Santorini is the most popular Greek island and draws in tons of tourists, especially in the summer season. From the iconic caldera sunsets to the classic white churches with blue domes clinging to cliffs, Santorini has established itself as one of the most stunning and unique islands in the world. During my visit to Santorini I stayed for 3 nights in Amoudi Bay and tried to see as much of the island as I could. Here are my top 10 things to do in Santorini.
Oia is the most scenic area of Santorini, which is quite a compliment considering how beautiful the island is. Perched on a volcanic cliff above the fishing town of Amoudi Bay, you’ve probably seen photos of Oia on many postcards.
The Oia windmills and blue domed churches are iconic as they fuse together with all the surrounding white buildings. Get lost wandering the white streets in search for a hidden cafe, browsing the shops, or find one of the incredible restaurants in the town. Don’t miss a sunset there…
2. Watch the Sunset
Santorini is known for its stunning sunsets. Find a good spot to watch the massive sun dip into the edge of the Aegean Sea until it disappears, illuminating the sky in purples, pinks, and oranges. Views from the Oia castle onto Oia and the windmills are popular, as is the view from the blue domed churches in Oia.
Amoudi Bay gets you up close to the sunset, or practically anywhere on the island will give you a spectacular view. It’s really hard to be in a bad spot for the sunset unless you are sleeping in your hotel room. If you are in Santorini for a night, don’t miss out on the sunset.
3. Amoudi Bay
Surrounded by crystal clear waters and sitting underneath the spectacular Oia, Amoudi Bay is one of the highlights in Santorini. The charming tiny village consists of four restaurants, a few accommodations, and boats. That’s pretty much it. It’s a very serene and quiet place which can be a nice escape from the Oia crowds. The seafood is on another level, I’d recommend visiting the Amoudi Fish Tavern. We ate there at sunset on our first night and loved the food and had a great view of the sunset.
We stayed in Amoudi Bay for 3 nights and really loved having the whole town to ourselves at night. The only challenge worth noting is getting in and out of the bay requires a steep path of switchbacks which can be difficult going up during the midday heat. You can always take a taxi or donkey both up and/or down, but walking down from Oia is a nice way to see the bay.
4. Hike from Fira to Oia
One of the most popular things to do on the island is to hike from Fira to Oia (or from Oia to Fira). The hike takes around 3-5 hours and can be a bit challenging at points if you are hiking during the mid-day heat. Enjoy amazing views of the sea and the caldera as pass through Oia, Imerovigli, and Fira.
Your perspective of the island constantly changes as you make your way to Oia. Some of the best photos I got on my trip to Santorini were during this hike. Try to hike in the morning to avoid the heat and if you want to avoid hiking uphill, the route down to Oia is generally less uphill than going from Oia to Fira. You can read more about my experience Hiking in Santorini: Oia to Fira.
The capital of Santorini, Fira is where most of the action is happening. White walls lined with restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars; Fira is full of life. Much like Oia, a turn around every corner is exciting and the caldera and sea views are phenomenal. I wish I was able to spend more time in Fira as there seemed to be so much to see and do. It is a good place to base yourself to see more of the island as it is closer to the black sand beaches, Akrotiri, and some of the top wineries. A trip to Fira is part of The Ultimate 3 Day Santorini Itinerary.
6. Take a Boat Tour
If you are looking for a great day trip, considering taking a boat tour of the island. Most boat tours will take you around the volcano where you get a chance to swim in the volcanic hot springs. You will get amazing views of Oia, Amoudi Bay, Fira and Imerovigli from the water, as well visit the white beach and red beach. You can join a group tour, which is the cheapest option, or hire a private boat tour for your group.
We decided to rent our own boat and drive around the Aegean ourselves and loved having the privacy and flexibility of driving our own boat. Getting out on the water is a great way to see Santorini is a different perspective and if you are on the island for a few days I’d highly suggest it.
7. Visit a Winery
Santorini has a plethora of great wineries due to the nutrients provided in the volcanic sediment that the island is made of. Santo Wines and Venetsanos wineries are both located on the cliffs with gorgeous views of the caldera. Make sure you make a reservation in advance at one of these two wineries, especially during peak tourist season, if you want to visit during sunset. We visited Venetsanos winery and had a wine pairing with food during sunset which made for a very memorable night.
Located just about a 20 minute walk from Fira, Imerovigli is another beautiful white town situated on the clifftops overlooking the Aegean. We stopped here as part of our hike from Oia to Fira for a drink and lunch, and really wish we could have spent more time here. The views out over the water are on par with Fira, and it is a much more quiet and relaxed vibe than both Fira and Oia. An exciting adventure is to hike out to Skaros Rock for dramatic views of the island.
The ancient ruins of Akrotiri are some of the most important archeological sites in Greece. Akrotiri was one of the most important urban ports in the Aegean Sea about 4,000 years ago. The prehistoric settlement was covered in ash from a volcanic eruption, preserving some of the city to this day.
10. Black Sand Beaches
Santorini doesn’t have your typical Greek island beaches. Due to the volcanic landscape, most of Santorini’s best beaches are black sand beaches. This makes for a very unique experience, just make sure to wear sandals as the sand can get very hot when the sun is beating down on it! Kamari, Perissa, and Perivolos beaches are some of the more popular black sand beaches that have restaurants, bars, cafes, and water sporting options.
Whether you are looking to admire the unique architecture, visit a winery with an iconic sunset view, or hike across the island, Santorini has something for everyone to do. You could easily spend a week there and find new things to explore everyday. If you are fortunate enough to visit this beautiful Greek island, make sure you try to tackle as much of this list as you can for an unforgettable experience.