| | |

Santorini Cruise Port: Things to Do in Santorini

Sharing is caring!

Exploring the Greek islands? Don’t miss Santorini!  As the sun sets over the picturesque Santorini Cruise Port, the allure of this enchanting Greek island beckons. Perched amidst the Aegean Sea between Athens and Crete, Santorini belongs to the renowned Cyclades archipelago, a cluster of over 200 islands encircling the sacred Delos. 

Once the stage for a colossal volcanic eruption around 3,600 years ago, Santorini now stands as a water-filled crescent, a testament to its ancient past. This catastrophic event triggered a massive tsunami, impacting Crete and contributing to the decline of the Minoan civilization. Today, picturesque towns like Oia, Fira, and Imerovigli adorn the caldera’s rim, offering stunning views of this volcanic marvel.

This mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis lends an aura of mystique to the region. Alongside the nearby gem of Mykonos, Santorini is a popular destination in the eastern Mediterranean for cruise travelers. It boasts breathtaking landscapes, ancient treasures, and unique shorelines that beg exploration.

Santorini boasts a thriving wine industry, thriving in its hot, arid climate ideal for grape cultivation. Wine enthusiasts will relish visiting wineries and indulging in tastings amidst the island’s scenic beauty. Notably, the vines here are uniquely grown in coils on the ground, a method adapted to withstand Santorini’s windy conditions, distinguishing it from conventional trellis setups seen elsewhere. Typically, January, February, July, and August experience the strongest winds on Santorini.

This was one of our stops on our Holland America Cruise. There is a myriad of activities awaiting us, from savoring local wines at traditional wineries to wandering through the charming streets of Fira. But what about the lesser-known gems beyond the typical tourist haunts? Join us as we uncover hidden treasures and unique experiences that will make your visit to Santorini’s cruise port area truly unforgettable. 

white houses in Santorini

 Can You Walk From the Cruise Port in Santorini?

Santorini features two small ports: Athinios and the Old Port of Fira. Cruise ships cannot dock directly, necessitating the use of ship tenders for access. Some tenders come from the small port of Skala to take passengers to the ports.

Typically, cruise lines divide passengers on shore excursions between Athinios and the Old  Port of Santorini. Those arriving at Athinios are urged to join crowded bus tours with long lines organized by the cruise company, which we advise against. Passengers not opting for these tours will be dropped off at the Old Port of Fira. Regardless, all cruise ships depart from the Old Port, requiring even those on bus tours to board via ship tenders there.

Yes, you can easily walk from the cruise port in Santorini to the charming town of Fira. As you disembark from your ship at the Athinios Port, the picturesque path to Fira awaits you. The walk is not only convenient but also offers breathtaking views of the caldera and the stunning architecture of Santorini. However, if walking isn’t your preferred mode of transport, you can opt for the cable car or the tender boats provided for larger cruise ships. Note there can be long lines for the cable car but we didn’t have to wait long for ours. You will also see something about taking a donkey ride. We actually don’t recommend this. It’s been a known fact that these donkeys are mistreated and poorly taken care of. Just look up all the videos on Youtube. Many of the donkeys have received spinal injuries from carrying overweight tourists.

For a quicker route to Fira, the cable car is a popular choice, providing panoramic views. Alternatively, tender boats can efficiently ferry you ashore. If walking, cable cars, or tender boats aren’t your preference, a shuttle bus is available from the cruise port to Fira. Whether strolling, using the cable car, or taking a shuttle bus, the journey to Fira from the Santorini cruise port promises to be memorable on your cruise ship itinerary.

Can I Explore Santorini On My Own?

Exploring Santorini solo allows for a personalized and immersive experience amidst the island’s unique beauty and charm. When arriving at the Santorini cruise port, consider trying local experiences to engage with the island’s culture.

To explore on your own, it’s essential to prepare for your visit by packing essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, and comfortable clothing. Since time might be limited during a cruise stop, careful planning, along with researching transportation and transfer options beforehand with a travel agent can help optimize your exploration. Bottled water is available at most stores and is pretty affordable.

