idyllic rooms and suites with coffee facilities, mini-bars and stunning sea views from balconies/terraces. Deluxe suites have spacious terraces or private pools with sun terraces and upgraded suites have spa baths with jaccuzis or outdoor private plunge pools with pool lounge areas. The hotel’s infinity pool has incredible uninterrupted views over the bay. Good location within walking distance of town. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 41085.

5. Tania Milos – Pollonia

Best waterfront boutique hotel in Milos: Tania.
Enjoying a picture perfect, seafront location on the island’s tip, right in front of a natural, protected swimming hole, this boutique hotel offers immaculate rooms and a suite, with handmade furniture, fridges and private verandahs with sea views. Deluxe rooms have private corner terraces and the hotel’s lone suite has a living room and 2 balconies (including a large corner terrace with sunbeds); both these categories have cave-style showers. Pollonia town with its restaurants and shops is a short stroll away. Hotel Phone: + 30 22870 41062, (Winter) +30 210 6616719.

6. Villa Gallis – Pollonia

Luxury Milos hotel with pool.
Set on a hillside overlooking both the village and sea, this charming boutique hotel features cozy, comfortable, double, triple and quadruple rooms, with exposed beamed ceilings, fridges and balconies with beautiful sea views. Upgraded rooms have bunk beds. Has a very nice outdoor pool with a sun terrace that offers amazing views. Within walking distance of the town. Hotel Phone: Tel: (+30) 6906647835.

7. Nefeli Sunset Studios – Pollonia

Best boutique hotels in Milos, Greece: Nefeli
Chic, Greek vibe seafront hotel with gorgeous studios and suites, all featuring a cool blend of natural & modern elements, fridges, coffee/tea facilities, well-equipped kitchens (fridges, stoves) and spacious balconies/verandahs with sea/side sea views. Junior suites add living rooms, additional verandahs and bathrooms with jacuzzis. Deluxe suites have a cool aesthetic and sofa beds (some), and the top-end master suite (2-bedroom apartment) has more verandahs, including one with an outdoor jacuzzi. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 41466, (Winter: November to March) +30 210 2637140.

8. Kapetan Tasos Suites – Pollonia

Best luxury hotels in Milos: Kapetan Taso.
Refreshing, all-suite hotel featuring tastefully decorated single-room suites, suites and a superior suite with superb views from all suites. Single-room suites have kitchenettes (fridges & hobs), coffee/tea facilities and Espresso machines, and patios/verandahs. Suites have sitting areas, fully equipped kitchens and 2 verandahs. The lone superior suite has 3 verandahs and 2 balconies with panoramic sea & village views. Within easy walking distance of the town. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 41287.

9. Golden Milos Beach – Provatas Beach

Luxury hotel with pool on Milos island in Greece.
Airy, bright rooms with mini-bars, coffee/tea facilities and verandahs/balconies with garden/side sea/sea views, are the highlight of this pretty beach hotel, 12.7 kms from Plaka town. Not much to do around the hotel’s immediate vicnity so it’s better to have your own transport. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 31307-8 (May-September), +30 694 471 7289 (October-April).

10. Eiriana Luxury Suites – near Plaka

Romantic hotel in Milos for honeymoon.
Delightful, all-suite, hilltop boutique hotel surrounded by windmills, featuring 6 exquisitely designed, contemporary Greek suites with Mp3 docks, Espresso machines, mini-bars, coffee/tea facilities, in-room breakfasts and private balconies and village/bay views. Depending on the category, suites can have access to a communal garden & pool area or own landscaped gardens or a kitchen area with a dining table. Convenient location, a short stroll away from Plaka town. Hotel Phone: +30 22870 22730.

Milos Highlights

Adamantas ferry port.

Adamas is the ferry port and largest village on Milos. Lots of hotels and restaurants (but not the only place to stay on Milos).

Plaka and Trypiti villages in Milos.

Plaka village in the hills of Milos. Great place to stay (along with neighboring Trpiti village).

Village in Milos, Greece.

Agios Fanourios near Plaka village.

Volcanic rock on Milos.

Mineral formations on Milos. Much of the magic of Milos is found on the coast and accessible only by boat tour.

Private boat tour of Milos.

Private small boats are also able to be hired to tour the coastline.

Provatas beach in Milos.

Provatas Bay on the south coast of Milos.

Firopotamos fishing village, north of Plaka.

Klima in Milos.

Klima fishing village, on the coastline southwest of Plaka.

Sarakiniko beach on Milos.

Sarakiniko beach and rock formation in the northwest of the island. One of the best swimming spots in all of Greece.

Sikia cave and beach on Milos.

