Santorini in October: the pros, the cons, and my perfect packing tips

Santorini in October

A detailed guide to visiting Santorini in October!

Who goes on their summer holiday in October? Turns out, I do!

I’m a big fan of visiting destinations in what’s known as the ‘shoulder season’ – and it turns out Santorini in October is a great shout. Why? For one, it’s less crowded. And in a place that is known for its popularity, a bit of breathing space goes a long way.

And that’s not all. It’s cheaper. There are fewer children running out and killing your cocktails at 11am while lying horizontal chillout vibes. Plus, your money goes a little bit further out of the peak season, which is good as this place doesn’t come cheap.

Santorini in October

An introduction to Santorini

What does stay the same in October is the amazing destination.

Santorini is a place like no other. The magical Greek island known for its showstopper sunsets, crystal-clear waters, and unfiltered beauty. You know what I’m talking about: those blue domes, sweeping cliff faces, and those iconic white washed buildings clinging to the top of the caldera cliffs like little white barnacles that don’t want to let go.

Santorini is a top-notch destination year-round. While it’s most popular during the summer months (hello, cruise ship visitors!) visiting Santorini in October can be a delightful experience. What it lacks in all-round beach weather, it makes up elsewhere.

In this blog, we’ll explore the pros and cons of visiting Santorini during this shoulder season, share some of the best activities to make the most of your trip, and provide essential packing tips to ensure you’re prepared for your October adventure.

What is Santorini like in October?

In October, Santorini experiences a pleasant transition from the hot summer months to a more moderate climate. The weather in Santorini during this time of year is characterized by gradually decreasing temperatures.

While you can still expect relatively warm days with temperatures averaging around 22-25°C (72-77°F), evenings become cooler, requiring a light jacket or sweater. The island is less crowded in October, offering a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal time for those who prefer a tranquil vacation.

Additionally, the sea remains warm for swimming, although water activities may start to wind down as the month progresses. Overall, October in Santorini provides a comfortable blend of mild weather and a serene environment, making it an appealing choice for travelers seeking a more peaceful island experience.

Santorini in October

But what is the temperature actually like?

Here’s my personal experience of the weather in Santorini in October.

In reality, it was pretty cool when I was in Santorini. The first day was sunny and we could explore Fira in just shorts and a t-shirt. However, the weather after that got a bit cooler and I ended up wearing jeans and a hoodie a lot of the time. OK, the whole time!

It wasn’t what I expected to be wearing from my holiday wardrobe – I just packed the hoodie for the plane, but that’s what the weather warranted. Basically, I’m trying to pre-warn you that there is no guarantee of sunshine at this time of year.

If you want that then do what I did this year and go to Cyprus where it seems to be sun, sun, sun all year round! Alternatively, the Canary Islands are always a dead cert for heat!

Pros of visiting Santorini in October

1. Milder weather

Sometimes when it’s too warm you don’t want to do anything but sunbathe. However, there’s lots to see and do in Santorini and if you’re sunbathing, you’re not seeing it.

That’s why I’m taking the weather as a win. The weather in October is pleasantly warm, with average temperatures ranging from 18°C to 25°C (64°F to 77°F). This makes it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing without the scorching heat of summer.

2. Smaller crowds

One thing that we can say for certain is that Santorini is one of the most desirable locations in the world. People want to visit and see those iconic blue domes for themselves.

What popularity translates to, however, is crowds. Lots of them! October is considered the shoulder season in Santorini. With fewer tourists around, you’ll have a more tranquil experience exploring the island’s attractions and enjoying its famous sunsets.

3. Hiking opportunities

If you enjoy hiking, October is the perfect time to explore the rugged terrain of Santorini. There are a couple of really cool hikes in Santorini. You can do the hike out to Skaros Rock from Imerovigli and you can do the Fira to Oia walk along the iconic caldera.

I’d argue that both of these hikes are a lot more enjoyable in the cooler seasons rather than having to struggle through them pouring with sweat in July. There’s nowhere to hide from the sun during either of the walks so it would be all sun, the whole time!

