White cave houses, crystal clear water, and pops of blue come to mind when we think of Santorini, Greece. It’s no wonder Santorini is often named one of the best Greek islands to visit. We’re here to help you make the most of your time on this island paradise with our curated list of the best of everything. Let’s dive in.
The Best of Santorini Travel Guide Quick Links
- Best Time of Year to Visit Santorini
- Best Neighborhoods to Stay In Santorini
- Best Coffee Shops and Cafés With Free Wifi in Santorini
- Best Places to Grab a Drink in Santorini
- Best Local Festival in Santorini
- Best Areas for Shopping in Santorini
Best Time of Year to Visit Santorini
June through September is the most popular time to visit Santorini. This time of year is also the high season, so expect high prices, loads of visitors, and beautiful weather. The hottest months are July and August, where temperatures can reach about 85°F (30°C), warming the water and making it perfect for swimming. We often recommend traveling in the shoulder months of the high season in our city guides, but the Greek islands are an exception. Either way, you can rest easy and pack your entire vacation wardrobe in just a carry-on suitcase.
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Santorni
Santorini is a paradise for honeymooners and couples. If you’re in the mood for love, Oia is your best bet. This coastal town is the most photographed area in Santorini, for its luxurious cliffedge pools and gorgeous sunsets. When staying in Oia, make sure to book a hotel with a pool to get the full experience. Pools are plenty, but not accessible to non-guests of the hotels.
If you’re traveling solo, with a friend, or fancy a more local experience, spend some time in Pyrgos. This village is a lot less busy and is located in the center of the island, so grabbing a bus to busier areas like Fira (also called Thira), Kamari, or Oia is a cinch and only costs 1.80€. What they say about island life is true. While there are regular buses, there isn’t really a schedule, so you might find yourself waiting up to 45 minutes. A taxi ride will cost about 15€ if you’re in a rush.
Let's break it down for you, town by town:
- Oia. Romantic, beautiful views, luxurious, lots of shopping and restaurants.
- Fira (Thira). Lively, great views, lots of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.
- Imerovigli and Firostafani. Quiet, best views, walking distance to Fira.
- Pyrgos. Relaxed, quiet, local, authentic, fewer restaurants, home to Cava Alta, one of Santorini’s best hidden restaurant gems.
- Kamari. Lively, beach town, lots of restaurants and some bars.
Best Coffee Shops and Cafés With Free Wifi in Santorini
Those who visit Santorini are often unplugged and on vacation. However, if you’re getting the itch for wifi or need to check some emails, there is free wifi at cafés all around the island. Here are our top picks.
- SKIZA Café. Visit this tiny café in Oia for stunning views, and delicious food. Don’t expect to get a table or have room for a laptop, but the wifi is decent for mobile surfing.
- Galini Café. This is the place to be in Firostefani if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Highly rated for desserts and breakfast, it’s open early and the terrace features unobstructed views.
- Iriana Café. With a view as excellent as their wifi, this café in Fira is great for a light lunch or sunset drinks.
- Vitrin Café Creperie. Comfy and well-decorated, this crepe café is the poster child for cuteness. There’s even a resident dog there as the cherry on top.
Best Places to Grab a Drink in Santorini
Sunset views are plenty in Santorini, but there are a few gems where you’ll experience an exceptional sunset, the finest cocktails, or both.
Sunsets. Katharos Lounge is a beach-side vegan restaurant and one of Oia’s best kept secrets. While cocktails aren’t their specialty, you can find a nice list of spirits, beers, and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy with the most private and peaceful sunset experience you can find in Oia.
Cocktails. Stoa Bar is hidden in an alleyway in Fira and is a perfect chance to escape the crowds. The owner, Stathis and his team serve unique cocktails to the soundtrack of vibey music to match. Tell the bartenders what your favorite flavors are and they’ll pour you the perfect glass.
Both. PK Cocktail Bar has both views and tastes covered. Located inside the Hotel Atlantis in Fira, this popular spot features crafty cocktails and a great atmosphere. Make sure to reserve a table ahead of time, so you don’t miss the spectacular sunset while waiting in line.
Best Local Festival in Santorini
Santorini’s oldest festival, Ifestia Festival happens every September in celebration of the volcano that transformed the island into what it is today. Live music from Greece’s top musicians fill the air as festival goers watch the sunset and wait for the main event - the fireworks.
We’re not talking standard fireworks, people. These explosions of light are meant to reenact the volcanic eruption that took place around 1600BC. They’ve even got fireworks that look like lava flowing.
We know you’ve got unique taste so we’ll skip the lava necklaces and donkey keychains and jump into our tips on what to buy and where to find it in Santorini.
Probably one of the most authentic things you can buy in Greece are textiles. You’ll find plenty of shops and boutiques selling locally made pieces all over Oia and Fira, the best spots for shopping in Santorini. Shopping in Oia is catered to the experience the romantic town offers, and is therefore more luxurious and expensive than the stores in Fira.
Wander the streets and pay attention to hidden stores around the corners of the main streets. There you’ll find shop owners, and even designers, who can tell you exactly where the fabric comes from and who designed it.
Any excuse is a good one to visit Atlantis Books in Oia. Visit this quirky little shop to buy a book or just pass through.
Santorini is the perfect slice of island life. Stunning views, fresh seafood and beautiful weather, this island will be on bucket lists for years to come. Pack your bags and hop over this summer!