If you are looking for the best things to do in Santorini, you are in the right place! Santorini is the most impressive Greek island and a dream destination for millions of people around the globe.
There are many exciting things to do on the enchanting and romantic Santorini, such as feeling awe at its notoriously stunning sunsets and enjoying a unique volcanic landscape in the world.
Santorini (and Anafi island) is the southernmost island of the Cyclades and one of the top five most popular Cycladic islands along with Mykonos, Paros, Ios, and Milos. So if you are spending some time here, you can easily hop to other islands for a more complete itinerary in Greece.
But let’s begin with some of the very best things to do in Santorini on your next trip!
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Best Things to Do in Santorini
Santorini Quick Reference
- Seafront Santorini Suites: Aegean Melody Suites, with a private black beach and swimming pool
- Where to Stay for your Honeymoon in Santorini: Canaves Oia Sunday Suites, set on the caldera, a top-notch hotel with an infinity pool
- Where to stay on a budget in Santorini? Top cheap hotels in Santorini list here
- Heading to Santorini from Athens? Book your ferry tickets in advance with no-hidden-fees with FerryScanner or FerryHopper
1. Watch the Spectacular Sunset in Oia
Santorini Caldera is one of the best places in the world to watch the most spectacular sunset! You can watch the sunset is Oia’s Castle or at one of the restaurants in the caldera (you need to book your table in advance). As the best sunset spots in Oia can get way too busy and crowded, you can also see the beautiful sunset from Imerovigli or Akrotiri.
2. Explore Oia
Oia is the very symbol of Santorini, the most beautiful and photographed destination on the island. You can stroll Oia’s endless stairways, whitewashed houses, and hidden paths that lead to one pretty spot after the other.
Shop from the local crafts: Discover gorgeous pottery, jewelry, linen shirts, or beauty products with local ingredients like volcanic stone and olive oil. Visit the Main Oia church – Panagia Platsani, a beautiful church.
Where Best to Stay in Oia
Enalion Suites: Built on Santorini’s caldera, Enalion boasts a privileged location 200 m from the center of Oia. Featuring 2 shared outdoor hot tubs, it offers traditionally furnished suites with arched ceilings and views over the volcano.
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3. Book a Full Day Tour of Santorini Highlights
If you are not sure where to begin on the island one of the top things to do in Santorini is to book a guided tour. Leave the local professionals to take you to the best attractions in Santorini and save you the hassle of trying to find them yourself!
Check out this fantastic Full Day Santorini Highlights and Venetian Castles Small Group Tour! Honestly, It’s one of the best things to do in Santorini for a tour of the island.
4. Go to Ammoudi Bay
Ammoudi Bay is, quite literally, underneath the picturesque village of Oia. It used to be the old port of Oia in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Today, you can swim in the azure waters of Agios Nikolaos beach, enjoy the most sublime sea view and have a seaside lunch or dinner in one of the local taverns.
How to get to Ammoudi Bay from Oia? Walk down the steps from Oia’s castle or take that rental car/scooter to the main road that connects Ammoudi with the rest of the island.
Animal Compassion Tip: Please avoid using the overworked, overloaded poor donkeys and mules
5. Stay in a Cave Hotel
One of the best things to do in Santorini is to stay at a cave hotel. A cave hotel is a luxurious hotel with elegant cave rooms and suites. The caves were discovered on the cliffside (Caldera) of Oia and archaeologists identified them as ancient cave houses and lodgings. This is the ideal property in Santorini if you are looking for privacy, tranquillity, and breathtaking views!
Best Cave Hotels with Santorini Caldera Views: Atrina Canava 1894 in Oia
6. Hit Santorini’s Volcanic Beaches
After exploring some of the best things to do in Santorini, I went to the famous Perissa black beach. It is a fully organized beach with sunbeds and umbrellas and can get busy in the peak season.
Kamari is the second black beach in Santorini, a bit north of Perissa. The beach got its name from a small arch that still rises at the south end of its beach and is what remains from an ancient sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon. Kamari Beach has clear, very calm waters, and black pebbles. It is the longest beach on the island and offers a wide choice of accommodations, restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs.
