Santorini, a world-famous island in the heart of the Cyclades, is a very popular destination in Greece. We went there at least 3 times and looking forward to our next visit, We advise you to stay at least 5 days in Santorini. Discover its iconic whitewashed cliff-side villages, with deep sapphire domes and colorful decorative flowers covering the buildings. Combine this with the postcard-worthy sunset at Oia and you can understand why it is one of the most popular islands in Greece! Whether you’re visiting for a holiday, or as your romantic honeymoon destination, this travel guide includes all the things to do in Santorini, as well as budget tips and the best hotels.
Santorini is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever visited. The island itself is a caldera (volcanic crater), and the half-moon shape of the island makes for some amazing photos! I couldn’t get enough of the traditional white cave houses perched over the crystal clear blue water, and the incredible sunsets which draw out both locals and tourists each night. Not to mention the island’s local tavernas which serve fresh, delicious greek food literally inches from the ocean. The famous town of Oia really is picture-perfect it’s like stepping into a postcard. You won’t want to leave!
Where to stay
Almost all photos you see of Santorini are taken in Oia, the postcard-perfect town with white houses and blue domes overlooking the sea. Accommodation here comes at a premium, but you will have breathtaking caldera views and be within walking distance of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants on the water in Ammoudi Bay. Alternatively, stay in Fira or Imerovigli towns for plenty of nearby food options (both are larger towns); or opt for a spot inland for fewer crowds and more budget-friendly options like in Kamara
Hotels in Santorini
Canaves Oia Sunday Suites is part of the Canaves hotels some of the best hotels in Europe. If you have the budget this is defiantly the best hotel and has the best views. Perched on a privileged location in the center of the sophisticated Oia, one of the most beautiful areas of Santorini. If you stay in the high season you will pay more than 1000 Euro a night but if you stay in October you can stay for around 380 Euro. Book Now
Canaves Suites and Spa is also part of the Canaves hotels and is just next door to the Canaves Sunday suites, when we stay there we use sometimes the pool as it is a little bit bigger. Built on the cliffside overlooking the Caldera, with Cycladic-style architectural elements. Inviting, inspiring, and elegantly classic suites and contemporary facilities, entice guests to experience luxury accommodation beyond comparison. All hotel suites are freshly renovated and elegantly decorated in a dazzling white, minimal manner, featuring private verandas, al fresco dining areas, and breathtaking views of the Caldera and the Aegean Sea. Rooms are the same prices as its sister hotel between 300 and 1000 Europ depending on the season Book Now
Atrina Canava 1894 is another great place with great views, we stay here during the pandemic for a great bargain. But look good at the prices as sometimes they charge the same prices as the Canaves hotels and that's definitely overpriced as at the Canaves you get so much more for that price. So if you see a good price it's worth it otherwise I wouldn't stay there. Perched on the picturesque settlement of Oia, Atrina Canava 1894 hotel in Santorini combines the true architecture of Theran caves along with superb modernity, unparalleled luxury, and comfort. This splendid boutique hotel boasts exquisite views of the cobalt-blue Aegean Sea, the breathtaking caldera, and the overwhelming, ever-present volcano. Book Now
Finikia Memories Hotel is A family-run, traditional white-washed style hotel with bright and spacious rooms just outside of Oia. Tucked away from the crowds, yet, minutes from the world-famous Oia, Finikia village is the perfect spot for those who seek to dip in and out of the action while enjoying their sojourn in an incredibly authentic setting. Rooms are around 120 Euro a night Book Now
Caldera Villas if pool time is essential. The terrace at the Caldera Villas has stunning ocean views, and they often run deals on their rooms and suites. Rooms from 250 to 1000 Euro a night depending on the season. Book Now
Charisma Suites for a direct view of the sunset each night, stay here and prepare to be pampered. If it looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it on Instagram. Rooms from 350 to 1000 Euro a night depending on the season. Book Now
Most Instagramable location Oia Spirit Boutique Residences Located at the very heart of Oia, nesting in a secluded position on the picturesque caldera cliffs of Santorini, Oia Spirit Boutique Residences is a stylish complex of 5 stand-alone traditional cave houses & a cave pool. Right out of a postcard between the two iconic blue domes of Oia, Oia Spirit Boutique Residences promises to become your own little home place in Santorini. Rooms from 400 Euro a night Book Now
Budget-friendly hotels in Santorini