Sykia Cave was a sea cave the roof of which collapsed, creating a sink hole. Located on the west coast and one of the many places on Milos accessible only by boat.

Tsigrado beach in Milos.

Tsigrado on the south coast of Milos.

Kleftiko beach in Milos.

Kleftiko rock formation on the southwest corner of Milos.

See Also

Greece With Kids

Updated: December 1, 2017

The 7 Best Greek Islands for Families

Family vacation to Greek Islands with Kids.

What Are The Best Greek Islands for a Family Holiday?

  • Best Greek Island for Families: Naxos
  • Best Greek Island for Beaches: Naxos, Mykonos, Ios, Crete
  • Best Greek Island for Families with Teens: Santorini, Mykonos, Paros
  • Best Greek Island for History: Crete, Rhodes, Santorini
  • Best Greek Island for Hiking: Crete, Folegandros, Santorini, Naxos
  • Best Greek Island for Biking: Kos
  • Best Greek Island for Luxury: Santorini, Mykonos
  • Best Greek Island for Quiet and Solitude: Folegandros, Ikaria, Karpathos
  • Best Greek Island for Outdoor Activity: Crete, Santorini
  • Best Greek Island for Food: All of them
  • Best Greek Island for Family Cruise: None of them – don’t do cruises, visit on your own
  • Best for Island Hopping: Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, Mykonos, and Milos are all well connected by ferry and great for island hopping

Family Holidays to Greece – 10 Things To Know While Planning

Family holidays to Greek Islands.

The Greek Islands are magical, super kid-friendly, and the best destination in Europe for a family holiday.

1. Greece Is A Wonderful Destination for a Family Holiday

Greece and the greek islands are my favorite place in Europe for a family vacation. Great beaches, interesting history, incredible food (much of it kid-friendly), wonderful people. Island hopping by ferry adds a bit of adventure to the whole thing and an opportunity to see several very distinct destinations.

2. The Best Greek Islands for a Family Holiday

The best places to go in Greece for a family are the Greek islands and my favorite island for families is Naxos. But there are many others that are also kid-friendly and great for families. Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu are four more that have great beaches, cool towns, and a family-friendly atmosphere. Santorini is typically thought of as couples-destination but there’s a lot to see and do and it’s still a great family destination (especially if your kids are a little older, say, 6 and up).

3. Greece Is Easy To Get To From the U.K. and the Rest of Europe

Santorini, Mykonos, Crete Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, and a few other islands (depending on the year) have direct flights from the London, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, and Rome making trips to a Greece quick and easy. It’s not unreasonable to be sitting on a beach 4 or 5 hours after taking off from your home airport. Getting to the Greek islands from the U.S. will always require two flights (usually connecting in western Europe). A few North American cities (Toronto, New York City) have direct flights to Athens but none have direct flights to the Greek islands.

4. Best Time To Visit Greece for a Family Holiday

The best weather in Greece for kids, families, swimming, and beach time is from late May to early September. The sun will be out, skies blue, and there’s very little rain. The absolute best beach weather is from late June to early September.

Jumping in the Mediterranean Sea from Greek sailboat.

The Greek Islands with Kids: Doing a boat tour is a must when on a Greek holiday.

5. The Highlights of Athens Can Be Seen in One Full Day of Sightseeing

The top attractions in Athens (Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, and historical sights in the Plaka) can be easily seen in one full (busy) day. And then get on a ferry the next morning (most ferries from Athens to the islands leave between 7am and 8am) and get the kids to a beach.

6. The Best Greek Islands for History and Culture are Crete, Rhodes, and Santorini

Crete has the single best historical sight on any of the Greek islands: Knossos near Heraklion. Rhodes has the Medieval City of Rhodes Town and the Acropolis of Lindos. And Santorini has the caldera, the volcano, and the story of how this island was destroyed by an immense volcanic eruption.

7. The Best Beach for Kids in Greece

The single best beach in Greece is Elafonisi Beach in Crete. Magical and very kid-friendly. Other great beaches for families can be found in Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Mykonos, Lesvos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Corfu, and Rhodes. Santorini has great swimming and unique beaches but since they’re composed of volcanic rock they get very hot in the mid-day sun.

8. Greek Restaurants Are Very Kid Friendly

Almost all greek restaurants and tavernas have a family-friendly atmosphere where kids are welcomed and pampered. Santorini and Mykonos (known for luxury and nightlife) each have a handful of restaurants where kids might be a little out of place but these are the exceptions and the majority of restaurants on every Greek island will welcome your kids with open arms (literally).

9. Do A Tour

Greek tour guides are great. (It’s a national law that tour guides need to have a degree in Greek history to conduct any tour to a historical sight in Greece.) And you’ll get much more out of any visit to a historical attraction if you get a guide. At some sights (e.g. Knossos) it’s easy to walk up and find a good guide. At other sights (Akrotiri in Santorini) it’s best to book in advance. Doing a food tour is also highly recommended (especially in Athens).

