Eco-friendly travel guide to Santorini advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Santorini, Greece.
- Air quality: 3 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 5 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 4 / 5
- Public transportation: 4.5 / 5
- Parks: 4.5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$80 - $250
- Budget per day: US$50 - $450
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Santorini is an excellent destination to visit whenever a tourist is headed to Greece. Undoubtedly, the beauty of the city itself is enough to place it at the top of the list of many travelers and explorers. There are many ways for you to become a responsible traveller.
To begin with, try and use public transportation as much as possible. While there aren’t too many options and the comfort of a private car or a cab is far more superior, it is recommended that you use the waterways, the trains. The buses are efficient, cost-effective, and they certainly help you reduce your carbon footprint. In addition to this, Santorini is a city whose beauty is par excellence, and exploring it on foot or a bicycle shall also serve to be a phenomenal experience.
A big part of responsible traveling includes utilising the local resources in the most optimal way possible. One way for you to do that as a tourist is to stay in an eco-friendly or a green hotel. This shall help you ensure that you reduce your impact on the environment, and choosing a good green hotel will provide you with all the amenities and facilities in a much more sustainable manner.
The local markets are known to be a treasure trove; here, you will find everything from antiquities to locally produced goods that reflect the fine craftsmanship. Additionally, this will help the local economy in a major way as you will put money directly into the pockets of the manufacturers/creators and possibly skip out the middleman. This will further enable you to support these small industries that don’t operate out of greed and carefully utilize the city’s resources.
Similarly, try and explore local food at simple restaurants to enjoy legendary Greek cuisine. Avoid big food chains and global brands at all costs. The smaller bistros, restaurants, and even food carts shall serve you some of the most authentic dishes; more so, if you plan to cook your local meal, make sure you get the ingredients from local food markets and not supermarkets. The freshest produce, including vegetables, seafood, and all kinds of meats, can be found at these markets; they are priced appropriately and often serve to be the difference between a good home-cooked meal and a great one.
Air Quality and Pollution
The increasing pollution rates in the city are due to the 2015 forest fires that made the city's air pollution levels higher than before. There are currently two particular types of pollution recognized in Santorini; High concentration of particles and photochemical smog. Because of such high rates of air pollution, Santorini’s air quality isn't the best. Those tourists, who have any respiratory disease or problem such as Asthma, should avoid visiting the city. Although several measures are taken to resolve the situation, the air quality will take some time to get better. The city center and other urban packed areas of the city are recognized as the most polluted areas. If you wish to get fresh and clean air in the city of Santorini, prefer visiting the outskirts and the hilly regions. These areas have the least level of air pollution, and air quality is also better than the city's crowded places.
Respect the Culture
The local culture of Santorini is one of the most unique cultures around the world. Local people are some of the friendliest and welcoming ones in the country. While visiting and exploring the city, you need to respect the culture and the people. Only by doing this can you enhance your Santorini experience. Always smile at the local people, appreciate their hospitality, food, art and craft. While everyone is adorned in their holiday attire in Santorini, it is recommend that you should dress smartly. Be comfortable but also do not go around prancing in your pjs.
If you are being hosted by a local, make sure that you take something for the family such as a bottle of wine, going in empty-handed would be considered disrespectful. While things may seem uptight early on, as the meal progresses and a few drinks are polished off, you can be assured of good fun with music and dance. Also, specifically in the city of Santorini, it is recommended that you keep things low at night as the locals hate being disturbed and avoid typically touristy mistakes such as standing for too long on bridges, clicking photos without consent and let people pass by you in narrow lanes if you are walking slow and exploring.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Some people may wonder why others would want to visit Santorini's city, and the sites of tourist are amongst the reasons.
Here are the top 10 places you can see in the city:
- Oia: Oia is one of the famous villages in the city of Santorini. The village covers an area of 11.88 kilometers square. The town has whitewashed houses into the rugged clifftops.
- Thera: Thera is a Greek town on Santorini Island, with the museum of Prehistoric Thira and Kameni island views.
- Imerovigli: A small village in the city of Santorini. It is located adjacent to the north of the island. The village is famous for its beautiful sunset.
- Kamari: Kamari is a small village in the city of Santorini. It is located on the east coast of the island. The beach consists of black sand, a café-lined promenade, and an open-air cinema.
- Pyrgos Kallistis: A small village on the Aegean island of Santorini. Pyrgos is a part of the municipality of Thira. It is located 7 kilometers away from the island capital Fira.
