Greece › Santorini › Vacation Guide
by Santorini Dave • Updated: January 30, 2023
- Where to Stay in Santorini
- Best Hotels in Santorini
- Maps of Santorini
- Santorini Travel Guide
- Santorini Cruises
Planning a Santorini Holiday: Expert Advice from “Santorini Dave”
Note: In 2023 flights, ferries, and most travel-related things will be nearly back to normal following the pandemic. I expect 2023 to be almost like a pre-Covid year. Do check Ferryhopper for the most up-to-date schedule for Greek ferries.
Santorini Holiday Map
Santorini Holidays – The Best Places to Stay
The hub and largest town on the island, great volcano and sunset views, moderate and luxury hotels, great restaurants, lots of nightlife, 10-minute drive to the airport.
Located at the northern tip of the island, great volcano and sunset views, moderate and luxury hotels, great restaurants, only one true bar, 25-minute drive to the airport, 15-minute drive to Fira.
Located a 10-minute walk north of Fira, great volcano and sunset views, moderate and luxury hotels, a few good restaurants, no nightlife, 15-minute drive to the airport.
Located a 25-minute walk north of Fira, great volcano and sunset views, mainly luxury hotels, several fantastic restaurants, no nightlife, 20-minute drive to the airport.
Located on the eastern side of the island (not on the caldera), pleasant sunrise and sea views, mainly moderate hotels, several good restaurants, some nightlife, 5-minute drive to the airport.
Located on the eastern side of the island (not on the caldera), pleasant sunrise and sea views, budget and moderate hotels, several good restaurants, some nightlife, 25-minute drive to the airport.
What to Do in Santorini in 1, 2, 3, or 7 Days
Holidays in Santorini – Essential Information
- Fantasy Travel – Good travel agency for planning trips to Greece and the Greek islands. (Generally, I don’t recommend using a travel agent but if you do, Fantasy is a trustworthy one.)
- There are many good cheap hotels in Santorini. But reserve early as the best budget hotels get fully booked 4 to 6 months in advance.
- What is the best time to go to Santorini Greece? April to early November is great for sightseeing, good weather, and tours. Late May to early October is best for sun and beach weather.
- Can you get an all inclusive holdiay to Santorini? Generally no. The best hotels, best deals, and cheapest flights are booked independently. Booking is easy and there’s no need to book a Santorini holiday package.
- Where should I stay in Santorini? The towns of Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani are magical and what make a Santorini visit so special. Just south of Fira is where the Kardashians stayed during their Santorini holiday.
- Is it easy to get around Santorini? Yes, very easy. The bus system is great and the main towns are very walkable. Renting a car in Santorini is easy and recommended if you want to get away from the most popular tourist spots.
- Do they speak English in Santorini? Yes, english is very common at all hotels and restaurants. Getting around without knowing Greek is no problem at all.
- Are there beaches in Santorini? Yes, most beaches are black volcanic sand and the swimming is absolutely wonderful. The best Santorini beaches are a 15 to 20 minute drive from the caldera towns.
- Which side of Santorini is better? The are two sides to Santorini. The caldera side (west) that looks into the volcano and has incredible views from the cliff-top towns. And the beach side (east) where the towns are at sea level. For most people the caldera side is better (great views, wonderful hotels, stunning sunsets). But if you want swimming, cheap hotels, and a more relaxed atmosphere then the beach side is a fine choice.
- Does Santorini have an airport? Yes, located almost directly in the middle of the island and about a 15 to 25 minute drive to most towns (by taxi, rental car, or bus).
- Which Greek island should I visit? Santorini is the most magical island in Greece. Incredible views, awesome food, luxurious hotels, great boat tours and wine tours.
- Santorini is the best Greek island for a honeymoon or romantic holiday.
- At least 3 full days in Santorini are needed for a good visit. But 5 to 7 days is what I recommend to really experience the best of Santorini.
- To get good Santorini holiday deals book hotels and flights separately. Don’t use a travel agent and don’t book a Santorini holiday package.
- Santorini Grace (in Imerovigli) and Katikies (in Oia) are fantastic places to stay and two of the best hotels in Santorini.
Santorini Holidays in 2023 – Travel Tips & Information
Santorini Weather – The Santorini climate and seasons are similar to the rest of Europe (just warmer) – hot in summer (June to September); warm in spring and fall (March to May, October, November); and cool and rainy in winter (December to February). The best time to visit Santorini is in the spring, summer, and fall. If you want beach weather with blue skies and warm temperatures then visit between late May and early October. July and August are the busiest and most expensive months, while June and September still have great weather but are less busy. If your interests are more focused around sightseeing, food, and wine then the best time to visit is from late March to early June, and late September to early November.
How to Get to Santorini From The UK & Ireland – There are direct flights to Santorini from London, Manchester, and Leeds with the majority of flights departing from London Gatwick and London Heathrow. If you’re flying from Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, or Dublin you’ll most likely connect through Gatwick or Heathrow. Airlines with the most flights to Santorini are British Airways and EasyJet. Ryan Air and Aegean Airlines also have many flights to Greece from London airports but they usually stop in Athens and are not direct. Kayak.co.uk is the best website for searching for flights and finding the best fares.
