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Home Blog Beachfront bliss: Best beaches in Santorini and how to reach them

Beachfront bliss: Best beaches in Santorini and how to reach them

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Santorini’s beaches, born from the remnants of ancient volcanic eruptions, boast a distinctive character that captivates the senses.

Nestled amidst the embrace of the Aegean Sea, the beaches of Greece’s most romantic island are rather unique: they may not feature the classic white sands of the country’s famous coastal destinations, yet they offer an unparalleled charm.

From the iconic Red Beach, adorned with its volcanic pebbles, to the serene stretches of predominantly black sands of Perissa and Perivolos that create a mesmerizing mosaic along the coastline, each Santorini beach is a testament to the island’s geological legacy, offering a visual feast in the Greek archipelago.

Want to know more about the best beaches in Santorini?

Time to take a dive!

Important information about beaches in Santorini

Universally known for its caldera and sunset views, there’s no doubt that Santorini is a top holiday destination.

Its beaches, however, are not what sets the island apart from competition.

Beaches in Santorini are not your typical long stretches of white sand and emerald water – but what they may lack in sandy majesty, they make up for with breathtaking scenery.

The top beaches in Santorini are really unique, highlighting the natural environment that surrounds them, and remaining memorable for years and years.

Intrigued much? Without further ado, here are the best Santorini beaches you need to know!

map of the best beaches in Santorini, Greece

What are the best beaches in Santorini?

Cosmopolitan havens like Perissa, Kamari, and Perivolos promise well-organized, lively days under the sun, while more secluded and family-friendly options await those seeking a quieter retreat.

This guide to the best beaches in Santorini and how to reach them unveils the island’s coastal treasures, while providing insights into the diverse landscapes that make Santorini a destination unlike any other in the Mediterranean.

1. Perissa Beach: A black sand extravaganza

Perissa Beach, nestled on the southeast coast and around 12 kilometers from Fira, is a testament to Santorini’s volcanic history. Perissa and Perivolos, that we’ll see further down our list, are essentially one very long beach – Perissa at the north end, and Perivolos to the south.

Also, Perissa is separated from Kamari (another nearby beach we’ll talk about in a minute) by a mountain, called Mesa Vouno.

Here, jet-black volcanic sand stretches for 7 km, creating a stark contrast against the azure Aegean Sea. The beach is fully organized and exudes a lively energy, perfect for those seeking a vibrant atmosphere. It’s also accessible to wheelchair users.

Perissa is definitely one of the top beaches in Santorini: it has received the Blue Flag certification for its crystal-clear waters, and it also features an abundance of sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as a wide variety of water sports, plus two diving centers!

The main village, bus stop, and water taxi stop are found towards the north end of Perissa beach, so the further south you move, the quieter it gets.

How to reach Perissa: This beach is a scenic 20-minute drive from Fira, 30 minutes from Imerovigli and 45 minutes from Oia. You can either drive, take the bus departing from Fira or book a Santorini private transfer to save yourself the hassle of driving and parking.

 

What sets Perissa beach apart?

  • Beachfront Tavernas: Along the Perissa promenade, a plethora of beachfront tavernas invites visitors to savor traditional Greek dishes. Fresh seafood, grilled specialties, and local wines create a culinary symphony.
  • Waterfront Activities: Perissa is a hub for water sports enthusiasts. From jet skiing to windsurfing, the beach offers a range of activities for adrenaline seekers.

 

Further reading: What to do in Santorini – The ultimate bucket list crafted by locals

black beach in Perissa Santorini, one of the best beaches on the island

2. Kamari Beach: Where tradition meets tranquility

Perhaps the busiest and the best beach in Santorini for families, Kamari features affordable beach bars with sunbeds and umbrellas, and an excellent selection of places to eat, drink, and shop.

Positioned on the eastern side of Santorini, Kamari Beach combines the charm of traditional villages with the tranquility of dark volcanic sand. It sits at the foot of Mesa Vouno hill, creating a picturesque backdrop for beachgoers, and it’s also very close to Fira, the island’s main town.

The hill is also what separates Kamari from Perissa beach, meaning you can do both on the same day if you’re visiting Santorini for a few days only and are on a tight schedule.

 

How to reach Kamari: A brief 15-minute drive southeast from Fira makes Kamari he closest one to the main town, allowing visitors to enjoy the scenic landscapes along the road. If you stay at any caldera village (Oia, Imerovigli etc.) and plan on using public transportation, please note that you’ll need to change buses at Fira.

 

Further reading: How to get around Santorini – Best ways to move around effortlessly

 

What sets Kamari apart?

  • Cultural Heritage: Kamari is close to the archaeological site of ancient Thera, offering history enthusiasts an opportunity to explore the island’s rich past.
  • Family-Friendly Atmosphere: The shallow waters and gradual slope make Kamari an ideal destination for families with children.
black beach in Kamari Santorini

3. Red Beach: Nature's Masterpiece in Crimson

One of the most beautiful beaches in Santorini and just a short distance from the archaeological site of Akrotiri, Red Beach is an extraordinary canvas painted with towering red cliffs and distinctive reddish pebbles.