4. Affordable accommodation

I love staying at a nice hotel when I’m on holiday but it can be tricky to get what you want during the peak summer months. However, off season, things get more affordable!

Since it’s not the peak tourist season, you’re likely to find better deals on accommodations in October. This means you can enjoy luxury stays or charming boutique hotels at more reasonable prices. Plus, the hotels are more likely to be less full, too.

5. More cultural experiences

If you’ve ever wandered around a tourist destination in the middle of summer and wished you could just have a lie down for a second then you’ll know what I mean here. The heat wipes you out and just makes you not want to do anything apart from sleep!

If you visit Santorni in October you’ll have more energy to get out and do things – immerse yourself in local culture without the hustle and bustle of the summer crowd. Visit traditional villages, savour authentic Greek cuisine, and interact with friendly locals.

Cons of visiting Santorini in October

1. It’s not summer

When I think of Santorini I think of sunshine, blue skies, white buildings, and everyone wandering around in beautiful floaty dresses in an array of lovely jewel colours. Sometimes you just want to see a destination in the peak of summer. Know what I mean?

So I would say that is one of the negatives of visiting Santorini in the shoulder season – in doesn’t quite look the way it does on all those Instagram pics you’ve seen. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to bear in mind at least.

2. Cooler sea temperatures

While the air temperature is pleasant, the sea may be a bit cool for extended swimming. It’s still possible to enjoy the beaches, but don’t expect bath-like water temperatures.

The same has to be said for the swimming pools at the hotel as well. Normally I love going swimming and getting some lengths in when I’m on holiday, but in October it was so cold I think I only dipped my toe in once or twice. So it’s not ideal for big swimming fans.

3. Limited beach time

The thing about the weather being cooler is you can’t have those proper lazy days at the beach. You know the ones – when you’re still there at 7pm, all salty skin and hair.

If your primary goal is to relax on the beach, keep in mind that you won’t have as many beach days as in the summer months due to the cooler evenings and occasional rain. You’ll probably have to balance those days with time exploring the sights.

4. Shorter days (and earlier sunsets)

When you’re in Santorini it’s all about chasing the sunsets. During my trip there it felt like we were ruled by sunset and were constantly racing into Fira at 6pm so we could see the sunset from a slightly different location. All as stressful and sweaty as it sounds!

However, the sun sets earlier in October than it does in summer, so your days are effectively shorter. It’s not the end of the world, just something to bear in mind.

5. Some closures

Firstly, there are tons of restaurants and tavernas in Santorini so there’s always going to be somewhere to eat. However, it’s worth mentioning that while most attractions and restaurants remain open, a few places may close for the season towards the end of October.

It’s a good idea to check in advance if there are specific places you want to visit. In early October when we visited, everywhere was still open and welcoming tourists.

FAQs about Santorini in October

Is it worth going to Santorini in October?

100% yes. As long as you go in with your eyes open and don’t expect end-to-end lying by the plunge pool and sipping cocktails weather. You might have to be more active but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because then you get to see more of Santorini!

Is Santorini still nice in October?

I mean, it’s Santorini. It’s like the supermodel of destinations – it would look good in a binbag, in the rain. Santorini is nice any time of year.

Is Santorini fully open in October?

Well, even the cruise ships were still running in October when I was there. As far as I could see, all the attractions and restaurants in Santorini were operating as usual.

Is Santorini rainy in October?

There’s an average of 4mm of rain in Santorini in October. In July, August, and September there are 0mm of rain, so it’s a bit of a difference. However, it’s got nothing on January which has 27mm of rainfall on average. I guess October isn’t too bad then!

It didn’t rain when I was there in October, it just wasn’t sunny.

Must-do activities in Santorini in October

1. Hike Skaros Rock

If you’re looking to do a hike when you’re in Santorini then I would recommend the hike out to Skaros Rock. It’s a large rocky outcrop down a lot of steps near to Imerovigli that protrudes into Santorini’s famous caldera and it brings alllll the drama.

