Santorini is the most famous destination in Greece, and rightly so! It’s a really unique, beautiful island. Due to its popularity though, there are certain things to avoid in Santorini.
Is Santorini safe?
From a sleepy, dry fishermen’s island in the 1980s, Santorini has become one of the must-see destinations in the world. The sunset views over Santorini’s volcano are something everyone should see once in their lifetime.
Even if the island receives millions of tourists every year, Santorini is a very safe destination for travelers, and crime levels are low. Regardless, visitors should still take precautions and use common sense when exploring the island. There’s always a chance of petty theft and pickpocketing, especially in the most crowded areas like Oia.
When you go to the beach, don’t leave your valuables unattended. Similarly, if you sit down for a coffee or meal, do not leave your mobile phone on the table, as it becomes an obvious target for pickpockets.
Another thing to be mindful of in Santorini are the occasional falling rocks, especially in places like the Red Beach. If any areas are marked as dangerous, due to recent landslides, it might not be a good idea to explore them.
Things to avoid in Santorini
So, Santorini is a safe island to visit. And yet, there are some things you should avoid. Here they are!
Don’t go to Santorini in summer
Do you like venturing out in nature on your own? Do you like quiet, unspoilt beaches? Are crowds a major deal breaker for you? If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then don’t go to Santorini in summer, especially in July and August.
Instead, consider visiting Santorini in winter. There will be considerably fewer tourists, and accommodation / car rental prices will be much lower. This way you can experience Santorini in a completely different light.
You will also be able to take some amazing photos of the famous blue domed churches and the iconic Santorini sunset over the Aegean Sea. In fact, sunsets are always better during the winter months.
Sure, winter is not the best time to enjoy the beaches on the Greek islands. However, it is the best time to enjoy Santorini without the crowds, and winter weather is relatively mild.
Some of the tours in Santorini will not be running in winter, but there will still be plenty of activities. People planning to visit the actual volcano will be very pleased to go during the shoulder season or the off-season. Santorini weather is pretty hot in summer, and temperatures on the volcano can climb to over 50C / 122F!
The last time I visited Santorini was in March 2023. The average day temperature was great for hiking, and there was actually a lot of sunshine – some people were actually swimming. So, it’s an option worth considering, especially if you don’t want to spend too much on accommodation.
Don’t ride the donkeys in Santorini
Until 50-60 years ago, horses, donkeys and other animals were the most common means of transportation in Greece. Of course, these days it’s really very hard to imagine Greece without cars.
Donkeys are occasionally still being used around the country, as they can reach places where vehicles can’t. If you go to some of the quieter islands like Schinoussa or Kimolos, you will definitely see a local or two on a donkey.
Many of the boat tours in Santorini depart from the small Fira port, known as “the old port”. Numerous volcano boat tours depart on a daily basis, several times during the day. And while most passenger ferries dock at the newer Athinios port, some cruise boats may still dock in the old port.
What’s the catch? There is no road from Fira port to any of the towns in Santorini, and there are only three ways to go up to Fira town. You can take the cable car, walk up the stairs, or ride one of the donkeys on offer.
I trust that you were not considering to ride the donkeys, but if you were, please change your mind. Yes, it might have been the only means of transportation 60 years ago, but it was out of necessity and things have changed a lot since then. Some of these animals are seriously overworked, and there is no reason to ride them when there are alternatives.
If you decide to walk up the stairs, be mindful of the donkey droppings. And if this uphill walk is too strenuous for you, the best way to get to Fira is the cable car. Expect some queues, especially if it’s summer and there are more cruise ships arriving around the same time.
Alternatively, consider taking a tour that starts at another area of the island, like Amoudi Bay.
Don’t climb on churches or people’s homes
Santorini is really, really picturesque. The blue-and-white houses are famous all over the world. The iconic blue-domed church overlooking the sea immediately brings up images of Greece.
It is very easy to forget where you are, and keep taking photos. You might realize, all of a sudden, that you are standing in a private balcony, or on the roof of a church. In fact, you will probably see a sign or two that will remind you to watch your step, and to avoid flying a drone.
Unless you are in your own private balcony with a view to the caldera, please be mindful of your surroundings. I can assure you that locals have had enough of disrespectful experiences!
Don’t leave rubbish behind
This should really be taken for granted anywhere we travel to, but I can’t fail to mention it. Please do not leave rubbish behind. Although the beach bars and other establishments generally take care of the beaches, we should all do our bit to help.
