Santorini • Essential Guide

First time in Santorini? Then our essential guide for gay travellers is for you.



A stunningly beautiful Greek island located in the south Aegean Sea.

The island’s unique geology is the result of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, some 3,600 years ago.

The centre of what was a much larger island dropped 300 meters below sea level to form a giant lagoon, known as the ‘caldera’.  The caldera is 12 kilometres wide and surrounded by enormous 300-metre high cliffs. In the centre of the caldera is a volcanic cone that has formed a small, hot & ever-changing island.

Today, the towns of Fira, Imerovigli and Oia literally cling to the top of the cliffs overlooking the caldera. The views rank as some of the most dramatic in the world.

“Must Do” on Santorini

  • Explore the rim of the Caldera and its jaw dropping views.
  • Visit Ancient Thira. Explore remains of temples, public buildings, homes and road from the 11th century BC. Located at the top of Mesa Vouno, a hill that was the top of the original island before the volcano first appeared.
  • Visit the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, a amazingly well preserved 3,500 BC  Minon town that was buried by falling volcanic ash.
  • Explore Oia and its network of beautiful narrow white washed walkways filled with shops and excellent restaurants.
  • Try dinner one of the restaurants hidden below Oia at Amoudi Bay harbour.
  • Take a boat trip out to Nea Kahenh, the volcanic cone in the center of the Caldera and swim in bath like hot water.
  • Explore Fira. Take the cable car down to the quay and get a donkey ride back up.
  • Enjoy lunch on the promenade at Kamari and take a dip in the Aegean sea.

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Getting to Santorini

Flying is the best option.  There are flights from Athens all year round. From May until the end of October, there are direct flights from most major European cities (Easyjet, Air Berlin, Condor, Germanwings, Norwegian, SAS, ThomasCook etc).

A taxi from the airport to Fira will cost around 40 – 45 euros. A bus service is also available to Fira. It takes around 20 minutes and cost 2.2 euros (2015).

A fast boat service operates between Santorini and Piraeus (Athens).


Getting around Santorini

We strongly recommend hiring a car.  This will give you complete flexibility to explore the island at your own pace.

Taxis are expensive and in short supply.

Bus services are not particularly reliable, and the island is too hilly for cycling.

Most hotels charge high fees for airport transfers, which will partly offset the cost of car hire.  It takes about one hour to drive from top to the bottom of the island.

Gay Scene

Santorini does not have any gay venues.  However, during our visit, we found the island to be as gay-friendly as it gets.  

The island attracts lot of gay tourists who are there to enjoy the fabulous weather and amazing sights.  Even so, when we checked, there were plenty of guys on Grindr looking for hookups.

Mykonos and Santorini – a perfect combination

These two islands make for a near perfect holiday combination. Mykonos for its fabulous gay beach and nightlife, and Santorini for the jaw-dropping views, beautiful towns and amazing history.

It is very easy to combine these two destinations into one fabulous Greek holiday.

From May to October, there is a daily fast jet ferry service between Mykonos and Santorini operated by SeaJets. Journey time is around 3 hours.

Alternatively, you can fly with Aegean Airlines, via Athens. The shortest journey time is around 3 hours, but you need to allow a lot more time to check in at the start of your journey.

Where to Stay

The best hotels in Santorini are located along the edge of the caldera.  Here are some of our recommendations:

Kamares Apartments - Fira

Stunning caldera views. Beautiful apartments with fabulous balcony. Great location.

White Hotel - Imerovigli

Stunning Caldera views. Stylish suites. Very large private terraces. Excellent value.

Andromeda Villas - Imerovigli

Breathtaking views, top-notch accommodation, fabulous service.

Villa Katikies - Oia

Stunning caldera views. Luxury suites. Wonderful combination of traditional architecture and contemporary styling.

Canaves Oia Hotel - Oia

Gorgeous white-washed rooms. Cliff-side location with fabulous caldera views.

To view the complete list of hotels and more photos, click here to go to our Santorini Hotels page.  Or you can click here to search all hotels in Santorini.


Santorini has numerous beaches on its eastern and southern coast.  Most are comprised of coarse gravel or pebbles. The main beaches are well-organised with sun loungers and shades available for hire and wooden walkways to the water’s edge.

There are two gay-popular nudist beaches. You need a car to get to Koloumbos beach, 8.5 km from the capital, Fira. Follow the sign to Baxedes and continue south towards taverna Soulis. When you reach the beach, walk 100m further to the left to reach the gay popular section.

An easier nudist beach to get to is Vlychada. This is reached either from the resort of Perivolos on foot or by bus. Because it’s easy to access, it’s more straight. Still, the “Swiss cheese cliffs” behind make the experience worthwhile.

If you are not keen on nudist beaches, then we think that the best place for sunbathing is on the terrace of a hotel overlooking the caldera.


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