Santorini’s spectacular volcanic setting makes it the perfect romantic escape and the postcard Greek island experience. Famous as a honeymoon destination, for its white clifftop villages, unforgettable sunsets and breathtaking views, it’s not so much a beach destination. It doesn’t have the golden sand of Mykonos and other Greek islands, but still offers some especially picturesque beaches with dark volcanic sand and pebbles. It’s very easy to reach by ferry from Athens and from neighboring islands, especially Mykonos.
The capital is the village of Fira, found all the way up a cliff from the main port, and from there you may go for a long walk or take a bus to Oia (pronounced Ia), the most famous village of all, the one featured in most postcards. In between are a couple of other villages (Imerovigli and Firostefani), where you find hotels with magnificent views.
Everywhere you turn you see charming white buildings with blue windows and doors, domed churches, and streets lined with restaurants and shops, catering to the thousands of tourists that arrive every year.
The best and largest beaches (Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari) are on the southeast coast of the island, and, surprisingly for an island that attracts so many tourists, aren’t usually crowded. They have loungers for rent and places to eat. Although these are not the typical golden sand beaches with resorts, they have a breathtaking scenery surrounded by tall cliffs.
If you have time for just one beach, make it Perissa. A second one would be Red Beach. If you’ll be spending a few days in Santorini and want to spend some time in the sun, swim in the sea and enjoy a scenic landscape, go here:
The Best Beaches in Santorini
Reddish sand and rocks make this beach one of Santorini’s most picturesque and most popular. Many visit just to take photos with the stunning backdrop, while others arrive by boat from the village of Akrotiri for a day in the sun or a swim in the crystal-clear water surrounded by a unique landscape. It’s not very big, so its sunbeds and umbrellas are taken over quickly in July and August.
How to Get to Red Beach - Red Beach is about a 20-minute drive from Fira and down the road from the Akrotiri ruins. The bus to Akrotiri stops nearby. From the bus stop or car park, it’s a 15-minute descent down to the beach at the bottom of the cliff – don’t wear flip flops.
Where to Stay by Red Beach - The closest hotel is the good-value Akrotiri Hotel, which is just a short walk away. Then there’s the CAPE 9 Villas & Suites, which is found to the north, offering a breathtaking view of the caldera. Also overlooking the caldera and just 1km (just over half a mile) from Red Beach is the Kalestesia Suites Hotel.
Less than 15 minutes from Fira, this is Santorini’s most popular beach, sometimes also called “Black Beach.” With its black sand extending for several kilometers (it’s sandier on the southern end and pebbly in the north), it’s less affected by the frequent winds on the island. It has many umbrellas and sunbeds for rent, and several bars and restaurants. Following a walking trail or taking a water taxi you can visit the neighboring beach of Kamari (see below).
How to Get to Perissa Beach - A bus departing from Fira stops at this beach in about 20 to 25 minutes. There’s also an inexpensive water taxi from Kamari, usually every half hour.
Where to Stay by Perissa Beach - At the Aqua Blue Beach Hotel you’re just one minute from the sand and have access to a private beach space with loungers and umbrellas. While this is a family-friendly hotel with three outdoor pools, including a kids’ pool, the Anastasia Princess Hotel nearby is for adults only. Four minutes away, on the main street, is the Meltemi Village Hotel, with a large swimming pool surrounded by palm trees.
Perivolos is essentially the southern end of Perissa. They’re really one long beach, and this southern end is reached by walking for 1.5km (close to a mile). Here, the shore is pebbly but the sand is slightly finer. It’s quieter, never crowded, and with a more exclusive atmosphere. To the south, the beach is given another name, Agios Georgios Beach, but it’s the same stretch of sand.
How to Get to Perivolos Beach - From Fira, take the bus to Perissa (it’s a 25-minute journey). The water taxi from Kamari doesn’t come here.
Where to Stay by Perivolos Beach - Just a 2-minute walk from the beach, the Istoria design hotel is made up of just a dozen suites with private terraces and many feature outdoor hot tubs, private pools or panoramic sea views. The adults-only Orabel Suites is also a short walk away (just three minutes) and offers suites with indoor or outdoor hot tubs. A budget option nearby is the 3-star Smaragdi Hotel.
Neighboring Perissa and around 10km (about 6 miles) southeast of Fira, this beach is covered in dark volcanic sand and has crystal-clear waters. It offers sunbeds and umbrellas, and on the promenade and village of the same name behind it there are several hotels and places to eat, making it an alternative to the more expensive center of the island.
How to Get to Kamari Beach - A bus from Fira reaches Kamari in just 15 minutes. A mountain named Mesa Vouno separates this beach from Perissa, but the two are connected by a regular water taxi – alternatively, hike over the cliff, where you’ll have a spectacular view, especially at sunrise.
Where to Stay by Kamari Beach - Just a 2-minute walk from Kamari Beach, the Santorini Kastelli Resort features the traditional Cycladic architecture and rooms with balconies or terraces, some of them with an outdoor hot tub. Also in the Cycladic style, the Cavo Bianco is an almost all-white boutique hotel for couples. Another boutique hotel is found right on the beach, the Santorini Crystal Blue, which is divided into studios and suites, most of them with a sea view. For budget travelers, there’s the Makris Beach Hotel, rated three stars but with a prime location right on the beach.
About 9km from Fira is this small child-friendly beach. The water is shallow and it’s less crowded than Kamari, offering more space for children to build castles out of the dark sand. There’s also a small playground and a kitesurfing school with rentals.
How to Get to Monolithos Beach - There’s a bus from Fira to the airport that stops nearby.
