Are you planning to visit Santorini soon? Well, when was the last time you felt a sense of escapism? Breeze in your hair, sun on your face, a world of endlessly captivating possibilities at your fingertips?
There are so many magical things to do in Santorini that you could spend a lifetime exploring every twist and turn and would still not manage to find all the secrets. Whatever type of holiday you crave, we can’t wait to show you our insider’s guide of what to do in Santorini to achieve the holiday of your dreams!
#1. Feel amazed by the most famous sunset
It’s undoubtedly the world’s most famous sunset, and for a good reason. Experiencing the vibrant sunset is one of the things to do in Santorini that never leaves your memory.
Be camera-ready in Oia
From a classic standpoint, there’s no place quite like Oia to view the sunset. Thousands of visitors flock to Santorini just to snap pictures of the caldera cliffside, whitewash houses, and spectacular blue domes. Find a spot along the cliffside to capture the perfect pictures that burst with pinks, yellows, and oranges. You can also make an evening of it with a reservation at a bar or restaurant, ensuring you aren’t jockeying for a position among the crowd.
Find peace in lesser-known spots
Suppose you share the same sentiment as us that sunsets are peaceful times of reflection. In that case, we wholeheartedly endorse viewing the sunset in villages outside of Oia, where the crowds are far fewer. We love to head off the beaten path for a more intimate experience with Santorini day tours. Some of our favorite spots for optimal sunset viewing are the Heart of Santorini in Megalochori, Mikros Profitis Ilias in Imerovigli, Profitis Ilias Mountain, or Faros Market in Akrotiri close to the lighthouse.
Enjoy a romantic sunset cruise
We would be remiss if we didn’t suggest a sunset Santorini Day Cruise, many of which take place upwards of 8 months out of the year. Sunset cruises embody the best of things to do in Santorini: snacking on appetizers washed down by local wine or ouzo as the sea breeze gently envelops you. Sunset cruises, whether private or with groups, halt their boats along the caldera to position themselves for the best angle for the inevitable hundreds of photos you want to snap.
#2. Discover world-renowned Oia
Walk among whitewashed buildings with their blue domes. View the breathtaking sunset. Engage in world-class shopping. Things to do in Oia, Santorini? The options are endless.
Shop until you drop at luxe boutiques
Santorini is a global destination for fashionable jet setters, and its boutique shopping reflects this. Nestled in the narrow cobblestone streets are a bevy of shops featuring both Greek and international designers. The picture windows gracefully display handmade leather goods, designer sunglasses, billowy sunhats, elegant dresses, and ancient Grecian-inspired garbs. Shopping is what to do in Oia if you’re looking for a mix of lavish and affordable keepsakes to remind you of your time in Santorini.
Tap into creative spaces
Once you experience even a moment of Santorini’s inspiring charm, you understand why it has long been a haven for artists and literary giants, and this shows in its artistic and creative spaces. Explore art galleries abound that sell one-of-a-kind Santorian sculptures or purchase professional photographs of the island seen through a sharp lens. Additionally, one of the most inspiring things to do in Oia, Santorini, is to visit the renowned Atlantis Bookstore, which has been touted by many as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Grab a book and head to their dreamy rooftop terrace with its pristine views of the caldera.
Cheers to cosmopolitan wine bars
Wine holds a special place in the heart and soul of Santorini, and If you’re looking for what to do in Oia once the sun goes down, search no further. One of the buzziest things to do in Oia is to spend a luxe evening at one of its many chic wine bars. These bars often have some of the most refined culinary menus executed under prestigious head chefs’ tutelage, making it an excellent option for an opulent dinner. They are typically located in Oia’s most prime real estate, perched high above the crowds of people who clamor beneath for pictures of the sunset.
Santorini Experts Tip: Especially during peak season in the summer, it is wise to make a reservation at a wine bar earlier in the day since viewing the sunset is top of the list of what to do in Oia for many.
