Here are the 10 best things to do in Santorini
1. Watch the Sunset in Oia
Watching the sun set over Oia is a truly epic experience, making it one of the world’s most famous destinations for this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Located on the northern tip of Santorini, Oia offers an unrivalled view of the dramatic caldera cliffs. As the sun sinks into the Aegean Sea, the sky is transformed into a mesmerising canvas of vibrant colours, with shades of orange, pink and purple reflecting off the calm waters below. Visitors often gather at popular spots such as the ruins of the Byzantine castle or Oia’s famous windmill to watch this daily spectacle, but the beauty of Oia is that you can simply wander its narrow, winding streets and find your own secluded corner to enjoy the magic. It’s a moment to remember and captures the essence of Santorini’s seductive charm.
2. Explore Fira
Fira, Santorini’s bustling capital, is a vibrant hub that seamlessly blends modernity with the island’s timeless charm. Its picturesque streets wind along the edge of the caldera, offering stunning panoramic views of the volcanic landscape, the shimmering blue sea and the iconic whitewashed buildings that define Santorini’s architecture. As well as its scenic beauty, Fira boasts a vibrant atmosphere with an abundance of restaurants serving fresh Greek cuisine, stylish boutiques and art galleries to explore. As the day turns to night, the town transforms into a vibrant nightlife centre with bars and clubs where visitors can enjoy the island’s energetic after-hours scene. A stroll through Fira encapsulates the dynamic spirit of Santorini, making it a must for travellers seeking a taste of both tradition and modernity.
3. Visit Akrotiri Archaeological Site
The archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini is a true archaeological marvel, often referred to as the ‘Minoan Pompeii’ due to its striking similarities to the famous Italian site. This ancient city was engulfed by a catastrophic volcanic eruption around 1,600 BC, leaving it in a remarkable state of preservation. As you wander its labyrinthine streets, you’ll discover well-preserved buildings, complex drainage systems and intricately designed frescoes that offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Minoan civilisation. Akrotiri is an archaeological treasure trove that sheds light on the island’s history, art and culture, making it a must-see for history buffs and curious travellers alike. Ongoing excavations and conservation efforts only add to the site’s appeal, making it a unique window into the past.
4. Swim at Kamari Beach
Kamari Beach, with its unique stretch of black volcanic sand, is a popular coastal destination on Santorini, offering a mix of relaxation and recreational activities. The long stretch of coastline provides ample space for sunbathing and soaking up the Mediterranean sun, while the crystal clear waters invite swimmers to cool off and enjoy the refreshing sea. For the more adventurous, water sports such as jet-skiing, paddle-boarding and snorkelling add an extra layer of excitement to the beach experience. Along the promenade you’ll find a variety of beachfront restaurants and bars where you can enjoy delicious Greek cuisine or sip a refreshing cocktail while overlooking the sea. Kamari Beach is the perfect spot for a day of leisure and seaside fun on this enchanting Greek island.
5. Wine Tasting
Santorini’s well deserved status as a wine lover’s paradise, and a wine tasting experience on the island is a journey through history and extraordinary flavours. The star of the show is the indigenous Assyrtiko grape, known for its crisp acidity and unique volcanic minerality, a testament to the island’s terroir. Local wineries offer a delightful exploration of Santorini’s wine culture. As well as the famous Assyrtiko, visitors can sample other varieties such as Nykteri and Vinsanto, both of which have a rich history. Winery tours often take place in charming settings, from terraces overlooking the caldera to rustic cellars where the wines are aged. As you sip and savour, you’ll not only be enjoying the wine, but also immersing yourself in the island’s breathtaking scenery and deep-rooted winemaking tradition, making it an essential part of the Santorini experience.
