What to do in Santorini Greece – 2021 Guide

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The island of Santorini is always on the list of the top places to visit in the world. It is considered one of the most romantic places and a lot of people from around the world come to the island to get married or for their honeymoon. Santorini has also beautiful villages with white-washed houses, blue-domed churches, pristine beaches with black sand and crystal waters, a lot of history and great cuisine and wine. There are many things one can do in Santorini.

You might also want to check out:

A 3 day Santorini Itinerary
How to visit Santorini in winter

Santorini vs Mykonos
Best Airbnbs in Santorini

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.

The three Domes in Oia---popular photography spot
The three Domes in Oia—popular photography spot

30 Things to Do in Santorini, Greece

1. Watch the sunset from Oia.

Sunset in Oia - Things to do in Santorini
sunset in Oia is a must see in Santorini

One of the reasons to visit Santorini is its great sunset. From the beautiful cliff-top village of Oia with the whitewashed houses, the windmills, and little churches with the blue domes you will see the sun dive into the Aegean Sea. Beware, you will not be alone, every day a lot of people gather in Oia and climb the cliffs in order to find the best spot for the perfect picture.

Check here for more things to do in Oia.

2. Walk from Fira to Oia

It might sound tiring but it is not that bad and the view of the caldera will compensate you. This route will take you to all the villages that are built on the cliffs of Santorini and have amazing views of the Caldera. Along the way, you will pass the beautiful villages of Imerovigli and Firostefani. In order to reach Oia, it will take you approximately 3 hours depending on how often you stop to admire the view or take photos. You can start your walk in the early afternoon and reach Oia just in time to admire the sunset. Don’t forget to wear a hat for the sun, take some water with you, and wear sensible shoes.

3. Visit a winery and do a wine tasting

wine tasting - The Best Santorini Tours

Santorini has been producing wine through ancient times. The most famous varieties include Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani. There are many beautiful wineries you can visit scattered around the island where you can learn about wine production and taste the wine.

I totally recommend the Santorini Half-Day Wine Adventure tour that includes a visit to 3 wineries and sampling 12 different wines.

4. Eat local food

Santorini apart from the famous wines produces other products like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and kapari. You can taste all these in the famous Greek salad. Other dishes you can taste are fava (split pea) and Tomatokeftedes (fried balls made from tomatoes). Try to avoid all the tourist restaurants and find a small family run taverna to enjoy better quality food at good prices.

I highly recommend the following restaurants:

Metaxy Mas Tavern in Exo Gonia village for reservations +30 2286 031323

Aroma Avlis Food & Wine in Exo Gonia village for reservations +30 2286 033395

Kantouni Traditional delicacies in Pyrgos Village for reservations + 30 2286 033474

For more food recommendations check out these amazing restaurants in  Santorini.

Things to do in Santorini, what to do in Santorini, Santorini Honeymoon
Oia Santorini

5. Visit the Akrotiri Archaeological site

Akrotiri Archaeological site

The excavations of Akrotiri have uncovered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean dating back from the 4th millennium BC. There you will see the magnitude of the town, the multi-story buildings, its drainage system, the wall paintings, the furniture, and vessels all well-preserved due to the fact that they were covered by the volcanic materials. The archaeological site is open to visitors daily from 10:00 to 17:00.

6. Book a photo tour with Shotz tours

Church bell in Oia Santorini - What to do in Santorini
Church bell in Oia Santorini

On my recent visit to Santorini, I decided to book a photo tour with Shotz tours. It was the best decision ever. My guide took me around the island, showed me how to improve my photography and took me to off the beaten path places. Santorini is a very photogenic island and a paradise for photography lovers.

Check here my post: A photo tour of Santorini with Shotz tours and find more information about the Highlights of Santorini 5-Hour Photo Tour.

7. Make an excursion to the volcano

volcano-cruises -The Best Santorini Tours
volcano cruises

There are several tours operating on the island that will take you to the volcano, from there it is a 10 min walk to the top where you can see the active crater. Some other tours after the volcano take you to the island of Palaia Kameni with the hot springs and famous mud baths.

