3 days in Santorini Greece – a first timers itinerary

Church bell in Oia Santorini
Church bell in Oia Santorini

The mere word “Santorini” conjures up mental images of whitewashed buildings with bright blue roofs built precariously above a sparkling sea and black sand beaches. Santorini is located about 300 kilometres southeast of the Athenian port of Piraeus.

The fast ferry takes about 5 hours, while the slow one takes about 8 or 9. It is a popular island destination for visitors to Greece, because of its attractive town center, unique transportation, and many remote beaches.

3 days in Santorini is the perfect amount of time to spend enjoying the busy waterfront village, the volcanic terrain, archaeological sites, and the exquisite beaches. This three-day itinerary lists a variety of activities for you to do while on the island.

How to spend 3 days in Santorini

Famous blue domed Firostefani church The Best Santorini Tours
Famous blue domed Firostefani church

How to get from Santorini airport to your hotel

By bus

This is the most inexpensive way to get to your hotel but you should consider a few factors. The buses run regularly during the summer not that often during the other periods. The bus will leave you at Fira and from there you need to change the bus. For more information click here.

By Welcome Private Transfer

You can pre-book a car online before your arrival, and find your driver waiting for you at the arrivals with a welcome name sign and a bag with a bottle of water and map of the city, thus saving you all the hassle of having to find a taxi or taking the bus. The cost of the private pick -up is the same price as a regular taxi.  It is around 35 euros from the airport to Fira and approximately 47 euros from the airport to Oia.

Click here for more information and to book your private transfer.

Hotel Pick up

Another option to consider is to ask your hotel how much they charge for an airport pick-up. There are some hotels that offer this service for free.

How to get from Santorini port Athinios to your hotel

By bus

This is the most inexpensive way to get to your hotel but you should consider a few factors. The buses run regularly during the summer not that often during the other periods. The bus will leave you at Fira and from there you need to change the bus. For more information click here.

By Welcome Private Transfer

You can pre-book a car online before your arrival, and find your driver waiting for you at the port with a welcome name sign and a bag with a bottle of water and map of the island, thus saving you all the hassle of having to find a taxi or taking the bus. The cost of the private pick -up is the same price as a regular taxi.  It is around 35 euros from the port to Fira and approximately 47 euros from the port to Oia.

Click here for more information and to book your private transfer.

Hotel Pick up

Another option to consider is to ask your hotel how much they charge for a port pick-up. There are some hotels that offer this service for free.

3 Days in Santorini: Day 1

Spend your first morning on Santorini exploring some of the towns. While it’s certainly easy to get around the island on your own, there are plenty of tours for travelers with limited time.

Explore the Villages

Fira

Thera, or Fira, the main town, lies on the curve of the caldera, facing west. The ferries arrive into the port that lies south of the main town. Its picturesque whitewashed buildings cling to the sides of the cliffs.

watching the sunset fro Fira
watching the sunset fro Fira

Emporio

The village of Emporio is famous for its century-old churches and unique windmills. The nearby Perissa Beach is a great stopping place for lunch. It’s black sand beaches make an excellent backdrop for photos, while the little tavernas serve mouthwateringly good, fresh fish.

Pyrgos

Pyrgos is one of the least visited towns on the island. It lies inland, about seven kilometres from Thera, and is a classic example of defensive medieval architecture. The Venetian fortress above town affords great views of the surrounding countryside.

 

I loved the doors in Pyrgos village in Santorini

Η δημοσίευση κοινοποιήθηκε από το χρήστη Chrysoula Manika (@travelpassionategreece) στις

Do a wine tour

In the afternoon, join a local guide on a half-day wine tasting tour of the island. Wine production on Santorini dates back at least 5000 years. Greek wines are refreshing and delicious, thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate. However, the arid atmosphere posed some challenges to the early vintners. You’ll have the chance to speak with the vintners, who explain how the grapes adapted to a dry, volcanic environment.

Popular wines in Greece include Assyrtiko and Mandilaria. This tour stops at three different Greek wineries, where you can taste a wide variety of the wines available. You’ll also have the opportunity to taste local bread, cheese, olives, and meats.

Find here more information and book a wine tasting tour in Santorini.

wine tasting - The Best Santorini Tours

Watch the sunset in Oia

Before the sun sets, take a taxi or bus to Oia. This charming, bustling village has plenty of exciting places to dine. Watch the sunset over the caldera as the town literally lights up in epic shades of gold and rose. After the sun sets, stay for a traditional Greek dinner in a local taverna.

Check out more things to do in Oia.

sunset in Oia -The Best Santorini Tours
sunset in Oia @shutterstock

3 Days in Santorini: Day 2

Hike from Fira to Oia

In the morning, lace up your walking shoes. From Fira, it is about a four-hour hike to Oia, and vice versa. The walk follows the rim of the caldera and passes through Firostefani and Imerovigli as well as Fira and Oia. From the ridge, you’ll have spectacular views of both the inland plains and the Aegean Sea. Start early in the summer, as it gets hot by late morning, and bring water. There are shops in which to buy water or snacks in the towns, as well as vendors on the street.

