Santorini Red Beach

by Aug 3, 2019

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?

Image of Red Beach, Santorini, Greece
Another clifftop view of Red Beach Santorini

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

Image of the bus stop for Santorini Red Beach Greece
The bus stop for Red Beach – at neighbouring Akrotiri beach

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!

Image of the car park for Red Beach Santorini
The path to Red Beach starts at the end of the car park, just beyond the white church

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?

Image of a danger sign warning against visiting Red Beach Santorini
Danger – No Entry! Not that anyone is going to stop you

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”.

Image of crowds of people at the Red Beach viewpoint in Santorini
“You didn’t see a ‘No Entry’ sign back there? No? Me neither.”

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.

Image of people on Red Beach Santorini Greece
Never Mind the Landslips – many venture onto Red Beach despite the advice against doing so

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

Image of a tourist shop sign near Red Beach Santorini Greece
One of the shops next to the Red Beach car park

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.

Image of a fruit stall on the cliff path to Red Beach Santorini
“I didn’t see a sign saying ‘No fruit stalls’!”

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.

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