Where to Stay by Monolithos Beach - The Nikki Beach Resort has its private beach area but is also close to Monolithos Beach, and some of the rooms offer sea views. Closer to Monolithos (it’s right on the beach) and more affordable is the Memories Beach Hotel, which is rated two stars but is highly rated and has excellent facilities. Another option within walking distance is the Scorpios Beach Hotel, a family-friendly property with apartments and family rooms.
There’s a red beach, a black beach, and this could be called the lunar beach. It has moon-like volcanic cliffs behind it, resulting from thousands of years of erosion. It also has black sand and pebbles, and there are umbrella and sunbed rentals. It’s a popular stop for sightseeing cruises, but is not as popular as the beaches listed above. There’s a small port on the southern end and two large chimneys from a former tomato canning factory that are now a museum explaining the cultivation and canning of tomatoes, a traditional product in Santorini. The northern end, away from the sunbeds and restaurants, is the only spot on the island that’s considered nude-friendly.
How to Get to Vlychada Beach - Vlychada is connected to Fira by bus.
Where to Stay by Vlychada Beach - The Sea Sound White Katikies Hotel is found between Vlychada and Perivolos, and is made up of suites and apartments, making it a good choice for families and groups.
This tiny beach remains a well-kept non-touristy secret, mostly frequented by scuba divers. It’s great for swimming but not a destination for sunbathing. There are no beach bars, just wonderful views, a quiet atmosphere and a taverna. The further you walk from the taverna and the port, the quieter and wilder it gets. Like all other beaches on the island, it mixes pebbles and black sand. There are also rocks in the water, so water shoes are recommended. Although the water is calm and clear, it gets deep quickly, so avoid it if you don’t know how to swim.
How to Get to Caldera Beach - There are no buses to this beach, but if you go by car, you’ll find parking by the taverna.
Where to Stay by Caldera Beach - Built on the edge of the caldera cliff, offering breathtaking views of the Aegean, the Grand View is actually a surprisingly more affordable 3-star property, although it charges a premium for the views, which can be enjoyed from the pool and from some of the rooms. For a more luxurious experience, book one of the suites of the Ambassador Aegean, which offer 5-star panoramic views and private pools!
This isn’t really a beach, it’s a swimming spot by a tiny port of a tiny fishing community below Oia. It’s visited for its fish restaurants, but also attracts cliff jumpers. It’s not recommended for kids, but if you enjoy swimming or picturesque locations, you’ll want to stop by.
How to Get to Ammoudi Bay - It’s just a 5-minute drive from the center of Oia, and there’s a small parking lot. By public transportation if you’re not in Oia, you can take a bus from Fira to Oia and walk from there – find the footpath and steps that descend the cliff (it’s about 200 steps). Some people go back up on a donkey, as has been traditionally done in Santorini over the decades.
Where to Stay by Ammoudi Bay - From the Amoudi Villas you have the perfect view of Ammoudi Bay – all of the suites and apartments have a terrace or balcony, some of them with a hot tub. Above it are the Charisma Suites, which offer stunning caldera views from each unit and the swimming pool.
Top 10 Most Recommended Hotels in Santorini
- Santorini Princess Spa Hotel
- Canaves Oia Hotel
- Grace Santorini Hotel
- Angel Luxury Suites
- Maregio Suites
- Anteliz Suites
- Aria Suites
- Altana Traditional Houses & Suites
- Above Blue Suites
- Absolute Bliss Hotel
Located in picturesque Imerovigli, with a huge pool facing the sea, this hotel is a good choice for couples or families, as its spacious rooms and apartments accommodate two to four people. It has a restaurant with magnificent views, and a spa offering different treatments.
Looking to splurge on a luxurious stay in Santorini? Consider this 5-star hotel in Oia, with its infinity pool looking out to the Caldera and the Aegean Sea. It has a restaurant serving meals throughout the day, but you may also choose to have your meals in your elegant Cycladic-style suite.
Watch Santorini’s famous sunsets from this luxurious boutique hotel in Imerovigli. It has different types of rooms, suites and a villa, but they all feature a sophisticated contemporary design together with traditional handcrafted pieces. The views are even more breathtaking from the infinity pool.
With an exceptional location in Fira, this luxury hotel offers sunset views and suites literally carved out of the cliff. Each comes with a terrace, where you can sit and admire the island’s natural beauty.
This nearly all-white hotel has a stunning location in Oia, with fabulous views and private pools in each suite. You can watch the sunset from your room, or with a drink at the restaurant’s terrace. It’s perfect for couples, on honeymoon or on a romantic getaway.
With its large terrace overlooking the Caldera, this hotel has one of the best views and locations in Fira. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool with Jacuzzi, massages and beauty treatments, and spacious stylishly-designed rooms and suites.
Secluded enough but close to the center of Fira, this boutique hotel has the perfect romantic atmosphere. It’s made up of minimalist suites and villas where candlelight dinners may be served, and offers relaxing massages and a swimming pool.
A restored traditional mansion was the starting point of this hotel which now has several suites and apartments with views, some of them with private pool.
The name describes the location -- here you’re at Santorini’s highest point, looking out to the blue Aegean. Each romantic suite has a different décor, but always following Cycladic traditions. Couples may enjoy candle-light dinners in their suite’s balcony, or watch the sunset with a drink by the pool.
Offering some of the best views in Santorini, this is a romantic hotel, with a traditional Cycladic design and Jacuzzi in many of the rooms, suites and villa. There’s also a pool, and a restaurant that may serve your meals on your private balcony.