Best Time to Visit Santorini
The gorgeous island of Santorini attracts more than 1.5 million visitors every year, justifiably considered as one of the busiest Cycladic islands & Greek summer destinations. A vast portion of this number tends to reserve their vacation for July and August for two main reasons; because these months are the summer peak and have the most sunshine and warm temperatures and also due to their work & school summer vacation frame. Knowing when to visit such a popular destination will save you money, precious time, and a lot of distress. Let’s break it down to the main tourist seasons and the optimal activities for each one, in order to further comprehend how to build a great itinerary for Santorini.
High Season Visiting
Booking Arrangements for Summer Vacation in Santorini
Starting off with the peak season of June, July and August, when looking for that summer sun, warm sea waters and vivid nightlife, this is the period in which you will want to book your Santorinian stay. Keep in mind that once you have decided to visit during summer, every facility and amenity needs to be booked 4-8 months in advance; the earlier, the better in Santorini’s case.
This includes accommodation, airplane tickets or ferry tickets depending on how you choose to arrive or if you want to island-hop as well, tour seats if you feel like experiencing Santorini from a different viewpoint.
Also, dining reservations are necessary to avoid wasting hours waiting for a vacancy and booking a rental vehicle will ensure that you won’t rely on the packed local bus transportation.
Weather Conditions in Summertime
While temperatures during the summertime can reach 30℃ and higher in Greece, due to Santorini’s location in the Aegean, the experienced heat is between 19℃ and 27℃ as the summer breeze and Meltemi wind keep it cooled down. Simply by avoiding long exposure under the sun and using sunblock products visitors can be completely at ease.
Tours, Excursions & Celebrations in Santorini during Summer
When it comes to extra activities in Santorini, hiking and excursions including mild or high physical intensity are best to be avoided during July and August if participants are not in top physical condition, as sunstrokes and heat strokes from long exposure under the blazing sun are not to be taken lightly.
On the other hand, watersports, sailing or tours of low intensity are highly recommended; they are fantastic, insightful and very enjoyable. If you want to visit the unique volcanic beaches in Santorini, it is also advisable to book your sunbeds in advance (when it is an organized one of course) as well, since bays can get crowded.
Take a more detailed look at all available Santorini tours, day trips and find the best ones for you!
Moreover, a plethora of free Santorinian entertainment options are available during high season and everyone should take advantage of them. You can also enjoy them with the welcoming locals for a more personal experience.
- In June, the orthodox holiday of Feast Day/Holy Spirit (Agiou Pnevmatos) is a 3-day celebration that attracts thousands of Greeks to the Cyclades and Santorini.
- In July, locals celebrate the Feast Day of Prophet Elias on the 20th, mainly in Fira. Greeks are very hospitable and more so during ecclesiastic celebrations, making travellers feel welcome.
- In August, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the 15th is a very important orthodox event, leading to celebrations throughout Santorini that everyone is welcome at.
Island-hopping from Santorini in High Season
Lastly, island-hopping tours from Santorini during high season create a perfect getaway from the crowds and give the opportunity of discovering a different Aegean destination at moderate prices. The ferry routes are frequent and reliable during the tourist season and the major ferry companies allow early bookings.
Many Aegean destinations have direct and frequent ferry routes for and from Santorini, especially those in the Cycladic complex. The top ones are easily Mykonos, Paros and Ios for a fantastic nightlife experience, while Naxos, Milos and Amorgos among others offer a more harmonious and easy-going ambiance.
If exploring multiple islands is your thing, summer is definitely the best time to visit.
Take a look at the best island-hopping packages from Santorini and enhance your vacation.
Additionally, all Santorinian day trips and tours are up and running so you only need to pinpoint the ones you most prefer.
Shoulder Season Visiting
Moving on to the wonderful shoulder season of mid-April to late May and of September to late October, visitors can enjoy Santorini in a more relaxed and comfortable manner. The benefits of avoiding the beaten path of summertime vacation are many on this exquisite island. If alternative you prefer a semi-private ambience, this would be the best time to visit the island.
Weather Conditions in Spring & Fall
First and foremost, the spring and fall weather is milder with no heat waves and almost no rainfalls at all; the Meltemi wind is absent too, enabling a smoother climate. With an average temperature of 15℃ to 22℃ , the weather is formidable for any kind of excursion, walking and hiking tours and island exploration trips. Especially in fall, the weather is still nice with moderate temperatures and lots of sunshine and daylight to warm you up.
Main Characteristics of Shoulder Season in Santorini
Also, accommodation, airplane as well as car rentals are priced considerably lower compared to the high season as well, with numerous dates and types of facilities to choose from. The nightlife will be quite milder, with some establishments operating until mid October.
Visiting Santorini during this season translates into moderate numbers of tourists, more ease and comfort at the main attractions of the Caldera, relaxed traffic on the roads and alleys and almost all of the beaches will feel rather private.
Booking your tickets and accommodation a few months in advance will ensure everything goes smoothly, stress-free.
Tours, excursions & Celebrations in Spring and Summer
Moreover, with the holiday of Easter the island becomes lively again, as many Greeks choose it as their celebratory destination. If you plan on visiting during Easter, since it’s a moving celebration, make sure to confirm its date for the year of your visit. This way you’ll be able to enjoy the spring weather, the good deals available and a pleasant exploration of the Santorinian jewel.
When it comes to September and October, wine tours and hiking routes are on top of the excursion list once again, along with seaside fun on the warmer days and sightseeing on those with a breezy note. Getting to socialize with the locals is also much easier than during peak season.
Also, renting a bike for a couple days is ideal, enabling you to take in the Cycladic and volcanic scenery of Santorini.
Last but not least, the low tourist season of November to mid April is interestingly gaining in popularity during the last few years. Many visitors choose the chillier months of winter to wander in Santorini, mainly for the budget-friendly aspect and gentle winter of the Meditteranean.
Although temperatures drop to an average of 12°C to 15°C, the island is still beautiful while much more quiet than during spring and summer. Rainfall and cloudy days are more frequent but when the sky is clear, the vistas of the Volcano and the Aegean are even more pristine than during summer.
Availability and Ideal Excursions during Wintertime
While the Cycladic jewel of Santorini is gaining in popularity during winter, more and more establishments and lodgings tend to remain open throughout the year in order to accommodate the demand.
Winter is excellent for museums and ecclesiastic monuments as they are indoors and well-equipped. The museums of Fira along with the cultural institutions can nicely fill in your itinerary, at a low cost. The Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and Megaron Gyzi are only a sample of the gems Fira has to offer.
Furthermore, most of the praised Santorinian wineries are also open to visitors, a highly recommended activity for getting to know the island’s viticulture and traditional products.
If you enjoy experiencing the whole island almost privately while vacationing, then winter is surely the best time to visit Santorini.
Where to stay in Santorini in the Low Season
The best settlements to stay at are surely the Calderan ones of Oia, Imerovigli, Fira and Firostefani, as the rest tend to get too quiet in low season. Make sure to double-check the designated arrival and departure schedule of ferries and airplanes, as the available routes decrease significantly in winter. The good thing is that so do their prices. Swimming in the sea is not something to try if you are not a winter swimmer or super adventurous, as the waters are ice cold. A heated pool would be the best option for frolicking and relaxation.
Visiting Santorini during the Winter Holidays
Additionally, if you plan on visiting during the winter holidays and New Year’s, you can experience the local hospitality and warmth as people are very friendly and may even get invited to their Christmas dinner.
Attending a church service can give you a deeper insight of the local traditions as well. Prepare your camera, strap a pair of woolen boots, your scarf and jump into a totally unique side of Santorini!