Even on a short visit, there are so many amazing things to do in Santorini Greece. From the famous town of Oia to the lesser-known mountain villages and beaches, you will find something for everyone on this special Greek Island. Here are all the best things to do in Santorini that will inspire you for your first visit!
About Santorini Greece
Make no mistake… Santorini is the most visited island in Greece! While some travelers may deem it overrated at this point, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
From our very first visit it was easy to see why so many make the trip here every year. In this article we will detail all the awesome things to do in Santorini and what makes it so special.
Before we dive in, you should know there are a few different modes of transportation to get to Santorini. The best way is by taking a direct flight from Athens or other major cities in Europe. You can also utilize the Greek ferry system, or include it as a stop on a cruise ship itinerary.
With Santorini’s popularity does come the hectic summer crowds. For that reason, we don’t advise anyone to visit during the peak season of July and August.
However, if you can manage it, the best time to experience Santorini is in the shoulder months of May, June, September, and October. This is a great way to see all the magic of the island with fewer crowds, while still having very enjoyable weather.
20 Best Things to do in Santorini Greece
1. Hike from Fira to Oia
We’re starting out this list with one of our favorite outdoor things to do in Santorini Greece! We love to hike and this was one of the most unique trails we’ve ever completed. Starting in Fira, walk the winding small streets towards the neighboring village of Imerovigli.
From there it gets rockier and mountainous as the path transforms into a more traditional hiking trail. The 10km trip from Fira to Oia takes you along the volcano caldera, with each view seeming better than the last!
2. Morning Coffee Walk in Fira
This morning activity combines two of the best things to do in Santorini! First, there is a 24-hour bakery (yes you can even visit in the middle of the night) that serves up delicious bakery treats on the island. Waking up early, we would make our way to Svoronos Bakery and pick out a freshly baked spinach pastry.
Once you grab a breakfast snack and coffee-to-go head to the cliffs of Fira town. While most travelers are still sleeping you can experience the beauty and calmness of the island which isn’t seen by many others. Also, your breakfast with spectacular views of Santorini won’t set you back more than a few euros!
3. Hit a Famous Santorini Greece Winery
Did you know Santorini Greece produces some of the best wine in the Greek Islands? Now there are a couple of ways to enjoy this amazing and flavorful wine. You can either jump on a wine tasting tour that takes you to several different vineyards or go on your own.
If you plan to get there yourself take the bus or taxi to avoid driving in Santorini. The bus runs from Fira to Santo Winery which is hands down our favorite! We actually used the bus quite a bit on Santorini as it’s an efficient and cheap way to get around.
Just make sure to call ahead in the summer months for a reservation. It’s also a short walk to Venetsanos Winery from there which is another must-visit.
Santorini Greece Tip: Many wineries offer free shipping if you buy a certain amount. This can make for a great gift or a fun way to remember your trip once you are back home.
4. Visit a Local Brewery
Not a wine lover? Don’t worry! You’ll be happy to know there are three different local breweries in Santorini Greece that are all delicious.
Our favorite brewery is Volkan which has one of the best views on the island from their restaurant. In the summer Volkan on the Rocks even has movie nights playing classic Greek hits like Mamma Mia and My Big Fat Greek Wedding!
Besides Volkan, there is also Santorini Brewing Company and Ftelos Brewery Santorini. Santorini Brewing Company is the most well-known as they are responsible for the popular Crazy Donkey beer. If you don’t make it to the breweries you can still taste these local beers as they are sold on almost every street corner.
5. Cool Down at the Unique Santorini Beaches
Unlike other Greek Islands, the beaches are not the main draw to Santorini Greece. However, if you’re a beach lover there are still some nice ones to experience. You’ll find white, black, and even a Red Sand Beach that literally looks out of this world!
Many of the Santorini Beaches can be reached by car or by bus. Yet, others you’ll have to rent an ATV or take a boat tour to get to. Below is a list of some of our favorite beaches in Santorini Greece.
- Red Sand Beach
- Perissa (Black Sand)
- Kamari (Black Sand)
Santorini Greece Tip: You should also know that the beaches on Santorini are mostly rocky. Having sturdy water shoes will make your time much more comfortable!
6. Make the Trip to Ancient Thera
From the beautiful beach of Kamari, you can look up and see a mountain towering above. Mesa Vouno is home to the ruins of Ancient Thera which have been captivating travelers for years.
