santorini travel guide

Dreaming of the blue and white bliss of Santorini, but not sure where to start planning? Welcome to my stress-free Santorini travel guide, with everything you could possibly need to know to plan your trip!

I’ve been to Santorini twice now, and the last visit was for almost two weeks! So you could say that I really know my way around the island!

Whether you’re going solo, with friends, or with a partner (I’ve done all three!), this Santorini travel guide will make it VERY easy for you!

First things first:

Current Travel Rules for Santorini, Greece

Never in my life did I think I’d be adding this section to all of my blog posts, yet here we are. While it was fairly easy to get into Greece (no one even asked for my vax card), you DO need to show a QR code for it or a test to eat at some indoor restaurants.

To enter Greece, you need:

  • Must either be fully vaccinated (with approved vaccines, must have gotten last dose more than 14 days prior)
  • OR show a negative PCR test
  • OR show proof of recovery
  • All passengers MUST fill out a Greece travel locator prior to arrival
  • Masks “must be worn” when entering an indoor restaurant/shop.

*NOTE: if you have a LAYOVER in another country, DO NOT FORGET to check their rules! We transited through Austria, and it was mandatory to have an N95 mask to board the plane, which we did not have, and had to run to a gift shop to buy one!

When to Go to Santorini

santorini travel guide

To be completely honest, I randomly went to Santorini the second time in off-season and post-pandemic, and it was amazing. The weather was still sunny, however it was chilly in the shade and at night. But who cares about that when the more important fact is that there were no crowds!

So I would highly suggest going in October if you want decent weather and less crowds!

If you want hot weather and don’t mind crowds, go in high season, which is June-September.

Any other month is low season, when it gets colder and rainy, plus many hotels and shops close, so I wouldn’t recommend going for the typical winter months.

How to Get to Santorini

As you probably know, Santorini is an island south of the mainland in Greece.

You have three options for getting there:

  1. Search for flights from where you are, to Santorini. Sometimes they aren’t that expensive!
  2. Fly into Athens, then book a separate flight to Santorini (usually around $80-100 depending on season)
  3. Fly into Athens, then take the ferry to Santorini (around $80, about 6 hours, might as well fly.)

How to Get Around in Santorini

santorini travel guide
Unless you’re staying in Oia, you need transportation to get there! (Or walk for 3 hours)

No joke, taxis are the most expensive I’ve ever seen in Santorini. That’s island life for ya. But don’t worry, there are other options. Or, if you plan on mostly staying at your beautiful cliff-side cave hotel, or exploring by foot, maybe you want to take a taxi, up to you.

What I did was take a taxi to my hotel in Fira, and walked around there for a couple days. Then rented a car from Fira (not the airport) for the next couple of days when I wanted to explore other areas, and also to switch hotels in Fira. I would highly suggest something like this because getting to the other towns and wineries by taxi is extremely expensive.

So here’s your options for getting around Santorini:

  1. Take a taxi from the airport to your hotel (negotiate prices since meters aren’t fixed. I got a taxi from the airport to Fira for $20), then
  2. Rent a car from the town you’re in when you decide you want to explore other areas. (Cars should be $35/day)
  3. Rent an ATV or Scooter BUT you need an international license to do so. You can get them easily online.
  4. Walk! Technically you can walk to each of the three main cliffside towns, but it will definitely take a couple hours and a lot of hills/steps.
  5. Rent a car from the airport

Santorini Travel Guide: Main Areas

Since most of the little towns look similar (all white with specs of blue domed roofs), it may be hard to figure out which one you want to go to. Some have specific photo spots people want to find, others have specific hotels. Then there’s also several other places to see as well!

Here’s my break down from North to South:

Oia

secret santorini hotel

Pronounced “ee-yah”, is probably the most popular area in Santorini. It’s where all of the token photo spots are found, where everyone goes for sunset, and where all of the most luxurious cave hotels are!

Where to Stay:

If you can, I’d highly recommend splurging to stay a night at one of these famous hotels! I stayed at Santorini Secret, and absolutely loved it! We had a two story villa with a jacuzzi on the upstairs patio that overlooks the main street and the white-dotted cliffside below.

The villa shares a secondary pool with three other villas, and then there’s also a glorious infinity pool in the communal area below. This hotel is actually one of the most photographed spots from the main street!

They also have a delicious breakfast brought to you each morning, as well as a restaurant on site.

Where to Eat:

where to eat santorini

I had the best dinner of my life in Oia. Uni pasta and a plethora of Chef’s daily delicacies while watching the full moon rise over the white cave hotels was something close to magic. It was also extremely expensive, but you can find places in Oia on a budget as well!

  • Melitini: Cute and affordable, just off the main road of Oia.
  • Lycabettus: Fine dining atop a cliff with some of the best food I’ve ever had! Extremely expensive but worth it for the right occasion!
  • Paradox: A delicious Thai and Asian Fusion restaurant with decent prices

Best Photo Spots:

I know this is the real reason why you’re here. So I’ll make it easy for ya, and pin them all on a map (coming soon, my internet isn’t cooperating)! I’d highly suggest going as early as possible, as these places get very crowded!

Also, some of my favorite photos came from just meandering around the streets! Be sure to keep an eye out and enjoy the views as you search for these famous photo spots!

If you’re going ASAP and don’t have time to wait for my map, just type in “blue dome church” and start meandering from there!

Imerovigli

santorini travel guide

I like to think of Imerovigli as the hidden gem of the white towns. You don’t hear as much about it, maybe because the name is harder to pronounce, but it’s actually my favorite spot for sunset! It’s also the least crowded, and most chill in my opinion.

If you’re up for an adventure, or a challenge to get an epic photo, you can also climb Skaros Rock which is located in Imerovigli!

