Picture Santorini: sunlight reflecting off the white stone walls of the city, contrasting sharply with the stunning deep blue seas of the Mediterranean. Santorini has long been one of Greece’s most popular islands for those seeking sun, sea and sand.
The island is part of a group of islands that were borne from millions of years of volcanic activity and remains one of the most active volcanic areas of the Aegean. It was first inhabited by the Minoans in the Neolithic period and was named Strongoli, until a violent eruption in 1500 BC destroyed their town. Santorini was later known as Firá which came from its ancient name of Thira. The name was then changed to Kalliste, meaning “the beautiful one” before its modern name of Santorini was born in the 13th century, with the island being named after Saint Irene, after whom the oldest cathedral in Perissa was named.
The island is well known for its beautiful architecture which reflects the bright, blinding Mediterranean sunlight and its historical sights, but here we are going to talk about one of Santorini’s major attractions, the number of stunning beaches on the island that are lapped by turquoise waves. Though these are not by any means the most stunning beaches in Greece, what makes them unique are the incredible geological formations that form a backdrop to these beaches.
Water temperature is pleasant and warm during the months of June to October and bathing in the sea will be surely one of your most magical and memorable experiences in Santorini.
In this guide we will explore the very best beaches of Santorini, where you can bathe in the crystal clear azure sea and soak up the rays on the sandy beaches.
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Due to Santorini being born from a volcanic eruption, you can enjoy the dramatic contrast between the deep blue of the sea and the black sand on this beach. Easily accessed by bus from the main town of Firá (which runs every 30 minutes in the summertime), a taxi from the town should cost no more than 20 euros.
This trendy beach is well-equipped with lounge chairs, showers, playground, watersports, restaurants, beach bars and everything to keep you satisfied, making it the perfect beach to spend an entire day, enjoying local cuisine, cool dips in the sea and plenty of lounging around on the beach. This is a popular beach and draws crowds, it’s also home to some excellent beach bars where you can dance the night away to DJs and sip on cocktails if you feel like immersing in the island nightlife.
Another stunning beach is Red Beach, named after the pinkish-red volcanic sand and red stone formations which are a perfect contrast against the vibrant blue of the Mediterranean. Situated within a short drive from Akrotiri and the ancient ruins of the Minoan civilisation it is only 11 kilometres from Firá. You can also access the beach by sea by taking a boat from the archaeological site of Rahidi, which leaves every 30 minutes and costs only €5. If you prefer to travel by taxi from Firá to Akrotiri, the journey should cost you no more than €25 for the trip.
The beach is accessed by walking for a few minutes down a steep rocky and gravelly path to the beach from the carpark (top tip: don’t wear flip flops!). This beach is a truly wild beach, with no facilities such as toilets, restaurants or shops so make sure to pack a picnic and bring plenty of water. This is a great beach to do a bit of snorkelling to discover the marine life of the Mediterranean, however, in summer months it does get quite crowded.
Perivolos Beach is very similar to Perissa Beach with its black sand and clean sea which also has significant depth in comparison to other beaches. It is actually a continuation of the same beach and is an excellent place to spend the day lounging and soaking up the rays.
Here you will find all you could need on the beach such as restaurants and cafes, sun loungers and watersport activities. Perissa beach draws a younger crowd than Perissa and when the sun goes down it becomes quite a party spot which is best avoided if you want to avoid crowds and noise. The beach also has some excellent luxury hotels with views over the sea.
To get to Perivolos, the same local bus that caters for Perissa beach runs every 30 minutes in the summertime and though it is a different stop, both Perivolos and Perissa are within walking distance of each other so you can visit both in the same day.
At the foot of the Mesa Vouno Mountain you will find the lively Kamari Beach with its countless beach bars and restaurants The long stretch of beach is covered in black sand and pebbles and is ideal for families or more senior travellers, as it is very well-equipped with facilities and there is plenty to keep the entire family busy including shops and watersports. Aside from that there is also a summertime open air cinema in Kamari where you can watch movies under the stars and is also one of the most memorable activities you can do during your stay on the island.
Kamari is within easy reach of Firá and there are several buses running every 30 minutes in the summertime between the two stops. If you prefer to go by water taxi there are boats leaving every day between 10am and 5pm, when there are no high winds. If you prefer to travel by taxi the journey should cost no more than €20 one way.
