April 11, 2024

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Complete Guide To This Aegean Paradise

Complete Guide To This Aegean Paradise

From its picturesque, whitewashed villages and beautiful, turquoise waters to its authentic Mediterranean cuisine and captivating coastal views, it’s no surprise that the small Greek island of Santorini is a popular vacation destination.


Resting in the shimmering waters of the Aegean Sea, the volcanic island is part of the Cyclades, a group of islands located to the southeast of mainland Greece. The Aegean oasis offers visitors much to explore, including its well-preserved archaeological sites, iconic blue-domed churches, stunning caldera, and exquisite wineries.

Top Things To Do In Santorini, Greece

For an unforgettable Greek getaway, find the best resorts and the most thrilling things to do with the help of this complete travel guide to Santorini.

16 Soak Up The Sun On A Santorini Beach

An empty Santorini beach during the early morning hours.
Photo by Frédéric Barriol on Unsplash

An empty Santorini beach during the early morning hours.

Santorini has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. For an Instagrammable setting, head to the famous Red Beach. Nestled in Akrotiri village, it offers spectacular views and a peculiar volcanic sandy shore. And for an afternoon of swimming, visit Perissa or Perivolos beach.

15 Go Wine Tasting At A Local Winery

A magnificent view of Santorini, Greece at dusk.
Photo by Pixabay

A magnificent view of Santorini, Greece at dusk.

Famed for its indigenous grape varieties, including the white-wine grapes of Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani, world-class wineries can be found throughout the majestic island. The multi-level Santo Wines, one of the largest wineries on the island, offers breathtaking views of the caldera.

14 See A Show At The Open Air Cinema

Santorini's iconic white buildings with blue roofs overlooking the sea.
Photo by Tânia Mousinho on Unsplash

Santorini’s iconic white buildings with blue roofs overlooking the sea.

For a relaxing evening, visit the Open Air Cinema Kamari to see a classic film under the stars. The Greek theater, which features a full bar, shows films in English with Greek subtitles.

  • Address:
    Santorini, Kamari 847 00, Greece

  • Hours:
    Open seasonally from May until October; doors open at 8:30 pm

  • Cost:
    €10

13 Tour The Museum Of Prehistoric Thera

A charming pathway to the Mediterranean in Oia, Greece.
Photo by Ryan Spencer on Unsplash

A charming pathway to the Mediterranean in Oia, Greece.

Located in the island’s capital, Fira, this museum explores pre-historic Thera, which is the official name of Santorini. Tour exhibits of fossils and plants as well as other artifacts from excavations of ancient Greek settlements like Akrotiri and Potamos.

  • Address:
    Thera 847 00, Greece

  • Hours:
    Open seasonally from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm from April until October

  • Cost:
    €6

12 Stroll Through Ancient Thera

A panoramic view of the Aegean island towering above the serene waters.
Photo by Dimitris Stragalas via Pexels

A panoramic view of the Aegean island towering above the serene waters.

Nestled atop Mesa Vouno Mountain between the coastal villages of Perissa and Kamari, this ancient archaeological site features astonishing gems from the past, such as clay figurines, statues, and other artifacts.

And with a vantage point of more than a thousand feet high, visitors can see spectacular views of the island and the shimmering Aegean Sea.

  • Address:
    Santorini 847 00, Greece

  • Summer hours:
    Open 8:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and weekends; open from 11 am to 3:30 pm on Thursdays; closed Wednesday

  • Cost:
    €6

Open in the winter from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm daily. Free admission on March 6, April 18, May 18, the last weekend of September, October 28, and every first Sunday from November 1 to March 31.

11 Tour The Ancient Akrotiri

A spectacular aerial view of the Greek island.
Photo by Ushindi Namegabe via Pexels

A spectacular aerial view of the Greek island.

After exploring Ancient Thera, discover the pre-historic settlement of Ancient Akrotiri. Located on the island’s southern portion, the ancient ruins are nearly 4,000 years old and provide great insight into the Cycladic Bronze Age settlement.

Since there aren’t a lot of informational keys or placards, visitors may find a guided tour helpful.

  • Address:
    Thera 847 00, Greece

  • Hours:
    Open daily from November to March from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm; April to October from 8 am to 8 pm

  • Cost:
    €12 general admission

10 Hike The Caldera From Fira To Oia

A warm sunset over Santorini's capital, Fira.
Photo by Julia Solonina on Unsplash

A warm sunset over Santorini’s capital, Fira.

