Destinations,  Greece

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Practical Tips

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Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: in this article, you will find all the details regarding arriving in Santorini with a cruiser.

How many ports are there on Santorini? Which one is the cruise port? How to reach visiting points from the port? How much time does it take? All this information is below.

Santorini Island is just a special place. It’s magical, and its views are one and only. I can imagine that you are glad you will stop in Santorini during your cruise trip. Santorini also has some ‘negative’ side; it’s just very touristic and super crowded during the highest season. So it’s important to organise your day well, so that you see as much as possible during the short time and don’t waste your time on lines.

This article will help you organise your Santorini visit well.

Quick links to organise your day on Santorini Island:

TripAdvisor half-day tours.

I like using GetYourGuide the most.

You can also book tours here.

A few words about Santorini

Santorini is part of the Cyclades. It’s the southernmost Cycladic island. It’s a relatively small island, but one of the most known in Europe, or maybe all over the world.

It’s famous for its views, narrow streets, white houses on the steep cliffs, blue domes, and the view of the caldera. Caldera is a depression formed after a volcano erupts. Santorini is a volcanic island.

Santorini is actually the whole small archipelago; it consists of Thira, the biggest island we usually talk about, and 4 other small islands.

The capital of Santorini is the town of Fira. Close to Fira, there is also an international airport with domestic and international flights. There are many connections especially in the summer season.

Ports on Santorini

There are two main ports on the island of Santorini: the main ferry port, the port of Athinios, and the old port of Fira, Skala. There can be some exceptions, but as a general rule: Athinios port is a ferry port, and Skala port in Fira is a cruise port. Let’s look at both ports in more detail.

Athinios Port

Athinios Port is the newer port, and it’s the main ferry port. So if you are on a private island-hopping trip, or arrive in Santorini from Athens and you use ferries, this is where you will arrive and leave.

The port lies around a 20-minute drive from Fira, the capital of the island.

There are public buses that leave from the bus station in Fira and take you to the port. You can find the schedule at the bus station, as it changes depending on the ferries schedule. You can also take a taxi.

The last part of the drive close to the port is quite spectacular, as you need to go down to the port on a winding and quite busy road.

In the port, you can find a few cafes, taxis, ferry ticket offices, and travel agencies. Generally speaking, it’s a busy, quite chaotic, and tiring place.

Again, it’s used for ferries. It’s too small terminal to accommodate bigger cruisers.

Cruise Port of Santorini

Santorini Greece Cruise Port is called Port of Skala. It’s the old port of Santorini, and it’s in Fira, the island’s capital, so it’s around a 20 minute drive from the ferry Port of Athinios.

It’s not really port in the sense that you disembark the boat directly to the land. Passengers need to be taken to the land by small boats. Also, it’s at the bottom of the Caldera cliffs. Fira town is on the cliff, so you need to go up to be in the town. You can walk up on foot (it’s not a short walk), but there are also other options; we will look at them in the next chapters.

So, as you see, it’s more complicated than just a cruiser’s arrival at the port. Additionally, it gets more problematic if your cruiser arrives in Santorini on the same day as other cruisers, in the summer time, and it gets really crowded – for boats and in the port.

How to check how many cruise ships arrive at the same time?

Actually, you can check how many cruise liners will arrive in Santorini at the same time as yours. Looking briefly now, you can say that in March it’s one per day and not even every day, while in July it could be even 4 per day. They usually have similar arrival and departure times, so you see why it can get crowded with cruise passengers.

You can check it out on this CruiseMapper website. It’s really useful, as, knowing how busy it can be, you can plan in advance what to do after your arrival.

Let’s look at options for what you can do in the port and solutions in detail.

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Options after Arrival

It’s important to highlight it again; cruise ships do not dock directly in the harbour. That means you need to be taken to the land by the small tender boats. So if there are more cruise ships coming on this day, the waiting time for the tender may be longer.

Ok, now, what are the options after you arrive with the tender boat?

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Walking up the stairs

Well, it’s possible. Although it’s almost 600 steps, so it’s a long and tiring walk. Especially that it’s probably going to be really hot.

Additionally, there are mules walking on these stairs, so you will have to walk around them (and the stairs will be just dirty after them, so you will need to walk in ‘slalom’).

Generally speaking, it’s not a recommended walk. I think you can do it only if you are super fit.

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Mule Ride

I need to mention it to cover all the options, but honestly, it’s something you should not really do.

Mule is a ‘combination’ of horse and donkey, so maybe it’s easier for this animal, but generally, many ecological organisations fight against tourists riding donkeys.