If you can believe it, these ancient ruins date back all the way to 9th century BC! The Dorians created a settlement here a few centuries after the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Santorini. To learn more, stop into the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.
7. Drive to the Akrotiri Lighthouse
Don’t get us wrong… The lighthouse is nice! To be honest though, the real highlight is driving out to this part of the island of Santorini. You’ll have to rent a motorbike, scooter, or car to get here. Yet, seeing these views alone is one of the best things to do in Santorini Greece!
The Akrotiri Lighthouse is located on the opposite side of Santorini from Oia. So as you can imagine, this section of the island is far less visited by tourists.
The drive has several pullovers where you can stop and admire your surroundings. Once you make it to the very tip of Santorini you’ll discover the large 19th-century Lighthouse.
8. Explore the Mountain Village of Pyrgos
While most travelers get caught up in Fira or Oia, there’s another place that should not be missed on this beautiful island! Pyrgos is the former capital of Santorini and its most traditional town.
Hike up to the castle that sits at the top and make sure to stop at Franco’s Cafè for a coffee or wine. If you’re looking for an easy lunch after exploring Pyrgos head to Kalliston for a gyro. You can’t ask for a better view with lunch in this small town!
9. Experience World Famous Oia
No trip to Santorini would be complete without visiting Oia! I mean.. There is a good chance blue-domed churches and houses cut into the cliffside are what brought you to the island in the first place.
This is also where you’ll find some of the fanciest luxury hotels on Santorini. Our favorite time to visit Oia is early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
It can get really crazy here during the summertime when the cruise ships are in town. Oia may seem a tad overhyped for some travelers. Yet, once you lay eyes on this incredible village it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about!
10. Rent a Vehicle in Santorini Greece
One great thing about Santorini is that you don’t need a car for your entire visit. You can see so much of the island by using the local bus system and doing the hike from Fira to Oia.
Still, if you are anything like us you’ll need a tad more adventure. Renting a vehicle for just a day or two is a great idea! This is the perfect way you can see more of the off-the-beaten-path places and beaches on the island.
There are countless companies in the main town of Fira, or you can rent something through your hotel. If you are traveling during high season it’s smart to book your car in advance.
We loved taking our motorbike out to the lighthouse, up to the highest peak on the island, and on the less explored east coast. Stop into a local taverna and grab a Greek lunch, jump in the ocean, and cruise around Santorini Greece without too many plans.
11. Climb Skaros Rock
Just below the town of Imerovigli is the massive Skaros Rock! Its shape is unmistakable and can be clearly seen jetting out from nearby Fira. One of the most popular things to do in Santorini Greece is to actually hike out to the rock and climb it.
By now you can tell Skaros Rock is more than just your typical viewpoint. It actually has historical importance and was the location of one of the five Venetian castles on Santorini. This is also one of the best places to watch the sunset on Santorini Island.
Santorini Greece Tips: It’s not a good idea to attempt this hike on a windy day! Also, wear proper shoes and athletic gear as you’ll have to do a little climbing.
12. Spend the Morning in Amoudi Bay
Ready for another hike? Down almost 300 steps below the town of Oia is the beautiful Amoudi Bay. This charming and colorful port was once a busy place of trade, but now serves the tourism industry.
There are a handful of accommodations and upscale seafood restaurants to enjoy in Amoudi Bay. You can even take a boat trip to the neighboring island of Thirasia from here.
13. Swim at the Secret Amoudi Bay
After visiting the popular part of the bay there is one other place to go before making the climb back up the steps! Follow the rocky path to the left of Amoudi Bay that wraps around the rocky coast.
At the far end of the trail, there is a fun swimming spot that has become more well-known over the years.
Here you can cool off in the crystal clear water and swim out to the small island if you’re up for it! On the far side of St. Nicholas Island, there is a concrete area where you can cliff jump from.
14. Take a Santorini Food Tour
One of the best things to do in Santorini is to sample as many Greek dishes as possible! If it’s your first time in Greece or maybe don’t know where to start, it can be a great idea to get help from the local experts.
The Eat & Walk Santorini Food Tour is a fun and delicious experience that takes you through the towns of Fira and Firostefani. Even though it was our 5th trip to Greece, we still tried things we’d never had on this tour.