10. Best Websites for Planning a Greek Holiday

Planning a greek holiday is easy to do by yourself. Don’t book a package holiday as you end up getting second-rate hotels and the worst flights. Use Kayak.com to find the best airfares. Booking.co.uk or Hotelscombined.co.uk to book hotels. And gtp.gr to find ferry schedules (though you’ll probably end up booking on Bluestar or Hellenic Ferries websites).

Should I book hotels in advance when visiting Greece?

  • For July and August on the most popular islands — like Santorini and Mykonos — booking early is absolutely essential. It becomes increasingly less essential as you move away from those islands and those months. So, Naxos and Paros in June or September would be no problem at all to arrive at without reservations. That leaves a large gray area of course. Are reservations necessary for Santorini in June, Naxos in July, Paros in August? In general, booking early and making reservations will get you the best price.
  • Flexibility is good (and fun). It’s nice to have some hotel reservations booked in advance – especially for your first nights on a new island – but it’s also nice to have some flexibility with where you’re going and how long you’re staying. Try to find a good balance – maybe have your first 2 nights on each island booked in advance, followed with a few days that you can fill as you wish.
  • That said, flexibility might be a luxury that families don’t feel they can afford. In high season families and large groups should definitely book rooms in advance.
  • If you do show up on an island without reservations you might see hotel owners greeting the ferry (like in this picture). These will often be budget hotels (but still nice, clean places to stay). If you do decide to stay with them try to walk to the hotel from the pier. (This won’t be practical on every island, eg. Santorini’s port is a long ways from anywhere.) Most main towns are right by the ferry port, so if they’re telling you that their hotel is right “in town” you should be able to walk there no problem, right? If instead they’re trying to get you and your bags into their pickup it’s likely it’s several miles outside of town. At the very least get them to pinpoint the hotel exactly on a map. Some hotel owners will “gently” lie but if faced with a precise question they’ll accurately tell you where it is on the map.

Special Considerations for Family Travel in Greece

Greece is a fun and easy vacation destination for families.  There are no special vaccinations required. No special medicine prescribed.  The food is wonderful and generally pretty kid friendly.

Transport, whether by ferry, bus or plane, is efficient and comfortable.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect for families is finding hotel rooms suitable for 4, 5, 6 or more people. The most common hotel room is small with 2 single beds with a small balcony and usually a small fridge. Many options do exist outside of these, but it will require some planning and booking in advance.

High chairs are rarely to be found in restaurants which can make a stroller an appealing option as a place to sit a baby or small toddler during meal time.

When is the best time to visit Greece for family vacation?

June and September are undeniably the best months for a holiday vacation in Greece. And if you’re really looking to narrow it down then mid-September is the absolute prime. The weather is essentially the same as late June but while the water can still be chilly in early summer, by September it’s perfect. The crowds arrive in late June and stay until the islands are packed until the last week of August. By early September you can feel a discernible difference in the number of visitors and hopping on a ferry, getting a seat at a popular restaurant, or finding a hotel room gets markedly easier.

The difficulty of peak-season travel can be exaggerated however. I’ve visited in the middle of summer on several occasions and had no trouble finding a hotel on a Greek island. But if you do travel during July and August you should, at the very least, book your hotel rooms in advance and be prepared for some intense bustle on the ferries and in the tourist hot spots.

May and October can be great as well but you’re taking a little bit of chance with the weather if your aim is beach and swimming time. On the other hand if you’re more interested in hiking, biking, and historical sites then mid-April to early June and late September until early November can be fantastic options.

How do I get to the Greek Islands?

These are the 4 easiest and most common ways to get to the Greek islands:

1. Fly to Athens and then ferry to the islands.

The classic Greek vacation. The pluses include breaking up your journey mid-way, having an opportunity to tour Athens and getting to enjoy a long, often relaxing, occasionally magical ferry ride from Athens to the Islands.

The minuses being that it takes up a few days on both ends of your trip. Stopping in Athens might not be the best use of time if you only have one or two weeks.

The ferry schedule can be erratic in August as high winds in the Cyclades (called the Meltemi) can play havoc with ferries schedules. (The Cyclades are particularly vulnerable to high winds.) Cancellations for more than a day or two are rare but your itinerary could be messed up with one ill timed delay.

2. Fly directly to a Greek Island from a city in Northern or Western Europe.

There are many cheap budget flight to a few Greek Islands from the main travel hubs in western Europe: London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Milan.

