3 Days in Santorini, Itinerary for First-Timers – 2021 Guide

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.

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 Santorini itinerary lists a variety of activities for you to do while on this beautiful island in Greece.

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

Santorini Itinerary: Santorini in 3 Days

Day 1 in Santorini: Villages, wine, and sunset

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

explore Fira - 3 days in Santorini

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.

Check out: Things to do in 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 kilometers from Thera, and is a classic example of defensive medieval architecture. The Venetian fortress above the town affords great views of the surrounding countryside.

Do a Wine tour

wine tasting - The Best Santorini Tours
Wine Tour in Santorini

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.

Watch the Sunset in Oia

sunset in Oia -The Best Santorini Tours
Sunset in Oia Santorini

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.

Selected Tours in Santorini

Get Your Guide is a great company to book your tours and tickets.

Santorini Half-Day Wine Adventure visit 3 famous wineries and sample 12 different wine styles, served with cheese and snacks.

Sunset Catamaran Cruise with food & drinks enjoy some swim and snorkeling, watch the famous sunset and savor a delicious barbeque on board.

Volcanic Islands Cruise with Palea Kameni Hot Springs. Cruise to the volcanic island of Thirassia, swim in hot springs, admire views from an active volcano and explore the villages of Thirassia and Oia.

Traditional Santorini Sightseeing Bus Tour with Oia Sunset. In this full-day tour by bus see the highlights of the island, from volcanic beaches and traditional villages to the archaeological site of Akrotiri.

Day 2 in Santorini: Caldera, Akrotiri, Red Beach

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.

While Oia is still a major tourist attraction, it is quieter than Fira especially if you don’t visit during sunset. 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 captain’s houses that are worth viewing.

Visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri

Archaeological Site of Akrotiri - 3 days in Santorini

Spend the afternoon at the Akrotiri archaeological site. This famous Minoan Bronze Age settlement site was buried by the volcano eruption of Thera in 1627 BC. 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, Greece.

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

Red Beach - Santorini 3 day itinerary

From the archaeological site, you can easily reach the popular Red Beach for a late afternoon swim. Leave the car at the parking and then follow the signs leading to the beach. It is a 5-10 minute walk.

Day 3 in Santorini: Explore the Beaches

Explore the Beaches

Vlychada Beach - The best Santorini Beaches
Vlychada Beach, Santorini

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.

Check out: The best beaches in Santorini

Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Catamaran Sunset Cruise, Santorini
Catamaran Sunset Cruise, Santorini

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.

Practical Info for Your Santorini Itinerary

When is the best time to visit Santorini

Santorini is one of the most spectacular Greek islands and because of this, it gets incredibly busy in July and August and is probably best avoided. The weather in April- June, and September- November is still really beautiful and warm enough for swimming and sunbathing, but just a little cooler making it perfect for sightseeing, hiking, and wine-tasting – amongst others.

During the winter months, Santorini is quiet; but even in January, there are many sunny days with an average daily temperature of 20ºC. There are still plenty of places open during the winter in Santorini and it is the perfect place to combine with a city break in Athens.

You might also like: The best time to visit Santorini

How to get to Santorini

Direct flights from European airports to Santorini.

There are direct flights to Santorini from most European cities, but most of these flights are seasonal – operating in the summer season only. There are connecting flights from Athens and Thessaloniki all year round.

Travel by ferry to Santorini

If you would prefer to travel by boat, there are two types of ferry that travel from Pireaus to Santorini. The first is the high speed ferry – SeaJet. The journey takes 4- 5 hours and tickets cost between €70- 80. the conventional ferry completes the crossing in 8-10 hours and tickets cost €20- 30

Go island hopping from Santorini

Why not combine your holiday in Santorini with some island hopping? There are various ferries regularly crossing to Mykonos, Naxos, Ios, Amorgos, Tinos, and Paros. The most popular island to visit from Santorini is Milos which is quiet, tranquil, and very beautiful.

Click here to check the ferry schedule and to book your ferry tickets.

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 a map of the city, thus saving you all the hassle of having to find a taxi or taking the bus. The cost of a private pick-up is almost 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. The cost of the private pick -up is almost 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.

How to get around Santorini

The island’s buses are run by KTEL and the main hub of the network is Thira (Fira) the main town. From the bus station in Fira, there are frequent buses to all the larger villages and small towns. Once you reach your destination, the easiest way to get around is on foot.

Car hire is very easy in Thira and at some of the larger hotels. Santorini is small measuring just 18 meters X 12 kilometers, so the longest journey will take just 40 minutes. Each of the towns has local taxis too. If you are staying in Fira, the easiest way to get everywhere in town is definitely on foot.

Where to Stay in Santorini

If you are interested in an Airbnb, check my post, the best Arbnbs to stay in Santorini.

Canaves Boutique Hotel. Oia: Perched on the cliff overlooking the Caldera, all rooms in this Cycladic style hotel have a balcony and the amazing view from the infinity pool is gorgeous. – Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Astarte Suites, Akrotiri: These romantically-styled suites have a private jacuzzi. There are stunning views of the Caldera and Aegean from the lovely infinity pool. – Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Studio Apartments Kapetanios, Perissa: These comfortable  Aegean-style apartments have great views from the sun terrace and swimming pool and a warm family welcome await all guests. – Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Athina Villas, Perivolos: Situated just 80 meters from the beach, these delightful villas have a private balcony or patio with views of the Aegean or the gardens. – Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Costa Marina Villas, Thira: This traditionally styled guest house is just 200 meters from the central square in Thira, so is perfect for exploring the town, with restaurants and shops close by. – Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Summer Time Villa, Thira: Warm and hospitable, this lovely building is just 100 meters from the central square and has a stunning sun terrace and whirlpool overlooking the Aegean. – Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Three days in Santorini itinerary 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 Santorini 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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