The best part is it mixed in walking along the cliffs for epic views as well through some local neighborhoods. We even got to sample some fantastic local wine and beer.
15. Day Party at Perissa Beach
While Santorini certainly doesn’t have the beach clubs of nearby Mykonos, there are a number of fun bars to spend the day or late afternoon at. At Perissa Beach you can find exciting water activities or simply relax in a beach chair and soak in the sun.
The upscale vibe gets even more lively in the summer months and is located on a superb black sand beach. This is definitely the place to be for some beach bars and fun in the sun in Santorini Greece!
16. Go to the Akrotiri Archaeological Site
If Ancient Thera caught your attention then get ready to have your mind blown again! Akrotiri is an incredibly important archeological site in Greece.
One of the best things to do in Santorini is to visit this archeological zone to see the ruins of the Minoan civilization.
Unfortunately, the entire island was wiped out when the Santorini volcano exploded which is why Akrotiri is nicknamed the “Greek Pompeii.” Archaeologists have found evidence here that (even over 3,000 years ago) they were far more advanced than we ever could have thought.
Santorini Greece Tip: Many believe that Akrotiri was part of the Lost City of Atlantis! You can take a guided tour of the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum just up the road from the Akrotiri ruins.
17. See the Santorini Volcanos and Hot Springs
Speaking of the volcano… One of the best things to do in Santorini Greece is to take a boat around them! Book an inexpensive sailing trip over to the two volcanic islands and actually hike to the center of the main one with a large crater.
On the way back from this day trip you will even swim in the live hot springs! From our experience, the water was more lukewarm than hot.
Still, it’s easily one of the most unique swimming spots in the Cyclades. Just make sure to not wear a bathing suit you love because the sulfur can stain your clothing!
18. Take in the Views from Prophet Elias
Just past Pyrgos Village is a road that winds its way up the tallest mountain on the island. From above, you’ll find beautiful views of Santorini and nearby Greek Islands off in the distance.
The mountain is named after the Prophet Elias Monastery which also sits atop the viewpoint. This can be a fun drive from anywhere on Santorini and also a good activity to combine with the ruins of Ancient Thera.
19. Jump on a Sailing Tour in Santorini Greece
While many of the best things to do in Santorini are land-based, don’t miss an opportunity to get out on the water! Spending the day sailing around the island is an experience you’ll never forget.
We love boat tours like this and try to take one whenever we can on the islands. Santorini has a tour for every type of traveler including Catamaran cruises, sunset sailing trips, and more! Many stop at the Santorini hot springs as well which we mentioned above.
20. Watch the Famous Santorini Sunset
Every night on Santorini. people from all over the world gather to watch the stunning sunset. Words can’t even describe how magical it is to see the colors change above the blue and white houses on the cliffs, with the sparkling Aegean Sea as your backdrop.
While many head to the touristic Oia village for this time of day, you don’t have to limit yourself to just there.
Oia is easily the most crowded place to watch the sunset on Santorini! We recommend enjoying it from Fira, Imerovigli, or Pyrgos one night to switch it up.
More Things to do in Santorini Greece
Didn’t get enough of the best things to do in Santorini Greece? Don’t worry! You’re sure to find more fun activities, beaches, and viewpoints on your own.
We know it can be tempting to plan every second of your day in such a popular destination. Yet, sometimes the most memorable experiences are just exploring the different neighborhoods by foot.
Climb the steps of the villages and weave your way in and out of the houses cut into the rocks. Grab a Mythos Beer or bottle of Santorini wine and take it to a viewpoint for sunset. This is what fairy tale dreams are made of!
Explore all our Greece articles to help plan your trip! We cover everything from general travel tips to amazing destinations such as Santorini, Paros, Rhodes, Karpathos, Crete, Milos & more beautiful islands!
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Santorini Greece? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where to Stay in Santorini Greece
Here are some hotel recommendations as well as inspiration for different areas of the island. As you can see, there is something for every type of traveler on Santorini!
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Greece Travel Planning
For island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies. The fast ferries like Sea Jets will cost more but often takes half the time of slower ferries like Blue Star!
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for as little as $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
Tours: Go to Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities in Santorini. You can find everything from group sailing tours to private catamaran cruises. Go wine tasting around the island, horseback riding down the beach, or even jump on an ATV tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.