I recommend the Santorini: 5-Hour Small-Group Catamaran Cruise that includes a swim in the hot springs and buffet lunch and drinks onboard or its sunset version.

If you actually want to walk on the volcano I suggest the volcanic island cruise.

8. Visit the village of Emporio

a church in Emporio village
a church in Emporio village

Emporio Village is another of Santorini’s stunning islands, with chic boutiques and cafes, beautiful architecture, a medieval castle, and eight traditional windmills that are well worth a visit.

Located in the south of the island, Emporio is a lovely alternative option to Oia for somewhere to stay.

9. Explore the village of Pyrgos

pyrgos village - things to do in Santorini
Pyrgos Village

The village of Pyrgos boasts the title of the highest point in Santorini with views overlooking the whole island as well as out over the azure Aegean Sea. This pristine village features white-washed houses, blue-domed churches, meandering alleyways and quaint cafes and tavernas. It is also a great starting point for exploring the nearby Venetian castle, the historic Church of Theotoki and the monastery of Profitis Ilias.

10. Walk the alleyways of Oia

The beautiful town of Oia is crammed full of little alleyways that are just made for exploring. Follow the cobbled streets around the winding white alleyways, discovering the hints of blue in the town’s gates, doors, and churches. You can also most always see a glimpse of the sea from every alleyway, making it even more spectacular. The alleyways of Oia are one of those places that look better in real-life than any postcard.

You might also be interested in: How to get from Athens to Santorini.

11. Cable Car from Old Port to Fira

Things to do in Fira Santorini, Cable car

Located high up on the hills of Santorini is its capital, Fira. With breath-taking views of the sea and surrounding islands, as well as beautiful narrow streets and spectacular architecture, Fira is one of the most popular places to visit in Santorini. There are many ways to reach Fira, but the best way is by Cable Car, which you can get from the Old Port. The views from the Cable Car are phenomenal; even if you are not interested in visiting the town, it is worth just taking the ride up there and back again to see the unforgettable scenery.

12. Walk to Skaros Rock

Things to do in Fira, Sntorini - Skaros rock
Skaros Rock

Occupied in Medieval times, Skaros Rock is one of Santorini’s five castle fortresses. Towering above the deep blue waters and quaint little towns, Skaros Rock offers some of the best views, as well as history, in the whole of Santorini. If you are a fan of hiking, the surrounding area to Skaros Rock is great for exploring and offers equally incredible views that are a little more off the beaten track.

13. Visit Ancient Thera

Ancient Thera historic site on Santorini Greece
Ancient Thera historic site on Santorini Greece

Situated high upon Messa Vouno lies Ancient Thera, an ancient capital named after the mythological leader, Theras. For just 4 Euro, you can wander around the ancient archaeological site, and imagine what life was like here, over one-thousand years ago. Unless you participate in a guided tour, you will more than likely have to trek up to Ancient Thera, which is not for the easily-exhausted. However, the hike is well worth the effort and time, as the site itself is fascinating, as are the views from the top.

14. Visit the Red Beach

Red Beach in Santorini - things to do in Santorini
Red Beach in Santorini

Not too far from the ancient site of Akrotiri lies one of the most stunning and unique beaches in the whole of Santorini, the Red Beach. Named for its deep red cliff faces, the beach is one of the most popular for tourists to visit; like most places in Santorini, there are busses and other forms of transport, but the hike towards the Red Beach is astonishing. It is a fairly steep walk down to the shore, but nothing beats gazing up and enormous, dark red cliffs.

Check out more beaches in Santorini.

15. Atlantis Books in Oia

Nestled coyly beneath the whitewashed walls of Oia lies Atlantis Books, a bibliophile’s heaven. This wonderful little hidden gem is jam-packed with all kinds of books and has so many things to explore. The bookshop is really easy to miss as it is so discrete and concealed, but it is well-worth seeking out; you could spend hours getting lost in the shelves and quirky little charms.

