Why go? Santorini is one of the most ridiculously romantic places on earth, with legendary sunsets, mountaintop hotels, and amazing food and views at every turn.
Best ideas: Take a ride along the water, explore tiny port towns, or take a hike from Fira to Oia before catching a sunset over the water.
Good to know: While beautiful, this particular Greek Island can be quite touristy (think: crowds) at times thanks to the abundance of cruise ships passing through.
Along with the Maldives, South Africa, and the Amalfi Coast, Santorini will always be a perennial hotspot for honeymooners — that is, until the dormant volcano at its core decides to erupt again. It could very well happen at any time, but in the interim, what awaits is a dreamscape dripping with romance from the sea to the clifftops, serving up disarmingly beautiful sunsets, cultural attractions that span millenia, and convivial Greek meals with a hearty side of opa!
Ages ago, a volcano literally blew its lid during a cataclysmic volcanic eruption that effectively reshaped Santorini forever, wiping out an entire ancient civilization in the process. We’d say the isle has recovered quite well since then, evolving into a crescent moon-shaped landing pad for throngs of photo-hungry visitors — romance-seekers in particular — who are seduced by the whitewashed Cycladic villages that tumble down the rusty shades of the caldera ridge. The sheer image of this partially submerged (still active!) volcano is what arguably makes it one of the most spectacular destinations on the planet.
In This Article
Traveling & Getting Around Santorini
Santorini (Thira in Greek) is part of the Cyclades, a windswept family of islands with equally famous siblings like Mykonos, Naxos, and Paros. More than the others, however, Santorini is a magnet for couples, especially newlyweds, given its superior appeal as a photogenic backdrop.
There are two ways to arrive: by plane or by ship. The island’s airport is a sad relic from the Seventies — though we’re promised brand spanking new facilities in the next few years! — and can be accessed not just via multiple daily flights from the Greek capital on national carriers Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, but also seasonally from various destinations around Europe, including London with British Airways, Milan with Easyjet, and Barcelona with Vueling. If you’re already in Greece, consider hopping on a high speed ferry like Hellenic Seaways or SeaJets — expect it to be around $80-$100 from Athens’ Piraeus port for a five-hour ride or longer. The earlier the better for purchasing flights, but it’s also best to reserve ferry tickets in advance.
Ferries dock at Athinios port about five miles from Fira, Santorini’s largest town, and you can take the basic but adequate bus system called KTEL to get there. From where cruise ships disembark at the Old Harbor, you can ascend 580 steps to reach Fira or take a $8 cable car to the town center. Forget the donkey transfers, as iconic as they may seem; your crotch will thank you later.
Resist the temptation to arrive at the height of summer. As with all Greek Islands, your best bet for skipping the crowds and insane peak pricing is to honeymoon over shoulder season, from May to June and September to October. You’ll meet milder weather, altogether avoiding the flight-grounding Meltemi winds that blast through in July and August. Pack active clothes for the daytime, and dressier resort wear for the evenings.
Honeymooning in Santorini: Pros & Cons
- Views, views, views. Witnessing Santorini’s beauty is borderline spiritual, and there’s simply nowhere else like it in the world.
- Santorini reputedly ranks second to Mykonos as Greece’s most expensive island, and that’s because it gets so crowded.
- Recently it has become a right of passage of sorts for Chinese newlyweds to schedule extensive photoshoots around the island — even in the dead of winter — so there’s a chance that any photogenic location will be occupied by a professional photoshoot.
About a dozen villages dot Santorini’s mostly rugged 28 square miles, each with distinct characteristics. Your honeymoon experience will vary depending on where you choose as home base, but this quartet of scenic settlements are well worth a visit, regardless.
OiaOia 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Federico)
On the island’s northern tip, Oia is the most popular among visitors, as well as the most photographed, being dramatically built right into the caldera slopes. Its historic cobblestone alleys and blue-domed chapels are cultural landmarks, listed as archaeological historic monuments by the Hellenic Tourism Association. A healthy number of Santorini’s ultra-luxe resorts can be found here, their infinity pools spilling over the postcard-perfect cliffside, neighbored by high-end boutiques and eateries. From Oia you can walk down to Ammoudi, a quaint port and foodie destination, in about 300 steps.
