10 Vital Things to Do in Santorini
If you’ve never been to Santorini, it’s probably at least on your travel list. The southernmost island in the Cyclades is home to famous white-stone cave houses and blue-domed churches spilling over the edges of an ancient volcanic crater, creating one of the most vivid scenes in the world. During your visit, be sure to enjoy this must-see experience.
Visit some of the world’s most unusual beaches
Red Beach, Santorini
Visit some of the world’s most unusual beaches (nearby hotels)
While Santorini may not have endless stretches of powdery white sand to relax on, it boasts some of the most unique beaches in the world, such as Red Beach near the town of Akrotiri. Dramatic cliffs of fiery hue break up the scarlet sands at the bottom and sit at the edge of the brilliant blue waters. The island also boasts exceptional black sand beaches such as Perissa and Perivolos, as well as a number of white beaches.
Walking through the village of Iya
Walking through the village of Iya (nearby hotels)
Iya has to be one of the most beautiful villages in the world. It’s a place you’ve probably seen on postcards and other images depicting Santorini. Iya is famous for its white houses splashed with blue on top of a dramatic cliff with stunning views of the volcano. Stroll through the maze of narrow streets, just wander around, check out a store or art gallery, and sit down for a drink at one of the many taverns. The village is also famous for its sunsets, known as some of the most magical on the planet.
Swim in Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay, Santorini
Swim in Amoudi Bay (hotels nearby)
The tiny but visually impressive port of Amoudi Bay is 300 steps below the town of Iya. If you’re not ready for a bit of a tricky descent, you can detour, though the walk is particularly memorable. After descending the steep, winding hill, you will be rewarded with this spectacular sight, which is set among the rocky cliffs. Although there is no beach, the bay is known as one of the best places to swim in Santorini.
Fresh seafood at Ammoudi Fish Taverna
Ammoud Fish Tavern.
Fresh seafood at Ammoudi Fish Tavern (nearby hotels)
While visiting Ammoudi Bay, be sure to take time to eat at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern. Not only will you enjoy a fresh seafood dinner while admiring these wonderful views, but the friendly smiles from the servers are sure to be unforgettable.
Cliff Walk, Santorini
Walk (Nearby Hotels)
The walk to Santorini is sure to be one of the highlights of your time on the island, especially the hike between Fira and Iaia. While the round trip is 15 miles, you can leave your car at one end, take a bus to the other and walk back if you didn’t make it through that long trip. Along the way, you’ll enjoy nearly endless beautiful photo ops, including views of endless expanses of sparkling turquoise sea, beautiful churches and a gorgeous lagoon.
Taste the local wine
Try the local wine (hotel prices and photos)
How about having a nice glass of red wine while enjoying the stunning views of the Cerulean Sea? Although you might not think of the Aegean Islands as a wine region, Santorini is becoming increasingly popular for its outstanding wine. In fact, the island is one big farm where Greek wine flows almost as freely as the hot springs near its volcano. Don’t miss a visit to the Butari winery in Perissa, which dates back to 1879.
Sailing (nearby hotels)
Sailing is almost a must when visiting Santorini, and a sunset sail is even better. Round out your time on the island with a cruise that offers spectacular views of the caldera as you glide through those sparkling cerulean waters. There are many outfitters that offer experiences, and most include visits to hidden beaches for snorkeling or swimming, as well as time at a hot spring and that legendary Santorini wine. All this, along with the chance to enjoy one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world.
Experience luxury at Kalestesia Suites
Experience luxury at Kalestesia Suites (photos and prices)
If you prefer not to be immersed in the crowds of tourists whenever possible, you can stay in Akrotiri, one of the quietest areas of the island. And there may be no better place to stay for tranquility, views and extraordinary service than Kalestesia Suites. Located on top of a hill overlooking the caldera, when you enter this beautiful property, you may have to pinch yourself as it truly feels like a dream. This luxurious hotel exudes richness, while every staff member will make you feel like royalty. When you’re not exploring the island, you can swim in the gorgeous pool and enjoy a dinner of freshly prepared meals made from organic ingredients.