For the most incredible views of the island and the clear waters of the Aegean Sea, embark on a 6.5-mile scenic hike of Santorini’s famous caldera. Start in the village of Fira—passing through Firostefani and Imerovigli—and end in the magical city of Oia.

Guided tours are also available, and tourists should pack water for the day’s adventure.

  • Hours:
    Open 24 hours

  • Cost:
    Free

9 Hike The Trails On Skaros Rock

Skaros Rock, a stunning rock formation in Santorini.
Photo by Istvan Varro on Unsplash

Skaros Rock, a stunning rock formation in Santorini.

On the way to Oia, be sure to stop in Imerovigli for majestic views from Skaros Rock. The jagged, rock formation towers nearly 66 feet high above the Aegean Sea. This hike will take about an hour, so come prepared with water and safe hiking shoes.

  • Address:
    Imerovigli 847 00, Greece

  • Hours:
    Open 24 hours

  • Cost:
    Free

8 Watch The Sunset In Oia

The vibrant buildings of Oia overlooking the calm sea.
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS via Pexels

The vibrant buildings of Oia overlooking the calm sea.

After making the picturesque hike from Fira, do some sightseeing in the clifftop town of Oia before rounding out the day with a scenic sunset view of the windmills and Amoudi Bay. One of the more popular tourist spots for sunset sights is from Oia Castle.

Keep in mind, the Lookout Oia Panoramic View does get crowded, so try to arrive before sunset.

  • Address:
    Castle of Oia, Oia 847 02, Greece

  • Hours:
    Open 24 hours

  • Cost:
    Free

7 Set Sail Around The Island

A boat soars above the water off the coast of Santorini.
Photo by Pixabay 

A boat soars above the water off the coast of Santorini.

Tour the island by sea with a cruise or boat tour by the Berlin-based travel agency, GetYourGuide. Choose from a variety of coastal adventures, including a volcanic islands cruise featuring a hot spring visit, an all-inclusive luxury catamaran cruise, and a traditional wooden boat tour, among others.

6 Best Time To Go

A charming, white and blue church overlooking the sea in Oia, Greece.
Photo by Dimitris Mourousiadis via Pexels

A charming, white and blue church overlooking the sea in Oia, Greece.

Featuring a classic Mediterranean climate, Santorini has mild winters and is usually hot and dry throughout the spring and summer months. For a sunny seaside escape, visit the Greek island during the summer. Keep in mind, however, that the summer months are especially hot.

Even though some attractions operate seasonally and may be closed during the winter, the early fall is a great time to visit as it’s often less crowded and the temperatures are cooler. For the best months to visit, opt for a Mediterranean getaway from April, May, September, or October.

5 Best Ways To Get Around

A postcard-worthy view of Santorini's iconic white buildings.
Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina via Pexels

A postcard-worthy view of Santorini’s iconic white buildings

Many of the villages in Santorini, such as Fira and Oia, can be easily traversed on foot. However, visitors looking to explore attractions outside the city their hotel is located in will need additional transportation.

For the freedom to explore the island at ease, opt for a rental car. Although carshare options like Uber or Lyft are not available on the island, tourists can get around via taxi. Santorini’s local transportation, the KTEL Buses, operates throughout the year and has a main hub in Fira. For a little thrill, tourists can also opt to rent a motorbike or quad to zip around the island.

Be especially weary of donkey rides, which are widely used to haul tourists around attractions.

Tourists should avoid this cruel animal abuse as exhausted donkeys suffer from a variety of problems, such as spinal injuries and stress, and are often denied access to food, water, and respite from the sun.

4 Where To Eat In Santorini

A light lunch overlooking the blue sea surrounding Santorini.
Photo by Kamala Bright on Unsplash

A light lunch overlooking the blue sea surrounding Santorini.

A trip to Santorini isn’t complete without a delicious dining experience.