FiraThera 847 00, Greece
(Photo by nejcmacuh)
Fira is the largest and most cosmopolitan settlement with tons to see and do — and eat. It’s the island’s municipal capital, as well as its transit hub. Since Fira caters equally to locals, there’s a wealth of restaurants, bars, and clubs across the price spectrum.
ImerovigliImerovigli 847 00, Greece
(Photo by _Architecture_and_des)
You deserve an award if you somehow get stressed on a Greek island, but charming Imerovigli has a markedly slower pace, even by Santorini standards. It soars nearly 1,000 feet above the sea on the highest point of the caldera ridge, gifting the best views of Nea and Palea Kameni, the uninhabited islets at the lagoon’s center. Stay here if lounging in your sea-facing hotel suite all day is your idea of a honeymoon.
Don’t miss Santorini’s other towns like Pyrgos — which occupies the highest point on the island — Firostefani, and Kamari, which sits on the island’s southeastern black sand shores.
Best Attractions & Activities in Santorini
Catch a Santorini SunsetSantorini, Greece
(Photo of Akrotiri Lighthouse by willi.wdn_travel)
Ah, the psychedelic Santorini sunset. You’ve seen it before painted on your Instagram feed like tiles comprising an Ancient Greek mosaic. Those very sunsets have the power to hypnotize you into deciding on Santorini for your honeymoon in the first place. Attending the sun’s dip into the horizon is a nightly ritual in Santorini, with hordes descending on Oia an hour in advance.
Pro tip: Skip catching the sunset in the town’s overcrowded alleyways or by the Byzantine castle, opting instead for a “show” at the serene Venetian castle in Imerovigli or the Akrotiri Lighthouse on the island’s southwestern fringe. Both are easily Santorini’s most Instagrammable spots.
Santo WinesPyrgos Kallistis 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Santo Wines)
Fantastic wines are produced all over Greece, but some of the oldest varietals have been dry-farmed in Santorini’s rich volcanic terroir since ancient times. Arrange a wine tasting at the caldera-hugging Santo Wines compound in Pyrgos to sample excellent Assyrtiko whites (Santorini’s indigenous grape), full-bodied reds, and sweet vinsanto. Don’t miss the onsite restaurant as it’s a solid choice for sunset. Wine tours are about $13 per person with two tastings included, and more extensive wine flights ranging from about $25 to $55 per person.
Hike from Fira to OiaUnnamed Road, Thira 847 00, Greece
(Photo by EmmaEdward4)
For the couple that works out together, consider the six-mile hike from Fira to Oia. It’ll take around two to four hours depending on your pace, but is well-worth it for the dizzying caldera vistas and a tour through towns you might not otherwise see, such as quaint Firostefani. Don’t fret about getting lost: Just type in “Fira to Oia” into Google Maps and follow the route. No judgement if you decide to take a taxi back to your hotel.
Relax on a Luxury CatamaranThera 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Santorini Sailing)
Ball out on a luxury catamaran with Santorini Sailing, where you and your mate can cruise along the island’s famed red and black sand beaches toward orange-tinged sulphuric hot springs for purportedly therapeutic dunks, dips, and backflips off the side of the boat. Share the catamaran with up to a dozen others for about $330 per couple, or fork out double that for a private sail. No matter if you go semi-private or hire the whole boat, be sure to book a tour that sticks around for sunset.
Do a Jet Ski SafariPerivolos Περίβολος - Σαντορίνη, Perissa 874 03, Greece
(Photo by Santorini Wavesports)
Tour the caldera with a guided volcano jet ski safari organized by Santorini Wavesports. Skim the southern flank of the island until you reach Nea Kameni at the caldera’s center, then loop back around to Perivolos Beach. This tour runs about two hours, costing about $400 for one jet ski that can accommodate you and your boo.
Don't Forget About the Port TownsAmmoudi Bay, Santorini, Oia, Ammoudi 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Ammoudi Fish Tavern)
Don’t get all high and mighty on the island’s cliff towns. Beneath Oia, a couple hundred steps down to the waterfront is the port town of Ammoudi. Four romantic, unfussy tavernas sit at the water’s edge — a killer pick for lunch with a view. Our top choice is Ammoudi Fish Tavern for a quintessential nautical setting with octopi drying on a clothesline and waves lapping at your table.