Akrotiri or Red Beach is an impressive beach in Santorini very close to Akrotiri’s archaeological site. However, you have to be careful there as the beach is prone to landslides and there is a warning sign from the municipality of Thira (The official name of Santorini) against visiting it.
I would recommend you visit the Red Beach by Catamaran Cruise, see below some great guided tours:
Another beautiful beach is Katharos near Oia, a lively beach with sand, small pebbles, and volcanic views. 4 km from Oia is Koloumbo Cape, mostly with very young people, no umbrellas, and an underwater volcanic crater. My favorite beach in Santorini is sandy Vlichada Beach, the southernmost and most impressive white beach.
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Where to Stay in Vlichada Beach
Aegean Melody Suites: For an amazing and relaxing time in quality suites overlooking the Aegean Sea.
7. Hike the Spectacular Santorini Caldera trail
The island’s most scenic trail is a 9.8km stone-paved route that follows the rim of the caldera and connects Fira and Oia. Hiking Caldera is really is one of the best things to do in Santorini if you love a good view.
It is an easy trail but it has no shade so it is best hiked very early in the morning or late in the evening if you are visiting Santorini in the summer.
In Fira, visit the famous three bells church of Agios Theodoros.
The trail continues into pedestrian zones in Imerovigli but it can get more exciting if you detour to Skaros Rock. You need to follow the path to the beautiful chapel Church of Christ, turn left, and head to Skaros.
Perhaps the most demanding part is the steep uphill toward Oia. However, you will be extra compensated by the magnificent vistas when you reach Oia.
8. Taste Santorini’s Best Local Cuisine
Taste the local Santorini delicacies and mouth-watering dishes!
- Fava, a yellow split-pea spread, usually taken as an entree dish
- Ntomatokeftedes, tomato fritters. They use Santorini-specific tomatoes which are a special variety that grows nowhere else in the world
- Chlorotyri, a local goat creamy cheese that you can only find on the island
- Capers, as in local very distinct and intense taste capers
- Melitinia, is a sweet cheese pie made with fresh mizithra cheese, sugar and mastiha (mastic) powder (produced in Chios Greece).
Greek Food Tip: The further from the caldera you go, the cheaper and more authentic food you will find. I usually check how many Greeks a tavern has. If Greeks outnumber the tourists, that’s the place you want to eat.
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9. Explore Santorini’s Picturesque Villages
9,5 km from Oia lies Imerovigli, a comparatively unspoiled, with whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches, and an upscale village. It is built on the highest point of the Caldera cliffs, at about 300 meters which makes it a spectacular point for photographs.
Where to stay in Imerovigli
Gorgona Villas offers panoramic views of the Santorini caldera, staff is very friendly and helpful with great tips, with breakfast delivered directly to your balcony.
Fira – Firostefani
Fira is the main town of Santorini and the busiest town on the island as everyone wants to be part of the packed solid shopping area and get “lost” in the maze of winding backstreets.
Do visit the Archaeological Museum of Thera in Fira, Santorini has an amazing history. Open daily between 8:30-15:00. Mondays is closed.
Where to stay in Fira
Athina Luxury Suites: Nestled upon a rock in Fira Town, the Cycladic-style Athina Luxury Suites feature spectacular views of the Caldera and the volcano.
Firostefani is the extension of Fira, very close nowadays to each other – due to building every single free space between them – so that it is very hard to find their borders.
Some of the best caldera-view restaurants and hotels are in Firostefani which is considered one of the most expensive areas to stay in Santorini.
Where to Stay in Firostefani
You will enjoy breathtaking caldera views as Remvi Suites is at a prime location in Firostefani. You will love the cleanliness, the friendly staff, and the wonderful breakfast with the sea views.
Megalochiri is a beautiful and traditional settlement, with historical mansions, old Cycladic houses, and pirate hideaways.
