Santorini in Winter – Wander Without the Crowds

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Winter transforms Santorini, peeling back the summer crowds to unveil a quieter, more intimate beauty. Unlike the bustling summer months, our visit this season allowed us to experience the island’s stunning vistas and quaint streets in near solitude.

During our extensive travels across Europe, particularly on our road trip through Greece, we’ve honed our skills in off-peak travel and budget adventures, discovering popular destinations and hidden gems.

Our five-day stay, a highlight of our broader Campervan Europe Trip, showcased Santorini as an ideal out-of-season retreat. Winter is perfect for wandering through Santorini’s picturesque villages, avoiding the summer heat and crowds.

With cooler weather, reduced prices, and more space to explore, winter lets you truly appreciate the serene beauty of places like Oia and the genuine charm of local life—elements often overshadowed during the tourist-heavy months.

Join me as I share why a winter visit to Santorini is an experience not to be missed.

Oia’s white buildings ©Lifejourney4two

Why Visit Santorini in Winter?

Santorini transforms into a tranquil paradise in the winter months, offering unique advantages that are absent during the bustling summer season.

Fewer Crowds, Lower Costs

Visiting Santorini in the winter helps you avoid the crowds and saves you money, making it the perfect time for budget-conscious travellers.

Here’s how you can benefit:

  • Expect lower accommodation costs and cheaper car rentals during the winter months. We found a fantastic winter deal at the beautiful boutique hotel Heliotopos Hotel, Imerovigli.
  • Enjoy the serenity of Santorini without the usual throngs of tourists, experiencing a quieter and more authentic side of the island.

The Benefits of Santorini’s Cooler Season

The cooler months bring out a different side of Santorini, ideal for those who prefer a more laid-back and scenic holiday experience. Here are a couple of reasons why the cooler season might be the best time to visit:

  • Winter offers a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing you to appreciate the island’s beauty at your own pace.
  • Winter is an excellent time for hiking and exploring the picturesque landscapes of Santorini.
Blue and white church on Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

Understanding Santorini’s Winter Climate

During our visit in December, we experienced Santorini’s winter weather, which generally ranges from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. The island often basks in milder conditions compared to much of Europe; we even enjoyed a pleasant 18 degrees Celsius on some days.

December typically brings cooler temperatures mixed with sunny days and some intermittent showers. January and February are the coldest months, marked by more frequent showers and a notable drop in temperature.

The entire winter season is also characterised by windy conditions.

We found December’s climate quite comfortable—not quite swimming weather, but perfect for hiking. The brief showers made way for extended sunny periods, leaving us with nothing but good things to say about the weather in December.

🔆 Quick Climate Summary 🔆

Get acquainted with what to expect from the weather during your winter visit with our quick climate guide.

  • Temperature Range: 10°C to 15°C, with occasional highs of 18°C.
  • Weather Patterns:
    • December: Cool with sunny spells and intermittent showers.
    • January & February: Coldest months with more frequent showers and a noticeable temperature drop.
    • Overall: Windy throughout the winter months.
  • Experience: It is ideal for hiking. The cooler, wetter days are often followed by continuous sunshine, making the December climate enjoyable despite not being warm enough for swimming.

🌦️ For more details on the Santorini weather during the off-peak season, click here.

Warm clothes on a sunny winter day during a hike to Skaros Rock ©Lifejourney4two

Map of Santorini With Places to Visit

Explore the best of Santorini with our interactive map, pinpointing all the must-visit spots ideal for a winter getaway.

Oia, not a soul in sight during our Santorini winter visit ©Lifejourney4two

Local Life in Santorini During Winter

🎉 Festivals and Cultural Events

Despite its quieter ambience, winter in Santorini is lively, with local festivals and cultural events that offer a deep dive into the island’s rich traditions.

These events provide a unique opportunity to experience Santorini beyond its scenic landscapes, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Views of the caldera ©Lifejourney4two

Here are some highlights of what you can expect during the winter months:

  • Local Gatherings: While many restaurants close, some remain open with reduced hours to accommodate winter visitors. Local cafes, particularly those favoured by residents, continue to serve as hubs of community life, offering a warm place to enjoy a spirited discussion over ouzo or Santorini wine.
  • Nightlife: Although most nightclubs are closed for the season, several bars, especially in Fira, remain open, ensuring that the nightlife doesn’t completely fade away.
  • Religious Festivities: Many Greek churches celebrate their patron saints during winter, hosting special services and communal gatherings with food and wine. These are open to visitors, offering a warm welcome and a taste of local traditions.
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Additionally, for those seeking tranquillity and breathtaking views, consider visiting a cafe or bar in Oia, Fira, or Imerovigli. These spots offer sweeping views of the caldera—a sunken volcano mouth surrounded by steep-walled villages overlooking the bay.

