Visit Santorini in November without the Crowds

Visit Santorini in November without the Crowds

Why should you consider a holiday in Santorini in November? Perhaps you are tempted to visit Santorini Greece, but the crowds are off-putting. Well, November is the perfect month to visit this unique island if you are not into beach holidays and swimming. In this complete guide to visiting Santorini in November, you’ll find out the 14 best things to do, what you need to know before you visit, and why the island is so much better once the crowds are gone.

Things to know before traveling to Santorini in November

Santorini and its unrivaled beauties are the reason many travelers visit Greece in the first place. For many, it will be the only thing besides Athens they will ever see of Greece.

This fact makes Santorini one of the most crowded Greek destinations ever and oftentimes an impediment to enjoying the sights you covered thousands of miles for.

November on Santorini Island, Greece
November on Santorini Island, Greece

As Greece’s most popular island, Santorini has one of the longest tourist seasons of all the Greek islands, stretching from early March until late October.

However, the low season on this island does not mean whole villages and most restaurants, cafes, and museums are shut for the winter.

November is the entry month to the winter season and a period when the whole vibe is much more relaxed and you will have all the landmarks to yourself.

Outdoor heated spa suite swimming pool, Neptune Luxury Spa Suites, Santorini, Greece
Outdoor heated spa suite swimming pool, Neptune Luxury Spa Suites, Santorini, Greece

The best thing of all – Santorini’s sometimes notoriously high prices drop significantly during the off-season, offering much better value for money.

Accommodation is a lot cheaper, so it gives you more pocket money to spend on Santorini activities or if you are like me, to open up a whole new world of private pool/hot tub cliff-house luxury hotels that are otherwise out of reach during the high season.

Weather in Santorini in November

November is the first month of the Greek Cycladic island’s mild winter. The famous island rains are still far away, the sunshine is abundant, but the heat is gone. But, what does it mean actually?

November is the easy-going month on the island of Santorini, Greece

The daytime average temperature is 15-20˚C, with a monthly average close to 17˚C. The average sea temperature is around 19˚C, which for many swimmers tends to be too cold to enjoy the sea.

Since I spend a lot of time in Greece during the year, I stop swimming in mid-October and consider a visit to Santorini in November a kind of city break or a sightseeing trip, not a beach holiday.    

Watching the sunset on Santorini in November
Watching the sunset on Santorini in November

This might still be warm compared to many places in Europe (especially Northern Europe and North America), so as long as the days are sunny, you will enjoy the weather.

Days are spent in jeans and a shirt, while the evenings will require a sweater and/or a jacket. 

Does visiting Santorini in November make sense?

This is the main question – well, it depends on what you expect from your visit.

🏖️ If beach holiday, swimming and sea sports are your main focus, better avoid November, as the weather is too cold for that. (You might consider Cyprus instead).

Wildflowers and mist on Santorini, Greece
Wildflowers and mist in Santorini, Greece

🏝️ If, however, you intend to roam around one of the most spectacular Mediterranean islands out there, soaking up its culture, black-soil volcanoes, traditional architecture, views, sunsets, and local people relaxing from the busy season, then November is the very best month to do that.

☀️ The Santorini weather is mild and perfect for many activities that would be just too much hard work under the scorching months of July and August.

🚶🏿‍♀️ This includes the amazing Fira-Oia walk and the general feeling is that November gives you more possibilities for discovering the island’s charms.

Getting to Santorini in November

✈️ Getting to Santorini in November is as easy during the winter as it is in the summer, although some international charter flights will cease to operate past mid-October.

Arriving by ferry at Athinios Port, Santorini, Greece
Arriving by ferry at Athinios Port, Santorini, Greece

⛴️ Direct domestic flights connecting Athens, Thessaloniki, and other Greek destinations with the island are regular and plenty, plus ferries from/to Athens and other Greek islands never stop sailing.

TIP: Sometimes it is cheaper to fly than to get a ferry service to Santorini.

What is closed in Santorini in November?

⏳ The time when the island’s tourist infrastructure really shuts for the season is the very end of November.

🛳️ That’s when the last cruise ships make their ultimate visits to the island for the year, as well as the time big resorts and luxurious hotels close for the winter.

🛎️ Other than that, November is business as usual for most of the island, although you will start noticing small towns and villages wrapping up their businesses during the last week of November.

🛍️ Fira and Oia is where all the activity remains.

🚌 November is the time public buses cancel some of the routes or make less frequent departures. This should not bother you as Santorini is really an island where you should rent a car.

TIP: All the important things including hotels, restaurants, bars & cafes, museums and excursions/activities are open. 

Can you still swim in Santorini in November?

Santorini has some picturesque and unique beaches, including the famous Perivolos or Perissa, White Beach, Red Beach, Ammoudi Bay (Amoudi Bay).