- Theresia: An island in the volcanic island group in the city of Santorini. Theresia is also known as Thirasia. It is the second-largest island of the group.
- Nea Kameni: Nea Kameni is an uninhabited Greek island in the city of Santorini. The elevation of the island is 114 meters. The last eruption of the island was in the year 1950.
- Megalochori: It is one of the most picturesque villages on the island. It is located in the east in the heart of Santorini. The village has a nice mixture of white and cream Cycladic houses.
- Vlychada: An organized beach on the southern side of the Santorini. The beach has a small port for fishing and boating. Vlychada beach is also known as a moon-shaped beach.
Perissa: A coastal village that is located in the southeastern part of the island. It is 13 kilometers away from the capital.
The town offers various opportunities to the tourists and the locals to experience the Ancient culture, diverse cuisines, sunny beach coasts, and the hospitable people. Many places in the city of Santorini are must-visit ones. Visiting these places will help you explore and learn about the history, culture, and significance of the area on a first-hand basis. It is an oasis for every traveler as it offers both natural and urban places that will make your visit a memorable one.
The city of Santorini has many gorgeous parks and gardens, with some being for exercise, family time, and amusement parks, to name a few. Listed below are the most popular parks in the city.
- Experience Horse Riding
- Hiking Trail Fira – Oia
- Skaros Rock
- Amoudi Bay
- Nea Kameni
The city is surrounded by water. Hence, the National parks are based on underwater life. There are a few national parks around this city, and one can visit:
- Ancient Thera
- Mount Olympus National Park
- Lake Prespa
- Pindus National Park
Many people fantasize about spending time at a beach, and it could be that it is what you do when home. Thus, they are curious about beaches when in a new city. If you fall under this category and visit Santorini's city, you are in for a treat as it has beaches for people to explore and relax.
Santorini is not a city where the ideal landmarks are just highrises, tall buildings, resorts, and water parks. Numerous landmarks have a historical significance attached to them. Given below is the list of a few of them:
- Exo Gonia
- Agios Geogios Santorini
People say that it is sometimes impossible to keep count of the number of museums in Santorini as there are many. The city's idea is to preserve adequate information for the coming generations and help foreigners with knowledge about the city. If you love to know about the cities you visit, we know that you will love or desire to pay a visit to any of its museums. Some Santorini museums are:
- Lost Atlantis Experience
- Mati Ary Gallery
- Wine Museum Koutsogiannopoulos
- Cultural Village
- Museum Of Prehistoric Thira
- Eduart Gjopalaj Workshop
You will find that these places serve Greek dishes and many Jamaican, Indian, American, Asian, French, and Italian dishes. The city is packed with vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes that serve equally mouth-watering delicacies for those diet conscious ones. Unlike other cities, non-vegetarian dishes are not as prominent in Santorini's city as people prefer simple food such as falafels, pies, bread, mushrooms, beans, etc. The restaurants, tavernas, cafes, and other dining places range from traditional to modern style, and many are decades old and still follow the old traditional recipes.
Traditional Local Restaurants
The local meals of any city are usually a delight as it helps your taste buds explore. Below are some of the traditional local restaurants in the town of Santorini, where you can enjoy the perfection of these meals without any regrets:
- Katerina’s Traditional Restaurant
- The Traditional
- Anemomilos Traditional Greek
- Parea Tavern
Vegetarian and Vegan
If you are a Vegetarian, you do not have cause to bother when in Santorini's city as there are restaurants that especially focus on vegan meals.
Some of them are given below:
- Katharos Lounge Vegan Meze Bar
Santorini's street vendors serve many unique and delicious dishes that are part of Greek's cultural heritage. These food items are must-eat ones in order to get proper exposure to the city's culture.
- Fava Me Koukia - (Mashed up fava beans)
- Tomato Gefthedes - (Tomato fritters)
- Saganaki - (Fried cheese in filo pastry covered in honey)
- Keftes/Kofta - (Ground meat / kinda like sausages)
- Spanakopita – (Spinach pie)
There are so many bars and pubs in the city that offer all kinds of liquors and drinks like cocktails etc that you can enjoy. These places are the ideal ones to visit if you want to have alcoholic drinks. The western drinking culture has also seeped in Santorini so you will find it common that wine etc are also served with food. If you are not big on alcohol then there is a wide variety of non alcoholic beverages as well. These include Soumada (almond based drink), Greek coffee, Mojitos etc. Just ask your server for options and you will find plenty.
