For beach and island vacations in Europe, Greece is arguably the number one destination. Despite seeming relatively small on a map, Greece has the 11th longest coastline of any country on Earth due to the fact that it includes a huge number of islands, with many of them spread out throughout the Aegean Sea. Of these islands, Santorini is one of the most popular and most commonly visited due to its unique natural beauty and classical Greek architecture. Also known as Thera or Thira, Santorini is around 120 miles off the coast of mainland Greece and has a long and varied coastline, with both sandy beaches and rugged rocky areas to explore.
Around 2 million people are drawn to Santorini each year, with many visiting during the summer when the weather is warmest, and the island has been consistently ranked as one of the best places to visit in all of Europe. Visitors to Santorini can enjoy local delicacies and traditional Greek cuisine, roam the streets of the various towns and villages like Oia, admire the uniquely Cycladic architecture all around the island, and spend some time sunbathing down on Santorini's gorgeous beaches. Each beach on Santorini has its own history and unique views, with some offering astonishing angles on key locations like Oia Castle or the ruins of Ancient Thira, perfect for snapping memorable vacation photographs to share with your friends and family back home.
Best Beaches in Santorini
It’s important to note that Santorini’s beaches are made up of volcanic sand and small rocks. They're not the typical sort of beach that you might expect, with the sand being coarser and darker than many other places around the world, but they are still highly suitable for all the classic beach activities like relaxing on sun loungers or taking a dip in the sea. They're also a great place to gather in the evenings or mornings to witness the sun setting and rising. With that in mind, here are some key details on the best beaches of Santorini.
- Red Beach
As soon as you step foot on this beach, you'll feel like you just landed on the planet Mars. The aptly-named beach features red sand and red rocks all around. It's only a small beach but it's a very special one. You won't find many local amenities or services at Red Beach, so the atmosphere tends to be very calm and tranquil, and this Santorini beach is worth a visit for its aesthetics alone. It's unlike any other spot on the island, but prospective visitors should be aware that accessing the beach involves a short walk across some tricky terrain, so it might not be suitable for those with mobility or health issues.
- Kamari Beach
If you're a tourist in Santorini, you'll almost inevitably end up visiting Kamari Beach. This is the number one spot for most travelers in the area and it's easy to see why. Kamari Beach is the most built-up of Santorini's beaches, with a lot of useful services and amenities both on the beach itself and in the local area. The nearby town has a lot of great places to grab some food and drinks and is a very family-friendly place. It's also conveniently located not too far from the island's airport and a lot of good hotels and other accommodation options can be found nearby. The sands here are typically dark in color and a little rough, but there are long lines of lounges open for public use.
- Perissa Beach
Twinned with nearby Perivolos Beach, Perissa Beach is also equipped with a lot of great amenities like bars, sun lounges, and conveniently placed beach umbrellas providing some welcome shelter from the sun's rays in the summer months. There's a lot of room at this beach and it runs all the way down to an impressive set of cliffs at the far end, which are simply awe-inspiring to observe and snap some photos of. A lot of good eateries and hotels can be found in the area and the waters are relatively calm here due to the shape of the surrounding coastline.
- Ammoudi Bay
Ammoudi Bay isn't technically a beach but it's still worth mentioning on this list as it's one of Santorini's must-visit coastal locations and arguably the best place on the entire island to go swimming. You'll see people diving off the nearby rocks and cliffs down into the waters at this location and the sea is especially calm and warm here through the summer months. As with Red Beach, this area can be tricky to access and requires a certain level of physical fitness, so is better-suited for young travelers.
- Perivolos Beach
As previously mentioned, Perivolos Beach is effectively joined up with the nearby Perissa Beach. As one walks south along Perissa Beach, it eventually becomes Perivolos Beach. The sands here are dark and grainy, but there are lots of cozy loungers dotted around. Unlike some of the other beaches on Santorini, Perivolos Beach is relatively quiet and calm, without many hotels or restaurants nearby. So if you're looking for some intimacy or a little more peace and quiet on your Greek vacation, this is one of the nicest beaches to check out.