Santorini Red Beach is visually the most spectacular of all Santorini beaches. The island is part of a vast volcanic crater or caldera, so Santorini is not the place to find long, golden beaches. Its beaches all have volcanic sand, mostly black or pencil grey in colour.
Most visitors make the trip to Santorini for the stunning villages and caldera views. But we found touring these amazing volcanic beaches among the most compelling things to do in Santorini.
Red Beach Santorini stands out because of the colour of its sand and cliffs. It’s a striking deep red, almost burgundy hue, unique on Santorini. It’s a magnificent sight viewed from a distance, perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
WHERE IS SANTORINI RED BEACH?
Red Beach is on the south coast of the island of Santorini, close to the village of Akrotiri. It’s 12 km (8 miles south of the island capital, Fira.
The beach is also close (500 metres) from the Akrotiri prehistoric village site and Akrotiri beach.
HOW TO GET TO RED BEACH SANTORINI
Getting to Red Beach is straightforward, though it is possible for some confusion to arise.
This famous Santorini beach is sometimes called Red Beach Akrotiri, as it’s only a mile (1.6 km) from Akrotiri village.
If you look at the Santorini bus timetable there is no mention of Red Beach. It does, however, list buses from the main Santorini bus station in Fira to Akrotiri village.
When you get to Fira bus station, you’re more likely to find buses with ‘Red Beach’ as their stated destination, rather than Akrotiri. Confused? Not to worry!
The Red Beach / Akrotiri buses stop a five-minute walk from the access path to Red Beach. They actually stop at the black sand Akrotiri beach.
After getting off at the final stop, return 100 metres or so up the hill, then continue left past several tavernas. You continue past a car park and reach the striking white church of Agios Nikolaos built at the base of some red cliffs. The start of the access path is just beyond here.
ISN’T RED BEACH SANTORINI CLOSED?
There have been serious rock falls on the famous red sand beach. The result of one massive landslip in 2018 can still be seen, with a vast quantity of loose rock on the beach. The local authorities have put up signs stating, “DANGER – NO ENTRY” in red block capitals. Underneath, they explain: “Falling Rocks – Serious Risk of Injury or Death”.
This seems unequivocal. However, the ban on visiting Santorini Red Beach is not enforced. At all.
The first part of the access path – after the warning signs – is perfectly safe. This leads 200 metres or so to the best viewpoints of Red Beach and the cliff behind.
The path beyond is rocky, and warrants wearing at least low-level walking shoes. Many people I saw ventured on wearing flip-flops – totally inadequate footwear for the conditions. As they approached the looser rocky section further on several struggled to stay standing.
Red Beach was well and truly open when I visited, with at least 200 people on the beach. The one slight concession to safety was a fence between the cliffs and the shore, confining bathers to a narrow strip along the shoreline.
FACILITIES AT RED BEACH AKROTIRI
There are none on the beach itself.
However, there is car parking and toilets close to the start of the main path to Red Beach.
There are also several tavernas and souvenir shops on the short road between Red Beach and the bus stop at Akrotiri Beach, so you shouldn’t go short of something to eat or drink.
There is also a fruit stall along the path near the viewpoint. In season, you’ll also find stalls renting out surfboards and paddleboards on the beach itself.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.