Pros: It can often be ridiculously cheap to get a flight from Western Europe directly to a Greek island on one of the European budget airlines. Plus, if you’re coming from North America, Asia, or Australia, you can have a few days in London or Paris or whatever city you transit through.

Cons: Surprisingly difficult to arrange if you’re arriving from outside the continent.  The low cost carriers often leave from smaller regional airports not the large hubs where your long haul jet landed. Getting from one airport to another can take the better part of a day. (For example, your flight from New York will arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, but your flight to Greece will leave from Orly – on the opposite side of the city.)

Also, only a handful of islands have direct flights from outside of Greece. Currently, the Greek islands that have international flights are Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Zakynthos, Crete, Lesvos, Samos, Kos, and Rhodes.

3. Fly to Athens, then fly to the islands.

Pros: More time on the islands. There are more islands you can fly to from Athens than from outside the country. For example, Milos, Naxos, Paros, and Karpathos all have flights from Athens but do not have international arrivals, so you if you want to fly to the smaller islands you’ll have to go through Athens.

Cons: You’ll miss out on island hopping by ferry. Though, of course, you can take ferries between the islands once you’re there it’s that initial trip from Athens out to the islands that’s filled with so much excitement and anticipation. Also, if you do stop in Athens it’s often easier (or just as easy) to go to the port and hop on a ferry as to make your way all the way back to the airport, go through security, and wait for your plane. When you factor in the extra time that taking a flight involves, a highspeed ferry will get you to some of the Cycladic islands nearly as fast as a flight.

4. Combine a Greek trip with a one of its neighbors to the east (Turkey) or west (Italy).

There are several options for taking ferries to or from Turkey and Italy. On the Turkish side ferries ply the waters between Lesvos and Ayvalik, Chios and Cesme, Samos and Kusadasi, Kos and Bodrum, and Rhodes and Marmaris. These boat rides vary in length but typically are about 1-3 hours long and can be booked the day prior to departure.

A fantastic itinerary might look like this: Fly into Istanbul, tour the Turkish coast, ferry to an eastern Greek island and island hop through 2 or 3 islands, ending your trip in Athens and flying home from there.

On the Italian side ferries run between the Greek island of Corfu and the Italian port towns of Ancona, Brindisi, Bari and Venice. These take between 8 and 12 hours and are often overnight ferries, so it’s best to book at least a few days in advance. Book far in advance if you want to take a vehicle or have a sleeping compartment.

What budget airlines fly to Greece?

There are a number of airlines that fly to Athens or directly to a Greek Island. Here’s a list of the most popular airlines that have at least one flight to Greece from cities and airports across Europe:

How to Travel with Kids on Greek Ferries

Ferries are one of the ingredients of what makes a trip to Greece so magical and unique. Ferry hopping around the islands — especially the Cyclades where the islands are very close to each other — is a ton of fun. And if you’re just going from one island to the next it’s very easy too.

Foot passengers usually don’t need to book far in advance – especially for ferries between islands – just buy a ticket the day before travel and hop on board. But for ferries from Piraeus (the port near Athens) to an island during high season it’s recommend to book at least a few days prior to your departure. If you’ll be in Athens for a few days before heading out to the islands this will be enough time to reserve a ticket through a local travel agent. (Pretty much any travel agent you encounter as you walk around Athens will be fine for buying tickets. You’ll see signs everywhere to buy ferry tickets so don’t worry about finding one.)

When you start doing more than a walk-on ferry ride from, say, Santorini to Mykonos, it gets more difficult. Here are some choices you may need to make for longer ferry rides:

  • Do I want to take a high speed ferry, a catamaran, or a conventional ferry? If you want to take the a high speed ferry or catamaran to or from Athens then you’ll want to book a few days or more in advance.
  • Do I want deck seating (also called 2nd class or airplane style seating) or do I want to reserve a sleeping cabin? If you want a cabin you’ll want to book a few weeks in advance.
  • Do I need to take a vehicle on board? If so, booking several weeks in advance is recommended as spots in the car garage are in short supply.

But — and here’s what makes planning a Greek vacation a little tricky — ferry schedules are almost never released more than a month or 2 in advance and buying ferry tickets from outside the country is not as easy as it could be. Figuring out the schedules and using the ticketing websites is a pain. If you’re trying to buy tickets online and feel like slamming your head into the wall don’t blame yourself – it’s confusing.

