Santorini in Winter – Wander Without the Crowds

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Santorini in Winter was all we expected and more … We’d heard that Santorini was something not to be missed; that it was breathtaking and a bucket list destination.

It not only lived up to our expectations, but because it was winter, we had this beautiful island almost to ourselves. 

It was December, and we were on our Campervan Europe Trip and were on our Greece Road Trip.

As we were so close to the many Greek Islands, we decided to take a trip to the one we had heard so much about, Santorini.


Oia, Santorini town built on a hill overlooking the sea
Oia, Santorini, in winter

There are plenty of reasons to visit Greece, but if you want to visit Santorini for swimming and to sunbathe at its beautiful beaches and are looking for great nightlife, then a winter visit isn’t for you. The weather is not guaranteed to be warm in winter and the nightclubs are closed.

If you are not concerned about those things, however, then read on for all the reasons Santorini in winter is fabulous.

Planning a Trip to Greece?

Why a Visit to Santorini in Winter is Perfect

  • The cost of accommodation is far less in the winter months
  • The hordes of tourists that fill the island to the brim in Summer are relatively few
  • Exploring and hiking the landscape of Santorini is much more comfortable with the cooler weather.
  • The weather is relatively warmer than in most of Europe
  • You can photograph Santorini’s sights without hundreds of tourists in your shot
  • Car rental in Santorini is cheaper in the off-peak season.


The average temperature in the winter months in Santorini ranges from a low of 10 to a high of 15 degrees C with the highest rainfall is in December.

We were in Santorini for five days at the beginning of December and were lucky to have only one day of rain. The temperature also reached 18 degrees on two of our five days.

Go here for more information on Santorini’s weather.

Donkeys being walked through Oia, Santorini
Beautiful sunny day in Oia, Santorini in December – work as usual for the construction worker donkeys


In wintertime in Santorini, the nightclubs are closed as well as some restaurants and hotels.

However, due to the overcrowding of the island in Summer, more tourists are choosing to visit Santorini in Winter.

As a result, more Santorini restaurants and hotels are remaining open to cater for the change.


The main bus system is run by KTel and each route runs directly from Fira, the capital of Santorini. To get to each town on the island you need to depart from Fira each time.

We wanted the flexibility to explore the island in our own time and were able to hire a rental car for 25 Euro/day.

 Hiring a small car, gave us the opportunity to see the furthest parts of the island and made the trip so much easier.

A three-day hire was the perfect amount of time for our five-day trip.

It was a wise decision to leave the campervan behind, as our plan to tackle the little out-of-the-way places with their tight access ways, definitely required a small vehicle.




The beautiful hotel ‘Heliotopos’, that we stayed in, was situated on the cliffs in the town of Imerovigli. It had superb panoramic coastal views both to the north and south.

The hospitality and the quality of homemade food were second to none, which certainly set the mood for our December visit to Santorini.

Entrance to Heliotopos Hotel, Santorini
Entrance to Heliotopis Hotel in Imerovogli, Santorini

If you do not have a hire car, it would probably be more convenient for you to stay at a hotel located in Fira so that you have easy access to 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, along the Caldera, (Caldera means crater). There are plenty of paths, alleys and stairwells to explore in this area with beautiful views along the coast.

The pretty laneways of Imerovigli, Santorini
The pretty laneways of Imerovigli, Santorini


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 it 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 we 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
Skaros Rock Santorini
The Chapel of Panagia Theoskepastion Skaros Rock
The Chapel of Panagia Theoskepastion Skaros Rock, Santorini
view of Oia from  Skaros Rock santorini
View of  white cliff top villages of Santorini as seen from Skaros Rock


On the day we drove to the renowned town of Oia, the sun shone and it was a perfect 18 degrees C.

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

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

Santorini blue and white buildings
Oia with its iconic blue and white buildings of Santorini
Blue and white buildings with a windmill on Santorini in winter
Santorini sights
Santorini views in winter
View out to sea at Oia, Santorini 

During our walk around the many winding pathways of Oia, we heard a raised voice and the clacking of hooves.

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.

Donkeys were definitely the preferred mode of transport for these steep cliff pathways as there was no way a motor vehicle could fit. Over the next few days, we realised that it was common to see a procession of these untethered loaded donkeys, each following the next in single file, on their way to a job site.

Donkeys ladened with stones for building construction in Santorini in winter
Donkeys laden with stones for building construction in Santorini in winter
Oia donkey owner getting a ride in Santorini


Atlantis Books was listed on the number one spot of the National Geographic top bookstores in its book Destinations of a Lifetime.

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

Atlantis Bookstore in Oia Santorini
Atlantis Bookstore in Oia Santorini


Geocaching is great to do while travelling, as the hidden spots are often in places that the locals know about but aren’t advertised as tourist spots.

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

Vothonos old school built into a hill in Santorini
Vothonos old school built into a hill in Santorini
Whitewashed church with its blue dome in Santorini.
One of the many beautifully kept Greek Orthodox churches in Vothonos, Santorini


Pyrgos is about 7km from the capital Fira and has the meandering cobbled laneways and steep steps that are so representative of Santorini. 

At the highest point on Pyrgos, you’ll find the ruins of the castle, destroyed by an earthquake in 1956. From here you can enjoy uninterrupted views across to Fira and Oia.

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


Take a walk along the dark volcanic sands of Perissa Beach and watch the sunset turn the rocks to gold.

sands of Perissa Beach in Santorini
Perissa Beach Santorini – winter views without the crowds


Head up the winding drive to stop near the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain. This is where the Ancient Thera ruins are found. From here, you have fantastic views of Kamari Beach.

Kamari Beach view from above in santorini
View of Kamari Beach, Santorini
Windy road up the Meso Vouno Mountain
Windy road up the Meso Vouno Mountain


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

Here great views of the island’s western coastline and headlands could be seen, accentuated by the townships of whitewashed buildings along the cliffs.

Akotiri Lighthouse in santorini Greece
Akrotiri Lighthouse in Santorini

GOOD TO KNOW For Winter in Santorini


We researched the suitability of the island for motorhomes and it didn’t look particularly suitable. Also, it was cheaper for us to fly and leave the motorhome in Athens with Megaparking. 

We left the van near Athens airport in Megaparking and booked online via Parkcloud.


Car Rental: We rented a small run around

🚘 If you are looking to hire a car then we recommend DiscoverCars.
They find us the best deal around and they also have a price match guarantee.

✍️ Get a quote from them here


Heliotopis Hotel Bedroom Santorini

We found a fantastic winter deal at the Heliotopos Hotel, Imerovigli, — a fantastic boutique hotel that we found absolutely wonderful. The staff could not do enough for us and were extremely helpful.

Located at the highest point of the caldera, Heliotopos is a boutique hotel built in the traditional dome style. It offers uniquely decorated rooms with private balconies overlooking the volcano.

Rated 9.2 Click Here for more info.

For more hotel deals in Santorini check out here.

Santorini in Winter … That’s a Wrap

All too soon, our five-day, wonderful winter visit to Santorini drew to a close. It was nice to have a small hiatus from the camper but to be honest, we were quite looking forward to getting back to our home on wheels. It certainly feels like ‘home’, even though it is rarely in the same place for more than a few days on our road-tripping adventures.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Santorini or any tips you may have when visiting.

If you enjoyed this post why not Pin and Save for later

Winter Santorini pinterest pin



These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

Photo of author


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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