Best Things to Do in Santorini, Greece
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
With its rugged landscape and idyllic towns, Santorini is one of the most famous islands in the world. It's part of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea of Greece. We were lucky enough to spend a full week on the island. We based ourselves in Fira, which is the main city. From there, we explored the unique landscapes, charming towns, historic sites, and beaches. In this blog, we will break down the 9 best things to do in Santorini so you can enjoy this magical place to the fullest on your holiday.
Check out our video about Santorini to see what it's like there!
Best things to do in Santorini
Without further ado, let's jump into the top things to do in Santorini! Since there is so much to do on the island, we recommend staying at least 4 days. From our selection you can pick and choose which ones fit your travel style best... or do them all like we did!
8. Visit Pyrgos, a hidden gem in Santorini!
The 8th best thing to do in Santorini is to visit Pyrgos. Pyrgos is the former capital of Santorini and the best-preserved medieval settlement on the island. It is located about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) south of Fira, but feels much further away as there aren’t as many tourists in the area. The town is small but an adorable village to visit. It's located on a hill that overlooks the rugged Santorini landscape. Walk around the town and to the top of the castle, where you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the island as well as the town’s blue dome churches and narrow streets. Pyrgos' charm is different from the rest of Santorini. It’s more subdued, less picture-perfect, and a little less advertised.
7. Relax on Santorini's most beautiful beach: Red Beach
At number 7 we have Red Beach. This is arguably the most famous and beautiful beach of Santorini and is located in the area of the ancient site of Akrotiri. Red Beach owes its name to the original colors of the steep cliffs created from the volcanic lava. The coast on all sides is surrounded by rocks, which guarantee unforgettable views of the bay. However, keep in mind that the small size of the beach can make for a very crowded atmosphere. There have also been numerous landslides in the past years, so be careful!
Alternatively, you can visit Perissa (black sand beach) or Kamari beach.
6. Visit the capital of Santorini: Fira or Thira
Another highlight of Santorini is to visit Fira, also written as Thira. This city is the beautiful capital of the island. It’s located on the western edge of Santorini and has a combination of natural beauty, social life, night life, and shopping. You can really feel the liveliness of the island as this is where a lot of the action takes place. What makes it so amazing is the caldera view that leaves visitors speechless at any time of the day. It’s also the ideal place to base yourself from as it has a central location and it’s a lot cheaper than Oia.
5. Akrotiri: the historic highlight of Santorini!
On number 5 we have the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, which is one of the most interesting places to visit in Greece. Being a thriving community from 4000 to 2000 B.C., this town is now covered in ash following a volcanic eruption on the island in about 1600 BC. It is also referred to as the ‘Greek Pompei’ and is extremely well preserved. Today, the site is covered by a roof for protection and walkways are suspended above the archaeological remains. This allows visitors to walk among the two and three-storey buildings. We do recommend getting a guide as you’ll learn everything about the history of Akrotiri, its people, and Santorini.
4. Visit a winery on Santorini
The 4th best thing to do in Santorini is to visit a winery. Because of its unique climate and the mineral content of its volcanic soil, Santorini produces arguably the best wine in Greece. Assyrtiko is the most popular variety and its rich minerals help produce fantastic white wines. Vineyards and wine form an important and traditional part of culture on the island. We visited Santo Winery around sunset and tried 6 different wines while watching the sun go down in the caldera. However, there are many other interesting wineries to visit as well. Santorini offers many sunset wine tours during which you visit a few wineries.
3. Visit Santorini's most iconic town: Oia
Another thing you can’t miss on Santorini is visiting Oia. This is the most famous of all villages on Santorini. It is widely known for its beautiful views above the cliffs, breathtaking sunset, and some of the most exclusive hotels in the world. Oia is situated on top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular view over the volcano and the caldera. Its hillside is lined with small white houses, smooth winding paths of marble, and a blue domed church around every corner. Oia is one of the most photographed places in Greece, if not the world. However, the downside of that is the amount of visitors this town attracts. We suggest coming in the early afternoon to avoid the massive sunset crowds.
Another fun thing to do when in Oia is to visit Ammoudi Bay below it. There is a steep path with stairs that connects the castle of Oia with the bay. Here you can enjoy a nice seafood lunch and see the fishermen's boats. The walk up is a little harder, but it's a great workout!
2. Take a Boat Tour To The Volcano of Santorini
The runner-up activity on Santorini is a boat tour to the other volcanic islands, Nea Kameni and Therasia.
Did you know that Santorini used to be a circular island and that these islands were once connected? The caldera was formed by the collapse of the centre of the island, caused by magma during a giant volcanic eruption. It then filled up with ocean water, which today just looks like it’s part of the ocean.
The first stop of the boat tour is to Nea Kameni, where you walk to 8 craters. One of these craters is still active and last erupted in 1950. Afterwards, you swim in the nearby hot springs. Finally, you will visit the island of Therasia, where only 300 permanent residents live. We really enjoyed this boat tour as we learned a lot about the geography and history of Santorini.
1. The Best Hike on Santorini: Fira To Oia
The best thing to do in Santorini, in our opinion, is to hike from Fira to Oia. This hike is about 10 kilometers, or 6 miles, and takes between 3 to 5 hours to complete. The hike is entirely along the rim of the caldera, passing through the towns of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and finally Oia. It boasts some of the most beautiful views of the island. The walking path is a mix of paved roads, pedestrian streets, and dirt hiking trails. It’s a hilly walk, but mostly downhill if you come from Fira. However, it does have very little shade. So if you plan to do this in the heat of the summer, start early in the day and bring enough water for the best experience. The bonus in coming from Fira is that you can spend the rest of your day exploring Oia and finish the day with a beautiful sunset.
Did you enjoy our article on the best things to do on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece? Make sure to download our free giveaway, which includes our summer travel packing list so you know perfectly what to pack when going to Santorini, Greece.
More Helpful Info About Santorini, Greece
If you still need more information about things to do in Santorini, make sure to check out these other great articles below:
Santorini: Top 12 things to do and must-see attractions by Voyagetips
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