START BOOKING YOUR TRIP TO
** Please note that we get a small commission if you book via our referral links. We use this to invest in new foodie content and to update the Greece Foodies website.
Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, a family vacation, or a romantic getaway, Santorini is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle. Here’s a Santorini travel guide if you are planning a trip to Santorini!
Santorini is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Located in the Aegean Sea, Santorini is known for its dramatic landscapes, stunning sunsets, and Caldera views. Santorini is also home to some of the best Greek food and wine.
- Tipping in Greece: If you’re traveling to Santorini, knowing that tipping is customary in Greece is helpful. For a casual meal at a taverna, a good rule of thumb is to leave a tip of about €2 to €5 or round up your bill to the nearest €0 or €5. For example, if your bill is €46, you might leave a total of €50. A tip of 5 to 10% is standard for higher-end restaurants, while 15% is considered generous. At bars and cafés, if you order at the counter, rounding up to the nearest euro is appreciated. A tip of around 5 to 10% is appropriate for table service.
- Restaurant Reservations: To ensure a smooth dining experience at the restaurants listed below, it is advisable to make reservations in advance. Typically, reserving a table 3 to 5 days beforehand will suffice, but for significant occasions, it is recommended to book a table weeks, or even months, in advance to guarantee availability.
- Santorini Food Guide: If you have more questions about Santorini’s foods, wines or products, take a look at our complete food guide of Santorini Island.
Where is Santorini located?
Laid in the Aegean Sea, 200 kilometers southeast of Athens, 150 kilometers south of Mykonos, and 140 kilometers north of Crete, is the Greek island of Santorini. It belongs to the group of islands called Cyclades, known for its breathtaking views, charming villages, and stunning beaches. Santorini flights depart from London in 4 hours, Paris in 3.5 hours, Rome in 2 hours, and Athens in 1 hour. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece and attracts visitors worldwide.
Santorini travel guide: Purpose
Santorini can be visited for a simple sightseeing plane or a romantic getaway. Santorini should be at the top of your list. You can start creating your own Santorini travel before heading to Santorini.
However, we know that planning a trip to Santorini can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. With so many things to do and see, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s where a travel guide comes in handy. A good travel guide provides valuable information and recommendations on the best places to stay, eat, and explore, making your trip-planning process much easier and less stressful.
So here is a comprehensive travel guide to Santorini! We aim to cover everything you need to know to plan your trip, from the best time to visit the top attractions to see. Whether you’re interested in exploring the island’s history and culture, lounging on the beach, or trying the local cuisine, this guide has got you covered.
When to Visit Santorini
Santorini enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long, hot summers and mild winters. The peak tourist season is from June to September, when temperatures can reach up to 35°C (95°F). The busiest time of year is July and August when tourists flock to the island to enjoy the sunny weather and beautiful beaches.
The best time to visit is in the shoulder seasons of May-June and September-October when the weather is still pleasant and the crowds are smaller. If you want to avoid crowds, the best month to visit Santorini is September, as many tourists have left.
How many days in Santorini is enough?
The number of days to spend in Santorini depends on the traveler’s preferences and budget. Generally, 3 to 5 days is enough time to explore the island and enjoy its top attractions, such as visiting Oia, exploring the archaeological site of Akrotiri, and taking a boat tour of the caldera.
However, in our Santorini Travel Guide a week-long stay is recommended for those who want to fully experience the island’s beauty, culture, and cuisine. Ultimately, the length of stay in Santorini is a personal decision based on individual interests and travel goals.
Getting to Santorini
There are two ways to get to Santorini: By ferry or plane.
Ferries to Santorini depart from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina in Athens and other islands in the Cyclades. The journey from Piraeus takes about 8 hours on a slow ferry and 4 hours on a high-speed ferry. The journey from Rafina takes about 5 hours on a slow ferry and 3 hours on a high-speed ferry.
You can also fly into Santorini Airport (JTR), the only airport in Santorini (Thira). It is located about 6 kilometers from the main town of Fira and serves both domestic and international flights. During peak season, there are direct flights from major cities in Europe, as well as from Athens and other Greek islands. Airlines that fly to Santorini include Aegean Airlines, Ryanair, and EasyJet. Once you’re on the island, renting an ATV or scooter is the best way to get around.
