Visiting Santorini, Greece: Planning guide - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Visiting Santorini, Greece: Planning guide

Santorini is a popular island, part of Greece in Europe, popular because of its sea facing stay options with great views and unique experiences not available in rest of Europe. I spent 2 full days and 3 nights in Santorini recently (off season) and this post provides vital information you would need to plan your trip to Santorini.

Q1: How to reach Santorini?

Almost every commercial flight to Santorini (Airport code JTR) is from Athens. So from wherever you're starting from, you will land in Athens and take another flight to Santorini. Thus it makes great idea to include Santorini and Greece together in your plan. Explore Athens, other part of Europe (Schengen area) that your visa permits and include a trip to Santorini before returning.

Athens to Santorini return ticket costs around 50 to 100 Euros depending on season, dates, airlines etc.

Another option is to take ferry. But ferry takes 6 to 8 hours and costs twice as much as a plane ticket (50 to 60 Euro one way), so you can plan for it as an experience, but not economical or time saving. Blue Star ferries is the operator. Several websites sell their tickets.

Some international cruises also stop at Santorini for a day.

Q2: How many days are needed to explore Santorini?

I would say keep minimum 3 full days. 2 is absolute minimum, 4 or more at your discretion.

  • Day 01: Take a bus to Oia, explore Oia town, walk towards Fira on the walking trail, explore Fira, old harbor, sunset etc
  • Day 02: Take a boat excursion to 2-3 islands, hot springs and volcano crater around Santorini (40 to50 Euro per person, may not operate during off season)
  • Day 03: Head south- Kamari and Akrotiri area- beaches, castles, Old Thera ruins etc.

Q3: What is the best time to visit Santorini

  • June to September is deemed best time to visit Santorini- but everything will be expensive and crowded
  • March-April-May is decent time- not too crowded, weather is reasonable, but some services will still be closed
  • October to Feb is winter, coldest time- but when I visited early Feb 2024 it was fine- clear skies, no snow, not cold- but excursions were closed, many buildings were under maintenance and many services closed

Q4: How to get around in Santorini

#1 Buses: Santorini has few bus services to main parts of the island- 

  • Buses in Santorini operate only during day time like 8 AM to 5 PM or 7 PM, 
  • very poor in frequency- once every 90 minutes or so
  • Not very reliable- may not follow published timeline

#2 Bike, ATV or car rental: If you have IDP you can rent a car or bike or ATV in Santorini from one of the many shops in town- very convenient way to explore the island on your own. Parking will be bit tricky during peak season, otherwise best option, particularly if you're 2 or more people.

#3 Walk: Entire island, from Oia in top to Akrotiri in south, is about 20 kms in length by walk. If you are comfortable walking 10-20 kms a day, it is very much feasible to explore all of Santorini on foot- like day 1 north side, Day 2 south side etc. Take a bus or taxi one way and you will save lots of time and energy.

#4 Taxi/Private transport- there are very few taxis in Santorini- few would wait at airport, a few wait near Bus station in Fira etc. Don't expect to walk on the street and get a free taxi that you can hail like rest of Europe. Uber etc will not work. Either go to designated taxi stands and hire one, if available, or ask your hotel staff to arrange a private transport or book some city tours. 25 Euro was the price quoted for 4 km from airport to my hotel, so you have to budget accordingly.

Q5: Food in Santorini

Not a problem. Indian, Chinese and other restaurants are available, supermarkets are good

Q6: Places to explore in Santorini

  • Fira: Fira is the city center where most of the hotels, restaurants and shops are located. The famed scenes of Santorini can be seen in Fira. There are hundreds of hotels that offer rooms with a few/balcony facing the sea
  • Old Harbor: Old Harbor is accessible by walk-some 600 steps down from Fira, or by donkey ride (10 Euro per person per ride) or cable car (was closed off season). Old Harbor is the start point for boat excursions- has few shops a church etc.
  • Akrotiri
  • Old Thera: a hilltop attraction that has ruins of ancient kingdom. View from top is great- you can see Santorini airport, beach and other parts of town. Ruins as such not too exciting- nothing much is left to see and the path is restricted, but was good exercise climbing up
  • Freshwater spring
  • Sunset point
  • Viewpoint near Church of Prophet Elias
  • Fira to Oia walking trail- shorter than the bus route, the trail along the hills is scenic and about 8 kms one way.
  • Excursion options to nearby islands
  • Skaros Rock Castle: Closed to public to go too close, can see from distance, no point taking stairs and going down closer

Q7: How much should we budget to visit Santorini?

Below is a typical calculation, for 2 people, 3 days



Budget, Off season

Luxury/Peak season


Stay for 3 nights

90 to 120 Euro

150-200 Euros


Flight from Athens

100 Euro per person

200 Euros

100 Euro per person

200 Euros


Airport transfer

50 Euros two ways

80 Euros both ways


Local transport

20-30 Euros (6-8 bus rides for 2 people, 2 Euro per person per ride)

200 Euros (assuming taxi rental/ day tours


Boat excursions

Not available in off season/limited options

100-120 Euro for 2 people, 1 day 

100-120 Euro for 2 people, 1 day 



20 Euro per person per meal

150-200 Euro for 2 people over 3 days

30 Euro per person per mean

200-300 Euro for 2 people over 3 days


Miscellaneous spends (tips, coffee, souvenirs etc

50 Euros

100 Euros


500-700 Euros for 3 days, 2 people

900-1200 Euro for 2 people, 3 days

Above pricing doesn't include your expense in reaching Athens, Visa etc

My spend for 2 day, 3 night at Santorini was as below

  • Flight from Athens: 90 Euros
  • Stay for 3 nights: 95 Euros
  • Airport transfer: 0 (walked 4 kms)
  • Local transport: 18 Euros (10 Euro donkey ride, 8 euro bus rides)
  • Food: 60 Euros approx (meals + coffee+ snacks)
  • Misc: 0
  • Total: 250-260 Euros for 1 person, 2 days, 3 nights

Q8: Where to stay in Santorini?

I stayed at Villa Ages, 4 kms from airport towards Fira. It was nice place, Jaipur Palace India restaurant was nearby. But I had no view. 

If view is important to you, select any hotel in Fira with balcony or common area overlooking the sea. Most tourists prefer to select hotels with a view in Fira area- while they offer great view, expect them to be space constrained and might involve climbing up or down lots of stairs to reach.

Staying too far from airport (like Oia etc) will increase your transportation cost

Q9: Things to keep in mind while planning Santorini tour

  • Season & off season makes lots of difference in pricing, experience etc. Off season is cheap, less crowd but most shops are closed, excursions cancelled, flights are fewer etc
  • Buses do not operate in evening, public transport is fairly unreliable, so keep buffer/plan B if depending on buses. 
  • Everything is a bit expensive in Santorini compared to Athens. A cup of curd that costs 0.68 Euro in Athens supermarket sells for 1.07 Euro in Santorini. This is understandably due to higher transportation cost to the island. You might save a few euros if you plan well and carry big ticket items with you when you visit Santorini.

Q10: Is Santorini a must visit destination in Europe?

It is different from mainland Europe, so certainly worth spending couple of days during your Europe visit.

I have few more posts coming up on Santorini, please standby. Santorini Old Harbor and donkey ride, Old Thera, Exploring Santorini in extreme budget * Places of interest in Santorini

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