They are more interesting as geological things of beauty and unique settings than they are swimming and beach marvels.

There are much nicer beaches on other Greek islands or the mainland (especially Halkidiki or Peloponnese regions), so I am not a great fan of Santorini beaches and swimming.

Red beach in Santorini view of the sea from a Catamaran boat tour in summer, Santorini, Greece
Red beach in Santorini view of the sea from a Catamaran boat tour in summer, Santorini, Greece

The average sea temperature is still lukewarm (19˚C/ 66.2˚F) and many people swim at least during the first two weeks of November. You won’t see locals doing this!

It is possible to swim in the warm springs around the volcano on boat tours at any time of year. In any case, bring along a swimsuit and try, you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Best 14 things to do in Santorini in November

If you want to explore Santorini’s other attractions – archaeological sites, wine tastings, hiking, sailing, exploring quiet villages, soaking up caldera views – November is the best month to come.

These are my favorite things to do in Santorini in November.

1. Sailing around the island – many boat tours options

If you are like me, you will love exploring Greek islands on a sailing boat and Santorini is perhaps the most interesting when approached by the sea.

Santorini sunset boat tour, Santorini Island, Greece
Santorini sunset boat tour, Santorini Island, Greece

Built high on its cliffs, Santorini’s history has always been one with its shores, harbors, and surrounding islets.

A sailing trip not only opens up these perspectives, it also gives you perfect opportunities to take unique photographs and truly admire the geography of the island and the caldera.

TIP: Although more than 200 boat tours are available during the summer, this number in November drops significantly. Nevertheless, sailing around Santorini, especially on a sunset tour, is a perfect opportunity to embrace its azure Aegean Sea!

2. Volcano visit

The greatest boat tour you can do around Santorini – a visit to its volcanic core – is best done in November.

The Volcano - Nea Kameni, Santorini, Greece
The Volcano – Nea Kameni, Santorini, Greece

The volcanic heart of Santorini is located on an islet called Nea Kameni, just off Fira.

On the way there you literary sail around its flooded caldera as you approach the epicenter of the eruption that shaped the Greek islands some 3500 years ago.

The visit includes a bit of hiking once you arrive there. This is almost impossible during the summer, as the heat is just dazzling, but in November, the weather is mild and the hike is pleasant.

Hot Springs at the Volcano, Santorini
Hot Springs at the Volcano (Agios Nikolaos Bay), Santorini

Best of all, the volcano tour will then take you on the small islet of Palaia Kameni, including a visit to the hot springs and mud baths that are a living example of what means to live on volcanic soil.

The waters in Agios Nikolaos Bay are warm – around 30˚C – so a quick swim (despite the harsh volcanic smell) is a must!

TIP: Daytrip cruises from Santorini depart from the picturesque Old Port of Fira (aka Skala or Gialos), so make sure to walk the winding steps down to it and take a cable car up, which is an attraction in its own right!

3. Visit Ancient Akrotiri

Santorini boasts a lot of archaeological sites and museums, bearing witness to its significance since ancient times.

The most well-known is the settlement of Ancient Akrotiri, which was probably a Bronze Age Minoan colony.

Akrotiri Archaeological Site, Santorini
Akrotiri Archaeological Site, Santorini

Ancient Akrotiri, like its Italian counterpart Pompeii, was devastated by a volcanic eruption sometime around the 17th century BC.

The settlement was completely covered by volcanic ashes and debris when it was discovered in the 1860s. The ash protected the site for many centuries.

The site is huge, and although an open-air location, the main excavated area has been covered to protect the ruins from the elements.

It is one of my favorite ancient sites of Greece as you actually walk around a settlement and its squares and streets that just stopped existing in a single day.

This is why I have a whole page dedicated to it with detailed info on tickets, how to get there, and the best tips for making the most of your visit).

4. Go to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera

Ancient Acrotiri doesn’t have a museum, so the next logical stop after it is the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira town.

Akrotiri Fresco, Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Santorini, Greece
Akrotiri Fresco, Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Santorini, Greece

That’s where the whole ancient site comes to life and a place to admire the elaborate culture and art of the prehistoric times of the island.

The archaeological museum houses some magnificent 4000-year-old Santorini Cycladic figurines. The archaeological site’s wall frescoes, vessels, ceramics, and other items can be seen here too.

TIP: The museum is built on the site of the old Ypapanti Church, which was destroyed in a catastrophic 1956 Santorini earthquake.

5. Discover Santorini wineries

Some of Europe’s oldest wineries are in Santorini! So, brand everyone’s favorite activity of wine tasting into a tour of Europe’s cultural heritage and knock yourself out.

Santo Wines Vineyard, Santorini, Greece
In Santorini, vines are grown coiled around on the ground because of the wind. Santo Wines Vineyard, Santorini, Greece

Santorini and its volcanic soil produced an amazing variety of wines, with the most famous grapes locally grown surely being the Assyrtiko (white) and Mavrotragano (red).

