What to see in Santorini in 1 and 2 days
What to see in Santorini in 1 and 2 days to get the most out of the island. In this article, you will learn the best way to plan a short visit to cover the most important things. Santorini is a small enough island that it is quite possible to get around in 1 day. However, we still advise to come with an overnight stay to be sure to enjoy the main attraction of Santorini – the world famous sunset.
You can only get to the islands of Santorini by air or water, and it’s better to take care of the tickets in advance. Especially with regard to air travel: if you plan your visit in advance, you can get tickets from Athens for 20 euros.
Cheap plane tickets are best searched through the search engine aviasales, and for ferries more suitable ferriesingreece [link]. To avoid focusing separately on transportation now, we recommend our articles where we looked at all the options in detail:
Morning in Fira: what to see
Travelers who come to Santorini with organized excursions for 1 day are first loaded onto buses and taken to Ia. That’s why, to avoid meeting with tour groups, an independent morning in Santorini is better to start from Fira. This time is more peaceful than in the afternoon.
The main attraction of Santorini – is an ancient volcano that has repeatedly shaken the island with earthquakes, and in the middle of XX century almost destroyed the island’s capital. It is amazing the speed with which Fira has been restored, becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations.
The city of Fira descends amphitheatrically on the rock
The caldera, the crater left by an exploding volcano, is best admired from the so-called “balcony,” a steep cliff that stretches along the entire west coast of the island.
In Fira, the “balcony” is dotted with numerous houses and hotels in traditional Cycladic style, creating one of the most recognizable views in the world. Along the cliff, you can walk all the way to the neighboring town of Imerovigli, while visiting Fira’s most important sites.
There are more than 300 churches on Santorini, but even more hotels
Pay attention to the Museum of Prehistoric Fira, which has a collection of art and life of ancient inhabitants of the island. Numerous frescoes, statuettes and other items have been found during excavations in Santorini and date back to the period from the 3rd millennium BC to the 17th century BC.
Nearby is the Orthodox Cathedral, the domes of which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It is famous for its whitewashed arches, but it has little historical value: it was built only in 1970 on the site of the destroyed Church of Our Lady of Belonia.
From the cathedral to the Archaeological Museum leads “golden” street Ipandis, so called because of the many jewelry and souvenir shops located there. The Archaeological Museum itself, although modest in size, takes visitors through a long period of time, from prehistory to the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Santorini’s main cathedral is a relative novelty
A little further away from the cliff you can find one of the oldest buildings in Fira, the palace of Gizi. A striking example of Cycladic architecture, the snow-white palace was built in the 17th century and today houses valuable exhibits from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Another surviving 17th century building is the Church of Saint Mina (Ayiu Mina), which is so often featured on postcards.
In total there are about 300 churches on the island so if you have time and desire you can walk through the streets of Fira in search of other religious landmarks. We mention, however, another museum, the Ethnographic Museum of Lignos, where you can see a cave house of the XIX century with preserved furnishings and we go to Ia.
Continuation of the day in Ia
A must-see in Santorini in 1 day is Ia, the second most important city of the island. Getting to Ia is not difficult: both from Fira itself and from the town of Imerovigli (where you could reach by walking on the “balcony”) there are regular buses to Ia. You can find the current timetable here.
There are not just a lot of people who want to admire the sunset in Ia, but a lot, and the evening buses are often overcrowded. Since Greeks do not take standing passengers, it is better to plan your departure for Ia at 16:00 at the latest.
The streets of Ia are especially crowded in the morning and evening
Also note that if you are sailing from Santorini on the same day, you need to time it right. Most of the ships to Crete and Athens leave the island before sunset, so you won’t be able to enjoy the sunset in Ia.
Newlyweds from all over the world flock to Ia to celebrate their nuptials in front of authentic cabins and unique sunsets. Wedding ceremonies are often held in the snow-white church of Panagia Platsani with its three-tiered bell tower.
Panagia Platsani Church is easily recognized by its three-tiered bell tower
One of the most romantic cities in the world itself looks like a museum, so it’s more worthwhile to just stroll through the narrow streets and stairs and head to the observation deck by sunset.
For those who prefer to stroll through the museum halls, however, there’s the Maritime Museum and Art Gallery in Ia. Captain Antonis Dakoronias began collecting the Maritime Museum collection in the mid-20th century, but it is already one of the richest collections on the island.
The gallery is much younger – it only opened in 2010 – but today it is considered one of the most important modern art museums in Greece, where you can buy your favorite piece as a keepsake.
Windmills are one of the recognizable symbols of Iya
You can admire the setting sun at the ruins of the Byzantine castle or at the windmills, unless you’re afraid of getting lost in the crowd of tourists. Otherwise, it’s worth checking out the nearby hotels (keeping in mind that Iya is quite an expensive place).
After sundown, travelers whose hotels are not in Iya will rush back to the buses, so there may well be a shortage of seats on public transportation during peak season. Just keep this in mind and be prepared to take a cab if you want to walk around Ia some more.