16. Museum of Prehistoric Fira

The Museum of Prehistoric Fira is a vast collection of artifacts mainly from the excavations of Akrotiri. There are some fascinatingly early pieces of history, dating back as far as the Neolithic period, and the early Cycladic era. The Museum of Prehistoric Fira is the perfect place to visit if you are a history-lover, or even if you are looking for somewhere to escape the Santorini-sun, and escape the heat for a little while, whilst also discovering some incredible artifacts.

17. Lighthouse on Southern Tip of Santorini

Akrotiri Lighthouse - Sanntorini

Also known as Faros Akrotiri, this stunning 1892 lighthouse is located on the most southern tip of Santorini. This is one of the most popular sites in Santorini, largely because of its history, and its nearby sites, such as the Red Beach.

view from the lighthouse in Santorini
view from the lighthouse

The best time of day to visit the lighthouse is at sunset, as you can see the sun slip behind the volcano in the horizon, and watch the sky turn a beautifully subtle pink hue.

18. Explore Thirassia Island

View on Thirassia harbor
View on Thirassia harbor

In complete contrast to Santorini, Thirassia Island is remote, tourist-free and tranquil. The island feels very old-fashioned, compared to the more modern charm of Santorini, yet it is beautiful because of this. On Thirassia Island, there are gorgeous beaches and hot springs you can visit. Moreover, there are some lovely authentic Greek restaurants that serve some of the most beautiful food you will ever try!

19. Have lunch at Amoudi Bay

Amoudi Bay - The best Santorini Beaches
Amoudi Bay

Amoudi Bay is most famous for its traditional Greek taverns, serving authentic dishes, including fresh local fish. The Bay is incredibly romantic and is filled with a combination of young couples, as well as families enjoying the atmosphere. Having lunch in Amoudi Bay is the perfect combination of everything: the astonishing views, the traditional food, and not filled with tourists and any accompanying noise.

20. Visit the Santorini Wine Museum

This family-established wine museum is one of its kind and exhibits the historic to contemporary wine-making processes in Santorini, as well as a wine-tasting experience. It is fascinating to learn how the wine becomes what it is, and to then be able to sample it at the end is a fantastic experience. The museum is situated in a cave style building, giving it’s a mysterious atmosphere.

21. Check out the Perissa & Perivolos Beaches

Perissa - The best Santorini Beaches
Perissa

Perissa is a tranquil, relaxing seaside village with long stretches of beach, sheltered beneath Messa Vouno; this is the perfect beach to visit if you would like to relax, perhaps do some sunbathing, or get lost in a book. On the other hand, Perivolos is a lot more vibrant and filled with a younger crowd and lots of clubs. It is still well worth the visit if you would like to sample a different type of scene to the rest of Santorini.

22. Watch a performance of the Greek Wedding Show

The performance of the Greek Wedding Show is a great activity to do whilst you are in Santorini; it is an exhilarating musical that involves the whole family, and is truly unforgettable. Jump right into Greek culture with this show’s exciting songs and dances, as well as its brilliant actors; this interactive performance is a definite must for anyone visiting Santorini.

23. Explore the town of Fira

watching the sunset from Fira
watching the sunset from Fira

Fira is Santorini’s main town and a vibrant hub of hustle and bustle. Enjoy the winding narrow streets lined with boutique shops selling unique pieces, quaint little bars, and cafes filled with locals, as well as astonishing views of the neighboring islands and the emerald water below. Fira is as beautiful at night as it is in the day, as the lights in the town give it a very charming atmosphere; like many places in Santorini, it is also a great place to watch the sunset.

You might also want to check out: Things to do in Fira, Santorini.

24. See a Movie at an Open-Air Cinema

Since the 1930s, the cinemas have been quintessential to Greek life, particularly its Open-Air theatres, that are all the more beautiful in the summer. The cinema is beautifully designed, with lots of pretty decorations that provide it with a garden theme. There is a bar that sells alcoholic beverages, as well as popcorn, which you can enjoy whilst watching a movie in the company of other locals and tourists alike! It is a great and unique way to spend an evening in Santorini.

