Santorini is one of the most popular destinations in the Cyclades. The Greek island is world-renowned for its inimitable natural beauty, magical sunset, volcanic landscape, breathtaking caldera and amazing view to the Aegean Sea. Plan your holidays in Santorini with Ferryhopper, find all ferry routes and discover the best beaches, villages and food on the island. Book cheap ferry tickets to Santorini in just 4 clicks!
Quaint village in Santorini with a magical view to the islet of Therasia
Holidays in Santorini
The island of Santorini (also called Thira) is in the southern part of the Cyclades and it’s one of the most beloved vacation destinations in the world. The natural landscape of the island is simply breathtaking and makes it a great destination for romantic holidays. During your vacation in Santorini, you can taste delicious local dishes and wines, swim in crystal-clear waters, admire the blue Aegean Sea and visit the famous volcano.
In Santorini you can be part of a unique lifestyle at one of the island’s exquisite bars, restaurants and beaches. Travelers from all over the world gather at the whitewashed villages built on the caldera to enjoy the beautiful sunset, visit cute shops, explore the quaint alleys and take thousands of photos!
How to get to Santorini
Traveling by ferry from Athens to Santorini is one of the most comfortable and affordable ways to reach the island. There are frequent ferry routes from 2 ports in Athens throughout the year, and you can choose to travel with standard or highspeed vessel. If you’re unsure which port to use, whether to fly or take the ferry and where to book your tickets, find more tips on how to travel from Athens to Santorini.
What to do in Santorini
Are you thinking of spending an entire summer in Santorini? No problem, there’s something to do on the island every day! Santorini is a natural, cultural, historical and entertainment heaven, with numerous experiences for all travelers. Swim at picture-perfect beaches, walk on fantastic hiking trails, try water sports by the volcano, visit one of the wineries of Santorini, go fine-dining and explore the ancient settlement of Akrotiri.
Beaches in Santorini
The volcano has blessed the island with amazing beaches of unique natural beauty. You can find red and black sand, impressive rocks, white pebbles and crystal-clear waters. You can even dive next to the volcano and feel the warmth of the waters! If you’re wondering where to swim, here are 8 beautiful beaches in Santorini:
- Red Beach (Kokkini Paralia): This unique red-sand beach is one of the most popular. It’s surrounded by red and black rocks and it has dark blue waters. There are some visitor amenities such as umbrellas, sun loungers and a food truck nearby.
- Perivolos: This popular large sandy beach has deep clear waters and plenty of visitor amenities. There are beach bars, tavernas, cafés and water sports facilities.
- Vlichada: It is a large beach with magical lunar landscape, impressive white rocks, black sand and dark pebbles. It is one of the most remote beaches on the island and there are some umbrellas and sun loungers on one side.
- White Beach: Tall white rocks and black sand create a beautiful scenery. There are umbrellas and sun loungers, and the beach is only accessible on boat, so make sure you bring food and water, as there are no restaurants and cafés nearby.
- Kamari: This cosmopolitan beach has black sand, small pebbles and inviting crystal-clear waters. You can find cafés, beach bars, restaurants and tavernas in the area.
- Monolithos: It’s a beach with shallow waters and black sand. Monolithos is great for families as there is a lifeguard and a playground. You can also find a basketball court, beach volley facilities, cafés, tavernas, hotels and a grocery store.
- Baxedes - Paradisos: This large beach has dark grey sand and shallow waters, making it perfect for kids. It is easily accessible and there are umbrellas and sun loungers on one side. The area is home to many hotels too.
- Gialos: Gialos is a peaceful beach just below the village of Fira. It has black sand, pebbles, blue waters and rocky hills. There are sun loungers, umbrellas and a beach bar-restaurant.
Tip: Don’t miss out on a short excursion to the islet of Therasia (Thirasia) by boat for a trip back in time. You can also go on a mini cruise to explore all the small islets of the caldera, walk up to the volcanic crater of Nea Kameni and visit the thermal springs on Palea Kameni for a healing mud bath!