If you have time, go to the main square and have a cup of Greek coffee under the tree-shaded area, see the bell towers, and the vineyards, and swim at the not-accessible by-car remote beaches of Plaka and Thermi.
Where to stay in Megalochori
I loved Alti Santorini Suites: Spectacular views of the caldera and beautiful suites.
Pyrgos, a medieval beautiful village in Santorini, is located on the highest point of Profitis Ilias mountain in Santorini. The settlement is 7,5 km southeast of Fira and retains the Venetian characteristics of its past as Santorini’s capital until 1800. Much quieter and closer to old Santorini, Pyrgos is one of the best places to visit on the island.
Where to Stay in Pyrgos
Art Hotel Santorini, features a modern Interior Art Gallery, where different contemporary artists are hosted.
10. Visit Akrotiri Archaeological Site and Ancient Thera
At the southwest area of Santorini lies an exceptional and highly important prehistoric settlement covering the period from the 4th millennium BC Neolithic to the 16th century BC Bronze Age.
Since you are in the area don’t miss visiting Akrotiri Lighthouse, a gorgeous point to see the sunset.
Where to stay in Akrotiri
CAPE 9 Villas & Suites, a family villa with a big pool, private Jacuzzi hot tub, and spectacular view over the caldera.
Ancient Thera is located on top of the Mesa Vouno Mountain(369 meters) with its slopes going all the way to Kamari and Perissa beaches. Excavations in the area have brought to light a Hellenistic settlement 800 meters long, a theater, constructions, and ruins of the sculptures from the Artemis Temple.
You can drive there and there is a designated parking area at the bottom of Mesa Vouno. The steep uphill is exposed, with no trees at all, just wonderful sea views. Take plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen with you. The site is open daily between 08:30 and 16:00 and closed on Tuesdays.
11. Book a Caldera Cruise with Meals and Drinks
Enjoy a unique experience around Santorini:
Sail around the island and caldera on a deluxe catamaran. Stop to bathe in the Nea Kameni springs; swim, snorkel, or unwind at beaches; and enjoy unlimited Santorini wine and Greek beer, plus a Greek meal prepared on board.
Check availability and prices for the catamaran cruise in Santorini on the Viator website
12. Santorini Wine Tasting
Santorini has the oldest vineyards in the world and makes excellent wine, with a very special flavor. There are about twenty or so wineries on the island (almost all of them open to visitors), and you’ll be able to discover indigenous varieties that are cultivated here, such as Assyrtiko, Athiri, and reds like Mavrotragano and Mandilaria.
I am a great fan of Sigalas wines, and their Assyrtiko is one of the best in Greece. You can have a wine tasting in their winery but need to contact them first to check availability and prices:
Sigalas Winery: Baxes, Oia, Santorini +30 2286 071644 or email them at email@example.com
FAQ About Santorini
What is the Caldera on Santorini Island?
Santorini Island suffered a tremendous volcanic eruption about 3600 years ago, at the peak of the Minoan civilization, one of Greece’s oldest civilizations. As a result, most of its western part sank into the sea, creating the caldera and probably causing a gigantic tsunami, some say reaching Crete island.
Santorini, along with Milos, Nisyros, and Methana in Greece, is still an active volcano but only in the form of thermal waters in the caldera, a popular swimming spot. The last volcanic activity was in 1950.
Is Santorini Good for my Honeymoon?
Yes, Santorini is one of the best places in the world to have your honeymoon! The island is so romantic that being on this island for your honeymoon will be a fantastic, memorable time of your life.
Make sure you stay in the part of Caldera so that you have majestic sunrise and sunset views every day
Where to Stay in Santorini for Your Honeymoon
Canaves Oia Sunday Suites. Top-notch service, large classy rooms, an infinity pool where you can enjoy the best sunset of your life, the professional staff, and a large breakfast, will make your honeymoon special and contribute to the happiest days of your life!
How Many Days Do I Need in Santorini?
2 to 4 days offer ample time to witness and explore the local culture and the sites.
Where exactly is the Volcano in Santorini?
It is on the islet across from the main Santorini island, called Nea Kameni.
