Are you still uncertain about visiting Santorini in winter? Or maybe you just made up your mind about getting to the island during the cold months but are looking for some winter inspiration. You’ve come to the right place!
Traveling to Santorini in winter can be a great way to enjoy a milder winter climate and discover the island without the crowds!
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Where to Stay in Santorini
Not sure where to stay in Santorini? If you want to be around the best nightlife, your first choice should be Fira, followed by Imerovigli.
Where to Stay in Fira
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Fira. Generally, budget means hotels for around $50 a night a, mid-range is from about $70-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Where to Stay in Imerovigli
Budget: If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation and the typical dug-out-looking cave studios and suites that Santorini is famous for, then Caldera Premium Villas is a wonderful place to stay.
What is the Weather Like in Winter in Santorini
The weather can be quite unpredictable when it comes to winter in the Cycladic islands, however, it’s still not as cold as in the rest of Europe, or some other countries in the northern hemisphere.
Temperatures can range from 18 °C to 12 °C, although they can get as low as 4 °C on very cold days. It’s not common to find snow but has happened in the past.
The skies are not as clean and blue as you would find in summer, since it tends to be cloudy or at least partially clouded, although you’ll definitely find sunny days too. Rain is not uncommon, so keep all these details in mind when you pack for a winter holiday in the Greek islands.
Pros and Cons of Visiting Santorini in Winter
The best thing about traveling to Santorini in winter is definitely the quiet atmosphere that you’ll find on the island.
Although Santorini does not really close for the season, there are far fewer tourists around. That also means less time spent waiting in lines for museums or archaeological sites as well as less crowded roads.
Walking along the tiny alleys of the beautiful town of Oia or the capital of the island, Fira, will be much more comfortable during the winter.
On the other hand, the hotel choice will be more restricted, there’ll be fewer open bars and tavernas too. But you don’t really need to consider this as a disadvantage. It’s the local’s favorites the ones that remain open through the year, guaranteeing excellent food at very convenient prices.
In fact, when it comes to prices, everything is cheaper during the low season. You will pay less for accommodation, food, transport, tours, and souvenirs too.
So, if you’re trying not to spend that much, or if the summer price tags on the island don’t fit your budget, there’s no better moment in the year than winter to visit Santorini.
The Best Things to in Santorini in Winter
You won’t probably be swimming in the fairly cold waters of the Aegean during winter, and in any case, Santorini is not really known for its heavenly beaches, like other islands.
And still, there’s so much to do to discover Santorini in winter that you can have a hard time choosing what’s best for you.
See Oia’s Famous Whitewashed Landscape
Oia is probably the prettiest town in the Aegean, and it’s certainly the most photographed one due to the unique views that combine pristine white houses perched on the border of the volcano, the deep blue of the sea, and the azure color of domes in most churches. It’s also the best place to see the sunset in Santorini!
Oia is sadly packed during summer, making it impossible to discover every hidden angle of it. Besides, since the town is full of winding paths and stairs, paying a visit to Oia during winter will save you the fatigue of climbing steps under the scorching sun of the Greek summer.
Visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri
One of the most fantastic places to visit in Santorini is the archaeological site of Akrotiri, located directly south of the small village with the same name. It is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. Here, it’s possible for you to truly understand the high level of development that the ancient civilizations on the Greek islands reached in the past.
The site reached our days in a great preservation state thanks to the volcanic ashes that covered the whole area after the great volcanic explosion sometime during the 16th century BC.
It’s also a great place to visit during winter since the whole site is housed under a bioclimatic roof that not only protects the ruins from being exposed to the elements but also makes it a great place to visit on a rainy day.
Take a Walk Along the Empty Coast
Despite Santorini being better known for its idyllic whitewashed houses and fairy-tale landscape, some of the beaches on the island are great to take a walk and soak in the bizarre volcanic landscape.
You can discover some unique hidden coves and deserted shores with surreal landscapes. You can hike until you reach the spectacular Red Beach and even get a glimpse of the White Beach in the southern tip of Akrotiri.
You can also drive all the way to Baxedes, on the opposite coast of Oia, and marvel at the unique landscape on this hidden corner of the island.
Alternatively, enjoy a walk on the black sand of Perissa and Kamari and stop for a dish of traditional Greek food in one of the few tavernas that remain open in winter.
