Q. What’s the best way to get to Santorini?
Flying to Santorini is the quickest and easiest way. You can fly to Santorini from Athens or directly from cities in western Europe such as London, Manchester, Paris, and Amsterdam.
But there are no flights to Santorini from other Greek islands – though this changes from year to year and some summers there will be flights from Heraklion (Crete) and Rhodes to Santorini. Also for summer 2015, there are no flights from Istanbul to Santorini.
If you’re already in the center of Athens it can be easier to take a high speed ferry or catamaran from Piraeus (the Athens port) than to deal with getting to the airport and through security. But flying would still be a few hours faster.
The big advantage of flying to Santorini is that it’s much easier to book flights in advance than to book ferries in advance (see below). But if you’re on a flexible schedule or you’re already in Greece (and can book the ferry at a travel agency) it’s very easy to book ferry tickets. It’s the booking in advance, figuring out routes and timetables from outside the country, that makes ferry planning difficult.
Arriving by ferry in Santorini is a great experience. The cliffs loom over your boat and it’s a really awesome first impression of the island. (Less so if you arrive by a high speed ferry as you’re trapped inside, behind sea-sprayed windows.) On the Blue Star ferry you can wander the decks and you’ll have a great view of the volcano and caldera.
There are cabins available on the Blue Star ferry to Santorini. But since the most popular ferry leaves form Athens early in the morning so it’s silly to spend the time in a cabin when you could be walking the decks and enjoying the view of passing islands. A 2nd class or “deck” ticket is the cheapest ticket. For an extra few euros you can reserve an airplane style seat which is what I recommend doing.
A good compromise between flying and ferry is to take the ferry to Santorini and then fly back. It does take some planning to find the right tickets but the perfect route is to fly to Athens, ferry to Santorini (perhaps stopping at a few islands along the way), then flying from Santorini back to Athens – or fly directly from Athens to Western Europe as you will have already been to Athens and don’t need to visit again.
If you’re island hopping Santorini has good connections with most of the other popular islands like Crete, Mykonos, Naxos, and Paros. Rhodes is more difficult to get to from Santorini (and a longer ferry ride) but still doable.
There are no direct ferries or flights from Santorini to Istanbul. If you want to travel from Santorini to Istanbul the quickest and easiest way is to fly to Athens and then fly to Istanbul. If you want to take the ferry from Santorini to Turkey the easiest route is to ferry to Rhodes (usually an overnight ferry where a cabin would be recommended) and then a short 90 minute ferry to Marmaris on the Turkish coast. Ferries between Santorini and Rhodes run 2 or 3 times per week and take 7 to 15 hours.
Q. How do I get from the airport to Fira and the rest of the island?
- Taxi – The easiest and quickest way to get into Fira and to the rest of the island is by taxi. There will always be taxis available at the airport though it can involve a long wait (especially if 2 flights arrive at the same time). It costs about 15 euros to Fira and 20 to 25 euros to go to the rest of the island. Taxi rates and reservation info. Taxi phone number: 22860-22555.
- Bus – In high season (roughly June to September) buses run every hour between Fira and the airport. Most of these buses are running the Fira to Monolithos route and make a stop at the airport – although there might be a few additional buses each day that do only the Fira to airport run. There are fewer buses on the weekend and also fewer buses during the low season. It takes about 15 minutes to get from the airport to Fira by bus and costs about 2 euros. Plan to have small change available so that you don’t need to ask for change from a 50 euro note. If you want to go anywhere else other than Fira (or Monolithos) you’ll need to change buses in Fira (which is easy enough, but time consuming). Santorini bus schedule.
- Minivan/Airport Transfer – This is a good choice for singles going anywhere or couples going to a town other than Fira (if there are no buses or you don’t want to take a bus). But for 3 or more it’s cheaper to take a taxi as the fare is about 9 euros/per person. Contact Santorini Transfers to arrange pick up at the airport or your hotel.
- Hotel Pickup – If your hotel offers free pickup and dropoff be sure to take advantage. Most do charge but as long as it’s close to the taxi rate it’s a good choice.
Q. How do I get to and from the ferry port in Santorini?
- All ferries arrive at Athinios port. Getting from the port to any town is easy and shouldn’t cause any anxiety. You can do absolutely no pre-arranging of pickup details and you’ll get to your hotel just fine. (It’s more important to pre-arrange transportation to the port then from the port.)
- Bus – There will always be a bus waiting as your ferry arrives at the port no matter what time of day or night. If you’re staying in a town other than Fira you’ll need to get to Fira first and then switch buses there. The cost form the port to Fira is about 2 euros. The bus from the port to Fira takes about 20 minutes and drops you at the bus station in the middle of Fira. The bus, like all buses on Santorini, is air conditioned and has plenty of room for luggage. A bus leaves from Fira to the ferry port about 1 hour before every ferry departure and arrival (a schedule of bus departures from Fira is posted 1 or 2 days before and is based on the arriving ferries).
- Taxi – There will usually be taxis waiting as ferries arrive but if it’s late at night you might want to arrange pickup in advance. It costs about 15 euros from the ferry port to Fira, 25 euros from the ferry port to Oia, and somewhere in-between to go anywhere else on the island. A taxi ride from the port to Fira takes about 15 minutes. Taxis going to the port can be hard to find. When people miss the bus to the port (which leaves about 1 hour before each ferry arrival) then the rush to grab a taxi begins. Taxi phone number: 22860-22555.
- Hotel Transfer – Many hotels provide transportation from the port to their hotel. For some it’s free, for others it’s charged at a rate similar to a taxi or a bit more. Don’t bother pre-arranging pickup months in advance (when you book your hotel). Send an email to your hotel a few days before so the pickup details are fresh in their minds.
- Cruise Ships – If you’re arriving by cruise ship you’ll be tendered in a small boat from the ship to the Skalafira port directly below Fira. From there you can either climb the steps (a lot of them) or take a cable car (which will probably involve waiting some time in a line). There are also donkey rides up the path you walk but many find their use offensive so be prepared for some dirty looks by people who don’t think donkeys should be used (abused) in this manner.