How to Get to Santorini From The USA, Canada, & Australia – There are no direct flights to Santorini from the USA, Canada, or Australia. All travel to Santorini from these countries will require flying to Athens (then fly or ferry from there) or flying to a hub in western Europe (usually London, Paris, Amsterdam, or Rome) and then fly to Athens or fly directly to Santorini. Kayak.com is the best website for searching for flights to Santorini and Greece.
Fly To Athens Then Ferry To Santorini – Since there are more flights to Athens than to Santorini (and they are often cheaper) it’s common to fly to Athens, stay one or two nights to see the sights, then ferry to Santorini. This is very easy to do and ferries are modern, safe, and run on time. Most ferries to Santorini leave in the early morning from the ferry port in Piraeus (20 minutes by train or taxi from central Athens). The best ferries to take from Athens to Santorini are the Blue Star ferries. They take longer, but offer the smoothest ride. Ferries rarely sell out for foot traffic passengers but it’s still a good idea to book tickets a few weeks in advance. Search and book tickets through Ferryhopper.com. Unless you purchase e-tickets, you’ll need to collect your paper tickets at the ticket kiosk at the ferry port. The kiosk is easy to find and a short walk from the metro station. If you take a taxi ask to be dropped at the ticket booth.
Staying In Athens – Athens is not a beautiful city (don’t be expecting Florence or Venice) but there are some wonderful sights and it’s worth one full day of sightseeing if you’re transiting through the city. The highlights of Athens are the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, and walking around the Plaka neighborhood. The most convenient and central places to stay in Athens are the Plaka, Monastiraki, and Syntagma neighborhoods. They’re all central, walking distance to the top sights, and filled with good restaurants. The best hotels in Athens are the Grande Bretagne, King George, and the Electra Palace Athens. If you want to stay close to the Monastiraki metro station (which has direct trains to the Piraeus ferry port) then 360 Degrees and A For Athens are two good (moderately priced) hotels. There are many good cheap hotels in central Athens.
Staying in Santorini
Where to Stay in Santorini – The centerpiece of Santorini is the caldera (the cliffs surrounding the ancient volcano). The main towns along the caldera are Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia and this is where most visitors should stay for awesome views and lots to do and see. Fira is the largest town on Santorini and the hub of the bus system (making it easy to get to any other part of the island). Stay in Fira for shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Firostefani is a 10-minute walk north of Fira. It’s much quieter than Fira but still close enough to almost feel like the same town. There are dozens of restaurants and several food markets in Firostefani but no bars or shopping. Imerovigli is another 15 minutes north of Firostefani. Imerovigli has the best views of any place in Santorini. It has a secluded, romantic atmosphere. There are a half-dozen excellent restaurants in Imerovigli, a few markets, but no shopping or nightlife. Oia is at the far northwest tip of the island and feels separated from the rest of the island. It has lots of shopping and places to eat and one small (but lively) bar. Like Imerovigli, it has a romantic vibe but is much busier and feels like a real town. These are the best hotels in Santorini and Booking.com is the best website for booking a place to stay.
The Beach Towns Of Santorini – The beaches of Santorini are found on the opposite side of the island from the caldera. (Cliffs and caldera on one side, beaches on the other.) So visitors need to choose between a caldera view or a beach hotel – you can’t have both. As I said above, I would recommend staying on the caldera side as the views of the volcano and sunset are what make Santorini so unique. But it’s perfectly reasonable to stay near a beach then explore the caldera towns through the day. The primary beach towns are Kamari and Perissa. Kamari has a more touristy feel with a pleasant beach-front walkway and plenty of restaurants within a concentrated area. Perissa has a bit more of a party/hippy vibe and is a long strip of beach with hotels and restaurants spread along 3 or 4 kms (at some indistinct point Perissa turns into Perivolos but it all feels like one long beach town). Both Kamari and Perissa have pebble beaches but Perissa is more sandy and gets sandier still as you move south towards Perivolos. Swimming at both beaches is wonderful and incredibly refreshing.
Staying In Fira – Best hotels in Fira with caldera views: Aria Suites (luxurious family-friendly hotel) • Cosmopolitan Suites (trendy hotel with incredible infinity pool) • Kavalari (inexpensive hotel with gorgeous views). Good cheap hotel in Fira: San Giorgio (central location close to shops and restaurants, friendly owner, clean rooms).
Staying In Firostefani – Best hotels in Firostefani with caldera views: Tsitouras Collection (elegant and charming, helpful friendly owners) • Belvedere • Homeric Poems (stunning location and views). Good cheap hotel in Firostefani: Hotel Sofia (central location on main footpath, nice small pool).
Staying In Imerovigli – Best hotels in Imerovigli with caldera views: Grace Santorini (the best hotel in Santorini, wonderful pool, views, restaurant, everything) • Astra Suites (nice pool and friendly vibe, good privacy) • Cavo Tagoo (brand new, trendy, stunning). Good cheap hotel in Imerovigli: Imerovigliosso (friendly owner, good breakfast, small pool).
Staying In Oia – Best hotels in Oia with caldera views: Katikies Hotel (trendy, fun hotel with great infinity pools) • Canaves (luxurious and relaxing) • Perivolas (quiet are of Oia, 5-star everything) • Oia Castle (charming suites, sunset views). Good cheap hotel in Oia: Anemomilos.