This unique landscape, shaped by volcanic activity, makes Red Beach a must-visit for those seeking a natural spectacle.

This is a semi-organized beach: you’ll find a few umbrellas but no beach bar, so make sure that you carry all the necessary equipment with you! Also, note that the surrounding cliffs protect it from the winds, so it can get pretty hot during the summer days.

 

How to reach Red Beach: The beach is 20 minutes by car from Fira and just a short hike from the village of Akrotiri, offering stunning panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. During high season, boat excursions from Akrotiri or nearby beaches provide an alternative and scenic route to Red Beach.

 

What sets Red Beach apart?

  • Geological Marvel: The combination of red cliffs, black volcanic rocks, and deep blue waters creates a surreal environment, making it a favorite among photographers. The underwater rock formations make it great for snorkeling, too.
  • Secluded Ambiance: Despite its fame, Red Beach maintains a certain tranquility, especially during early mornings or late afternoons.

 

Extra tip: Here for a few days? Book a Santorini full-day tour to visit Perissa-Perivolos and the Read Beach on the same day, together with some extra magnificent spots, such as Oia, Fira, Emporeio, a local winery, and more!

 

 

red beach in Santorini Greece

4. White Beach: A Secluded Haven

For those yearning for seclusion and a touch of adventure, White Beach, also known as Lefki Ammos (White Sand) stands as a hidden gem accessible only by boat or on foot from Kambia Beach.

On the southern side of Santorini, right next to the Red Beach and a few minutes away from Akrotiri, the White Beach takes its name from the spectacular white cliffs hanging above it.

The journey there is an exploration, and the reward is a pristine shoreline with crystalline waters and a handful of umbrellas – keep that in mind if you plan on visiting, since you’ll need to pack all necessities with you.

 

How to reach White Beach: Boat excursions from Akrotiri or Ammoudi Bay offer a scenic route with breathtaking views of the coastline, whereas a short hike from Red Beach, though rocky and uneven, grants adventurous travelers direct access to the secluded beach.

 

What sets White Beach apart?

  • Isolation: The relative difficulty of access ensures a quieter and more serene atmosphere, providing an intimate setting for those seeking solitude.
  • Natural Beauty: White Beach is surrounded by towering cliffs, creating an almost otherworldly environment that feels untouched by time.
the White beach in Santorini Greece, also known as Lefki Ammos

5. Vlychada Beach: Sculpted by Nature

Located on the southern tip of Santorini, Vlychada Beach is a testament to the erosive forces of wind and sea, with towering, moon-like cliffs sculpted into fascinating shapes.

Two large chimneys are adding to the scenery, formerly used by an old tomato canning factory, now-turned-museum that you can visit!

Definitely one of the best beaches in Santorini, Greece, Vlychada is not that crowded, and it’s also organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, and a canteen, which add to its appeal.

 

How to Reach Vlychada: A short drive south from Fira provides easy access to Vlychada. Boats departing from Perivolos or Perissa can transport visitors to Vlychada, too, providing a scenic maritime experience.

 

What sets Vlychada apart?

  • Lunar-Like Landscape: The unique geological formations of Vlychada’s cliffs resemble sculptures, creating a surreal and almost lunar-like environment.
  • Relaxing Atmosphere: Vlychada is less crowded compared to some of the more popular beaches, offering visitors a peaceful escape.
vlychada beach in Santorini Greece

6. Monolithos Beach: A Family-Friendly Oasis

Located on the eastern side of Santorini, next to the airport and 9 km away from Fira, Monolithos Beach offers a family-friendly escape with its sands and shallow waters.

Close to Kamari yet less crowded, Monolithos Beach is family-oriented, with plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas, lifeguards, and courts for sports, like basketball or volleyball.

 

How to reach Monolithos: A short drive southeast from Fira (12 minutes) provides easy access to Monolithos, and buses connect Fira and Monolithos, too. It will take you around 8 minutes from Kamari, 17 minutes from Imerovigli, and 27 minutes from Oia to reach it by car or Santorini taxi.

 

 

What sets Monolithos apart?

  • Sandy Beach: This is one of the few sandy beaches on Santorini, albeit with some pebbles. You can actually make a sandcastle here!
  • Family-Friendly Environment: The gentle slope of the beach and shallow waters make Monolithos perfect for families with young children, providing a safe and enjoyable environment. There’s also a playground for children here.

 

Learn more: Santorini with kids – Traveling tips for family-friendly holidays

monolithos beach in Santorini Greece, one of the best beaches on the island

7. Perivolos Beach: The Black Diamond of the Aegean

Adjacent to Perissa Beach (around 1.5 km away), Perivolos shares the same ebony sands but exudes a more sophisticated and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Lined with upscale beach clubs, waterfront bars, and stylish resorts, Perivolos is the epitome of chic beachfront living, boasting comfortable sun loungers and a plethora of facilities, such a volleyball court, water sports, and scuba diving.

The beach’s lively scene, combined with the volcanic backdrop, creates an atmosphere that seamlessly blends relaxation with luxury.