Anyone visiting the city of Santorini is mostly advised to drink bottled water, as even the slightest change in your water can make you feel sick. One can brush their teeth with this tap water, but drinking it can be dangerous for you. However, a safe thing to do in order to not use plastic bottled water is to boil the tap water or fill your recyclable water bottles from water dispensers in hotels and restaurants.
Healthy organic restaurants are more than just a fad these days. People are increasingly conscious about sustainable food habits. These organic cafes and restaurants cater to just this category of consumers. Hence, you shall find quite a few of these in the city as well, and they are listed below:
- 5 Senses Fresh
- Lila Café
- Juice Me
- Aroma Avlis
As the center of tourist attraction, the city has to store a large amount of beer to satisfy the tourists' needs. There are a few breweries located in Santorini, such as:
- Santorini Brewing Company
- Volkan Brewery
- Sun Spirit
- Santorini Donkey
- Pk Cocktail Bar
Other than the many tourist spots, there are many thrilling activities in which you can indulge in full exposure to the city of Santorini's local culture. These activities will not only help you create a memorable time in Santorini but will also make your heart race. These activities are the best way to experience the local culture and be a part of it. You may even come across hidden gems of the culture and make your trip even more fantastic than you planned.
Yoga and Retreats
Originated in India, Yoga has now spread worldwide. The city's calmness and the refreshing breeze all around make the city an ideal place for practicing yoga. Yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word called ‘Yuj,’ which means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite.’ Santorini has also adopted the practice of yoga recently. Here are some yoga retreats located in Santorini:
- Evexia Gym Santorini
- Anassa Yoga & Wellness
- Mad Fitness Santorini
- Armonia Pilates & Fitness
Although Santorini's city is quite famous amongst the tourists, the accommodation options are not very expensive. There are many hotels, hostels, and guest houses that offer various rooms according to your budget's affordability. These places help the tourists to have a comfortable and convenient stay in the city of Santorini. There are many green hotels, camping sites, and couch-surfing hosts that offer accommodation at much cheaper rates and are ideal for those with a tight budget. You can opt for booking a hotel room or set a deal with a couch-surfing host before visiting the city to make your trip even more convenient. Although couch-surfing is a recent accommodation concept, it is gaining a lot of popularity in the city of Santorini.
Right from providing efficient appliances to sustainable amenities and good recycling programs, you can expect these green hotels to cater to your every basic need without increasing your carbon footprint. Given below are a few such green hotels you can consider:
- Rocabella Santorini
- Myst Boutique Hotel Santorini
- Astra Suites
- Iconic Santorini, A Boutique Cave Hotel
- Santorini Crystal Blue Boutique Hotel
- Andronis Boutique Hotel
Hostels and Guest Houses
If you decide to lodge in a hostel or guesthouse when you visit a new place, it is cheaper than some other accommodation types. The setting may be smaller than an option like the hotel, but it is usually comfortable. Some available hostels and guest houses in the city of Santorini are:
- Santorini Youth Hostel
- Utopia Guesthouse Santorini
- Blue Dolphins
- Volcano View Hotel Santorini
- Kykladonisia Traditional Settlement
- Villa Manos
Hotels are often the number one choice for tourists as they are usually cheaper and convenient, but tourists visiting the city for a longer time should always prefer renting out an apartment. There are many affordable apartment options for tourists. A lot of these places are located near the prime locations and are the best ones to rent. Before renting out an apartment, inspect the site properly and get reviews from the other residents. Apartments are usually cheaper when rented with a group of friends. These apartments have an en-suite kitchen with the required appliances and utensils.
Renting apartments in the city is known to be quite an easy option. However, the rental rates are known to be quite high and as tourists, you may want to consider the option if you are living for long periods, or if you value your privacy, or if you have a couple of friends living with you, that way you get to avoid the exorbitant rates and rigid rules and regulations of hostels and hotels.
Couchsurfing is a system that pairs you with a local willing host during the duration of your holiday. If you do not have the means to pay for accommodation and you desire to travel, you can check if they do Couchsurfing in the desired country. The comfort you will feel during Couchsurfing might not be compared to what you can get from your house, but you should remember that it is only for some time, and it is better than being stranded.
It is a regular thing to see people indicate interest in Couchsurfing in Santorini's city, and there is a website that assists in getting localhost. Willing locals sign up on it, while foreigners check through and follow steps and instructions on how to get paired.
Some people do not understand why anyone will leave the luxury of their homes and decide to camp. However, those who have ever had a camping experience can explain that the feeling is different and fulfilling. By camping, you are leaving your immediate environment's comfort and going to a place that is in tune with nature. These places often do not have the luxury of beds, and campers end up sleeping in tents.
