Santorini is an extraordinary island in the Aegean sea that’s visited by over 1 million tourists each year. Formed by a volcanic eruption in 1620 BC, it’s known for its whitewashed houses, cobbled streets, vibrant restaurants and magical sunsets.
The moment that you arrive in Santorini, you’ll be greeted by friendly locals and breathtaking scenery; the ultimate holiday destination whether you’re travelling with your partner or your family. And with so many different things to do on the island, you’ll be spoilt for choice on how you spend your time there.
If you’re considering booking a cruise that stops off in Santorini in the near future, you might be wondering whether it’s suitable for families, how you should spend your time on the island and how you can access the villages from the cruise port.
Read on to find out more information about cruising to Santorini.
- Holidays to Santorini
- Is Santorini good for families?
- Things to do in Santorini from a cruise ship
- Santorini cruise port
- Best cruise excursions in Santorini
- Santorini cruise day trip
- Beaches in Santorini
- Santorini sunset cruise
- Is Santorini expensive?
- Which cruise lines go to Santorini?
Holidays to Santorini
As mentioned above, Santorini is a popular stop off for cruise ships due to its picturesque landscapes, shopping, and restaurants. With a history that dates back to Neolithic times, for those interested in historical sites, there’s so much to explore from castles to churches and temples.
There are a variety of ships that stop off in Santorini for a day, docking at Fira port. From the budget-friendly cruise lines to luxury cruise lines, there’s a holiday in Santorini that’ll suit your requirements.
Is Santorini Good for Families?
If you’re cruising with your family in tow, you might be wondering whether Santorini is a good stop off for you. And although Santorini is often thought to be a romantic destination and is mostly visited by adults, there are plenty of things to do on the island that will keep the little ones entertained.
Firstly, there are family-friendly beaches throughout the island with lots of amenities that they’ll love. For example, Perivolos Beach (located approximately 3km from the town of Perissa) has bathrooms, beach loungers, water sports, lifeguards and several shops and cafes.
Another question that’s often asked is how walkable is Santorini? Even though it’s not possible to explore all of Santorini by foot in a day (the island spans just under 30 square miles), when visiting the capital for example, you and your family will easily be able to explore all that it has to offer. And for the rest of the island, you can hop in a taxi or even enjoy a boat tour around it.
There’s also an open air cinema in Kamari, offering a range of different films. A unique activity that kids of all ages will love, you’ll be surrounded by plant life as you watch blockbuster movies with the stars shining above you.
Things to do in Santorini from a cruise ship
Regardless of your age, when visiting Santorini on a cruise, you’ll find lots of things to do. Whether you’re looking to try the local cuisine, immerse yourself in its history or enjoy a winery tour, there’s something to suit. Along with the activities listed above, here’s our top 5 things to do in Santorini during a cruise stop off:
Visit the Caldera
Formed by the eruption of a volcano over 3000 years ago, the Caldera is a crescent shaped section of Santorini that offers awe-inspiring views out over the picturesque villages and ocean. Reaching a height of 350 metres, it’s frequently coined one of the most breathtaking places to visit in Greece.
Shop til You Drop in Ipapantis Street
Home to dozens of jewellery shops, tourist shops and art shops, Ipapantis Street in the capital of Fira makes for a wonderful afternoon activity. The perfect place to pick up all your souvenirs, the traditional whitewash buildings that house the shops make it a unique shopping experience.
Venture to Pyrgos Castle
Situated within the quaint village of Pyrgos, Pyrgos Castle boasts two churches, a temple and idyllic views of the island. One of the most popular excursions available to book whilst on a cruise, the fortification was built in the late 16th century.
Indulge in a Vineyard Tour
Nothing compares to wandering through a vineyard, learning about the local grape varieties and sipping on a tantalising glass of wine. Santorini is home to 21 wineries- an impressive amount for an island that’s so small! Known for its dry and crisp white wines, alongside the flagship grape variety of Assyrtiko and Mavrotragano and Mandilaria red wine, there’s something for all palettes.
Take on a Hiking Trail
When stopping off in Santorini, there’s no better way to explore it than taking on a hiking trail. There are several to choose from, including an extraordinary trail that takes you from Fira to Oia. Spanning 6 miles, along the way you’ll see an array of traditional villages, churches, fortresses and other fascinating sights.
Santorini Cruise Port
Where do Cruise Ships Dock in Santorini?
Although there are two ports in Santorini (Athinios Port and the Old Port of Fira), there is only one that cruise ships stop at, which is the old port. However, due to its size, cruise ships can’t dock directly- meaning that you’ll need to take a tender to reach the port of Fira.
