Escape the cold: Why Santorini is your perfect December retreat

Santorini, widely loved for its iconic summer allure, is equally enchanting as a winter holiday spot. Here in the south of the Greek mainland, the beloved island, also known as Thira, is a spectacle with its dramatic volcanic landscapes. In December, while much of Europe is cool, Santorini enjoys a pleasant average daytime temperature of about 60°F (15°C).

So, it’s a splendid time to experience the quieter, more serene side of Santorini, away from the summer’s lively throngs. It’s a cozy and inviting season here, perfect for those looking to uncover the island’s charm in a more relaxed atmosphere.

How cold is Santorini in December?

December days in Santorini are graced with six hours of sunshine, offering ample time for exploring the island in a light far removed from the gloom typical of northern Europe’s winter. However, it’s worth noting that December is Santorini’s wettest month, according to holiday-weather.com. While you might encounter rain, the overall experience remains delightful.

By December, the sea cools to around 18°C, which may deter all but the most enthusiastic swimmers. The island’s climate is typically marked by gentle onshore breezes during this time.

Minimum temperature: 11° C (52°F)
Maximum temperature: 15°C (60°F)
Average temperature: 14°C (58°F)
Average precipitation: 74 mm
Average daylight: Six hours 

Is December a good time to visit Santorini?

Visiting Santorini in December is a unique experience. Be prepared for a mix of cloudy, rainy days and clear, sunny ones. While smaller towns may be quieter with fewer open establishments, Thira, the island’s hub, remains vibrant. Oia, famous for its breathtaking sunsets, also keeps some restaurants and markets open.

Pros of Visiting in December

The tranquility of December is a stark contrast to the bustling summer months. Without crowds or cruise ships, the island’s spectacular sunrises and sunsets can be enjoyed in peace.

Benefits of a December visit include:

Significantly reduced prices for flights, accommodations, and souvenirs.
A relaxed atmosphere, allowing for more meaningful interactions with the island’s friendly locals.
Cooler temperatures, making activities like wandering through charming lanes or admiring views from the Caldera rim more pleasant.

As expected, December in Santorini offers a serene and cost-effective alternative to the busy summer season, with its own unique charm and appeal.

Cons of Visiting Santorini in December

While Santorini retains its charm in December, there are some drawbacks to consider:

Many restaurants and shops, particularly those outside Thira, close for the winter season.
The island loses some of its vibrant summer beauty, as the iconic bougainvillea and colorful geraniums are not in bloom.
Beach enthusiasts may find it too cool for sunbathing or swimming.
Some boat tours and other summer-centric activities are not available during the winter months.

What to Wear in Santorini in December

The key to comfort in Santorini during December is layering:

A warm, rainproof, and windproof jacket is essential.
Include sweatshirts and jumpers of varying thicknesses, along with long-sleeved tees for layering.
For those sensitive to cold, thermal vests are a good idea.
Opt for comfortable, thicker trousers like denim, along with socks and sturdy shoes suitable for walking. Include hiking boots if you plan extensive walking.
Bring warm pajamas, as nights can be chilly in accommodations.
Don’t forget sunglasses, a sun hat, and sunscreen for protection against the sun.
A pashmina or warm shawl is perfect for extra warmth in the evenings.

Events in December in Santorini

December is marked by several Saints’ Days in the Greek Orthodox calendar, adding to the cultural experience:
December 6: Feast Day of Saint Nikolaos, with celebrations at the Monastery of Ayios Nikolaos.
December 9: Ayia Anne celebrated in Vothonos.
December 12: Ayios Spyridon celebrated in Oia, Pyrgos, and Emporio.
December 13: Ayios Efstratios celebrated in Vourvoulos.
December 15: Ayios Eleftherios celebrated in Kontohori.

Enjoy a Christmas Tour

Since it’s December after all, you must experience Christmas Greek island-style. A two-hour Christmas tour offers a festive way to enjoy Santorini this time of the year: 

Starting at Theotokopoulos Main Square in Thira, adorned with thousands of lights, this tour includes a cable car ride up the Caldera and concludes with a festive drink in a restaurant overlooking the Caldera, capturing the island’s unique Christmas spirit.