For a laid-back evening, the beach-side villages of Perissa and Kamari, with their bars and cafes, provide a relaxed setting.

Here are just a few of the winter festivals in Santorini:

  • November: Agioi Anargyroi celebrated in Messaria village.
  • December: Various feasts like Agios Nikolaos in Thira, Agia Anni in Vothonos, and more in villages like Pyrgos and Emporio.
  • Early January: The public holiday Feast of Epiphany, observed across Greece.
  • February: Festival of Panagia of Trypa in Vothonos.

By attending these events, you can truly engage with the heart of Santorini, experiencing its hospitality and enduring charm even during the cooler months.

Quiet streets in winter, Oia ©Lifejourney4two

Things to Do in Santorini in Winter

1. Explore Imerovigli

The beautiful hotel Heliotopos, situated on the cliffs of Imerovigli, was our accommodation for five days. It has superb panoramic coastal views north, south, and over the caldera.

The hospitality and the quality of homemade food were second to none, which certainly put us in high spirits for our December visit to Santorini.

heliotopos hotel entrance
Entrance to Heliotopis Hotel in Imerovogli, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

If you do not have a hire car, it would probably be more convenient for you to stay at a hotel in Fira to easily access the local buses. Imerovigli is about half an hour’s walk from Fira.

Imerovigli is the most elevated town on the western side of the island. There are plenty of paths, alleys and stairwells to explore in this area, with beautiful views along the coast. A short 2.2km walk from Imerovigli to Fira is one walk to consider.

The pretty laneways of Imerovigli, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

2. Walk to Skaros Rock

Skaros Rock, a rocky protruding headland that used to be the medieval capital of Santorini, was walking distance from our hotel at Imerovigli.

It was an easy downhill descent to ‘the Rock’. However, remember to keep enough fuel in the tank for the steep ascent on the way back.

The medieval town of Skaros was built around Skaros Rock and used to be densely populated. However, due to earthquakes, the people gradually drifted away to take up residence in Fira, the current capital of Santorini.

We walked to the far side of the rock and were pleasantly surprised to find a remote chapel. The Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti faces the horizon and is tucked completely out of sight from the mainland.

Skaros Rock, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two
The Chapel of Panagia Theoskepastion Skaros Rock during our Santorini December visit ©Lifejourney4two
View of white cliff top villages of Santorini as seen from Skaros Rock ©Lifejourney4two

3. Visit Oia

The day we drove to the renowned town of Oia, the sun shone and was a perfect 18 degrees C. Seeing Santorini in December like this was just gorgeous.

It was surreal to walk among the picture-postcard iconic blue and white buildings of Oia that we had seen in many magazines and online, especially given that they were missing the crowds.

Oia, with its iconic blue and white buildings of Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

It was captivating wandering through the winding walkways, all the time surrounded by vivid whitewashed limestone buildings with their bright blue trappings.

Visiting Santorini in the winter is a quiet experience ©Lifejourney4two
View from our Heliotopos hotel room, Imerovigli, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

While walking around the many winding pathways of Oia, we heard a raised voice and hooves clacking.

Eager to investigate, we rounded the next bend and saw about ten donkeys ascending the paved steps. They were loaded heavily with stones for the nearby building works.

Donkey laden with stones for building construction in Santorini in winter ©Lifejourney4two

Donkeys and mules were the preferred transport mode for these steep cliff pathways, as a motor vehicle would not fit.

Over the next few days, we realised that it was common to see a procession of these untethered loaded animals, each following the next in single file, on their way to a job site.

Winter in Santorini isn’t all about relaxing, there’s still work to be done ©Lifejourney4two

4. Drop By Atlantis Bookstore in Oia

In Destinations of a Lifetime, Atlantis Books was listed in the number one spot of the National Geographic top bookstores.

When you enter this cave-like store, you can smell the musty history of the precious treasures. If you love reading and getting lost in the shelves of quirky bookstores, this is the place for you.

Atlantis Bookstore in Oia, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

5.  Search for Santorini’s Hidden Geocaches

Geocaching is great for travelling, as the hidden spots are often in places the locals know about but aren’t advertised as tourist spots. It’s perfect for a visit in winter when it’s more comfortable to hike in cooler weather.