25. Take a Cooking Class

Greece is famed for its cuisine and wine, so what better way to experience its culinary delights and fantastic wines that by taking a cooking class and a vineyard tour? Visit a volcanic vineyard and discover its unique basket vines, and how Santorini wine is so distinct. Some of the key wines to try are Assyrtiko, Nykteri, and Vinsanto. Afterward, learn to cook like a true Greek in the hands of a real Greek chef, so that you can use these skills at home as well. Also, ensure that you try the classic Greek aperitifs, Raki and Ouzo.

Click here for more information and to book a cooking class with wine tasting.

26. Do a sunset cruise

Catamaran Sunset Cruise @shutterstock

Santorini is famed for its majestic sunsets, and one of the best ways to enjoy them is on a cruise. There are many tours that you can do that include dinner and drinks onboard a boat that give you astonishing views of the surrounding and unforgettable memories. There are also many tours that take you to certain destinations and offer many activities before dinner, such as snorkeling, swimming and visiting hot springs.

Click here for more information and to book a sunset catamaran cruise.

27. Swim at the White Beach (Vlychada Beach)

Vlychada Beach - The best Santorini Beaches
Vlychada Beach

Situated on the south coast of Santorini, lies Vlychada Beach, an easily accessible beach that is dominated by its iconic large white cliffs. Even if you are not one for sitting on the beach for hours, sunbathing and relaxing, Vlychada Beach is still very much worth the visit, due to its magnificent natural beauty. The beach is relatively quiet, so it is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of some of the more touristy beaches.

28. Taste the Yellow Donkey Local Beer

A local Santorini beer is Yellow Donkey, a quirky blend of hops from around the world, that create a refreshing citrus taste that is perfect to drink of a hot summer’s day. There are also other variations by the same brewing company, such as Crazy Donkey, Red Donkey, and White Donkey, which are all equally delicious. You can also stop by and visit the microbrewery, to see exactly how your beer came to be; if you were a fan of the beer, you can also buy t-shirts and other souvenirs!

29. Do a day trip to nearby Ios island

view of Chora on Ios island

Ios Island is one of those places that you have to see before you can believe it is real; imagine vibrant, clear waters sheltered rolling cliffs, dotted with white-washed buildings. It truly is postcard perfect. Relax on the sandy beaches, take a book or embark on a dip in the sea, finishing off the day wandering around the town and indulging in some beautiful Greek cuisine.

You might want to check out: Things to do in Ios Island.

30. DO NOT ride the donkeys 

donkey ride in Santorini
donkeys

Donkey riding is a historic means of transportation in Santorini, and it is still available to tourists, for example, you can ride donkeys instead of the Cable Car when getting to Fira. However, many animal welfare groups urge tourists not to ride the donkeys, because they are working in poor conditions, and it causes them a lot of physical pain and exhaustion. They are forced to climb steep steps multiple times a day, and consequently suffer a lot of physical abuse. There are many alternatives to donkey travel, such as taxis, buses, bikes, cars or just walking.

Practical Information for your trip to Santorini

The best time to visit Santorini

The best time to visit Santorini is during the long summer season of April to November. As Santorini isn’t an island centred around its beaches, it can be a great place to visit in spring and autumn as well as summer.

July and August are the hottest months, but these are also the busiest and most expensive so are actually best avoided if you have the choice. June and September are ideal months for those who want to combine village visits, sight-seeing and beach/boat excursions, while April, May and October are great for those who just want to explore.

Winter can also be a good time to travel to Santorini if you want a relatively mild place to visit during the darker Northern Hemisphere months. Many hotels, restaurants and attractions (although not all) stay open during the winter months so this is a excellent option for those who want to avoid the crowds or the heat.

How to get to Santorini

The easiest way to get to Santorini is to fly, with direct flights from around Europe taking between two and four hours. These mainly run throughout the summer months but connections can also be made via Athens during the winter. The airport on the island is Santorini (Thira) National Airport (airport code: JTR). All year round you can find daily flights from Athens to Santorini.

Alternatively, you can reach Santorini by ferry from Athens or from other neighboring islands, with regular connections running during the spring and summer months. The conventional ferry from Athens (Piraeus port) takes between 8 and 10 hours to reach Santorini while the fast Ferry takes up to 5 hours.

