Santorini Island Guide

Santorini Island Overview

Santorini is the quintessential Greek island, famed for its stunning clifftop hotels and breathtaking caldera views. There’s truly no place like it in the world.

I first visited Santorini in 2017 during my initial island-hopping adventure. It was a must-see on my north-south itinerary, though I approached it with some hesitation due to its reputation for being pricey and overcrowded. As someone who enjoys quieter, more traditional islands, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

After spending three days soaking in the island’s beauty, I left for Crete with mixed feelings. The caldera views were unforgettable, and the meals were delightful. Navigating the island was relatively easy, but the crowds were the densest I’d encountered in Greece.

If you’re on the fence about visiting Santorini, take heart. I’ve returned three times since that initial trip and haven’t regretted it once. In 2019, my girlfriend and I stayed in Firostefani on the caldera rim, enjoying a fantastic time at a modest hotel with incredible views. I experienced a different side of the island in 2023, staying in Kamari at the start and end of a trip to nearby Ios. Recently, in May 2024, I had a brief but highly enjoyable stay in Karterados, where I ticked off new activities like visiting a winery and hiking from Fira to Oia.

Despite its popularity and the inevitable crowds, Santorini is an island that deserves a spot on everyone’s bucket list. Its unique geography offers breathtaking views that can’t be fully captured in photos or videos. Santorini is a destination you’ll remember forever.

Me sitting on a wall with Oia as a backdrop
Me sitting on a wall with Oia as a backdrop

Santorini Video Guide

Check out our video guide on Santorini, released in June 2024, which has tons of useful information about the island if you’re thinking of visiting:

Getting to Santorini

Santorini (Thira) Airport (JTR)

Santorini has a decent international airport, renovated in 2021. It has regular connections to most major European airports and Athens airport for domestic transfers. The airport is on the island’s eastern side, just north of Kamari and south of Monolithos.

A regular bus service links the airport with the capital, Fira, but many people choose private transfers to reach their accommodation more quickly and in style. You can find taxis at the airport, too, but these can be in short supply when several flights arrive, and you could end up waiting a long time, so it’s best to pre-book a transfer or use the local bus.

A closer shot of the runway at Santorini.

You can find flights to Santorini using Skyscanner or your preferred airline operator’s portal.

Athinios Ferry Port

The main port of Santorini, Athinios, is located at the bottom of the caldera down a steep switchback road approximately 8 kilometres south of the capital, Fira. Due to its distance from any nearby village and the steep path, trying to arrive or leave the port on foot is not recommended. A local bus service meets every ferry and will take passengers to Fira, where they can find a connecting service to other resorts on the island. Alternatively, you can book private transfers or pick up a taxi – there is a taxi station at the port, though you may have to queue during busy times.

You can find out about ferry connections to Santorini on FerryHopper or use the booking widget below:

Athinios Ferry Port
Athinios Ferry Port

Where to Stay on Santorini

Santorini offers a wide range of accommodation to suit most budgets and tastes, from luxury caldera view suites with private pools to more modest studios and hotels away from the clifftops.

Santorini Map Accommodation Areas
A map of Santorini showing accommodation areas by budget

The above image shows a map of Santorini with several popular villages, highlighted to show typical relative costs for each area. As a guide, staying on the western side of the Caldera rim is the most expensive, followed by the eastern beach resorts. Inland villages are typically the cheapest. That’s not to say you can’t find cheap rooms near the caldera or luxury hotels elsewhere.

Fira, Firostefani & Imerovigli

The capital, Fira, and its two northern neighbours, Firostefani and Imerovigli, are the most popular resorts in Santorini due to their central location and proximity to local amenities such as the main bus station in Fira. Of the three, we recommend Imerovigli as it’s the quietest while still offering stunning views and convenient foot access to Fira. Firostefani is similar in many ways but can get slightly more crowded as it’s closer to the capital. Staying in Fira itself is not recommended: it’s the busiest place on the island, more so because it’s where the cable car station delivers cruise ship passengers, flooding the village with tourists on any day when one or more ships are docked.

Santorini Fira Caldera View
Fira village in Santorini


After Fira, Oia is the most popular village on the island. It is famous for its iconic sunset views, which draw thousands of visitors during the peak summer season. Much like Fira, Oia offers a range of luxury and more modest accommodation both on the caldera rim and towards the centre of the village. The closer to the centre and western side (where the sunset spots are), the more crowded it will be around your hotel, so it’s best to stay on the outskirts if you can or visit during quieter months when it won’t be as packed.

Oia Sunset
Oia Sunset


Akrotiri is on the southern tip of Santorini, opposite Oia. More well known for its prehistoric village archaeological site, it’s becoming a more popular base as the other caldera resorts reach saturation point. You can find luxury hotels here with similarly impressive views and fewer crowds, so it’s definitely worth considering as a great place to stay.