Santorini Activities & Attractions
Best Restaurants In Santorini – Roka (Oia) • Ammoudi Fish Taverna (Ammoudi, below Oia) • Athenian House (Imerovigli) • Anogi (Imerovigli) • Avocado (Imerovigli) • Ouzeri (Fira) • Naoussa (Fira) • Lucky’s Souvlaki (Fira) • Metaxy Mas (Exo Gonia) • Cava Alta (Pyrgos)
Best Bars In Santorini: Tropical (Fira, great views and sunsets) • Kira Thira Jazz Bar (Fira, small club, cool vibe) • Two Brothers (Fira, fun, & friendly) • Koo Bar (Fira, best for dancing) • Hasapiko (Oia, the only true bar in Oia)
Best Things to Do in Santorini: Fira to Oia Hike • Visit Akrotiri • Swim at Ammoudi Bay.
Best Tours In Santorini: Half-day Wine Tour • 5-Hour Sunset Cruise • 6-Hour Best of Santorini • 5-Hour Photography Tour
Travel Tips for a Santorini Vacation
Best Views on Santorini: Imerovigli has incredible views of both the sunset and caldera (the volcano). Fira has great views of the caldera but its views of the sunset can be obstructed by the smaller islands to the west. (Imerovigli is at a higher elevation than Fira and doesn’t have this problem.) Views from Oia are dependent on where you are. Generally, the locations on the south end of Oia look into the caldera and do not see the sunset. Locations on the northwest side of Oia see the sunset but do not have a clear view of the caldera.
• More Information: The Best Views on Santorini
Best Sunset Views (Restaurant): Elinikon Taverna in Oia. Reserve a table a day in advance and go for drinks and shared plates. Views are amazing. In Imerovigli the Athenian House has an amazing view (and great food).
Best Sunset Views (Hotel): Imerovigli has the best sunset views and Absolute Bliss has wonderful views and not as expensive or hard to book as Grace. It’s one of the hotels with the highest elevation and has clear uninterrupted views of the setting sun. Good swimming pool too (though not an infinity pool).
• More information: The Best Hotels on Santorini with Sunset Views
Best Beaches in Santorini: The beaches are on the opposite side of the island from the caldera and thus do not have views of the volcano. Kamari and Perissa are the most popular beach towns on Santorini. Kamari has more restaurants, shops, and bars. Perissa has a nicer beach and more of a backpacker vibe. But both places are very laid-back and cheaper than the towns along the caldera.
• More information: The Best Beaches on Santorini
Best Luxury Hotels in Santorini: My favorite hotels on Santorini are Grace Santorini (Imerovigli) and Katikies (Oia).
• More information: The 42 Best Hotels on Santorini
Best Cheap Hotels in Santorini: The bad news is that many hotels on Santorini are expensive. The good news is that even the cheapest hotels are good. They’re simple and clean, well maintained, and run by friendly owners who go out of their way to be helpful. Some of my favorite inexpensive hotels are Pelican Hotel (Fira), Anemomilos Hotel Apartments (Oia), Blue Dolphin Apartments (Firostefani), and Narkissos Hotel (Kamari) – but there are many good inexpensive hotels.
• More information: The 40 Best Cheap Hotels on Santorini
Cheap Package Holidays to Santorini: Package holidays to Santorini are generally a bad deal and should be avoided. It’s much better to book flight and hotel separately. You’ll get better value and stay at better (more interesting) hotels than if you booked a Santorini holiday deal. (Note: there are few alternatives to Thomas Cook now that they’ve gone out of business.)
All-Inclusive Holidays to Santorini: There are no all-inclusive resorts in Santorini. And even if there was I would not recommend them as eating lunch and dinner at Santorini’s great restaurants is a highlight of a Santorini vacation. Most hotels do provide breakfast with any booked room.
Last Minute Holidays to Santorini: Finding last minute flights and hotels is often possible but the very best hotels will be fully booked months in advance. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a great holiday just know you probably won’t be staying at one of the 5-star hotels along the caldera.
Self Catering Holiday to Santorini: Some Santorini hotels with kitchens do exist but there aren’t many and they get booked well in advance. Renting a Santorini villa is probably best if cooking and having access to a kitchen is important.
Book Hotels As Early As You Can: Hotels sell out very early on Santorini. Most hotels (from budget to luxury) are small and have just 5 to 20 rooms. Many hotels can be fully booked by April for dates in July and August. And once you have booked something, don’t worry about the hotel you’ve picked. I hear from more people that are fretting about this little detail or that little concern. I’ve never stayed at a bad hotel on Santorini – so stop worrying. This is vacation. Do your best to plan a great trip, but once the details are arranged just go with it and have fun. Worrying doesn’t get you anywhere.
• More information: How to Book Hotels in Greece
An Introduction to Santorini
Getting Started – 7 Steps to Planning a Santorini Holiday
1. When To Go on Santorini Holiday
The best months to visit Santorini are from June to September when the weather is warm and sunny and the sea is great for swimming. Late April, May, October, and early November are good times if your interests tend more towards sightseeing than swimming and suntanning.
• More information: The Best Time of Year to Visit Santorini
2. Getting To Santorini
Most people arrive in Santorini by either ferry from Athens or another island (often Mykonos or another island in the Cyclades). But you can also fly, usually from Athens.