Moschatos Beach House stunning family houses with a beautiful view over Kamari beach. Rooms are around 70 Euro a night and have a small kitchen too so you can cook yourself to save some money, there is a big Lidl supermarket 10-minute drive from the property Book Now
Eunoia Apartments classic apartment in Fira from 70 Euro a night with a beautiful ocean view. Rooms have a balcony, coffee machine, and a small cooking place too. Really beautiful rooms and a friendly price Book Now
Votrishouse in Fira is, Perfect location close to everything - bakery, shop, tavern, bus stop, etc. were 5 min walking distance. Away from traffic or tourists. The house is super nice, clean, and cozy. The accommodation is well equipped with everything needed even if you stay longer. The patio was also so nice and cozy. From 80 Euro a night Book Now
Elia 1968 Cave Houses I think this place is the best budget option if you want to stay in Oia. The location is quiet and just a short walk from Oia, plus there are quite a few traditional restaurants just around the corner. Rooms from 120 Euro a night Book Now
Best time to visit Santorini
SANTORINI CLIMATE OVERVIEW
Lying within the Mediterranean climate, Santorini experiences hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. July is the hottest month in Santorini with an average temperature of 27°C and the coldest is January at 12°C
Rainfall is not a concern in Santorini during summer with almost 0% chance of rain. The majority of rainfall occurs in autumn and winter (from November to February), with December being the wettest month of the year.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SANTORINI
Santorini is an ideal and popular destination for summer holidays. Summer experiences the most sunshine hours which lasts 13 hours of sunlight each day. It’s also the period when everything reaches its peak from temperature to hotel and flight tickets.
Try to avoid this peak season which runs from the end of June to the beginning of September
The best time to visit Santorini is from September to mid-October and mid-April to May when the weather is comfortable and the crowds are scarce.
It will not be a good idea to visit Santorini during wintertime as some services are shut down due to limited numbers of tourists. However, you can grab some bargain
How to get to Santorini
There are two ways to access Santorini namely by plane or by ferry. So which one is better, taking a flight or a ferry ride? I will note down some key information about these two methods.
You can now fly directly to Santorini from big hubs in Europe such as London, Manchester, Paris, and Amsterdam… without transiting via Athens. Flying to Santorini is the quickest and easiest way, but not the most budget-friendly.
The airport of Santorini is situated 6km southeast of Fira and close to Kamari village. It used to be a relatively small airport with minimal services despite serving international flights. However, this airport has undergone some renovations and looks way better now than during our first visit.
The ferry is the only way to get to other islands within the Aegean sea from Santorini as there are no flights operating between islands.
When it comes to reaching the capital city of Athens, ferries are considered a budget-friendly option. However, it takes more than 8 hours to reach Piraeus port (Athens) from Santorini. There is a number of ferry companies that run between Santorini and Athens:
Anek Lines/Aegeon Pelagos.
Blue Star Ferries.
My recommendation is to book the big ferry to avoid a bumpy ride and book the early morning or late ferry to save money.
Most ferries do not sell out and you can usually buy an economy-class ticket on the departure day. Make sure to book the ferry as early as possible (2 months before the departure date). If you cancel your trip, you can contact the ferry company for a refund (note that each company has different refund policies).
Athinios is the main port of Santorini and lies approximately 10 kilometers away from Fira. You can get to the port by bus or minivan.
E-ticket is widely accepted and you don’t need to pick up paper tickets before boarding.
How to get around in Santorini
Moving around from place to place in Santorini may be tricky though the island is small in size. There are several ways to get around Santorini namely bus, minivan, and vehicle rentals. Here are some key notes about these.
Among all transportation operating within the island, the bus is the most convenient and budget-friendly one. A 1.8€ to 2.5€ bus ride can take you to the main areas all over the island.
The central bus station is located in Fira town, where all the itineraries depart and return. And keep in mind that you will need to transit via Fira to access other places within the island. For example, you can’t go straight from Akrotiri to Oia, you have to take a ride from Akiroti back to Fira and board another ride to Oia instead.
As the bus ride is a cash-only service, remember to have loose change with you when you board the vehicle
The bus doesn’t operate 24 hours a day. For more info about the bus timetable, visit this link.