Best Hotels, Resorts & Airbnbs in Santorini
Hotels in Santorini tend to blend right in with the centuries-old whitewashed buildings and domed churches. Beyond the iconic architecture, Santorini’s hotel scene is all about promoting intimacy, with the majority of properties falling in the boutique category with under 50 rooms. While you may find some decent Airbnb rentals, the locations tend to be less desirable since prime cliffside locations are occupied by hotels. Splurge on the latter.
Grace Hotel SantoriniBest Infinity Pool Imerovigli 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Grace Santorini)
Vibe: Carved into the caldera rim in Imerovigli, Grace Santorini is a stunning example of minimalist Cycladic aesthetic, complete with the largest infinity pool on the island.
Price: Rates from $550 a night.
KatikiesBest Private Plunge Pools Nik. Nomikou (Main Street), Oía 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Katikies)
Vibe: Alike in swoon-worthiness is Katikies, a 34-room boutique property in Oia with private plunge pools and blue accent walls to contrast the white.
Price: Rates starting at $359 a night.
Chromata SantoriniBest Views Imerovigli 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Chromata Santorini)
Vibe: While there is no spa onsite, Katikies and its sister property, cave-like Chromata in Imerovigli, have a partnership with the luxe A.SPA wellness center in town.
Price: Rates from $250 a night.
San Giorgio VillasMost Affordable Main Street, Firá 847 00, Greece
(Photo by San Giorgio Villas)
Vibe: For tighter budgets, book a room at family-owned San Giorgio Villas in bustling Fira. It’s a short five-minute walk to the caldera edge, with plenty of restaurants and attractions around, like the Prehistoric History Museum.
Price: Rates from $58 a night.
Kavalari HotelBest Value Ipapantis, Fira 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Kavalari Hotel)
Vibe: The best affordable stay on the caldera is Kavalari Hotel, also in Fira. While the old-school rooms might feel more like grandma’s house, the superb location is hard to beat.
Price: Rates from $104 a night.
Art Maisons Oia CastleBest for Watching Santorini Sunsets in Style Oia 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Art Maisons Oia Castle)
Vibe: If sunset views are the priority — and we don’t blame you if they are — reserve at Art Maisons Oia Castle. It’s one of the few in Oia that offer a full sunset view thanks to strategic positioning of the private hot tubs in each suite.
Price: Rates from $646 a night.
Airbnb: Hector Cave House in OiaCoolest Cave House Oia, Greece
(Photo by Airbnb)
Vibe: This cozy cave home was originally used as a wine cellar and carved into the caldera cliffside more than 250 years ago before being transformed into a family owned summer house. Today, you can enjoy the legendary Oia sunsets from its private plunge pool on your veranda after a long day of Santorini sightseeing.
Price: From $278 a night.
Airbnb: Spectacular Luxury Villa in SantoriniBest Luxury Villa Pirgos Kallistis, Greece
(Photo by Airbnb)
Vibe: This charming one-bedroom Cycladic-style vacation home offers spectacular views of Oia from Pyrgos, a town in central Santorini. The extremely reasonable rate includes a private infinity pool with Jacuzzi jets, transfers to and from the airport, daily breakfast, and daily housekeeping (note that these services are not available between November and March).
Price: From $145 a night.
Airbnb: Eolia Superior VillaBest Off-The-Beaten-Path Villa Episkopi Gonias, Greece
(Photo by Airbnb)
Vibe: This luxurious two-bedroom villa is situated off-the-beaten-path in one of the island’s quieter villages, giving you beautiful views from your terraced balcony, a lovely pool, and plenty of privacy.
Price: From $789 a night.
Honeymoon Packages & Cruises in Santorini
Cruises are a popular way to pass through Santorini, so much so that in the height of summer, an influx of over 850,000 cruisers pour into Santorini daily. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend one due to the limited time you have on the island, but deals on honeymoon packages make cruises an appealing option.
Nearly all of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Greek Isles itineraries include a stop in Santorini, like the 13-Day Italy & Greek Isles from Venice or the 15-Day “European Jewels” cruise that departs from London’s Southampton port and passes through Greece, Italy, and France. Norwegian has a variety of Romance Packages to choose from, with prices ranging from $180 to $500, that you can tack onto most cruise itineraries. Perks like chocolate-dipped strawberries and sparkling wine, breakfast in bed, and Swedish massages will make your time at sea even more romantic as you cruise up to to the soaring caldera cliffs.
