Santorini (Thira) Tourism And Travel Guide
18.5° C / 65.3° F
April to October
3 to 4 Days
Santorini (Thira) International Airport (5 kms)
Santorini is part of the Cyclades group of Islands in Greece. It was formed due to a volcanic eruption centuries ago and is part of what is known as the Santorini Caldera. It is the largest island within the volcanic group of islands, however, it is a dormant volcano. Tourism in Santorini is the island's main source of income. It is a very popular honeymoon destination and tourist vacation spot. During summers, students from nearby cities come to Santorini to work in restaurants and hotels. The island is thriving with tourists almost all year around. This travel guide to Santorini will help you make the best of your Santorini trip.
How To Reach
Being an Island, there are only 2 real options to travel to Santorini. By Flight and by Ferry.
If you are travelling from India, there are no direct flights to Santorini. You can travel to Athens and then take a domestic or charter flight to Santorini Island. The domestic flight takes only 45 minutes so it is the quickest way to reach the Island. The airport is around 5 km from Fira, the main town in Santorini.
Travelling to an island is best experienced by sea. Though it is much longer, it is a memorable one. There are many daily cruise ships and ferry ships to Santorini from the port of Piraeus near Athens. The ride could take anywhere between 5 to 7 hours depending on the shipping company. Once you reach the port, you can hire a taxi to get to Fira or other towns. The port is located in Ormos which is 8 km from Fira.
There is no road that takes you from the mainland of Greece to the Island of Santorini. The only option here is to travel by road to the port and take your car on the ferry. Once you reach Santorini, you can drive around the Island and then take a ferry back, the same way. This is however not recommended because it is far easier to just hire a car locally on the island.
Santorini is not a very large island. End to end would take you more or less 1 hour by car. You can hire a car locally and drive around. However, the main areas of each town are usually pedestrian only, so you will need to do a lot of walking around anyway. A fun way to experience the island is by a quad bike or electric bike. You can rent one on a per hour or per day basis from most parts of the Island. There are also local buses that take you to the different towns within the Island. This service is more frequent during the summer months.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring (Mach to May):
The weather in Spring is ideal for tourists, who are looking for both - a warm and cool climate. The lowest temperature would be 11°C while the highest could go to 22°C. April onwards the water is quite perfect for a swim and other water sports. There is a slight chance of rain. 11 hours of daylight will ensure you can enjoy a lot of activities during the day. Some of the prominent festivities during these months are Easter and the Feast of Agia Theodosia.
Summer (June to August):
Summer is peak tourist season for Santorini. It is buzzing with activity and can become quite over-crowded. But it is a fun time to visit the Island as all the best hotels, tours, activities are open during these months. You can enjoy a warm climate of temperatures ranging between 23°C and 29°C. You can also expect clear skies with no rain. Some popular festivals held during this time are the Santorini Jazz Festival, Megaro Gyzi Festival, the Aegean Regatta and many other religious festivities all throughout July and August.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn is also a lovely time to visit Santorini - especially September and some parts of October. However, October onwards, many hotels start shutting down for the winter and you may not get to experience all activities at its brimming best. It is much quieter of course, and that makes it a good time to travel for people who are looking to avoid the crowds. The weather by November falls to an average of 16°C with a few days of rain. The Ifestia Festival and the International Music Festival are popular in September along with some other religious festivals in these months.
Winter (December to February):
While this is not tourist season, the place isn't all that deserted even during winter. You will find the island is an attraction all year round. However, many hotels, tour operators and public services shut down for the winter, so you may miss out on some activities or may not be able to travel as freely. With an average temperature of 12°C, it is also not the best weather for a swim in the beaches. There are a few days of rain expected.
Things To Do
Jet Ski & Kayaking Tours On The Caldera:
There are many things to see outside of the main island of Santorini; like its sister island Theresia, the volcanic island and also the hot springs. You can visit these places by doing a boat tour or be more adventurous by doing it on a Jet Ski or a Kayak. These options are available between April and September.
Santorini is famous for its local wines. You can book for guided tours of a couple of the island's wineries or just visit one of them on your own. Santo & Venetsanos are the most popular with tourists and they offer beautiful views of the Caldera while you can sip on a variety of wines. Try the dessert wines which is indeed a delicacy, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
Watch The Magnificent Sunset:
Every evening you are witness to one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The most popular spot for sunset viewing is in Oia. But other spots in Fira, Imerovigli and Firostefani are also excellent. You will find that every evening people line up on the cliff end of the island and gape at the setting sun. After the sunset, another mesmerising view is that of the resorts and hotels switching on their lights and lighting up the cliffs. A setting worthy of a postcard.
Open Air Cinema in Kamari:
Santorini has good options for nightlife. From many restaurants, bars and dance clubs. For those who are looking to spend an exciting but quieter evening, try a movie and dinner at the Open Air Cinema at Kamari. This open-air cinema is one of the best in Europe. It is open for tourists from May through October, showcasing one film at 9:30 pm.
Some of the best shopping in Santorini is at Fira. The narrow pathways are filled with shops to pick up greek souvenirs, especially from the Fira Centre up to the Cable Car station. There are also many boutique shops that sell local arts & crafts items that you may not get elsewhere. Oia also has many such narrow streets filled with shops. Some of the most popular items that people prefer to buy at Santorini are Pottery, Cotton clothing (made in Greece), Evil-Eye jewellery, Volcanic Creams & Bath products, Greek Art and more. You can also buy local wines.
The Greeks love their food and they are known to be great feeders. Their portions are large and their food cooked with love. For meat lovers, it is a haven. But vegetarians are not left behind, as there are many local mouthwatering delicacies that you must try.
Some of the local foods you must try are Saganaki (fried cheese), Greek Salad, Keftes, Moussaka, Souvlaki & Gyros, Fava, Apochti (Pork), Spanakopita (Spinach Pie), and Roasted Lamb. Some top-rated restaurants that you can visit are Selini in Pygros, Naoussa, Nikolas Taverna & Koukoumavlos in Fira, Remvi in Firostefani, Aroma Avlis in Exo Gonia. Pitogyros in Oia, Katharos Lounge at Katharos to name a few. Most of these restaurants will also have vegan and vegetarian options for food.
There are also many restaurants offering international cuisines including Indian and Asian, for those who prefer to eat something closer to home.