Framed by stunning rock formations and surrounded by ancient archaeological sites, ‘spectacular’ hardly sums up the sensational appeal of Santorini’s beaches.
Santorini might be famed for its volcanic caldera surrounded by glitzy hotels, but this Cycladic Island in the sun has plenty for laidback beach holiday seekers too.
Whether it’s Red Beach’s dazzling ochre sands backed by brick-red cliffs, sophisticated Perissa’s black pebble strands lined with some of the island’s best bars and tavernas, or Therasia’s idyllic hidden coves that can only be reached by boat, there’s something for every taste and budget here.
Try pitching up on one of these perfect beaches during your holiday to Santorini.
Separated from neighbouring Kamari Beach by the whale-hump of Mesa Vouno and its ruins of Ancient Thera, Perissa’s 7km (4.3 miles) stretch of charcoal-black sand stretches along a seafront promenade lined with toddler-friendly tavernas and teen-friendly cafes.
Its translucent, turquoise waters have earned the resort a European Blue Flag for cleanliness, and away from the beach there are public toilets, ice-cream parlours and souvenir shops in the tangle of lanes behind the waterfront.
With ramps and sea access facilities, this pretty beach is accessible to wheelchair users, too.
If you love active beach days and lively seaside nights, this strip of sand-and-pebble beach on Santorini’s southern tip is sure to hit the spot.
During the day, Perivolos’ deep turquoise waters are ideal for enjoying a string of thrilling watersports, from jet-skiing to scuba diving. When the sun sets over that sparkling sea and the toys are put away, the seaside scene ramps up a notch as locals and tourists mingle in hip bars like Jojo, one of the island’s best loved venues for music and cocktails beneath the stars, and Wet Stories, a ritzy venue famed for its celebrity DJ nights.
One of Santorini’s most spectacular strips of sand, Red Beach gets its name from the ochre cliffs that frame a picturesque cove strewn with red pebbles and rust-coloured sands beneath. It’s a ten-minute walk to get here, along a narrow dirt track leading from the handful of shops and tavernas in Akrotiri village.
There’s space to park above the beach but it gets busy in summer, so make sure to arrive early if you want to bag a place. The Minoan site of Akrotiri, known as ‘The Greek Pompeii’, is right behind Red Beach, so history buffs will want to combine the two.
Backed by the hotels, tavernas and nightlife venues of Kamari town, Kamari Beach’s endless sweep of volcanic sand gazes out over sparkling waters where you can enjoy watersports ranging from stand-up paddleboarding and jet-skiing, to parasailing and banana boat rides.
Like most of the island’s popular beaches, lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, so all you need to worry about is lathering up with lashings of sun cream before heading out to have fun in the sun.
Accessible only by boat (or by a narrow clifftop trail from Red beach), White Beach’s blissfully secluded succession of tiny coves framed by cream-coloured cliffs are truly idyllic.
There are no tavernas and only a few sunbeds and parasols lining the beach’s dusky sand-and-pebble beach, so bring plenty of water. And if you’re worried about frying in that steamy Santorini sun, head here in mid afternoon when the cliffs provide some shade.
Although not one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, the charm of Vlychada is its away-from-it-all location – you’ll find it at the southern end of the island near the quirky Tomato Industrial museum, and close to the small port where catamarans leave for sunset sailing trips.
Backed by a line of rugged cliffs, this sand-and-pebble beach gets far less crowded than Santorini’s more popular beaches, even in the height of summer.
The icing on the cake? Vlychada village’s handful of low-key tavernas are within easy strolling distance.
Framed by pale white cliffs riddled with gruyere-like holes, Monolithos’ talc-soft beach and shallow waters is perfect for families. Toddlers will love making sandcastles in the dusky black sands and dabbling in balmy waters, while parents relax on one of the sunbeds that can be hired along the seafront.
With extra shade provided by a scattering of sweet-scented pine trees, along with a small playground for younger family members, Monolithos is probably Santorini’s most child-friendly beach.
One of the island’s remotest beaches, Columbo Beach’s pebble-punctuated grey sands attract nudists who come here to perfect their all-over tan. With plenty of space for clothed bathers, however, there’s no pressure to bare your all.
Reached by a steep track leading from the cliffs above, this wild beach (which is often swept by the winds that have twizzled the surrounding rocks into strange formations) doesn’t have much in the way of facilities, but there’s a small taverna on the road above if you need to buy food or water.
A ten-minute boat-hop from the taverna-lined port of Ammoudi, Santorini’s under-the-radar sister island, Therasia, is like a slice of Santorini 50 years ago.
Rarely visited by tourists, this bite-sized island, which was part of Santorini before the volcanic eruption back in 1600 BC, has a string of barely-visited beaches.
Riva is one of the best; this tiny, pebbly cove lapped by translucent water is overlooked by a traditional taverna serving caper-dotted Greek salads, fried saganaki and other local dishes for half the price you’d pay for them in tavernas across the water.
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