Tourists from all over the world visit Santorini, Greece to take in the spectacular sights of the caldera and stay in the white-washed cave homes dug into the side of the cliffs. Santorini is a famous Cycladic Island, recently listed as the Number 1 island in Europe! Surrounded by the Aegean Sea, Santorini receives visitors looking for an abundance of activities, from shopping to hiking to surfing! The island offers plenty of activities to suit everyone’s needs, but the beaches are what locals and tourists alike flock to in the summer time. Most visitors go to the popular beaches, which are great, but there are less-frequented ones that I think are even better!
OK, I may not be a true “local,” being an American and all, but I have been living in Santorini for almost 5 months so I definitely know my way around. I try to spend my days being as productive as possible, but I’m a beach bum at heart so I always find time to go bask in the sun. Here are a few of my favorite beaches of Santorini! Most are accessible by bus from the center, Firá, combined with a short walk.
Located on the southern coast of Santorini, Vlychada Beach is right in front of the Old Tomato Factory, now formerly known as Santorini Arts Factory (SAF). It’s a fairly large beach, fine sand to lay down on, and amazing sights of big pumice stone mimicking dunes. The beach doesn’t get too crowded and even if it does, visitors can walk just a bit further down the beach for a private spot. I love this beach because it gets great sun throughout the day so the water is warmer than other parts of the island and the sand is soft. Also, there are a few delicious spots for lunch and if you get bored of the beach, SAF is an interesting museum and art gallery to visit.
This is the best place to watch the famous Santorinian sunset in my opinion! It’s a small beach right below Oia, the village where EVERYONE perches to watch the sun go down, but the beach is usually quiet, away from the tourists, and has the best views by the water. The sun looks so big from the beach and in the heat of the summer, it’s a perfect place to take a sunset dip in the sea. Another perk that this beach offers are the views of private yachts and catamarans passing by. With the sun-setting in the background, it makes for an insta-worthy picture. There’s even a cute tavern on the side of the cliff to grab a sunset cocktail, just in time for the golden hour of Santorini! To get to Katharos, take a bus or drive to Oia, and then follow signs to Ammoudi Bay and Katharos. The road eventually splits so follow the sign to Katharos.
I grew up going to sandy North Carolina beaches so I have a certain nostalgia for the soft sand. Monolithos is on the eastern side of the island and is a long beach of fine sand. I can always find a nice spot to lay my towel and the water is calm enough to take a leisurely swim. There’s a busier part of the beach with a few small hotels and places to grab a coffee and a beach lounger. Or there is a quieter side of the beach that only has one tavern. Either side is great, depending on your preference for the day!
I like Monolithos because it’s a sandy beach that’s pretty easy to get to from the center of Santorini. People usually opt to take a bus there, and buses run regularly in the summer, but I prefer to get some exercise so I normally walk. It’s a long, but pleasant walk with views of the ocean and the highest peak on the island along the way. There are even a few donkeys to say hi to! Monolithos is also a favorite among surfers and kite surfers. This side of the island has great conditions for water sports so for those looking for a bit of action, this is the beach to get it. There’s a kite-surfing place set-up right on the beach ready for any takers!
This is not one of the “hidden gem” beaches, but it’s a great place for lots of activity! Also known as the black sand beach, Perissa is a favorite for a hot summer day, finding a place with beach loungers, ordering a cold coffee, and just relaxing for the afternoon. I’ll bring my running gear to take advantage of the long, flat road right by the beach, which is the equivalent of a boardwalk. There’s a bunch of places to have an ice cream, a sit down meal, or a take-away pork gyro. I also like the beach bars at Perissa because they are a bit more relaxed and “beachy” than the places in Firá. Perissa gets very busy, but it’s a large beach so there’s always a spot somewhere! This beach is known for its laid-back vibes, interesting people, and places to grab a cold one while at the water’s edge. For those looking for the feel of a mini-tropical getaway, Perissa is definitely the beach to visit. Buses run from the main stop in Firá and go regularly to Perissa throughout the season.
Baxedes is both rocky and sandy and is located on the north-east side of the island. This beach is another favorite because I can always find a private spot to relax and there’s also a lot to explore here! It’s fun to walk along the piles of seaweed and see the old caves that fishermen still use and to admire the formations in the pumice stone. I almost always stumble upon a cute Greek puppy, a true beach dog. There are different entrances to different parts of the beach, but I prefer the end of the beach towards Oia. This is a great beach to get to by car or ATV, which a lot tourists decide to rent at least one of their days. Because buses don’t run as regularly to this side of the island, it’s best to plan ahead.