Vothonos Old School built into a hill in Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

One of our geocache locations took us to an old abandoned school built into a hill at Vothonos. Surprisingly and a little eery were the old school tables and chairs in place.

Old school furniture ©Lifejourney4two

6. Walk the Village Streets of Pyrgos

Pyrgos is about 7km from the capital, Fira, and the highest village in Santorini. Not surprisingly, it has the meandering cobbled laneways and steep steps typical of Santorini. Blue-domed churches are a regular feature of the Prygos landscape.

Church of Aghios Nikolaos, Pyrgos, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two
St George Church, Pyrgos Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

At the highest point on Pyrgos, you’ll find the castle of Pyrgos ruins, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1956.

From here, you can enjoy uninterrupted views across Fira and Oia.

Views all the way to Oia and Fira from Pyrgos ©Lifejourney4two

7. Chill Out at Perissa Beach

Walk along Perissa Beach’s dark volcanic sands and watch the sunset turn the rocks to gold. The ancient city of Elefsina is thought to have stood here. 

Perissa Beach is a quiet get-away spot, and the sheltered water makes for good swimming. If visiting Santorini without a car, a bus travels between Fira and Perissa Beach.

Perissa Beach, Santorini – winter views without the crowds ©Lifejourney4two

8. Birds Eye View from Meso Vouno Mountain

Mount Mesa Vouno is located on the southeastern shore of the island of Santorini, separating the two famous towns of Kamari and Perissa. Head up the long winding drive to stop near the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain.

From here, you have wonderful views of Kamari Beach.

This is where the Ancient Thera ruins, dating back to the 9th century B.C., are found. The ruins are open in winter from 08.30 am to 3.30 pm, except Wednesday, when they are closed.

Ancient Thira Hiking Experience
| ⏳ Tour Length: 4 hours |  Private Tour | Hotel Pickup
🦭 Check Rates and Availability

View of Kamari Beach, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two
Winding road up the Meso Vouno Mountain ©Lifejourney4two

9. Pay A Visit to Akrotiri Lighthouse and Thera Ruins

The pretty Akrotiri Lighthouse is at the southernmost tip of Santorini. It’s a picturesque scene. The land fronting the lighthouse gently falls away into the sea, and the nearby hills stand watch from above.

This place of solitude offers great views of the island’s western coastline, dotted by townships of whitewashed buildings along the cliffs.

Nearby are the ancient ruins of Akrotiri of Thera. This archaeological site dates back to 4500 B.C. The entire ancient city was buried under volcanic ashes following a massive eruption and subsequent city builds have also suffered the same fate.

It is an undercover site, providing shelter from the weather with paid entry.

Traditional Villages & Ancient Akrotiri Private Tour
⭐️ Rating: 5/5 Stars
| ⏳ Tour Length: 5 hours |  Private Tour | Hotel Pickup
🦭 Check Rates and Availability

Akrotiri Lighthouse seen during our December Santorini visit ©Lifejourney4two

Outdoor Activities at Santorini

With the hectic summer crowds all but disappeared, Santorini revels in the quietness, making it a great time to indulge in various outdoor activities that allow you to experience Santorini differently.

Here are our top picks to make the most of the winter season:

🥾 Hiking the Caldera Path: Winter offers cooler temperatures ideal for the wonderful hike from Fira to Oia. This allows you to enjoy the breathtaking views along the caldera without the summer heat.

🧭 Exploring Ancient Sites: Visit the ancient ruins of Akrotiri, a well-preserved prehistoric town that offers insights into the early civilization that once thrived on the island. Check availability

📸 Photography Walks: With fewer tourists, winter is an excellent time for photography enthusiasts to capture Santorini’s stunning architecture and dramatic landscapes without crowds.

🍷 Visiting Local Vineyards: Santorini is known for its unique vineyards. Take a tour to learn about the traditional methods of wine production and enjoy some tastings. Consider this, three wineries and one brewery tour.

🚶🏼‍➡️Walking Tours in Traditional Villages: Explore the charming villages of Pyrgos and Megalochori. Their narrow, winding paths and traditional houses offer a more authentic glimpse of Santorini life.

🌅 Enjoying the Sunset: Although famous from Oia, the winter sunsets are equally majestic and less crowded than those from other parts of the island, like Imerovigli or the Akrotiri Lighthouse. Consider this top-sight day trip, with wine tasting and Oia sunset.

