20 Things You Need To Know To Plan A Trip To Santorini
Where on earth is Santorini? How to get there? What’s the weather like? And many more…
There are a few things you need to know in order to plan your trip to Santorini properly.
Santorini is not like any other greek island.
It’s the most visited island in Greece and it requires some proper planning and research to get the best deals in hotels, to do all the amazing things that the island offers and also to make sure that you are aware of the things you need to plan in advance.
- Santorini is in Greece, Europe: Santorini on Google Maps
- How to Get to Santorini island in Greece: with a direct flight to Santorini (only from within Europe mostly in between April-November) or with a direct flight to Athens, Greece and then a 5hrs/8hrs ferry or a direct flight from Athens to Santorini (read the super detailed guide)
- Best Website to Book Ferries to Santorini or just check the timetables: Let’s Ferry
- Where to Stay in Santorini: for the famous views stay in Oia, Fira (capital town), Imerovigli, Firostefani but for being closer to the beaches stay in Perissa, Perivolos or Kamari
- Where Are the Best Hotels in Santorini: the most impressive ones with the famous views are in Oia, Imerovigli and Firostefani (but you will be 20 mins drive from any beach)
- Best Hotel in Santorini : Grace Santorini (wow!)
- Best Private Villa to rent in Santorini: Anteliz Villa
- When is the best time of the year to visit Santorini: July and August are super crowded so better go in June or September when it’s still summer weather but slightly less crowded (read our weather guide for Santorini)
- What’s the best advice you can give me for Santorini: rent a car or scooter! local buses can be unreliable and very crowded in the summer (July-August)
- Best Website to rent a car in Santorini: RentalCars
- Anything more you can tell me? : keep reading for more…
Read Also Our Other Recommendations for Santorini:
- Booking.com is the website with the most available rooms and private villas in Santorini (more than Airbnb)
- Where to Stay in Santorini? (the most complete guide you will ever read)
- The Top 10 Best Hotels near Oia’s Famous Sunset (do not lower your expectations…it’s better than any picture you’ve seen)
- The 20 Best Luxury and Boutique Hotels of Santorini (nothing less than amazing service and luxury at its best)
- The 20 Best Infinity Pools in Santorini (you’ve probably already seen some of these all over instagram!)
- The 25 Most Stunning Villas To Rent in Santorini (private pools, stunning sunset views and…high prices…!)
Here is what you need to know for Santorini in details:
1. What is Santorini?
Santorini is a small Greek island that has become one of the most popular travel destinations all over the world.
Many celebrities visit the island every year and it has some of the most unique and luxurious hotels on the planet.
Santorini’s official name in Greek is also Thira or (Thera). In Greek it’s called Σαντορίνη or Θήρα.
2. Where is Santorini?
Santorini is in Greece which is in the South East part of Europe:
The time in Santorini now is:
3. How do I get to Santorini?
If you live anywhere outside of Europe you have to fly to Athens first (the capital of Greece) and then take either a 40mins flight from Athens to Santorini or a 5 to 8 hours ferry (there is a slow/cheap ferry and a faster/more expensive ferry from Athens to Santorini).
Read Also: How To Get From Athens to Mykonos in 2017
If you live in Europe there are direct flights from some European cities to Santorini.
However, you won’t see any of Athens which is the biggest Greek city and undoubtedly the city with the most archaeological and cultural interest in Greece. If you are already in Athens you can just book your ferry tickets to Santorini from Let’s Ferry.
4. Where do I book flight and ferry tickets to Santorini?
Expedia has all the available options for Santorini and it will show all the available flights from Athens to Santorini or from any other major European city to Santorini.
Santorini’s airport code is JTR (Santorini’s official name is Thira or Thera).
In order to reach Santorini via ferry, you can use the Let’s Ferry website which gives you the updated prices and schedules for all ferries connecting Athens with Santorini.
5. What is the “caldera”?
Santorini is a volcanic island.
To be more precise it is an active volcano!
Thousands of years ago the centre part of the island collapsed into the sea creating a unique open sea lagoon.
Caldera is the sea lagoon that has been created.