You’ll get similar treats at a comparable price with Princess Cruises’ honeymoon packages, but more departures from Athens’ Piraeus port will grant you flexibility with the time you spend on the Greek mainland. Romantic shore excursions on Santorini will whisk you off to attractions from the Museum of Prehistoric History, Akrotiri (dubbed “Santorini’s Pompeii”), and the black sand beach at Kamari.
Grace Hotel Santorini's Honeymoon PackageImerovigli 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Grace Hotel Santorini)
No surprise that our top luxury hotel pick has one of the greatest honeymoon offerings on the island. Choose from Grace Hotel Santorini’s Honeymoon Suite ($1,100+/night), VIP Suite ($1,600+/night), or the private villa for the ultimate romantic splurge ($3,000/night). Each its own plunge pool, panoramic terraces, and perks like pre-stocked fridges and daily happy hour cocktails.
Vedema Resort's Honeymoon PackageMegalochori 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Vedema Resort)
For a more traditional resort experience, the Honeymoon Package (starting at $550) at Vedema Resort, a Luxury Collection Resort property, takes advantage of amenities like water sports and spa treatments, as well as a complimentary candlelit dinner and flower art on the bed.
Best Restaurants & Bars in Santorini
ArgoBest Upscale Greek Restaurant Thera 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Argo)
Greek cuisine is among the healthiest on Earth, so please, eat every chance you get. Like everything else on Santorini, having a view during dinner can up the romantic vibes — but it won’t always guarantee you the best quality.
Argo ($$$), in Fira, is a surefire exception. Reserve a table on the dreamy outdoor terrace that looks out to the lagoon and order outstanding dishes crafted by Chef Konstantinos Chatzopoulos, like octopus with mastic (a sweet resin from the island of Chios) and caper leaves and shrimp pasta with honey sauce.
OuzeriBest Small Plates Selection Thera 847 00, Greece
(Photo by 0716achajapan)
Also in Fira is Ouzeri ($$), a more traditional taverna with red-and-white checkered tablecloths and a hefty selection of mezedes (small plates) to order in excess. The only thing missing is an accordion player in the background.
CandouniFamily Operated Favorite C, Οία 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Candouni)
Oia has a solid array of high-end restaurants, but family-operated Candouni ($) remains a favorite for its retro decor and vibrant bougainvilleas that drape over the courtyard pergola.
RokaBest Place to Eat Alongside the Locals m.Mpotsari 6, Οία 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Roka)
Housed in a blueberry and peach-painted building from 1912, Roka ($$) draws both locals and visitors to its caldera-facing patio tucked away from Oia’s busier alleyways. Reservations are a must — and so are the grilled buffalo soutzoukakia (meatballs).
Katharos Lounge Vegan Meze BarBest for Vegans and Vegetarians Katharos beach, Oía 847 02, Greece
(Photo by Katharos Lounge Vegan Meze Bar)
Vegans on the island find refuge at Katharos Lounge Vegan Meze Bar ($), which serves healthy dishes like poblano pepper orzo with grilled zucchini and orange peppers.
Metaxi MasBest Santorinian and Cretan Cuisine Exo Gonia, Έξω Γωνία, Santorini 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Metaxi Mas)
Refreshingly authentic eateries are mostly found outside the tourist enclaves, like Metaxi Mas ($$) in Exo Gonia, which features the best of local Santorinian specialties accompanied by delicacies from Greece’s largest island, Crete, on a sprawling terrace.
Cava AltaBest Rooftop Terrace Epar.Od. Pirgou Kallistis - Profiti Ilia, Pirgos Kallistis 847 00, Greece
(Photo by Cava Alta)
There’s also Cava Alta ($$), hidden in the lanes below Pyrgos’ castle, which has a stellar rooftop terrace.
Santorini is a polished representation of what people have always loved about Greece: the sun, the sea, wonderful cuisine, and generous hospitality. With all the trappings of an ideal honeymoon destination, this is an island that’s easy to fall in love with at first sight. Just don’t fall over the cliff’s edge.