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Santorini Winter Photography

Capture the unique winter light and quieter scenes with our guide to the best spots for photography in Santorini during the cooler months.

Capture stunning photographs of the winter light over the caldera, the picturesque streets and the many captivating blue and white buildings of Santorini.

Taking advantage of the softer winter light, particularly during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, will offer a softer, fuller spectrum of colours.

There are many great photography locations around Santorini, the Akrotiri lighthouse being one. The best time to visit Akrotiri is just before sunset.

Why not join this Santorini photography tour, rated at 5 stars, to the best locations on the island with a local professional photographer.

A Santorini winter sunset ©Lifejourney4two

Santorini Winter Hotels and Accommodations

It’s no secret that Santorini is the jewel of the Mediterranean and a bucket-list destination for many. Over a year, visitor numbers to this tiny island swell to more than 1.5 million, making it sometimes challenging to find places to stay in Santorini.

The great news is that most of these visits fall outside Santorini’s winter season.

🏨 So what does this mean for a winter visit when you need a place to stay?

Many boutique hotels and villas offer significant discounts to attract off-season visitors. This provides a wonderful opportunity to stay in luxury accommodations at a fraction of their usual price.

🛏 We love using Booking. com because many options include free cancellation, saving you money if your plans change. ⭐️ Search for your accommodation deals here ⭐️

Inside our luxury Heliotopos villa, Imerovigli ©Lifejourney4two

Explore the various boutique hotels and villas offering off-season rates. Places like the Heliotopos Hotel provide cozy, luxurious stays with exceptional views. There are many options for all budgets.

I’ve mentioned it before, but our deal was less than 50% of the summer price you could expect to pay, so we jumped at the chance.

Heliotopis Hotel Bedroom Santorini

Heliotopos Hotel, Imerovigli — a fantastic boutique hotel where the staff could not do enough for us and were extremely helpful.

The hotel is built in the traditional dome style and is located at the highest point of the caldera.

For more hotel deals in Santorini check out here.

Practical Winter Travel Tips for Santorini

Navigating Santorini in Winter: Transport Tips

Public Transport Options

KTel Santorini Buses operates the main bus system, with Fira, the Greek island’s capital, as its hub. Operating year-round with reduced service during winter, it is one of the cheapest ways to traverse the island of Santorini.

Tickers are purchased on the bus using cash. Check the Santorini bus times here.

Car Rental Advice

Renting a car can be much more affordable in winter, allowing you to explore remote parts of the island at your leisure. We rented a small car and paid just €25 per day instead of double this price in peak season.

The rental car agency was very obliging. Since we were staying in Imerovigli and they were officed in Oia, they kindly delivered the car to our accommodation.

Most visitors spend 4 to 5 days on a trip to Santorini. Even though Santorini is a small island, there is much to see in every part of the island.

🚗 We hired a car for our 5 days in Santorini allowing us to minimise travel time and make the most of the important things we wanted to see. This meant we didn’t have to rush from one attraction to another or worry about public transport schedules.

Our five days in Santorini were the perfect amount of time.

🚘 If you are looking to hire a car then we recommend DiscoverCars.

  • They are winners of the World’s Best Car Rental Booking Website
  • They have a Price Match Guarantee.
  • 4.5 Rating on Trustpilot
  • Free Cancellation

✍️ Grab a great quote from them here

Tips for Enjoying Santorini’s Winter Season

What to Pack for Winter in Santorini

  • Layered Clothing: Pack a mix of long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, and a warm jacket to adjust to changing temperatures.
  • Warm Jacket: A wind-resistant jacket is essential for chilly evenings.
  • Comfortable Pants: Jeans or trousers will keep you warm on cooler days.
  • Scarf, Hat, and Gloves: Important clothing accessories for added warmth during brisk mornings and evenings.
  • Sturdy Walking Shoes: Comfortable shoes are necessary for navigating Santorini’s steep and uneven paths.
  • Water-resistant Shoes: Ideal for handling the occasional wet weather during the winter.
Pretty streets of Imerovogli, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

