Oia Santorini at sunset_Guide to Santorini Solo Travel

The Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel in Santorini (2023)

UPDATED 5/9/23

If you’re planning first time Santorini solo travel, you’re in the right place. This guide to solo travel in Santorini will give you all of the information you need for first time travel, including getting there, getting around, where to stay, things to do in Santorini alone, and more.

This Santorini Travel Guide is intentionally written for the solo traveler, the first time Santorini traveler, and/or older traveler (I am over 50 and have been solo traveling FOREVER) in mind. Yet, anyone can use this travel guide it to plan and book Santorini Greece travel.

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Ultimate Greece Solo Travel Guide

If you need more Greece travel tips to supplement your Santorini travel planning, consult my ultimate Greece Solo Travel Guide full of tips on culture, entry requirements, currency, tipping, using electronics, safety, and a lot more to plan solo travel in Greece.

Also, don’t forget to check out the incredible Santorini in 3 Days Itinerary perfect for first-time Santorini travel.

What is Santorini Known For?

A volcanic Cyclades island in the south Aegean Sea, Santorini (also known as Thira and Thera), was once a volcano that, over the centuries, experienced several eruptions causing it to collapse forming a caldera (crater) bay in the middle of an archipelago of islands, with Santorini being the largest.

The crescent shape of Santorini looms over the smaller remaining islands of Therasia, Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. Only Santorini and Therasia are inhabited.

Santorini offers centuries of history, quaint white-wash architecture, brilliant blue domed churches, ancient ruins, unique beaches, dry climate, clear waters, thriving wineries, water activities galore, and friendly people.

Becoming quite popular over the years, some call Santorini the “most popular Greek island”.

Church of Panagia Akathistos Hymn Oia Santorini Greece
Church of Panagia Akathistos Hymn, Oia

I was in Santorini in 1995 when it was considered ‘off the beaten path’. Once quiet, today its villages, Fira and Oia, are now full of tourists, high-end and tourist shops, restaurants and bars, and a hopping night life scene.

Poised on the cliffs of the western side of the island, Fira (or Thira), is the capital of Santorini and the most popular of Santorini’s 13 villages.

Oia, also cliff side facing the caldera and 12 km north of Fira, is probably the second-most popular village and certainly renowned as the island’s sunset watching capital. Firostefani and Imerovigli would be runners-up in popular villages.

Each village offers its own attraction, such as a popular beach, hiking trail, or winery (or two), making Santorini a fun island to explore.

Aerial view of Island of Santorini Greece
Caldera side of Santorini, Greece

Is Santorini worth visiting?

It is worth putting Santorini on your Greece solo travel list. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, Santorini will delight you with hiking, water activities, and epic Oia sunsets.

If you want to just bathe in the sun and just relax by the pool or on the beach, Santorini can satisfy that itch, too.

Should you wish to explore Greek culinary delights, Santorini can meet that challenge with fresh local cuisine and an abundance of wine to taste.

Santorini is popular as a couples destination and for weddings, but with a thriving Fira nightlife, many singles also flock to Santorini. Try Santorini solo travel on for size, even if just for a few days. You may wish to visit Santorini again.

Best Time to Visit Santorini

The best time to go to Santorini, Greece depends on the weather, water, costs, activities, events and public transportation offered.

Pedestrians shopping in Oia Santorini
Fewer Santorini tourists in shoulder season

Santorini Weather & Costs

Peak tourist season in Santorini is from June to early September. However, tourists may be starting to extend that peak season to later in September.

Peak season is when prices are at their highest and tourists max out the Santorini villages. These are the best beach months, also. Book your Santorini accommodations well in advance for a summer stay.

The warmest and driest weather in Santorini is from April through early November, with the hottest weather, and warmest water, during the peak summer months.

The weather is still dry in the shoulder season months of April, May, and September to November, but it can cool off at night and be windy, if not chilly.

People in Milos Villas Hotel pool Santorini Greece
Santorini in late September

Outdoor activities and sightseeing are perfect in the shoulder season months. Accommodations cost less and there are fewer tourists than the summer months as well. It it still advisable to book your accommodations well in advance for the best prices.