The best way to search for and book ferries to Santorini is through Ferryhopper.com.
The best ferry to take to Santorini is the Blue Star. It’s slower than the high speed ferries but costs half as much and has an open-air deck that allows for an incredible view of Santorini as you move through the center of the volcano and stare up at the imposing cliffs. (The high-speed ferries do not have decks and the windows are often covered in salt with limited views.) The sea can be rough any time of year and the Blue Star ferry has the most stable ride during windy weather due to it’s size.
For the great views of the island you want to arrive during daylight hours. The best ferry (the Blue Star) departs from the Athens’ ferry port in Piraeus at 7:25am, 7 days a week.
If you’re coming to Greece from Europe you can fly directly to Santorini on a budget airline. If you’re coming from outside Europe you’ll most likely fly to Athens first and then either ferry to Santorini or fly to Santorini on Olympic Air.
- Search for Ferries to Santorini (Blue Star ferries are recommended)
- Search for Flights to Santorini (international flights to Europe and Greece)
- Flights to Greece
- Athens to Santorini by Ferry
- Mykonos to Santorini by Ferry
- Crete to Santorini by Ferry
Also, cruises to Santorini suck. If you’re over 85 and the only way you can see Santorini is on a cruise – great! But for anyone born after World War I, please don’t come to Santorini on a cruise. You only get a brief stay on the island and it really doesn’t do it justice. (This applies to other islands too, but especially for Santorini because it’s so unique.)
3. Picking A Town
The west side of Santorini is a cliff that looks out into the caldera (i.e. the volcano). The towns on the caldera side are Fira (the hub of the island with the most shops, clubs, and restaurants), Firostefani (a short walk to Fira but quieter), Imerovigli (the best views on Santorini), and Oia (romantic with great sunsets).
The other side of the island (the east side) slopes towards the sea and has all the island’s beaches. It does not have the great views that you probably associate with Santorini. The beach resorts here are Kamari (nice family-friendly vibe with a pedestrian boardwalk), Perissa (nicest sand of any beach on Santorini), and Perivolos (a quieter extension of Perissa). They all have lots of hotels, a fun easy-going atmosphere, and lots of sun chairs along the sand. Kamari and Perissa are divided by a massive mountain of rock and there are shuttle boats between them that run every hour or so. The boats also go to a few other popular beaches (e.g. Red Beach) that don’t have accommodations.
4. Booking Hotels
The best advice I have is to book your hotel early (5 to 8 months in advance if possible). The best hotels fill early. The good cheap hotels fill early. The hotels with the best views fill early. (I think you get the idea.)
For last-minute hotels you have 2 choices: Use Booking.com to find available rooms (it searches 100s of hotel websites to find the best deals), or take one of the offers from the hotel owners that will greet you as you walk off the ferry. These hotels are usually small family-owned affairs a long way from the center of things – but they’re better than sleeping on a bench outside a cafe.
5. Getting Around Santorini
Bus is the easiest and cheapest way to get around Santorini. Buses are air-conditioned with lots of luggage storage. They cost about €2 a trip (a little more from the ferry port to Fira). The hub of the bus network is Fira so most trips that don’t begin or end in Fira will require changing buses in Fira.
There will be a bus waiting for all ferry arrivals regardless of the time. Buses also stop at the airport though this can require a wait of 30 minutes to an hour depending on the schedule. In the summer months buses run from Fira back to the beaches until well past midnight.
Private car service is an excellent, pre-booked way to get from the airport or ferry port to your hotel. Larger parties can be accommodated (taxis take only four passengers) and child car seats are available on request. My favorite private car service on Santorini is Welcome Pickups.
Renting a car is an excellent way to get away from the crowds and see the island at your own speed. Buses go almost everywhere but if you want to see more than one attraction in one day then figuring out bus schedules and changing buses gets tiring very quickly. Most cars have a standard transmission, so book far in advance if you want an automatic.
Scooters and ATV’s are available from many travel agencies around the island.
- How to Rent a Car on Santorini
- Santorini Bus Schedule
- Reserve a Taxi (pre-booking not necessary from the ferry port, but recommended from airport)
- Private Car Service (Welcome Pickups)
- Rental Cars on Santorini (recommended website)
6. The Best Things to Do on Santorini
Some Greek islands have little else besides the beach but Santorini is loaded with lots of great activities. Here are my top 5:
- Watch a sunset from Oia – Large crowds assemble every evening to drink wine and watch the sun disappear. Elinikon Taverna has beautiful views if you prefer to sit and drink.
- Do a boat tour of the volcano and the small islands in the caldera.
- Swim at Amoudi Bay beneath Oia. There is no beach here but jumping from the rocks is the best swimming spot on Santorini.
- Walk the path from Fira to Oia along the caldera’s cliff. It takes about 2 to 3 hours and has incredible views. This is many people’s highlight of their visit to Santorini.
- Tour a local winery. Santorini is known for its wine and the tours here are tons of fun with great scenery.
7. Where to Eat on Santorini
For 4 wonderful meals that perfectly complement each other and give a great overview of Santorini cuisine I would eat at Metaxi Mas (one of the best restaurants in Greece, reservations mandatory), Naoussa in Fira (great local tavern with traditional Greek food, a friendly atmosphere, and great views), and Ammoudi Fish Taverna in Ammoudi Bay (fresh seafood in the fisherman’s port below Oia).
