Guide to Visiting Santorini in Low Season

Plenty of people visit Santorini during its warmer months, but in January last week, I visited this beautiful paradise and was taken aback by the lack of crowds. For a solo traveller in Greece for the first time and being a classic Introvert, this low season actually made my trip rather perfect and definitely much more stress-free than otherwise.

Should you plan holidays to Santorini during its low season? Is it safe to travel solo to Santorini?

Here’s a quick guide which might help you get some answers.

Safety

Is Santorini safe for female solo travellers?

Generally speaking, yes. I’d asked my hotel people whether there are snatch-thieves, pickpockets or robbers, they answered no. I also didn’t meet dodgy people (except for a man who had his car parked outside my hotel one night and tried to get my attention. I didn’t respond and quickened my steps back to my hotel).

At Santorini, houses, hostels and hotels are along the roads. There might be gates or there might not be. My hotel didn’t have any form of security gate as well, so technically, anyone can walk into the compounds and knock on the room doors. This doesn’t mean danger lurks anywhere and everywhere. On the contrary, it reflects the kind of safety level at Santorini.
holidays to Santorini • The Petite Wanderess

I also noticed solo travellers in Santorini, both male and female and even elderly ladies. Solo-travelling to Santorini is not as uncommon as perceived.

Venturing out alone

You won’t be harassed as a tourist. On this island, the locals greet one another because they’re all acquainted. Restaurant owners are warm and hospitable, making sure you’re comfortable and the food is ok, etc.

On another afternoon when the weather looked fine, I walked from Fira to Imerovigli. Most of the time (20-30min walk each way), I was the only person walking on the road, with my camera and a bag slung across my body. Vehicles will pass by but that will be all they do: drive by.quiet road • Santorini solo travel

Crowd Level in Santorini during low season

Very low. You might find yourself the only visitor at the wine museum, or Museum of Prehistoric Thera, at the restaurant, or at your hotel as it happened to me on the first night.

Fira

In Fira, at the main square which is where all the restaurants, taxi station, and bus terminal are at, there are few people on the streets. 

When you venture to various places away from the road in Fira, you might find yourself to be the only person there. This quietness was bliss to me. It was SO PEACEFUL.

Fira | Visiting Santorini in low season • The Petite Wanderess
spot the cable-cars in a row

Fira• Santorini solo travelFira • Santorini solo travelFira • Santorini solo travel

Oia

Supposed to be very crowded in summer, Oia (pronounced “ee-ya”)  is a peaceful place to be at in winter! It’s so quiet over there in the afternoon that you might not even dare to gasp out loud in order to not break the perfection in front of your eyes. If you’re blessed with sunny weather, the amazing views are all for yourself. Most shops here are closed until summer.

Oia is also where you get the postcard views of Santorini, and the same area you view Santorini’s sunsets at!

–> Read: Chasing Santorini’s Sunsets <–

Oia • Santorini solo travelOia for the houses on the cliff
Oia • Santorini solo travel Oia • Santorini solo travelOia • Santorini solo travel

Language

Most people that you need to communicate with can speak English.

Weather

Cold, cloudy and windy in winter. Do wrap up enough to stay warm. On some days, it rains. I had only 1.5 days of sunny weather out of the 4 that I was in Santorini.

Accommodation

There are plenty of options available for staying at Santorini. Fira is a good choice during winter for many reasons such as the proximity of bus terminal and food options. I stayed at Dream Island Hotel, for €85 a night with breakfast and daily housekeeping included.

Population

There are between 11,400 (according to SantoriniGreece.net) to 24,000 (according to my hotel staff) people living in Santorini, so it is not exactly a desolate island even during winter.

Food

Most eateries at Oia are closed. I only came across one restaurant that was open for lunch. If you’re there for the sunset, there should be a bus (last bus) that leaves Oia around 6.20pm (refer to “Getting Around” below). In comparison, there are more eateries open at Fira at the main square.