The wetter and coolest months are from late November through March. This is when tourist costs will be at their lowest and the best time to visit Santorini on a budget.

Santorini and Eco Travel Tips

A very dry climate island, Santorini does not have a natural, fresh water source. This means the tap water is either chlorinated or desalinated is not normally used for drinking or cooking. In short, you could feasibly drink the tap water, but it is advised not to. It tastes awful.

Unfortunately, the popular solution is to buy bottled water, which is inexpensive in Santorini. Buy a very large (1.5L or larger) of water and use it to fill up your BPA-free collapsible water bottle with filter when needed. If you have any left over, give it to your hotel. Do not waste it by throwing it out.

To cut down on plastic waste, ask if your hotel if they can fill up your BPA-free collapsible water bottle with filter with their own fresh water source (larger water containers). If they are on a desalinated water system, you could try the tap water in your BPA-free collapsible water bottle with filter to see if you can tolerate the taste.

Santorini Events

I always suggest checking the local events calendar when planning solo travel.

There are festivals in Santorini year round. Consult them to know how they may impact or enhance your solo travel in Santorini.

Akrotiri Chapel

Is Santorini Expensive?

Santorini can be on the pricey side. Prices for accommodations are higher in Fira and Oia. Accommodation prices should go down the further you stay from these two villages.

In the summer and shoulder season months, you could pay around 150-250€ a night for a nice hotel in the Fira vicinity, if not more, depending on your accommodation tastes. It could be less if you book well in advance and shop around. The closer to the Fira (or Oia) city center, the more you will pay.

A lunch with beer could run 15€ plus tip, a night out with drinks could be around 40€ or more with tip. This, of course, does not include activities or excursions. Plan your solo budget accordingly.

If budget is a factor, consider going in early November, staying in a different village, and/or staying at a hostel. You could also make your dollars stretch by going to the beach, lounging at your hotel pool, taking a self-guided hike, enjoying strolling the villages, and/or visiting the beautiful churches who gladly accept a small donation.

Santorini Solo Travel Tips

When visiting churches in Greece, it is best to be respectful by covering your shoulders, arms and legs. In hot weather, consider wearing light weight cotton pants and bring a scarf as a wrap.

How to Get to Santorini

Flights to Santorini

Flights to Santorini arrive at the Santorini National Airport (JTR) (aka Thira Airport or Santorini Airport). Santorini Airport has one main terminal and there are multiple airlines that fly to Santorini.

The airport is located in Kamari, about 6 kilometers from Fira. If your hotel does not offer airport shuttle service, there are other Santorini Airport transport options. The easiest and quickest is to take a Santorini airport transfer.

Santorini Airport Greece
Santorini Airport

Find Your Cheap Flights to Santorini

Greece Eco Travel Tips

For only flying a short distance within Greece, take the train or a bus instead, if accessible, or take a ferry. These transportation methods may save you time and money, and the scenery is much prettier.

Santorini Airport Transportation

Santorini Airport Car Rentals

If you are staying for an extended period of time, or have decided to explore all corners of the island, then you may want to rent a car at the airport. I don’t normally advocate for renting a car, but Santorini is an island and a rental car may save you time from waiting on the public bus and could be cheaper than taking shuttles.

Explore Santorini Car Rentals

Santorini Airport Taxis and Rideshares

Getting a Santorini Airport taxi may be a one-way option to your hotel, but prices could fluctuate depending on your time of arrival and what village your hotel is located.

You may be better off hiring an airport private transfer to save money. Always have with cash for tipping, just in case you cannot tip on a credit card.

Uber, at time of writing, are available in Athens, not in Santorini.

Greece Eco Travel Tips

When hiring an available rideshare, choose the Bolt Green or Uber Green options, or use Carpoolworld, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in Greece.

Santorini Airport Bus

The cheapest, and fairly quick way, is to take the Santorini bus. The buses in Santorini are operated by KTEL). Walk right out of the airport and the bus stop is there at the sidewalk. Buses leave the airport approximately hourly.