Greek Ferries for Families

  • Ticket prices on a similar ferry will always be the same between 2 ports (the prices are set by the government) but services, speeds, and amenities can vary greatly between ferries and ferry companies.
  • Most islands are connected to Athens by at least one ferry a day — even in winter.
  • A subway connects downtown Athens with the port of Piraeus making getting to your ferry cheap and easy.
  • But … the port is huge and confusing to figure out for a first timer. Plan to get to the port at least an hour before your ferry departs.
  • There are lots of places to eat and buy snacks in Piraeus before you get on your ferry.
  • A suburban train route connects the airport with the port of Piraeus where the ferries leave for the Greek islands. If you’re flying to Athens bu don’t want to visit you can almost completely bypass it.
  • Most ferries to the islands leave early in the morning so even the best executed plans will have you staying the night in Athens.
  • High speed ferriescatamarans, and Flying Dolphin hydrofoils will cost about twice the price of a conventional ferry. (Believe me, if you think keeping all the ferries straight is confusing, I know. I’m very familiar with the different types and I can just barely remember which is which.)
  • You’ll almost always be able to buy a deck ticket on any ferry to any destination. The only time it might be an issue is during the last days of July, the first days of August (especially if the month-changeover falls on a weekend) and the days leading up to the August 15 holiday when all of Greece returns to their hometown.
  • Cabins are a good option for the long overnight ferries to Crete, Rhodes and other islands far from Piraeuss (Athen’s port).
  • Check the ferry schedule closely when planning your return to Athens. This is especially important if you’re planning stops on the smaller islands. They might have only 1 ferry a day and it might not be going where you are. If you’re on a inflexible schedule make your final island (before returning to Athens) a popular island so they’ll be lots of ferries going your way.
  • Don’t assume there are ferries going between every 2 islands in Greece. Far from it. Ferries tend to move within island groups – between different Cycladic islands for example – with the most popular islands within a group serving as a hub to neighboring island groups. This makes the idea of vacationing in just one island group a good plan to follow unless you have lots of time to spare.
  • During high season from June to September there are departures to all the most popular islands every day – usually multiple departures. There are far fewer ferries in the winter months, but at all times of the year there will be the following departures:

Morning Ferries

  • Piraeus to Syros, Tinos and Mykonos
  • Piraeus to Paros, Naxos, los and Santorini
  • Piraeus to Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos and Milos

Evening overnight ferries

  • Piraeus to Hania, Crete
  • Piraeus to Heraklion, Crete
  • Piraeus to Rhodes and neighboring islands
  • Piraeus to Lesvos and Chios

The best sites for viewing ferry schedules for Greece:

The best sites for booking ferry tickets for Greece:

What are the Greek Island groups and why do they matter?

The Greek Islands are divided into several island groups. In part for administrative reasons, but more commonly for shared history and island geography. Ferries and catamarans run more frequently within island groups than between them, so don’t assume that 2 neighboring islands will have daily ferry connections if they lie in different island groups. The most popular island groups for tourists being:

Saronic Islands – a few hours by ferry from Athens. Most popular islands: Hydra, Aegina, Poros, Spetses.

Cycladic Islands – in the middle of the Agean Sea, about 4-8 hours from Athens by ferry. Most popular islands: Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Ios, Milos.

Dodecanese Islands – in the southeast of the Aegean Sea, off the southwest coast of Turkey. 10-18 hours by ferry from Athens. Most popular islands: Rhodes, Karpathos, Kos, Patmos.

Aegean Islands – off the central coast of Turkey. 8-15 hours from Athens by ferry. Most popular islands: Samos, Chios, Lesvos.

(Northern) Sporades: – in the northeastern section of the Aegean, closer to Thessaloniki and Istanbul then to Athens, 2-5 hours by ferry from Thessaloniki. Most popular islands: Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

Crete: – the biggest island in Greece and thus it’s own island group, 10-15 hours by ferry from Athens. Main Cities: Iraklio, Rethymno, Hania.

Ionian Islands: – the only group on the west side of Greece, 1 or 2 hours by ferry from the western ports of Igoumenitsa and Patras, or overnight ferry from Bari or Brindisi in Italy. Most popular islands: Corfu, Kefalonia and Zante (Zakynthos).

Travel tips & advice – Odds and Ends

Best months to visit for good weather: June, July, August, and September.

Busiest months: July and August, specifically July 15 to late August.

Cheapest destinations: Ios, Naxos, Lesvos, Chios.

Most expensive destinations: Santorini and Mykonos.

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Outlets use round two-pin plugs.

When to buy tickets to Greece:: Either really early when you can still purchase the few discounted tickets on flights or late when prices drop if holidays makers are going elsewhere. (The last 2 years have seen large discounts and falling prices for tickets to Greece in late spring and early summer.)

Suggested Itineraries

1 week recommended itinerary for Greece:

2 or 3 islands — probably in the Cyclades as they’re relatively close to Athens and ferry rides from one island to the next are short and tickets are easy to book.  The best islands in the Cyclades: Naxos, Santorini, Folegandros, Paros, Mykonos, Milos. Finish your trip with 1 full day in Athens.

