1 Day in Santorini Itinerary (Our Epic Road Trip!)

Santorini Itinerary

Ready to explore this amazing Greek island with our 1 day Santorini itinerary?? Something many travelers don’t realize before they visit is that Santorini is actually quite large. Don’t worry though! There is so much to do and see even if you only have one day in Santorini. While some may be perfectly content seeing the famous caldera views from Fira and Oia, we highly recommend renting a car for Santorini road trip. Follow our exact route to the red, white and black sand beaches, beautiful small villages, and more helpful tips!  

1 Day in Santorini Itinerary

Our adventure starts from the capital of Fira. This is a great part of the island to stay in with endless accommodation options.

You’ll find everything from cliffside ocean view suites to small family run hotels. Check out out article about the best areas to stay on the island before you plan your Santorini road trip. 

Obviously, you’ll first need to decide how you want to get around. It’s easy enough to rent a car locally for 1 day in Santorini (check prices), or even your whole visit (here’s our tips).

You can also book an ATV or scooter as part of your Santorini itinerary. We rented a motorbike for the day on our last visit and had a blast! Be sure to have an international motorcycle license and travel insurance if you plan to do this.

Another option is to hire a private driver. This will be the most expensive way to spend one day in Santorini, but very available if you’re not comfortable driving yourself. 

As you can see with our route below, it’s a little over two hours of driving. Still, we highly recommend starting your Santorini road trip as early as possible.

That’s because at each stop you could totally spend an hour or more. Without further ado, let’s jump right into our 1 day in Santorini Itinerary!

Santorini Road Trip

Morning Start in Fira Santorini

It’s a good to grab some breakfast before you head out on your adventure from Fira. Our favorite place is called Svoronos Bakery where you can sweet treats, Greek coffee, and savory spinach pies.

Once you pick your items it’s time to hit the road! Waste no time leaving Fira as we’ll end our route here for a beautiful Santorini sunset.

If you didn’t pre-book your rental car in advance (on a site like this), then you might be out of luck in the peak summer months! However, outside of July and August, you should be able walk into local shops in the main part of Fira.

Two places to check out are Santorini Rent Point and Car LTD. Also, read our full guide to Fira for more information. 

Santorini Road Trip Route

Drive Straight to Oia Santorini 

No Santorini itinerary would complete without a trip to Oia! Yet, depending on how much time you have, you may want this to be an entire day all together. 

One favorite things we’ve done on Santorini was actually the coastal hike from Fira to Oia! This is a great outdoor activity if you have time, but it’s very easy to drive here as well.

There’s only one main road to follow going from Fira to Oia. While it is super scenic, know that you will have to backtrack to continue your Santorini road trip after.

Another thing to be aware of is that parking is extremely limited in Oia. Start looking for a spot as you’re getting close to town, and leave your car where you can.

This is the location of the large free lot that we’ve used before. Plan to arrive early to get a space, and we wouldn’t even bother trying around sunset time in the summer.

With that said, visiting Oia first thing in the morning is so magical! Take at least one hour to wander around the small walking streets, snap some photos of the houses stacked into the cliffside, and take in the stunning views.

The shops will just be opening up so there will will be a fraction of the crowds that come later in the day. The morning light will also illuminate the colorful buildings, which makes for such a special start to your day. 

Some of the most iconic spots are the picturesque Blue Domes, Windmill of Oia, and the famous Oia Castle. Vitrin is a great restaurant for coffee, a delicious breakfast, and beautiful rooftop views.

This is also where the the steps head down to Amoudi Bay if you’re up for the steep climb back! We wrote a full guide for Oia Santorini here that you can check out before your visit.

1 Day in Santorini

Oia Morning Walk

Kamari & Ancient Thera

Once you’ve experienced the popular towns of Fira and Oia, it’s time travel to the far end of the island. Ancient Thera holds an incredible archaeological museum that sits at the top of a mountain.

The only thing is it’s only open until the early afternoon. Take the winding road that snakes its way up the mountainside. Depending on how big of a history buff you are, you may want up to an hour to explore the archaeological site.

