Santorini Travel Tips
Santorini, Greece, is the most visited European destination, famed for its spectacular sunsets. Yes it’s touristy, busy and sometimes overrun with cruise ship passengers.
But there’s a reason it’s so popular and makes up the much favoured Athens-Mykonos-Santorini itinerary for first-time visitors.
Santorini at a Glance:
Names: Santorini is the Italian name the Venetians gave the island. Its original Greek name is Thira; before that, it was Thera in ancient Greek.
Location: Santorini is one of the Cycladic Islands in the south Aegean Sea.
Distance from Athens: approximately 200km, about 30 minutes flying time and about 5 – 8 hours by ferry for daytime routes
Time Zone: Eastern European Time/Eastern European Summer Time (GMT/BST+3)
Weather: Santorini is quite a windy island known for hot, dry summers and mild winters.
Currency: € Euro
Language: Greek but in the tourist areas and attractions, people speak English
Accessibility: Areas of Santorini are not at all accessible for people with mobility issues, particularly accommodation along the caldera. Even if you don’t have problems take a decent pair of shoes, you’ll do a lot of walking and climbing steps.
What to Wear: People generally dress a bit smarter in Santorini than some of the other more laid-back islands but not excessively so. See this post about what to wear when visiting Santorini.
Plug Sockets: 🔌type F sockets and type F and type C power plugs are used interchangeably. See this post about power in Greece and what you need to bring for your electrical appliances.
Driving: Drive on the right. See the Getting Around section for info about car rental and driving. Parking is an issue in the peak months (May – September).
Public Transport: The bus system in Santorini is quite good if you’re based in Fira where the main bus station is. Routes fan out from that hub so going between routes means going via Fira.
Taxis: Taxis in Santorini are limited. Many hotels offer transfers for their guests.
Getting to, from and around Santorini
The nearest airport is Santorini Airport (JTR). It’s a small international airport with direct flights from the UK and Europe as well as domestic flights from Athens and Thessaloniki.
Taxis are available from the airport and many hotels offer transfers to their guests. There’s also a frequent bus that runs between the airport and Fira.
Here’s how you get from the airport to Perissa village.
Athinios is the ferry port where ships arrive from Athens and other islands. It’s close to Fira and buses are always available to take you to Fira when the ships come in.
Cruise ships dock in the water at the old port of Skala below Fira. If you’re not joining a shore excursion organised by your cruise company, you’ll be tendered to Skala. To visit the island, you need to come up from the shore by cable car or walk up the many steep steps.
There are donkeys and mules on this route, but please don’t ride them.
Driving in Santorini
The main roads in Santorini are decent and fine to drive. Probably you’re not going to go anywhere where the roads aren’t good. But if you’re staying in one of the small villages, you might find them to be much narrower than you’re used to.
🚗 Have a look at my guide for tourists driving in Greece for the first time.
🚫 I personally don’t recommend renting an ATV/quad bike in Santorini unless you are very experienced with them.
Licenses from many places like UK, USA, Australia and other EU countries don’t require the addition of an International Driving Permit for Greece.
To be prepared, see this post about renting a car in Greece.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Oia village is the poster child with pedestrian streets and whitewashed cave hotels. The view over the caldera is magnificent and most accommodation is luxurious and pricey.
Immerovigli is a little way down the Caldera. It offers great views with more space and privacy in the luxury hotels there.
Fira is the busy capital of the island. There are lots of accommodation options, shops and restaurants and it’s easy to get around the island from there.
Perissa and Perivolos are beach resorts that run into each other on the island’s southeast coast.
🩴There’s information here about activities in Perissa.
Kamari is another beach town a little higher up in the east. These areas are cheaper spots to stay in and have bus connections to Fira.
Pyrgos is a traditional village in the centre of the island with a range of accommodation options and good local eateries.
Here’s some information about Pyrgos and all it has to offer.
When’s the Best Time to Go to santorini?
The shoulder seasons, April-mid, June and September to mid-October, are great times to go. It’s not as hot, and the crowds aren’t as intense as in July and August.
Not all the restaurants and hotels will be open in April/early May but plenty will be. If you’re keen to swim, then note that the sea water is still quite cold then and autumn is a better time for you.
Is Santorini Safe?
In terms of violent crime, Santorini is generally considered a safe place for tourists, including solo and LGBTQ travellers and tourists of colour. As with any busy tourist place, I’d watch your personal belongings and keep your valuables secure.
Things to do in Santorini
Click on the links to find out more about some of the main highlights:
- Oia village, particularly at sunset
- Caldera walk and other hikes on Santorini
- Akrotiri Archaeological Site
- Ancient Thera
- Boat trips to the volcano and hot springs
- Red, White and Black Beach
- Beach clubs at the other black sand beaches
- Wine tours
- Flying dress photoshoot
- Thirassia Island
Have a look at all the tours available on the island. Joining an organised group (or private tour) can be the easiest way of getting around.
Islands to Combine with Santorini
Mykonos is the classic island to combine with Santorini and Athens for first-time visits. But most of the other islands in the Cyclades are fairly accessible from Santorini, too.
Thirassia is about 7 minutes away from Santorini by boat from Ammoudi Bay. It’s a nice one for hiking or exploring by e-MBT bike tour as a day trip from Santorini. I did both, here’s some more info and pics of the island.
Anafi is not a popular tourist island but it has lovely golden sand beaches and lots of hiking. It’s about 90 minutes or less from Santorini depending which boat you get. I did an overnight trip to Anafi from Santorini that you can read about.
Crete is a big island that deserves a good few days. But you can do Santorini in a day trip from there as well as combine it as part of your vacation itinerary.
All Santorini Posts
Use the search bar to find the info you want, or scroll through the posts below.
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