#3. Head off the beaten path to other villages
Santorini is so much more than just Oia; it is made up of many villages, all embodying their own unique allure. Inspiring villages are sprinkled throughout the island and have various things to do in Santorini each possessing its own charm.
Take a cable car in Fira
The ever-magnetic village of Fira lies just south of Oia and offers plenty of lively happenings. If you’re looking for what to do in Fira, consider walking the 500 stairs down to the Old Port, and then take the cable car back up to the top of the village. One of the most worthwhile things to do in Fira, Santorini, is to be there for the sunset, which offers many of the same spectacular views as can be seen in Oia but without the overwhelming crowds.
Slow it down in easygoing Pyrgos
Embodying a breezy grace, Pyrgos village is a nod to the past. Its spectacularly preserved medieval homes and buildings feel quaint and cozy and are not disturbed by tourists. Hilltop Pyrgos offers undisturbed panoramic views and embodies a typical Fortress Settlement. Be sure to visit the medieval Kasteli (castle) for a memorable cultural experience that cannot be felt in more crowded villages.
Santorini Experts Tip: Pyrgos is the place to be if you’re visiting during Easter. On Good Friday, villagers light thousands of candles on rooftops and in the streets, which illuminate the village gloriously.
Feel the culture in endearing Megalochori
Time spent in picturesque and charming Megalochori might make you forget that you’re in Santorini. In addition to the classic Cycladic architecture, it has a laid-back vibe rid of any pretense. Be camera-ready as you wind through its streets lined in neoclassical buildings, stately homes, and old Santorini cave houses. Stop at a quaint cafe for coffee or a cocktail and admire the sublime views of the caldera up the coast.
#4. Explore the aftermath of the volcanic eruption
Though catastrophic in 1600 BC, the volcano’s eruption resulted in one of the world’s most unique geological landscapes. The broken-off tiny islands and excavated civilizations are reminders of the powerful force that shaped modern-day Santorini.
Unearth ancient Akrotiri and its enthralling museum
When the Santorini volcano erupted thousands of years ago, it completely enveloped and destroyed the once powerful Minoan civilization. The site of this ancient civilization is known as Akrotiri, and it offers terrific insight into the lavish past of the Minoans. Akrotiri is even what Plato claimed to be the lost city of Atlantis! For a comprehensive picture of all the treasures found in Akrotiri, head to the fantastic Prehistoric Museum of Thira, one of the best things to do in Fira. Santorini’s lost colony is sure to captivate you!
Take a jaunt to secluded Thirassia island
Even though you could spend a lifetime exploring Santorini, visiting nearby smaller islands is a rewarding experience. One such place is Thirassia, the tiny 9 sq. km island, which was detached thanks to the volcano. Join the Thirassia Day Trip from Santorini and take the blink-and-you-miss-it 20-minute boat ride from Ammoudi. Revel in a nearly untouched land that bursts with wildflowers, hiking trails, and a few tiny villages that are home to the 250 permanent inhabitants. It’s one of the things to do in Santorini that few others experience.
Visit Palea Kameni island and its restorative hot springs
If you are feeling adventurous, there’s one place unlike no other in Santorini: Palea Kameni. The uninhabited island, located right off the caldera, is another result of the cataclysmic volcano and is home to bubbling hot springs. The healing properties and gentle detoxification of hot springs have been revered for centuries, making it an ideal place for a soak. If hot springs aren’t your thing, you can hike the impressive crater. Join an organized group for the quick boat ride from the old port of Fira to Palea Kameni.
Santorini Experts Tip: Be sure to wear a dark color swimsuit to the hot springs, as the water could ruin light hues.
#5. Discover awe-inspiring things to do in Santorini in the water
One of Greece’s most prolific poets, Nikos Kazantzakis, once said, “Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea.” Be swept away in the grace of the Aegean aboard the vessel of your choice, or take part in the many watersports.