After arriving, you’ll quickly find out that this island literally has thousands of years of history to discover. The next stop on this 1 day in Santorini itinerary is the coastal village of Kamari.

What’s special about this town is it has a black sand beach! Kamari is also one of the more affordable places to stay on the island as it’s pretty far from where the ferries and cruises come in.

While you won’t have the iconic Santorini view, it’s a unique greek town that’s totally worth seeing. Jump in the water for a swim, or pop into one of the beachside restaurants for an early lunch.

Itinerary for Santorini

Prophet Elias View & Pyrgos Village 

Our next Santorini road trip stop takes you to the highest peak on the island! Yes, it’s even better then Ancient Thera where you just came form. 

We absolutely loved the drive up, as it gives you an opportunity to see everything you’ve just witnessed from above. The road is a little tight so take your time driving to the top.

This view will definitely be a highlight of your one day in Santorini! We grabbed some sandwiches from a local bakery and enjoyed them at the summit. However, there are plenty of restaurants in the next town if you haven’t eaten yet. 

On the drive back down you’ll pass the small village of Pyrgos. This is our favorite mountain town on Santorini (read our guide) and worth spending at least an hour in by foot. 

The gorgeous alleyways wind their way to the top of town to the Pyrgos castle. There are so many cute cafes and restaurants along the way for a drink or meal with a view.

1 Day Santorini Itinerary

One day in Santorini

Afternoon in Santorini Itinerary

Akrotiri & Red Sand Beach 

After Pyrgos you’ll want to stop into the small village of Akrotiri. Here is another unbelievable archaeological site to check out.

The ruins of Akrotiri date back to the Minoan civilization, and was destroyed in a volcanic eruption. You may want to save the museum and historical site for a different trip if you’d like more time.

Very close to Akrotiri is Red Sand Beach! Although this is one of the most popular beaches on Santorini, it’s not technically opened to the public.

You may want to stay towards the top of the ridge for a view instead of hiking all the way down to the beach. Under no circumstances should you sit or suntan under the cliffs as it is prone to landslides. 

A fun and safer way to see this area is by hopping on a sailing tour. We highly recommended doing one like this if you have more than one day in Santorini.

Santorini Greece Road Trip

Santorini Itinerary 1

Santorini Road Trip to Akrotiri Lighthouse

The last stop on our 1 day in Santorini itinerary is the Akrotiri Lighthouse! When you start to approach this landmark, you’ll get a beautiful view back along the entire coast.

From here you can see Fira (where you started the day), and all the way out to the small village of Oia from earlier that morning.

This part of the island is less visited by tourists, but holds some of the most scenic views on Santorini. Continue all the way to the Akrotiri Lighthouse before turning around to end your Santorini road trip.

Lighthouse road trip

Greek Flag Road Trip

Sunset View in Fira Santorini 

What a day on Santorini! As you head back towards Fira, you will pass Santo Wines. 

This is a fun way to finish the day off if you have someone willing to be the designated driver. Santo is one of the best wineries on the island, and we’ve done multiple tastings here with a view.

It’s easy enough to come back here a different day if you’re exhausted from your day of adventure. Here is everything you need to know about the Santorini bus system if you’d rather not drive to the winery.

Hopefully, you’re pulling back into Fira just in time for sunset! After you return your car, we recommend taking this magical sunset walk along the cliffs. 

The path goes from Fira to the neighboring village of Imerovigli, and will take your breath away. Oia may be the most famous sunset location on Santorini, but we think our spot has it beat!

Sunset

Planning Your Santorini Itinerary

Let’s be honest…. There is no way 1 day in Santorini is enough to see it all! Nonetheless, our Santorini itinerary will be a small taste of what this special island has to offer.

Check out all our favorite things to do in Santorini here. Also, consider taking a walking food tour and jumping on the ferry to Milos to continue your trip.

It’s no secret that visiting Santorini can be expensive! Below are some helpful travel tips to save yourself some money.

Road Trip Santorini

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Santorini

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