Beaches of Santorini

The beaches of Santorini are anything but ordinary. Unlike the typical golden sands and turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, this volcanic island features a rugged and rocky coastline shaped by its volcanic past—and present. From multicoloured cliffs to the dark sands of its more accessible shores, Santorini offers a unique beach experience. In this article, I will share tips to help you plan your visit to this stunning island, ensuring you find the perfect spot for a memorable beach holiday.


Forget Golden Sands on Santorini

For those seeking a lazy holiday on a golden beach, it’s worth noting: beaches of Santorini may not be your ideal destination. The island is renowned for its dramatically beautiful views and ancient volcanic remains, rather than for typical sandy beaches. Here, the sand is dark and absorbs so much sun that it becomes scorchingly hot, making it nearly impossible to walk on barefoot.

Finding a sandy beach on Santorini is no easy task, though our mobile guide to Santorini might offer some assistance. The majority of the coastline is either rocky or pebbly, and access to the water often requires navigating challenging terrains. However, there are a few beaches that offer a gentle slope down to the sea, making them all the more precious.

Most Luxurious: Kamari

Though Kamari Beach is the best-equipped and regarded as the most luxurious on the island, it is essentially pebbly, blanketed with countless smooth, water-washed stones and pebbles. The descent to the water involves navigating a steep slope covered with small stones, which can be challenging and is certainly inconvenient.

Despite this, Kamari remains a notably pleasant tourist destination, quieter than the bustling towns of Thira or Oia. Perched on the towering Mesa Vouno mountain, the fascinating ruins of ancient Thera await exploration. This site is one of the most picturesque archaeological locations in Greece, according to our perspective. (Did I mention that you can explore these ruins with our audioguide?)

Best Sand: Perissa

For those planning a family beach holiday with children eager to splash in warm waters, you might want to consider other islands. Although Perissa/Perivolos boasts the best of sandy beaches of Santorini, it features a long strip of dark, firmly compacted sand that can be challenging for building sandcastles. The surrounding infrastructure and entertainment options for children are quite limited, both in the area and across the island. The terrain is flat, offering a relatively gentle descent into the water with fewer rocks and stones than is typical for Santorini. However, be prepared for crowds, as this beach tends to attract quite a lot of visitors.

Most Beautiful: Red Beach

Red Beach is a standout destination in the Greek islands and a significant draw for many visitors to Santorini. Nestled at the base of stunning, dramatic red cliffs, this narrow strip of rocky and sandy coastline offers a view that is undeniably worth experiencing. The beach itself lacks amenities and can become extremely crowded during high season and is often filled with sunbeds. Yet, the breathtaking cliffs remain visible and are particularly striking. For the best views, visit on a sunny day or in the afternoon when the sun’s lower angle enhances the vibrant red of the cliffs.

As one of the most visited spots on the island, expect crowds not only in high season but throughout the year.

And maybe… Monolithos?

When examining a physical map of Santorini, the relatively flat eastern shore stands out. Indeed, here lies Monolithos Beach—a reasonably wide and flat stretch of sand. The sand here is lighter than at Perissa, and the beach is less crowded, likely due to its proximity to an airport and a power station, with fewer tourist attractions nearby. If you’re searching for a beach that more closely resembles those of other Greek islands, yet still offers decent infrastructure, Monolithos is worth considering.

For more detailed information on these and other beaches of Santorini, feel free to download our mobile guide. Along with a guide to the island’s beaches and attractions, we offer unique audio guides to ancient Thera and a trail guide to Oia along the edge of the caldera.

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