Santorini Cruises What To Know
Large cruise ships in the Santorini caldera great to look at, but cruises are a lousy way to experience Santorini. Please, if you come to Santorini dont do it on a cruise.
This is what visiting the island is like when you come to Santorini on a cruise: You walk around the busiest parts of the island as part of a large group. Youve got limited time and can only see a few spots in Fira and Oia.
Heres one of the large tour groups from a cruise. Are you in group 20?
Maybe youre in group 22?
Or maybe its 32? Regardless: this sucks.
Yay, you get your own sticker. Thanks, but no thanks.
This looks fun: waiting for the cable car ride back to the cruise port.
This is just a small part of the line it can stretch far back and around a corner. Occasionally cruise passengers will be left behind on the island because they cant get back to the ship in time. They then have to arrange their own transportation to another island to meet-up with the cruise. Certainly this is rare, but its always in the back of your mind: what time is it? we cant miss our departure time.
Oia is a great town, but everyone staying on the island knows: dont go mid-day because its packed with tours from the cruise ships.
This is the Santorini you get to experience when you stay on the island and enjoy it at your own pace.
Get up early and there are more donkeys on the streets than people.
A quiet breakfast view in Imerovigli.
Local Tours And Excursions
If you haven’t booked an excursion onboard, you can still get on a tour with local and independent tour operators right at the Port of Skala.
Tour Operators in Skala
Most of these tours are pretty much identical to the ones offered by the cruise lines and although prices can be a little lower do not expect to get a huge discount. However, the local operators/guides tend to have fewer excursionists in their groups, which in itself can be much nicer. At the Port of Skala, there is also an excellent transfer to the bay of Amoudi that deserves to be highlighted – more about this below.
Santorini For Foodies In A Day
Apart from its unique wines, Santorini also has several local products and dishes worth tasting. If you want a more authentic experience away from the tourist crowds, you can consider taking a private tour revolving around traditional products, cooking and wine.
Get to know the famous Santorini fava , tomatoes and other delicacies, and attend a cooking class in an original farm.
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Santorini Day Trip From Athens
It is technically possible to plan a day trip to Santorini from Athens by choosing well timed flights. These change from year to year, but basically, you’d be looking at the earliest flight to Santorini possible from Athens, and taking the latest one back. Or going on to another destination of course.
Santorini airport is located around 6kms from Oia, and there are various options on how to get from the airport into the town, with the quickest being a pre-booked taxi. I’ve got a full guide here How to get from Santorini airport to Oia.
Do Greek Ferries Use E
- Most Greek ferry companies now offer electronic tickets, eliminating the need to collect physical tickets at the port. After booking e-tickets on FerryHopper.com, you will receive a confirmation email with links to web check-in. After checking in online on the day of your departure, you can then download your boarding pass to print on your own or keep in your phone/tablet to present when you board the ferry.
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So If You Are Arriving To Santorini On A Cruise Ship Please Be Aware Of The Following:
- Your ship will most probably dock just outside the Old Port in Fira.
- From there, you will take a tender boat to come into the Old Port and then the cable car up to the town of Fira.
- It is either the cable car or 600 steps to get to town and I wouldnt recommend the steps. By steps I dont mean exactly what you have in mind. I mean you have to step up, then walk three or four steps and then reach the next step.You have the alternative of getting a donkey to take you up, but I am not a big fan of that either to be honest. I just feel so bad for the donkeys.
- There are queues everywhere! You usually have to queue to get into the tender boat, and then to get to the cable car. From what I hear some cruise lines give priority to people paying for ships excursions. Which means they will leave the ship first and you might have to wait a bit.
- On the way back, you might also have to queue to get the cable car down to the old port.
Here is how taking the cable car looks like:
When I am on tour, I usually bring people back to Fira one hour in advance just to make sure they will be there on time.
My point is that all these will take up some time, so do factor that in when you are planning your day.
I have been at the top of the cable car so many times waiting for my tour for an hour, an hour and a half or even more..
Now, I know you all want to see the sunset from Oia, but just in case that is not possible, here is what I would suggest for you:
Just saying, this is what I would do
Where Cruise Ships Dock
The main harbor of the island , cannot accommodate large cruise ships being able o dock, so most ships use their engines to hold their positions into the cone of the volcano and make adjustments at times. Thus, cruise Passengers are brought to land with tenders , operated by the Santorini Boatmen Union.