Where to Stay:

For the second time, I stayed at Astra Suites, and loved it just as much as the first time. The vibe is just so chill and the people there are amazing (and somehow all very attractive).

You also really get a feel like you’re staying in a cave, because their suites have the classic high domed ceilings and thick rock walls! Each villa has either a private jacuzzi or small pool, and there’s a communal infinity pool as well.

Where to Eat:

where to eat in santorini
Lobster pasta from 5 Senses

Another one of the best meals of my life was here, and everyone on IG wanted to know where it was!

  • 5 Senses: The luxury restaurant located at Astra Suites with an impeccable view and menu!
  • Aegean: Another delicious seafood spot with more affordable prices

Best Photo Spots

Honestly since my hotel was so picturesque, I didn’t explore a ton in Imerovigli. Therefore I’d have to say my top recommendation is to stay at one of the cave hotels here and enjoy the view!

Otherwise as I mentioned above, the view of Skaros Rock is epic, especially for sunset! And of course, the view from the top of it is even more stunning, since you can see all of the cliff-side towns! Be sure to bring sturdy shoes if you plan on hiking it!

Fira

santorini travel guide

Fira is super fun! It’s the closest town to the airport, which is why I think it’s also the most affordable. Here you can also find anything you need, like car rentals, SIM cards, covid test etc. (you can get them in Oia as well).

Where to Stay:

I found a lovely little hotel called Daudulus just on the outskirt of town, which was perfect, because it wasn’t too loud, and very walkable. It was also relatively cheap for Santorini! If you’re on a budget, I’d highly recommend it! It also has a nice pool, bar, and lovely staff.

If you’re looking to go to Santorini with a group, for a bday, bachelorette, etc., and are interested in a two bedroom cliff-side villa, my friends stayed at The White Ark and it was definitely epic!

Where to Eat

where to eat in santorini

I had the extreme advantage of being in Santorini for my friend Jenny’s bday (@iheartjennychu), who is not only an amazing human, but an amazing planner as well. She basically researched every restaurant in Santorini and came up with an itinerary of best ratings for the best prices!

Here’s where we went:

  • Kokkalo
  • Argo
  • Onar
  • The Vine Cocktail and Wine Restaurant
  • Lucky’s
  • Katina

Best Photo Spots

FIra is definitely a place that you need to walk around and explore, and find your own angles. There’s only a couple “token photo spots”, not like the famous ones in Oia, but the viewpoints are breath taking!

Other Areas in Santorini

The three towns listed above are the most popular ones, and the ones with the famous white cave hotels. However there’s plenty of other places in Santorini to see! This is when renting a car, ATV, or taking a tour comes in handy. I would not recommend a scooter for exploring the island because some of the roads have loose dirt.

You can easily find somewhere to stay in any of the smaller towns if you’d like as well! I’d recommend using the Booking widget below!

Here’s some cool things to see aside from the three popular main areas:

Black Sand Beach

black sand beach santorini

If a chill secluded beach with a cool visual aesthetic is what you seek in Santorini, head to one of the Black Sand Beaches! There’s one near the airport, or you can go to the official one all the way in the south.

The one in the south has a beach bar that you can rent lounge chairs, umbrellas, or bean bags from, and also order food and drinks. Or you can just take a towel and sit on the ground, but fair warning, the “sand” is mostly pebbles!

There’s also a smaller cute little restaurant just before the beach bar that had great prices for wine!

Red Sand Beach

The Red Sand beach is interesting if you’ve never seen something like it before, but it wasn’t my favorite. It’s a bit of a hike to get to, and instead of black pebbles they’re, you guessed it, red!

Ammoudi Bay

ammoudi bay santorini

Ammoudi Bay was recommended to us by a local restaurant owner who seemed unimpressed with anything besides this place.

He said it was a small fisherman’s village that now has a couple popular seafood restaurants and a great view. Surprisingly, he was 100% accurate.

You can do a strenuous hike down from Oia on a pathway to get down to it, or drive down in a car, or take a cab. This is also where some of the boat cruises depart from.

We stopped at the first restaurant called Katina, a family owned place with amazing prices and delicious food!

Wineries

Did you know that there are wineries in Santorini? Or that they’re my favorite type of wines, volcanic wines! This little wine region is very fascinating actually. Not only are the grapes grown in volcanic soil, but they grow in coils close to the ground, to keep them safe from the constantly windy atmosphere!

The wineries are a great place to watch sunset as well! You can take a wine tour, or if you have a DD, rent a car! Tastings are between $10-20 each, and reservations are recommended!

santorini wineries

Favorite Wineries:

  • Sigalas Santorini: located in Oia, this was the only winery we went to where you can sit next to the actual vines! Great pricing on bottles, and great food as well!
  • Santo WInes: Super popular and massive winery with epic sunset views. Pricey.
  • Venetsanos Winery: Another amazing view, great view, and also pricey.
  • Boutari Winery: A tiny 300 year old winery with great wines and prices!
  • Art Space Winery & Museum: Super interesting and old winery, the grandson can show you around, you’ll see where they stomp grapes as well as art! Great price, lovely people! Near the airport.

How to do a “Flying Dress Photoshoot”

flying dress santorini travel guide

And now to answer the question that some of you are waiting for! Where and how to book a “flying dress” photoshoot! I used a company that I found on Instagram called @flyingdress.photo. It includes the dress rental and photographer plus his assistant to help with the dresses. Please tell him I referred you! Warning, it ain’t cheap!

PS If you want to purchase your very own flying dress, I’m now selling them on my shop!

Please don’t forget! I work extremely hard to produce these free travel guides and posts! If it helped you, or you enjoyed it, PLEASE give it a share on social media, and follow me to keep up with more posts! You’re two minutes of effort truly helps keep my business running! Thank ya!

xx, Alyssa