The Red Beach Santorini is one of the most famous places on the island. The unique landscape of the red cliffs dropping into the deep blue of the sea is mesmerizing. Below is a guide to help you plan your visit and decide if you want to get to the beach (as it is dangerous).
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Why visit the Red Beach in Santorini?
The Red Beach (Kokkini Beach) is quite a unique sight to enjoy on the island.
The South Coast of Santorini varies a lot with tortuous cliffs (such as at Vlichada), White cliffs, black cliffs and... red cliffs. This is where Red Beach is, probably the most famous beach in Santorini.
This is quite a rare sight (although not unique in the World as some write). The tall red volcanic cliffs plunge into the beautiful blue of the Aegean Sea. The contrast is fascinating!
Why not visit the Red Beach?
The Red beach is dangerous. The cliffs are not stable and there are frequent rockslides.
You can reach the viewpoint safely, but going to the beach itself is dangerous.
Planning Tips - Red Beach Santorini
Location of Red Beach on Santorini - Map
- Below is my overview map of Santorini where you can see Red beach on the South Coast
- Just South of Akrotiri
- You can combine with a visit to the Akrotiri archaeological site.
- Oia to Red Beach - 50min drive
- Thera (Fira) to Red Beach - 30min drive
- Perissa to Red Beach - 25min drive
- Kamari to Red Beach - 30min drive
Red Beach with the GPS coordinates of the carpark, is included in my eBook to help you plan your trip:
- 6 easy-to-plan Maps
- 40 scenic locations and photo stops to consider for your itinerary
- Planning tips to make the most of your time
- GPS coordinates for peace of mind
- 90+ photos to help you select where to go
Red Beach Bus tours and Boat Tours
If you don't want to drive, a visit to the viewpoint over Red Beach is often included in day trips around Santorini.
Visiting Red Beach - Tips
- Arrive as early as possible as the bus tours start arriving after 9am... or visit late ! There is not much space at the viewpoint and it gets crowded quickly
- Only a couple of months of the year is the sun alignement interesting.
- Early morning you might not see the red as vibrant, since the sun is not hitting the cliffs yet
- No facilities but vendors do sell drinks and food around the carpark and trail
- Drive is on paved road all the way to carpark - you can easily drive to the Red Beach
- 2 min walk from carpark to viewpoint
- And less than 10 minutes walk to the beach
- You can swim at red beach but know that the sand is not nice under your feet
- If you want to stay in the area, many Akrotiri accommodations offer wonderful views of the caldera - Check out the best rated accommodations
Wondering where to stay in Santorini?
Check out my article to find the best areas depending on your criteria and discover inspiring accommodation suggestions
Red Beach Church - Saint Nikolaos
At the carpark, before starting on the trail, you can already admire the Red Beach church of Saint Nikolaos.
The contrast of the traditional white of the building against the red cliff is beautiful.
Saint Nikolaos is the patron Saint of the seafarers.
Walk to Red Beach (Kokkini Beach)
Then you can walk towards the Red Beach. It is on the hiking route 12 towards the Akrotiri lighthouse.
It is only a 2 min walk to the viewpoint, the path is not difficult, you just have to pay attention where you place your feet because of rocks. Below are 2 pictures taken on the track to Red Beach.
Santorini's Red Beach Viewpoint
After those 2 minutes you reach a viewpoint over Red Beach.
As you can see below, if you arrive too early, the cliffs might not look as red as on other pictures, since the sun is not yet hitting them.
To your right are the red cliffs of Red Beach, while in front of you the cliffs are whiter. Kambia beach as well as white beach are on the other side.
Why is Red Beach in Santorini red?
That is the big question... why is it red?
The cliffs are made of volcanic rock rich in iron. The oxidation of iron turns it red.
Kokkini Red Beach lies in the center of an eroded cinder cone (around a volcanic vent). There you can see lava that rapidly cooled down and solidified. The volcanic lava is rich in iron. When iron is open to the air, it rustd (oxidies) and turns red.
Access to Red Beach - dangerous & closed
From the viewpoint you can continue walking to the beach.
However please note that it is dangerous. The cliffs are not stable, rocks are often falling (and can hit you on your head) and it is also prone to landslides (there was a huge one in 2013 which luckily was during the night, so no one got hurt).
Like any hikes in the mountains, please be aware of the risks and take your own decision.
I walked just first section and decided to walk back up. I had a busy day ahead of me.
The track is slippery with some big rocky steps.
The red color is quite impressive. One of the most famous places to see in Santorini
The beach is not big. Someone is renting sunlounges during Summer.
Red Beach by boat
Another option is to enjoy the impressive red cliffs from a catamaran.
You can stay onboard and be amazed by the red color or jump in the water and swim in this rare environnement.
Plus if you opt for a catamaran cruise in Santorini (my favorite activity), you will also see the white cliffs, the black cliffs and the center of the caldera with a hot spring.
And as you leave Red Beach to go back to the Vlichada Marina, you will also see the Saint Nikolaos church standing out against the dark cliffs.
Water taxis to Red Beach
In Summer, you can find water-taxis or water shuttles taking you from Perissa to Red Beach or from Akrotiri to Red Beach.
You will have to get off the boat in the water.
Timetable may vary.
Want to see more of Santorini?
Do you love red landscapes as much as I do?