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Private Car And Shuttle Service At Santorini Ferry
- The best way to get a private transfer from the Santorini ferry port is to pre-book with Welcome Pickups. Prices are determined and paid for in advance, so everything is taken care of before you arrive. After booking your ride youll be sent a confirmation email, followed by a photo of your driver so youll know exactly who to look for at the port. Your driver will monitor your ferry in case of late arrival, and be waiting for you upon arrival at the port with a welcome sign. Child car seats can be pre-ordered in advance of your trip.
- Welcome Pickups costs about the same as a pre-booked taxi , but because theyre pre-paid, you wont need to worry about having cash on hand.
How To Get To Fira From Old Port Or Vice Versa
The easiest and most common way to reach the Old Port is by a cable car. It takes only three minutes. On the other hand, if youre feeling adventurous and decide to walk to the port, itll be 587 steps. Local donkey ride is another easy way to get there.
Important note: Please note that Gialos, the Old Port is nestled at the foot of a rocky cliff below Fira. If you decide to go by a cable car or on a donkey, youll have to pay 6 per side of the ride.
Staying Near The Santorini Ferry Port
- There are no hotels close to the Santorini ferry port. Regardless of where you stay on the island, youll require a taxi, bus, or pre-booked transfer to get to and from the port, so I generally dont recommend moving hotels just to be close to the ferry.
- Fira is the closest town to Athinios Port and the only town with direct buses to and from the port. Every other town will require a change of bus in Fira. The most convenient Fira hotels for the bus to the port are Angel Luxury Suites , Atlantis Hotel , and Petinis Place .
- If youre taking a taxi or booking a ride with Welcome Pickups, theres little difference in cost and time to get between any Santorini town and the port, so stay in your preferred town and dont worry too much about convenience.
Arriving In Santorini By Ferry
Santorini is connected with Athens and many other Greek islands by a network of ferries. These arrive at either the Old Port, or the New Port, depending on which service you take. Again, whilst there may be bus services and taxis to use, you might be best pre-booking a taxi in order to cut down on wasted time.
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Santorini Island Cruise Terminal
Cruise ships to Santorini Island dock at Thira – port town on the western coast. The cruise port is a tender port . Cruise vessels anchor in the caldera and their passengers are tendered ashore to the Old Port in Fira via local tender boats . Cruise liners usually call on Santorini Island at 8 am and leave at 6 pm.
Cruise ship tourists can reach town Fira by walking, by donkey or by cable car. Cable car and donkey rides are affordably priced. A cable car is available every 20 min. Donkey rides from the cruise tender dock take up to 30 min, almost the same as walking.
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock In Santorini
We anchored in the crater of Santorini which apparently is the worlds largest volcanic crater created 3,500 years ago by a massive eruption of the Thera Volcano, which is still active. The craters are currently snoozing and are under constant surveillance by scientists at Firas volcanology institute. This bay is also believed by some to conceal the legendary lost city of Atlantis. The nearest dock is the port of Skala.
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Best Things To Do In Santorini
There are literally hundreds of activities, attractions, tours and excursions you can do in Santorini. Here is the ultimate list of what to do in Santorini to make this the best trip of your life.
I have handpicked the ultimate list of the Best Things To Do in Santorini on the list below but depending on your situation this might differ for you and you might be interested on different attractions in Santorini.
Good news is that Santorini is the island with the most things to do than any other greek island .
In my honest opinion the absolute best things you can do in Santorini are:
- Take a Winery Tour or visit a winery by yourself
- Wander the picturesque streets of Oia, Fira and Pyrgos towns
- Watch the sunset from Oia
- Watch a movie at the Open Air Cinema of Kamari
- Visit the Ancient Akrotiri
- Have seafood and fresh fish at Ammoudi Bay
- Visit and shop at Atlantis bookshop
But the list of amazing things to do and attractions to see on the island is literally endless and I have picked up 32 of them at the bottom of this article. Bad news is that you probably wont have the time to do all of them so you have to choose wisely and make the best of your time on the island.
Jump in quickly:
VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW:
- If you are visiting the island for less than 4 days the best thing is to book a Santorini Tour with a guide that will show you the best of the island in a limited time
- Best Website To Book Any Tour in Santorini: GetYourGuide
Santorini In One Day The Beaches
Our biased opinion Santorini beaches are far from the best beaches in Greece. They are definitely quite photogenic, especially the Red Beach, but our advice is to not really bother with the beaches in Santorini, especially if you are going to other islands in Greece.
At the same time, there is no denying that many visitors enjoy the long stretch of black pebbles to the east side of the island. Kamari, Perissa and Perivolos beaches are quite popular, and you might want to include them in your one day Santorini itinerary. If you do, let us know what you thought!