2 week recommended itinerary:

Do 1 week in Crete and then the 1 week itinerary described above.

1 month recommended itinerary:

Start in Lesvos or Samos in the Aegean islands, either by direct flight or ferry from Athens. Spend a week in those two islands before moving on to the Dodecanese spending a week in Rhodes, Ikaria and Karpathos, then continue with the 2 week itinerary above.

Destinations and Planning

  • Island hopping is what it’s all about. There are so many great islands in Greece it’s almost mandatory to visit more than one. With the exception of Crete (see below) don’t limit yourself to 1 island.
  • But … don’t visit too many islands. 2 nights (3 or 4 is best) is the minimum time needed to feel like you’ve seen an island at all, don’t spread your time too thin among the islands.
  • Crete is a big island and requires at least a week to see well. If you’re on a tight schedule and want to see a bunch of different islands Crete might not be your best destination. It’s a fair distance from any other islands (and Athens) and takes a while to get around due to its size. The island could very easily keep you busy for 2 or more weeks and it has a bit of everything: arts, culture, cities, beaches, and quaint idyllic ports. If you have at least 10 days and want to visit Santorini – its closest neighbor – that might is very doable.
  • Hotels and restaurants on most islands close during the winter months. You’ll always find something open but things can be very quiet in the off season. On the less popular islands things close down even earlier in the fall and open up later in the spring. For example, Santorini will get very quiet by mid-November. The hotels and restaurants that close will start to reopen in late March. But a less popular island like Folegandros will start slowing down significantly in late September and not be completely re-opened until mid-May.
  • Depart and arrive from different cities. Having to return to the city that you first arrived in is a waste of time and money. Open-jaw tickets cost a little more but you’ll save that money by not having to buy tickets back to a place you’ve already been. Example 1) Arrive Thessaloniki travel through the Aegean and Cycladic islands and fly home from Santorini. Example 2) Arrive in Istanbul, visit the Turkish coast, ferry to a Greek island and then more ferries and islands on your way back to Athens for your flight home. Example 3) Fly to Heraklion on Crete, tour that island before visiting Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos on your way back to Athens and home. These are just a few of a number of very good routes and options – all made easier and funner by not having to return to the city that you flew into.
  • Don’t ignore Northern Greece — Thessaloniki, the Halkidiki, and the North Aegean islands are less popular than the southern destinations but have some great sights and make a great vacation destination. If you’re looking for quieter towns and secluded beaches the north is great.
  • Consider combining a vacation in Greece with a visit to a neighboring coutnry, most likely Italy or Turkey. The Ionian islands in northwest Greece are an easy overnight ferry from Italy’s eastern coast. The Sporades and Aegean islands make a good circular route with Thessalaniki in Northern Greece, Istanbul and the very popular Turkish coast and beaches.
  • The winds can be intense in summer, especially in August and especially in the Cyclades. The wind blows from the north so beaches on the south coast of an island generally are the least blustery. Naxos in particular has a long string of protected beaches on it’s southwest coast.
  • There are different spellings for the same islands and places – usually becasue of differences between their english and greek names. The ones that cause the most problems: Zante and Zakynthos are the same island, Corfu is Kerkyra, Santorini is Thira, Chania – the city in Crete – is also Hania, and Heraklion is also Iraklion. Thessalaniki and Salonika are the same city. Piraeus is the port the ferries leave from near Athens. It is often used interchangeably with Athens when discussing ferry routes.

See Also

Greece – The Complete Guide

Updated: November 28, 2017

See Also

The 2018 Greece Travel Guide

Hotels for Families

My Travel Newsletter

Cruises to Santorini

Updated: November 28, 2017

  • 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 Europe you need to stay overnight.
  • Santorini has some of the most unique and luxurious hotels anywhere. Staying here can be really 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.

Looking out a cruise ship 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 a few designated 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.

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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Italy vs Greece

Updated: November 28, 2017

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Where To Holiday: Italy or Greece?

Italy has more history, a richer range of cuisine, better cooking and food tours, and more sightseeing opportunities. Greece has better beaches, a more relaxing atmosphere (especially on the islands), and cheaper food and hotels.

Top Tip: To see both Greece and Italy you need 2 weeks minimum. If you only have 1 week to travel then pick one country and don’t do both.

Greece vs Italy – Which Is Best For A Vacation?