The impressive volcanic landscape of Red Beach in Santorini
Activities and sightseeing in Santorini
There’s a lot to see and do in Santorini! If you love adventures, you can go hiking or visit the neighboring islets of volcanic origin. For a majestic view of the caldera, explore the west coast villages or take the cable car from Gialos to Fira. One of the best viewing spots is Oia, where you can relax at sunset with a glass of wine. Don’t forget to visit one of the archaeological sites of the island to witness its rich past. Here are some of the best sights and attractions in Santorini:
- Prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri
- Museum of Prehistoric Thira
- Archaeological Museum of Thira
- Cultural Village “Santorini of the past”
- Folklore Museum of Santorini
- Museum of Minerals and Fossils
- Lighthouse of Akrotiri
Tip: If you want to enjoy the beautiful sunset away from the crowds, you can visit the small church of Agios Ioannis in Oia, go to the villages of Finikia and Imerovigli, or head to the old mines of Fira.
The volcano of Santorini
The volcano of Santorini is one of the most significant in the world. The volcano is still active and it’s part of the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, alongside the volcanoes of Milos, Nisyros and Methana. The impressive caldera of Santorini was formed after a series of eruptions in the area during the last 1.5 million years. The powerful “Minoan” eruption around 1,600 BCE led to the complete eradication of Minoan civilization and inspired the legend of Atlantis. Visiting the volcano is one of the most memorable experiences in Santorini!
The impressive volcanic crater of Nea Kameni islet
Nightlife in Santorini
Santorini is a vibrant island by night! There are many spots where you can enjoy the starlit sky with a glass of vinsanto in hand, listen to lounge music while enjoying a cocktail, dance till morning to international or Greek hits, or simply kick back with your loved one and enjoy a peaceful evening.
Fira, the capital of Santorini, is great for those of you who are interested in all-night clubbing. There are many loud bars and clubs, where locals and visitors mingle and enjoy a typical Greek night out! As for fun on the beach, Perivolos is the crown jewel of summer fun. In Oia, you can have a breezy night at one of the bars and cafés and go evening shopping in the picturesque alleys. As for traditional dining, the village of Pyrgos is one of the top choices. Visit the SantoWines winery in Pyrgos to try local varieties of wine and taste mouthwatering mezzes with a view to the sea.
Tip: For a relaxed and romantic night, one of the best things to do in Santorini is catch a movie at the open-air cinema in Kamari.
Food in Santorini
Santorini is a food lover’s paradise. The volcanic terrain has blessed the island with a plethora of local products of superb quality such as white aubergines, cherry tomatoes, fava beans, capers, vine leaves, goat cheese and wine. Before you go back home, make sure you try:
- Koufeto: honey-glazed almonds
- Melitinia: sweet pastries with mizithra cheese and honey
- Poutiga: pudding made from semolina and milk, often served with sweet wine sauce
- Sfougato: quiche with courgettes and cheese
- Psarolia: sun-dried fish
- Tomatokeftedes: deep-fried tomato balls
- Skordomakarona: spaghetti with scorched garlic
- Vinsanto: local sweet wine
Tip: If you want to taste the famous vinsanto and more amazing local varieties, visiting a winery in Santorini is the best way to learn everything about wines. You can taste different wines, have some light snacks and buy a bottle at the best prices.
Villages in Santorini
Apart from the port of Athinios, most major villages in Santorini are situated on the caldera. These are Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. The villages of the caldera are famous for their distinct architecture. Traditional buildings in the area are excavated into the rocky hill as cave houses. You can also visit some of the inland villages, such as Pyrgos, known for its medieval buildings and labyrinthine alleys. Here are the top villages to visit in Santorini:
- Mesa Gonia
Tip: In Oia you can visit one of the prettiest bookshops in the world! Atlantis is a small picturesque bookshop in the heart of Oia, where you can browse through thousands of books and buy souvenirs.
The picturesque village of Pyrgos dating back to Medieval times
Tips for Santorini
Here are some useful travel advice for Santorini to plan the perfect trip:
- Some of the most popular places in Santorini may be relatively more expensive, but you can find affordable accommodation, entertainment and shopping options if you go off the beaten path!
- The island is known for its amazing sunset, impressive caldera, magical volcanic beaches and delicious wine. Tick off everything on the Santorini to-do-list and you’ll be on your way to really experiencing the Cycladic island!
- The best month to visit Santorini is June or September. The weather is great, hotels and shops are welcoming visitors and the island is less crowded than during high season.
- Staying in Santorini for 7 days is great if you want to see the major sites and attractions, swim at the best beaches and get to know the island. Here’s a short vacation guide on what to see in Santorini.
- The island is a great family vacation destination. There are plenty of traveler services, well-equipped beaches, family-friendly restaurants, as well as interesting activities in Santorini. You can find family-friendly hotels, suites and villas in Fira and other villages.
