To help with your holiday planning, we’ve put together this list of 15 of the best beaches in Santorini. Some 200km south-east of the Greek mainland, Santorini is the southernmost island in the Cyclades archipelago, and lies 130km from the island of Crete.
Santorini is a Greek island of rugged volcanic cliffs, and hillsides scattered with pine, cypress, and deciduous woods and forests. On the lower plains, valleys are a mix of local vegetation, interspersed with wild and cultivated olive groves.
Around the island, pretty whitewashed villages and towns sparkle in the bright Mediterranean sunshine, while the coastal areas, surrounded by the turquoise Aegean Sea, offer some of the most beautiful, volcanic sand beaches and majestic rock formations you will find anywhere.
15 Best Beaches in Santorini
1. Red Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Santorini
On the south of the island, and close to the village of Akrotiri, lies one of the most famous beaches in Santorini. The Red beach is more famous for the colour of its cliffs and rocks, than it is as a beach for sunbathing.
Deep rust-red cliffs rise from the beach; while boulders and pebbles with colours from white to red to grey to blue to black, straddle much of the sand area. The rust-red colour is caused by the high amounts of iron in the substrate from millions of years ago.
The beach has a small, white-sand area for sunbathing, which fills quickly during the season. Leaving the hardier folk areas of pebbles to lay their towels.
Although a few sunbeds and parasols are available for hire, beach facilities are minimal, so a beach bag with drinks and nibbles is a good idea.
A car parking area on the cliff-top has a couple of small beach shacks selling snacks and drinks that you pass on the way to the short, rough, uneven pathway that leads to the beach.
If you’re staying a little further afield, you can book one of the water-taxis which run from Akrotiri port, Kamari, or Perissa to the beach.
The nearby village of Akrotiri also has a major archaeological excavation site on its outskirts. If you’re interested in the island’s history, it is well worth taking an hour or two out to investigate.
2. Cape Columbo Beach, isolated, secluded, and popular with naturists
If you like your beaches just as nature intended, then Cape Columbo is well worth a visit.
On the north-east tip of the island, 9km from Fira, and 15km from the airport, Cape Columbo is a curving black sand and pebble beach which lies beneath dramatic cliffs topped with cypress and local vegetation.
Access is easy enough in a car or on scooter, but public transport doesn’t route to this area. The approach road is more of a track, and you need to park along the road and follow the rough, narrow pedestrian trail down to the beach.
There are no visitor facilities of any kind here, so a cool-box with snacks and drinks is a must if you intend to spend more than a couple of hours exploring the area.
It is this tranquil isolation that makes Cape Columbo beach so popular with visiting minority groups and mainstream tourists alike, who are looking for the quieter beaches in Santorini. It is a great spot to lay your towel for a couple of hours, and let the world pass you by.
The beach is named after the submerged Columbo Crater, which erupted in the mid-1600s, and is still active today. Although it’s not likely to erupt, you will notice the sea around the area is warmer than normal, heated by the continuing underwater volcanic activity.
Close by is Seal Cave, but only experienced, powerful swimmers should attempt to reach it.
Large and small rockfalls are not uncommon, so sunbathing away from the cliffs is recommended, especially so if heavy rain has fallen the previous day.
3. Perissa Beach, the best beach in Santorini for the entire family
On the south-east coast of the island, just 15km from the airport and 10km from the Port of Athinios, Perissa beach is organised for visitors of all ages, and is one of the most popular family friendly beaches in Santorini.
Nestled beneath the Meso Vouno mountain, which separates the beach from the coastal village of Kamari, it is one of the longest beaches in Santorini.
The blue flag beach area is equipped with sun-loungers and parasols for the sun lovers. While the more active can enjoy an extensive selection of water-sports including diving lessons, wind surfing, para-sailing, jet skiing, and banana boat riding.
If that’s not enough, a popular water park is close by, with flumes and pools for the kids and grown-ups.
For a little light refreshment, or something more substantial, the beachfront has plenty of bars, shops, cafes, and restaurants, where you can enjoy everything from a drink, to snacks or a main meal.
For those who want to spend some time away from the beach, the village of Perissa has local bars and restaurants, and plenty of shops for a little retail therapy and souvenir hunting. If you fancy a change of scenery, there is also a good selection of both coach and boat tours available.
Evenings can be as entertaining or quiet as you like, with bars, clubs, and restaurants along the front and in the village, offering everything from low-key friendly hospitality, to bars and clubs that party on into the night.
4. Vlychada Beach, family friendly with all the visitor facilities
From quiet and secluded, to popular and busy. Vlychada beach, and the village of the same name, are located on the southern coast, 12km from the island capital of Fira, and just 3km from the village of Perivolos.
During summer, a tourist road-train will take you on a coastal sightseeing trip from Vlychada beach, through to Perivolos.
The long grey sand and pebble beach stretches around the bay, with a backdrop of dark grey cliffs and local vegetation. There is one beach shack at the top of the beach, from where you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas, and buy drinks and snacks.
This area stretches a couple of hundred metres along the beach. From there – the towels will have to go on the sand.