- Santorini Camping
- Katharos Pool Villas
- Perissa Beach Camp
How to Get There
Santorini has some of the best transport facilities. The transportation network of the city is considered to be comfortable and not too expensive. These facilities are quite diverse, and you will be able to choose one that is most affordable and suitable to your needs. If you are on a tight budget trip, then prefer using public transportations at the most as they are priced at reasonable costs and also provide the best service.
The airline companies of Santorini offer flights to places inside and outside the country. Aegean Air is a significant and prominent airline that has transportation options of about 153 destinations. Flights from major cities like London, Berlin, Paris, New York, Istanbul, Rome, Dubai, Milan, etc., are common at Santorini (Thira) International Airport. After you reach Athens airport, you can opt for taxis, express airport buses, and trains but don't prefer the taxis as they can be quite expensive and you should try to avoid them at all costs.
The Transports Metropolitans de Santorini is the public agency that manages transportation through buses in Santorini. Buses are the cheapest mode of transport, and a lot of them offer excellent tours of the city and are pocket-friendly. Many private tour buses provide a great trip to the city's best sites and provide a local, knowledgeable guide.
Santorini does not have a railway system. There are no trains operating. You will find that some commuter rails can be found in some towns like Patras, Larissa, and Edessa. Traveling through trains will help you explore and learn about the city in a better way. These trains are ideal for tourists who want to explore the city and neighboring areas.
A lot of hitchhikers consider hitchhiking immensely challenging in Greece because it is not easy. If you want to hitch in Greece, all you need to do is find the right spot for hitchhiking. The better the location, the better the hitchhiking experience. The local Greek people are amicable and welcoming. Although not all of them will be able to give you a ride, they will offer you money, food, directions to stations, and even salute you. It is not the most convenient way of transportation but is common among solo travelers and people with a low budget.
Other than these standard modes of transportation, different ways include boats, cruise ships, taxis, and rented cars. These are not the most convenient modes, as they are not affordable and harmful to the environment. Even if you are not on a tight budget, you should avoid these modes of transportations as they result in a lot of wastage of natural resources. Also, these transportations are often overcharged and do not provide much exposure to the local culture.
The best way of moving around and exploring a city is by walking as you will be able to get the best experience of the local culture and save money from public transports. The most common mode of moving around the city is the metro line that can reach almost all prominent areas. You will hardly face any problem moving around the town as the locals are amiable and will help you out without much effort. You might encounter the language barrier as the locals speak Greek. You can use a translation application or sign language to communicate with the locals.
Walking is the best way of exploring a city as it costs nothing. You will be able to access even the most remote areas of the city where vehicles cannot reach or don't have a proper road. While walking, you will be able to learn about the local culture by observing the local people. The local people are amicable and love to help out tourists. You can ask them for directions, and they will help you out without a second thought. You will find that walking is a common way of travel even by the locals as it is a healthy activity that helps in keeping in shape.
Bicycles are another healthy travel mode inside the city, and many private and government services let you rent out a bike. These are much cost-effective than public transports and also keeps you in shape. Places where vehicles are unable to reach, bicycles are the best way of visiting such sites. You can again hire a mountain bike to explore the forest areas and hillsides of the city.
The Greece government recently introduces electronic vehicles such as electric cars, motorcycles, and bicycles to lower carbon emissions. The government has also given various subsidies regarding parking fees, charging costs, and vehicle purchases to make more people use them. These vehicles are more eco-friendly, and you can even hire one for some time to maintain your budget and get the best experience while exploring the city of Santorini.
Public buses in the city of Santorini are the cheapest mode of public transportation. It is a standard mode of transport amongst the locals, and they use it daily to go to and fro from home to the workplace. These buses are a convenient way of getting to destinations inside the city.
Tram, Train and Subway
People use these transports for a faster way of moving around the city. You will find that trains help you reach destinations inside and outside the city as they have a more comprehensive range than trains. Trains work only in some particular areas inside the city and are a great way of experiencing the local culture.
Beaches apart for a second, you’ll find plenty of reasons to shop around on this trip of yours to the city of Santorini. It would be best if you did not miss the opportunity to buy a few souvenirs, like t-shirts, mugs, and magnets for refrigerators, some of the beautiful handcrafted items, or you want to buy a swimsuit or sunhat. And of course, if you’re in the city of Santorini on one of its few rainy days throughout the year, the mall is a good place to spend it. There are plenty of options in and around this popular beach destination when it comes to retail therapy.
