The Greek island of Santorini feels like it should be paradise all year round but the reality is that there are good times to go and not-so-great times to go. When you plan your trip to Greece, finding out when is the best time to visit Santorini is key!
Table of contents
- Best time to visit Santorini
- Month by month breakdown
- Worst time to visit Santorini
- How early should you book hotels?
- How early should you book car rentals?
- How early should you book ferries?
- How has the pandemic affected Santorini?
- Frequently asked questions
Best time to visit Santorini
As you're planning your Greece island hopping adventures, one of the questions you'll no doubt have is “when is the best time to visit Santorini?”. Not all months are equal.
Best overall time to visit Santorini
Let's just jump into some generalities. If you look at the broad picture, the best time to visit Santorini is April to June and September to November.
This is effectively the shoulder season of travel and you could say applicable for travel throughout most of the world. This is when the weather is fantastic, the crowds haven't accumulated yet, and prices are still reasonable.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE
You need to read the companion Greek islands travel guide where I break down everything I learned and invaluable travel tips that'll make your trip smooth sailing.
By Traveller Season
As a segue to the above, what are the different primary seasons of travel in Santorini and what can you expect?
Low Season (November to April) – This is when the island is at its quietest. Cooler climates swoop in but in general the weather can be unpredictable. The low season is also when many businesses (including hotels, restaurants, and activities) close up and both flight and ferry schedules are reduced. That said,
Shoulder Season (May to June and September to October) – There's some +/- of weeks here but as you've seen in our other travel guides, this is almost always the best time to visit. Weather-wise, it's not insanely hot yet and the large tourist groups haven't descended yet. By this point, businesses and transportation have ramped up as well. One thing to consider though is that the water may not be that warm yet.
High Season (late June to early September) – This is high because of the crowds, the temperature, and the prices. Be prepared to sweat a little but also be able to cool off at the beach. Along the lines of whether Santorini is worth it or not, places like Oia for sunset will be incredibly packed but you'll also find quiet places to explore. Ferries and flights are in full swing at this point and so is the nightlife.
When travelling, you want to make sure you have the best chances of good weather and so it's worth it to look at a couple of factors that you'll want to account for as well.
The overall average in Santorini is 64°F (17.8°C) which means you can expect fair temperature throughout the year. That said, there is definitely very much a change from summer to winter.
The coldest months are December to March while the hottest months are June to August.
From a precipitation perspective, Santorini is much like the rest of the Mediterranean area where rainfall predominantly comes in the months of October to March. Afterwards, chances of seeing rain is quite low and in the hottest months, you're almost guaranteed to not see any at all.
This is a big reason why much of the landscape in Santorini looks quite barren and arid.
The amount of sunshine you get in a day is linked to rain and clouds but also how long the days are from sunrise to sunset.
No surprises here, summers have the most amount of sun.
Longer periods of sunshine coupled with longer days means that you have more hours to work with when planning your trip.
If you have plans to go to the beach to swim, this is a good statistic to know.
The best time for swimming in the Aegean Sea is between July and September when you're looking at 75°F (24°C) which is comfortable but certainly not like the Caribbean waters.
There are travellers going to Santorini with all sorts of goals and occasions in mind. This list certainly isn't exhaustive but hopefully gives you some guidance.
- Best time for honeymoon – June and September – Prices aren't as inflated, you get a bit more privacy with smaller crowds, and you get to enjoy fantastic weather.
- Best time for wedding – June and September – Similar to the above, you'll want to choose a time when the weather is comfortable but at the same time is a time of the year where guests can take time off to come especially for those that have children.
- Best time for the beach – July to September – These are the warmest temperatures for the Aegean Sea
- Best time for hiking – May and October – If you're hiking from Fira to Oia or other adventure activities, these two shoulder months are really comfortable.
- Best time for sailing – June to September – You want to be on the water when you have nice sunny days and nice temperatures to hit the water.
- Best time for partying – July to early September – This is when you bars and clubs are packed and full of life.
- Best time for photography – All year round – A bit of a cop-out answer but the sunsets are amazing all 12 months and if you're interested in Bougainvillea flowers, they bloom in early spring until late Autumn which is a wide range.
- Best time for island hopping – mid-May to mid-October – You'll be relying on ferries which are at its peak schedule from mid May to mid October.