Vlychada also has its own working fishing port/marina, and is home to the local sailing club. As you approach the beach you will also notice two tall chimney stacks.
They are all that’s left of a tomato preparation and canning factory, which has now been turned into the Tomato Industrial Museum, and well worth a visit to enjoy a break from the sun.
Around the port area you will find fabulous fish restaurants, tavernas, and bars to enjoy a drink or snack. Before making your way back to your apartment and preparing for the evening’s festivities.
Read also: Where to stay in Santorini: Best areas
5. Kamari Beach, another popular family beach in Santorini
At the front of Kamari village, Kamari beach lies midway down the island’s east coast, just 6km from Kamari airport, and 8km from Fira, the island’s capital.
Kamari beach is another of the island’s most popular beaches. Wide, and at over 5km long, it is also one of the largest beaches in Santorini. A blue flag beach of black volcanic sand, it is fully loaded with all the amenities you would expect from a family resort.
The beach has sunbeds, parasols, and lifeguards. An extensive selection of water-sports are available, including surfing, wind and kite surfing, a diving school, and pedalos for hire.
There is beach volleyball for the more active, and a football pitch just off the beach. You will also find numerous guided tours available, both on land and by sea.
Along the beach promenade, you will find plenty of shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. During the day they supply drinks and snacks to the sunbathers, and in the evening, serve meals and drinks while wooing customers with Greek dancing, popular music, karaoke, and other forms of entertainment.
The village too, has a good selection of bars and eateries, where you can sample homemade cuisine with local beers and wines in a more relaxed atmosphere. Great if you have young children to consider, or a packed itinerary the following day.
Accessibility to the beach and village is easy, with well signed roads and plenty of parking available. Public transport is also good, with an hourly bus service to Fira.
6. Ammoudi Bay, for delicious seafood in a picture perfect setting
Nestled below the village of Oia, on the north-west coast of the island, lies the stunning Ammoudi Bay. A small cove harbour dominated by red hued cliffs rising from the blue Aegean Sea, it is a place for dreamy lunches and romantic evening meals.
With the sea lapping along the harbour wall, the sun bouncing off the whitewashed homes and businesses, and fishing, private, and tour boats bobbing gently at anchor, you can feel the stress disappear, and a calm serenity take its place.
Along the harbour are several cafes, tavernas, and seafood restaurants, where you can relax in the fresh sea air, and watch the world go by.
At the end of the harbour, a scramble over the rocks will get you round the headland to the area favoured by swimmers. Around 100 metres off shore is a large islet which is popular with cliff jumpers.
You can reach the bay via a steep, stepped pathway from Oia village in about 15 minutes, or by cab. If you have a hire car, parking could be problematic.
For a taste of a traditional working Greek fishing village, a visit to Ammoudi Bay has to be on the list.
7. Katharos Beach, not the best beach in Santorini for young children
If you are staying in Oia, you can enjoy another close-by beach. Katharos is another 15-minute walk from the village, in the opposite direction. Although close to Oia, it is one of the most isolated beaches in Santorini.
With dark, sheer, weather worn cliffs, and a rocky, black sand and pebble beach, it is devoid of any commercialism save one taverna, which you will pass on the path to the beach.
If you are arriving by car there is a car park on the cliff top, from where you can walk through the dunes and down to the beach.
It is a beach popular with naturists, and those who just need the sound of the sea, heat of the sun, and splendid isolation to enjoy their holiday.
However, if you’re more of a night-owl than a day bird, it may well prove more interesting. The taverna not only supplies vegan dishes, but is also open 24 hours a day, and organises various parties and events on the beach during full moon nights.
8. Agios Georgios, a popular beach for all ages
On the south-east coast of Santorini at Perivolos, Agios Georgios is an extension of a long beach that runs through Perivolos and on to Vlychada Beach.
With a good choice of amenities on the beach, and excellent water-sport activities available, it is a beach popular with all ages. The grey sand beach is wide and long, allowing for large numbers of visitors, without appearing overly crowded.
Part of the beach is criss-crossed by wooden duckboards, making access for disabled and wheelchair visitors a little easier.
With the beach shelving gently into the blue Aegean Sea, it is safe for young children to splash about in the shallows, under the watchful eyes of the local lifeguard and mum and dad.
Along the beach front you will find many tourist shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. While groups of cypress break up the line of the coast road and the shops, hotels, villas, and apartments behind it.
9. Perivolos Beach, a resort popular with the young and young at heart
One of a group of beaches on the south-eastern side of Santorini. Perivolos is an attractive black sand beach without the boulders, rocks and sharp pebbles associated with so many of the island’s beaches. It is also heavily geared toward the package holiday market.
Situated just 12km from Fira, and 14km from the airport, the beach stretches along the coast, blending with the beaches of Agios Georgios and Vlychada.
There are sunbeds and parasols aplenty, and restaurants and cafes, bars and shops, hotels, apartments, and villas stretch along the front.
Many types of water-sports are available, and boat tours and boat parties come and go throughout the day and evening, while lifeguards patrol the beach.
For the music lovers, DJs bang out their sets from the bars and off the beach. If you prefer things a little quieter, walking further along the beach should solve the problem. Access to the beach is just a short stroll from the numerous hotels, apartments, and from the village itself.
