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.

Traveling on the Buses: All buses run through the main station at Thira (Fira) and travel to different destinations on the island. If you are going to different parts of the island outside of Fira, you must change buses in Fira first [Example: To get from Perissa to Oia, you must go from Perissa -> Fira and then change buses to go from Fira -> Oia].

Cost: Each bus line has a different fare and ranges up to €2.50 one-way. Check the website link above to find the fare for your specific route.

Paying Your Fare: When you enter the bus the first thing you will need to do is find a seat. While the bus is in motion, a money collector will come around to collect your fare and give you a ticket. Do not lose this ticket because ticket checkers will sometimes come on buses to make sure you paid your fare.

Getting Off of the Bus: 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.

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.

Additionally, be prepared to wait for the bus for a long time, as 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 line 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. (Price Range: $111-$246)

– SplurgeAmaya Selection of Villas – The highly rated Amaya Selection of Villas has stunning rooms with views Caldera and the Aegean Sea. (Price Range: $184-$1,386)

 

• 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. (Price Range: $30-$60)

– 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. (Price Range: $36-$120)

• 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-RangeSelini Hotel – Selini Hotel is a mere 6-minute walk from the Kamari Beach and is simply styled in white and blue. (Price Range: $77-$180)

– Splurge: Tamarix Del Mar Suites – This beautiful property located in Kamari has guests raving about everything from the staff, to the food, to the facilities. (Price Range: $184-$468)

• 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(€12.00/RT) – no swimming allowed.

Getting A RoomThere are a number of accommodation options in Thira for every budget. 

– Mid-Range  – Villa Rose – Located in Fira City Center, Villa Rose is a highly rated property. This hotel also offers car rental, is good for couples, and best of all, it is affordable! (Price Range: $63-$196/night)

– Splurge Lilium Santorini Villa – With rooms overlooking the sea, Lilium Santorini Villa is the perfect place to truly relax. This property offers car rentals and is highly rated by couples. (Price Range: $154-$635/night)

– Super-Splurge Anteliz Suites – Anteliz Suites is one of the most beautiful hillside properties on the island of Santorini. Featuring Santorinian architecture, this hotel will make you feel like you are in a Greek movie. (Price Range: $227-$961/night)


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!

Looking to experience more in Santorini? Consider checking out some of the activities below:

Updated April 2018

By |2018-04-29T12:22:40+00:00January 12th, 2015|Santorini, Travel Guides & Itineraries|35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Cailin Jan 12, 2015 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    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! 🙂

    • Chanel Jan 12, 2015 at 9:23 pm - Reply

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

  2. Francesca One Girl: One World Jan 12, 2015 at 3:37 pm - Reply

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

    • Chanel Jan 12, 2015 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Thank you Francesca! I hope it will help someone 😀

  3. Andrew Jan 12, 2015 at 5:38 pm - Reply

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

    • Chanel Jan 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Wonderful Andrew! You will have a great time 😀

  4. nadeen Jan 13, 2015 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Chanel Jan 14, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

      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!

  5. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) Jan 18, 2015 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Chanel Jan 19, 2015 at 12:57 am - Reply

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

  6. Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker Jan 20, 2015 at 1:51 am - Reply

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

    • Chanel Jan 20, 2015 at 11:52 pm - Reply

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

  7. Bianca @ItsAllBee Mar 9, 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    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

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Mar 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm - Reply

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

  8. RachelTravels Mar 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    I need to make Greece happen this year!

  9. Ahtziri Lagarde Jul 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm - Reply

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

  10. Alexis Rene Puente Jul 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Jul 19, 2015 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      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!

  11. Cindi K Nicholas Grisham Aug 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm - Reply

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

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Aug 13, 2015 at 11:27 am - Reply

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

  12. Rentacar Jan 24, 2017 at 8:36 am - Reply

    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?

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Feb 22, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

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

  13. amrit Feb 22, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Feb 23, 2017 at 12:10 am - Reply

      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!

  14. Jana Kovacova Mar 17, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Apr 4, 2017 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      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.

  15. Shannon Paige Mar 23, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply

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

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Apr 4, 2017 at 11:16 pm - Reply

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

  16. Chloe J. Blair Mar 29, 2017 at 2:46 am - Reply

    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.

    • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer Apr 4, 2017 at 11:18 pm - Reply

      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!

  17. Steven Budhu Apr 18, 2017 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Awesome guide!

  18. Afia Aug 6, 2018 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Great article. I will be visiting Santorini in a few days. This posts was useful! Thanks!

    • Chanel Aug 6, 2018 at 11:55 am - Reply

      I am glad that it was beneficial to you – have a great trip!

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