Getting Around Santorini
Santorini is a relatively small island, and getting around is easy. The best way to explore the island is by renting a car, scooter, or ATV. Public transportation is also available, with buses running regularly between the major towns. Taxis are another option, although they can be expensive. Walking is also a great way to explore the island, especially in the picturesque villages of Oia and Fira.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Several types of accommodation are available in Santorini, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly apartments. Fira is Santorini’s capital and the most popular place to stay on the island. It’s located centrally, so it’s an excellent base for exploring Santorini. If you’re looking for something more luxurious, Imerovigli or Oia are good options. For those on a budget, plenty of apartments and studios are available in Perissa and Kamari. Our Santorini Travel Guide has compiled a few options to choose from:
Best areas to stay in Santorini
- Oia – Known for its picturesque views, stunning sunsets, and luxurious accommodations, Oia is the most popular area to stay in Santorini. It’s a great place to stay if you want to be in the heart of the action and don’t mind the crowds.
- Fira – As the capital of Santorini, Fira offers plenty of dining, shopping, and nightlife options. It’s a good choice if you want to be close to the island’s main attractions and don’t mind the hustle and bustle.
- Imerovigli – Located on the highest point of the caldera, Imerovigli offers spectacular views and a peaceful atmosphere. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a more relaxed and romantic stay.
- Kamari – Known for its black sand beach, Kamari is a popular area for families and beach lovers. It’s a good choice if you want to be near the water and don’t mind a more laid-back atmosphere.
Best hotels in Santorini
- Grace Santorini – Located in Imerovigli, Grace Santorini is a luxurious hotel with stunning views of the caldera. It offers an infinity pool, a spa, and fine dining.
- Canaves Oia Suites – Located in Oia, Canaves Oia Suites is a boutique hotel with private plunge pools and stunning views of the Aegean Sea. It offers a spa, a restaurant, and a wine cellar.
- Katikies Santorini – Located in Oia, Katikies Santorini is a romantic hotel with infinity pools and panoramic views of the caldera. It offers a spa, a restaurant, and a champagne bar.
- Astra Suites – Located in Imerovigli, Astra Suites is a boutique hotel with stunning views of the Aegean Sea. It offers an infinity pool, a restaurant, and a spa.
Best villas in Santorini
- Santorini Secret Suites & Spa – Located in Oia, Santorini Secret Suites & Spa offers luxurious villas with private pools and stunning views of the caldera. It offers a spa, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Andronis Luxury Suites – Located in Oia, Andronis Luxury Suites offers private villas with infinity pools and panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. It offers a spa, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Aenaon Villas – Located in Imerovigli, Aenaon Villas offers spacious villas with private plunge pools and breathtaking views of the caldera. It offers a restaurant and a bar.
- White Pearl Villas – Located in Oia, White Pearl Villas offers luxurious villas with private pools and stunning views of the Aegean Sea. It offers a restaurant and a bar.
Things to Do in Santorini
Santorini is blessed with natural beauty, so there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. One of the most popular things in Santorini is watching the sunset from Oia. This charming village is located on the island’s northwest coast and offers breathtaking views of the Caldera. Weather your are the romantic type or adventurous or a foodie, this Santorini Travel guide has it all!
Go on a hike from Fira to Oia
For those who love to hike, several trails wind through Santorini’s volcanic landscape. If you’re up for an adventure, consider going on a hike from Fira to Oia. This 10 km hike is one of the most popular activities on the island and for a good reason. It offers breathtaking views of the caldera and the Aegean Sea and takes you through charming villages and historical landmarks.
Along the way, you’ll pass by the iconic blue domes of the churches and have the chance to stop for a refreshing drink or a snack. The hike takes around 3 to 4 hours, depending on your pace, and it’s best to start early in the morning to avoid the heat. There are also shorter hikes available, such as the Santorini Caldera hike, which takes about 1 hour. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
Visit Oia and watch the sunset
Oia is one of the most popular destinations in Santorini and is known for its stunning views and breathtaking sunsets. As the sun sets over the Aegean Sea, the sky becomes a mesmerizing canvas of colors, creating a magical experience you won’t forget. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a romantic evening with your partner or a peaceful moment of solitude.
Explore the archaeological site of Akrotiri
The archaeological site of Akrotiri is a must-visit destination for history lovers. It’s a well-preserved Minoan Bronze Age settlement that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption around 1627 BC. The site is often compared to Pompeii due to the level of preservation and the insights it provides into ancient civilizations. You’ll get to see the remains of a sophisticated society and learn about their way of life and culture. You can buy your tickets online.