If you want to take it a step further, consider buying a travel water filter to avoid buying all these plastic bottles. The environment, along with Santorini’s mayor, will definitely thank you.
Book your transportation in Santorini in advance
Are you travelling to Santorini during peak season? Unless you are planning to take a bus from your point of arrival, you should definitely book your hotel transfer or rental car in Santorini in advance.
In fact, even if you are travelling to Santorini in the off-season, it’s best to have some of your transportation booked to avoid wasting time. I’m still strong-minded about the donkeys though!
Apart from arranging a taxi through your hotel, you can check out Welcome Pickups, a company offering private transfers in Santorini and many more places in Greece and abroad.
Finally, if you have booked a rental car that you are picking up from the airport, get a daytime flight to Santorini if you can. It will be a lot easier to orient yourselves, and get used to driving in Greece.
Don’t book every single activity in Santorini in advance
I get it – you are visiting from far, far away and you don’t want to waste a single moment of your vacation. There are plenty of high-quality tours you can take in Santorini, and it’s wise to book them in advance, especially if you are travelling during the peak summer months.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Santorini wine tasting tour > Book here
- Santorini sailing tour > Book here
- Guided Ancient Akrotiri tour > Book here
However, do take a minute to appreciate what has made Greece so popular all over the world. And by this, I am not referring to the ancient sites or the impressive coastline. I am referring to our siga siga culture – slowly slowly.
Even people who work in tourism will find some time to enjoy a cold frappe coffee and to enjoy their day! Read more in this article on the Greek coffee culture.
As a visitor, take some time to appreciate the moment, maybe sipping a glass of wine with a view to the caldera. After all, you are on your much deserved holidays in Santorini!
Don’t book all your Santorini restaurants ahead of time
This is very similar to my previous suggestion, but I’l keep it separate. Sure, if you have read about Metaxi Mas restaurant in Exo Gonia (or any other) that you definitely want to visit, by all means go ahead and book it. Surely, all these people can’t be wrong!
Similary, you’ve likely read some reviews about the seafood restaurants in Ammoudi Bay Santorini. Ammoudi is a tiny settlement close to the famous Oia. Yes, if you want to eat there, you will definitely need to book ahead, especially during high season.
However, consider leaving some flexibility in your schedule. What if you see a lovely taverna in a small village and you want to try it, but have booked to have a meal somewhere else in a couple of hours?
Only book some of your meals if you must, and leave some space for spontaneity – this is where your best memories are likely to be made, and where the magic of Santorini will come alive!
NEVER put the paper in the toilet
Many people who haven’t been to Greece before are shocked with this one. In most areas in Greece, flushing the toilet paper is a big no-no. It has to do with the size of the pipes, and the worst that can happen is what you have just imagined – a clogged toilet.
So, to keep things nice and clean, just put the paper in the bin right next to the toilet. You will quickly get used to it. And no, it’s not too smelly as the bag is changed on a daily basis.
While we’re at it, here are a few more things you should know about Greece.
Don’t just stick to Oia and Fira
Oia is world-famous, and for good reason, but it’s not like the rest of the island doesn’t have great sunsets. Any spot on the west side of Santorini will have stunning views of a lovely sunset. One of my favourites is a random spot in the middle of nowhere, between Fira and Firostefani.
If you are in Santorini during peak season, be prepared for a bunch of other visitors clicking on their mobile phones and cameras. Visit the town during the early evening, and find a quieter spot to appreciate the sunset. If you are staying in a hotel with a caldera view, you don’t need to look much further!
If you are happy to drive, rent a car and get out for the day. Visit the mountain villages, and you will experience an entirely different side of Santorini, with considerably fewer crowds. Emporio, Megalochori, Vothonas, Mesaria and many other villages only see a fraction of the visitors. So get out of Fira and Oia, and you won’t regret it!
When it comes to beaches in Santorini, keep your expectations low
In my (rather unpopular) opinion, compared to most other Greek islands, Santorini’s beaches aren’t so special. They may look exotic and pretty on the photos, but I find them rather disappointing. But I’m lucky and spoilt, as I’m a Greek living in Greece, and I’ve been to about 60 of the Greek islands.
