Things to Know for Santorini Cruises

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Written By: Pavlos Inglesis

santorini cruises

If you are coming to Santorini as part of your cruise then things can get tricky, because you only have a few hours on the island and you will literally be in a rusη. this is all you need to know about Santorini cruises.

If you are coming on a Cruise ship you only have a few hours to discover the island so you must do the best out of your limited time. Obviously you won’t have the time to do all of the best things in Santorini.

BEST SANTORINI TOUR (TO SEE THE WHOLE ISLAND) : Private 6 hour Tour of Santorini

This tour will give you the opportunity to see most of the island from the comfort of an air conditioned van and you will a dedicated guide (most likely a local) who will be explaining to you what you see. This tour will take you to the famous black and red beaches while you will also visit a local farm/winery and taste the famous Santorini wines.

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The Annual Cruise Arrivals Schedule for Santorini is post every year in this link.

Just keep reading… is the website with the most available rooms and Private Villas in Athens, Santorini , Mykonos & Crete (more than Airbnb!)

Ferryhopper is the best website to book your ferry tickets or check the timetables for Santorini, Mykonos , Crete & all greek islands

Get Your Guide has the best and largest variety of Tours in Athens and the greek islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Crete etc)

Rentalcars is the easiest way to rent a car or a quad for Greece with thousands of available options

Expedia has all the available flights to and from the greek islands

So, if you are arriving to the island on a Santorini cruise ship please be aware of the following:

  • Your ship will most probably dock just outside the Old Port in Fira.

  • From there, you will take a tender boat to come into the Old Port and then the cable car up to the town of Fira. 

  • It is either the cable car or 600 steps to get to town and I wouldn’t recommend the steps. By steps I don’t mean exactly what you have in mind. I mean you have to step up, then walk three or four steps and then reach the next step.You have the alternative of getting a donkey to take you up, but I am not a big fan of that either to be honest. I just feel so bad for the donkeys….

  • There are queues everywhere! You usually have to queue to get into the tender boat, and then to get to the cable car. From what I hear (from other cruise passengers I have met over the years) some cruise lines give priority to people paying for ships excursions. Which means they will leave the ship first and you might have to wait a bit.

  • On the way back, you might also have to queue to get the cable car down to the old port.

Here is how taking the cable car looks like:

When I am on tour, I usually bring people back to Fira one hour in advance (one hour before their last tender) just to make sure they will be there on time.

My point is that all these will take up some time, so do factor that in when you are planning your day.

I have been at the top of the cable car so many times waiting for my tour for an hour, an hour and a half or even more.

  • Bottom line is you need to plan your day to make the most of it.
  • There are some cruise ships that dock at the port of Athinios, but that is rare.
  • Most people coming to Santorini on a cruise get about 5-6 hours on the island.
  • Furthermore, I am sad to say that they rarely get a chance to watch the sunset, as their ship usually leaves earlier.

Now, I know you all want to see the sunset from Oia, but just in case that is not possible, here is what I would suggest for you:

Once you get off the boat and into Fira town, start from Oia. 

Whatever you have planned for the day it is wise to start from there.

This is because Oia always gets busier in the afternoon (because everyone wants to watch the sunset from there).

That also means that you might find trafficyou might struggle to find a taxi and the bus might be delayed.

I know there are a lot of “mights” in this sentence, but honestly I don’t think you would want to take your chances and miss the cruise ship.

Just saying, this is what I would do… 🙂

Visiting Oia Village

Oia is on the north edge of Santorini, perched at the edge of the cliff.

It is the prettiest village in Santorini and the most popular one. Here is where you will find all the “postcard shots” you have probably seen somewhere on the internet, or…Instagram… 🙂 Oia is truly stunning.

Best Hotels in Oia

Pictures you have seen really don’t do it any justice, so you have to come and see for yourself. There is a lot of hype about Oia, all of which is true. I can assure you. Oia is mainly famous for the sunset, but it is a lovely place to visit any time of the day, any time of the year.

Here is Oia on Google Maps.

Where are the famous blue roofs of Oia ?

Oia is the place you will also find the famous blue-domed churches you are looking for and the ruins of a Venetian Castle. Many people go looking for this particular spot you can see on this picture with the two blue domed churches. It is actually super easy to find them. Start walking on the main path of Oia as if you are walking to the Castle, so with the cliffside on your left hand side. At some point you will see “Alexandros” Jewelry Shop on the left, right at the corner. Make a turn there and walk down the steps. You will find yourself standing in front of a door. Go to the right there and enjoy the view. Take as many photos as you can, sometimes you even have to queue to get a picture there – I am not joking!

Here are the famous Blue Dome Churches of Santorini on Google Maps.

Visiting a Santorini winery & have the Ultimate Wine Tasting experience 

You are missing a lot if you don’t visit a winery in Santorini

There are so many wineries on the island to choose from but if you have very limited time just get a taxi and go to Santowines close to Pyrgos.

Read Also: Best Wineries and Wine Tours of Santorini (seriously…this is the most detailed guide on Santorini’s wineries on the internet)

Some of them are more traditional, some have amazing views. Choose the one you prefer, just make sure it works with your schedule – in terms of location and distance. No matter which winery you choose it is important to try 2 wine varieties before you leave: Assyrtiko and Vinsanto. These two are the most popular and unique ones in Santorini.


So, I hope my tips helped you make the best of your time on the island if you are coming on a cruise. As I said on my intro, the best thing you can do is to arrange for a private tour of the island which will give you the opportunity to take a glimpse of the island as quickly as possible.

* Christina from has contributed to this article

Photo of author
Pavlos Inglesis
Greek, born and raised in Athens. I have been to almost every greek island and pretty much in every region of mainland Greece. I have also been eating souvlaki and gyros since the 80s. I love being a dad to my 2 beautiful daughters and also taking great photos of the places I visit. This is my blog to help you out explore the places I have visited with my inside tips as a Greek, knowing the ins and outs of my country and culture. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section under the post you are interested in and I wIll try my best to respond asap.

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