Visit the Red Beach in Santorini
The Red Beach is a unique and stunning destination in Santorini. It’s known for its red and black volcanic sand, contrasting with the crystal clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea. The beach is located near the village of Akrotiri, surrounded by impressive red cliffs that create a dramatic backdrop. You can relax on the beach or take a refreshing swim in the sea while enjoying the picturesque surroundings.
Greece Foodies tip: Book a Santorini sailing cruise and enjoy the Red beach.
Take a boat tour of the caldera
Taking a boat tour of the caldera is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Santorini. The caldera is the submerged crater created by the volcanic eruption that destroyed the Minoan civilization thousands of years ago. You’ll get to see the impressive cliffs surrounding the caldera and the charming villages that cling to the cliffs. The boat tour often includes stops at different spots to swim in the sea and admire the views.
Visit a winery in Santorini and taste the local wine
Another popular activity in Santorini is wine tasting the world-famous Santorini wines. Santorini is known for its excellent wine, and it is home to some of Greece’s best wines, made from grapes grown in volcanic soil. Visiting a winery is a great way to learn about the local wine-making process and taste some of the best wines in Greece.
You’ll get to see the vineyards and the unique basket-shaped vines that protect the grapes from the strong winds. You can also enjoy a wine tasting session and try some famous wines, such as Assyrtiko and Vinsanto. Santo Wines is one of the most famous wineries in Santorini and offers daily tours and tastings.
Where to eat in Santorini
Restaurants in Santorini
Restaurants in Santorini are renowned for their fresh and flavorful ingredients, stunning views, and welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for traditional Greek cuisine or international flavors, the island offers something. From local tavernas to Michelin-starred restaurants, you’ll find a wide range of dining options to choose from in Santorini. For more information on the best restaurants to try during your stay, check out our Santorini Travel Guide.
Read: The 5 best restaurants in Santorini
Best bars and clubs in Santorini
Santorini has a thriving nightlife scene with many bars and clubs that cater to different tastes. One of the best places to experience the nightlife in Santorini is in Fira, where you’ll find many bars and clubs that stay open until the early morning hours. Some of Santorini’s top bars and clubs include Koo Club, Enigma, and Tango Bar.
Best places to watch the sunset and have a cocktail
Watching the sunset in Santorini is a must-do activity, and some many bars and restaurants offer stunning views of the sunset while enjoying a delicious cocktail. One of the best places to watch the sunset is at the Santo Wines Winery in Pyrgos, where you can enjoy a glass of local wine while admiring the stunning views of the caldera. Another great place to watch the sunset is at Franco’s Bar in Fira, which is known for its excellent cocktails and breathtaking views.
Is Santorini expensive or not?
Santorini is renowned for its 5-star luxury hotels, excellent dining options, and upscale shopping, yet it’s simple to travel there on a tight budget. The best way to cut costs in Santorini is to choose lodging and dining options away from the caldera since there are no all-inclusive resorts. The breathtaking views can be seen for free, and Santorini has many affordable hotels that are both of good value and high quality.
Shopping in Santorini
Santorini is known for its local markets and boutiques that offer a variety of souvenirs and unique items. Fira, the capital of Santorini, is the most popular shopping destination on the island, with numerous shops selling everything from handmade jewelry and pottery to local wines and cheeses. Other shopping areas in Santorini include Oia, Kamari, and Perissa, which also offer a variety of shops and markets.
Best souvenirs to buy in Santorini
If you’re looking to bring back a piece of Santorini with you, there are several souvenirs to choose from. One popular item is handmade jewelry, particularly those made with volcanic stones and shells. Another popular souvenir is local wines, known for their distinct taste and available in most shops and wineries. You can also find unique pottery and ceramics, hand-painted clothing, and local delicacies like tomato paste and capers. Don’t forget to bring back some traditional Greek olive oil and honey, as Santorini is known for its high-quality agricultural products.
Does it worth to visit Santorini?
Santorini is a magical destination that offers travelers plenty of activities and experiences. From watching the sunset in Oia to exploring the archaeological site of Akrotiri, from relaxing on the Red Beach to taking a boat tour of the caldera, and from tasting the local wine to going on a hike from Fira to Oia, there is no shortage of things to do on this beautiful island.
Before you plan your trip to Santorini, make sure to do your research and plan ahead. Take note of the best areas to stay, the activities you want to do, and the practical information you need to know. With proper planning, your trip to Santorini will surely be a memorable and enjoyable experience you will cherish for years to come.
Santorini’s travel guide for 2023 is a must for everyone!
A team of foodies, cooks, and travelers. Alios Tours was founded out of our passion for Greek food. We share the delicious side of Greece.