By Jessica Russo
A walk through Santorini feels like a walk through a Greek postcard. Picture whitewashed homes, seaside cliffs, cerulean seas, and narrow stone streets adorned by colorful shops and small family-run restaurants. This is the Greece you've been waiting for!
What to Know
Did you know that Santorini was the site of a colossal volcanic eruption thousands of years ago? Pre-eruption, this island was actually round. The eruption, however, created craters which, today, give Santorini its unique shape and iconic cliffs! One of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, Santorini is known for its whitewashed cubiform houses, bright orange sunsets, and unique beaches made up of black, red, and white sand (yes, from the volcanic lava)! Food, culture, and nightlife pulse through this vibrant island, so get ready to subathe, sip, and savor your days away.
When to Go
There's never a wrong time to go to Santorini, but there sure is a best time. Spring (April and May), early summer (June), and fall (September and October) are the perfect times to visit this Greek paradise. These months promise nice weather and bearable crowds, as opposed to the peak summer season, which bring tourists and high temperatures that dance around 100 degrees Farenheit!
How to Get Around
Public buses are locals' go-to in Santorini. They are generally abundant, frequent, and easy to use. A perk to the buses is that they stop at all the major points of interest and run through the main station at Thira (Fira), so you'll rarely have to ask, "does it stop there?" Just be careful - many of the bus signs are in Greek, so you may need to ask someone.
Rental cars and taxis are another easy way to zip around Santorini, though they will be a bit more costly. Looking for a fun way to see everything during transit? Rent an ATV! On Santorini, you'll see tons of people riding around on these little four-wheelers. Do beware, however, that Santorini is quite hilly.
Where to Eat
From romantic oceanfront restaurants to tiny traditional tavernas, Santorini overflows with flavor. Savor creamy feta, squeeze local lemon on fresh seafood, and of course, indulge in a classic gyro (pronounced "yee-to"). Taste the best of Greece at these local-approved spots.
- To Psaraki Vlichada Marina, Vlichada 847 00, Greece Phone: +30 2286 082783
- Krinaki Traditional Taverna Finikia 847 02, Greece Phone: +30 2286 071993
- Metaxi Mas Exo Gonia, Έξω Γωνία, Santorini 847 00, Greece Phone: +30 2286 031323
- Aktaion Firostefani, Santorini 847 00, Greece Phone: +30 2286 022336
- Anemoloos Εξω Γωνια, Thira 847 00, Greece Phone: +30 2286 033880
- Geromanolis Taverna 9CFJ+H2 Megalochori, Santorini, Greece Phone: +30 2286 082892
- Meroula Restaurant Vlychada, Thira 847 00, Greece Phone: +30 2286 082113
Tip: Dining out in Santorini can get expensive, but it doesn't have to! Don't be afraid to try Santorini's delicious street food for a quick lunch. Take it to the shore for a seaside picnic!
What to See
Yes, this is that village with the stone paths of cute shops, tiny tavernas, and iconic blue and white homes. Imerovigli is so postcard-worthy, it's actually nicknamed "the balcony to the Aegean." Just north of the island capital, Fira, Imerovigli is known for its dreamy sunsets, so be sure to head here in the late afternoon.
One of the most famous and beautiful beaches in all of Greece, Red Beach is just what it sounds like. Think: pebbly sand surrounded by towering red cliffs, met by crystal teal water. It's almost like the Grand Canyon meets the Greek Isles!
One of your "must-do" activities as a Santorini tourist is hike from Fira to Oia. We promise, the views will blow you away. This picture-perfect village, like Imerovigli, is also known for its sunsets. You might want to reserve a table at a seaside restaurant and sip wine as you watch the sun spectacularly set over the Aegean.
For a more "typical" Greek beach, head to Kamari. Relax under a straw umbrella, feel pebbly white sand in your toes, and gaze out at where the blue sea meets the horizon.
Wow, wow, and wow. Amoudi Bay is a Greek paradise bursting with color and culture. Lined with red cliffs, colorful buildings, and seaside restaurants, this picturesque fishing bay in Oia is a must-see. You are warned, however, that it is a bit of an "adventure" to get down to this old port. Trek down 300 plus stone steps, hitch a taxi, or take a donkey ride down!
This once prehistoric town and current archaeological site is a true wonder. Visit these well-preserved ruins and spring for a guided tour to learn all about the settlement of the Aegeans.
Tips and Tricks
Wear proper walking shoes. Part of Santorini's beauty is its hilly nature, and with hills comes lots of steps. While you can ride a donkey on some touristy routes, it's always better to be safe than sorry. And hey, a little exercise means extra spanakopita, right?
Make reservations. Trust us, you're not the only one in Santorini who wants to go to that adorable seaside restaurant. To avoid disappointment, it pays to book ahead.
Spring for a sailing excursion. Yes, you probably took the ferry, but there's something much different about relaxing on a sailboat drinking Greek wine with a local captain. Take amazing photos, gaze at Santorini from afar, and enjoy a front-row seat to one of Santorini's famous sunsets.
While most photos showcase Santorini's bright blue coast, the island's interior is filled with beautiful vineyards and traditional (less touristy) villages. Weave through the quaint stone streets of Pyrgos, then stop at a winery... or two.
Just 45-minutes away by ferry, escape to this laid-back island that boasts an all-day party vibe. Visit the classic whitewashed Greek village of Chora, laced with shop-lined streets, traditional windmills, and scenic views. While Chora is perfectly peaceful during the day, it's also known for its vibrant nightlife scene. Catch some sun at Mylopotas Beach, where cerulean waters meet bright white sand.
Tip: While it may sound tempting to take a day trip to the popular islands of Mykonos or Naxos, ferry schedules make it nearly impossible to do in one day. If you decide to go to one of those islands, be prepared to stay overnight!