Here is an amazing video showing what happened:
The views to the caldera are considered to be the most stunning and hotels that have Caldera views are the most expensive.
6. Where should I stay in Santorini?
You have to choose what you want.
Booking.com is the best site to book hotels for Santorini (and it’s the one that even the Greeks use…).
It is super safe , with real reviews and even the possibility to cancel your booking.
If you want the unique views of caldera and the volcano that Santorini is famous for, then you should stay at Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli or Oia…and also pay the price as these are super expensive hotels.
Get prepared for 3-4 digits numbers per night…!
The last years, some very impressive hotels have also been built in Akrotiri village.
None of these towns are close to the sea though.
All the hotels there, are hanging from a massive cliff and most of the times have spectacular views and stunning swimming pools.
But no beach…
Especially Pyrgos have some very nice views on the other side of the island (not the caldera and the volcano though).
This is the rule of thumb to remember for when searching the best area to stay in Santorini:
Fira: the capital of the island, nightclubs, shops, restaurants, buzz
Firostefani: very seclusive and relaxing but still very close to Fira for shops etc
Oia: the most famous and probably the most romantic place to stay in Santorini, not that many shops, no nightlife, but really relaxing atmosphere and some amazing restaurants. Expect tons of tourist masses though, which during the sunset time are everywhere (on the roofs, on the streets, on the walls etc).
Imerovigli: amazing views to the caldera, seclusive, not touristic and still close to Fira where all the buzz and shopping is.
In terms of how crowded the island will be, here is a rough guide :
January: 10% crowded – (Low Season – many restaurants, hotels and businesses will be closed, beaches will be empty but the island is not “dead”)
February: 10% crowded – (Low Season – many restaurants, hotels and businesses will be closed, beaches will be empty but the island is not “dead”)
March: 20% crowded – (Low Season – but slightly more people start to visit the island as the high season approaches, many restaurants, hotels and businesses will be closed or just about to open, beaches will probably be empty but the island is definitely not “dead”)
April: 40% crowded – (High Season – the beggining of the high season and most restaurants, beach bars, cafes and businesses open in April as it is also the Greek Easter and lots of Greeks visit the island to start preparing for the high season)
May: 70% crowded – (High Season – All of the businesses of the island will be 100% open and operational but the island is still not full, the beaches are getting busier every day and the weather is awesome)
June: 90% crowded – (High Season – almost at full capacity but not yet super busy…everything will be open and super fun!)
July: 100% crowded – (High Season – the heart of the high season and when the island gets super busy and crowded, but still you will have a great time while the weather is super hot – do expect to spend most of your time on the beach or the swimming pool – not as busy as in August though)
August: 110% crowded – (High Season – the busiest month for Santorini, try to avoid if possible because everything becomes more complicated adn takes more time)
September: 90% crowded – (HIgh Season – it will still feel like the long tail of Aigust some times but it will get less busy at the end of the month – weather still feels like summer! See also below)
October: 70% crowded (High Season – the weather gets colder but you can still possibly enjoy a swim in the sea or the pool – for many of the businesses October is their last operational month)
November: 30% crowded (Low Season – the early days of winter and the month where the weather gets considerably colder – many businesses, hotels and restaurants might be closed)
December: 10% crowded (Low Season – the heart of the low season and one of the coldest months in Santorini, no swimming, many closed businesses but always an amazing landscape and wild beauty)
7. When is the best time of the year to visit Santorini and what’s the weather like?
High season starts from April and ends in November.
Read Also Our other super detailed guide: Santorini Weather: What To Expect Each Month
Obviously the island is extremely busy during these months but especially in July and August you will definitely feel the tourist masses…
I have visited the island in so many different periods and months within a year and I figured out what could be the best time to enjoy the most of the island:
The perfect time to visit Santorini is late September or early October!
The weather is still fine and not too hot (around 20-25 C) , the sea waters will still be warm (from the summer heat) and most of the tourists would be gone.
That doesn’t mean there is nobody on the island. Remember: it’s still Santorini!
June is also a very good month to visit Santorini because it’s still early summer , the weather is amazing (though it can get pretty hot with more than 35C sometimes) and the big masses of tourists haven’t arrived yet.