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

How to get around Santorini

There are a few different ways to get around Santorini depending on where you are staying and how much you want to explore. One option is to rent a car which gives you full flexibility and allows you to stay outside of one of the main towns (Oia and Fira). Alternatively, you can use the local bus service which serves the airport, main towns, and attractions, or take a taxi. The island is only 16 km long so no journey should take too long in a taxi.

Santorini is also favored by walkers and there are routes such as the Fira – Oia Hiking Trail.

Where to stay in Santorini

Canaves Oia Boutique Hotel: If you’re looking for a classically picturesque Santorini boutique hotel, Canaves Oia is it! This spectacular hotel is perched on the cliffside overlooking the caldera and features elegant rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and a bar/restaurant on site. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Astarte Suites: Located in the south of the island, offer incredible rooms with private Jacuzzis, breath-taking balcony rooms, and a restaurant overlooking the caldera. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Studios Apartments Kapetanios in Perissa offers self-contained studio units with comfortable beds and kitchenettes and there is an on-site pool. The studios are family-run and there’s always someone on-hand to help. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Athina Villa is a lovely option for those who want to be near the black-sand beach of Santorini; the coast lying just 100 yards away! The rooms are simple and comfortable and most feature self-catering facilities and a private balcony or patio. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Costa Marina Villas is located in the heart of Fira and perfectly combines traditional and modern styling. The rooms are well-equipped with air-con, a fridge, kettle, and en-suite bathrooms. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Summer Time Villa is a modern, boutique hotel in central Fira with a sun terrace and a small whirlpool overlooking the Aegean. This is a great chic option for those wishing to stay in the capital. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

 

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38 thoughts on “What to do in Santorini Greece – 2021 Guide”

  1. Santorini has been on my bucket list since I saw my cousin’s pictures who went there on her honeymoon. Amazing island!

    Reply
  2. Ok, so I think you missed the massive archaeological dig which proved that a sophisticated people existed on Santorini before the eruption – it was called Thera then.

    Reply
  3. My favourite part of Santorini was watching that amazing sunset.I also rode a donkey but it was a quite terrifying descent!

    Reply
  4. I absolutely loved Santorini! I did almost everything on this list and can’t wait to go back and do more! It is so picturesque! I did ride the donkey and go to a winery and watched the sunset in Oia and eat delicious food and more!

    Reply
  5. I just made plans to come to Greece in September and was looking for some local tips. Thanks a ton Chrissy, your site is a gem!

    Reply
    • Hello Camie,
      I was in Santorini the last days of November this year. There were still people around because of the cruise ships. There were some restaurants and bars open along with museums and wineries. The weather was perfect but it doesn’t mean that you will have good weather. Generally it was good because it was less crowded.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for the all the information. And the pictures are beautiful. I am hoping to visit Santorini next week. The only issue is that I have just a day there. Is it possible to cover all the 10 of the above in a day?

    Reply
    • You are welcome. If you need to see as more as possible in a day you need to either rent a car or a private day tour. I don’t know your interests but if I skipped something from the above I would skip the volcano.

      Reply
      • hello, I’m planing to go for honeymoon me and my husband on July 17 till
        July 24 , any recommended place and hotel to stay in we are planing to
        go to Athena, Santorini and Mykonos how to go from each island to
        another ? this is my email plz contact me when you can 🙂
        [email protected]

        Reply
  7. Good Day. I am hoping for some advise. My friend and I are scheduled to go on the Crown Princess for a week long cruise in July 2018. We are doing the Mediterranean cruise from Rome, Italy to Athens, Greece with stops at 5 different ports along the way. We would like to extend our trip by a few days and see some more sights. We are from South Africa and never expected an opportunity like this to present itself and therefore have no idea on what we should do… get there early and explore more of Italy or hang around in Greece for a few days???
    Do you have any suggestions for us?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sounds like an amazing cruise. If you are interested in art and cultural sights you can get to Italy beforehand. If you are looking for beach time combined with some archaeological sights I suggest Greece. Both countries are equally beautiful. If you want you can email me using the contact form and we can talk about it more.

      Reply

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