Although one of the favourite beaches in Santorini for the younger set, it is also a popular destination with families who want more than just sun, sand, and sea.
10. White Beach, a beach for the more adventurous
Near the southern tip of the island, close to the village of Akrotiri and next door to the Red Beach, lies the White beach.
Not, as you might expect, a pristine white sand beach, but a grey sand and pebble beach, with a wide stretch of white cliffs rising vertically above it.
The only means of access is an arduous rocky climb across from the Red Beach, or by water taxi, which will drop you off and pick you up.
It is a beach popular with snorkelers, who enjoy exploring the base of the cliffs and boulders that make up the cove, and couples and singles who are happier in quieter surroundings.
There are a few sunbeds and parasols available from the little cave shack on the beach, which also sells water, drinks, and snacks.
11. Monolithos Beach, a family friendly resort for all ages
A ten-minute drive from Kamari airport, on the east coast of the island, sits one of the most popular resort beaches in Santorini. Monolithos Beach is a long, wide stretch of grey volcanic sand, that drops gently into the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
With its shallow inshore waters, lifeguards on duty, and a play park for the little ones, it is a popular destination for families with young children.
The beach area has been divided, with the north of the beach put over for water-sports hire. A large sports complex lies in the centre, where you have the choice of beach volleyball, basketball, football, or table tennis.
While the southern end of the beach has parasols and sunbeds for those who just want to relax, bathe, and catch a few rays.
Along the seafront you will find a full range of cafes, shops, bars, and restaurants to keep everyone happy. While across the road are a good selection of apartments, hotels, and villas. You can also visit the first tomato canning factory that opened on the island.
12. Exo Gialos, a local beach with a popular restaurant
On the west coast of the island, and four kilometres east of the capital Fira, Exo Gialos is one of those natural beaches in Santorini that supply’s just the basic amenities for a day of rest and relaxation by the sea.
The beach is a long stretch of dark volcanic sand and pebbles, protected by high rock formations at one end, and a small fishing port at the other.
A limited number of sunbeds and parasols are available on the beach, and there is a small bar and a well-known local restaurant on the harbour side, which is a popular venue for weddings and other special occasion get-togethers.
Everything on the menu is locally sourced, and the seafood is the freshest of fresh.
At just a few kilometres from Fira, getting to Exo Gialos is straightforward, and takes just a few minutes in a hire car, with the local road running up to the beach.
13. Baxedes (Paradisos), for those who want a quiet holiday
On the northern edge of Santorini, and 3km from the village of Oia, lies Baxedes, or Paradisos beach. A long beach of high cliffs, and dark sand and pebbles, it is a beach popular with visitors looking for quiet, rather than deserted.
Although there is little for younger family members to do, with the beach shelving gently into the water it is safe for young children. Not always the case on some of Santorini’s beaches.
However, care needs to be taken on windy days, when the sea can develop heavy waves breaking on the beach.
The name Baxedes is derived from the Turkish word for garden, when back in the day, the locals made a living from the land, growing and selling produce like cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, peas, carrots, lettuce, and melons.
Several beds and umbrellas are available at one end of the beach, and a couple of café/bars can be found along, or behind, the beach. Access is easy by car, with parking areas off the road as you approach the beach.
14. Pori, a natural beach in Santorini with a traditional Greek village
Pori beach, and its small fishing harbour, sit on the north-eastern coast just 6,5km from the island’s capital. A beautiful unspoilt piece of Santorini, the surrounding area is characterised by local farms, vineyards, and windmills.
Mass tourism hasn’t yet reached this area of the island, and the beach is devoid of any beach amenities.
The pebbly beach is popular with locals during their days off, and the few visitors who have found their ideal venue for a little personal space.
From the nearby resorts, finding Pori by car is easy, with plenty of parking above the beach.
15. Mesa Pigadia Beach, for those who like to get away from it all
On the south-west foot of Santorini, next to the White Beach, lays the pretty little cove beach of Mesa Pigadia. With the usual backdrop of steep, vegetarian topped cliffs, the black pebble beach bends for 200-metres around the bay.
Amenities are minimal, but there is a very popular seafood restaurant on the beach which can supply drinks, snacks, and main meals; and from where you can hire sunbeds and parasols.
Another interesting piece of history that has disappeared from most other beaches are the varkadies. If you look along the base of the cliffs you will see several brightly coloured doorways.
They are the entrances to the varkadies, in Greek meaning boating, or boat store, and were caves converted by the local fishermen to store their boats, nets and other equipment. One or two are still used to this day.
Mesa Pigadia is 4km from Akrotiri. Turning off the main road, the beach is one-kilometre along a dirt track where you can find plenty of parking. It can also be reaches by water taxi from Akrotiri.
If you’re looking for a pleasant, tranquil beach to spend a few hours, or even a few days, Mesa Pigadia should be on the list.
So there we have it. 15 of the best beaches in Santorini. Some busy, surrounded by popular holiday resorts. Some quiet and tranquil, away from the crowds. And some little known, frequented by those who prefer just the sounds of the sea: and the company of nature.