Pay the driver in cash. The price to Fira is 1.80€ and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the Fira bus stop near the center of town.

If you are not staying in Fira, you can switch buses in Fira to your village for an additional cost. Prices normally range from 1.80€ to 2.50€.

For the easiest in bus trips and walking to your hotel, lighten your load and travel carry-on only.

Santorini Airport Bus
Santorini Airport bus

Ferry to Santorini

If you’re already in Greece, like Heraklion or Mikonos, you could arrive Santorini by ferry. Passenger ferries arrive at the Athinios Port (“New Port”).

The port is not large and can tend to be crowded, especially in peak season. In peak or shoulder season months, you may wish to forgo the public bus and have your Santorini port transfer to your hotel booked in advance so you’re not waiting around in the heat.

Buildings in Oia Santorini at sunset
Oia at sunset

Getting Around Santorini

Is Santorini is walkable?

Santorini is an island that requires some form of bus, shuttle, or car transportation to get around between villages, beaches, wineries and the like.

The Santorini villages themselves are walkable. Fira and Oia, for example, have pedestrian streets that are pleasant to wander. Surrounding streets are also easy.

Fira and Oia, for example, have many steps (some can be steep) in narrow corridors towards shops, restaurants, or attractions. If you are staying outside one of these villages, you may also be walking up and down hills along the side of the street where there are no sidewalks. Be careful walking at night.

You may also encounter steep paths for hiking or accessing beaches. Be sure to research the village you are staying in before you book your hotel and excursions so you know you are comfortable walking. Wear comfortable walking shoes, including on the beaches.

4 Wheel ATV riders and pedestrians in Akrotiri Santorini
4 Wheel ATVs are popular rentals in Santorini

Santorini Public Transport

To get between villages and to beaches, you don’t have to rent a car or ATV. Four wheel ATVs are popular on Santorini but extremely noisy and dirty, and, in my humble opinion, ruin the tranquility of the island.

The best way to get around Santorini cheap is by the public bus. The buses cover much of the island, are air conditioned, and are comfortable.

All buses go through Fira, and you may have to switch buses in Fira to get to your Santorini destination. Bus tickets during the day cost approximately 1.80€ to 2.50€, but could be slightly more expensive at night. Check the schedules and length of trip so you can plan your daily Santorini itinerary.

Depending on where you’re going and/or during peak season, you could be waiting in line for the bus or even standing on the bus ride (they will pack as many people in as possible). In off season, bus schedules to be reduced due to less tourists.

Even though buses could run slightly off schedule, peak season to off season, check the bus schedules in advance and show up a little early so you don’t miss your ride and throw off your schedule on your solo travel in Santorini.

More Santorini Transportation Options

Is Santorini Safe to Travel Alone?

Crime in Santorini is very low. Santorini is also considered very safe to walk alone day or night. I didn’t feel worried about my safety at night as a solo female traveler over 50.

I will reiterate, however, to be careful walking at night outside of villages where there may not be street lighting or sidewalks. People do drive fast on the island roads. If you’re unsure about walking at night, take a taxi or shuttle.

As always, practice general safety measures, such as keeping your belongings on you at all times, especially in crowded or touristy areas.

Other than that, you should consider Santorini a safe place to visit as a single traveler over 50.

Sign at Zafora Akrotiri Santorini Greece
Why wait to solo travel to Santorini?

Santorini Packing Essentials

I’m not one to tell someone else how to pack, but there definitely some solo travel essentials I would recommend taking on your solo travel to Greece, like the following.

This list of travel essentials combined can make your Santorini, Greece solo travel easier and more memorable while being friendlier to the environment.

Where to Stay in Santorini on Solo Travel

Due to its central location, scenery, activities, dining, nightlife, and having the central bus statin, Fira is the best place to stay in Santorini for a lively first-time visit or for solo travel. You can also get good sunsets in Fira.

Staying in the yellow area on the map below, you can be within minutes of walking to all shops, restaurants, bars, the Fira bus stop, and other attractions.

If you stay outside of Fira, as indicated by the arrows, count on walking approximately 15 minutes into the enter of Fira, up or down hill each way depending on your hotel’s location. Again, streets may not be fully lit at night with no sidewalks.

