Santorini (Σαντορίνη), also known as Thira (Θήρα) is a Greek island located in the Aegean Sea. It is one of Greece’s most picturesque islands and it is known for its amazing views, stunning hillsides, and beautiful sunsets.
One thing to note about Greece is that not everything is written in English; many things (such as the buses) are written only in Greek, so your best way to get around is either to ask someone where you are going or have a basic knowledge of the Greek alphabet. (Personally, being made to learn the Greek alphabet when I joined a sorority in college helped me substantially when I was navigating my way around the country!)
Getting Around Santorini
Getting around the island of Santorini is incredibly easy. There are a number of ways to get around the island from public transportation to rental cars.
Public Buses: Buses are the most inexpensive way to get around the island and they stop at all of the major points of interest.
- All buses run through the main station at Thira (Fira) and to get to different destinations on the island. If you are going to different parts of the island that are not Fira, you must change buses in Fira [Example: To get from Perissa to Oia, you must go from Perissa -> Fira and then change buses to go from Fira -> Oia].
- Each bus line has a different fare and ranges up to €3 one-way.
- When you enter the bus, find a seat, and then when the bus is in motion, the money collector will come around to collect your fare and give you a ticket. Do not lose this ticket as ticket checkers will sometimes come on buses to check your tickets.
- The only negative of taking the buses (besides the overcrowding) is that they do not go off-the-beaten-path to the lesser-seen destinations.
- When you want to get off of the bus at a regular bus stop on the road, make sure either the ticket collector or the driver is aware that you need to get off; they do not automatically stop at every bus stop.
- Be prepared to wait for the bus for a long time, there is no consistent time schedule that is followed.
Rental Cars & Taxis: It is possible to rent a car on the island of Santorini from the following companies:
- Budget Rent-A-Car
- Hertz Rent-A-Car
- A number of Greek rental car companies
It is also possible to take taxis around the island although they are not easy to find during high season, so it is best to try to book them in advance.
ATVs: You will see a number of people riding around the island on ATVs. The cost of renting one will range from €15-€75/ day (depending on the season), so the best thing to do is to check around once you get to the area you will be staying in.
Santorini is very hilly and many people have gotten into ATV accidents on the island, so be extremely cautious if you decide to rent one. Despite the possible dangers involved in riding on an ATV, an advantage to having one is that you can get to lesser-seen areas of the island that many tourists will never see.
Santorini’s Towns and Villages
Oia – Οία
Oia [pronounced ee-yuh] is home to the beautiful iconic views that are associated with Santorini. Many tourists flock to this part of the island for the famous Oia Sunset and to take donkey rides.
Getting There: Take the bus from Thira (Fira) to Oia for around €3,20 RT. It is also possible to reach Oia by taxi, car, or moped, however the roads are extremely windy, so proceed with caution.
Getting Around: Navigating the village can only be done on foot. If you would like to travel down to the water, there are a couple of options that you have: walk or take a donkey. I personally did not want to take the overworked donkeys up or down the hill, so I opted for walking. Be aware that there is donkey feces on the stairs leading down to the water, so war shoes that you are not afraid of getting dirty.
Getting A Room: There are a number of accommodation options in Oia for everyone from backpackers to billionaires.
- Mid-Range: Aspa Villas – With stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the Caldera, Aspa VIllas has both private studios and cave houses. Rooms start at USD $82/night.
- Splurge: Finari Villas – Nearby the Oia Castle and Naval Museum, Fanari Villas is a 4* hotel with private furnished balconies and patios. Rooms start at USD $263/night.
- Super-Splurge: Andronis Boutique Hotel – With breathtaking views of the Caldera, the Andronis Boutique Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Oia. Each of the 23 rooms has private spa tubs,Frette Italian sheets, and furnished balconies. Rooms start at USD $794/night.
