20 Things You Need To Know To Plan A Trip To Santorini

by | Jan 5, 2019

Where on earth is Santorini? How to get there? What’s the weather like? And many more…

travel to santorini

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.

CHECK ALSO:  Where to Stay In Santorini 

AND: Best Cheap Hotels of Santorini

Keep reading…


  • How to Get to Santorini: 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 1hr flight from Athens to Santorini (read the detailed guide)
  • Best Website to Book Ferries to Santorini or just check the timetables: Let’s Ferry
  • Where Are the Best Hotels in Santorini: the most impressive ones with the famous views are in OiaImerovigli and Firostefani (but you will be 20 mins drive from any beach)
  • 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 my weather guide for Santorini)
  • What’s the best advice you can give me for Santorini: rent a car or scooter! Local buses in Santorini 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…

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)
  • Get Your Guide has the best and largest variety of Santorini Sailing and Wine Tours
  • Rentalcars is the best website to rent a car for Santorini (highly recommended as you won't waste time waiting for local buses)

Ok, so…

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.

You can read everything about santorini history through the centuries here.

2. Where is Santorini?

Santorini is in Greece which is in the South East part of Europe:

santorini map

Click on the map to see Santorini on Google Maps

Also, click here to see Santorini on Google Maps.

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 Santorini

Read Also: How To Get From Athens to Mykonos

If you live in Europe there are direct flights from some European cities to Santorini. Most of these flights run seasonally between may-October as this the hot season for Santorini.

If you take a direct flight to Santorini, 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 and in Europe.

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 flight options for Santorini and it will show all the available flights from Athens to Santorini or from any other major European cities 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.

Let's Ferry Website

If you are thinking of getting a ferry to Santorini then you MUST check out the Let's Ferry Website which is where you can check timetables, ferry schedules and prices.

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.

caldera santorini plane

The caldera in Santorini from the plane

6. Where should I stay in Santorini?

You have to choose what you want. You have 2 options:

a. Amazing famous Santorini views (super expensive, not close to the beaches) or

b. Being close to the famous Santorini beaches (much cheaper, but you won’t be having the famous views)

You can read our super detailed guide: Where to Stay in Santorini

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 though…!

These are the Top 20 Most Luxurious Hotels of Santorini.

These are the 10 Best Hotels in Oia.

Recently, 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 have spectacular views and stunning swimming pools.

But no beach…

However, if you don’t want to stay in any of the places that you’ve seen in the tourist guides and you want to relax by the sea you can stay at Kamari, Perivolos, Perissa towns.

I also recommend that you have a look at the very picturesque villages of Emporio and Pyrgos.

Especially Pyrgos have some very nice views on the other side of the island (not the caldera and the volcano though).

Καληνύχτα… ? ⭐️ Photo: @planetcal #santorini #greece #santorinisecrets

A photo posted by Santorini Secrets (@santorini.secrets) on

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.

Perissa , PerivolosKamari: no views to the volcano but walking distance to the best beaches of Santorini

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.

Also, places like Kamari and Perissa with their long beaches can be the perfect places for kids to spend the day by the sea close to restaurants and in a friendly and relaxing environment.

My suggestion if you are visiting Santorini with kids is to stay close to the beach side areas (Perissa, Perivolos, Kamari)

11. How many days should I spend 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 Days 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 or 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.

You can also read my detailed comparison: Mykonos or Santorini

Read Also: How To Get From Santorini to Mykonos

13. Can I visit other greek islands from Santorini?

You certainly can!!

It is actually one of the things you must do while in Santorini .

Read Also : Best Unique Things To Do 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 5 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!

In my opinion , I always prefer to watch the sunset either from Profitis Ilias Hilltop (Google Maps) or at Franco’s Cafe in Pyrgos (Google Maps)

15. What’s the best to rent Santorini: ATV, motorbike or a car?

quad santorini

ATVs (or quads) are very common in Santorini but I can’t really say they are comfortable to ride for more than 20 mins (and you will need to ride them for more than 30 mins in some cases like going from Perissa to Oia and back).

The Best Website to rent a car online for Santorini is: RentalCars 

However, you do need a vehicle while on the island. Preferably a car. It’s the best advice we can give you…

Local Buses in Santorini 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.

READ ALSO: How to Get Around in Santorini – Quads, Taxis, Cars rentals and local Buses

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)

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?

money santorini

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 might not be accepted everywhere.

99% 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?

santorini local buses fira

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 especially in Greece, they are not reliable.

The timetables are not always followed and the buses can get super busy and crowded.

You can check the Local buses of Santorini here:  Santorini Bus Timetable

18. What should I do while in Santorini? What are the MUST see’s and do’s?

Just give this a very good read: Best Things To Do in Santorini

19. What’s all the buzz about Santorini’s wine?

santorini winery

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: Best Wineries and Wine Tours in Santorini

20. Can I do any shopping in Santorini? Where?

If you want to shop…then Fira town 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 handcraft 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.

shopping santorini

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)
  • Get Your Guide has the best and largest variety of Santorini Sailing and Wine Tours
  • RentalCars is the best website to rent a car for Santorini

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

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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.



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