Updated: December 1, 2016
13 travel tips to make your Santorini trip thrilling, amazing, fun, and easy.
- 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.
- Best Sunset Views (Restaurant): Sunsets Cafe in Oia. Reserve a table a day in advance and go for drinks (the food is ok but not incredible). 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 is the best of the best. 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 Infinity Pools on Santorini
- When To Go: The best time to visit Santorini for beach weather is late May to early October. For sightseeing it’s a longer seasons: late March to late November. My favorite month of all is September when the weather is still wonderful, the crowds have thinned a little from the peak of July and August, and the sea water is at its warmest.
More information: Best Time to Visit Santorini
- Where To Stay: If you want to be in the thick of the action then stay in Fira – it has the most restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. If you want a less-frenetic town yet still active and charming with many places to eat and shop then Oia. If you want quiet and romantic solitude then Imerovigli. They all have wonderful views.
More information: The Best Towns on Santorini
- The Best Beaches on 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
- What Hotel To Stay At (Luxury): My favorite hotels on Santorini are Grace Santorini (Imerovigli) and Katikies (Oia).
More information: The 17 Best Hotels on Santorini
- What Hotel To Stay At (Budget): The bad news is that 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: 21 Cheap Hotels on Santorini
- Things To Do On Santorini: My top 3 things to do would be visit the old port of Amoudi below Oia (eat at one of the tavernas and swim from the nearby rocks – the best swimming spot on the island), do a boat tour of the volcano and nearby islands, and make the walk from Fira to Oia along the caldera.
More information: The Best Things To Do on Santorini
- Where To Eat: Enjoy local Greek traditional cuisine at Naoussa in Fira. Delicious and great value. Taverna Katina in Amoudi is awesome for fresh seafood.
More information: The Best Restaurants on Santorini
- How To Get To Santorini: Arrive by Blue Star Ferry. This is a large ferry with big decks you can walk around on. This provides the best opportunity to see the cliffs as you approach – the ferries arrive by traveling right through the center of the caldera (it’s pretty amazing). The highspeed ferries and catamarans do not have open-air decks and do not offer very good views of the island on approach (the windows are usually covered in sea salt and have poor visibility). Also, the highspeed ferries can have very rough rides during windy weather. The Blue Star offers a much smoother ride for those prone to seasickness.
More information: Athens to Santorini by Ferry, Mykonos to Santorini, Crete to Santorini
- Book Tours After You Arrive (if not in High Season): There are many tours on Santorini. Some are half-day, some are full day. Some are wine tours, some are volcano tours. Some try to do a little bit of everything. There is no shortage of tours and they rarely get fully booked outside of July, August, and early September. Feel free to book your tour after you arrive when you can easily survey what’s available and find what works best for you.
More information: Best Tours and Day Trips on Santorini
- 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