And the most important tip: Just Go!
I doubt anyone will say at the end of their life, “My biggest regret is that trip to Santorini. We never should have went. I wish we spent that money on some furniture.”
You’ll remember a trip to Santorini for the rest of your life.
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
– Saint Augustine
Hi Dave, Big fan of your website. My husband and I are planning a trip for May for our anniversary. We know for sure that we want to spend about 6/7 days in Santorini, leaning toward Oia. Coming from Boston, we are most likely going to fly through Athens to Santorini. What other island should we include after Santorini?
We have been to Mykonos already so are looking for perhaps a different suggestion, for about 2-3 days. We are also hoping to spend a few days in Amsterdam at the end and fly home from there.
Naxos (great beaches and traditional vibe), Paros (beaches and trendy vibe), and Sifnos (quieter and great hikes) are all wonderful choices for a 2 or 3-day visit. But there are so many. All are great and can’t really go wrong.
Good afternoon Dave. When would you recommend booking a Santorini holiday vacation package for August?
The sooner the better. If you see something you like, book it. Prices (generally) do not go down, they go up – this applies to flights, hotels, and holiday packages.
This website is super useful, thank you. I am organising my honeymoon for this summer and want to book my ferries in advance between Santorini and Paros and then Paros to Mykonos. Do you recommend Hellenic Seaways over Seajet ferries? Hellenic are double the cost (£44 rather than £22) but if it is worth it, i will book the more expensive.
I prefer Hellenic and find them more reliable (though this is anecdotal more than based on hard evidence). If the costs were the same I would recommend Hellenic. Is it worth double the price for a slight increase in reliability? That’s hard to answer.
The Santorini Water Taxi running from the Old Port to Oia, are they still operational?
I have been reading on the old port and the cable car situation to go up to Fira and back again to tender boats can be very crowded, meaning hours waiting in line. Do you know if the water taxis from Old Port to Oia still exist. To avoid the cable car to Fira. The reason I am asking, there is a mix of information as to whether they are still operational or not.
Any information will be helpful.
The reason you can different answers is because the situation is always changing and inconsistent. It can change by year, it can change by day, it can change depending on how many people are wanting the service, or if the boats have been hired to do something else. In reality, you’ll just have to wait until you get tendered ashore (to the Old Port) and follow the signs to the water taxi to enquire.
Thank you so much for putting so much effort into your blog! It is very resourceful! We are planning our trip for June 2nd-6th. At which point we will then head over to Catania to begin the Sicily/Italy party of our vacation.
I have a couple of questions. My favorite thing to do is enjoy hot springs. I am used to springs as hot as 105 (Fahrenheit) I am looking at staying at the Kavalari Hotel, based on your recommendation, however is there another hotel/spa that offers such a hot springs experience? It’s not a deal-breaker as it is more important to me to be centrally located to Santorini attractions (dining, shopping and other attractions) but I just thought I’d ask you for a recommendation. I also love the idea of a hotel owner meeting us at the ferry, is there such a hotel that you would recommend or is the Kavalari Hotel has this type of owner?
thank you in advance for your help,
Not sure what you mean by “hot springs experience”. You need to take a boat tour to access the hot springs and (to the best of my knowledge) Kavalari does not offer such a tour (few hotels do). All hotels (including Kavalari) will have easy access to booking a hot springs tour. Most hotels will meet you at the ferry though it almost always involves a charge. (San Giorgio is an exception – pretty sure they’ll pick you up for free if you contact them a few days before arrival.)
Ferries in May.
We have a flight booked from the UK on 7th May to Santorini, hotel booked six nights. We would then like to get the ferry to Paros on the 13th May, then ferry to Naxos 18th May, then ferry to Mykonos 23rd May, flight booked for home on 26th May. As we don’t have any accommodation booked for the other islands yet, we could go to Naxos first then Paros whatever fits in with the ferry routes. We can see some ferry dates but not all, do the ferries all operate on the dates we require, or is it still a bit early. We feel we cannot book hotels because we don’t know which island we will be in after Santorini. Hope you can give us some advise with regards to ferries. Do you think we will have enough time in Mykonos? Two full days and part of day after arriving on ferry.
The best order (for ferries) is Santorini to Naxos to Paros to Mykonos. Getting/booking ferries on this route will not be a problem in May. You could book the morning of travel and 95% chance you’d be fine, so do not worry about getting space on these ferries if you plan to book a month or two in advance. Book hotels now and ferries after you confirm accommodation dates (you might find you have to fiddle with your itinerary to get the hotels you want). Since you have 13 nights for the three islands I would do 4 on Paros, 5 on Naxos, and 4 on Mykonos unless you’d really like to avoid the busier scene on Mykonos.
I am planning a trip to Santorini next year (August). I’m wanting to book soon, but am nervous about the visa/additional documents getting into the country.
My understanding is I don’t need a visa for Greece (I’m a US citizen) if I’m going to be there for less than 90 days. Is this right? So my take away is that all I need is my passport.
You’re right. At present, you don’t need a visa for Greece, just be sure your passport has at least 6 months of validity remaining after your last day of travel in Europe (i.e. your passport expires at least 6 months after the day you return to the U.S.).
Note: This could change soon for Americans when they might need a visa to enter the EU.
