A Basic Guide To Exploring Santorini, Greece

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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 devastatingly gorgeous views, remarkable sloping hillsides, and spectacular 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.

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 IN SANTORINI 

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 ~€2.50 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 IN SANTORINI 

It is possible to rent a car on the island of Santorini from the following companies:

  • Budget Rent-A-Car
  • Hertz Rent-A-Car
  • Sixt
  • Avis
  • 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.

• ATV RENTAL IN SANTORINI •

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.

TOWNS & VILLAGES IN SANTORINI

• 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 donkey feces lines the stairs leading down to the water, so wear shoes that you are not afraid of getting dirty.

Getting A RoomThere are a number of accommodation options in Oia for everyone from backpackers to billionaires. 

  • Mid-Range: Anemoessa Villa – Located just outside the center of Oia, Anemoessa Villa’s key points are its delicious homemade breakfasts and stunning panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. Rooms start at around $150/night.
  • SplurgeAmaya Selection of Villas – The highly rated Amaya Selection of Villas has stunning rooms with views Caldera and the Aegean Sea. Rooms start at around $400/night.
  • Super-Splurge: The Architect’s Villas – One of the most beautiful properties in Santorini, The Architect’s Villas is a fully-equipped three-bedroom villa perfect for a luxury vacation. Rooms start at about $1200/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.

Red Beach is a small beach that is covered in pebbles, so it is not ideal for resting for long periods of time. Despite all of the pebbles, Red Beach is that there is a 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 RoomThere are a number of accommodation options in Perissa to accommodate everyone’s needs.

  • Budget: Villa Kasteli – If you are looking for a budget-friendly option, look no further than the highly rated Villa Kasteli.  This no-frills family property offers private rooms starting at about $20/night.
  • Mid-RangeVilla 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. Rooms start at about $60/night.

• Kamari – Καμάρι 

Kamari is a small coastal 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 RoomThere are a number of accommodation options in Kamari for everyone. 

  • Mid-Range: Update coming soon!
  • Splurge: Tamarix Del Mar SuitesThis beautiful property located in Kamari has guests raving about everything from the staff, to the food, to the facilities. Rooms start at around $270/night.
  • Super-SplurgeUpdate coming soon!

• Thira (Fira) – Θήρα 

Thira is the main town on the island of Santorini. Thira 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 at 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 RoomThere are a number of accommodation options in Thira for every budget. 

  • Mid-Range  – Update coming soon!
  • Splurge – Update coming soon!
  • Super-Splurge – Update coming soon!

Before traveling to Santorini, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. One great company that offers affordable options is Allianz Assistance. Check them out now!

Updated June 2017

By | 2017-08-25T09:51:10+00:00 January 12th, 2015|Santorini, Travel Guides & Itineraries|34 Comments
  • Awesome guide!! I have only been to Corfu in Greece and I was just there for a couple of days. I definitely need to go back and see more of it! 🙂

    • Thanks Cailin! I want to visit more Greek isles in the future 😀

  • You really do put together amazing guides! I’ll be sharing this 🙂

    • Thank you Francesca! I hope it will help someone 😀

  • Very nice article. I bookmarked for my future trip . 🙂

    • Wonderful Andrew! You will have a great time 😀

  • One of my favorite places! Views like no other! I took the public buses everywhere! We stayed in Fira and visited Oia often. I loved the red sand and black sanded beaches as well as Ancient Thira and the Wineries on Santorini. And I did ride a donkey up the caldera. Hopefully I did not tire mine out too much!

    • Yes, it is so beautiful Nadeen and I took the buses everywhere 🙂 I planned to go to the wineries but didn’t get a chance to go. I definitely will on my next trip!

  • I’m definitely holding on to this. There’s a good chance I’ll be in Greece later this year, and most likely in Santorini! Question: what about getting TO Santorini? How’d you get there and from where?

    • Awesome Francesca!! 😀 I flew in (from Vienna) and out of Santorini (to Athens) on Aegean airlines 😀

  • Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker

    Whoa, that red beach looks awesome! I knew about Oia, but definitely adding this to the list. Love reading about your Greek adventures! 😀

    • It was so cool – you definitely have to see it when you go Lindsay!

  • Awesome tips and I am so glab I stumbled on to your post via the pinterest group as I am heading to Greece in July and this is the perfect post with useful information. THANKS!

    http://www.itsallbee.com

    • Hi Bianca! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a wonderful trip. Santorini is BEYOND amazing 😀

  • RachelTravels

    I need to make Greece happen this year!

  • Hi Andrew, I also stayed in Perissa and had no issues getting around; sometimes I had to wait a bit for the busses to arrive 😀

  • Ahtziri Lagarde

    Well done! I’ve lost hours of my life reading trashy guides. I’m glad to find this!

  • Alexis Rene Puente

    I will be spending 6 days in Greece later in July, would you suggest going to Mykonos and Santorini or just go to Santorini for six days?

    • Hello Alexis, since you have so much time, it might be good to check out both islands. I have not done Mykonos yet, but I hope to on my next journey. Have a great trip!

  • Cindi K Nicholas Grisham

    Leaving for Greece on Sept 9th. Can’t wait. Will have 3 days in Athens, 4 days in Santorini and 6 days in Crete.

    • It sounds like you have an exciting trip ahead of you Cindi! I wish I had a chance to explore Crete during my trip 😀

  • Going to visit Athens this May and now we are thinking about going to Santorini for a couple of days. Is it really worth seeing or it’s better to go to other cities on the mainland?

    • Maria, I highly recommend visiting Santorini! It is absolutely breathtaking and I cannot wait until I get back. Enjoy your trip to Greece!

  • amrit

    visiting santorini for 3 days. includes a morning flight on the first day landing at 8:00am. anything i should NOT miss on my short trip?

    • Hello Amrit! Although you only have three days on the island, you will have a good amount of time to see many, if not all, of the sights listed above. One thing that I would definitely recommend not missing is the sunset in Oia. One thing I regret not seeing during my trip is the buried city of Akrotiri, so if you are into history, you should look into visiting. Have a wonderful trip!

  • Jana Kovacova

    Hi there. We will be in Santorini for 1 day. Arriving with Cruise liner. Not sure if to book a trip around or just hire a car and do it ourselves. what could Taxi cost around the island?

    • Hi Jana! I did not taxi around the island so I am not completely sure, but it definitely might be beneficial to hire a driver or a car for the day since the buses can be inconsistent.

  • Shannon Paige

    This is awesome- thank you so much! Pinned for later- we are going in May and will; definitely need help getting around!

    • I am really glad that this was so helpful to you Shannon and I hope you have an amazing time in Santorini!

  • Chloe J. Blair

    Thanks so much for this! Question: would you recommend renting a car or just bussing it? I have this weird concern about finding parking if we rent a car but I don’t want to be worrying about which bus gets us where.

    • Hey Chloe! While the bussing system is fairly easy to figure out, you will be on the busses schedule and not your own. If you are limited in time or want more freedom when traveling around the island, renting a car might be the way to go! Enjoy your trip!

  • Steven Budhu

    Awesome guide!

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