  • Best Beaches: Greece
    The Greek Islands are loaded with wonderful beaches (too many to count). Italy has a beautiful coastline and plenty of places to swim but not a lot of great sandy beaches.
  • History and Historical Sightseeing: Italy
    Both countries are historical gems but Italy has far more to actually see and visit, and much of it is better preserved.
  • Better Weather: Greece
    Italy and Greece have very similar weather and seasons. Warm and sunny from May to October, cool and wet from November to April. Greece does have a slightly longer summer and beach season (especially in the southern islands). And during the super hot months of July and August the Greek islands are refreshed by cooling breezes.
  • Better for Budget Travelers: Greece
    Greece tends to be a little cheaper than Italy but there’s not a huge difference in prices.
  • Better for Luxury Travelers: Tie
    Both Greece and Italy have some fantastic hotels and restaurants. Italy has more top end hotels and fine dining but nowhere beats Santorini and Mykonos for indulgent, pampered luxury.
  • Better Food: Italy
    Greece and Italy are both known for their phenomenal food and restaurants so there’s no clear winner though you will see more variety and range of styles in Italian cuisine. There are also far more cooking courses in Italy than in Greece.
  • Better for Honeymoon: Greece
    Italy is slightly better for an active honeymoon with tours, sightseeing, and multiple destinations. Greece is better for a romantic honeymoon on one or two idyllic islands.
  • Better Nightlife: Greece
    Both countries have active club and bar scenes. The nightlife in Greece is more geared towards tourists and is thus easier to find and enjoy for a visitor.
  • Better for Families: Greece
    Italians and Greeks love kids and welcome them everywhere so both countries are wonderful family destinations. Italy has more historical sightseeing so if your children are history buffs then Italy will be better. Greece has more beaches, better swimming, a slower pace, and the fantastic Greek islands for island hopping.

Should I Go To Greece or Italy?

Does Italy or Greece have the best beaches?

Best Beaches: Greece.

Does Italy or Greece have the most history?

Sightseeing, History, and Culture: Italy.

Is Italy or Greece best for a honeymoon?

Best for a Honeymoon: Greece.

Does Greece or Italy have a better nightlife for tourists?

Best for Bars, Clubs, Nightlife: Greece.

Is Italy or Greece better for foodie tourists?

Best for Food and Cooking Courses: Italy.

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Mykonos, Greece

Updated: November 28, 2017

The 2018 Mykonos Travel Guide

Mykonos Travel, Hotel, & Beach Guide.

My travel guide to Mykonos – Where to stay, when to go, and what to do. (Photo: Ornos Beach in Mykonos, Greece.)

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My Travel Newsletter

Italy and Greece Itinerary

Updated: November 28, 2017

  • One Week Itinerary: visit Greece or Italy but not both.
  • Two Weeks or More: divide time evenly between the two countries.

Travel Itinerary for Greece and Italy

One Week in Greece and Italy

7 days is not enough time to visit both Greece and Italy. Pick one and stick to it. No sense wasting time traveling between the two when time is limited. Be sure to fly into one place and fly out of a different place so you don’t spend time retracing your steps.

One Week in Greece – Itinerary
Choose one of the following (reverse order is fine):
• 1 day in Athens, 2 in Mykonos, 4 in Santorini (fly into Athens, fly out of Santorini)
• 1 day in Athens, 3 in Naxos or Paros, 3 in Santorini (fly into Athens, fly out of Santorini)
• 2 days in Mykonos, 2 in Naxos or Paros, 3 in Santorini (fly into Mykonos, fly out of Santorini)
• 4 days in Crete, 3 days in Santorini (fly into Heraklion or Chania, fly out of Santorini)

One Week in Italy – Itinerary
Choose one of the following (reverse order is fine):
• 1 day in Venice, 3 in Florence and area, 3 in Rome (fly into Venice, fly out of Rome)
• 2 days in Rome, 2 in Perugia and area, 2 in Florence and area, 1 in Venice (fly into Rome, fly out of Venice)

Two Weeks in Greece and Italy

With 14 days spend one week in Greece and one week in Italy. Use the above itinerary recommendations. Like above be sure to fly in and out of different cities. E.g. If you’re coming from London: Fly London to Venice, train to Florence, train to Rome, fly to Mykonos, ferry to Naxos, ferry to Santorini, fly Santorini to London.

Three Weeks or More in Greece and Italy

With 20 to 30 days you can visit all the must-see places: Rome, Florence, Venice, Athens, Santorini, and Crete. But also some less touristy spots: Naples, Perugia, Bologna, Naxos, Milos, and Nafplio come to mind. Both countries are loaded with wonderful destinations. And when it comes to the Greek islands you really can’t go wrong: point at the map and pick any island. I’d be shocked if you left disappointed.

The 10 Best Places To Go in Greece and Italy

Santorini, Greece in Europe

Santorini, Greece – The single best destination in Europe. Incredible views, great food, fun tours and things to do.