I wouldn’t recommend May though because even though the weather is still very good , the sea waters are a bit chilly and you may not enjoy them that much.
Read Also: The Best and Worst Time to Visit Santorini (and how crowded the island will be…)
8. Are there any direct flights to Santorini?
Of course there are!
But only if you are travelling from within Europe, unfortunately and throughout the year.
Direct flights from major European locations to Santorini start in April and usually end in October.
The best website to have a look on all the available flights is Expedia, as it has all the flights to greek islands.
9. What should I eat while in Santorini?
Santorini is in Greece. Greece is famous for its cuisine.
Here is a video to give you a taste of what you should expect to experience in Santorini (and in Greece in general):
But Santorini also is an extraordinary place with amazing local produce (food and wine).
Here is my list of what to eat while in Santorini.
10. Is Santorini for kids and family?
Santorini and Greece are both very safe places to be.
Santorini in particular is a very family-friendly place and the decades of experience in touristic facilities provides all amenities for a family.
There are no all-inclusive hotels though in Santorini but all the major hotels are extremely comfortable for a family with kids.
11. How many days should I spent in Santorini?
Santorini is a relatively small Greek island but there is so much to see and do that the time will never be enough!
Our suggestion is that no matter how many days you will spend in Greece or on the greek islands in particular, try to spend 50% of your time in Santorini. You need at least 4 nights in Santorini.
Read Also: How Many Do You Really Need in Santorini ?
So, if you want to spend 10 days for your holidays in Greece, try to spend at least 5 days in Santorini and then visit other Greek islands. You won’t regret it…
12. Santorini vs Mykonos
We’ll put it this way:
Santorini can be the girl you want to spend your life with and have a family. Mykonos is the girl you want to have a one-night stand with. Got it??
On a more serious note:
Mykonos is a party island with very nice and long sandy beaches (no sandy beaches in Santorini unfortunately).
It’s been a celebrities holiday place since the 60’s and some of the best summer clubs and bars of Europe are there. It is a very beautiful place indeed.
But on the other hand it’s not a secret that everyone goes to Mykonos to party.
Think of Mykonos like the Ibiza of Greece even though there are some quiet areas to be honest.
Santorini is a completely different place. A more romantic one.
A more relaxing one.
It’s a place where you will drink amazing wine but you won’t necessarily get drunk! However, there is still some serious nightlife in Santorini as well.
Read Also: How To Get From Athens to Mykonos in 2017
13. Can I visit other greek islands from Santorini?
You certainly can!!
And it is actually one of the things you have to do while in Santorini!
The good thing is that you can actually use Santorini as your base to explore other beautiful greek islands.
I have prepared a list of 4 amazing greek islands you can visit from Santorini but real quick you can visit: Naxos, Paros, Folegandros, Ios and Anafi islands
14. Where are the best spots to see the sunset in Santorini?
Oia is definitely the place to be.
You just have to see that sunset once in your lifetime in Oia.
But let’s be honest…the sunset in Santorini is amazing wherever you are on the island…
Firostefani and Imerovigli offer amazing views of the sunset but also Akrotiri and Pyrgos (on the top of the village at Franco’s cafe/restaurant) can offer very different but equally beautiful sunset experiences).
SantoWines winery also offers an amazing patio/cafe/wine tasting restaurant where you can view the stunning sunset. You won’t regret visiting it!
15. What’s the best to rent Santorini: ATV, motorbike or a car?
ATVs are very common in Santorini but we can’t really say they are comfortable to ride for more than 10 mins (and you will need to ride them for more than 30 mins in some cases like going from Perissa to Oia and back).
However, you do need a vehicle while on the island. Preferrably a car. It’s the best advice we can give you…
Buses are very regular and they will take you where you want to go but they won’t give you the opportunity to explore the island in the best possible way.
Also, how are you supposed to get back to your hotel in Oia after having a late dinner in Pyrgos? (35-40mins drive)
You can always call a taxi but this might cost even more and there is always that challenge of finding a taxi that can pick you up from where you are.