Santorini pictures Melissa

Embracing the Santorini beauty on foot or by local transport can lead to unexpected encounters and a deeper understanding of the local culture. 

Whether wandering through the narrow streets or enjoying the breathtaking views, exploring Santorini independently allows for a more authentic and fulfilling experience. Fira, Santorini’s main town perched on the caldera’s edge, offers stunning views of the volcano. 

Its highlights include traditional houses with charming Venetian features like arches and colorful stairs. The island’s architecture, influenced by harsh weather conditions and historical protection needs, resembles that of other Cycladic islands. 

Fira and Oia are famed for their captivating sunsets, drawing thousands of visitors. Santorini’s narrow paths are adorned with beautiful churches and architectural gems seamlessly integrated into the landscape. From settlements like Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia, visitors can relish unparalleled views of the caldera and the golden sunset, making Santorini an unrivaled summer destination.

Santorini cruise port

What To Do With One Day in the Santorini Cruise Port?

Let’s make the most of our limited time in Santorini. Start by exploring the ancient ruins of Akrotiri. Afterward, enjoy a traditional Greek lunch and shop for souvenirs at the best places. Then, visit the iconic Blue Domed Churches, and finally, explore the charming streets of Fira.

Explore the Ancient Ruins of Akrotiri

Fira serves as the island’s central bus station, offering connections to various areas. Buses to Akrotiri run approximately every 1.5 hours, but schedules may vary by season. To ensure a smooth journey, passengers are advised to inform the driver of their final destination to ensure a stop is made. Check official timetables for up-to-date information.

When planning a day in Santorini, a must-do activity is exploring the ancient ruins of Akrotiri caused by a volcano eruption.   The ruins offer a glimpse into the island’s fascinating history and culture. The massive eruption of the Thera volcano, believed to have happened before 1500 B.C., buried the Minoan town of Akrotiri under more than 130 feet of volcanic ash and debris. However, the eruption’s precise date and climatic effects have been debated for decades. 

The ancient settlement of Akrotiri, provides a unique window into the Minoan civilization. The archaeological sites reveal intricate details of daily life. The town’s remains showcase the advanced urban planning and artistry of its ancient inhabitants.

Walking through the excavations, one can sense the rich history and mystery surrounding this ancient civilization. Exploring Akrotiri enables us to see into the past, uncovering stories of ancient times and firsthand experiencing its wonders.

Skala in Santorini Melissa

Lunch in a Traditional Greek Restaurant

After exploring where the volcanic eruption covered the ancient ruins of Akrotiri, immerse yourself in the authentic flavors of Santorini by enjoying a traditional Greek lunch at a local restaurant. Indulge in the rich Mediterranean flavors and authentic dishes that Greek cuisine is renowned for. A Greek dining experience is not just a meal; it’s a culinary journey filled with culinary delights. 

Skala Santorini food

Try local specialties like moussaka, souvlaki, or fresh seafood dishes while savoring the warm hospitality of the Greek people. The traditional Greek restaurant will transport you to the heart of Santorini, where every bite tells a story of local culture and heritage.

Skala Santorini food

We had lunch at Skala and oh my goodness the food was amazing. I had the traditional spaghetti which was really good but also the highlight was the tomato fritters! The tomatoes have a unique taste do to the climate on the island. Don’t miss this opportunity to taste the true essence of Santorini through its delicious local cuisine.

Shopping in Santorini Cruise Port

Exploring the charming streets of Fira and Oia village allows for delightful opportunities to shop for unique souvenirs in Santorini. From souvenir shopping at duty-free shops to finding memorable keepsakes, the local crafts and artisan products available offer a wide array of authentic mementos. Handmade items abound, providing the opportunity to bring home traditional souvenirs reflecting the island’s rich culture and heritage. 

