Santorini

6 best things to do in Santorini, Greece

Santorini is one of those destinations you need to visit at least once in your life. This Greek island has it all: hypnotic sunsets, unique landscapes, iconic blue-domed churches and, the impressive caldera of course. We couldn’t get enough of the amazing architecture (think whitewashed buildings with blue accents everywhere) and the breathtaking sunsets. Santorini really is picture perfect, even more dazzling than every picture or postcard you’ve most likely seen before in your life! Discover the best things to do in Santorini.

Short on time? Here are our top picks for the best hotels in Santorini:

Good to know
Since we stayed at different hotels, we rented a car. This was also very convenient to discover the island. We recommend booking this in advance. We did not book in advance and couldn’t choose which car we wanted, and we also had to wait a day before it was available. We were given a white Peugeot 208, which we picked up in Pyrgos on our second day and left at the port on the last day, as we left from the port for Mykonos. The rental company was Pyrgos Rent-a-car and we couldn’t recommend them enough. They are available 24/7 (they even have Whatsapp) and were super friendly!

1. Catch the world-famous sunset of Santorini

The best things to do in Santorini: sunset

The main reason why Santorini has acquired such worldwide fame is probably because of the magical sunset in Santorini. There are an infinite number of places to admire the sunset, but the town of Oia is definitely the most famous spot to do so. While wandering the narrow streets of this town, you will come across the iconic blue-domed churches and whitewashed buildings. Due to the popularity of Oia, it has become the busiest town on all of the island. When we say say it gets crowded, it really gets ridiculously over-crowded, meaning you’ll be sharing your romantic sunset spot with with hundreds of other people.

We recommend the equally picturesque town of Fira to watch the sunset. Fira is the largest town in Santorini and the island’s capital. It’s also a bustling town, but not as over-crowded as Oia. Make sure to have dinner during sunset if you don’t want to experience the sunset among all the people. We were so relieved we found an awesome restaurant to watch the sunset! In fact, at this restaurant the idea of Tasting Sunsets was born! 🥹

Akrotiri Lighthouse

Another spectacular sunset spot is the Akrotiri Lighthouse, located on the most southwestern tip of the island. It is known for its beautiful views of the island and its impressive sunset views. Make sure to rent a car/scooter if you’re planning to go here, because it is impossible to get there on foot!

2. Volcano and Hot Springs boat tour

The best things to do in Santorini: Volcano and Hot Springs boat tour

If you like some adventure like we do, we recommend to take the Volcano and Hot Springs boat tour. The excursion departs daily from the old port of Fira, at 11:00 AM or at 2:15 PM. You can take a cable car to the port for € 6 per way. It takes only 3 minutes to go down, but if you want to see Santorini from a different perspective, the cable car is exactly what you need. You could also take the stairs (for free) or ride a donkey, but as we’re both lazy and against animal abuse, we chose the cable car instead. The donkeys are nothing but a tourist attraction, we should all do our best to end this animal abuse!

Hot Springs

We started at the hot springs, located at the lava island of Palea Kameni. During half an hour you can swim in the warm hot spring water, with a temperature that varies from 30 to 35 °C. Do not expect very hot temperatures though, as the water constantly mixes with the regular, colder, seawater.

Pro tip
Make sure not to wear a white bikini, as it may discolor because of the acidic water. Some other boats arrived there as well, so it can get pretty crowded but it sure is a fun experience!

Volcano

The second stop was the famous volcano of Santorini at the volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Here you get an hour and a half to walk to the top where the active craters are. Make sure to bring some water (or buy some on the boat) as it can get very hot. Do not underestimate the glaring Santorinian sun!

If we have to say something negative, we didn’t like the fact that the tour started with the hot springs. It is impossible to be completely dry by the time you get to the volcano. To us, it makes more sense to start with the volcano tour and then finish at the hot springs to relax after walking to the top of the volcano. Maybe there are other tour operators with a different schedule, so we recommend paying attention to that! We paid € 25 per person for the trip, this is non-negotiable and the same for all tour operators.

