An old saying goes that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and this is true on Santorini. The beginning of the month can still feel extremely wintery, with heavy showers, but weather starts to turn sunny as the month progresses.
Temperatures are creeping up (expect an average of 50 to 61°F / 10 to 16°C) and this is the last month of really significant rainfall until October, with average monthly precipitation already almost half of what it was in January. It's sunnier, too, with the most hours of sunshine daily (around six) that Santorini has seen since last October!
Overall, this month is a real lottery for weather: it could be as bad as the worst of winter, or approaching the beautiful sunny weather of late spring or summer. Sea temperatures are a nippy 59°F/15°C meaning swimming might make you shiver if you are accustomed to warm waters, but there is sun enough for a bit of beach-basking.
For more on weather this month, see Greece in March: Travel Tips, Weather, & More.
Crowds & Costs
A few other people have learned that coming in March to Santorini is a great way to get some half-decent weather while avoiding high season hordes. The increase in visitors compared to the last few months will be noticeable, but this is still very much low season, and you will be able to take all your pictures without worrying about others straying into the frame. As official low season, costs remain low, with especially good deals possible on accommodation.
As for flights, many of the seasonal flights do not start until next month for the year and this also means fewer people and businesses likely to offer you good rates.
Where to Go
For those planning a March visit, it is best to come ready for a broad range of possible activities. See-sawing weather will throw up wet days best for cultural activities and the odd dry sunny day when you theme your day out more around being close to the beach and the sea.
Overall, the best base and key destination is island capital Fira, where you can glean riveting insights into the island's special archaeology at two wonderful museums, the Archaeological Museum of Santorini and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. This way, you are also handily close to the best of the beach resorts at Kamari and Perissa. Or, head to Oia, high above the caldera slopes of Santorini's volcano. It's one of the most photographed places in all of Greece, with its white-walled, blue-domed architecture especially appealing when free of high season crowds.
Also fill up inclement March days tapping into Santorini's winemaking heritage: go for Aidini, Assyrtiko, and Athiri if you are into whites, and Mandilaria and Mavrotragano if reds are more your thing. For a more hands-on wine experience visit the winery of Santo Wines near Pyrgos or the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum just a couple of miles outside Fira.
For a longer excursion, take the trip out to the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri in the island's southwest. Sometimes referred to as the “Pompeii of the Aegean,” its ruins are impressively intact and have yielded extensive pottery finds. There are frescoes, too, and a complex drainage system illustrating just how advanced this civilization was for its time.
What to Do
In March, you will likely experience some of the worst and some of the best weather the island has. So get ready for indoor activities, such as checking out the island's superb archaeology and museums, as well as some time relaxing in the sun on the beach—and perhaps even a paddle in the ocean!
In the rain, Fira and Oia are definitely the best destinations to be in, with an array of sight-seeing, eating and drinking options, yet still with beaches like Kamari close by. Despite the changeable weather, March can be quite good for hiking, too and still fresh enough for you to spend a few hours on the island trails.
Dining out well is another perfect way to beat the bad weather on Santorini: check out highly regarded restaurants like Kokkalo in Fira or Lauda in Oia. When searching for your dinner, seek out tomato keftedes, deep-fried tomato balls that encapsulate the essence of local diet, and the Santorini specialty of spelt pie.
Feast of the Annunciation/Independence Day March 25. The Greek Orthodox Feast of the Annunciation celebrates the Christian belief that on this day, Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to Jesus. Independence Day celebrates independence from the Ottoman Empire, in 1832. Celebrated together on March 25, island locales may host festivities, including parades, and will certainly close most restaurants and other tourist services.
Holy Week/Easter March or April. Easter is the biggest religious festival of the Greek Orthodox calendar. Every town in the country, including Santorini's small settlements, will have some sort of festival, with lots of feasting that often ending with fireworks. Inevitably, many shops, and some restaurants, close as a result. Easter is preceded by Holy Week, and festivities often fall at least partially in March.