Some of the best things, depending on the time of year to buy while in Santorini are local wines, olive oils, handmade plates, bowls, or decorative pieces adorned with the island’s distinctive designs. Local artwork, handicrafts, donkey-themed or blue-and-white items are also popular.

shopping in Santorini

In these vibrant shopping districts, you can discover a variety of unique gifts to bring back as a reminder of your time in Santorini. Whether you’re looking for recommendations or simply browsing. The shops in Fira and Oia are sure to provide a fulfilling shopping experience for those seeking special treasures.  You can pay with a credit card at most shops and restaurants on the island.

Pro Tip: We did find that the souvenirs were more expensive at Santorini, so if you are on a budget you can definatly find the same things for less at other ports.

Visit the Blue Domed Churches

The Blue Domed Churches in Santorini are a must-see destination for anyone visiting the island. These traditional Greek Orthodox churches are not only beautiful, but they also play an important role in Santorini’s cultural heritage. The intricate architecture and peaceful atmosphere make them a popular spot for photographers and anyone interested in exploring the religious sites on the island. Each church has its own unique story of faith and history to tell. Did you there are actually more churches than houses on this island?

Santorini Blue dome Churches

The bright blue domes of the churches are a stunning sight against the white walls. They are a major attraction for tourists visiting Santorini, not just in Oia but throughout the island. Intriguingly, the buildings’ blue and white color scheme is a fairly new addition. From 1967 to 1974, the Greek military government sought to make the landscape uniform. In response, locals began painting their structures blue and white, to match the colors of the Greek flag. This practice soon became a symbol of Greece and has since attracted countless tourists.

Santorini cruise port

Today, the blue and white buildings are an iconic feature of Greece, and the Blue Domed Churches in Santorini are some of the most beautiful examples of this style. Make sure to explore these captivating structures and fully experience their distinctive charm. They truly embody the essence of Santorini’s cultural heritage.

The most photographed Santorini blue domes churches are located in Oia and are the churches of Agios Spiridonas (Saint Spyridon) and Anasteseos (the Church of the Resurrection). Both are built at the edge of the cliffs right next to one another at the top of the island.

Pro Tip: Most people come to Santorini thinking they are going to see a whole bunch of the blue domes when in fact there are only a few of them. A lot of those beautiful shots on the internet were actually captured by drones.

Explore Fira

Let’s set out on an unforgettable journey to explore the charming town of Fira. Fira, the capital of the island, is its largest and most cosmopolitan settlement. Situated on the island’s western edge, it overlooks the volcano and the two volcanic islands, Palaia Kammeni and Nea Kammeni, nestled in the sea. 

Begin your day by arriving at the old port of Fira, either by cable car or enjoying a ride on the tender boats. The base of Fira serves as a starting point for many excursions on the island. Consider your transportation options – renting a car or hiring a cab for convenience. For a more immersive experience, opt for guided excursions that offer local experiences like wine tasting at renowned wineries. 

Afterward,  consider venturing to the volcanic beaches for a unique seaside adventure. Don’t forget your packing essentials like sunscreen and sunglasses to make the most of your day exploring Fira. 

Fira is the capital of Santorini, known as a small town of seaside cafés. It embodies the perfect fusion of natural allure, vibrant social scenes, and unparalleled shopping experiences, making it the heartbeat of Santorini. The breathtaking Caldera view captivates visitors day or night, promising awe-inspiring moments. 

Wander through charming alleys during the day, soak in the tranquility, and immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere of bustling nightlife after sunset. Choose from a variety of dining options, from cozy cafes to lively bars and clubs, all with breathtaking views and vibrant atmospheres. Fira offers the island’s premier dining, entertainment, and shopping spots, featuring a variety of clothing boutiques, gift shops, and supermarkets to meet every need.

See the Beauty of Oia

To fully appreciate the breathtaking beauty of  the village of Oia in Santorini within a day, immerse yourself in the iconic white-washed buildings and stunning sunset views of the steep cliffs defining this picturesque village. Wander through narrow cobblestone streets lined with charming small shops offering local delicacies. As the sun sets, head to the top of the caldera for the best view of the mesmerizing sunset over the Aegean Sea.