Practical Tips for Winter Travel in Santorini

  1. Accommodation Choices: Many hotels and rentals offer significant discounts during the off-season. Book in advance to secure the best deals and ensure availability, as some places might close for the winter.
  2. Transportation: While public transport is less frequent, it’s still operational. Consider renting a car for more flexibility in exploring remote areas of the island. Check for winter rates, which are often much lower than peak season.
  3. Dining Out: Check which restaurants are open, as many are closed for the winter. Those that remain open might have reduced hours.
  4. Weather Preparedness: The weather can be unpredictable, with the possibility of rain and strong winds. Check the weather forecast and consider having some flexibility in your itinerary that allows for indoor activities on bad weather days.
  5. Explore Like a Local: With fewer tourists, winter is an excellent time to experience local life. Join seasonal events or festivals and chat with the locals to enrich your Santorini experience.
  6. Photography Opportunities: The softer winter light and fewer tourists create excellent photography conditions. Sunrise and sunset times shift, so plan your photography sessions to capture the best light.
A bit of fun…our Evzone guard impressions ©Lifejourney4two

Essential Greek Phrases for Your Santorini Adventure

Here are some essential Greek phrases you might find useful during your stay in Santorini. I’ve included the Greek lettering too:)

  • Hello/Goodbye – Γειά σου (Ya sou) [Informal] / Γειά σας (Ya sas) [Formal]
  • Please/Thank you – Παρακαλώ (Parakaló) / Ευχαριστώ (Efcharistó)
  • Yes/No – Ναι (Nai) / Όχι (Ohi)
  • Excuse me/Sorry – Συγγνώμη (Signómi)
  • How much is this? – Πόσο κοστίζει αυτό; (Póso kostízei aftó?)
  • Where is the bathroom? – Πού είναι η τουαλέτα; (Poú eínai i toualéta?)
  • I would like… – Θα ήθελα… (Tha íthela…)
  • Do you speak English? – Μιλάτε αγγλικά; (Miláte angliká?)
  • I don’t understand – Δεν καταλαβαίνω (Den katalavéno)
  • Help! – Βοήθεια! (Voíthia!)
A pretty home in Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

Frequently Asked Questions

🥰 Is it worth visiting Santorini in winter?

Absolutely. Winter is a great time to visit Santorini. The hectic crowds have left, accommodation and travel costs are minimal, and you can experience the true Santorini.

🤔 Is Santorini closed in winter?

No, Santorini is not closed in winter. Whilst some restaurants and bars close their doors, many have reduced opening hours or continue with normal service. Public transport is available but with reduced availability.

❄️ Can you go to Santorini in winter?

Yes, we visited Santorini in winter, purposely timing our visit to coincide with the quieter off-season months. This was to ensure a more intimate experience with Santorini. It was definitely the right decision.

🌦️ What is the weather like in Santorini in winter?

The weather in Santorini in winter was cold with some intermittent showers but with long periods of sunny days. The weather was in our favour most of the time and did not negatively impact our visit in any way.

Blue and white… colours of the Greek flag, Santorini ©Lifejourney4two

Santorini in Winter – That’s a Wrap

As our journey through Santorini’s quiet winter landscape ends, we’re left with unforgettable memories of the quieter side of this iconic island.

From the breathtaking caldera walks to the intimate local festivals, winter in Santorini offers a unique blend of beauty, tranquillity, and cultural richness just waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re strolling through the charming lanes of Imerovigli or watching the sunset paint the sky from the Akrotiri Lighthouse, Santorini in winter is not to be missed.

Pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare for an adventure that will leave you with stories to tell for a lifetime. There are undoubtedly plenty of reasons to visit Greece, and enjoying its popular islands in winter is the key to avoiding the crowds.

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

12 thoughts on “Santorini in Winter – Wander Without the Crowds”

  1. Perfect timing for this post! Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and in-depth information you offer. You’ve really covered up almost all the possible info that every traveler should follow. Worth sharing! Please do continue sharing updates! Thanks!

  2. Lars and Shelley, What a great collection of ideas for a winter visit to Santorini. We also went in winter, and as you said, practically had the place to ourselves. It was bliss. We were intrigued by all the home renovation going on then. Evidently winter is the perfect time because they use donkeys to pack all the materials and debris both in and out along the steep pathways. Tourists would just complicate the job. All the best, Terri

  3. Santorini is my dream destination, I will go there very soon.

    Thanks for your awesome travel guide.
    Photos are really mind-blowing.

    • Thanks Patricia – those pics were interesting weren’t they. I think it’s always a bit eerie seeing old school desks just abandoned. It’s as if the life that was once around them lingers on … Shelley x

    • Thank you so much x It was beautiful, and we were blessed with the weather. To see Oia with a clear blue sky above the iconic blue and white, without the crowds, was an unexpected and welcome pleasure indeed!


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