And I fully agree, I think we can be tourists and visit beautiful places, yet not have an influence on destroying animals spines.

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Cable Car

There is another option that is easier, and it’s just a pleasure, as you can see beautiful views on the way. It’s a cable car, which goes up and down. The ride takes around 3 minutes and costs 6 Euro per one way ticket.

Opening time depends on the season; you can check the details on the website (and try to confirm it just before you are planning to use it).

With the cable car, you arrive at the centre of Fira, where you can walk, see great views, and go to restaurants and shops. You can also walk to the bus station from there (it’s not very close, but within walking distance).

This option is great, but it has one downside. Obviously, it has limitations when it comes to the number of people that it can transport. It’s 1000-1200 people (together in both directions), not more. So if it’s a busy day with more cruise ships coming, you can expect to need to wait in a long line.

I think this option is good if you see there are not many ships arriving on the same day. If you see there are more ships arriving at the same hour, you can think about other options.

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Water Taxi

If you arrive from your cruise ship to the land and notice a huge line for the cable car, you can book in the stands there in the port area another option.

It’s a water taxi.

This is also a very good option, as the views from the sea will be great. In most cases, a water taxi takes you to Oia, another Santorini town.

It’s the most popular town with the most known views. Many pictures of white buildings on cliffs and blue domes come from the beautiful village of Oia. So probably this is the town you would like to visit anyway.

(If you take a cable car and firs visit Fira, and still have enough time to visit Oia, you can go there with a tour, taxi, or just a public bus that leaves from Fira station. Buses on this route go quite regularly, once every half hour or so).

Water Taxi details

Coming back to the water taxi. Check well before buying this option to see what’s included. There are options when you pay around 40 Euro and then have: a water taxi, a bus from the bay to Oia centre, and a private bus from Oia to Fira after you finish visiting Oia.

The bus back to Fira is maybe a little less important, as you have the option to take a public bus (although for sure it’s a more comfortable and less crowded option; expect crowds waiting for buses during the high season), but the included bus or minibus from the bay to the town is very important.

Why? Because with the water taxi, you arrive in Oia, but again, you need to go up. As you arrive at Amoudi Bay.

It’s not as tough as in Fira; with around 280 steps, it can be steep. Well, in the heat, it can be challenging. So the minibus included in the price of the water taxi, may be quite useful.

I think this is a pretty good option, as you don’t wait for cable car to go up, you see Oia, and you are still more independent than taking a tour.

Just remember that with this option, you are coming back to Fira, so you will need to go down to the port and then take boats to the cruise ship, so calculate the time well.

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Private Tour

There is one more option, which may give you priority in getting to tender boats from your cruise ship.

You can book a private tour in advance.

Sometimes, boats take tour participants to the other port, Port of Athinios. From there, you are taken by bus or minibus for the trip.

Even if you are not a big fan of such organised tours, it can be a good option to escape crowds and make the most of Santorini in this one day.

You can book the tour via your cruise company. You can also do it on tour websites:

TripAdvisor Half Day Tours.



Here you have to be careful, as part of these trips start already at the top of the cable car, so you will need to wait for the cable car (if busy) anyway.

Still, such a trip is a good idea, as you will not need to worry about logistics and can just visit with comfortable transport and a local guide.

What’s best to see during a day or half-day tour?

It depends on your interest. Most people will go on a generic tour to see Oia, Fira, maybe the beach (for example, Red Beach) and 1-2 more places. There are also options for local wineries and wine tasting tours for wine lovers.

You are not able to see everything in one day, but a good tour will make you see a lot anyway.

Santorini Greece Cruise Port Guide: Summary

These are all the options that you have when arriving in Santorini on a cruise ship.

You should choose what’s best for you based on your interests and needs (if you like visiting more independently or prefer guided tours with a tour guide), but also based on how busy the port is estimated to be.

So that you have great memories from Santorini other than waiting in long lines.

Anyway, you should expect Santorini to be busy, it’s not possible otherwise, especially during the peak season. A few cruise ships arrive in Santorini in the afternoon and leave around 10 or 11 p.m. It’s not a bad option either, as you will be able to see the famous sunset.

Obviously, cruise ship itinerary differs, but I’ve just reviewed a few, and I’m sure you will have a great time and beautiful places to visit on the way, as well as the other Greek islands on the Aegean Sea. Enjoy your cruise and Santorini visit!

Check out more about Greece in the Greek section of the blog:

Check out here how to get around Santorini.

Here, you can read a little bit more about the Greek language.

And here, you can see what to buy as a souvenir from Greece.