Set sail on a luxury yacht
If you’re wondering what to do in Santorini to get your heart racing, look no further than an exhilarating Santorini day cruise. Among the most classic maritime things to do Santorini, sail the open seas for a day of unforgettable enjoyment. You are granted unprecedented views of the caldera as you make your way to Red Beach and White Beach for shore excursions, as well as a visit to the therapeutic hot springs of Nea Kameni. Whether you take advantage of the sunshine on a daytime cruise or opt for a romantic sunset cruise, it’s the best way to see the island from many angles.
Keep it cool on your own private boat
Feel a sense of unparalleled freedom aboard your very own private yacht or speedboat. A tailor-made experience on a private boat is perfect for a romantic day at sea with your significant other or an outing with your friends for a celebratory occasion. See parts of the island that organized groups do not visit while enjoying first-class luxury and service. Contact a Santorini Expert to help you organize this special day at sea.
Have an active holiday with watersports
The relatively calm waters of the crystal clear Aegean Sea make watersports a popular choice of what to do in Santorini for the active and athletic and those who find harmony in leisurely water activities. Many beaches have clubs that offer watersports, but some of the most popular are on Kamari Beach and Perissa Beach. Kick your adrenaline into overdrive with a jet ski, slow it down as you cruise past the caldera on a standup paddleboard cruising, or discover a diverse underwater world with snorkeling. From extreme to ethereal, water sports should be at the top of your list of things to do in Santorini.
#6. Luxuriate on the distinctly unique beaches
Santorini’s volcanic geological foundation makes its beaches among some of the most distinct in all of Greece. Join Santorini Private Tours and turn your holiday into an authentic Greek getaway with dreamy days spent at the beach.
Go from day to night on lively Kamari Beach
Equal parts relaxing and lively, Kamari Beach is a joy for an outing day or night. Noted for its black, pebbly sand, it is located on the much less visited eastern coast of Santorini. This dark sand, of course, gets hot in the Mediterranean sun; so much of the beach is covered in lush sunbeds and umbrellas for optimal relaxation and comfort for a day of lounging. Adorned with beachy restaurants and bars along the quaint promenade, the area comes alive when the sun goes down and is one of the best spots for nightlife.
See otherworldly landscapes at radiant Red Beach
Prepare to be wowed with a visit to Red Beach, unlike any other beach in the world and one of the things to do in Santorini if you want one-of-a-kind photos. The red hues of the cliffs are the backsplash to the beautifully bright blues of the water. Due to the possibility of landslides, visitors are not able to lounge on the beach directly, but you can participate in snorkeling in its pristine waters during a sailing cruise. Park your car at the top of the cliff where you have an amazing vantage point and superb picture position.
Feel like royalty at vibrant Perissa Beach
At the base of Mesa Vouno Mountain sits Perissa Beach, a well-organized and cosmopolitan beach of black sand. Surrounded by cafes, bars, and restaurants, there are plenty of servers from these spots that are eager to bring you food and drink to your heart’s content. It is also one of Santorini’s beaches awarded the coveted Blue Flag, which certifies that it meets a level of excellence for quality, ensuring it’s one of the best beaches for watersports like windsurfing and parasailing.
#7. Taste sumptuous food from land and sea
In recent years Santorini has emerged as a true foodie paradise. Savoring the local fare is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Santorini.
Eat freshly caught seafood in Ammoudi
At the base of Oia, curved around the jagged coastline, sits Ammoudi Bay. Visiting this tiny fishing port is one of the things to do and see in Oia if you want front row access to the crystal turquoise waters. Ammoudi is lined with a strip of fish restaurants that invite you to sample the freshest seafood on the island, caught feet from your table. You can walk down the 300 steps from Oia to Ammoudi or opt for a car transfer to make life a bit simpler.
Santorini Experts Tip: Get in the Greek spirit and order a round of ouzo, the anise-flavored national liquor of Greece. It’s what all the locals pair with seafood!