Dave, my daughter and I are arriving on the 25th September, she did all the booking, but I’m worried as she’s booked us in Akritori. Are we going to struggle to get around? Thanks, Jo.
Struggle is probably overstating it but it’s not a central location for exploring the island. I would recommend getting a rental car (though even that has its hassles). Buses run every half-hour to Fira and take 20 minutes. To get to Oia it’s another 20 minute bus ride from Fira.
Hi, I’m travelling to Santorini in few days time. Do you recommend me to book the sunset cruise tour in advance or I booked it only when I arrive? I heard the tour is quite popular. Will they be fully booked?
Yes, I would book in advance. They do sell out for most days.
Hi Dave, My wife and I are going to a wedding in Santorini on the 24 August and using this as our summer holiday but I’m concerned 2 weeks may be too long as we aren’t the beach type.
I’d considered staying elsewhere and taking a ferry over but could I get a place to stay overnight in August as I can’t find any late evening ferries.
Have you any other ideas?
Santorini is not your typical beach-island (like most Greek islands). It has a lot to see and do and its main appeal is sightseeing, sunset watching, great food, and boat and wine tours. There is plenty of activities on the island to easily fill one week. With two weeks visiting another island (Crete or Naxos/Paros/Folegandros/Mykonos are all great options) is recommended. In any case, not sure what you’re asking exactly. Could you get a place to stay overnight in August? Yes, of course, but that’s probably not your real question.
I have booked an island hopping holiday in late September for 2 weeks, but ferries from the Cyclades Islands to Rhodes seem to finish up in mid September. Do you know of any other way to get to Rhodes besides going back up to Athens and flying to Rhodes?
There is a Blue Star that runs from Syros to Rhodes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until October 31. It departs Syros at 22:50 and arrives in Rhodes at 10:10am the following morning. There are good connections to Syros from most Cycladic islands and Syros itself is a wonderful island with a thriving capital city.
My friends and I will be in Santorini from 20th until 25th of July. We have booked an hotel in Karterados and I’ve read that it takes like 20-25 minutes walk to Fira. Is it true?
Also, please recommend some wonderful bars or clubs we can go and have a drink in Fira.
Yes, it’s about a 20 minute walk with sidewalks most of the way. Lots of buses run on this route too (which will get you close to your hotel). Best bars in Fira are 2 Brothers (crazy and fun), Tropical (views and chill vibe), and Kira Thira Jazz Bar (hip and trendy).
My friend and I will be visiting Santorini in July this year am are thinking of traveling by foot (mostly) to wherever possible. We are staying around the Ammoudi area but would love to visit the red beach, black beach, etc. Is there any easy way to get there? Would it be walkable and easy to navigate around?
Getting from Oia to the black sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa by bus is easy (though will take almost an hour). These are both walkable areas (Perissa/Perivolos beach have more walking if that’s what you’re looking for) and there’s a boat that runs between them about every hour. Or you can walk over the mountain that divides them and see Ancient Thira. Red Beach is harder to get to (not as many buses) and not nearly as much to walk around and explore.
We are looking for a private tour guide. We had an amazing one on our Amalfi trip last year. We saw places that were local that we never would have seen. Do you recommend any tour companies in Santorini, Mykonos or Athens? Lesli
The private custom tour of Santorini is very good. It’s 4.5 hours long and they’ll take you to the highlights or let you choose the sights you want. Includes hotel pickup and drop off.
First of all, great site! I have two questions regarding transportation I hope you can help me with.
Me and my girlfriend will arrive to Santorini (by plane) upon the 8 July quite late (around 21:00-22:00) and we have booked a hotel in Firostefani (Homeric Poems). Is there a possibility to catch a bus or what type of transportation would you recommend? Pre-book a taxi?
We will also take a ferry to Naxos upon the 12 July and go back to Santorini on the 15 July . What is the easiest and most reliable way to book/order ferry tickets? Online? When we arrive? Pre-book and collect before departure?
The last bus from the airport to Fira is at 22:10 in summer. If you catch it, you’ll still have to switch buses in Fira (get the bus going to Oia, last one goes at 23:00) then get off in Firostefani. It’s a 5 minute walk from the bus stop to Homeric Poems. Or just get a taxi. There should be some waiting at the airport though this is never a certainty. Taxi will cost about 20€. Or get Homeric Poems to pick you up in their shuttle bus. And they’ll carry your luggage for you, but they do charge 35€ (45€ to the ferry port). There are 9 ferries from Santorini to Naxos on July 12 so you’ll be fine waiting until after your arrival to purchase tickets.
Looking for reviews of Thomson Holidays and came across your site. Have you taken Thomson Holidays to Santorini? It seems like Thomson has good deals for Santorini. We would like a caldera view hotel – preferably 4 or 5 star. Should we book with Thomson for Santorini?
I don’t recommend using Thomson for Santorini. Thomson Holidays is fine for other destinations but in Santorini your hotel is a huge part of your trip – the view, the town, the location. If you’re going to Florence (for example) it’s fine to use Thomson because where you stay isn’t a deal breaker. But in Santorini it can make a huge difference. You don’t want an average hotel with no view. You’re much better off planning the trip yourself (use Kayak for flights and Booking for hotels). It’s easy and worth the little bit of extra effort.