6. Hike from Fira to Oia
The hike from Fira to Oia is a typical Santorini adventure, rewarding those who make the scenic journey with unforgettable views and a sense of achievement. The 10km (6 mile) trail meanders along the edge of the caldera, offering breathtaking views of the azure waters below, the dramatic cliffs and the charming villages that cling to the cliffs. The trail is well marked and relatively easy to follow, making it suitable for walkers of all abilities. Along the way, you’ll pass through picturesque settlements such as Imerovigli and Firostefani, where you can stop and take in the views from various vantage points. As you approach Oia, the anticipation builds and the rewarding sight of Oia’s iconic whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches against the setting sun is a fitting finale to an adventure that perfectly encapsulates the allure of Santorini’s natural beauty.
7. Discover Ancient Thira
Ancient Thira, set on a mountain high above the south-eastern coast of Santorini, is a historical gem that offers a window into the island’s rich past. This ancient city boasts a diverse tapestry of historical layers, from Hellenistic to Roman to Byzantine, making it a unique archaeological site. As you explore its well-preserved ruins, you’ll come across the remains of temples, houses, theatres and even the intricate network of roads that once connected this thriving city. The reward for your exploration is not only a fascinating historical insight, but also breathtaking panoramic views of the island, the Aegean Sea and neighbouring islands. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for stunning views, a visit to ancient Thira is a truly enriching experience, allowing you to connect with Santorini’s past while immersing yourself in its awe-inspiring landscapes.
8. Relax on Red Beach
Red Beach is one of Santorini’s unique natural wonders, and one that will leave a lasting impression. Located on the southern coast of the island, the beach takes its name from the striking crimson and black volcanic sands that colour the shoreline. The contrast between the bright red cliffs, deep blue waters and dark volcanic pebbles creates a mesmerising, almost surreal landscape. Sunbathers and swimmers alike are drawn to this unique location where the crystal clear waters provide a refreshing escape from the Mediterranean sun. Snorkelling and diving opportunities abound as you explore the underwater world with its intriguing rock formations and marine life. While the beach’s popularity means it can get crowded during peak tourist season, the unique beauty of Red Beach makes it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and beachgoers looking for a truly unforgettable experience on the island of Santorini.
9. Visit Pyrgos Village
Situated in the heart of Santorini, Pyrgos Village offers an attractive escape from the island’s more touristy destinations. This picturesque village exudes traditional charm with its labyrinthine narrow streets, traditional Cycladic architecture and a collection of beautifully preserved blue-domed churches. At its heart stands a medieval castle, the Kasteli, which offers panoramic views of the island’s unique landscape. Walking through Pyrgos is like stepping back in time, as it exudes an authentic, old-world ambience that reflects the island’s rich history. The village is a haven for art and culture lovers, with numerous galleries and craft shops showcasing the island’s artistic spirit. Whether exploring the charming streets or enjoying local delicacies in the cosy tavernas, Pyrgos offers an intimate and authentic Santorini experience that’s both enchanting and a true reflection of the island’s timeless charm.
10.Take a Boat Tour
A Santorini boat tour is a true island experience, offering some of the most fascinating natural wonders in the Aegean. Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, the volcanic islands at the heart of the caldera, invite exploration of their otherworldly landscapes, with opportunities for hiking and witnessing the active volcanic craters. A visit to the nearby hot springs, believed to have therapeutic properties, is a unique and rejuvenating experience. As the tour progresses, you’ll have the opportunity to dive into the crystal clear waters for a refreshing swim in the Cobalt Sea. These tours often include a stop at Thirassia Island, a tranquil and little-visited gem that exudes a serene, unspoilt charm and offers a glimpse of traditional Greek island life. Santorini boat tours offer a delightful blend of adventure, relaxation and natural beauty, making them an essential part of the island’s itinerary.
Located in the heart of the Aegean Sea, Santorini’s appeal lies in its ability to meet a great variety of traveller’s preferences. From the captivating sunsets over the caldera cliffs to the tranquil charm of Pyrgos village, the island showcases the best of Greek culture and heritage. Its unique black and red beaches and the remarkable ancient city of Thira offer a glimpse into the island’s rich history. For the more adventurous, hiking trails and boat trips offer exciting ways to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region. With wine tasting, fine dining and seaside relaxation at its core, Santorini is an island of endless discovery and a versatile destination that promises to leave a lasting impression on every traveller’s heart.