What to see and do in Santorini, below are the top 7 must-sees to visit in Santorini and enjoy a stay all in blue near the Aegean Sea!
The most emblematic island of the Cyclades, Santorini is a small volcanic archipelago cuddled to the southeast of the Aegean Sea, 186 kilometers from mainland Greece.
Also, visiting Santorini is like furrowing the steep slopes of the most active volcano of the Cyclades, and walk the most beautiful villages of the Mediterranean Sea.
With a population of 10,700 inhabitants spread over an area of 76 km². The archipelago of Santorini is world-famous for its white villages with cupolas and blue windows.
If you do not know where to go for your holidays, look no further than visiting Santorini, a charming destination on the list of the most beautiful islands in Southern Greece. The island is full of things to see and do: leisure, swimming, snorkeling if you’re looking to enjoy the summer. Also, romantic walks, hiking, boat cruises, trips, shopping if you’re traveling within groups.
Here is a list of the 7 unique things to do in Santorini island to discover something new, fresh and astonishing.
Learn more about the history of Santorini
The island of Santorini is a fragment of an ancient island in the form of a crescent moon articulated around a caldera that surrounds the crater of the volcano, buried under the sea.
The island is born during the eruption of Minoan, which occurred around 1600 BC. The Phoenicians populate the island since ancient times.
Over the centuries, the island passed successively under the administration of different empires sharing these territories of the Aegean: League of Delos, Egypt, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Duchy of Naxos, Ottoman Empire and finally Greece since 1840.
On both sides of the island, significant remains were found in the 1970s, making Santorini a remarkable archeological site. A true witness to the time and the memory of the people who have inhabited the island for more than two millennia.
1. Arrive by boat in Santorini
This is usually the first striking image when arriving to visit Santorini: the arrival by boat in the archipelago. As you get ready to dock at the port, the image of the volcano is drawn before your eyes.
You will find yourself in the middle of the majestic volcano cliffs and will see what makes the charm of Santorini: the white villages, perched on the hillsides.
The arrival by boat at the port of Athinios allows you to take advantage of the imposing volcano caldera with very large dimensions; along the west coast by Oia, Imerovigli, and Fira. Furthermore, taking a cruise around Santorini is one of the best ways to discover the island for your first day in Santorini.
2. Visit Oia
Oia is a charming village located on the northwest corniche of the island, Oia offers a real postcard scenery in two words: paradisiacal and pleasant.
Oia – pronounced “Ía” – is perched at the top of the caldera and is known to be a romantic spot to enjoy sunsets. At twilight, the sun that crashes on the horizon leaves the sky with a flaming yellow-red light; that illuminates the white and blue facades of the village to the lovers’ delight.
Visiting Santorini in Oia is also visiting shops and art galleries, blue-domed Orthodox churches, emblematic of the Cyclades; enjoying a health session with a spa or a fish pedicure, staying in luxury hotels and enjoy succulent restaurants with unobstructed views of the caldera cliffs.
Rule number one when visiting Santorini and Oia: don’t forget your sunglasses. Because of the reflected sunlight, when the environment all in white and blue, the retina can be damaged without sunglasses. It almost feels like the village is snowy!
On the hills, you’ll need to hike: so you can sneak in every nook and cranny of the village, between houses terraces. The maze of alleys and the many steps to enjoy a unique and breathtaking view.
3. Visit Ancient Fira
Fira, or Thera, is the main city of the island. A must-see when visiting Santorini, Fira is built on a rocky land overlooking the caldera, in the north-central of the west coast.
The cliff is so steep that one might think it’s too dangerous to be home for anyone. Yet 2,348 people live in their terraced houses, giving the impression of a giant staircase all dressed in white, 200 meters above sea level.
In Fira, reach the old port of Santorini, reachable by foot downhill of 600 steps and by cable car. Cable cars can be very crowded, and I don’t suggest riding donkeys as it’s very unethical.
At the heart of the village, you will find many local shops, restaurants, and luxury shops. It is, therefore, a village to see if you like shopping and gourmet holidays.
4. Wander from Oia to Fira
If you still wonder what to do in Santorini; the hiking trails between the two villages will give you breathtaking views to enjoy your photographs and memories. Reaching Imerovigli, the ride is 10 kilometers long, and winds along the coast.
You can enjoy typical small churches with dark blue domes and orthodox obedience. The steps, in addition, are easy and accessible to all.
5. Nea Kameni crater
Tour operators offer many tours of the volcano and caldera; pick one, as it allows you to observe the volcano of Santorini in all its glory.
