Getting around Santorini is easy. It is a small island with ample choices. Because of the small geographical area, distances are short, and times to various destinations are brief. During the tourist season, a comprehensive bus network operates with regular service and low fares. Taxis are plentiful and affordable.
You can hire a motorbike or car for ultimate flexibility, but parking in July and August is not usually very easy. There are a few public boats on the surrounding islands or a cheap ride on a small ship (cache) to cruise scenically along the shore between beaches. Even the main town of Fira has a cable car.
Santorini has a comprehensive bus network. Run by a national collective, the services run all day, and you can reach most of the island’s more essential places (including the airport) for less than about € 2 (KTEL charges vary slightly according to the trip’s distance). Service is also quite frequent; for example, from the main town of Fira to the beachside, Kamari buses run every 30 minutes all day until late at night. Travel times are short.
Strangely, for an island where travel times are counted in minutes, the buses most well-humoredly resemble those on long-distance coach services with narrow entry doors. But this adds to the crush of riders in summer when demand often exceeds supply, and you’ve got to stand around a while before getting your shot.
Several buses wait in Athinios to meet all ferries, but service down to the port is intermittent, so you must enquire about schedules before your boat.
It’s easy to rent a car in Santorini; you can get one from any significant manufacturer or a dozen local vendors. Make sure you arrange in advance, or be prepared to haggle a bit upon arrival.
Cars can be complex to get in summer when the summer heat makes rents shoot up accordingly. Perhaps it’s best to have your accommodation arrange a vehicle for you.
Although you obtain absolute freedom by renting a car, there are also disadvantages to driving on Santorini in the summer. Drives along the island’s short road network are often hair-raising because of narrow lanes, sheer cliffside drops, and constant peak season traffic. Parking is also an issue. You risk getting socked with hefty fines if you park inappropriately at Fira or one of the beaches.
One way is to lease a car for only one or two days of sightseeing and avoid trouble next time.
To make the steep climb back up to Fira again after a lazy day at the beach is enough. How about renting a motorbike? It is a lot better than whizzing around Santorini by car. Why? Where are you going to park? The roads are too narrow anyway. Renting a motorbike or scooter is very convenient. The only requirement for non-EU residents renting a bike in Italy is to have a valid license from their home country (motorcycle or motorbike).
In addition, Santorini’s steep, twisting roads and narrow lanes with countless blind turns make riding a bike nightmarish. Throw drivers out of their minds to make up for time stalled in traffic, and all kinds of problems increase. You can still rent a bike from various sources on the island. Inquire about e-bikes, which will become increasingly prevalent on the island, so long as your training regimen for the Tour de France doesn’t include too many of those hills.
Taxis are plentiful in Santorini. They are waiting for you at the airport, the ferry port and a taxi stand near the main bus stop in Fira; fares are reasonable. Athletics From the port in Athinios to the spread of accommodation around Fira, it costs 10-15 euros. Luggage should be slightly higher. The vast majority of places to stay will deliver you at the ferry port and pick you up for about 10 euros.
It is easy to catch a taxi or use the Uber app. If going off in a taxi to spend the day at a beach, one can also request that the driver pick you up later.
Small fishing boats make the short journey to this pretty little island, located across from the small waterfront village of Ammoudi at the far northern Tip of the main island. The fare is €5 ($6). Service is not as frequent, and schedules must be checked at the main port of Athinios.
The excursion boats will bring you to the barren volcanic islets in the heart of the caldera and might also make a call at Thirasia along the way. These trips cost about € 30 (about $ 35) and are widely advertised around Santorini. Other alternatives are trips to the beaches for a picnic or other day trips, which can serve quite well as an escape from crowds and traffic winding along busy roads across the hills.
The busier beaches also offer small boats (caïques), which can take visitors to smaller and inaccessible areas for a nominal charge.
It’s more an excuse to walk on Santorini than a bona fide way of getting around. Steep hillsides and a shortage of footpaths are only part of the problem. For instance, the path from the cruise ship docks at Fira Skala to Fira has over 600 steps. Walks between famous beaches, such as those around Perissa, are a notable exception.
The most popular route, strictly speaking, is more of an outing than a convenient journey, the 10km (6 miles) road from Fira to Oia.
How to get from Santorini Airport to your hotel?
Of course, the hotels provide a pick-up service, and if you are staying in Thira, it should cost 20 to 30 EUR. But if the hotel is asking you more than this, they are ripping you off.
But you needn’t cancel your transfer; it will only take a taxi to the airport. All taxi fares are fixed, as I said before. You have to look at the price. That’s it.
Otherwise, you can take an Uber from the Santorini airport to your hotel or pick up your rental car at the airport.
So, for a more convenient method of transport, check out GetTransfer! Compare prices and reserve in advance (no last-minute panic!)
Parking in Santorini
In Fira and Oia, the traffic and cars are heavy, making parking difficult. Do your best to use the accommodation spaces provided at night.
Yet parking is easy, with ample free space around Santorini’s main towns and villages. Sometimes, it’s packed, of course, but you usually can find a place to muscle in. You can also park on the street if you don’t obstruct the road.
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Navigating around Santorini
The only way to get around Santorini is with Google Maps and your phone’s GPS. So, my number-one Tip is to get an eSim before driving in Santorini. In other words, you can cruise around the island using 4G or 5G and never worry about getting lost or on the wrong route.
For the safety of those traveling alone, you can even use the eSIM to call or text Santorini.
You can download the ESIMs right now and be ready to use them in just a few minutes! In addition, some eSIMs cover all of Europe. You are no longer looking for free Wifi where you can get it!
Getting around Santorini: FAQs
How should you go about traveling around Santorini
Hiring a car is the best way to see Santorini. Taxis and buses can be found throughout the island; however, taxis are very costly, while local buses may require a little extra time to get you where you need to go. But all the buses are clean and modern, and extremely inexpensive.
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Does Uber operate in Santorini?
Uber has recently arrived in Santorini, too.
What does driving around Santorini feel like?
The same is true in Santorini, where the driver sits on the left (as opposed to the UK). This requires a slight adjustment but is not too hard because it’s easy once you have gone driving for a while.
The roads are sometimes relatively narrow, windy, and always going uphill, but you get accustomed to that, too. Also, Greek driving is somewhat chaotic here too. Just be prepared!
Most of the roads were in reasonably good condition, although a few potholes had to be negotiated on some of the more minor village roads. Fuel is costly, but the island is small, so you won’t have to fill up that often.
After all, riding an ATV is one of the best ways to get around Santorini, so be alert for those quads that appear from nowhere.