There are few islands in the world as dramatic as Santorini. It’s actually an ancient volcano that rises in a symphony of 300-meter cliffs from the midst of a cobalt Aegean Sea. White-painted Cycladic villages are dotting its summits and uber-romantic honeymoon hotels hidden in the caves with sunset views you’ll never forget.
There’s no doubt that the isle is now among the bucket-list attractions in Greece. Thankfully, getting there from the big capital in Athens shouldn’t be a chore. You can either fly or embark on a sailing adventure through the Greek seas on one of the regular public ferries. Here’s a closer look…
|Athens to Santorini by Plane||50 min||$100||Book Online|
|Athens to Santorini by High-speed Ferry||4.5 h||$89||Book Online|
|Athens to Santorini by Normal Ferry||8 h||$58||Book Online|
Athens to Santorini by Plane
Time – 45-55 minutes (flight time only)
Price – From $100 per person
Comfort – 5/5
You can have a relaxed breakfast under the gaze of the Parthenon by morning and be exploring the cubist towns of Santorini by afternoon thanks to the uber-regular flight connections that now operate out of the Greek capital. There are plenty to pick from, but that’s to be expected since Santorini is probably the most famous island in the whole country. You’re looking at over 10 departures each day, and potentially even more than that in the peak summer months between May and August.
Award-winning Aegean Airlines or their subsidiary Olympic Air operates most of the links. They’re the Greek national flag carrier and have one of the most comprehensive networks of flights between the various islands and mainland cities in the nation, including a whopping seven departures to Santorini from Athens each day. There are also flights with SKY Express, which do tend to be just a touch cheaper overall, though are likely to leave at less convenient times in the late evening.
Flying from Athens to Santorini is the quickest way to swap the Acropolis for the Aegean Sea, but expect to pay over $100 for the luxury.
It’s possible to score airfare on this route for around the $100 mark, but those low rates are usually limited to shoulder seasons like spring and fall. More commonly, passengers will pay around $150-200 each for the ride, plus $20-30 more for checked luggage, which doesn’t come as standard with any of the carriers mentioned above. If you’re beginning your trip in downtown Athens, you’ll probably also have to pay the $10 charge for the metro to the departures terminal in the morning.
Flights to Santorini leave the Greek capital from the main Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (ATH). It’s the only one in Athens and is linked to the historic core of the city by direct train lines. Your arrival will be at Santorini Airport (JTR). That’s located on the eastern side of the island. From there, you can hop in a taxi to any town you like. Expect to pay $25 to get to the capital of Fira, and more to the romantic village of Oia on the north coast. There are also shuttle buses that go to Fira for around $17 per person.
Athens to Santorini by High-speed Ferry
Time – 4.5 hours
Price – $89+
Comfort – 3/5
SeaJets now operate two high-speed ferries straight from Athens to Santorini. The fastest takes in the region of 4.5 hours to trade the big city for the volcanic island. They are a fun way to travel, offering views of the idyllic Saronic Islands and then the open Aegean Sea before coming into port. Sadly, these quicker boats aren’t the comfiest mode of transport and should probably be avoided if you’re prone to seasickness, particularly in the windier winter and spring months.
The fast ferries from Athens to Santorini are run by SeaJets and take under five hours to cross the breadth of the northern Aegean Sea as they go from A to B.
You’ll be leaving out of Piraeus. It’s the largest port in the Greek capital and has been a major interchange for ships crossing the Mediterranean since ancient times. The boats you’re looking for are midsized catamaran-style vessels, sometimes with an underbelly for cars, and indoor and outdoor spaces for walk-on passengers. The first of the day – the Worldchampion Jet – is the speediest of the duo, leaving Athens at 7am to arrive in Santorini at 11.45pm. The second departs at 7.40am and gets in at 1.15pm.
Your arrival point in Santorini is the Athinios Ferry Port. It’s a smack dab on the caldera side of the island, directly at the base of the cliffs. It can be hectic disembarking there, what with a sudden surge of passengers and a foray of jostling taxi drivers to deal with. Still, you should find regular public buses and private cars ready and waiting to take you up the zigzagging road to your hotel. The trip is about 20 minutes to the island capital of Fira.
Athens to Santorini by Normal Ferry
Time – 8-9 hours
Price – $58
Comfort – 4/5
Although it can take nearly nine hours to move from the Greek capital to the soaring cliffs and volcanic beaches of Santorini on the slow ferry, we think there’s plenty to be said for this reliable mode of transport. First off, it’s WAY more stable than the zippy catamaran boats run by SeaJets, so lends itself to traveling land lubbers who don’t do well on the waves. Secondly, it’s cheaper than the quick boats, coming in at something like $58-90 for the whole trip.
You can’t miss these big ferries. They are among the larger vessels docked up at Piraeus port. They’re also emblazoned with the distinct blue and yellow livery of their parent company: Blue Star Ferries. There are multiple class options on these, ranging from basic deck seating to numbered seating, and even private cabins that will ensure you have your own bed and chill space for the whole trip. You probably won’t need that, though, since these boats travel during the daytime, leaving Athens at 7.25am for arrival in Santorini just before 2pm.
The normal ferries take up to nine hours to Santorini, but they are better if you suffer from seasickness and offer amazing views of the Aegean islands along the way.
The slower ferries are great if you want to enjoy the views as you go. There’s plenty to see, what with the temple-topped shores of Aegina rolling by immediately after departure and then potential stops in famous members of the Cyclades chain along the way – Naxos, Mykonos. You’ll get a big, spacious deck area to witness the islands drifting by, too, along with interior cabin spaces that boast their own fully-fledged buffet restaurants and stocked bars.
The arrival point over in Santorini is the same as for the catamarans: Athinios Ferry Port. You’ll also need to get to the same port in Athens on the morning of your departure. That’s easy because there’s a direct metro link from the center of the city. It takes 40 minutes and costs just $1 a pop. Look for the trains to Piraeus. These larger ferries run throughout the whole year but expect a thinned-out schedule during the colder winter months.
They say that everyone should see Santorini at least once in their lifetime. It’s hard to disagree. The island lurches from the inky blue Aegean Sea like some sort of sleeping giant. It’s home to handsome towns like Fira and famous honeymoon spots like Oia, hosts ancient ruins, and has swimming bays of crystal-clear water. Oh, and the sunsets here might just be the very best in the whole wide world.
To get over from Athens, you can either pay extra to fly and do the trip in less than an hour or opt for the ferries, which usually take between five and nine hours.
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