Find a much-loved local taverna
Tavernas, restaurants that serve predominantly Greek food, are the heart and soul of an authentic Santorini experience. One of the more delicious things to do in Santorini is to step off the beaten path into the comforts of small family-owned restaurants. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of popular high-end restaurants and indulge in home cooking approved by yiayia (“grandma” in Greek). Most tavernas are down whimsical side streets, making the journey to find them feel like a secret that the others don’t know.
Indulge in deep-seated traditional dishes
Santorini’s long and storied history has paved the way for dishes highlighting the local fresh produce, much of which can be found exclusively on the island—looking for some suggestions on what to order? Let us help you!
- Fava: Santorini’s answer to hummus, this slightly sweet and majorly velvety dip is made from pureed yellow split peas. Enjoy with nice, crusty bread or pita to sop it up.
- Tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters): a delectable appetizer of fried tomato balls; they are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Eat alongside tzatziki for a real treat! (+bonus the Santorini tomato fritters recipe)
- Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip): one of Santorini’s prized gems is the rare white eggplant. In this dish, it is roasted and whipped into a savory dip with other provincial ingredients.
#8. Enroll in wine tasting tours
Wine enthusiasts, rejoice! When thinking of what to do in Santorini, one must never forget what a haven the island is for oenophiles, from production to consumption.
Tour at award-winning wineries of Santorini
Touring wineries is one of the most notable things to do in Santorini. The oenological legacy runs deep with over 15 wineries, an impressive number for a small island. One of our favorites is the ultra-modern and sleek Avantis Estate, which features a gourmet Greek restaurant and luxury spa that has created wellness products using grapes’ holistic power. Spend your time at a winery learning about age-old production techniques, or simply enjoy a crisp glass of local wine while looking out onto the endless horizon.
Join an expertly crafted private wine tour
Impress all of your friends back home with your newly acquired wine knowledge that you learned on your Private Santorini Wine Tasting Tour! Be immersed in the story of how Santorini’s catastrophic volcano eruption from many millennials ago inadvertently created a soil that is conducive to superb grape harvest. Spend your time sampling the many wine varieties, including Assyrtiko, the white grape indigenous to Santorini, and how to pair your drinks with various foods like a true master. With an expert guide at your disposal, learn and appreciate the intricacies of Santorini’s most celebrated libation.
Take part in the celebratory wine harvest
One of the most immersive things to do in Santorini is taking part in vedema, the wine harvesting season, which begins every August. At the beginning of the month, the grapes are picked and then laid out in the sun to reach their full potential, creating an intoxicating aroma in the air. A few weeks later, after they are pressed, you are given the opportunity to sample the fresh, perfect vino in all its splendor and glory. Head to one of the wineries for the optimal sampling experience, many of which are in celebratory mode during this time.
A haven of things to do in Santorini for every season
You might assume Santorini is only a summer destination, but this is far from the truth. There are things to do in Santorini for every season, and it is worth a visit since the weather is generally mild year-round. If you’re looking for a culturally immersive experience, consider a holiday at Easter time when there are traditional celebrations abound. For a laidback holiday, autumn’s cooler breeze and scarce crowd size could be just the thing. No matter the time of your holiday, you can find things to do in Santorini that stay with you a lifetime. When you’re ready, come meet the Santorini Experts so we can show you all the magical things to do in Santorini!
FAQs on Things to do in Santorini
What is the best month to go to Santorini?
It depends on what’s on your agenda of things to do in Santorini. For optimal sea and sun, June, July, and August are ideal, though it is when it is most crowded and hot. For fewer crowds and more tolerable weather, September and October, as well as April and May, are ideal.
How many days should you stay in Santorini?
With all the wonderful things to do in Santorini, we suggest a minimum of 3 days to get the most out of your holiday. This amount of days gives you enough time to visit the beaches, go shopping, and explore museums without feeling rushed.
Does Santorini have good nightlife?
There are many things to do in Santorini when it comes to nightlife. It is very lively in Fira, where the majority of the clubs and bars are located. There’s also good nightlife on Kamari Beach in the southeastern part of the island.