Red Beach – Κόκκινη παραλία
Red Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the island and has stunning red rock formations and red sand. It is a small beach and has a lot of pebbles, so it is not ideal for laying on, but their is lot of aquatic life, so be sure to pack your snorkeling gear!
Getting There: Take the bus from Thira to Akrotíri [Ακρωτήρι] and then either take the boat directly to the beach (€5 RT) or hike about 15 minutes from the bus stop. You can also take boats directly from Perissa to Red Beach or from Kamari to Red Beach.
Perissa – Περίσσα
During my trip to Santorini, I stayed in Perissa, a small but popular seaside town located 13km from Thira (Fira) on the southeastern tip of Santorini.
Getting There: Take the bus from Thira (Fira) to Perissa for around €4,40 RT.
Getting Around: Getting around the town can be done by foot, on a moped, or by car. The town is very small and is easily navigable by foot via the main road or on the street next to the beach.
Getting A Room: There are a number of accommodation options in Perissa to accommodate everyone’s needs.
- Mid-Range: Villa Markos – Tucked away on a little side-road in Perissa, family-run Villa Markos is located minutes away from Perissa Beach. The villa is comprised of studios and apartments and has a pool, a snack bar, and delicious home-cooked meals at their restaurant. Check out my room at Villa Markos in my Santorini Vlog.
- Super-Splurge: Samson’s Village – With gorgeous views of the Aegean Sea, Samson’s Village is one of the finest places to stay in Perissa. The hotel is conveniently located two minutes from Perissa Beach. Rooms start at USD $821/night.
Kamari – Καμάρι
Kamari is a small costal village located approximately 8km away from Fira. With black sand beaches and straw beach umbrellas, this beach is a little reminiscent of nearby Perissa. There are many beachside restaurants to eat at should you get hungry and Kamari is the best place on the island to shop if you need a swimsuit.
Getting There: Take the bus from Thira (Fira) to Kamari for around €3,20 RT. It is also possible to reach Kamari by taxi, car, or moped.
Getting Around: Navigating the village is very easy on foot, on a moped, or by car.
Getting A Room: There are a number of accommodation options in Kamari for everyone.
- Mid-Range: Hippocampus Hotel – An environmentally-friendly hotel, Hippocampus is only 165 ft. from the beach and has a hotel pool. Rooms start at USD $61/night.
- Splurge: Santorini Kastelli Resort – This 5* Resort is located two minutes away from Kamari Beach and has great decor, balconies, two swimming pools, and a spa. Rooms start at USD $135/night.
- Super-Splurge: La Mer Deluxe Hotel & Spa – 5* Hotel located within minutes of Kamari Beach, Ancient Thira, and Prophet Elias Monastery. Rooms start at USD $800/night
Thira (Fira) – Θήρα
Thira is the main town on the island of Santorini. The town is located on top of a cliff and has a stunning view of the famous Santorini volcano. In addition, the village has a lot of wonderful shopping and restaurants.
Getting There: All roads lead to Thira. Whether you are arriving to the village from the airport or you are passing from village to village by bus, you will pass through Thira. It is also possible to reach Thira by taxi, car, and moped.
Getting Around: Navigating the village can easily be done by foot. If you are interested getting near the water, take a cable car down to the Old Port(€10.00/RT) – no swimming allowed.
Getting A Room: There are a number of accommodation options in Thira for every budget.
- Mid-Range | Costa Marina Villas – This guesthouse provides ultimate comfort in traditional Cycladic style and is located in the heart of Fira. Rooms start at USD $60/night.
- Splurge | Celestia Grand – Celestia Grand is perched on the edge of a cliff and offers stunning views of of the volcano and the Aegean Sea. Rooms start at USD $400/night.
- Super-Splurge | Aria Suites – This luxurious boutique hotel has 6 suites in a quiet location. The hotel also provides 24 hour front desk service and concierge assistance. Rooms start at USD $1300/night.
Have you been to Santorini before? What were your favorite places to explore?
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