In addition, you can also enjoy swimming in the hot springs of the island; (the volcano is the most active in the region, it springs sulfur smell). Due to the tourist affluence, it will be necessary; however, to book the day before!
After a 40-minute boat ride, discover the island of Nea Kameni, an island made up of ash and lava, 150 meters above the sea. On the islet, discover the crater and the history of the volcano.
6. Red Sand Beach and White Beach
The Red Sand Beach and the White Beach seem to be wild nature, quiet and relaxing. Both are beautiful, but far from abandoned.
On the south coast of Akrotiri, the Red Sand Beach and the White Beach are very popular with tourists. The paradisiacal places, of which those essential to visit Santorini – are unfortunately rarely deserted!
Volcanic sand and red cliffs surround The Red Sand Beach. Walking along the shore, you reach the White Beach, with white stones and cliffs that offer a completely different look.
7. Budget Things to do in Santorini Greece
Visit the Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri
Discovered in 1967 by the archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, Akrotiri is a city covered by the ashes of a volcanic eruption that would have occurred in 1500 BC.
Relatively well preserved, you can stroll through its streets and discover the old houses and paintings.
Visit Pyrgos Village to Enjoy Sunsets
The Pyrgos Village boasts of panoramic views of the entire island, as it’s the highest point on Santorini. The village is a protected settlement to preserve the traditional architecture, with narrow alleys winding through galleries, vineyards, cafes, and boutiques.
Pyrgos offers breathtaking sunset views, being at the pinnacle of the island. Take your camera and enjoy the views while taking some outstanding shots.
Kayak around Santorini
Want to discover Santorini in an original way? Board on a kayak and sail on the turquoise waters of Santorini like amateur adventurers, riding a Kayak in Santorini is guaranteed fun!
ATV Rental / Quadbike
The most used and best transportation on the island is by ATV or Quadbike. Rent a Quadbike, and you’ll get the chance to hike the entire island in less than a day, another option is to join a tour (some tours offer the Quadbike hike).
Why is Quadbike in Santorini your best option? First of all, it’s on a budget (cheaper than renting a car). Also, you can park wherever you want (no parking issues compared to cars), and the best thing about renting a Quadbike in Santorini because you can enjoy exploring the island and having fun at the same time.
Cycling in Santorini
Are you athletic, or just motivated? Hop on your bike and discover the wonderful landscapes that this Cyclades island has to offer.
If you’re not used to riding bikes you’ll suffer, but it’s a pretty cool activity if you’re looking for something cool to do in Santorini.
Delicious Greek Food
Every time you travel, make sure to taste the local and authentic food of the city you’re visiting. When it comes to Greek food, it’s delicious, healthy and comes directly from the Mediterranean sea, so it’s fresh.
No one can suggest which food to pick in a restaurant, it depends on your diet, but in Santorini, restaurants serve fresh seafood, fresh vegetables, olives, and homemade hummus. The local restaurants offer healthy food, that goes with every diet.
If you don’t care about your diet, try the Saganaki and Moussaka, very delicious that can be ordered with every meal; don’t forget to order the Greek Salad, one of the best Mediterranean dishes.
Also if you’re traveling in a group, try ordering multiples dishes and split the meals to enjoy all the menu while in Santorini.
Gifts & Souvenirs in Santorini?
It’s really important to get souvenirs when traveling abroad, it can be a fridge magnet, a poster, or a local special thing.
The special thing you can get in Santorini can vary from handmade jewelry to shirts, made sure to pick something special but expensive.
Earrings and necklaces can be a good gift for your beloved mom when you come back home from Santorini.
How to get to Santorini?
You can arrive in Santorini by boat or plane. For the ferry, you must book a trip from the Pyrenees (if you arrive from the mainland) or from Heraklion (from Crete).
By plane, there are direct flights from Europe (France, Italy, UK, Spain…) to Thira airport. Upon arrival, you can take a shuttle from the airport to your hotel. To find a cheap flight to Santorini, you can rely on our guide to plan your trip using Skyscanner.
Where to stay in Santorini?
The number of hotels on the island of Santorini is important, but often insufficient in high season (June to October).
You can stay in Oia for the view and the relative calm, in Thira for the view and be in the center of the island. Lodging near Perissa or Kamari allows you to enjoy more of the beach.
Note that the villages in the center offer lower prices. You can find a cheap hotel in Santorini by performing a search on Booking. Airbnb is a good option too, but more expensive.