3. Archaeological Site of Akrotiri

The best things to do in Santorini: Archaeological Site of Akrotiri

The Archaeological Site of Akrotiri is definitely one of the best things to see in Santorini if you’re into history and archaeology. This site features ruins from the city of Akrotiri, that has been destroyed by the same volcanic eruption that shaped Santorini. The settlement was buried in volcanic ash, which preserved many of its houses and objects. The excellent condition of this ruined city is really remarkable and worth a visit.

We have to admit that the main reason of our visit was that the site is rumoured to be Atlantis (or at least be the inspiration of the story of Atlantis)! At times it was difficult to envision what it used to be, but a large part of the site has been preserved so well that you can actually distinguish different parts inside the houses (like where the living room, restrooms etc. were). It really blew our mind! You can explore the site by following walkways that lead you around the entire settlement. If you want insight into an ancient world full of wonder, make sure to visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri!

4. Explore the lesser-known villages Pyrgos and Megalochori

The best things to do in Santorini: Pyrgos

Our first stay was located in Pyrgos, the highest Santorinian village with spectacular views of the whole island. It is a small village but we really loved strolling through the narrow colorful streets. If you want to escape the crowd of Oia, we recommend you to visit this village. Everything is more relaxed in Pyrgos, here you can taste the real Greek life (not only the food, but also the way of living!). The village is a combination of traditional architecture, small white houses and churches with the typical blue accents and a lot of vineyards. Close to Pyrgos you can find one of Santorini’s most popular wineries: Santo Wines.

The best things to do in Santorini: Megalochori

Another small, quiet village is Megalochori. We could walk around here for hours, it was one of our favorite villages in Santorini. This place truly has the most beautiful architecture. The whitewashed buildings and churches create a unique and idyllic scenery that will remain engraved in your memory. Within the village’s main square, you will find many local taverns, perfect for breakfast or lunch. We think Megalochori is one of the most picturesque villages on the island, and if you’re looking for a place of the beaten track: this is it! Think of it as a more authentic, more romantic and less busy Oia. We looooove it!

5. Hiking to the top of Skaros Rock

The best things to do in Santorini: Skaros Rock

Skaros Rock is located in front of the village of Imerovigli, a peaceful and relaxing village situated at the highest point of the island. It is a huge rock formation that overlooks the shimmering sea. In the earlier days, it used to be a former fortress. Nowadays it consists of a few ruins due to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. To experience Santorini from a different point of view, we recommend you to hike to the top for an amazing 360-degree view! We climbed the rock in a little under 45 minutes (start to finish), but we’ve seen people do it in less than 30 so don’t let that discourage you to experience this awesome viewpoint!

6. Ammoudi Bay

The best things to do in Santorini: Ammoudi Bay

About 300 steps below the town of Oia, you can find Ammoudi Bay, the hidden pearl of Santorini. Here you can find some delicious seafood restaurants lined along the crystal clear water. You can get here by car, but bear in mind that there are no “real parking spots” on site. We recommend parking your vehicle along the road (this is what we did).

There are 5 or 6 taverns, all offering amazing and fresh seafood. Behind the last restaurant in line you can follow a small path that leads to an incredible cliff diving spot. Make sure to wear sturdy footwear, as the path is full of rocks and stones! We brought some towels and water with us as well, but don’t expect a sandy beach for sunbathing. We found a pretty secluded spot and placed our towels on the rocks to spend a lovely afternoon here.

Santorini really is a once in a lifetime experience and we were able to discover both its world-famous sides and hidden gems. Since we stayed here for a week, we also did a lot of other things (for example a beach day to get some rest), but what we listed above are the things that have stayed with us and that we would recommend to other people. We can’t wait to go back one day! 🤩

More helpful Greece posts:

Where to stay in Santorini for a romantic getaway
Our favorite places to eat in Santorini
9 best things to do in Zakynthos
The best restaurants in Zakynthos
The ultimate Mykonos travel guide

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