Top 10+1 Things to Do in Santorini
1.Explore the island by car
The best and safest way to explore the island is by car. Typically, rental cars cost between 35€ and 100€ per day depending on the car you want to rent, season of the year and the car rental company.
When visiting Santorini in the high season months (June-July-August-September), it is wise to book ahead as there is a chance that vehicles on the entire island will be sold out.
In some villages like Oia and Fira finding a parking spot can be tricky, especially in rush hours. Visit our extended car rental guide to see where to look for parking in each village and what times to avoid.
If you do not feel like driving, you can always book a group or private island tour with one of the island’s tour operators. This is optimal for cruise ship visitors who have limited time on the island.
2. Visit a winery
There are more than 15 Wineries in Santorini and collectively have claimed many rewards throughout the years, especially for the white wines and the dessert wine Vinsanto. Most of them are family businesses and are already run by the 3rd generation.
The uniqueness of the wines can be attributed to the volcanic soil and the assyrtiko variety indigenous to Santorini.
You can either visit a winery by car or book a group or private winery tour. Wineries accept run ins, but we always recommend booking or calling ahead.
Some recommended wineries are:
- Sigalas Winery near Oia
- Argyros Winery near Kamari (while you are there you can also visit the nearby Yellow Donkey brewery)
- Wine Museum Koutsoyannopoulos on the way to Kamari
- Santo Wines near Pyrgos where you can enjoy great views of the Caldera Bay and the sunset
- Venetsanos Winery in Megalochori for great panoramic views of the bay and the sunset too. Venetsanos Winery is less crowded and more private than Santo Wines.
3. Taste Santorinian and Greek Cuisine
Whether you are a foodie or not, getting to know Santorini and Greece by its famous Mediterranean Cuisine is a must. The Mediterranean diet characterized by its variety, will cover food preferences for all.
There are countless places to eat throughout the island but there are a lot of tourist traps too. The least you can do is check Trip Advisor before walking into a restaurant, to get a general idea from guest reviews about their prices, menu and service.
You can enjoy little taverns that offer a less polished but more authentic to their Greek island roots culinary experience that are located usually off the beaten path. Ask locals (not hotel staff) where they are going to eat when they go out.
Restaurants that offer views of the Caldera Bay and the sunset are fully booked the entire summer, you will definitely have to book as soon as you can.
If you are into street food, do not forget to try a Gyro Souvlaki, the Greek fast food which is a pita bread wrapped with either pork or chicken meat accompanied by tomato, onions, french fries, green salad, tzatziki or sauce (ketchup-mayonnaise sauce)
While on Santorini you will definitely have to get some sea food too. Some popular places to get sea food are Amoudi Harbor in Oia (be warned as it is one of the most congested areas on the island, very tricky for parking) Perissa-Perivolos beach and Vlychada Marina
Τraditional Santorini Dishes:
- Fava (yellow split peas dip)
- Santorini Tomato Fritters
- Melitini, a light dessert cookie only made around Easter. Get it from a local bakery.
- Santorini Salad instead of your typical Greek salad it consists of local vegetables, cherry tomatoes, katsouni (Santorini sweet cucumber) and chloro cheese (light soft Santorini cheese)
4. Book a boat tour
Book a Boat Tour-Cruise while on the island to make the most out of your visit. Invest in this lifetime experience and make memories that you can look back to whether you are visiting Santorini as a couple, friends or family. Celebrate a special occasion or surprise your partner with a romantic sunset cruise with dinner on board.
Among the most popular boat tours are the Catamaran cruises. They will take you through all the hot spots, the Red Beach, White Beach and the Volcanic Hot Springs. Catamaran cruises private or not, include hotel pick up and drop off so you do not have to worry about reaching the activity. Food and drinks are also included in the price. Group tours can have up to 16 people on board.
Our Private Boat Tour Company Explorer1 Yachting is offering top quality and attention to our customers in order to provide an unforgettable experience. We are 5 stars rated on Trip Advisor.
The other popular and more affordable choice is the traditional wooden boats called ‘Kaiki’. The itinerary is limited compared to the Catamaran cruises but depending on the tour, they will also let you hike to the top of the volcano. They do not include transportation or food and can have 70+ people on board. Most traditional boat tours start from Fira΄s old port that you can reach either with the cable car or by steps.