Check Santorini’s Museums
Nothing beats some time spent in a museum during a cold or cloudy day, so if the weather on the island is not giving you a break, head to Fira, the capital of the island, and visit the two most remarkable museums in Santorini.
Inside the Archaeological Museum of Fira, you’ll find all kinds of objects that had been found during the excavations made in Akrotiri. The museum also hosts impressive sculptures of the Hellenistic period, Byzantine works of art, and even some remains of prehistoric times, including objects from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods.
If you’re a sucker for history, visit also the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which features frescoes and ancient objects found not only in Akrotiri but also in some other areas of the island. It presents the artifacts divided by different eras and civilizations making it quite easy to get a clear picture of the past of the Aegean islands.
Different elements including vases, figurines, and objects of daily use are eloquent proof of the grade of the degree of development reached by the ancient peoples of Greece.
Shop for Souvenirs in Fira
The capital of the island, Fira, is the right place to go if you want to find a more alive atmosphere during winter. There are many good tavernas open for locals and some souvenir shops still open in the colder months.
Winter is the perfect time to hunt for bargains. The island can be pretty pricey during summer, so there’s no better chance to get that unique black volcanic soap from Santorini to take back home.
Although you won’t find every single shop open, prices will be certainly more affordable than in summer.
In Santorini’s capital, you’ll also find some of the finest art galleries in Greece, prices might be a bit high for your taste, but you will definitely enjoy admiring the art exhibited during your visit.
Hike from Fira to Oia
A popular activity that tourists enjoy in summer is hiking the long coastal path that from Fira passes through the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli to take you directly to Oia, on the northern tip of the island.
The hike, however, can be extremely long and exhausting when you also have to endure the hot temperatures that hit the island in summer.
Winter is one of the best moments to live this adventure and to marvel at the breathtaking views of the Caldera without any rush.
Explore the Hinterland Villages
There is much more to Santorini than just Oia and Fira. In fact, there are lesser-known villages scattered around the island, usually also forgotten during summer, where life keeps more or less the same pace all year round.
Head to Karterados to visit a relaxed town with just a few inhabitants. Wander along the empty streets and let your sight get lost in the immensity of the sea that can be spotted in the distance.
Pyrgos Kallistis, one of the prettiest villages in Santorini, was also the capital of the island in the past. The village, nestled on the slope of a soft hill is a perfect spot to learn about the traditional architecture of the island and to try local specialties, such as Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, or fava spread with freshly-baked bread.
Discover the Pretty Churches on the Island
The most iconic churches in Santorini are indeed located both in Oia and Fira, but that does not really mean that other small chapels in Santorini lack in charm or are less interesting.
You can definitely take some time to check the unique white church in Karterados or the blue-domed church in Perissa.
In Akrotiri, while you walk your way to the Red Beach, take a look at the unique church that rests on the side of the rocky hill. The white walls of the chapel produce a striking contrast against the reddish slopes of Akrotiri
Book a Wine Tour
Santorini is also known for the great quality of its wines. The island hosts several prestigious wineries that you can visit and where you can learn how to pair the local wine with the traditional dishes of Greece.
Go for a glass of Assyrtiko if you’re willing to taste one of the best-known Greek wines on the market or sip a small glass of Vinsanto, the world-famous dessert wine from the island.
A wine tour is also a great way to learn about the unique way that the grapes are cultivated on the island as well as about the characteristics that the volcanic soil confers to fruits and vegetables grown on Santorini.
As you can see, the island of Santorini has a lot to offer to those visiting off-season, there are fun things to do for every taste and traveler.
You will also enjoy mild winter weather as well as discounted fees for accommodation, car rental, and dining, as a matter of fact, winter can indeed the best time of the year to discover Santorini.
5 Things to Bring with You to Santorini
If you’re planning a trip to Santorini, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in Santorini is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places on the island where the water tastes like minerals.
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Santorini roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Santorini is very safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie nor I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Athens is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” and we think it’s true!
Pin this Guide to the Best Things to Do in Winter in Santorini for your Next Trip to Greece!
Gabi Ancarola is a translator and travel journalist living in Crete. She regularly writes about the island for several magazines about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality. She has published several travel guides about Greece and runs a local gastronomy tour in Chania. She loves cooking local dishes, taking photos, and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.