Is it cheaper to fly from Heathrow or Gatwick to Santorini? Would we be better of flying to Athens or Santorini? (Seems like flights to Athens are cheaper than Santorini.)
EasyJet has the cheapest flights from London to Santorini and they fly from Gatwick. Yes, flights are usually a little cheaper to Athens but if your only concern is price (not seeing Athens) then it will cost more to go via Athens as the ferry to Santorini will almost certainly be more than the savings from the cheaper flight.
Is Fira or Oia a cheaper place to stay?
Your decisions (where to eat, choice of hotel, and how much alcohol you drink) will matter much more than Fira or Oia. There’s not a huge difference but Fira has a larger grocery store (with more selection), more cheap hotels, and slightly cheaper restaurants. Also, bus trips to around the island will only require one ticket from Fira, whereas from Oia you’ll need two tickets (one to Fira, one onwards) to get to most places.
Hi Dave! So glad I stumbled onto your website. I will be in Greece in September/October. My itinerary starts in Athens for 2 nights, then ferry and 4 nights in Mykonos, then was thinking a ferry for a week to Santorini, and taking a super cheap 1230am flight from JTR back to ATH just in time to catch my 625am back to the states on October 12.
Before I book my ferry/additional plane tickets, do you think 7 days is too long on Santorini? Would you suggest going somewhere else after Mykonos for a few days and then ending in Santorini?
It’s easy to fill 7 days in Santorini so I wouldn’t fret. That said, both Naxos and Paros are on direct ferries from Mykonos and to Santorini so a stop there for 1 or 2 nights is easy to do. And they’re wonderful islands.
Hey, I went to Santorini in 3 years ago and already had cash Euros when I arrived, so I never had to use an ATM or bank. This time I am wondering should I bring all cash or do more places take cards now?
Arrive with a good amount of euro (say, enough for 2 or 3 days) but otherwise I would use ATMs for cash as needed – they’re everywhere. Many places take credit card but owners do prefer cash.
Hi Dave! When flying from santorini to Athens is taking an 11am flight getting you there for 12pm on a Sunday enough time for a international flight out of Athens at 2:15pm? The only other option is a flight at 9 arriving to Athens at 9:45. What do you think?
It’s possible, maybe even likely, that you’d make the connection, but personally I would take the earlier flight.
We are arriving in Santorini by plane which arrives at 4.20pm and then taking a ferry in the (same) evening to Folegandros (7.15pm). Rather than going straight to the port from the airport, assuming our flight lands on time (we are hand luggage only) I was debating whether it is possible to do a ‘scenic route’ by taxi to the port and take in the Caldera/Fira on the way (appreciating it is not really on the way). Is this at all plausible? Or should I give up the ghost and go straight to the port…
There is not much to see of the caldera from a car window. Your best bet is to make a stop at Santo Winery (almost directly on the way from the airport to the ferry port) for a few glasses of wine, perhaps dinner, and awesome views of the caldera. It’s a big patio with plenty of seating so it’ll be easy to find a spot for your luggage. Be sure to arrange your transport from the winery to the port when you arrive at the winery (perhaps with the driver that brought you to the winery) as just before a ferry it can be hard to find taxis on the island.
Thanks for your very helpful site which has led to me booking Santorini via your links.
Could I ask if the ferries are reasonably reliable, as I wanted to take the Blue star ferry from Naxos to Santorini arriving at 1450h and fly out from Santorini at 1845h. I know problems can happen at last minute but just wanted to check if this is a sensible thing to do.
Also does the Taverna Katina serve any non-seafood dishes? I know it is odd to ask this of a seafood place but one of our party does not eat any fish or seafood whereas everyone else is keen to go to the Katina so thought I would check before the poor guy goes hungry.
thanks once again for a most excellent site.
Yes, the Blue Star ferries are usually reliable. Even if it was an hour late getting in you’d still have time to get to the airport. Katina has many small dishes (greek salad, humus, dips, soup) that are vegetarian but not much in the way of main entrees.
Hi Dave, your blog *is* insanely helpful! Our 12 year-old loves history and mythology. We’re looking at a ~10 day trip this summer (2 days Athens – 4 days Santorini – 4 days Crete). I know you generally recommend at least a week on Crete, but we’d love to hit all three places. We’re active and don’t mind walking but appreciate being centrally located.
1) Would you recommend visiting Santorini-Crete in a specific order (as in Santorini, then Crete, or vice versa)?
2) Any thoughts on Hera hotel in Athens? We prefer boutique accommodations, with breakfast. I’m also looking at Grand Bretagne/King George as they both have pools. Do you have a better recommendation?
3) How about the Santorini Palace in Firostefani? I can’t tell if this offers any views, but it came highly recommended.
Thanks so much for your attention and time!
1. Ferries go from Crete to Santorini in the morning and from Santorini to Crete in the late afternoon. One of those might suit your plans better but otherwise no big difference.
2. Hera Hotel is a good hotel in a great location.
3. Santorini Palace has a nice pool (it’s main pro) but no caldera views.
Do you know of any companies that would offer a two centre holiday from UK (Crete 7 nights and Santorini 7 nights)
whereby you would fly from UK to Heraklion and after an inter-island ferry between the islands would then fly back to the UK direct from Santorini? Your help and knowledge would be appreciated.
