Perissa beach is right up there with the best beaches in Santorini. It’s a classic black sand Santorini beach on the east coast of the island: Perissa is at the northern end, while the southern part is known as Perivolos beach.
It differs from Santorini beaches such as Red Beach, Black Beach, Caldera Beach and Vlychada in that it’s very developed. The street adjacent to the beach is lined with Perissa restaurants, cafes and bars, and each manages a section of beach. Most of Perissa beach Santorini is filled with beach umbrellas and sun loungers, and there are also sections of public beach, where anyone can turn up, sunbathe or swim.
Perissa is one of the most popular Santorini resorts, and it has one of the biggest concentrations of Santorini hotels away from the caldera. So what makes it such a good base for Santorini holidays?
Read on to find out!
WHERE IS PERISSA BEACH SANTORINI?
Perissa is on the south-east coast of Santorini. It’s 13 km (8 miles) from the Santorini main town, Fira. The village and beach are in the shadow of an imposing rocky mountain. Kamari beach, another popular Santorini beach, lies on the other (northern) side of this mountain. It’s also two miles (3 km) down the hill from the enchanting village of Emporio.
WHAT ABOUT GETTING TO PERISSA?
The Fira to Perissa bus departs every twenty minutes during the daytime. Some of these are ‘express’ services, running direct to Perissa without stopping. Always check with the driver, but if the word ‘Express’ isn’t on the bus, it should stop at all designated stops.
If you’re returning to Fira from Perissa in peak season, bear this tip in mind. You really should try to board the bus at the terminus, not elsewhere in Perissa village. The bus to Fira cannot cope with demand in summer – it’s often full and turning away passengers by the other end of Perissa village. The terminus is a minute’s walk from the end of the beach. There’s a large turning area, and a sizeable shelter and seating area on the left as you approach from the beach. Catch your bus to Fira from there.
If you’re driving, the main road into Perissa is of a reasonable standard, and there are some large car parks on the left as you’re driving through the village towards the beach.
DESCRIBE PERISSA BEACH
Perissa black sand beach is along, wide sweep of sand stretching around 5 km (3 miles) to its other end at Perivolos.
Despite the presence of so many beach umbrellas and sun loungers (owned by the various Perissa beach bars) the beach never felt crowded to us. It’s very heavily commercialised, but there’s a relaxed vibe there, a mixture of families and various age groups, including backpackers.
Santorini black sand can become incredibly hot, especially in summer, so try to avoid walking barefoot on it unless it’s early or late in the day.
My wife, Faye, and son went for a couple of swims in Perissa, and their comments echoed those of many other visitors. Faye has swum at countless beaches all round the world, and remarked that swimming in Santorini was amazing because the water was so clear. This is because with the volcanic black sand you don’t get the ‘churn’ you do with ‘white’ or ‘’golden’ sand, which clouds the water near the shore.
WHAT ABOUT FACILITIES AT PERISSA BEACH SANTORINI?
There’s everything you could possibly need very close to Perissa beach. As well as the multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants, there are also supermarkets and souvenir shops aplenty, especially at the northern end near the bus station.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER THINGS TO DO IN PERISSA?
Many visitors stick to the beach and restaurants along the strip behind the beach. After all, it is one of the top beaches in Santorini.
The most prominent landmark in Perissa is the soaring white tower of Holy Cross church, a minute’s walk from the bus station. It’s five tiers high, a most impressive sight. I was fortunate to be allowed to look around the interior during a wedding rehearsal one evening. It’s one of the best churches in Santorini that we visited.
The ancient city of Thera is high above Perissa on Messavouno mountain. It’s a short drive or rewarding 45-minute hike from the village. The city was probably founded in the 9th century BC. Most of the ruins are foundations, but the mountaintop site is hugely impressive and evocative.
There is also a tourist train running every hour between Perissa and Vlychada. It runs along roads through Perissa village, passing along the strip at Perivolos. It eventually stops at Vlychada, between the harbour and the stunning beach. It’s a 30-minute journey each way, costing 8 euros for an adult return ticket.