Is Santorini Expensive?
Yes, Santorini can be expensive, especially the hotels overlooking the Caldera.
That doesn’t mean that visiting and enjoying the island is only for the filthy rich. I am not rich – not even close! – but I always manage to have a great time while visiting the island trying to balance expenses.
Check below some of the best budget hotels in Santorini if you prefer a low-cost stay:
Is Santorini Wheelchair Friendly?
Santorini gets better and better every year for mobility-impaired people. Some vehicles can pick you up from the airport or the ferry and the main pedestrian street in Oia is basically flat and smoothly paved with large slabs of marble tiles.
Most importantly, at Perissa and Kamari beaches, they have installed the Seatrac system so that people with mobility issues can have independent access to the sea.
Where to Stay in Santorini for the Mobility-Challenged
I highly recommend Costa Grand Resort & Spa a fantastic 5-star hotel, reasonably priced, located right in front of the Kamari beach and a few minutes away from the SeaTrak Mechanism.
Read my dedicated post for visiting Greece if you are a mobility-impaired person.
When is the Best time to visit Santorini?
The Greek islands do not close in the winter as most of them have permanent residents. Santorini has about 15.500 permanent residents who live all year round, send their children to school, and have jobs on the island.
The large hotels and restaurants may be closed during the winter but all the smaller tourist businesses are open. This is the best time for me to travel as I get Santorini and its stunning sunsets at super shoulder season prices.
If you prefer warm weather then you should go to Santorini from April to June and September to October. July and August are the busiest, hottest, windiest, and most expensive months.
What Island Hopping Can I Do from Santorini?
From Santorini, you can hop on a ferry and for an hour, more or less, can find yourself roaming another beautiful Greek island!
Crete Island (Herakleio) – > You will need about 1 hour and 50′.
Naxos island – > You will get on the island in 1,5 – 3 hours
Tinos island – > This is a bit far, you will need 4 hours but that also means that you are closer to Athens port.
Syros island – > There is only 1 ferry going there and takes 2,5 hours.
How Can I get around Santorini?
The best way to explore the island is by car or scooter, depending on what you prefer (I am a car person, and never learned how to bike a scooter). I go around on my car in mainland Greece or rent in islands.
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can use the local buses. The central station is at Fira.
How to Get to Santorini from Athens
Santorini by Ferries
You can take the ferry from any of the Athens ports (Piraeus, Rafina, or Lavrion) to Santorini. The ferries will take 5 to 9 hours depending on the vessel you will be traveling with. The fastest the ferry the more expensive it will be. You can book your ferry transfer with FerryScanner to get the best prices in the market with no hidden fees. If you travel in the summer you have to book your seats well in advance.
There are two ports in Santorini. The ferries arrive at the port of Athinios (19.8 km from Oia).
Santorini by Cruise Ship
The cruise ships dock at the old port of Santorini, 900 feet below the town of Fira and directly beneath the caldera. To get to the top of Fira there are four ways:
- You walk up the 587 paved steps of a spiral formation
- You wait for the cable car to take you to the top. The trip up takes about 5 minutes, 6 cable cars go up at the same time with 6 people inside each. The cable car is roomy, safe, and has amazing views of the caldera.
- For €30 you can take a boat transfer to the other port and from there a bus/taxi directly to Oia
- You pre-book a tour with the cruise line and get tendered to Athinios port where buses, taxis, or private transfers are available.
- DO NOT ride a poor exhausted animal that can carry only 50 kgs maximum and only for a short while, you contribute to a horrible abuse that needs to end. Greek animal welfare groups have been fighting for that for years.
Flights to Santorini
If you prefer to go fast to Santorini, you can catch a flight from Athens International Airport. Several flights are going to the island during the high season. The trip is approximately 40 minutes long and the airport is located north of the village of Kamari, 6 km (3.7 mi) southeast of Fira.
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Are you going to Santorini this year? Let me know what you did in the comments, I’d love to hear whether I managed to help you! Till next time, Evgenia❤️
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