No, sorry, I don’t. Most only offer one-island vacation packages. FYI, it’s always better to book hotels and flight independently. Better hotels and better rates than through a package. It does take a little more work and research but still pretty easy and very much worth the effort. Good luck.
Great blog! I am hoping to travel to Athens, Nafplio and Santorini in June for 10 days. For Santorini, I am staying in Imerovigli for 6 days.
I have heard mixed reviews on daily budget for Santorini. On average what would you recommend for Santorini for daily budget excluding accommodation?
Anything between 30€ and 300€ is possible. I know that’s not very helpful but it’s completely dependent on where you’re eating, how much you’re drinking, and whether breakfast is included in your hotel (it will be at most luxury places and not at the cheaper places).
Dave is Akrotiri to far to walk to other parts of Santorini, especially along the caldera, like Imerovigli and Fira? My wife and I thought it would be better staying there as its not as compacted and crowded. We love walking, and are fit. We have obviously never been to Santorini.
Thanks, Rod Clark
It’s about 10 km from the Akrotiri hotels (on the caldera) to Fira, so distance-wise it’s doable. The problem is the busy narrow roads with no sidewalks. From Villa Irini north (about 3 km) there’s a sidewalk that runs along the caldera road. If you stayed in Imerovigli or the hotels north of there you’d have the same solitude but an enjoyable walk to Fira (2.5 km) and a great hike north to Oia (10 km).
Thank you so much for supplying so much great information about Santorini! My fiancée and I will be honeymooning in Santorini during the third week of April and would love to get onto one of the volcano adventures/tours that you have listed, however it seems many of the tours you recommend do not offer trips during April. Do you know of any one who would offer a volcano trip during that time?
If you enter your dates on Get Your Guide you’ll see there are several available caldera tours that run in April.
I’d love to do both Santorini & Mykonos but have three little ones in tow. We have to travel in school holidays and the will be 5, 3 & 20months. Can you recommend places to stay, preferably caldera view/side?
Thanks so much, Rachael Baggott
Try the apartment at Strogili Houses.
I’m planning a trip in May 27 -June 5th of this year to Santorini. I would like to know if there is a island on the way to Santorini good to stay for a overnight?
Naxos and Paros make the most natural stops. But really any island will do, as most will have direct ferries to Santorini (although it might be a different ferry/route than the one you arrived on).
Hi Dave! Is it cheaper to fly from Athens to Santorini or take the ferry? I am coming in September.
Ferry is cheaper but if book a flight early and get a good fare the difference can be small.
Hi Dave, we have the opportunity for a week off in October this year (14th – 21st) and would like to go to Santorini with our 9 year old daughter. Do you think it would be too late to go? We would like to take some tours and such, any recommendations? We are thinking of Astra Suites in Imerovigli because of heated pool?
Sandra, Stephen & Sadie
Mid-October is great on Santorini. Swimming at the beach can be chilly (some years) but for tours and sightseeing it’s a wonderful time.
My wife and I are going to Santorini for two weeks at the end of May, I am a keen amature photographer, are there any locations that I should not miss?
If it’s within your budget I would highly recommend this photography tour of Santorini.
My husband and I are visiting Greece in May, this year, with one full day in Athens when we arrive and one extra day there before we depart. The majority of our stay from May 7-11 will be staying on Crete near Heraklion. We’d like to visit Santorini, but looking for advice on whether we should stay a night in Santorini to extend beyond the confines of just a day trip via high speed ferry (not sure what we can accomplish in just a day). We’d also love any tips on best things to do while in Crete as well as our full two days in Athens between the front and back end of our trip.
Staying overnight in Santorini is definitely the way to go – you’ll see much more than the short day trip allows. In Crete the highlights are Knossos, Chania, and Elafonisi beach. For Athens read Best Things To Do in Athens.
Hey Dave! I’m planning a trip in February next year. What is there to in Santorini? I’m planning on spending 4 days in Santorini and 3 days in Athens. How about the weather? Looking forward to your reply! Thank you again for your time!
Most tours will not be running but still great to visit ancient Akrotiri, Ancient Thera, the archaeological museum in Thira, and, of course, walk the path from Fira to Oia (or at least to Imerovigli). Weather will be cool with some rain and likely overcast (but rain and cloud are not a certainty – can be cool and clear too).
My wife and I are going to Santorini in June. What are your thoughts on Aeolos Hotel and Spa? Also what is the best way of transportation while there, car (we need an automatic), vespa or ATV? Can we use USD or Euros. And to be clear British Airways on flies to JTR on Wed and Sundays? We prefer a direct flight in vs taking a ferry. Thanks for your help Dave.
Aeolos is nice. Not 5 star but great views (though no direct sunset views) and on the southern side of Imerovigli so makes Fira an easy 10/12 minute walk away. Car is best if you want to explore the island. Euros are much better than USD. This year British Airways will have 4 to 7 flights per week from London to Santorini (but never Mondays).
We are planning our honeymoon and spending the first 5 days in Mykonos before we go to Santorini. We are looking for a luxury hotel with a great beach, but also a fun area closeby with some nightlife. Is Blu the best choice?
For nightlife (that goes past midnight) you’ll need to go into Mykonos Town, but yes there’s a lively bunch of beach bars and restaurants through the day and evening (assuming you’re there in summer).