The best beach bars in Santorini are located at Perivolos, featuring parties, famous DJs, and special events, making this a great beach for younger couples or groups of friends.

Right after Perivolos, you’ll find Agios Georgios Beach, its peaceful counterpart, if that’s what you’re after!

 

How to reach Perivolos: The beach is easily accessible by a short drive from Fira or a leisurely stroll along the coastline from Perissa.

 

What sets Perivolos apart?

  • Chic Atmosphere: Perivolos is renowned for its upscale beach clubs, stylish bars, and high-end resorts, creating a sophisticated and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  • Vibrant Nightlife: The beach comes alive in the evenings, with beach parties and seaside entertainment, making it a hub for those seeking both daytime relaxation and vibrant nightlife.
perivolos beach in Santorini Greece

8. Ammoudi Bay: A Picturesque Fishing Haven

Nestled right below the charming village of Oia, Ammoudi Bay is a picturesque fishing haven that offers a unique experience.

Definitely among the best beaches in Santorini for swimming and diving from high rocks, Ammoudi captivates with its crystal-clear waters and traditional tavernas serving the day’s catch.

Visitors can bask in the tranquil ambiance while enjoying fresh seafood with a backdrop of colorful cliffside houses, but please note that there are no sun loungers nor sandy parts here, it’s a small port.

 

How to reach Ammoudi Bay: A short walk down the picturesque steps from Oia, one of Santorini’s top destinations, leads to Ammoudi Bay, providing a glimpse into the tranquil side of the island. If you’re here for more days and want to explore more than typical Kamari or Perissa, give Ammoudi a try!

 

Further reading: How many days do you need in Santorini? Here’s the ideal trip duration!

 

What sets Ammoudi Bay apart?

  • Idyllic Setting: Ammoudi Bay is a charming, non-traditional beach setting, offering crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming and traditional seafood tavernas.
  • Seaside Serenity: The lack of sandy shores creates a unique atmosphere, emphasizing the rustic charm of this picturesque fishing village.
ammoudi bay beach in Santorini Greece one of the best beaches for swimming

Navigating Santorini's nicest beaches: Practical tips and recommendations

  • Transportation Options: Renting a car or an ATV provides flexibility and the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path locations. For a more laid-back approach, consider booking a private transfer for a more luxurious and efficient means of transportation.
  • Optimal Timing: To fully savor the beauty of Santorini’s beaches, consider arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This not only allows for more intimate experiences but also provides optimal lighting for photography.
  • Essentials for Beach Days: Sunscreen, hats, and comfortable footwear are essential for a day at the beach. Some beaches offer rental services or sunbeds and umbrellas, providing added convenience. Don’t forget that most of Santorini’s beaches are composed of dark volcanic sand that gets *really* hot in the mid-day sun, so beach sandals are essential.
  • Culinary Delights: Embrace the local cuisine by exploring the beachfront tavernas. Fresh seafood, traditional Greek salads, and regional specialties showcase the island’s culinary prowess.
  • Respect for the Environment: Santorini’s natural beauty is fragile. To preserve this paradise, adhere to local regulations, clean up after yourself, and be mindful of the delicate ecosystems surrounding the beaches.

Frequently asked questions regarding Santorini, Greece, beaches

Which beach in Santorini has black sand?

Kamari, Perissa, and Perivolos are the most popular black sand beaches in Santorini, with Vlychada, Columbo, and Mesa Pigadia gaining popularity.

The historical eruption of Santorini’s volcano, 3,600 years ago, may have majorly contributed to the fall of the Minoan civilization, but it also offered something eerily gorgeous to the island: its black sand beaches.

 

Are there any white sand beaches in Santorini?

Although there is a beach called “White”, it takes its name from the towering cliffs behind it. You won’t find white or golden sandy beaches in Santorini.

 

Are beaches free in Santorini?

There are free beaches where you can go with your own equipment, plus secluded beaches that feature some straw umbrellas for free, too. However, when it comes to fully organized beaches, you’ll have to pay to rent sunbeds and umbrellas, together with your drinks and snacks.

 

Where are the Santorini beaches located?

The caldera is on the west side of Santorini, while the majority of beaches (all except two) are on the east and southeast part of the island. When deciding where to stay in Santorini, you’ll have to choose between volcano vistas or proximity to beaches!

Final thoughts on Santorini beaches

Santorini’s beaches, each with its unique character and allure, contribute to the island’s reputation as a destination of unparalleled beauty.

Whether you seek the lively energy of Perissa and Kamari, the geological wonders of Red Beach, or the sculpted cliffs of Vlychada, Santorini’s coastal tapestry promises a journey into bliss.

With careful planning, an adventurous spirit, and a deep appreciation for nature’s wonders, exploring Santorini’s beaches becomes an enriching and unforgettable experience.

As the sun sets over the Aegean, casting its golden hues on the cliffs and shores, visitors are left with indelible memories of a beachfront paradise like no other.

Get in touch with The JoyVan to learn more about how to navigate Santorini like a local!

 

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