Best Indoor Places to Visit in Santorini

1. Exploring Thira Town (Thera/Fira)

Santorini’s cooler weather is an invitation to discover Thira, often hailed as Greece’s most beautiful town. Perched on the Caldera’s rim, Thira boasts iconic Cycladic architecture with cube-shaped houses and blue-domed churches clinging to the cliffs. Its narrow, winding streets are best explored on foot.

For those rainy days, Thira offers engaging museums such as the Archaeological Museum of Thira and the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. Just outside the town lies the fascinating Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum.

On brighter days, a walk down the Caldera to Skala Thira port is rewarding. Over 600 shallow steps zigzag down the steep slope. For those preferring a less strenuous descent, donkey rides and a cable car are available. The harbor is a hub for boat trips around the Caldera.

2. Learning About Santorini’s Wines

Santorini’s unpredictable weather provides the perfect excuse to visit its renowned wineries. The island is celebrated for its superb white wines, particularly those made from Aidini, Assyrtiko, and Athiri grapes. Red wine enthusiasts will enjoy varieties from Mandilaria and Mavrotragano wineries. Santo Wines, near the village of Pyrgos, is the island’s most famous winery.

3. Sculpting Volcanic Rock

Embrace the unique opportunity to sculpt volcanic rock, or pumice stone, under the guidance of a local sculptor. This creative endeavor is paired with tasting local wines and snacks, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

4. Enjoying a Greek Cooking Lesson

Engage in a delightful three-hour Greek cooking workshop hosted by a woman named Anna in her home. This immersive experience allows you to prepare a typical family meal using fresh garden produce. Anna’s recipes are not only enjoyable to make but also great to replicate back home. The session is complemented by an introduction to Santorini’s wines, enhancing the culinary adventure.

5. Hiking Around the Caldera

One of the most breathtaking experiences in Santorini is the hike along the Caldera’s rim from Thira to Oia. This roughly 9.5 km dirt track offers stunning vistas and takes between 3 to 5 hours to complete, so be sure to bring plenty of water. Conveniently, buses are available for the return journey from Oia to Thira.

The hike starts along the upper edge of the caldera, providing incredible views. Key highlights include Imerovigli village and the historic Skaros Rock, the site of a 15th-century castle. Oia, known for its charming tavernas, is an ideal spot for a relaxing meal. Timing your arrival in Oia with the sunset offers a spectacular end to the hike, as the village is famous for its breathtaking sunset views.

6. See the Instagram-worthy Sunset

Alternatively, for those who prefer to simply enjoy Oia’s sunset, there are organized walks that will show you the best spots on the island for an instagrammable sunset experience. 

7. Take a Boat Trip

A sunny day is perfect for a boat trip across the Caldera to the volcano’s edge, where an easy path awaits. Some tours also include a visit to the sulphur springs of Nea Kameni, known for their distinctive smell and supposedly beneficial mud. These trips offer the chance to bathe in the warm waters of the springs. Various options are available, all departing from the harbor at the Caldera’s base.

8. Explore the Minoan City of Akrotiri

On Santorini’s southwest is the extensive archaeological site of Akrotiri, one of the Greek Islands’ most significant ancient sites. This well-preserved Minoan city showcases an advanced drainage system, along with fascinating pottery, frescoes, and other artifacts. A visit typically lasts about two hours.

9. Go Horse-Back Riding on the Beach

The weather in Santorini in December often feels more akin to Australia than Europe! It might not be the first activity that comes to mind for the season, but horse riding is incredibly enjoyable and creates lasting memories. There are various horse riding tours available, including a specially curated one for experienced riders. This particular tour is limited to six participants and lasts for two hours and 30 minutes.

The journey begins in Megalochori, where the horses are saddled up, and continues through the countryside to Eros Beach. Here, riders have the chance to canter and gallop along the shoreline. The ride then ascends to a cliffside, offering panoramic views, followed by an exhilarating gallop on the beach. Helmets and saddlebags are provided, and there are plenty of fantastic photo opportunities along the way.

Tips for Visiting Santorini in December

December is an excellent time to visit Santorini for a more leisurely and crowd-free experience. The weather is generally pleasant, though cooler, making exploration more comfortable. However, be prepared for some unpredictability in the weather and have a ‘Plan B’ for rainy days. While some businesses may be closed for winter and smaller villages quieter, Thira remains lively with Christmas decorations and businesses in full operation.

The post Escape the cold: Why Santorini is your perfect December retreat appeared first on My Dolce Casa.

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