After taking a long walk in the city streets, one would feel hungry and taste some delicious food. These markets are quite commonplace for buying staples for local people. You will find these markets often sell some seasonal and unique foods that you must try out while visiting the city of Santorini. Visiting these markets will also help you in learning about the local culture, food, and people.
Here are some renowned ones in the city:
- Ab Food Market
- Big Discount Supermarket
- Green Market Organics & Gluten Free – Local Products
- Jimmy’s Market Cava – Supermarket – Krieslas L. – Kafieri
Flea markets in the city of Santorini are markets where items are sold in exhibition stalls by traders. These items are sold at a much lower rate than at retail shops as they are often used or second-hand ones. A lot of low-income people and antique searchers can be found in these markets. Some of these markets operate daily, whereas some work on particular days only.
- Faros Market
- Oneiro Jewelry
- Dionysopoulos Evgenios
- The Old Cellar Gift Shop
- Koukla Art
Second Hand Stores
There are a few thrift shops or second-hand stores available in Santorini, where one can buy something at a very less price. There are shops for second-hand electronics, furniture, and home appliances, clothes, etc. present in Santorini.
Here is a list of some of the shops you can visit in the city to buy these second-hand products:
- Cave (Spilia) Greek Clothing
- Gravanis Antonios
- Sand Lily Boutique Santorini
- The White
The city of Santorini is full of greenery because of the region's wealthy habitat, which is because of the eco-friendly ways of living. The eco-friendly way of fashion is to buy products that won’t harm the environment at any cost. It is also a responsibility for you to protect the environment and not pollute it in any way. Many businesses indulge in the use of sustainable and recyclable materials to make clothes. These are very affordable clothes because of the recyclable aspect. Eco-fashion clothes help in minimizing the impact on the environment and health of society. Organic cotton, recyclable fabrics, plant-based dyes are used to make eco-fashion clothes.
The Recycling program generates electricity, aluminum, compost, recycled plastic, cardboard, and paper products using garbage generated in the city of Santorini. Many small companies in the city now practice recycling. Some of the hotels have their very own recycling system. You can call up agencies in the locality, and they will recycle the waste for you.
Various laws are there for proper recycling and waste disposal that everyone has to follow to preserve its beauty. Many recycling centers in the city of Santorini provide adequate recycling for used items without harming the environment. In Santorini, recyclable items are called materials and not waste as they can be re-used in the future. The recycling laws in the city of Santorini help in making the city healthier and hygienic.
For proper waste management, several laws and policies are followed to minimize the cost of disposal. The Santorini public manages waste by following the regulations, such as sorting the garbage as recyclable, disposable, and non-recyclable. The waste is treated according to its nature, and the landfills are not used as disposals. Many industries, businesses, and agencies follow the rules and proper waste management because of extensive waste management laws and policies.
Work and Study Abroad
One should get a visa for working in the city of Santorini to work here without any issues. To get permission to work in this place, you need to first receive any job offer before traveling in the country. Many famous companies have their branch in this place. Job offers for hotel management workers are more in the city of Santorini. Many lowkey workers still work in Hotels and Restaurants who get paid in cash. One should be aware that working in these types of jobs is quite common, which is illegal and can put you in some serious deportation trouble. There are very few universities to study in the city of Santorini. One would not recommend you to study in a city that is a tourist attraction as it will just distract you from your studies and might diversify your mind in spending time unreasonably.
You will find that many institutions in Santorini's city provide scholarships and opportunities for students from different parts of the world to study in Santorini. There are many international students in local universities and colleges in the city of Santorini.
Working as an Au Pair in a foreign land makes you feel at home with all the hustle around you. In Santorini, you can search for houses that need an Au Pair online and stay with them. It is straightforward to find jobs as an Au Pair, as it is accepted worldwide now. Au pairing refers to a foreign person who takes a share of the family's responsibility for childcare and housework. Such a person receives monetary allowances for his or her personal use. Although such practices are not very common to see in Santorini, some families live with an Au Pair's help.
Volunteering is one of the best things one can do to contribute to the local society. There are numerous ways in which one can volunteer. There are all types of NGOs and organizations that allow you to volunteer for them. A lot of the volunteering in the city of Santorini is involved in helping out the refugees. You can take part in such volunteering activities to help the people of Santorini lead a better livelihood. As a foreign tourist, you need to involve yourself in activities that help Santorini's environment and society.