- Day trips to Santorini from Athens, Mykonos, Crete, or other nearby islands are usually not worth the time and effort. Staying on Santorini for several nights is awesome. Visiting for a few hours in the middle of the day (on a day trip) is hectic and busy.
- Just about all of the best tours and things to do in Santorini require staying overnight. There is not enough time to do the top attractions when you visit on a day trip from another island.
- 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 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
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 (highly recommended), a wine tour of the local wineries (highly recommended), or hike from Fira to Oia along the caldera (highly recommended) 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.
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
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
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.
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 best things to do on a Santorini Day Trip – there’s lots to do but with little time you’ll be limited.
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.