Skaros Rock is a different kind of vibe to all those neatly stacked whitewashed buildings. It’s rough, wild, and untamed, and comes with its own kind of barren beauty. It’s actually a remnant of a medieval fortress and offers stunning vistas of the caldera.

One interesting thing to note is there’s an old chapel down at the very bottom of the rock, on the far side known as, the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti. We actually missed it when we visited and only saw it when we did a boat tour out on the water!

2. Watch the sunsets

If you visit Santorini then there’s one thing you’re pretty much guaranteed to do during your trip: chase the sunsets. This is an island ruled by the sun, where tourists elbow each other out of the way in order to get the best view of that big ball of fire in the sky.

Luckily, there are lots of great places to see the sunset. One of the most famous, aside from the three blue domes of Oia, is the Three Bells of Fira. Officially known as the Catholic Church of the Dormition, it’s one of the most iconic landmarks on the island.

Note, I specifically call it chasing sunsets because if you’re anything like me you’ll end up speed walking from your hotel as you panic watch the sun setting before you arrive! 

3. Visit Oia

The charming village of Oia is a must-visit for its iconic blue-domed churches, narrow streets, and fantastic sunset views. Visiting Oia in Santorini in October is a delight.

The charming village retains its iconic white-washed buildings and stunning sunsets, but without the large summer crowds. Well, I say that, we still had to queue up with the other tourists to snap a photo of the famous blue domes, but that seems par for the course!

I was just grateful we weren’t there in the peak season, because it really would be a squeeze. You can explore its narrow, picturesque streets of Oia at a more relaxed pace, savouring the serene ambiance and taking in the gorgeous views of the caldera.

4. Explore Fira

The capital town of Fira is bustling with shops, restaurants, and cultural sites.

It was where we stayed during our trip (well, just outside) and it’s all about blue domes, buzz, and beautiful caldera views. The caldera is everything everyone says it is and more, with an almost-sheer cliff face that drops down to the turquoise Aegean Sea below. 

Enjoy leisurely strolls through the town, drink a cocktail in one of the many bars and restaurants, and visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira to learn about Santorini’s ancient history. You can also explore the old harbour and get the cable car!

5. Book a tour to Thirassia

Activities ahoy! We signed up for the Caldera Half-Day Tour (Volcano, Hot Springs, and Thirassia). First, you’ll visit Nea Kameni, a volcanic island that you can see from the caldera.

I got definite Mordor vibes here – due to the black barren landscape and huge yawning craters at the top, complete with bits that are still smoking. Next stop on the tour is the hot springs! The springs weren’t exactly hot – I would say about the temperature of a shower that isn’t quite hot enough – but it was just nice to be in the water and not be cold!

The tour finishes up with some free time on the island of Thirassia where you can walk up the winding path to the village above – it’s certainly the way to work up a sweat.

What to pack for Santorini in October

When packing for your October trip to Santorini, it’s essential to strike a balance between summer and fall clothing. Here’s a list of items to consider…

Six essential things to pack for Santorini in October

1. Light layers

I’m someone that feels the cold, even in Santorini! The thing with this location is that it is so exposed. Sipping on a cocktail and taking in the views of the caldera is pretty magical, but it also means you’re susceptible to the wind – that’s when it gets a tad chilly!

I would highly recommend packing layers! I mean lightweight sweaters or hoodies for the day, long-sleeve shirts, and a light jacket and trousers or jeans for the cooler evenings.

2. Comfortable shoes

As I said earlier, cooler temperatures mean you’ll have more time for exploring. You’re less likely to need your flip flops and sandals and more likely to need a pair of trainers.

Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers are essential, especially if you plan on hiking or exploring the island on foot. I wore my Adidas shell toes for the entirety of the trip and having seen a someone struggle with flip flops on the hike, they were essential!

3. Sun protection

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat are still necessary to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, even out of the peak summer. You can still tan through the clouds, as everyone knows, so that’s another reason why it’s essential.

