Most people visit Santorini during the popular summer high season, but you’ll enjoy the island no matter when you go. In July and August, everything’s open and heaving with holidaymakers. Special events like concerts and exhibitions appeal to the masses. However the months before and after are also rewarding as beaches and tavernas are less thronged yet everything is open and the weather and water temps are lovely.
Away from the touristy months from May to October, religious feast days dominate island life with families enjoying day-long outings and festivities. Use this month-by-month guide to pick the perfect time to visit Santorini.
Shoulder Season: May and June, September and October
Best time to relax
Those in the know prefer Santorini’s shoulder season when most everything is open, the beaches beckon and the crowds are manageable. You can get a prime sun lounger or the perfect corner table in a cafe without advance planning or early hours scrambles.
During much of the shoulder season, the weather is lovely and warm, although beware of cool breezes early in May and late in October (when some businesses may also be closed).
Low Season: November to April
Best time for solitude
Compared to the warmer months, Santorini is a completely different place during the cooler half of the year. Beachfront tavernas and most other tourist businesses are closed. Ferry schedules are sparse (although they do run, albeit with an emphasis on services to and from the mainland as opposed to island-hopping) and local transport is mostly DIY.
However if brisk temps and dramatic storms rolling in off the sea inspire you, this is your time. Bring sufficient clothing (highs may not crack 12C/54F) and flexible expectations to allow for weather interruptions and you’ll find Santorini ready to explore. Not everything is closed and in the cozy tavernas serving islanders, you’ll find that people actually have time to talk and share their stories about the local life. Prices are low.
High Season: July and August
Best time for partying
Crowds stream from a constant flow of packed ferries and the clubs and beaches are jammed. Book your accommodation plus your table at top restaurants well ahead as Santorini fills up with holidaymakers from across Europe and the rest of the world.
This is not the time for quiet contemplation – rather it’s the time to plunge into the maelstrom with the fun-seeking crowds. Locals work around the clock, and those that can, flee to less heaving spots away from the Aegean. Expect prices for virtually everything to be at their peak.
Post-Christmas Santorini is at its quietest. Little is open although people come out for the two important religious ceremonies of the month.
Key Events: Feast of Agios Vasilios, Epiphany.
Lent dominates the religious calendar. Carnival is celebrated in a much more relaxed manner than in other European spots such as Venice.
Key Events: Carnival, Kathara Deftera (date varies according to when Orthodox Easter Sunday falls).
Flag-waving and flag-raising ceremonies are held across Santorini (and the rest of Greece) on March 25, the day of Greek independence. The weather moderates a tad and the first whiffs of spring bring more people outdoors.
Key Events: Independence Day.
Easter is easily the most important religious date on the Greek calendar. Over the Orthodox Easter week, Santorini’s diaspora returns to the island from far and wide for processions, services and myriad family meals. Outdoor events are all public and visitors are welcome. You may even snare an invite to a family gathering which will be a wonderfully memorable feast. Note that Orthodox Easter is usually a couple of weeks later than the date of Easter in the Catholic church as the two faiths use different lunar calendars.
Key Events: Greek Orthodox Easter.
Much of Santorini begins to fully reopen during the week after Easter. The countryside is alive with wildflowers which makes for splendid walks and picnics. This is especially true on May Day, a national holiday.
Key Events: May Day, Feast day of Agia Theodosia.
June is the favorite month for many long-time visitors to Santorini when summer attractions like the open-air cinema in Kamari are in full swing. Just after the solstice, the Feast of St John the Baptist on June 24 sees bonfires lit across the countryside.
Key Events: Feast of St John the Baptist.
Full-on summer means a full-on cultural calendar. There are outdoor concerts (many free) and art exhibits in even the smallest towns. Watch for posters advertising all manner of special events.
Key Events: Santorini Jazz Festival, Feast day of Agioi Anargyroi.
It gets very hot for most of August, so be prepared to spend plenty of time in shady tavernas while taking full advantage of the pleasantly balmy nights when every outdoor venue is heaving with action. Ferries burst at the seams around Assumption Day.
Key Events: Megaron Gyzi Festival, Ifestia Festival, Feast of the Assumption.
Like June, September is another ideal month to visit Santorini. The sea has been warming all summer long and you’ll enjoy gorgeous swimming throughout the month even as those with school and work concerns return to their “real” lives.
Key Events: International Music Festival.
It’s still easy to fully enjoy Santorini in October. Join islanders for a glass or three of something locally grown on October 22, the feast day of Agios Averkios, the patron saint of wine.
Key Events: Feast day of Agios Averkios.
Beach loungers are stored away and the kitchen fires at seaside tavernas snuffed out as the island slips into off-season somnolence. Small feast days bring out families while the olive harvest enlivens hillsides (although this can happen earlier depending on the year’s weather).
Key Events: Feast day of Agios Minas.
Preparations for Christmas enliven towns across the island, especially Fira and Oia. This is a family holiday, so decorations are muted compared to places depending on holiday tourism. Expect crisp sunny days punctuated by squalls.
Key Events: Christmas.
You may also like:
Santorini's most breathtaking beaches
Santorini's top unmissable experiences
How to enjoy Santorini on a budget