What to see in Santorini in 2 days and a map
Due to the early departure of most ferries from the island, many travelers get a trip to Santorini without the famous sunset and rather crumpled.
So if possible, be sure to plan an overnight stay on the island. A selection of the best hotels in the capital, Fira, can be found on this page [link], and the best selection of hotels in Ia look here [link].
To see the maximum in Santorini in 2 days, it is better to rent a car or scooter. Then you will definitely have the opportunity to visit one of the island’s volcanic black sand beaches. For this you must go to Vlihada in the south of the island or to Perissa or Kamari on the east coast.
There are also nearby excavation sites, where you can see the ruins of the ancient cities of the island. One of these sites is near the village of Akrotiri and the other is Ancient Thira, on top of Mount Mesa Vouno. At the highest point of the island is the cathedral of Elijah the Prophet, where during the Ottoman occupation was an underground school of Greek language and literature.
Learn more about each place in our article – What to see in Santorini: The island’s main attractions.
Finally, 2 other popular attractions in Santorini to see on day 2 are the volcano and the wineries.
You can get to the volcano as part of a local organized tour, but you’re sure to see the wineries many times during your trips around the island. Grekoblog wrote about Santorini’s most popular wines in a separate article.
Santorini itinerary for 1 and 2 days
Although Santorini is a relatively small island, it is full of attractions that are scattered throughout its territory. Covering all the most important things, even with very careful planning, is extremely difficult.
The availability of complete and reliable information on the Greek Internet still leaves much to be desired, and many sites with information about opening hours, tickets and transportation are only in Greek.
It’s best to visit Santorini overnight to see the famous sunset
The alternative in the form of live guides won’t suit everyone, either. Prices for individual tours of Santorini start at 200 euros for a short hike and go up to 350-400 euros for a tour around the island.
Here, for example, are a few popular tours of the island:
That’s why Grekoblog released in 2018 (and updated in 2021) a detailed 1 and 2 day itinerary for Santorini that allows you to see much more than 95% of travelers manage, and saves you hundreds of Euros on individual excursions.
Here’s what you’ll find inside the itinerary:
- A ready and detailed 1 and 2 day plan for staying in Santorini
- Tags for the maps.me app to transfer the map with all the sites to your smartphone and use without the internet
- A PDF version of the itinerary that you can print out and take with you or read right from your smartphone or computer screen
- Little-known “tricks” so you don’t miss anything
- The 6 best viewpoints of Santorini, to leave you with great pics
- Operating hours and ticket prices for the main attractions along the route
- Where to get an atmospheric meal and what to try from the food
- How to get on budget excursions to Santorini
- Valuable recommendations from an island guide that will allow you to see more than most travelers have time to do
In addition to Santorini, Grekoblog has prepared detailed itineraries for Athens and Heraklion, as well as a video course with lots of useful nuances for those going to Greece. You can read them as well as place an order for any of the itineraries [or the whole package] on this page.
Be sure to save this article on your social network and share it with your fellow travelers, because you will need it many times during your stay on the island.
Santorini: how to plan a trip to the blue and white island
There are places on our planet that literally everyone would like to visit. Santorini with its famous blue and white houses is one of them. Our guide will help you plan your itinerary and decide whether to go to Santorini with a tour or on your own.
One often hears the phrase “Santorini Island”. It’s a group of islands that includes Fira, Tirasia, Aspronisi, Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. Once upon a time, during the heyday and power of the Cretan-Minoan civilization, this was one island, inhabited and, judging by the many archaeological evidences, quite prosperous. But then there was a volcanic eruption, horrific, exterminating everything. The monstrous explosion split the island apart in an instant, leaving a huge crater (caldera) in the center, changed the climate of the Mediterranean for centuries and, according to one version, destroyed the Minoan civilization.
Gradually life returned to these desolate shores, and amazingly beautiful white-washed settlements were created on the terraces of the caldera, looking like swallows’ nests from below. The views of these beautiful buildings and pretty blue-domed churches have been seen all over the world and are the calling card of not only Santorini, but of Greece as a whole.
How to get there?
You can get to Santorini by plane or by sea by ferry.
The airport is located on the island of Fira. There are no direct flights from Russia. The Greek airline Aegean offers to fly with a connection in Athens.
Maritime traffic between the islands in Greece is well developed. On Fira, there are two ports, one old and one new. Huge cruise ships stop in front of the old port, and numerous tourists are taken by boats and cutters to the old port for a guided tour of the island. From the port up to the town of Fira you can take the funicular railway (cable car) and the winding, rather steep, footpath on your own or on donkeys or mules.
Ships or ferries, from slow and large to fast, from Crete and other islands come to a new port called Athinios (Athinios Port Santorini). I myself and my family arrived by ferry from Heraklion.