Breakfast

La Scala

  • Address:
    Marinatou, Thira 847 00, Greece

  • Cuisine:
    Classic continental breakfast options

Mes Amis

  • Address:
    Oia 847 02, Greece

  • Cuisine:
    Greek comfort food staples

Lunch

Kaliya Restaurant

  • Address:
    Mitropolitou Gavriil 22, Santorini 874 00, Greece

  • Cuisine:
    Greek fare (vegan and vegetarian options are available)

Falafeland

  • Address:
    Δανεζη Μιχαηλ, Thira 847 00, Greece

  • Cuisine:
    Traditional falafel meals

Dinner

5senses

  • Address:
    Erithrou Stavrou, Thira 847 00, Greece

  • Cuisine:
    Traditional Greek cuisine with a plant-based twist

Metaxi Mas

  • Address:
    Έξω Γωνιά 847 00, Greece

  • Cuisine:
    Classic Cretan fare

Drinks

PK Cocktail Bar

  • Address:
    Ipapantis, Thira 847 00, Greece

Tropical Bar

  • Address:
    Stairs, Thira 847 00, Greece

Related: Visiting Santorini? These Are The Dishes You Should Be Ordering

3 Where To Stay

Stairs overlooking an incredible view of Santorini's waters.
Photo by H Fall on Unsplash

Stairs overlooking an incredible view of Santorini’s waters.

Part of the experience in Santorini is staying somewhere dreamy. Check out these accommodation options at a range of price points.

Budget-Friendly Accommodations

Narkissos Hotel

  • Address:
    Kamari, Kamari 847 00

  • Amenities:
    Restaurant, bar/lounge, and free parking

Lefteris Traditional Rooms

  • Address:
    Fira, Thera 847 00

  • Amenities:
    Room service, free parking, and car rental

Mid-Tier Hotels

Porto Fira Suites

  • Address:
    Caldera Cliff, Thera

  • Amenities:
    Outdoor pool, bar/lounge, free parking, restaurant, room service, and coffee shop

Splendour Resort

  • Address:
    84 700, Firostefani 847 00

  • Amenities:
    Snorkeling, restaurant, room service, outdoor pool, bar/lounge, and free parking

Upscale Hotels

Andronis Arcadia Hotel

  • Address:
    Oia, Thera 847 02

  • Amenities:
    Snorkeling, spa and wellness center, restaurant, room service, outdoor pool, fitness center, and bar/lounge

Secret View Hotel

  • Address:
    View Hotel by Secret Santorini, Foinikiá 847 02

  • Amenities:
    Snorkeling, spa and wellness center, free parking, restaurant, room service, outdoor pool, and bar/lounge

Related: Santorini’s Top Beachfront Resorts & Villas: Where To Stay For Easy Beach Access

2 Tips To Know When Visiting

A breathtaking pink sky over the Greek island.
Photo by Andreas M on Unsplash

A breathtaking pink sky over the Greek island.

There are many things locals wish tourists knew before visiting Santorini. For starters, when visiting cities throughout the island, be cognizant of the surroundings and don’t tread on locals’ property—e.g., their balconies, yards, etc.

There are a few other things tourists need to know about the Greek island. Namely, to book as much of the trip ahead, especially when visiting during peak tourist season. This includes attractions tickets, transportation, and restaurant reservations.

The official currency of Santorini is the Euro, so prepare to stop at a bank or currency exchange upon arrival.

Related: Is Santorini Possible On A Budget? Here Are 10 Ways To Do It

1 How To Spend The Perfect Day In Santorini

A beautiful village along the coast of Santorini, Greece.
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric via Pexels

A beautiful village along the coast of Santorini, Greece.

For the perfect 24 hours in an Aegean paradise, begin with breakfast at a local café in Fira. Afterward, embark on an insightful tour of nearby museums, including the Archaeological Museum of Thera and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. Then, set sail for a maritime tour of the Aegean Sea.

Once back on land, commence the 6.5-mile trek from Fira to the stunning village of Oia. Along the way, stop in the cities of Firostefani and Imerovigli. Notable tourist stops along the way include Firostefani Central Square, Skaros Rock, and the Volcanic Cinder Cone of Kokkino-Vouno Volcano.

Related: Athens To Santorini: 10 Things To See Along The Way

Once in Oia, continue sightseeing by stopping at the iconic blue-domed churches and windmill before grabbing dinner at Pelekanos, which offers breathtaking ocean views. After a hearty meal, tour the famed Amoudi Bay before heading to the Castle of Oia to secure a spot overlooking the beautiful terrain.

Close out the evening by watching the sun set over the calm, turquoise waters.

FAQ

Q: What is Santorini known for?

Although there are many things to do in Santorini, the Greek island is probably best known for its picturesque villages and volcanic beaches.

Q: How many days in Santorini is enough?

One thing tourists need to know about Santorini is that there’s much to see. Plan to spend at least 3 to 5 days exploring the charming island.

Q: Is Santorini cheap or expensive?

Compared to other parts of Greece, Santorini is more expensive. However, it is possible for tourists to explore the island on a budget.