Last Updated on March 4, 2024

Santorini is a great cruise port for day visitors due to its stunning landscapes, picturesque villages like Oia and Fira, historical sites such as Akrotiri, renowned Assyrtiko wine, and the opportunity to witness breathtaking sunsets over the caldera. What’s not to like about Santorini as a cruise visitor? This is a wonderful stopover and here is why below.

Santorini cruise port guide

Do I Need to Book a Tour With the Cruise Line for Santorini?

The simple answer is No!

You do not need to book a tour as you can easily get the cable car or walk up the hill to the capital Fira, or catch a bus to Oia.

Fira stands as the capital and largest town of Santorini, a captivating island in the Aegean Sea, Greece, renowned for its captivating views, and whitewashed buildings.

You can then walk around the quaint and beautiful village of Fira and you might find this enough to enjoy Santorini, after enjoying the views and relaxing in the town with a coffee and exploring the shops.

A lot of cruise visitors though often prioritize Oia for its iconic beauty and its sunsets.

Getting from the Cruise Ship to Santorini: Tender Boat

Cruise ships are usually too big to dock in Santorini so the chances are that you will be using a tender.

A tender is a little boat that you get into and then transports you from the cruise ship to the port and in Santorini this is about a 10-minute boat ride and it is usually not charged for.

Upon arrival at the Santorini cruise port, you then have various transportation options to reach the center and explore attractions.

Getting from the Cruise Port to Fira

1. Cable Car (to Visit Fira)

Our favorite way to get from the cruise port to Fira, the island’s capital, is to take the cable car.

It is a wonderful way to appreciate the scenery and, if you have never been in a cable car, then here is your opportunity!

Fira is the capital of Santorini and is a beautiful village with many narrow alleyways and streets with lots of interesting shops.

The views are also lovely in Fira and it is definitely worth seeing and The cable car is still 6 Euros (you can see the latest prices here).

2. Walking (to Fira)

If weather conditions permit and you enjoy walking, it is a steep uphill stroll from the cruise port to Fira.

We did this once as we love walking and grabbed the chance to get in some much-needed fitness after over-eating on the cruise ship.

If you have dodgy knees, you are better off with the cable car!

3. Taxi or Private Transfer (to Fira)

If you are scared of heights, and do not want to use the cable car, and are not fit enough or willing to walk up the steep hill, then a taxi is a good option.

Taxis are readily available at the port, or you might choose to arrange a private transfer in advance for convenience and comfort, especially if you are a group and/or if you want to see both Fira and Oia.

4. Public Bus

Santorini’s well-established public bus system offers a budget-friendly option for regular routes between the cruise port and various island destinations, though some waiting time may be involved.

What to See and Do in Fira, Santorini

Walking through Fira in Santorini

As a cruise visitor to Fira, Santorini, there are several attractions and activities to choose from during your limited time on the island. Here are some recommendations:

1. Explore the Town of Fira by foot

Wander through the charming streets of Fira, lined with white-washed buildings, boutiques, and cafes.

Make sure to enjoy the architecture and views of the caldera (the caldera refers to a large, water-filled volcanic crater created by the collapse of the island’s central part during a massive volcanic eruption in antiquity).

2. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Thera

Explore the Archaeological Museum of Thera, which houses artifacts from the ancient city of Akrotiri and other archaeological sites on the island.

3. Discover the Museum of Prehistoric Thera

The Museum of Prehistoric Thera showcases exhibits from various periods, including the Minoan civilization.

4. Admire the Three Bells of Fira

Capture picturesque moments at the Three Bells of Fira, a famous blue-domed church with a bell tower. It is a popular spot for photos with the stunning backdrop of the caldera.

5. Visit the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral is an iconic landmark in Fira. Explore the cathedral and its surroundings.

6. Enjoy Shopping

If you are looking for souvenirs to take back onboard the cruise ship, there are many shops selling handicrafts, handmade jewelry, and a range of local souvenirs.

Getting From the Cruise Port to Oia

You can either go to Oia after visiting Fira or straight from the cruise port.

As mentioned at the start of this post, some people choose to give Fira a miss and head straight for Oia. Others are happy just with Fira. You can do both but just be mindful of the time.

1. Bus

Public buses operate from the cruise port to Oia.

The bus station is usually located within walking distance of the port. The fare is only a couple of Euros and you can usually get a seat (although it can be touch and go during the peak season).

2. Taxi

Taxis are often available at the cruise port. While more expensive than buses, taxis will make it far easier to see both Oia and Fira if you want to do both.

*Ensure that the taxi driver uses the meter or agrees on a fare before starting the journey.

What many cruise visitors do is pair up with another couple and go 4 together in a cab straight from the port to Oia.

3. Shuttle Services

Most cruise lines offer a shuttle service from the cruise port to Oia.

4. Walking and Hiking (10 km)

If you are feeling super-adventurous, there is a walking path from Fira (the capital) to Oia known as the “Fira to Oia Hike.”

This scenic hike offers breathtaking views if you can handle a brisk 10 km walk over the terrain.

Duration

The journey from the Santorini cruise port to Oia takes approximately 30 minutes by car or taxi, depending on traffic conditions.

Why Visit Oia?

Oia in Santorini

Oia, situated on the northern edge of Santorini in Greece, is a captivating village that stands out as a must-visit destination for cruise visitors.

1. Spectacular Views

Oia is renowned for its awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of the Aegean Sea and the caldera, particularly during the mesmerizing sunset—a must-see for all visitors.

2. Exploration of Oia Castle (Oia Castle)

Oia Castle, also recognized as the Castle of Agios Nikolaos, offers breathtaking views and is a renowned vantage point for experiencing the mesmerizing sunset.

3. Amoudi Bay Excursion

Below Oia, Amoudi Bay is a delightful fishing village with traditional tavernas and seafood restaurants.

Some visitors opt for a stroll down the steps or a donkey ride to reach this charming spot.

4. Artistic Enclaves and Boutiques

Oia’s narrow lanes are adorned with art galleries, boutiques, and souvenir shops, offering unique handmade crafts, jewelry, and local artworks.

5. Visit to the Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum of Oia provides a glimpse into the island’s maritime heritage, showcasing ship models, historical maritime equipment, and captivating photographs.

6. Photography Paradise

You have probably seen dozens of photos of Oia without even realizing it, as photos of this town adjourn so many travel guides and newspaper travel articles.

Oia’s unique architecture, vibrant colors, and stunning landscapes make it a haven for photographers, offering limitless opportunities to capture unforgettable moments.

Paul Symonds