Santorini Cruise Port to Fira
Once you’ve taken the tender boat over to the old port (also known as the Skala Pier), you have several options as to how you reach Fira. Firstly, you can walk up 580 steps up the side of the island. Although this is not for the faint of heart, the views you get along the way make the effort a little more worthwhile.
Alternatively, you can opt for a donkey ride, which takes you up the same path as those choosing to walk. And lastly, you can head up on a cable car ride. Although the latter can get busy, the ease of this transport makes it a welcome treat after all the sightseeing.
How to Get From Santorini Cruise Port to Oia
When stopping off in Santorini on a cruise, one of the top places you want to visit might be Oia. Often photographed and coined as the most picturesque part of the island, Oia is accessible from the port by a taxi (if you don’t fancy the hike mentioned above!). Just under 20 km from Fira, a taxi from the port to Oia costs anywhere between 25 and 60 euros.
Best Cruise Excursions in Santorini
Whilst stopping off in Santorini during a cruise, you might want to head on one of the excursions available. Taking you all across the island and varying from tours of particular villages to wine tastings, there’s a cruise excursion on Santorini that’s bound to impress.
Often, they will meet you at the port or at another designated meeting place, before heading out with you to explore the island. Venture Ashore is one example of a shore excursion company that offers a wide selection of tours and experiences in Santorini.
Alternatively, you can explore Santorini on your own accord. But people often choose to discover Santorini through a tour/guided experience due to the ease of it and the organisation that comes with them.
Santorini Cruise Day Trip
When stopping off in Santorini during a cruise, it’s likely that you’ll only have one day there. So you want to make sure that you make the most of your time on the island. Although it’s quite a small island, there is of course lots to see, so you’ll want to make a list of the top sights and things to do so you don’t miss out. A lot of people opt to venture to Oia due to its pretty buildings and the amazing sunsets it offers. However, others will stay in Fira, venturing the bustling streets, enjoying a drink overlooking the ocean or sampling the local cuisine.
There is certainly enough on Santorini to keep you occupied for a day. And the amenities throughout the island offer something for everyone, no matter what your budget or what you like to do during a day on land.
Beaches in Santorini
Often people wonder, does Santorini have beaches? As mentioned above, there are lots of beaches around Santorini, with a lot of them being family friendly. However, the beaches are a little different from that of others in Greece; with many featuring red and black volcanic stones, or even black sand. Top beaches around the island include:
- Red Beach - 12km from Fira it features red sand and rugged cliffs
- Kamari Beach - 9km from Fira, it features lots of sun loungers and crystal-clear waters
- Vlychada Beach - 10km from Fira, it’s filled with fishing boats and water sports
Santorini Sunset Cruise
As mentioned above, it’s no secret that Santorini is known for its incredible sunsets. There is simply no comparison to watching the beautiful glistening water reflecting the amber sun from a beautiful destination. But where should you watch a sunset in Santorini? Here’s our top 5 recommended places to watch a Santorini sunset whilst on a cruise there:
- Akrotiri Lighthouse
- Perissa Beach
Is Santorini Expensive?
One of the first things people consider when booking a cruise that visits Santorini is how much it will cost to eat out there, visit the top attractions or simply purchase souvenirs. And whilst it is considered to be one of the most expensive islands in Greece, there are lots of budget-friendly options available on the island.
For example, if you opt to visit one of the smaller villages (such as Pyrgos), a coffee will cost you less than that in Fira- where a lot of the touristy bars and restaurants are situated. Going a little further inland or just off of the main streets in the capital/Oia will ensure that you can still enjoy all that Santorini has to offer, without breaking the bank.
Which Cruise Lines go to Santorini?
Due to its popularity and proximity to the Greek mainland, there are a wide variety of cruise lines that sail to Santorini, often as part of a Mediterranean or Canary Islands cruise. Some examples of cruise lines that go to Santorini include:
- Princess Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Royal Caribbean
- Celebrity Cruises
- Marella Cruises
- MSC Cruises
- Azamara Cruises
Book a Santorini Holiday with Iglu Cruise
If you’re looking for incredible scenery, delicious food and lots of extraordinary things to do, a cruise that stops off in Santorini is perfect. And with so many different cruise lines that offer stop offs to Santorini, you’ll be able to choose a Santorini cruise that ticks all your boxes. Book a Santorini holiday with Iglu Cruise and enjoy a truly unforgettable getaway.