Oia is the most famous, for this is the town with the iconic blue domed roofs and whitewashed buildings. It is on the northern curve of the caldera, facing south toward the rest of the island. Oia is an ideal place from which to watch the sunset! While still a major tourist attraction, it is quieter than Fira. You will find many shops, cafes, and tavernas in Oia, as well as a lot of art galleries. There are remains of a Venetian fortress as well as old captains houses that are worth viewing.

Visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri

Spend the afternoon at the Akrotiri archaeological site. This famous Minoan Bronze Age settlement site was buried by the volcano eruption of Thera in 1627BC. Akrotiri is very similar to the Roman site at Pompeii since both are incredibly well preserved by the volcanic ash. It is often suggested that Plato used it for his inspiration of Atlantis, hence why many people believe that the lost island of Atlantis was either near or a part of Santorini.

Akrotiri is a working archaeological site. Visitors have a chance to see the settlement, the pottery, frescoes, mosaics, and more that only revealed themselves to the world in the late 19th century. Excavations began in the 1960s and continue today.

Admire the Red Beach

From the archaeological site, you can walk back into town of Akrotiri. This agricultural town is one of the least visited on the island, and chances are you will see few other visitors. Continue to the right to reach the popular Red Beach for a late afternoon swim (you may see a sign, you may not).

Red beach Santorini
Red beach Santorini

3 Days in Santorini: Day 3

Explore the Beaches

Spend the morning in town, or head for one of the popular beaches to soak up some sun. The beaches of Santorini are covered with volcanic pebbles in shades like red, rose, black, and white. Another option is to visit the famous hot mud baths for a unique bathing experience.

Vlychada Beach - The best Santorini Beaches
Vlychada Beach

Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Cap off your spectacular santorini itinerary with a five hour catamaran sunset cruise. The tour begins at the Ammoudi town port, which is on the shores below Oia, although they do offer hotel pick up for an extra price. The sailing allows you to view Santorini from a different angle, visit secluded beaches, and snorkel under the famous white cliffs. The return sailing occurs as the sun sets under the hills of Oia. A Santorini cruise is something not to be missed while in Santorini.

Find here more information and book your sunset catamaran cruise.

Catamaran Sunset Cruise

Selected Tours in Santorini

Where to stay in Santorini

Mid-Range Hotels:

Costa Marina Villas (Fira)

Located just 200 m away from the central square of Fira this guesthouse offers rooms with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a fridge. The hotel is next to many restaurants, bars, and shops and is a good choice for travelers looking for a budget-friendly hotel in Santorini.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or TripAdvisor

Smaragdi Hotel (Perivolos- Perissa)

Situated just 80 m away from Perivolos beach, Smaragdi Hotel offers spacious studios and apartments with a kitchenette, free wi-fi, and air conditioning. Other hotel amenities include a swimming pool with a pool bar and a hot tub. The center of Perissa village with the restaurants, shops, and bars is 800 m away. This is another budget-friendly accommodation option in Santorini.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com orBooking.com

Luxury Hotels:

Astarte Suites (Akrotiri)

Located 12km from Fira and 4km from the archaeological site of Akrotiri, this romantic all-suite hotel is situated on a clifftop and enjoys breathtaking scenic views. Its spacious and modern rooms feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minibars, whirlpool tubs and crystal-speckled ceilings. A complimentary breakfast can be served in-room, while an infinity pool, a bar, and an elegant restaurant are included in its amenities.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

Canaves Oia Santorini

Built on the side of a cliff, Canaves is a polished all-suite hotel 10km away from Fira. Within the rooms are complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with DVD players, minibars, tea and coffee making facilities and balconies overlooking the blue. Free breakfast and parking are available for all guests, as well as access to an infinity pool, restaurant, bar, gym and open-air spa.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

Further information on your 3 days in Santorini

If you are looking for information regarding your three day trip to Santorini here are some resources to help you out:

– How to get from Athens to Santorini by ferry and plane.

– Check out the best tours to do in Santorini.

– If you are looking for a special place to stay have a look at the best hotels in Santorini with private pools.

– For more things to do check out my post What to do in Santorini.

– Read why you should consider visiting Santorini in Autumn.

– Considering a trip to Santorini in winter? Check out my full guide here.

– If you are looking for a photo tour of Santorini read about my experience here.

Three days in Santorini is enough time to visit all of the major sights, although you will definitely fall in love and not want to leave! This beautiful island in the Cyclades islands is one of Greece’s top visitor attractions and once you are there, soaking up the hot Greek sun, standing on the edge of the caldera, you’ll see why it’s consistently considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world! This relaxed, 3-day itinerary will give you plenty of ideas for things to do on Santorini, whether it’s your first trip or your third.

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