How are the prices of say hotels, restaurants, activities, car rentals, and flights throughout the year? If you're price-conscious and on a budget, this should help serve as a guide.
Hotels are a big part of the Santorini trip budget. The cheapest months for accommodations are:
- March, April, May, October, and November
If you go even further into low-season, you might notice that many hotels are closed during those months.
Similarly for flights, when the tourism season picks up again, there are great deals in the same above months. That said, many discount airlines such as Ryanair will still have cheap fares in the high season months so make sure you search on Skyscanner.
For everything else such as restaurants and activities, you'll notice the some of the same behaviour where the prices jump up during the high season.
Where to book your hotels, car rental, ferries, flights, activities
- Hotels – Booking.com has the best inventory of properties and with their Genius tier, you can save even more money.
- Car Rental – If you've read our guide, you can book with the big brands combined with car rental coupon codes or you can use RentalCars to do a search of all companies.
- Ferries – My go-to booking platform is FerryHopper.
- Flights – Use Skyscanner to look for cheap flights using the Everywhere feature and also setting price alerts.
- Activities – Always compare between Viator and GetYourGuide to get the best price.
Month by month breakdown
What is Santorini like month to month?
|Month||Avg. Temp||Avg. Rainfall||Crowds||Notes|
|January||52.7°F (11.5°C)||115mm||10%||Very off-peak with chances of light rain. You'll need a sweater and jacket. Some places will be closed but prices will be cheap.|
|February||52.7°F (11.5°C)||80mm||10%||Similar to January but can be slightly colder.|
|March||55.4°F (13°C)||65mm||30%||Warming up but still chilly although with less rain. Prices are still good and more things open up towards the end of the month.|
|April||59.9°F (15.5°C)||30mm||40%||Great time for the outdoors and the start of shoulder season with good weather (can still be unpredictable) and small crowds. Avoid Greek Easter if possible.|
|May||65.3°F (18.5°C)||15mm||60%||Excellent weather and water warming up as well. By now most businesses should be open. End of May brings in much more consistent warm temps.|
|June||73.4°F (23°C)||5mm||70%||Hot weather starts to come in and more tourists descend. Water is definitely swimmable at this point.|
|July||77°F (24°C)||1mm||95%||Busiest and hottest months start in Santorini where prices also shoot up. If you travel during these months, make sure to book 6 months in advance.|
|August||76.1°F (24.5°C)||1mm||110%||Similar to the above with some strong winds that can gust to cause ferry and sailing cancellations.|
|September||72.5°F (22.5°C)||15mm||80%||Temperatures start tapering off but is still quite hot. It can be busy but drops considerably from the early to late part of the month.|
|October||66.2°F (19°C)||60mm||60%||Crowds thin out, prices are better, and weather is still great. Mirrors May in many ways.|
|November||60.8°F (16°C)||70mm||30%||Early November can still bring upon good weather but you'll definitely need a jacket/sweater towards the end of the month. Many places will start closing up by months end as well. Good for the outdoors.|
|December||56.3°F (13.5°C)||100mm||10%||Cool, cloud and rainy. Many places will be on hiatus.|
Worst time to visit Santorini
This might sound a bit harsh but here are a few key dates to try to avoid.
- Greek Easter (April or May) – This is the Orthodox Easter Sunday which changes year to year but usually lands in April. This whole weekend and adjoining week before and after should be avoided as you'll see an influx of Greeks to the island which will make it busier.
- Bank Holiday/St. Mary's Day (August 15) – This is a huge Greek national holiday where locals will travel domestically to Santorini. You will definitely want to pre-book everything if travelling around the week before and after this date.
- July and August – High season just isn't the most pleasant time to go because of the above national holiday and also because everyone else is trying to go these months with the kids out of school. It's hot, sticky, packed, and expensive.
How early should you book hotels?
As a blanket statement, I always recommend that you book Santorini hotels way in advance (pandemic or not). The closer you are to your date, the more likelihood of the property being sold out and/or the prices going up.
Rule of thumb: Book your hotel 6 months in advance or more.
This is especially true for the luxury properties.
Make sure to read our breakdown of where to stay in Santorini for deeper insight.
