The Best Beaches in Santorini
From jet skiing and world-class DJs to quiet seaside oases, Santorini has it all
Picture a Greek island in your head. There’s a high chance you’ve conjured up the postcard-perfect sunset view from Santorini’s Oia village, looking out over cascading whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches. Santorini is much more than this iconic vista, however - before spending your evenings sipping sunset cocktails from a chic Oia terrace, you’ll want to spend your day on an equally enchanting beach. Overwhelmed by the options? Fear not, because that's where we come in. Here at Plum Guide, we've put our expert heads together to give you the inside track on the best sandy strips: expect colourful sands, unique landscapes, traditional tavernas, and even some bonus archeological sites. Here are the best beaches in Santorini.
- Red Beach
- Kamari Beach
- Koloumbos Beach
- Perissa Beach / Perivolos Beach
- Vlychada Beach
- Monolithos Beach
Perhaps the most famous of Santorini’s beaches, Red Beach is known for its backdrop of red cliffs and its reddish sands - a striking contrast with the turquoise waters of the southern Aegean. The small but unforgettable cove requires a bit of hiking to get there (through those famed red rocks), but once you’ve flopped onto a sun bed and picked up a cooling drink from one of the small bars, the effort will undoubtedly seem worth it. History lovers can combine a trip to Red Beach with a visit to the nearby archaeological site of Akrotiri, a bronze-age settlement destroyed in the Minoan eruption (c.1600 BC) and buried in volcanic ash, leaving its frescoes and artefacts well preserved. From here you can take a taxi boat to the beach (or alternatively hop on at Perissa or Kamari), while buses run from Fira.
If you’re looking for awe-inspiring aesthetics with slightly more mod-cons, look no further than Kamari Beach: a big-hitter when it comes to the best beaches in Santorini, thanks to its unique landscape and excellent facilities. Another prime example of Santorini’s diverse colour palette, Kamari is known as the “Black Beach” for the black shale that adorns this spacious stretch of shore. Families make a beeline here due to the beach’s easy access, wide selection of waters ports, and plethora of tavernas and cafes. If you’re holidaying without a car, simply jump on one of the regular buses from Fira.
On an island as popular as Santorini, finding a truly secluded spot can feel tricky. Look no further than Koloumbos Beach: a wild oasis of black pebbles and sand, backed by dramatic cliffs. You have to work a little for your trip to Koloumbos - there is no official car park, so visitors need to park on the side of the road and take a 15-minute stroll to the water - but you’ll soon see it’s rated among the best beaches in Santorini for good reason. Among Koloumbos’s chief draws is its sheer size, meaning you’re near guaranteed to have your own private slice of beach. Be aware, however, that there’s another side to this coin - high levels of privacy also makes Koloumbos popular among nudists.
Perissa Beach / Perivolos Beach
In addition to Fira, Perissa is Santorini’s prime party spot. Arrive in the morning to enjoy all the water sports you can imagine - from wake-boarding and banana boats to water skiing - before the cocktails start flowing and the party gets started. Hosting guest DJs and live music, Perissa’s beach bar scene attracts celebrities, who are undoubtedly also drawn by the soft black sands and clear waters. Looking for something a tad more laidback? Head down the bay to Perivolos (essentially an extension of the same beach) to enjoy the calm paddle-friendly shallows away from the party. Whether you venture to Perissa or Perivolos, a cocktail or ice-cold beer has to be on the cards - the regular summer bus service from Fira means you can sip the day away without worrying about driving.
Fear not, you haven’t taken a serious wrong turn and ended up on the moon - you’re on Vlychada Beach, famed for its lunar landscape. Backed by almost Gaudi-esque rock formations carved by wind and sea, Vlychada is a large black sand beach with particular appeal for visitors looking to experience Santorini’s rugged scenery without compromising on comfort. Though you won’t find lively beach bars or water sports here, there are plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas, while the adjacent marina has you covered when it comes to a lunchtime taverna. Now, have you ever been to a beach with a museum dedicated to tomatoes? We thought not. At the end of the beach you’ll notice the chimneys of a former factory turned museum, tracing the history of Santorini's tomato paste industry. The Tomato Industrial Museum of D. Nomikos is surprisingly fascinating, and also a great spot to take photos. To get here, hop on the bus from Fira, which runs three times per day.
If your idea of relaxing is a touch more active than lying back on a sun lounger, head straight to Monolithos Beach for the island’s best kitesurfing, basketball, and volleyball. Of course, if topping up your tan in the company of a good book sounds more appealing, there’s no shortage of comfy sun beds and cafes from which to shoot the breeze. With shallow waters and the softest sand on the island, Monolithos is a hit with families, as well as those who simply can’t wait to dip their toes in the sea. While it is accessible by bus or car, the beach can also be reached on foot from the airport - take the 20-25-minute stroll to see why Monolithos truly deserves its place among this list.