Besides other varieties produced on the island, like Athiri, and Mandilaria, Santorini is known for its sun-dried variety of Vinsanto, bound to satisfy any sweet wine palate.

There are almost 15 wineries in Santorini that you can visit on your own or as a part of a tour that groups at least 3-4 places, so it becomes a half-day activity.

Wine tasting terrace, Santo Wines, Santorini, Greece
Wine tasting terrace, Santo Wines, Santorini, Greece

Industrious locals tend to bring together the 3 things Santorini is famous worldwide for – sunset, volcano, and wine into a sunset wine-tasting cruise!

So, if you are not into anything winery-related and just want to sample these wonderful wines, this might the the thing for you.

In any case, take a look at this detailed account of the world of wine in Santorini to pick the best option for yourself.

Hike Santorini

It is common knowledge that Santorini is a unique natural setting with cliffside villages and stunning vistas towards the flooded caldera, other islands, and the horizon.

One of the best ways to discover it is to hike the trails of Santorini, something not easily done under the summer heat, but a pure bliss in November. These are my two favorite hikes.

6. Fira to Oia hike  

The queen of hiking routes, this relatively easy 10km path, unpacks the whole of Santorini’s nature and views for you.

It is not just the most picturesque hiking trail in Europe (no false modesty here!) but an activity that will really give you the island on your palm and make you remember it forever.

fira to oia hike around santorini caldera
Fira to Oia hike around Santorini caldera

Start from Fira to get more downhill sections (and the least number of inclines), and walk past the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli before reaching the magical Oia.

What to expect? Wildflowers cascading down the cliff, white sugar cube architecture, blue domes of Santorini on the horizon, and all that glorious Aegean Sea.

November is the perfect month to do this hike as you can plan ahead and end up in Oia for the sunset, something that would be impossible to do under the summer sun.

Descent to Oia on Santorini caldera cliff-top hike from fira to oia
Final descent into Oia from Fira, Santorini, Greece

Taking a bus back to Fira is a hassle-free experience.

I was comfortable in November in a t-shirt, shorts, and hiking shoes because of the sunny day, but I took a light jacket that I needed after the sunset. Fira-Oia is among the easy hikes around the Cyclades.

7. Kamari to Ancient Thera to Perissa hike

This is another hike that is much more pleasant in November when the weather is milder as you are walking up from the black volcanic sands of seaside Kamari to the archaeological site of Ancient Thera via a cobblestoned path meandering along big rocky boulders.

The hike between Kamari and Perissa looks down onto Kamari Village, Santorini
The hike between Kamari and Perissa looks down onto Kamari Village, Santorini

All of it is one huge furnace during the summer, but a very nice walk in November.

After visiting the Church and Spring of Zoodochos Pigi and some time roaming around the ruins of Ancient Thera, continue for another 40-50 minutes of downhill hike to another black-sand resort of Perissa.

Zoodochos Pigi cave and Spring on Mount Profitas Ilias, Santorini, Greece
Zoodochos Pigi cave and Spring, Mount Profitas Ilias, Santorini’s only natural source of water

TIP: Check the bus schedules for coming back from Perissa, you might need to switch in Fira.  

8. Diving

November might be a good time to learn diving and Santorini is a proper place to do it. There are a couple of diving and snorkeling tour shops in Amoudi Bay.

Diving and snorkeling happens at Amoudi Bay year-round, Oia, Santorini, Greece
Diving and snorkeling happens at Amoudi Bay year-round, Oia, Santorini, Greece

Protected from the strong northern Meltemi winds, the south coast of Santorini is a friendly, non-demanding environment, perfect for the first underwater steps.

The lower water temperature means you should simply put on a thicker wet suit and you are good to go!

Visit the historic villages of Santorini

Santorini is so much more than its caldera villages perched on the inner-ring cliff of the island.

Quad bikes parked near the Red Beach, Akrotiri, Santorini Island, Greece
Quad bikes parked near the Red Beach, Akrotiri, Santorini Island, Greece

Although settlements between Fira and Oia attract the majority of tourists, the real charm lies elsewhere, in places that still retain the real-life rhythm of insular life.

And they don’t lack in historic landmarks either!

In November they might be ready to enter sweet winter hibernation, but even then, they are wonderful places to discover.

Take a car or Quad bike around the island, as the roads will be free from the usual tourist traffic of innumerable, coaches, minibuses, and scooters.

9. Mesaria

You can start with the one closest to Fira – Mesaria village.

Church of Saint Demetrius, Mesaria, Santorini, Greece, C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0
Church of Saint Demetrius, Mesaria, Santorini, Greece, C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0

The last of the caldera villages before you turn to the inner sections of the island, Mesaria has wonderful architecture and nice cafes and restaurants.