Excursions and Ferries to Santorini
You can buy an excursion at any street tourist bureau or online. I know two Russian-language resources for excursions from Crete – Heraklion.ru and Ivan Susanin (do not let the names confuse anyone, the guys are responsive and caring, will not lead anyone into the woods and leave them there, also have offices in most resort towns).
The cost of a tour from Crete to Santorini for 1 day – about 100 euros, and for 2 days – about 150 euros.
In general, the excursion bureaus markup is quite reasonable, in addition is a transfer and accompaniment.
For example, you can buy ferry tickets by yourself at Ferries in Greece website (there is a Russian version). Prices differ a little depending on the type of boat.
- The ferry Heraklion – Santorini costs from 39 euros one way. Travel time is 2-3 hours. All ferries leave in the morning. While in the summer period there are 3-6 ships every day, since mid-October there is only one ferry left and not even every day.
- From the island of Kos to Santorini ferries run on Mondays and Wednesdays, traveling 4.5 hours, cost from 37 euros.
- From Athens you can reach the island by ferry in 5-9 hours, depending on the ship. The cost is from 38 euros one way.
- There are also sea connections between Rhodes and Santorini. There are two ferry companies, Blue Star (travel time 7.5 hours) and AEGEON PELAGOS (travel time as much as 15 hours!). Tickets start at 29 euros.
During high season, it is better to book tours and tickets in advance, as there may be no seats on the ferries.
Transportation to Santorini
From the new port of Afinyos, you can get to the towns and villages of Fira by car, with a rental car right at the port, by cab or by bus.
The bus service is excellent and allows easy access to all parts of the island. Bus schedules and prices can be found on the website of ΚΤΕΛ, Greece’s renowned bus company which operates everywhere in Greece. Rides around the island cost from 1.8 to 2.5 euros.
Hotels in Santorini
I would recommend going to Santorini for two days. To understand all the charm of the island, you must be here to meet the sunset. It is considered to be the most romantic sunsets in the world. That is why artists and photographers flock here from all over the world. Especially beautiful views with sunsets are opened from the town of Iya, which is reached from Fira by bus in about half an hour.
Well, okay, romance, sunset … And where to stay, where to sleep? Friends, it’s not a problem! The hotel infrastructure in Santorini is well developed. There are plenty of hotels for all tastes and wallets. End of summer prices range from 50-60 euros per night in a double room to more than 2 thousand euros per night in a rented villa. The most chic and expensive options are on the west side along the caldera – with pools, terraces, restaurants.
But on the east side there are nice hotels – for example, in Kamari or Perissa . They are much more attractive in terms of price, and the opportunity to meet a new day with the first rays of sun rising over the horizon in the Aegean Sea is also a romance, right?
What to do?
The locals have a saying that there’s more wine than water on Santorini; more donkeys than people; and more churches than houses. There’s something to that. Donkeys are a widespread mode of transportation; they’re highly esteemed here; they even have their own union! Churches are at every turn here, their sky-blue domes and vaults look like postcards and are a joy to behold.
And the wine! It’s amazing, special wine of the variety Vensanto. The fact is that the usual trellised vineyards with vines stretching up to the sun do not exist on Santorini. The vineyards are pretty high up on the hills. As I was told, there are strong winds here most of the year, so people have learned to shape the vines in a special way, laying them in the shape of a basket. The grapes mature as if they are lying in this basket on the rocks, so when they ripen, they wither, the so-called raisinization takes place, hence the unusual properties of the wine. I recommend taking a bottle of Vensanto as a souvenir from Santorini.
I saw quite a few tour bureaus in Fira. If you stay overnight in Santorini, the next day, before the return ferry, you can take an excursion, such as taking a boat trip around the caldera, visiting Tirasia or Nea Kameni or Palea Kameni. The latter are the top of an active (fortunately dormant) volcano. If you want to walk around the volcano, maybe tickle your nerves, you’re welcome.
Beaches of Santorini
The last thing I will mention are the beaches, because the sea is all around. I should say right away that you will not be able to swim in the caldera: it is deep, cold and dangerous because of the waves. Therefore, all hotels try to make pools overlooking the caldera, very impressive!
All the beaches are on the outer, gentle side of the island. And along with the usual color of sand there are amazing red and black beaches.
The red beach of Santorini is located in the southern part of the island, near the village of Akrotiri.
I visited the black beach at Perivolos. At first moment it seems that if you walk on the black sand, which looks like coal chips, you will get dirty. Nothing of the kind! This is not coal, it’s black rock, it does not leave marks on your feet. I liked very much the shallow entrance to the Aegean Sea!
Perissa and Kamari are also famous black beaches.
Getting to either of them from the center of Fira is easy. The bus station will show you any passerby. For example, from Fira to the beaches of Akrotiri or Perissa, the ticket will not cost more than 2 euros per adult passenger. And to go back, just sit down in the bus that comes up with the inscription Thera and pay the conductor – he will walk through the cabin himself.