Visit the ruins of Akrotiri
Visit the ruins of Akrotiri (nearby hotels)
Santorini also boasts spectacular ruins, including an archaeological excavation showing the ruins of the old city of Akrotiri. The site was first discovered in the mid-19th century, but its buildings date from around 1700 B.C., when it was buried in a volcanic eruption similar to Pompeii. It was once a thriving city and is considered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. Visitors can stroll along the walkways to see tiered buildings, an abundance of pottery, and even drainage systems.
Catch one of the best sunsets in the world
Sunset from Iya, Santorinia
Catch one of the best sunsets in the world (nearby hotels)
There are many places to see the famous spectacular sunsets that Santorini offers: from the water to the sailing sunset, from the village of Iya and beyond. Of course, at the most popular spots, you’re likely to find yourself amongst a large crowd. While it’s still worth experiencing while you’re here, be sure to watch the sun set in a more secluded spot. If you stay at Kalestesia Suites, your view is unlikely to be interrupted as the cozy hotel has only 10 rooms. The Skaros Rocks in Imerovigli, ruins of a Venetian castle, are also often perfect, their structure illuminated with red light as the sun dips below the horizon.
10 things to do in Santorini
If your soul demands a holiday, a vivid experience and aesthetic pleasure, then immediately buy a ticket to Santorini, because there is an abundance of everything you need. Unique architecture – there is! Mesmerizing mountains – yes! Smoking volcanoes – yes! The deep blue sea – yes! Spacious sandy beaches, marvelous sunsets, delicious food, original hotels, hospitable locals – that’s not the whole list of advantages of Santorini.
Here is a list of things to do in Santorini that will give you a taste of this dream island and make you have a great time.
1. Watch the sunrise from Fira or Ia
Dawns in Fira and Ia are a must on every trip to Santorini. The local sunrises are considered almost the most beautiful in the world, so the sunrise and sunset can be perceived as one of the attractions. You don’t have to stay in Iaia or Fira to see them – they are the most popular towns on the island and the prices of accommodation and services are almost twice as much as in cities like Akrotiri, Perissa or Kamari. The bus from any village to Fira costs 2 euros, and from Fira to Ia it takes 10-15 minutes and 1.5 euros.
An alternative to Fira or Ia is Faros lighthouse, located in Akrotiri, where, unlike Fira and Ia, there are very few people and the sunrises are no less magical, plus the possibility that besides you on the lighthouse there will be no one at all.
2. Get lost in Iya and have dinner overlooking the caldera
Iya is undoubtedly the most beautiful and most unusual town on the island of Santorini. It is quite expensive and not everyone can stay here, but everyone can come here for a day and enjoy its beauty: the blue and white houses, the old mills, the narrow and intertwining small streets, the stone steps, the flowers climbing the walls, the unforgettable scenery and of course the volcano caldera, the crater formed by an eruption.
On the edge of the caldera are the most expensive restaurants in Santorini and Ia, but don’t spare the money and order at least a cocktail or coffee to sit at a table at the edge of the universe and think about the beautiful.
3. Visit the ancient towns of Akrotiri, Perissa, Kamari and Pyrgos.
Author: by Matty Bishwam, flickr.com
Santorini isn’t just Fira and Ia, but a dozen other small towns and villages that have a lot to show you. The white and blue churches of Pyrgos, the luxurious beaches of Perissa, the archaeological museum of Akrotiri, the Red Beach we mentioned above and a host of other attractions await you here.
It is worth noting that if you want to vacation in Santorini and save money, you should also pay attention to Perissa and Kamari, because these are not only some of the most beautiful but also the cheapest towns in Santorini. Hotel, food and entertainment prices are at least 30% lower than in Fira and Ia, and you can get there in less than an hour.