Do not miss a visit to the house museum, Argyros Mansion, a rare example of a high-bourgeois island house.

After that, head straight to Canava Santorini distillery, where the owners have produced fine spirits for decades, including ouzo.

Even if you are not a fan, you will love the setting and their newly established museum of everyday life called “Santorini the days gone by”.

10. Pyrgos

The next village to be on your exploration list should definitely be the medieval hillside village of Pyrgos, sitting below the highest point of Santorini, the Profitis Ilias peak.

Beautiful traditional houses in Pyrgos Village, Santorini, Greece
Beautiful traditional houses in Pyrgos Village, Santorini, Greece

Besides the remains of the Venetian castle, historical monuments testifying to the island’s role in WW2, and beautifully restored houses, Pyrgos is home to one of the famous blue-domed churches of Santorini – Aghios Nikolaos.

Before moving on, stop for a wine in the local Hatzidakis or Santo Winery.

11. Emporio

Emporio is the real Santorini nowadays, a place where the majority of locals live and go about their daily lives.

Traditional houses of Emporio village, Santorini
Traditional houses of Emporio village, Santorini

It is also a place rich in history, with windmills, traditional architecture designed to keep the pirates away, another Venetian castle (one of the island’s five and my favorite), narrow alleyways, towers, and nearby black sand beaches.

And it’s only 12km away from Fira town.

12. Megalochori

Megalochori is a place with rich and interesting history and my favorite part has to do with the villagers not running away from the piracy of the Aegean Sea, but embracing it – there were many pirate hideouts in the area.

Megalochori Village Santorini Greece
Megalochori Village, Santorini, Greece

After the heyday of the maritime outlaws was gone, Megalochori established itself as the exporting hub for Santorini wines until the village was severely hit by the devastating 1956 earthquake.

Santorini has many more villages, including Karterados, Mesa Gonia, Ekso Gonia, Finikia, Vourvoulo, and Vothonas. Visit them at your own pace; now that the roads are not busy, the island is easily traversed.

TIP: One of my favorite Santorini restaurants is Metaxi Mas in Exo Gonia.

13. Stroll Fira and Oia without the crowds

November is a perfect month to visit the jewel villages of Santorini – Fira and Oia.

These places get the majority of tourists and during the summer it’s almost impossible to enjoy the narrow winding streets dug out in the cliff.

Having the island of Santorini to yourself is the reason to come in November
Having the island of Santorini to yourself is the reason to come in November

During the low season months, you won’t have the glorious warm weather of the Cyclades over summer, but the island gets a bit of its authenticity back and you might just find a local or two sitting together and chatting over a coffee cup.

TIP: Strangely, Oia offers much fewer choices in November than Fira. I recommend Oia only for day drips and hike destinations.

14. Explore traditional Santorini food

And for the end of this Santorini compendium, my favorite thing – Greek food. Nowadays, you can find any cuisine in Santorini, from sushi to McDonalds.

But in the winter months, the real local food comes to life.

Santorini tomato fritters with Greek yoghurt
Santorini tomato fritters with Greek yoghurt

Santorini is big on tomatoes, fava, and wine. So, go for fried tomato balls and sun-dried tomatoes, PDO Santorini fava dip from locally grown yellow split peas, all washed down with any local house wine; it’s bound to be good.

Santorini guarantees great food year-round.  

FAQ about Santorini Greece in November

Is it a good idea to spend November in Santorini?

Having a vacation on Santorini Island during the month of November is ideal, unless you want a beach holiday or take a day trip or two to neighboring islands.

What is Santorini weather like in November?

You’ll find the weather conditions mostly sunny, with an average temperature range of 15-20˚C / 59-68°F.
Clouds and a little rain are not unusual, especially after mid-November. It is not beach time!

Will anything be open in November?

Some villages shut their tourist businesses and return to local rhythms as the weather turns; however Fira and the majority of its museums, bars, and many restaurants open.    

Is it less expensive to visit Santorini island in November?

Santorini hotels and private accommodation prices are reduced to almost half of their peak summer season amounts, but many hotels are also closed during November.
Thankfully, this is changing since the end of the pandemic.

Is shopping available during late November?

Shopping is where you feel the winter is coming in Santorini. Most shops close for the season during November, so better to do your shopping in Athens’ many shops and boutiques.

What is the best off-season month in Santorini Greece?

Depends on what you love – late April is blossom time around the Aegean, so the wildflowers are everywhere and the beauty is surreal. (Early April can be very windy).
May is when the sunny days really catch on, remaining until early November.
The best of the summer months is surely September.
Avoid spending the winter months of December, January, and February on the island, unless you love rain and cold winds.
The average temperature daily maximum over the winter season is 14°C/57.2°F