3 Day Santorini Itinerary
I've always found itineraries to be the best way to help with trip planning. Here's a jumping-off point for planning your Santorini vacation.
How early should you book car rentals?
As you might've read from our guide on where and how to rent a car in Santorini, there are multiple companies to choose from and locations as well.
Here's what we recommend.
- The only times you really need to book ahead of time is if you need automatic transmission or you're booking during one of the dates we suggested you avoid. If this is the case, we recommend 3 to 6 months ahead of time.
- Always start your search with RentalCars so you get a good idea of the prices and availability.
- If you're renting from one of the big companies, you can see what car rental discount codes are available.
- Local car rental shops in say, Fira, Oia, and Perissa have good availability and can be booked when you arrive.
How early should you book ferries?
Overall, there's surprisingly not a lot of pressure to book ferries way in advance mainly because there's a ton of capacity especially on the large Blue Star Ferries. This means that you'd actually be fine even booking on the day of travel.
The exception are the Greek holidays (August 15 especially) where it's a good idea to but if you don't, it doesn't mean you won't find a seat. Also, if you're looking for specific sleeper cabins or business class, it's also a good idea to book ahead of time.
How early?: 1-2 months in advance.
How has the pandemic affected Santorini?
I guess this is the big elephant in the room. COVID-19 has affected the travel industry in a big way and Santorini is no exception.
On May 14, 2021, Greece officially re-opened its doors to tourists but it still comes with plenty of caution.
To enter, here's what you need to know:
- If you're from the EU and 24 other countries, you will be allowed to visit Greece if you can prove that you have been fully vaccinated (specific types accepted and must be taken at least 14 days prior) or able to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. The exception is if you've tested positive in the past 2-9 months ago and have a positive PCR/antigen test from a lab or medical certificate.
- If you have a positive test, you and your companion(s) will need to quarantine for 10 days.
- You must fill out a passenger locator form no later than 11:59PM of the day before arriving in Greece.
- The 7 day quarantine requirement for visitors has been lifted.
- There are curfews in place from 1:30AM to 5AM but expect this to be scrapped in July 2021.
- Ferry service is still not quite the same as in normal times but is better than in 2020 and have been published so you'll see them up on FerryHopper.
- Expect social distancing, mandatory use of masks, and hand-sanitizer to be found everywhere you go.
- Cruise restrictions have been lifted as well.
For the most up to date entry-requirements visit this page.
Beyond entry, as tourism slowly increases, you can expect the crowds in Santorini to be a fraction of what the normally are so take all of the advice on the best time to visit Santorini as a guideline but apply a 50% factor.
Something else to consider is that there may still be some businesses closed or permanently closed as a result of the pandemic.
Frequently asked questions
To see most of the island, you need at least 3 days. This will allow you to visit the top attractions, do one of the boat tours, see the epic sunset, and try a couple of restaurants. For a more spread out schedule that is more comprehensive, 5-7 days is recommended.
Between the two islands, Santorini has a more diverse offering of things to see and do with including the varied landscape while Mykonos is best known for its party-scene and beaches. Each island has its advantages but if you were to visit only one, Santorini would have to be your choice.
Fira will have the most number of business open followed by Oia but the smaller towns (including beach towns) will be mostly closed. What's left open are a few hotels and restaurants. Most luxury hotels are closed.
April to May or October to November are good times for those that are backpacking without a concrete schedule and want to visit Santorini without hotel bookings.
If nightlife is important, go during the peak period but if you're looking for a balance of meeting new people while also having your own time to explore, June and September are the best times to go.
The peak season of July and August is when the island is most lively, packed with people, and events.
For couples that are looking for comfortable weather and crowds when you can watch a sunset in relative peace and not have to fight for restaurant reservations, late May to early June and late September to early October are awesome.
You can find great deals for hotels and flights during the off season which means October to April.
If you are considering Greek island hopping, you'll want to make sure you have the most options of flights and ferries. As a result, June to September are the best months.
If you're travelling as a family with children, June and September are great months to consider because the water is relatively warm for swimming with overall temperatures not as hot and crowds manageable
Generally, restaurants and hotels close between November and March in Santorini.
Have any additional questions about your particular trip and looking for a recommendation? Don't be shy. Drop a comment below and we'll try our best to give you our 2 cents.
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