An opportunity not to miss is exploring the must-see attractions and capturing the beauty of the white cliff houses against the backdrop of the small islands dotting the sea. Oia is a gem that encapsulates Santorini’s essence in every corner.

One of the most sought-after locations for sunset viewing is near Oia Castle, though the crowds can be overwhelming. However, the view of the windmills and the whitewashed buildings tumbling down the island’s cliffs is unparalleled. Personally, my favorite spot was adjacent to the three blue domes of Oia, offering a fantastic view that includes both the domes and the bells of a nearby church.

Below Oia, the off-track port of Amoudi Bay, reachable by 278 steps, boasts a beautiful bay and charming port. Seafood restaurants line the waterfront, offering a picturesque dining experience with clear waters at their edge. Boats shuttle tourists on volcano tours and sunset cruises. A short walk from the last restaurant leads to a great swimming spot with a small island and a popular jumping ledge.

Santorini pictures Melissa-2
Santorini cruise port

Visit Pyrgos

Exploring the charming village of Pyrgos is a must for anyone visiting Santorini. The village is known for its historical architecture and panoramic views, making it an ideal spot for sightseeing. Pyrgos Village emerged in the 13th century under Venetian rule on the island. Initially a modest settlement with a monastery, it fortified itself in 1580 to serve as a strategic defense.

Although some argue that it was Santorini’s capital until the 1800s, Fira assumed that role. Pyrgos, with its elevated position away from the coast, makes an appealing destination. We recommend enjoying a traditional Greek lunch at one of the cozy local spots in Pyrgos village. After lunch, head to the volcanic beaches like Kamari and Red Beach for a relaxing afternoon by the sea.

Don’t overlook visiting the fascinating Akrotiri archaeological site to investigate Santorini’s rich history. For a taste of local flavors, Exo Gonia village offers wine tasting experiences at wineries like Canava Roussos and Santo Wines.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider renting ATVs to easily navigate the narrow roads and explore the white sheer cliffs with houses that adorn Santorini’s landscape. Make the most of your one day in Santorini by immersing yourself in these unforgettable experiences. And for the best cruise experience, plan your visit during the ideal month for cruising to Santorini.

Is Everything Walkable in Santorini?

When planning a cruise to Santorini, choose the best time of the year for weather and crowds. Walking is the most convenient way to explore due to its compact size and pedestrian-friendly paths. At the cruise port of Santorini, choose to walk or take a cable car up to Fira. Larger ships use comfortable tender boats, and transportation options include renting a car or hiring a cab. 

Walking tours allow you to discover Santorini’s charm, from its volcanic beaches to wine tasting at renowned wineries like Canava Roussos and Santo Wines. Immerse yourself in Santorini’s culture and beauty by walking. With breathtaking views and an enchanting atmosphere, walking in Santorini offers a unique experience. If walking isn’t feasible, local buses or taxi drivers can provide transportation. Ask a taxi driver to take you to the island’s summit for panoramic views.

Santorini cruise port

What is the Best Excursion in Santorini?

Choose private bus tours to explore Santorini’s attractions at your leisure.This will allow you to discover the natural wonders of Santorini with a private tour.  Arranging for a tour guide to provide insights into Santorini’s history and culture 

When contemplating Santorini’s top excursion, a standout choice is the 6-Hour Private Best of Santorini Experience, offering one of the easiest ways to explore the island’s premier attractions and hidden treasures. For cruise travelers seeking the best experiences on Santorini island, this excursion covers the top things to see and do, immersing you in the rich history dating back to ancient times. Exploring the island’s narrow roads on small boats, this tour provides an intimate setting for discovering local experiences that showcase the essence of Santorini. 

During the high season, this excursion stands out as the best way to make the most of your time ashore, ensuring you don’t miss out on the must-see highlights while seeking lesser-known gems. With the 6-Hour Private Tour Best of Santorini Experience, you can truly appreciate the beauty and history of this alluring island in a personalized and memorable way.