Where to stay in Fira Santorini map
Where to stay in Fira

Budget Travel Tip

Since all buses go through the Fira bus stop, staying in Fira and taking the bus could save you from having to rent any type of vehicle or repeatedly hiring a shuttle or transfer, which will save you money.

Of course, you can stay in any of the other fabulous Santorini villages. Firastofani is only a 10-15 minute walk from Fira.

For beach access, consider staying in Oia, Kamari, Perissa, or Akrotiri. Even then, look into how long it takes to walk to the beach from your hotel.

When staying in village other than Fira and using the public bus, take into consideration what you’re looking to do daily on your solo travel in Santorini and budget your money and time accordingly.

Greece Solo Travel Tips

Have WhatsApp on your mobile device(s). Many smaller establishments and activities offices use this as a method of communication making it easier to make inquiries or booking and learn, or notify, of any scheduling changes.

Get the T-Mobile International Plan or something similar in price and features. I no longer work on WiFi only on international travel. I’ll use it when it’s there, but having access to roaming when needed for GPS and Google Maps is a game changer.

Accommodations in Santorini

Each village in Santorini has different accommodation types to choose from. Going in the off season, or booking well in advance, will get you the best Santorini prices.

Book a Travel Sustainable-rated property, or at least employs these methods into their business to reduce your travel carbon footprint.

Santorini Hotels

Hotels in Santorini range from budget to luxury. They also book quickly. The longer you wait, the more expensive they will be.

For location, price, breakfast, amenities (including free-cancellation), eco-friendly and sustainable operations, and customer reviews and ratings, here are my best hotels in Fira recommendations within minutes of the center of Fira ideal for over 50 solo travel (i.e., where I would stay):

Villa Anto would be your best budget-friendly option in a ‘travel sustainable property’.

Another budget-friendly option, but not ‘travel sustainable property’ rated, would be Milos Villas Hotel, where I last stayed due to booking late. Although it employs only some environmentally sustainable operations, and the beds were a little too firm for my comfort, it does have a lot of amenities, a very good breakfast and friendly staff, and is a 15 minute walk from the center of Fira.

Reserve Santorini Early for the Best Price

Greece Eco Travel Tips

In addition to Booking.com’s Santorini’s Travel Sustainable properties, Green Globe and Green Key Global also have eco-friendly certified lodging options.

Santorini Hostels

Hostels in Santorini can be a budget accommodation for over 50 single travel.  Using the same conditions above, with the ability to get a private room, my Fira hostel for solo travel recommendation is Bedspot Hostel. Unfortunately, it is not very sustainable in its operations.

Budget Travel Tips

Hostels in Santorini could start from around €12-15/night, depending on amenities, location, and time of year. Note, these are usually for a bed in a dorm room. Private rooms, however could start around €40-50/night, depending on location. On a budget, you may wish to explore hostels in Santorini first.

Find a Hostel Private Room in Fira

5 MUST DOs in Santorini Greece VIDEO

So, what are the best things to do in Santorini as a solo traveler?

For an island, the list is long. Here are some of the opportunities to enjoy a quiet and relaxing solo trip, or meet others on fun activities on Santorini solo travel. Just don’t miss the Santorini must see items.

Start with these 5 must do Santorini activities for an unforgettable solo trip to Santorini.

Top Ways to Do The 5 Santorini MUST DOs

More MUST SEE on Santorini Solo Travel

So, what are the best things to do in Santorini as a solo traveler? For an island, the list is long. Here are some of the opportunities to enjoy a quiet and relaxing solo trip, or meet others on fun activities on Santorini solo travel.

Churches & Cathedrals

Ceiling of Candlemas Holy Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral Thera Greece
Candlemas Holy Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, Fira

Architectural Buildings & Historic Sites

Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri Santorini Greece
Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri
Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri Santorini Greece
Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri

Santorini Landmarks, Points of Interest & Monuments

Castle of Oia Santorini
Castle of Oia

Museums & Galleries

Blue dome church Oia Santorini
Blue dome church, Oia

Santorini Beaches, Parks and Scenic Locations

Sunbathing, walking, hiking, boating, sailing, kayaking and other water sports are dominant in Santorini outdoor activities.