Not easy with the greek taxi drivers.
Even if you are Greek it’s not easy…
Renting a car in Santorini costs around 40-50 euros per day (depending on the period it could get lower or higher than that).
The Best Website to rent a car online for Santorini is: RentalCars
If your budget is low then you can just rent a motorbike which costs significantly less.
16. What’s the currency in Santorini? Can I easily find ATMs on the island?
The currency of Santorini is the Euro (Greece’s currency). You can find hundreds of ATMs all over the island where you can actually use your Visa, Maestro or American Express card.
However, we do recommend that you always carry cash on you, to pay for restaurants, bars etc. because cards are not accepted everywhere.
90% of the times your hotel would accept payment by card though (especially the big and expensive ones).
17. What’s the public transportation in Santorini? Are there any local buses?
Of course there are and they are called KTEL .
Buses are very regular and they will take you where you want to go but as every public transport they will restrict you in times and places and espcecially in Greece, they are not reliable.
The timetables are not alwys followed and the buses can get super busy and crowded.
You can check the website of KTEL buses:
(pretty useless website but it will give you the basics: timetable and prices)
18. What should I do while in Santorini? What are the MUST see’s and do’s?
19. What’s all the buzz about Santorini’s wine?
Santorini is a unique volcanic island offering amazing culinary experience.
Wine production in Santorini is an ancient tradition and it’s not a secret that the volcanic soil produces a very unique taste of wine.
Read Also my Recommendations: The 16 Best Wineries and Wine Tours in Santorini
20. Can I do any shopping in Santorini? Where?
If you want to shop…then Fira is the place to be.
There are hundreds of souvenir shops, art galleries and traditional greek products shops at Fira.
Oia also has a selection of some very interesting art and handcrafts shops as well.
It also has this amazing bookstore.
In terms of grocery stores and supermarkets you will find big ones outside of the towns (in Fira mainly) and smaller ones inside the towns.
If you ask any locals they will give you all the directions.
Recommended Websites for Hotels, Ferries, Flights and Car Rentals for Santorini:
- Booking.com is the website with the most available rooms and Private Villas in Santorini (more than Airbnb)
- Let's Ferry is the best website to book your ferry tickets or check the timetables for Santorini & all greek islands
- Expedia has all the available flights from Athens or other European cities to Santorini (Santorini Airport Code: JTR)
Our Readers Said:
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CHECK OUR OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:
Booking.com is the website with the most available rooms & private villas in Santorini (even more than Airbnb)
Highest Rated Hotels in Santorini:
Best Hotel in Oia: Maregio Suites
Best Hotel in Fira: Cosmopolitan Suites
Best Hotel in Imerovigli: Grace Santorini
Best Hotel in Firostefani: Tsitouras
Best Hotel in Perivolos: Orabel Suites
Best Hotel in Perissa: Anastasia Princess
Best Hotel in Kamari: Sunrise Studios
Highest Rated Private Villas in Santorini:
Best Villa in Oia: Anemi House
Best Villa in Fira: Anteliz Villa
Best Villa in Kamari: Eolia Villa
Best Villa in Pyrgos: Sensation Villa
Best Villa in Akrotiri: Cavo Ventus
Best Villa in Firostefani: Villa Aura
Best Villa in Imerovigli: Grace Villa
WHO ARE WE:
SantoriniSecrets.com is the largest and most informative website for all things Santorini maintained by local travel bloggers who love Greece and its islands more than anything else in this world. Some of us were actually born in Santorini and some others have spent many months not only visiting the island but actually living on it for long periods of time. We are not just visitors.
We consider ourselves the tipsters of this magical place.
WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SANTORINI:
- BEST HOTELS IN SANTORINI (the best and worst areas to stay, where to stay if you are a solo traveller, the best honeymoom hotels etc)
- SANTORINI FOR FOODIES (artisanal wineries, secret restaurants, best street food and more)
- EXPERIENCE SANTORINI (things to do, secrets spots, best sunsets, secret bars and clubs, hiking, activities, tours)
Read our super detailed guide to find out what you should expect and what you need to pack!
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