Crete, Greece, in Europe

Crete, Greece – The best beach in Greece is Elafonisi in southwestern Crete. The island is loaded with wonderful places to visit: Chania, Rethymnon, Samaria Gorge, Agios Nikolaos, and the top notch historical site at Knossos.

Naxos, Greece – The magical Chora (capital town) of Naxos island at dusk in the Cyclades. Above the town is the castle of Sanoudos. Naxos is filled with wonderful beaches and great local food.

Athens, Greece in Europe.

Athens, Greece – One of the greatest historical marvels in the world. Athens’ top sites are in a compact center making a 1 or 2 day visit perfect for seeing the highlights.

Mykonos, Greece in Europe.

Mykonos, Greece – The island is famous for dance clubs, nightlife, and lively beaches. But if you’re not interested the party scene is easy to avoid and the island has plenty of quiet beaches.

Rome, Italy in Europe

Rome, Italy – The best of history, food, and art all in one city. Rome is a can’t miss destination.

Florence, Italy in Europe.

Florence, Italy – My favorite place in Italy. The city could easily fill a week of sightseeing but 2 full days can allow for visits to most of the top sights. Nearby Tuscan towns (San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca) make for wonderful day trips.

Perugia, Italy in Europe.

Perugia, Italy – This is an incredible historical city and a delight to explore. Nearby towns like Orvieto, Todi, and Assisi make it a great base for exploring Umbria.

Venice, Italy in Europe.

Venice, Italy – The magical setting of Venice is one of kind. It shouldn’t be missed but a short visit (one or two days) is enough for most travelers.

Agriturismo Farm Stay in Tuscany and Umbria

Agriturismo in Italy – This is a highlight of a visit to Italy. Stay at a working farm and enjoy the local food and wine. Accommodations can range from simple and inexpensive to luxury and boutique. (Those are my boys playing in the pool at a agriturismo in Tuscany.)

Getting Between Italy and Greece

For most travelers flying will be the best way to get between Italy and Greece. There are ferries from the east coast cities of Italy (Venice, Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi) to the west coast of Greece (Patras, Igoumenitsa, Corfu, Kefalonia, and Zante) but if time is any concern these are not the best ways to get between Greece and Italy. There are no ferries from Italy to Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, or Athens.

Popular Flights Between Italy and Greece

Flights from Italy to Athens will fly year-round. Flights from Italy to the Greek Islands (Santorini, Mykonos, and Heraklion, Crete) will typically run May to October. Search Kayak.com for routes, times, and fares.
• Rome-Athens
• Rome-Santorini
• Rome-Mykonos
• Rome-Heraklion
• Milan-Athens
• Milan-Santorini
• Milan-Mykonos
• Milan-Heraklion
• Venice-Athens
• Venice-Santorini
• Venice-Mykonos
• Naples-Athens
• Naples-Santorini
• Naples-Mykonos

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Santorini Vacation Packages

Updated: November 28, 2017

Santorini hotel vacation package.

Santorini Holiday Packages: A Santorini hotel with a stunning caldera view. You probably don’t get to stay here if you book a vacation package. Book hotels and flights on your own to get the best deals and most interesting vacation.

Santorini Holiday Packages

Common Question: How do I book a Vacation Package to Santorini?
My Answer: You don’t.

You can get better vacation deals and have a more interesting holiday by booking your flight and hotel separately (more details below).

You get the dates you truly want, the flights that work best for you, the hotel with the best reviews. With packages it’s all about compromise. Agents have blocks of reservations for certain flights and certain hotels. Their goal is to squeeze you into one of those blocks. I’m not suggesting this can never workout. It can.

But Santorini is such a unique treasure this is one trip you don’t want to have a cookie-cutter experience.

The Best Websites for Booking a Santorini Vacation

  • Flights to Santorini: Kayak.com – Great site and very easy to use. (If you want a direct flight to Santorini from Europe – without going through Athens – then you’ll likely have to book a cheap budget airline like Ryan Air or Easy Jet.)
  • Hotels in Santorini: Booking.com – Reliable, easy to use website with great rates.
  • Ferries to Santorini: GTP.gr – Booking ferries more than a few days in advance is rarely necessary (so you can wait to buy most ferry tickets until after you arrive – when it’s super simple). But if you need to search for ferry schedules then this is the site to use.
  • If you’re traveling during high season (July and August) and want to book ferry tickets in advance then use the individual websites of the ferry company your using (that way there are no added fees) – Blue Star, Hellenic Seaways, Seajets.

And that’s it. It’s pretty easy.

But if you still want the names of respected travel agents that offer vacation packages to Santorini here are two of the best: Dolphin Hellas and Fantasy Travel.

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