4. Rent a car, an ATV or a bike and explore the island
Every corner of Santorini is worth stopping and photographing. There are gorgeous views, impregnable cliffs, mountain peaks and romantic white and blue cottages spilling over the rocks at every turn. Rental prices for vehicles here are more than budget – to rent a comfortable Ford Focus can be about 20 euros a day, quad bike will cost a little more – and the route can not think through – just drive along the island and have fun. A little hint: wear closed clothes so you won’t get sunburnt, and evenings can be cool, so you may need a jacket. And, of course, don’t forget your camera.
Our article Rent a Car in Santorini will give answers to all questions related to renting a car and other transportation.
5. Walk from Fira to Ia
The distance between the two most beautiful and popular cities is only 10 km, a stroll on foot will take you maximum 4 hours. You will enjoy the stunning views, fresh sea breeze, the aroma of dry grasses, the chirping of the cicadas, the picturesque roadside taverns and friendly locals.
The best route is Fira-Firostefani-Imerovigli-Iia or vice versa, depending on the starting point of the tour.
- You should leave at 6-8 am while it’s not too hot and you can get the bus back;
- Wear comfortable shoes (in flip-flops you can, of course, but it will be more comfortable in sneakers);
- Take water and something to eat (there will be such beautiful views along the way that you will definitely want to have a little picnic somewhere in the shade of olive trees).
6. Visit the colorful beaches – White, Red and Black
The White and Red beaches are located in Akrotiri and the Black Beach in Perissa. On the incredibly beautiful Red beach it is better to visit it early in the morning before the crowds of tourists arrive and leave by 9-10 a.m., but on the Black and White beaches you can spend the whole day – they are well equipped for leisure, you can rent a deck chair and an umbrella and have a cheap lunch in one of the cafes. You can reach the beaches by yourself (by bus, cab or by car, if you want to get to Perissa or Akrotiri, then follow the path to the beach) or with a boat excursion from Perissa or Akrotiri.
7. Take an excursion to the volcano and hot springs
This trip will take you from 2 hours (if you go only to the volcano) to a full day (if you go to the volcano, springs and the picturesque island of Thyrasia).
The tour begins in Fira. You will need to go down to the city port on the ancient stone steps or by cable car – both ways are worthy of your attention (the best option is to go down the steps and back up the cable car). For fans of extreme sports donkeys are at the ropeway, which also can go down, but be warned – it is not very convenient and rather long.
The old port is one of the attractions of Fira, it is framed on three sides by rocks and on the fourth by the sea. From the port there are boats that take you to the volcano, where you can see what the volcano looks like, which last erupted in 1956. Since the volcano is close to the mainland, it offers a wonderful view of Fira and Ia.
The next point is the hot springs, which are located on a neighboring island and are not heated by anything, but by the volcano itself.
The island of Thyrasia is the only inhabited island around Santorini. Here you will find an interesting walk, a colorful village and a few cozy taverns.
8. Try Greek Cuisine
Moussaka, pastizio, beansolada, souvlaki, Greek salad, gyros, dolma are just a small part of the luxury that Greece has prepared for its guests. No matter where you’re resting – in smart Ia or in cozy Perissa – the food will be very tasty and fragrant, and the waiters will be hospitable. Prices, of course, will differ. In Fira and Ie the bill is usually 30-50% higher than in similar cafes in Perissa or Kamari.
9. Drink Greek wine
There are many wineries in Greece and some of them are located in Santorini. If you want to taste the local wines, you can simply walk into a supermarket and find something authentic on the shelf (particularly appreciated are the wines of Vinsanto, Assyrtiko, Nykteri and Mezzo), you can order a glass or two in a café or you can visit a wine tasting center, such as the wine museum in Kamari or choose and visit one of the wineries, such as Vinsanto, Antoniu, Butari, Gavalas.
10. Have a romantic dinner at sunset
- Buy a bottle of delicious wine at the supermarket;
- Get cheese, fruit, make a couple of sandwiches;
- Choose a romantic spot with the best view;
- Turn off your phone;
- Have one of the best evenings of your life.
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