Price-range

Is Santorini expensive in winter? Here’s a cost sampling of the food I ate:

Nick the Grill – a casual eatery at Fira main square – €6.50 for a set of fries, two sticks of pork souvlakia (meat skewers) and a Coke. They have various selections of food. You may eat here or take away.
Santorini solo travelGrilled chicken set at Gyroland, also at Fira main square. This set of delicious grilled chicken (which took half an hour to be prepared), came with fries, rice and salad and cost €13. It was too much for me, I couldn’t finish!Santorini solo travelPork gyro at an eatery somewhere near Imerovigli – €3. It tasted great! And was  very filling too.Santorini solo travelThe only restaurant at Oia I came across that was open for lunch – Lotza Restaurant. A huge plate of marinara pasta at €16. The view comes free! It was completely relaxing to savour lunch slowly, enjoying the cold winter air.
Santorini solo travel The Bone. I met up with with a solo traveller acquainted in Santorini, and we ordered a full rack of ribs, one starter, one appetizer, a soup and some wine and total bill did not exceed €60.
The Bone • Santorini solo travel

As you can see, eating at restaurants in off-peak Santorini is actually pretty affordable.

Getting Around in Santorini

Cars / Motor-bikes / ATVs

There are many car rental shops around, as well as ATVs. I only saw the occasional ATV rider on the road. Roads in Santorini are bi-directional without marked arrows on the road. Because sometimes the lanes are shared, cars give way to one another, especially to buses due to their sheer size.ATVs for rent • Santorini solo travel

Buses

The buses (big, air-conditioned coaches) are cheap and convenient methods to get around Santorini, mostly costing between €1.80 – €2.30 per trip. In winter, bus frequency is on average once an hour, sometimes once every two hours. Time-tables are updated regularly, so check at the bus terminal to plan your day’s schedule. Just board the bus and sit down. A conductor will either come and collect your fare and issue you a ticket on the bus, or the driver/conductor will do it before you alight.

The buses start and end at the bus terminal at the Main Square at Fira. Say, you would like to go Oia and Kamari in a day, which are two different directions starting from Fira. You’ll have to take a bus to Oia, back to Fira, and from Fira, take a bus to Kamari and back to Fira. Beyond Fira, the buses don’t go directly from one side of the island to another side. Fira to Oia is about 20 minutes, with fantastic views in the day.
public bus time-table in Santorini • Santorini solo travel

Cabs

I didn’t take a cab so can’t advise on that. However, there was a day I tried to grab a cab from the road but no taxis passed by at all, due to the lack of tourists in low season. No one walks on the road during winter when it rains! Your best bet would be to take the taxi directly from the taxi-station at Fira’s main square, or arrange for a taxi in advance.

Cycling

The roads in Santorini wind around a lot and there are also plenty of slopes everywhere. For your safety, I would think it’s not advisable for you to commute around on bicycles.

Walking

Fira and Imerovigli are walking distance (20-30 minutes) from each other. I wouldn’t recommend walking after dark though because there are very few people around and the roads aren’t exactly well-lit. The bus between Fira and Oia cuts through Imerovigli, so you may board wherever there’s a bus-stop sign.

Drivers will keep a decent distance from people walking on the road.

There is a popular hiking trail from Fira to Oia but the hike will take you 3 hours at least, which I didn’t do.

Getting to Santorini

I took Aegean Airlines from Athens international airport, reaching Santorini airport in 30-45 minutes. There are also other methods to reach Santorini, namely by ferry, but it will take 5-8 hours as mentioned on this site.
Santorini solo travel

Hope this post gives you some insights about visiting Santorini during off-peak, or even as a solo traveller!


Visited: Jan 2016
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Visiting Santorini? Here’s more posts!

How it REALLY was like to travel solo in Santorini
Photo Diary: Ode to Santorini’s shades of blue
Chasing the Santorini sunset alone
Checking in: Dream Island Hotel in Santorini

Santorini in Low Season: A Quick Guide • The Petite Wanderess

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2 comments

  1. Santorini is always somewhere on my travel wishlist, but eventually the crowds turn me off. I never taught of going off-season, so this post is pretty revealing to me. 🙂 Also, the info you shared about transportation, food and prices is very handy. Oia looks lovely.

    Anja

    1. Oia is the spots where we see all the postcards’ images from! Santorini off-season was a memorable trip, the only one issue to note is the less-than-ideal weather (a rainy Santorini is very possible). If you’re going, I hope for the best weather for you!

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