How to Get From Athens to Santorini

How to Get From Athens to Santorini

ferry with water wake in the ocean, Getting to Greek Islands, Santorini, www.theeducationaltourist.com

The lovely island of Santorini or Thira, as the locals call it, is a top destination for family vacations in Greece. If you only have time for one island, choose Santorini which is such a nice place to visit. Santorini attractions are iconic spots known the world over!

White building in Oia, Santorini, Greece

Santorini is an active volcano and the island was once much larger. When an ancient volcanic eruption collapsed the middle, it took a city with it to the bottom of the sea. That city, some say, is the lost city of Atlantis.

view from Santorini

Since Santorini is an island you have your options on getting from Athens to  Santorini. You have two choices – fly or ferry!

How to Get From Athens to Santorini –  Flying

The island of Santorini has an airport (not all of the islands do) so getting there can be easy. It is only a 45 minute flight from Athens. Factor in though, time to check your bags and get through security at the airport.

Airlines that fly between Athens (ATH) and Santorini (JTR):

Ryanair  FYIRyanair has cancelled a LOT of flights in the fall of 2017. Honestly, I’m not sure I would chance flying with them any time soon.

Olympic Airlines

Aegean Airlines

Sky Express 

Volotea

In all honesty, I wanted to fly from Athens to Santorini because I felt it was a better use of our time. Thankfully, my husband and kids really wanted to take an overnight ferry because it turned out to be a lot of fun!

When you fly Athens to Santorini – Update 10/20/2017 : WARNING!!!

According to the website, Greek Reporter, the airport of Santorini is #2 on the list of WORST airports in Europe.

Why? Travelers voted the WORST airports in Europe ( sadly Greece has 4 out of the top 10!) based on cleanliness, security, seating, wait time and a lack of air conditioning.

How to Get From Athens to Santorini – Ferry

Ferries are frequent from Athens and a fun choice for transportation. You can choose a high speed ferry  (4 1/2 hours) or a slower overnight ferry (9 hours). Note ALL time frames in Greece should be ‘ish’ as times listed are subject to change or even eliminated for different reasons. The Greeks are relaxed – try to take a deep breath and just go with the flow!

The ferries to Santorini leave from the port of Piraeus. If you need a taxi to get to Piraeus we highly recommend Alex!  Read more about hiring a taxi in Athens!

Which ferry should you choose? The high speed ferry or slow ferry? How to choose?

How to Get From Athens to Santorini – Slower Overnight Ferry

PROS

– No ‘wasted’ time because you wouldn’t be sight seeing during the night anyway

– Less expense because you are basically rolling the costs of transportation in with the cost of a hotel room

bedroom on Greek ferry boat, The Educational Tourist and kids

-Cool experience as the ferry has lounges and movies subtitled in Greek (We watched a lot of Forest Gump that way) and neat areas to explore

-Experience life on a ship! Since everyone gets off the same time, there is no room for people lagging behind. To make sure you don’t oversleep, a crew member literally cracks open your door to wake you up one hour before arrival. This was an interesting surprise!

-Cool paper slippers – Awesome fashion statement – seriously. Do I look totally amazing in these, or what??

paper slippers

CONS

-Leaves around midnight – This is not too bad if you have adjusted your time to match the Greeks. You don’t eat dinner till 10 at night anyway, so what is the big deal about leaving at midnight? But, if you haven’t shifted your time, it might be hard to leave in the middle of the night.

-At 9 hours (ish) the slow ferry takes a lot more time than a flight (45 minutes) or a fast ferry (5 hours)

We chose this route to get us to Santorini and we all slept well!

How to Get From Athens to Santorini – High Speed Ferry

High speed ferries take around 5 hours to travel from Athens to Santorini. We chose this as our transportation back to Athens after our stay in Santorini.

PROS

-Daytime travel allows you to see and appreciate the gorgeous views. There are many, many islands in Greece. You’ll pass quite a few and what a view! Notice how each island has a different type of house.

-The ferry has nice airplane type seats that recline and it is easy to take a nap or catch up on sleep. When you are in Greece you’ll be up late in the evening so it is easy to get behind in your sleep. 🙂

CONS

-A high speed ferry shakes more than the slow overnight ferry. If anyone in your party suffers from motion sickness be prepared! Dramamine can save you!

-Five hours is a long time for a day journey. Be sure to bring along something to do. There is free wifi (BUT it is slow!!) and it is a great time for electronics. We used some of the time to get in a little reading and play a few new games! Kids are never too old to listen to a story.

Find some activities for a LONG ferry ride with the kids here.

-If you are prone to motion sickness, be aware you will feel a LOT more motion on the fast ferry than the slow one.

How to Get From Athens to Santorini – Buying tickets

You can arrange your tickets online: Ferries

Hellenic Seaways

Blue Star Ferries

Golden Star Ferries

You can arrange your tickets online: Flights

When you search airline tickets, remember that in Greece the island of Santorini is called Thira. The airport code for Santorini is: JTR

Aegean Air

Pegasus Air

If these types of arrangements give you a headache consider one of these reputable travel agents. I’ve used them both and highly recommend using a travel agent in Greece.

Fantasy Travel

Aegean Travel

Even if you are 100% comfortable arranging your own transportation consider using a travel agent in Greece. It is not unusual for ferries to be late or off schedule. Just the week before our trip there was a ferry strike! At moments like that, if you arranged your own –  you are on your own to scramble and get new travel arrangements. BUT if you used a travel agent they will do the scrambling for you! Since they don’t cost you any money it is a no brainer to use one!

How to Get From Athens to Santorini – Making reservations

Some travelers like to make their arrangements on the fly. I’ve read that it is possible to buy your tickets just a few days ahead of time. I sleep better at night if I have all my arrangements made! But even spur of the moment travelers need to make reservations ahead of time!

Make reservations ahead of time IF:

  1. If you have a rental car. The spots for people hardly ever book up but that is not the case with spots for cars. To make sure you can have a spot to take your car on the ferry – you need a reservation ahead of time.
  2. If you want a cabin so you can sleep on the ferry then you need to make reservations ahead of time. There are lots and lots of seats, which might not all completely book up, but there is a limited number of cabins.
  3. If you are traveling during the PEAK times. August is a very busy time because Greeks like to travel during this time for their vacations. Also, the week of August 15 is the TOP travel time for Greeks to go home for a visit. If you are traveling during this time – get a reservation way ahead of time!

Greece is a wonderful destination for family vacations! We traveled as family and had a fantastic time!

The Educational Tourist and kids on Athens' Acropolis in front of the Caryatids on the Erechtheion

 If your family adventure takes you to Greece be sure to read these related posts!

Greece – all you need to know before you go!

Read to the kids before you visit Greece. Book list!

Greek food is wonderful! 

Akrotiri is the ‘Pompeii’ of Greece

Happy Travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

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