Santorini Greece draws over two million visitors per year. Most travelers come to see Oia, famous for its stunning sunset and beautiful blue domes. This is where you will find most of Santorini’s shops, restaurants, and nightlife, but the island has a lot more to offer. Offseason, the island delivers solitude and relaxation. Spring may be just the perfect time for that. In this post, I will address the question many potential visitors ask: is spring a good time to visit Santorini? I will show you the pros and cons of vacationing during that time of year and recommend what to do in Santorini in spring.
Many visitors fall in love with this classic view of Oia Santorini.
Is spring a good time to visit Santorini?
The older I get, the less I enjoy the heat and crowds. To avoid both, I decided to visit Santorini in spring, at the very beginning of the season, which officially kicks off April 1st. At this time of year, Santorini could still be chilly. I was fine with that but was definitely hoping for at least a few days of sunshine. I invited three friends for the trip and they gladly joined me.
Another view of Oia Santorini.
Pros of visiting Santorini in Spring
I like people in general but sightseeing elbow to elbow is not something I enjoy. In season, Santorini is packed with tourists. You need to wait in line to take a photo of the island’s iconic locations, like Oia and its famous sunset. The roads are clogged and the small airport is a nightmare, too small to accommodate the waves of tourists. Local buses do not have enough runs to transfer all visitors.
On the contrary, at the beginning of April, we had had the island to ourselves. No crowds anywhere, just peaceful uninterrupted beauty.
Offseason hotel rates
The island is expensive but for early April I scored a great hotel Nefeli Homes in Imerovigli for a reasonable rate. There were less expensive options, but when you are in Santorini you should not save on your accommodation. Splurge on the traditional cave hotel with stunning views. Nefeli Homes delivered just that, plus a good breakfast and fabulous service.
Relatively good weather with lots of sunshine
Spring in Santorini does not guarantee endless sunshine, but the sun makes a frequent appearance. Day temperatures are very comfortable for sightseeing, hiking, and even sitting by the pool. Make sure to book some extra days in case the weather is not cooperating. To fully enjoy the island, you need some sunshine.
Stunning hiking with wildflowers everywhere
Imagine stunning views of the sea on one side of a hiking trail and a sea of flowers on another! That came to me as a huge surprise. I was expecting some nice spring landscape around hotels and restaurants but did not even dream about a “super bloom” on a volcanic island.
Spring is perfect for hiking in Santorini. We hiked from Imerovigli to Oia one day, and from our hotel, Nefeli Homes, to Skaros Rock another day. Both hikes were absolutely beautiful.
Sure, no matter what time of year, Santorini has its gorgeous sunset but in spring it felt more personal with no crowds around. Plus the air was so fresh, I can’t imagine better visibility.
Relatively good deals on flights, better than in high season
In order to get to Santorini, you have to fly to Athens first and then take a ferry or another flight to the island, with flying being more convenient but slightly more expensive. Finding a good deal from the USA to Athen was not easy. Even in early spring, it took a lot of work to score a reasonably priced direct flight to Greece. Plan early and keep your eyes open for good offers.
Cons of visiting Santorini in spring
It is too cold for swimming
As much as I love Santorini, I would never consider it a beach destination. Yes, there are beaches on the island, but only a few, and not easily accessible and overcrowded in season. In the spring, water was definitely too cold for swimming. On the other hand, taking a stroll on the beach was a real pleasure.
Red Beach Santorini only looks pretty, but it is not good for swimming or even visiting due to rock slides.
Not all hotels are open yet
When making plans to stay in Santorini, keep in mind that your choice will be limited. At this time of year, many hotels are still getting ready for the season. Sometime around April 15th, most hotels open their doors.
Many restaurants are not open
Same situation with the restaurants. Some are open, mostly in popular areas like Oia, but many are not. If you can’t find any restaurants close by, grocery stores can come to the rescue. They are open into the late hours. They provide food, alcohol, and basic necessities.
Many tours operators offer only their basic tours
I suggest taking a least one tour around the island to get a taste of what is there to see, then possibly return to your favorite locations to explore more. Do your tour shopping online before you arrive to see what tours are running. We took a private tour with Santorini Best Tours and we were very satisfied with that choice. Our guide was very knowledgable and tailored our trip to our preferences.
We started our tour with Oia, the most picturesque place on the island. We also visited black and red beaches, learned about an unusual way that wine is grown on the island, and finally visited an organic farm called Faros Market where we tasted wine, cheese, oil, and few other delicious things with the name too Greek to remember.
It still can get cold and even rainy
That was the most unpleasant thing about visiting Santorini in spring, cold nights. Unfortunately enjoying the outdoor seating at our hotel at night required a jacket. Most of the evenings, however, we gave up and stayed inside with the heat on!
From my previous visits to Greece, I know that locals are big on having fun late into the night and many restaurants offering live music. That was not the case in early April, even in the most popular areas of Oia.
Is spring a good time to visit Santorini? Conclusion.
It depends on your preferences of course. If you come for the beaches and hot weather, late spring may be your best bet, but with that will come the crowds. Again, keep in mind that Santorini is about the views, sunset, architecture, even wine or beer, but not the beach. If soaking in the sun is your thing, you can easily find it at your hotel by the pool. ( For beach lovers in Greece, I recommend the beautiful island of Zakynthos )
If you are looking for a relaxing time and having the island to yourself, early spring in Santorini is the best. Day temperatures are perfect for an active vacation and the island is blooming with beautiful flowers. Just bring some heavier clothing for the cool nights and let yourself fall in love with the beauty around you.
What a stunning view and not a person around!
What to do in Santorini in spring?
Take a tour of the island with Santorini Best Tours to see where you want to come back and explore more on your own.
See the sunset in Oia.
Hike to Skaros Rock.
Hike from Fira to Oia or at least from Imerovigli to Oia.
Dine with a view.
Soak up the sun at your hotel – doing nothing is a great thing!
Visit a winery and taste Santorini wines.
Eat local food.
Take pictures! Lots of them. Santorini is a photographer’s paradise.
Rent a car for a day and drive around to see the less touristy parts of Santorini.
Get your friends together and do your own fashion photo session. Santorini is famous for fashion photography. You can even rent dresses there. (We brought our own!)