Do you want to explore Santorini Bay with a small boat? There are a few companies that provide just that and no license is required. Rent a small boat and have complete control over your itinerary. Renting a boat is not recommended for people that have never driven a boat before as the weather and the sea can be unpredictable and dangerous.
5. Hike from Fira to Oia
A unique experience, walk along the edge of the cliffs from Oia to Fira or vice versa and experience this scenic hike with breath-taking views the entire way. There will be plenty of unique opportunities for pictures.
The path is about 11kms (7 miles) one way and at a steady modest pace with a few short breaks it takes 3-4 hours.
You will need shoes with a good grip and preferably start the hike early in the morning or after 5 pm in the summer when the temperature is not very high.
If you will not do the roundtrip, you can take transportation from either Fira or Oia for the way back. There are public buses connecting Fira and Oia every 30 minutes in the summer.
6. Visit the Akrotiri Archeological Site and Ancient Thera
The Akrotiri archeological site is an ancient Minoan settlement located on the island of Santorini in Greece. It is believed to have been a prosperous and influential city during the Bronze Age, and is often referred to as the “Pompeii of the Aegean” due to its well-preserved ruins. It is highly recommended to get a tour guide so that you get the most out of this experience.
Ancient Thera is a pre-historic city located on the mountain top that divides Kamari and Perissa. You can either hike to the top or go by car. It can get really windy on top and there is no protection from the sun so be prepared. Call before visiting as the operating days displayed on Google have been misleading in the past.
7. Visit a black sand beach
Unlike most Greek islands, Santorini is known for its black sand beaches, which are a result of the island’s volcanic activity. The island’s black sand is made up of small, smooth pebbles and fine, black grains of volcanic rock.
Some black sand beaches you can visit:
- Perissa-Perivolos: A beach that spans across more than 10 kms (7 miles) of Santorini’s south east side. You will find tavernas, restaurants, pool-beach bars and water sports.
- Kamari: Kamari in general is popular for family vacation. It is full of tourist shops and tavernas.
- Eros beach: A secluded beach, more private and quieter than Kamari and Perissa-Perivolos.
8. Enjoy the caldera bay view and sunset
The sunset in Santorini is known for being uniquely beautiful and romantic. Watch its colours transform the white washed houses on the cliffs in Oia into a majestic, romantic fairy tale like treat for your eyes, watch the sunset reflect upon the Aegean Sea with panoramic views of the island from Pyrgos village or the lighthouse in Akrotiri. It is recommended to book your sunset dinner in advance if you do not want to miss availability at your desired restaurant.
The Santorini Caldera Bay is the only inhabited Caldera in the world. It is actually a massive crater that the Minoan Eruption left behind and made part of the island submerge into the sea. Built on the edge of the Caldera are most notably the villages of Oia, Fira, Imerovigli and Firostefani and are all characterized by the hotels, restaurants and villas built right on the edge of the cliffs.
If you are not staying in one of the cliffside hotels where you get the view all day and night at your convenience, you can enjoy the view from various restaurants and bars.
9. The Santorini Experience
Are you athletic and up for a challenge? The Santorini Experience is just for you. Organized annually since 2015 by the Santorini Municipality and the Sports Tourism department of ActiveMedia Group.
It includes running and open water swimming races, with a background scenery of the enchanting areas of Oia, Imerovigli, Fira and the Volcano. It usually takes place towards the end of September or in October.
10. The Greek wedding show
Take part in an interactive Greek wedding show, taking place in the 1940s where you get to experience a traditional Greek wedding as if you are a real guest.
There will be dancing, breaking of plates, live music with guitars and the traditional Greek instrument bouzouki. Appetizers, Greek tapas and wine will be served throughout the experience.
11. Explore the traditional towns
Santorini has drastically changed over the last 30 years. With the exponential rise of tourism, towns have been polished and modernised in response to the luxury traveller.
Some towns on the other hand, that are less touristic like Megalochori, Pyrgos and the old town of Emporio still preserve their architectural roots and the traditional Greek island aesthetic.
Climb the old castle of Pyrgos to reach magnificent panoramic views of the island, book a dinner in Megalochori and explore the old Emporio town. Anywhere you look, will be an opportunity to take a picture and capture that rustic little Greek town aesthetic.