Santorini offers many places for walks, or more strenuous hikes, parks, and other look-out areas for great vistas and locations to watch the beautiful sunsets.

Obey signs to respect the local habitat and architecture. Do not stand or trample on prohibited areas or architecture.

Unfortunately, thoughtless tourists go off trail or stand on village walls and architecture, like in Oai, just to get an Instagrammable sunset photo causing signs such as the one below to be posted. 

Don't stand on church sign Oia Santorini
Church sign, Oia

Please, don’t be that tourist. This may be your ultimate location spot, but people also live here.

Here are but some of the wonderful walking, hiking, and scenic look-outs you can enjoy responsibly, some of which are included in the 10 best hikes of Santorini:

If you prefer to go with others to break up your Santorini solo travel and meet new people, there are many Santorini small group hiking tours available. If hiking is not your thing, try a 4-hour food walking tour and tastings or a food and drink tour at sunset.

Santorini Beaches

Santorini beaches (called “paralias”) are not really considered remarkable compared to other Greek Islands or other top beaches in Europe.  The Santorini beaches are predominately pebbly and/or rocky.

However, Santorini is known for unique beaches, like black sand and red beaches. Some may also have beach umbrellas and lounge chairs to rent, as well as places to grab a drink or bite to each.

Relax and sunbathe, or swim, snorkel, dive, kayak, or more. Just be sure to research them in advance and wear proper footwear to protect your feet from the heat and rocks.

Santorini Travel Tips

It can get downright hot in Santorini. Make sure you stay hydrated and wear your good marine and reef safe sunscreen all day.

For the best beach experience on your Santorini solo travel over 50, check out the 25 solo travel essentials for going to the beach alone and the top tips on how to do a solo beach trip.

The following are probably the most noteworthy beaches to try in Santorini. If you’re not staying near one, you’ll be able to access these beaches via a rental car, taxi, shuttle, or most of the public buses.

Top Santorini Activities for Solo Travelers

Akrotiri beach Santorini Greece
Akrotiri Beach

Santorini Dining & Entertainment

Fira at night Santorini Greece
Fira at night

Santorini Restaurants

Santorini dining options are plentiful. From any budget, you can find enticing local dishes. You can explore any of the villages for dining, or stay within your own village.

In Fira, quick eats of standard Greek fare is popular at Falafeland and Aroma Cafe. Fresh seafood on the water can be found at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern in Oia or MarinaEra in Fira.

With so much to choose, here are restaurants in Santorini villages to get you inspired on what to try and where:

Lunch at Zafora Akrotiri Santorini Greece
Chicken gyros lunch at Zafora, Akrotiri

Santorini Food

Surrounded by water, fresh seafood is always a top dining choice. Try the calamari and mussels.

Traditional Santorini dishes like Moussaka, Tomato Gefthedes (tomato fritters), Saganaki (fried filo pastry filled with cheese and drizzled honey), and Fava (pureed yellow split peas with lemon, olive oil, capers and onions), to name a few, are a must eat in Santorini.

Of course, you’ll also find the traditional Greek dishes like souvlaki pitas, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, Greek salad, and creamy, Greek yogurt covered in honey. Oh my. Santorini dishes will be made with fresh local cheeses, olive oils, fruit, and roasted meats that will get your mouth watering.

Akrotiri wine shop Santorini Greece-1
Wine shop, Akrotiri

Why not go beyond the restaurant on your Santorini solo travel and try your hand at cooking class with wine tasting and lunch?

Wine is a tradition in Santorini. Choosing a favorite from any of the local grape productions will be hard. Keep reading.

For after dinner, don’t forget the traditional Baklava with local, Santorini pistachios, or a taste of Ouzo, the traditional Greek liquor.

Top Santorini Food Walking & Boating Tours

Eco Travel Tips

Avoid using single-use plastics when dining, shopping and on food or boating tours in Santorini to reduce plastic waste and your carbon footprint by bringing your own reusable collapsible shopping bags, collapsible water bottle, recycled plastic water bottle carry sling, and bamboo travel utensils so you’re prepared to travel with the planet in mind.