You also might do more hiking in October. As I said earlier, the hikes are completely exposed to the elements so if it’s sunny all day, you can’t catch any shade.

Santorini in October

4. Rain gear

You can’t guarantee the Santorini sunshine in October so packing an umbrella or a lightweight rain jacket can come in handy for occasional showers. Try and take something that can be folded up neatly so it doesn’t take up too much room in your suitcase.

Just as the long hikes mean you can’t escape from the sun all day, it also means that there isn’t any shelter if it decides to rain. A jacket will stop you from getting drenched.

5. Kirby grips

I was in the midst of growing out my fringe while we were in Santorini. However, the winds were crazy strong at times and if I didn’t have Kirby grips with me I would’ve ended up eating my hair! Those flyway strands definitely stuck to my lip gloss enough times.

If you want to get those nice sunset photos without your hair blowing everywhere, pack some Kirby grips to keep your hair neat. I brought hairbands for good measure too.

6. Camera gear (and portable charger)

Santorini’s beauty is unparalleled, so ensure you have your camera or smartphone with ample storage space for all those photos. I’m useless with anything other than an iPhone but if you love your camera gear then Santorini is a great place to use it.

I would also include a portable battery pack to your suitcase. The last thing you want is your phone running out of juice when you’re ready to capture the perfect shot.

What else should you pack for Santorini?

7. Swimwear

While swimming might be less frequent, don’t forget your swimsuit for those sunny days. You don’t want to miss the opportunity if the weather plays ball.

8. Electrical adapters

If you’re traveling from outside of Europe, don’t forget a European electrical adapter to charge your devices. You’ll need one of the two pronged adapters.

9. Cash and cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Santorini, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases as well.

Santorini in October – where to stay

We stayed at the El Greco Resort & Spa during our stay in Santorini.

It’s located a short walk outside of Fira which was great for two reasons. One, because it’s not in Fira directly you get a lot more space. Larger rooms, bigger pools, all that good stuff.

Secondly, it’s about a ten-minute walk from Fira. But just opposite the hotel is this amazing spot for watching the sunset. We were literally blasted by sunset every time we walked along here towards Fira at dinner time – my face would be orange from the light! And the best part, there were only ever a few people there at the same time. Zero crowds.

I know, I know, it wasn’t one of the hotels on the actual caldera. But having wandered around everywhere and seeing how public a lot of the suites and hotels were here I’m not sure it was for me. Everything is on top of each other – I definitely saw one PDA in a plunge pool too many! So if you want a more secluded experience, the El Greco might work.  

El Greco had about a million pools (I think six) as well as lovely rooms and a great bar that did excellent cocktails. Breakfast was great and the staff were also lovely.

Key takeaway

In conclusion, visiting Santorini in October is still a great experience. It’s just important to know what you’re booking. Sunbathing all day is out, exploring and hikes are in!

Visiting this beautiful Greek island in October offers a delightful mix of pleasant weather, smaller crowds, and less people to elbow out the way to get that perfect sunset shot. Kidding! Although I’m not gonna lie, it must get insane in Santorini in peak season!

 While you might not spend all day basking in the sun, the island’s beauty and charm remain intact, making it a fantastic time to explore this Greek gem. Whether you’re hiking Skaros Rock, savouring local cuisine, or heading to one of the open air cinemas, Santorini in October promises an unforgettable vacation. Plus it’s more affordable, right?

Just make sure you pack a cardigan and you’ll have an amazing trip!

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2 responses to “Santorini in October: the pros, the cons, and my perfect packing tips”

  1. Less crowded Santorini is a good time to explore. It can be fully packed in the summer especially with the cruise liners stopping by. I’ve been to Santorini twice, once in summer, despite the crowd, it was the best time to be at the beach with the warm temperatures and to explore the island. The second time was late September and it was cooler. But it’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world, hence I can come back anytime!

    1. Yes it was nice to have smaller crowds but I definitely wouldn’t have minded a bit more sun! I would like to go back slightly earlier in the season when I was a bit warmer, September sounds like a good time really 🙂

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