Minivan is the best option when bus service time is over as it is operated 24 hours for your services. You can book this service with your accommodations or tour operators just 2-3 hours before departure. It costs 8 – 10€/ride/pax.
RENT A VEHICLE
There are many vehicle rental shops in Santorini. Rentals start from 20€ ($22 USD) per day in the off-season, or you can even get an ATV starting from 30€ ($33 USD) per day.
It is required to have an international driver’s license for those who don’t have a non-Eu license. You can see this link for more rental rates
Santorini’s towns are located on a caldera which means narrow and hilly roads. As a result, there is no better way to move around towns like Fira or Thira on foot. Just make sure to keep an eye out for steps.
What not to miss during your stay or vacation in Santorini?
The top 10 of Santorini:
Oia most beautiful sunset of Santorini, with narrow streets, white houses, and blue domes.
Fira is the capital with churches, sunset, museums, and the descent to the harbor.
Sunset Oia Tour Enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets on a catamaran
Pyrgos Authentic mountain village with beautiful domed churches.
Ancient Thira ruins with theater and agora.
Imerovigli highest village in Santorini with a beautiful view of the volcano.
Perissa seaside resort with elongated black sand beach.
Ammoudi traditional harbor where boats are still being built.
Palaia Kameni takes a nice warm mud bath in the springs
Red beach red-colored sandy beach with beautiful rocks.
Bonus: The hike between Oia and Fira in the morning takes 3.5 hours for the entire walking route and you can start the route anywhere. So also, for example, in the villages of Imerovigli or Firostefani and so you shorten the walk a bit. If you want a guided tour you can book it on Viator here
Are there any good beaches?
There are some beach villages but the beaches are black volcano beaches so not as beautiful as in Mykonos te another popular Island in Greece nearby. Let me tell you about all the places in Santorini so you have an idea where to stay or stay in 2 places.
Fira the capital of the Island
Fira, also called Thira, is the capital of the island and one of the most fascinating holiday places in Greece. It is uniquely built, on the edge of the sheer cliffs of the crater of Santorini, facing west. It offers beautiful views and the sunset that you see from here is breathtaking. White houses and domed churches with blue roofs on different levels give Fira an exceptional appearance. This is also where most tourists come ashore from the cruise ships, making it a bit more alive here during the day than in Oia, where it is not so busy during the day. Fira has some nice churches, the old church of St John and on the other side Anastasia Orthodox Church which is close to Skaros rock a nice place to walk in the morning from Oia.
Holiday destinations on the island with beaches are Kamari, Monolithos, Perissa, and Perivolos. However, the most tourist places are the capital Fira and the picturesque village of Oia. In the early and late seasons, it is quieter on the island and this is also the best travel time for Santorini.
Oia is the most popular village to stay in during your holidays in Santorini. The facilities here are good and the prices for hotel rooms are a bit higher than elsewhere on the island. Especially if you want to stay in Santorini for less than a week, this picturesque place on the crater rim of the volcano is a tip. Restaurants have beautiful terraces and boutique hotels show off their infinity pools. Oia is alive all year round and attracts hordes of tourists for the sunset alone.
Kamari is the island's busiest beach holiday destination. It is close to the airport and has an elongated dark sandy beach with a pleasant boulevard. Apartments and hotels in Kamari are usually close to the sea and in the resort, you will find many restaurants, bars, and shops. From one of the terraces by the sea, you have a relaxing view of the blue sea. Take a long walk on the beach or enjoy the sunrise on this side of the island.
Here are some resources to help you get your trip going:
Travel Essentials what's in my bag: To help you get started on packing, here are my essential travel and photography gear
Flights: WayAway to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
Car Rental: DiscoverCars.com is a great and reliable platform to find rental cars all over the world.
Internet: Airalo is the best way to get a sim card and has reliable internet access for your trip. All you need is an Esim-compatible smartphone, install it on your phone prior to your trip, and you are all set.
Tickets & Deals: Tiqets is always my go-to website when I want to find cheaper deals for entrance tickets to tourist attractions
Klook to find the best deals for trips in Asia, somehow they are 30% cheaper than when you buy them at a local agency
Train, buses, and ferries 12Go to find your travel route for local buses, and ferries, we use them all the time as you can easily see the reviews, and the vouchers are everywhere accepted. tickets are sold for more than 5,000 destinations in 100+ countries worldwide.