I always travel with the above items. Light weight and taking up very little space in my carry-on bags, I love the convenience and peace of mind these inexpensive, eco-friendly products provide.

Santorini Wineries

You know me. What would be solo travel be without wine tasting, right? So, what would Santorini solo travel be without Santorini wine tasting? Not much!

If you feel the same, then you’re in luck, because Santorini has some amazing wines to taste. They make refreshing white wines from the Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani white grape varietals and reds from the Mandilaria and Mavrotragano grapes.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found many wines from Santorini outside of Greece, so I highly recommend sipping wines in Santorini.

Santorini’s sustainable method of minimal water use for growing wine grapes goes back centuries. Did you know that some of the oldest grape vine roots can extend down to 60 meters deep due to the climate and minimal water availability? Crazy, huh?

Food and wine Domaine Sigalas Santorini Greece
Wine tasting, Domaine Sigalas

Here are some notable Santorini wineries to peak your interest (pardon the pun) and get you planning your wine sipping adventures:

Food at wine tasting Estate Argyros Santorini Greece
Wine tasting, Estate Argyros

Making advance arrangements for wine tastings and tours, if available, is highly advised, especially during the high tourist season.

Your hotel should be able to help arrange these for you, like mine did for my visits to Estate Argyros and Domaine Sigalas, both wineries I also highly recommend.

Top Rated Santorini Wine Tours

If you don’t want to do this, then try one of the several Santorini wine tasting tours available. You may be able to hit several wineries in a day, freeing up another day for a different Santorini attraction. Wine tasting small group excursions are also a great way to meet people as a single traveler over 50.

Then again, once you taste the Greek nectar of the gods from Santorini, paired with their fresh, local bites, you may find yourself skipping some of those other Santorini attractions. They are that good.

Santorini Beer

Don’t like wine but still want to meet people while sampling local drinks? Try a Ftelos Brewery tour and beer tasting trip. I’m not much of a beer drinker these days, being over 50, but I did sample some beer in Santorini and it is tasty.

Santorini Nightlife

Fira rocks Santorini as the place for nightlife. Oia holds a close second. Nightlife in Santorini does provide for some options for different nightlife tastes.

Both villages have bars and clubs for after dinner drinking and dancing through the night. Nightlife is more happening during the peak season months. Check out the list of Santorini bars, lounges and clubs.

For dancing in Fira there is the Two Brothers Bar and Koo Club. Want music without the club scene? Try Kira Thira Jazz Bar in Fira.

Fira also has upscale and casual, scenic, bars and lounges such as the PK Cocktail Bar, V Lounge Cafe & Cocktail Bar, and Iriana Cafe. If you’re wanting drinks at sunset, get there early.

Other villages will have restaurants and bars, but they won’t be as plentiful as Fira and Oia and may not stay open as late. Kamari has an open air theater if you’re looking for something different.

If you stay in Fira but don’t want to do be disturbed from the nightlife, you may wish to have your hotel not in the heart of Fira and stay a short walk away, especially during the peak season.

Best Booking Sites for Santorini Travel

Here is a summary of the best booking sites I recommend you use to successfully book your travel to Santorini Greece solo travel. I use just about all of these for most travel locations. I even gave you my suggested Santorini hotel.

These booking sites give you multiple travel options and awesome travel deals for all travel budgets. They will certainly help get a jump on your solo trip to Santorini.

For the best travel deals, always book early. Bundling airline, hotel, and/or rental car may provide additional deals.

Don’t forget to use my Greece Travel Guide complete your Santorini solo travel planning and booking.

How to Get THE BEST of Santorini in 3 Days

You’re all set to get your Santorini solo travel on, right? Need some ideas on how to plan your days?

My 3 days in Santorini solo travel itinerary will get your started. It even has suggestions on how stay longer on your first-time Santorini solo travel over 50.

Let Me Hear From You

I would love to hear if my guide to solo travel in Santorini was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!

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