Useful information for Santorini
Santorini is lively all year round and most travelers visit from late spring to early fall. During the summer months, the island gets really busy with millions of visitors from all over the world. Τhere are plenty of visitor amenities, such as ATMs, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and a hospital in Karterados. There’s also an international airport on the island, 20 minutes from the port of Athinios by car.
For your accommodation in Santorini, you can stay at all-inclusive hotels, luxury holiday villas, holiday rentals, as well as camping sites in Fira and Perissa. If you’re traveling to Santorini in the summer, we recommend that you book the soonest, as the island is always on high demand.
Useful phone numbers for your stay in Santorini
Here are some useful phone numbers for your holiday in Santorini:
- Port Authority of Santorini: +302286022239
- Athinios Port Authority: +302286025015
- Information Office: +302286025940
- General Hospital of Thira: +302286035300
- Santorini Central Clinic (Fira): +302286021728
- Police Station: +302286022649
- Citizen Service Center: +302286360123
- Municipality of Thira: +302286360101
- Public bus service (KTEL): +302286025404
- Santorini International Airport: +302286028400
Transportation in Santorini
Getting around Santorini is possible by car, motorcycle, public bus, taxis and the cable car. If you want to freely explore the island, you can rent a small car or a motorcycle there. You don’t necessarily need a car in Santorini, as there is an adequate public bus service and many private transfer companies. During high season, there’s quite a lot of traffic on the island, making it challenging to drive through the narrow streets and find a parking space.
As for transportation from the port, Athinios is a very busy port with impressive traffic jams! There are taxis and public buses at the port, but they sell out fast. For a more relaxed journey from and to the port of Santorini, Ferryhopper suggests that you book your transfer in advance with Welcome Pickups. You are guaranteed a stress-free transfer from the port to your hotel, saving time and money!
Good to know: Many villages have pedestrian-only streets and you can freely explore the beautiful alleys on foot!
Cute little houses of Cycladic architecture overlooking the sea
Ports in Santorini
The main port of Santorini, Athinios, is located on the southwest side of the island. Athinios is a relatively small port, so it can get quite crowded particularly in July and August. Make sure that you book your ferry tickets to/from the port of Santorini in advance and account for extra time to arrive/leave the port.
At Athinios Port you will find car rentals, grocery stores, cafés and a few tavernas. We have prepared a comprehensive travel guide for the port of Santorini on what to expect when traveling there by ferry.
Good to know: The port of Fira exclusively serves cruise ships, so make sure you don’t end up on a cruise on your way back to Athens. Unless that’s your plan!
Island hopping from Santorini
The port of Athinios in Santorini serves as a great starting point for island hopping in the Cyclades, as well as other islands in the Aegean Sea, such as Crete and the Dodecanese. Taking the ferry from Santorini to Mykonos is one of the most popular routes, as the journey duration is just 2 hours!
There are ferries from Santorini to the following islands:
- Crete (Heraklion, Rethymno, Sitia)
A bit overwhelmed by so many island-hopping options? On Ferryhopper’s Map of ferries, you can find all Santorini ferry routes, to easily plan your magical ferry trip in the Aegean Sea and book ferry tickets!
Tip: Explore all ferry routes for the Greek islands to plan your holidays in Santorini for 2021.
Wooden boat on a minimal white terrace against the blue Aegean Sea
Santorini ferry, schedules and tickets
Santorini is frequently connected by ferry with mainland Greece throughout the year. As one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country, there are regular Santorini ferries from 2 ports in Athens: Piraeus and Rafina.
- Piraeus - Santorini: From Piraeus to Santorini, ferries are available throughout the year. The trip duration is 4 hours with highspeed vessel, which is the best way to travel to Santorini from Athens by ferry. There’s also a conventional ferry to Santorini with a journey duration of 8 hours.
- Rafina - Santorini: You can catch a ferry from Rafina to Santorini mostly during the summer. It takes approximately 5.5 hours to reach the island with a highspeed ferry.
Good to know: You can also get to Santorini from the port of Heraklion in Crete. The Heraklion - Santorini ferry route lasts around 2 hours with a highspeed ferry.
Where to book ferry tickets online to Santorini
Are you counting the days to catch the ferry to Santorini and enjoy the beautiful sunset and the breathtaking volcanic landscape? Compare ferry companies and fares, see tips for your holidays in Greece and book your Santorini ferry tickets online on Ferryhopper.