A less frequented beach is the small beach at Ammoudi, just under Oia village. You can easily walk down from Oia, and also have a meal at Dimitris taverna.
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Explore Pygros Or Emporio Village
Firstly, you can explore Pyrgos Santorinis former capital city. It is the best-kept medieval area on Santorini and has a significant place in Greeces history. One of the main reasons tourists come here is the views. You can catch panoramic views of the coast that are truly stunning and worth the journey.
Pyrgos has some of Santorinis most incredible infinity pools, balconies, and terraces that tourists love to see. Perhaps the best aspect of Pyrgos is that it isnt as busy as other areas of Santorini. Santorini attracts millions of cruise ship visitors but Pyrgos is not the first stop. It is less busy, less advertised, and quainter than other beautiful Santorini hotspots.
The other option is visiting Emporio village the largest Santorini village. Youll find Emporio in Santorinis center where it is home to various beautiful yards and houses. Historically, Emporio was Santorinis center of commercial affairs making it a vibrant area. It is a quiet place that attracts some visitors in todays era but less than other Santorini areas.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of shops, cafes, and traditional hotels. You can also find traditional taverns offering some of the islands most extraordinary Greek cuisine. The most popular Emporio attraction is the medieval Kasteli, a fortified Santorini castle. Once you go inside the castle, you can find a church dating back to the 16th century. There are superb island views from the castle.
How Early To Arrive For Santorini Ferry Departures
- The Santorini ferry port is small, but its also one of the most heavily-used in Greece so it can be hectic, especially during the summer high season. Expect some chaos, and arrive at least an hour before your ferrys scheduled departure. This will give you enough time to pick up your tickets and chill out at the port, knowing that your spot on the boat is secured. In addition to the passenger waiting station, Athinios Port also has a few small minimarts and cafes its easy and pleasant to grab a bite or a drink while you wait.
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Watch The Sunset From Profitis Ilias Hilltop
The sunsets from Profitis Ilias mountain top are out of this world
Oia is said to have some of the most beautiful sunsets on earth, but as a matter of fact there are many spots on the island to take in the stunning pink and gold rays as the sun drops into the Aegean sea. The village of Imerovigli with its panoramic views is one, as is Vlychada beach with its volcanic scenery.They can be equally romantic and mesmerising. However, my favourite spot is not one of the famous ones. I prefer to watch the sunset in Santorini from a different spot. This spot is on the top of a hill on a place where a monastery exists. It is called Profitis Ilias Monastery and its the highest point on the island. The view from there is s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g ! On the way up you will find the sign for the monastery of Prophet Elias, where a Greek Air Force radar also exists.
- How To Get To Profitis Ilias Hill: Unfortunately there is no local bus that can take you there, so you have to take your car or ATV to go. Just follow the signs from Pyrgos Village. The road to the top of the hill is narrow so be careful driving there:
Explore The Best Of Olympia
To begin your unforgettable journey, you’ll make your way 25 miles east of Katakolon to Ancient Olympia. Built in about 600 B.C.E. as a place to worship Zeus, the most important Greek god, Ancient Olympia went on to become the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Every four years, ancient Greeks flocked to the site to take part in the festival of Zeus, which included the prestigious sporting event. At one time, the site was home to the massive Statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Eventually, Roman conquerors and natural disasters destroyed the site.
Today, all that remains are the ruins of the once-spectacular complex that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. During this comprehensive six-hour tour, you’ll learn all about what the site looked like and how it was used in its glory days. After, you’ll make a visit to the Archeological Museum of Olympia to see some of the magnificent artifacts found in the area. Your final stop includes a visit to Magna Grecia Farm for a taste of ouzo and homemade snacks. This Greece cruise excursion really does bring you the best of Olympia in every possible way!
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Santorini Cruise Tips 2018 Conclusion
Santorini did not disappoint it was breathtakingly beautiful, we really enjoyed our visit to Thira and if we had had more time we would of loved to explore more of the island. We have cruised many times and both agreed this is an excellent cruise destination. The ships sail away was at 1900 so could not stay for the iconic Oia sunset shot as the sun was setting at 2045 but we were able to admire this view as we sailed away to our next port of call which was Rhodes Town.
Emma says: Thanks for this one Paul and Carole! Lovely to have you guys writing for us again. Santorini looks absolutely gorgeous, your photos are amazing too. I love that face youre pulling on the cable car!
I would love to visit Santorini, hopefully, one day. Thanks for the tip about the flip-flops made me laugh when you referred to it as the thong part!
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