If you are keen on swimming in Santorini, it’s best to take a sailing tour around the island, which gives you the opportunity to swim off the island’s coast. You can then find some less busy coves, do some snorkelling off the boat, and visit the hot springs.
People staying at hotels with a pool often mention that the water in the pool is a bit too cold. The strong northern meltemi winds that appear in the summer months bring the high temperatures down. It can’t be too bad though, especially if you have your own private caldera views!
If swimming is important for you, you could combine Santorini with another nearby island with great beaches. Here’s my article on five amazing islands near Santorini which will hopefully help. You will then discover your own best beaches in Greece!
Don’t walk barefoot on Perissa beach
One of the best beaches to swim in Santorini is the famous black-pebbled Perissa beach. And here’s one more thing to avoid in Santorini – don’t walk barefoot on Perissa beach, as the volcanic pebbles get really hot!
The same applies for Kamari beach, Monolithos beach, and any other black sand beach on the east side of Santorini. This is exactly why walking on Santorini’s volcano can get so uncomfortable in summer!
Don’t book your ferry to Athens on the same day with your flight back home
I cannot stress this enough. If you are flying back home from Athens, leave plenty of time to get there from Santorini. Even better, spend your last night in the Greek capital.
The last thing you want is to be stuck on Santorini because of a ferry strike, or because of bad weather. And while neither of these happens every day, it’s not impossible – in fact, ferry delays are not uncommon.
At the same time, I can think of many places in the world that it’s much worse to get stuck on 🙂
Last tip: Don’t plan any journeys on May the 1st, as most transportation in Greece is on strike. This usually includes ferries, trains, the Athens metro, and sometimes buses, so the only way to get around Athens would be in a taxi or pre-booked transfer.
FAQs about Santorini Greece
Here are a few more questions that people ask about Santorini island:
Can you flush toilet paper in Santorini?
No, you can’t flush toilet paper in Santorini, as this will clog your toilet. You should put it in the trash bin instead.
Is Santorini safe at night?
Yes, Santorini is safe at night. Still, visitors should use common sense when exploring the island’s nightlife.
Is it safe to swim in Santorini?
Yes, swimming in Santorini is safe and many of its famous black sand beaches are calm and shallow. With that said, visitors should be aware of sea urchins, jelly fish, and strong currents. Also, you should always wear beach shoes, as the black sands get extremely hot.
Does Santorini have earthquakes?
Like the rest of Greece, Santorini has earthquakes sometimes. The last big earthquake in Santorini happened in 1956.
Is tap water safe to drink in Santorini?
No, tap water is not safe to drink in Santorini, so you will need to drink bottled water. You can safely use tap water to brush your teeth.
Is there a ferry from Athens to Santorini?
Yes, there are numerous ferries from Athens to Santorini. You can check FerryHopper or FerryScanner to check out all available routes and buy your ferry tickets. There are also direct flights to Santorini from Athens, and many cities in Europe.
How to get around Santorini?
You can get around Santorini by rental car, ATV or motorbike, public bus, or taxi. Note, that, in peak season, parking a car can be a challenge, and buses are frequent, but might not run 100% on time. Always allow more time to travel around than you think!
More travel guides for Santorini and the Greek islands
If you are planning to visit Santorini, I hope you’ve found this article useful. For any questions about visiting Santorini, please leave a comment right below and I’ll get back to you.
You might also be interested in reading:
- How long to spend in Santorini
- Best things to do in Santorini in 4 days
- Santorini in June
- 7 days in Greece: Athens – Santorini – Mykonos
- Mykonos without the crowds
- Reasons to visit Milos
Hi! I’m Vanessa, a travel writer from Athens, and I love helping people explore my country! I enjoy travelling, meeting people, cooking, walking, yoga and snorkelling. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and answered thousands of questions about Greece in online forums and groups. You can get in touch through my FB page and FB group.
4 thoughts on “Is Santorini Safe And Things To Avoid”
Very good advice, and well written!
Thank you for discouraging people from riding the donkeys. The plight of donkeys in Greece is distressing and you are right when you say they are overworked. Anyone over about 60kg should never ride a donkey anyway.
Very good article with tons of advice. I agree with avoiding the donkeys. It breaks my heart to see them tethered all day and climbing up and down. On a side note “orientate” isn’t a word, common mistake, but it’s actually “orient” or “orientation”.
Thank you! I understand that ‘orientate’ is used in British English! But I’ve changed it anyway!