Perissa & Kamari

If you aren’t desperate to have the iconic clifftop views on your doorstep (they are just as impressive regardless of how you get to them), good alternatives are the beach resorts along the eastern coastline of Santorini. Kamari and Perissa are the two most popular villages and have a more typical Greek island vibe than you’ll find elsewhere. We stayed in Kamari twice, either side of a trip to Ios, back in 2023 and found it a pleasant, relaxing and friendly resort with a wide selection of restaurants, shops and beachfront cafes/bars. Prices were only slightly above what you’d find on other islands, too, and much cheaper than in Fira and Oia.

Kamari Village
Kamari Village

Emporio, Prygos, Vothonas and Karterádos

For those not interested in clifftop views or beach proximity, the best accommodation deals are found inland at one of the many smaller villages, such as Emporio, Vothonas, Pyrgos, or Karterádos. You’ll typically find that each village is on at least one bus route, allowing you access to Fira (where all buses start and finish their routes) within 10-20 minutes. We spent two nights in Karterádos in May 2024 and found it an ideal base, with the main bus station in Fira just a 15-minute walk from our hotel and a bus stop right outside that most buses pass on their way back to the capital. Our accommodation cost just under €50 per night.

Getting Around Santorini


Santorini’s bus network is comprehensive and frequent, though it can suffer from excess demand in peak season between mid-June and early September. Buses are cheap and generally cost from €1.60 to €2.40 depending on the destination. Bus tickets are purchased on the bus after you’ve boarded – a collector will come down the bus once it’s moving and take money.

The most important thing to know about buses in Santorini is that all routes run to and from the capital, Fira. The main bus station is located to the south of the village, down a short road opposite the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. An information kiosk guides tourists on what buses to take to reach various destinations. Buses typically have signs in the front window stating which village or resort is their main destination, but in all cases, the buses are numbered, and the kiosk will tell you which number bus you need.

The drivers and ticket sellers typically shout their destination to waiting passengers shortly before departure, so if you don’t want to use the kiosk, listen out for shouts about the destination you’re after and check with the driver when you board.

Most villages have one or more bus stops, which are usually well-signposted and should have the most up-to-date timetable printed nearby. If you want to get off at a particular stop before the bus reaches its destination, tell the ticket seller, and they should make sure the bus stops where you want it. Often, the stops are called out as the driver approaches, so you can also respond by saying you want to get off at that stop. In some cases, the buses are fitted with stop buttons you can use as an alternative to shouting.

Cars, Motorbikes and ATVs

If you prefer to have your own private transportation for some or all of your time in Santorini, you’ll find lots of rental companies at the airport and in most villages offering cars of varying sizes, as well as bikes/mopeds and ATVs (quad bikes). Unless you’re familiar with Greek roads, we don’t recommend mopeds or ATVs as they can be dangerous and local drivers aren’t always the most sympathetic towards tourists on the road, especially the local bus drivers. Cars are the safest option and often cost only slightly more than an ATV while offering secure storage, room for 4 or 5 people and air conditioning. Expect to pay at least €15 per day for mopeds and €30 or more per day for cars and ATVs, with prices increasing for larger models. Try shopping around to negotiate the best deals, but most companies will charge similar amounts, and due to high demand, you are unlikely to get much discount during peak season.


One of Santorini’s main attractions is its dramatic landscape. The island was formed by a massive volcanic eruption over 3,500 years ago, and its cliffs and rugged terrain provide a breathtaking backdrop for any visit. The island’s famous caldera, a giant volcanic crater filled with crystal-clear waters, is a must-see attraction that offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea.

The famous sunset spot in the village of Oia on the southern tip of Santorini

Santorini is also known for its beautiful villages, each with unique charm and character. The most famous is Oia, a picturesque village famous for its blue-domed churches and stunning sunsets. Visitors can stroll through the village’s narrow streets and explore its many shops and galleries, which offer traditional Greek crafts and souvenirs.


Santorini is also a food lover’s paradise, with numerous restaurants that offer traditional Greek cuisine and international dishes. The island’s volcanic soil is ideal for growing grapes, and its wines are renowned worldwide. Visitors can sample the island’s delicious wines and enjoy a meal of fresh fish and seafood in one of the many tavernas that line the island’s coast.

Santorini offers numerous options for those who love history and culture. The island has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, and visitors can explore ancient ruins and landmarks such as the ruins of Akrotiri. A volcanic eruption destroyed this ancient Minoan city. Visitors can also explore the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which houses artefacts from the island’s ancient past.

Santorini is also a popular destination for outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to water sports and sailing. The island’s rugged terrain and beautiful coastline provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures.


In conclusion, Santorini is a stunning island that every Greek traveller should visit at least once in their lifetime. With its spectacular landscape, beautiful villages, delicious cuisine, rich history and great wine, it offers something for everyone. So pack your bags and head to Santorini—you won’t regret it!

Santorini Blog Posts

Find out more about Santorini by reading our recent blog posts:

Santorini AccommodationSantorini Blog