Known to the locals as “White Beach” this beautiful beach has incredible rock formations which are carved into the cliff face, made of pale rock, they glisten in the sunshine and form a spectacular backdrop to the beautiful deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Situated in the southeast of Santorini, it has the reputation as one of the best beaches on the island with its relaxed vibe and quiet crowd. There’s plenty of facilities for day visitors including a café, sun loungers and sun umbrellas to ensure that you can spend the whole day in comfort.
At one end of the stretch of beach you will see the looming chimneys of an old factory that was converted into a museum called the Tomato Museum which is a great place to visit if you love photography.
Nearby there is also a beautiful fishing port which is the best place to enjoy the freshest catch for your post-beach dinner.
To get to Vlychada you can either go by rental car or travel with a taxi, the one-way trip costs no more than €15.
This is technically not a beach but is really a bay in a small fishing port where you can enjoy some fantastic snorkelling and cliff-diving and easily the best and freshest seafood you’ll ever taste in Santorini. Head to Katina’s fish tavern to enjoy some delicious Mediterranean seafood fresh from sea to plate.
This bay is best suited to young travellers as swimming here is not recommended for young children or elderly people as it can be quite rocky. You will not find any sunbeds or sandy stretches of beach here. If you’re brave you can even swim out to the small island to get some glimpses of Ammoudi from another perspective.
You can also reach the bay from Oia, the town atop the cliff just above Ammoudi. It’s a long steep descent down stairs to get to sea level and you will see people offering donkey rides to Ammoudi, please refrain from accepting as the donkeys are ill-treated and suffer the heat of the Mediterranean sun, stick to the stairway and you’ll be sure to feel as if your lunch is well deserved when you reach the bottom.
Named after Eros, the God of Love, this amazing off-the-beaten track beach is one of the best secluded hidden gems in Santorini. It’s also home to one of the most romantic beach bars on the island, Theros Wave Bar. This chic place is a beloved setting for weddings but it comes at a price, renting a sun bed will cost you from €20 to 40 for the day (depending on your distance from the sea) and that does not include any drinks or meals. If you’re on a tight budget, bring your own towel, cool box, drinks and a picnic to keep you going throughout the day.
This romantic beach can be reached by rental car, there are no buses going here. You will traverse the rough unpaved roads to get to the shore. The beach is just before Vlychada beach and is well signposted. Alternatively, you can take a taxi from Firá which will set you back around €25 to 30 one way.
For those of you who want an all over tan, Koloumbos Beach is one of the best nudist beaches in Santorini, as well as being one of the most unspoilt and secluded. Get away from the crowds and enjoy a relaxing swim in the blue waters of Koloumbos Beach and sunbathe on the black pebbles. There are no facilities here so you will need to provide your own drinks and picnic.
To get here you can hire a rental car or quad bike or jump in a taxi which should charge you no more than €30.
Situated close to both Oia and Ammoudi Bay, Katharos Beach is an excellent choice for a relaxing day by the seaside. This quiet beach is not as touristy as some of the others and it is made up of a narrow stretch of black pebble beach underneath some looming volcanic rocks. If you’re looking for a wild beach, away from the tourist crowds and also the perfect spot to enjoy beautiful Mediterranean sunsets, this is the place!
Katharos Beach can be accessed from Oia or Ammoudi by car, it’s only a short five minute drive away! Alternatively you can walk there from either of these places.
By taxi from Fira, the journey shouldn’t cost you any more than €30.
The highlight of this beach is the amazing Katharos Lounge, an incredibly chilled out place where you can enjoy delicious vegan meze whilst sipping on a cocktail and enjoying the views of the sunset after a day of sunbathing and swimming.
Adrenaline junkies will love Monolithos Beach, situated just close to the airport. This windswept beach is the perfect place to go kitesurfing and enjoy other watersport activities. This family-friendly beach is fully equipped with sun umbrellas and sunbeds and there are a few excellent seafood restaurants and taverns where you can enjoy a hearty lunch and maybe a couple of glasses of wine.
This is also a sandy beach which is different from the many pebble beaches on the island.
You can either take a bus to the airport and walk the 20 minutes to the beach or alternatively you can take a taxi from Firá for around €15. Alternatively you can use a rental car or quad bike to get there.