Santorini is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Greece. With its dramatic cliffs, whitewashed villages, and stunning sunsets, it’s easy to see why.
Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santorini, Greece
If you’re planning on visiting this beautiful island, here are some of the best things to do in Santorini you shouldn’t miss! Need more, read our 3 Days in Santorini Greece on a Budget.
Watch the sunset in Oia
Situated in the northern part of Santorini, Oia is a picturesque village that is known for its breathtaking views, whitewashed houses, and blue domes. Oia is definitely one of the best places to stay in Santorini if you want to witness one of the most stunning sunsets the island has to offer.
The most popular sunset spot in Oia is Oia Castle. Situated at the highest point of the village, this small castle (or rather the ruins of the castle that once stood there) offers amazing views of the volcano and the entire village. Although it’s a pretty magical experience, be prepared for the crowds!
Alternatively, you will find many restaurants along the caldera which provide stunning sunset views. In case you would like a more private experience, book a table at one of these restaurants but do it as early as possible, as they tend to sell out quickly.
Hike from Fira to Oia
If you’re in for an exhilarating hike in Santorini, then you should definitely try the trail that connects Fira to Oia.
From Fira (the capital of Santorini), it takes about 3-4 hours until you reach the cliffside town of Oia on foot. The entire trail is 10 km (6 miles) long and is one of the easiest hikes you will ever do. The views along the hike are incredible and you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views when you reach Oia.
It’s important to note that there are practically no shades on the hiking trail so it’s best to tackle this hike early in the morning while the weather is not too hot.
Take a boat tour around Santorini
With its unique landscape, there are few places in the world like Santorini. If you’re interested in seeing it from a different perspective, then join one of the many boat tours that take place around Santorini.
You can choose from full-day or half-day excursions, and you can even opt to take a sunset boat tour which is one of the most popular options.
Another popular choice is the volcano tour. Did you know that Santorini is actually a volcanic island? The crescents-shaped island is a result of a massive volcanic eruption that destroyed the volcano’s core.
By opting for a volcano boat tour, you can visit the two smaller islands next to Santorini: one is the remnants of the old volcano (Palea Cameni), while the other is home to a new volcano (Nea Cameni).
Drive up to Profiti Ilias Monastery
Located on the highest point of the island, Profiti Ilias Monastery is one of the oldest churches in Santorini offering stunning views over the Aegean Sea, Thirassia Island, and practically the whole island of Santorini.
It takes about 35 minutes to drive up to the monastery from Oia or 20 minutes from Fira. Although there are plenty of parking spaces at the top, it can get pretty crowded when the huge tourist buses arrive so it’s best to go there early in the morning.
Visit Pyrgos village
While you’re exploring Santorini, don’t forget to visit the picturesque Pyrgos village. It’s actually located at the foot of Mount Profitis Ilias so you can easily combine two of the best things to do in Santorini in one scoop.
Pyrgos (otherwise referred to as Pyrgos Kallistis) is one of the oldest villages in Santorini and since it’s not so well-known among tourists, it has a completely different vibe compared to Oia or Fira.
One of the unmissable places in Pyrgos is the ruins of the Old Venetian castle that offers unobstructed panoramas of the island.
Spend some time on the beach
Although Santorini is not your typical beach destination, it’s home to many unique beaches that are worth visiting.
Red Beach is one of the most unusual beaches you can find in Santorini. The reddish color is from a special type of lava from ancient eruptions that managed to seep down to the bottom of the cliffs creating this unique geological treasure. Although the beach itself is beautiful and worth seeing, it’s not the best place for swimming due to the strong currents and the sharp rocks.
If you’re looking for a beach for swimming, the black sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa will be a better choice. While Kamari can be a bit crowded at times, the beach of Perissa is still off-the-beaten-path and offers a laid-back vibe away from the crowds.
Explore Skaros Rock
Located on the northwestern edge of Santorini, right in front of Imerovigli, exploring Skaros Rock is one of the best things to do in Santorini for hikers.
Skaros Rock was once home to one of the most important fortresses on the island that was built by the Venetians in order to defend the island against pirates. Unfortunately, the fortress was completely destroyed due to an earthquake but it’s still worth visiting Skaros Rock because of the stunning views it offers over the island.
It takes around 30 minutes to reach the top of the rock from Imerovigli and the path is very straightforward. However, as with the Fira to Oia hike, there are no shades so avoid completing this hike under the midday sun.
Pay a visit to the Akrotiri Archeological site
The small village of Akrotiri is home to one of the most important ancient settlements in Greece.
The settlement was once part of the Minoan civilization until around 16th century BC when it was buried by volcanic ash following an eruption. Later it was excavated and the artifacts discovered gave important clues to archaeologists about everyday life in ancient Greece.
You can explore the excavated area on your own or by joining an organized tour.
Find the Akrotiri Lighthouse
Located on the southwestern tip of Santorini, another must-see attraction in Akrotiri is the Akrotiri Lighthouse which was built in 1892 and has been providing safe passage for ships ever since. It’s actually one of the oldest lighthouses in the Cyclades which makes it pretty special!
It takes a fair amount of time to drive there from Oia (around 45 minutes), so most visitors tend to skip visiting the lighthouse. However, if you have some free time in Santorini after seeing the basics, it’s absolutely worth going there!
There are plenty of parking spaces near the lighthouse so it doesn’t require much of an effort to get there. The lighthouse is particularly beautiful during sunset but since it’s fairly off-the-beaten-path, you can visit any time of the day without running into bigger crowds.
Try the local cuisine
Last but not least, you can’t leave Santorini without trying some of the local specialties! Santorini is famous for its traditional local cuisine, so you definitely have to try out some of the most well-known dishes.
One of the most popular Greek dishes is gyros, which is basically meat, vegetables, and tzatziki sauce typically served in a pita or on a plate with french fries. No one does better gyros in Santorini than Pitogyros in Oia!
If you love seafood, you have to visit Ammoudi Fish Tavern located in Ammoudi Bay. Although not the cheapest option in Santorini, it’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Oia and they have a great selection of fresh fish.
Santorini is also famous for its wine and you’ll find many vineyards dotted around the island where you can book a wine tour. Alternatively, you can just order a glass of wine at one of the restaurants to complete your evening in Santorini!
For visitors with a sweet tooth, baklava is another specialty you have to try. It’s a sweet pastry made with layers of filo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup. Although there are many variations of baklava, the most common version is made with walnuts, almonds, and pistachios. It’s one of the most popular desserts in Greece and you can find it almost everywhere in Santorini.
Santorini is a stunning island with various activities to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking views, delicious food, or an opportunity to explore the culture, Santorini has something for everyone.
I hope this list of the best things to do in Santorini inspires you to visit this amazing destination and you will have the trip of a lifetime!
Have you ever been to Santorini? What were your favorite activities? Let us all know in the comments!
Submitted by Krisztina Harsanyi from She Wanders Abroad