Here are the Top Tours on Viator with a 5 Star Rating

If I Have Extra Days What Should I See?

Summer times in Santorini is perfect for water sports. Discover nearby islands by water taxi from Athinios port. Traverse calm, blue waters to find hidden paradises. Each island offers unique charm and unforgettable experiences. Whether seeking tranquility or adventure, a water taxi from Athinios port immerses you in the Aegean Sea’s beauty.

Santorini’s hot springs lie on the uninhabited islet of Palea Kameni. Volcano tours offer a unique chance to explore Santorini’s volcanic history. Experience Nea Kammeni’s natural energy and relax in the hot springs for a memorable adventure. Guided tours provide insights into Santorini’s volcanic past, deepening your understanding of its history.

Does Santorini have a Hop-On Hop-Off bus?

Santorini offers a convenient hop-on hop-off bus service for visitors, providing flexibility in sightseeing and experiencing local attractions. Whether you prefer village strolls, wine tasting, or historical sites, the bus caters to diverse interests. It serves as a great launchpad for guided tours or crafting personalized day trips. 

With this travel choice, visitors can easily immerse themselves in the beauty and culture of Santorini. This makes visiting picturesque villages, volcanic beaches, and archaeological sites hassle-free. Embrace the opportunity to discover Santorini’s wonders and embark on a memorable journey through this enchanting destination.

Bidding Farewell to the Santorini Cruise Port

Finally, as we bid farewell to the breathtaking island of Santorini, our hearts are as full as our memories. We sipped white wine, watched breathtaking sunsets in Santorini, and shopped at duty-free stores at the port of call. Like a painting brought to life, Santorini captivated us with its charm and beauty. While Santorini was beautiful we did find that it was over crowded and extremely hot. What we thought was going to be our favorite , actually wasn’t.

Things we Recommend Bringing For Your Trip: (aff)

  • Blue Sundress: Capture the essence of Santorini’s picturesque charm with a stylish blue dress, perfect for exploring the island’s cobblestone streets and breathtaking vistas.
  • Personal Fan: Beat the heat and stay cool amidst Santorini’s crowded attractions with a portable personal fan, ensuring comfort during your sightseeing adventures.
  • Sunscreen: Shield your skin from the Mediterranean sun’s rays with a high SPF sunscreen, essential for enjoying Santorini’s beaches and outdoor activities.
  • Wide-Brimmed Hat: Add a touch of glamour while protecting yourself from the sun’s glare with a fashionable wide-brimmed hat, ideal for strolling through Santorini’s sun-drenched landscapes.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated while exploring Santorini’s enchanting locales by carrying a durable and eco-friendly reusable water bottle. Perfect for refilling throughout your travels.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: Navigate Santorini’s uneven terrain and cobblestone pathways with ease by wearing comfortable walking shoes that provide support and stability.

Just a Few More Things

  • Travel Adapter: Ensure your electronic devices stay charged and connected during your trip to Santorini with a reliable travel adapter. It’s also compatible with Greek power outlets.
  • Portable Phone Charger: Keep your smartphone powered up for capturing stunning photos and navigating Santorini’s winding streets with a compact and portable phone charger.
  • Travel Guidebook: Maximize your Santorini experience with a comprehensive travel guidebook, packed with insider tips, must-see attractions, and hidden gems.
  • Waterproof Phone Case: Safeguard your smartphone from unexpected splashes and spills while enjoying Santorini’s pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters with a waterproof phone case.
  • Belt Bag: Keep your essentials close at hand while exploring Santorini’s vibrant streets and markets with a stylish belt bag. Offering convenience and security without sacrificing style. If you need something a tag bigger try a stylish sling bag.
  • Cute Swimsuit: Lounge by Santorini’s azure waters in style with a fashionable swimsuit that reflects your personal taste. Whether it’s a trendy bikini or a chic one-piece design.

These essentials will enhance your Santorini adventure, ensuring a comfortable and memorable journey through this enchanting Greek island.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.