Top Tourist Attractions and Things to do in Santorini (Greece)
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Is Santorini worth visiting? Are there plenty of interesting things to do in Santorini? If those are the questions you have in mind, then let this Santorini travel guide article answer them for you.
An enchanting island in the Aegean Sea, Santorini holds a special place in the hearts of many travelers around the world who has visited this magnificent travel destination in Europe. The island’s stunning natural landscape together with the impressive culture have put Santorini as one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world.
Blessed with the friendly Mediterranean weather, Santorini is good to visit all year round. The peak season of Santorini tourism is during the summer (July – August) but not the best time to visit Santorini.
If you are on a limited budget, it is best advised not to visit Santorini during those months. Within these months the rates for the hotels in Santorini are very high, and there are plenty of tourists, so it can be a little bit too crowded to enjoy Santorini attractions. It will not be that comfortable either to go sightseeing or visiting the best places in Santorini during those months.
For those who have visited and seen the scenic view of Santorini either from visiting or from a photo that enticed them to come, most are in awe and couldn’t believe that such beauty existed – quite possibly one of the most romantic islands in the world! You definitely love to take flights to Santorini to enjoy the extreme beauty in real.
Where is Santorini? This tiny Greek island in the Aegean Sea is really just the rim of a giant volcano that blew itself apart hundreds of years ago. It is the most amazingly beautiful place – gleaming white carved houses cling to the cliffs and its pretty little beaches are full of white and red lava pebbles.
If you want to know more about the places to visit in Santorini, what to do in Santorini, or about what to see in Santorini, this Santorini travel guide will give you comprehensive information about Santorini attractions.
Useful travel tips for every traveler (Budget or not!)
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Table of Contents
- 1 Quick information and Santorini travel tips
- 2 Where to stay in Santorini?
- 3 Short in time? Go sightseeing in Santorini on tour!
- 4 Experiences and top things to do in Santorini
- 4.1 Hike from Fira to Oia
- 4.2 Enjoy a boat trip around Santorini Islands
- 4.3 Get lost in a local market
- 4.4 Enjoy the sunset in Oia
- 4.5 Stay in a traditional whitewashed home
- 4.6 Enjoy the local food and wine
- 4.7 Enjoy a movie at the open-air cinema
- 4.8 Step back in time and visit the Akrotiri Archaeological site
- 4.9 Hike to Profitis Ilias
- 4.10 Go To A Sleeping Volcano
- 4.11 Have Fun with The Sand And The Water
- 4.12 Raise Your Glass and explore Santorini’s wine culture
- 4.13 Have A View from Above
- 4.14 Appreciate The Work of Artists
- 5 Need help to plan your trip? Start with these useful tips!
- 6 Do you need inspiration for your next trip? Here are our top posts!
- 7 Other destinations to visit in Europe
- 8 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Quick information and Santorini travel tips
- Currency? Euro
- Languages? Greek
- Where is this place? Located in the southeast of Greece, southeast of Europe
- What is Santorini famous for? Beautiful beaches, Greek islands, iconic blue roof houses by the seaside on top of the mountains, wines, cuisine, and it’s an active volcano
- Best time to visit Santorini? Come between June to September to catch the best beach time. That said, if you want to do more outdoor activities, come during Spring and Autumn as it has the optimum weather for hiking and such.
- How to get there? Santorini is an island but it has an airport so you can go by plane. You can also come by boat or cruise lines!
- Other famous places in Greece? Athens, Corfu, Thessaloniki, Meteora, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Delphi, Crete, Chania, Rhodes, Mount Olympus, Cape Sounion, Hydra, and Philopappos Monument – read more about Greece
- Famous neighboring countries? Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Macedonia
Do you need a visa for Greece?
In order to enter Greece, you need to have a valid Schengen visa. If you’re a citizen of the EU group of countries, you can enter X without a visa. However, if you’re a citizen of Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and Australia – you can stay in Schengen areas for 90 days.
Check out our detailed guide on how to apply for a Schengen visa – read it here.
Where to book your flights to Santorini?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need travel insurance for Santorini?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in Santorini?
Short in time? Go sightseeing in Santorini on tour!
Experiences and top things to do in Santorini
Hike from Fira to Oia
What to see in Santorini? If you want to see some of the iconic Santorini points of interest, you should go on a hike from Fira to Oia. This hiking route is one of the best ways to go sightseeing in Santorini. Covering 10 kilometers of the pathway, this hiking routes usually takes 3 to 4 hours to finish.
The journey usually starts from Fira, the capital city of Rhodes. On your journey, you will pass some of the famous places to see in Santorini, such as the Orthodox Metropolitan Church, The Catholic Cathedral, and Monastery of Saint Nikolas. After you pass Church of Agios Antonios and the Church of Prophet Elias, you will soon reach the village of Oia.
This rustic village has its own charm by highlighting its beautiful white houses, churches with blue domes, and some traditional windmills. Your journey will end at the Castle of Oia. This old fortress has been renovated and turned into one of the most luxurious hotels in Santorini, Oia Castle Luxury Suites.
This hike between the two main towns on the island is an absolute must. It takes around four hours, depending on how fast you walk and where you’d like to stop. As long as you’re reasonably fit, you’ll be fine, but do be aware there are uphill and downhill walking involved, as well as steps.
There are plenty of villages and shops along the way, so lots of opportunity for a rest. You’ll definitely want to bring a camera for all the picture-perfect views along the way. Try and start as early as possible, especially in the summer when temperatures can get really hot by 11 am.
TIP: Don’t follow your Google Maps if you want a scenic walk, it will send you on the most direct route instead. Take the time to savor and truly take in all the memorable sights by following this route provided by Santorini Dave.
Learn and read more about Rhodes:
Enjoy a boat trip around Santorini Islands
Get a different view of the island by renting a boat and exploring the coastlines, islands, caves, and volcano. If you do decide to rent a boat, be sure to snorkel in the blue water and refresh yourself at the hot springs and mud baths by the volcano.
Get lost in a local market
Who doesn’t like going to markets when they are abroad? You don’t necessarily have to buy anything. Just enjoy the colors, the smells, and the sounds. The markets of Santorini that wind through the narrow streets is a pure delight! Expect to find souvenirs and gifts, jewelry and candles, clothes, art, and more.
Enjoy the sunset in Oia
You can enjoy sunsets from all over the island but this is the famous and one of the most popular Santorini activities – the one that you probably have seen all over Instagram and other travel blogs. Pretty much every tourist will flock to Oia for the perfect sunset spot so get there early!
TIP: Explore alcoves, rooftops, and ruins for secret spots – or even better, rent a villa that is facing west and you’ll have your own private sunset view, perhaps even by your own pool!
Stay in a traditional whitewashed home
The iconic whitewashed homes of Santorini are often carved directly out of the volcanic rock, and their arched ceilings and spectacular views mean that this is the accommodation you won’t forget in a hurry. There are a large variety of villas to suit a wide range of budgets – you simply shouldn’t stay in Santorini without staying in one these uniquely carved homes.
TIP: If you go in the colder – but still nicely warm enough with temperatures around 15°C and not too much rain – months of October to March, you’ll find that prices can drop by half!
Read and learn more about Greece:
Enjoy the local food and wine
The best part about traveling is that you get to taste local food to broaden your culinary experience. In Greece, the best way to taste the local Greek food is by dining in their classic tavernas. A taverna is a small restaurant selling traditional food.
According to several Santorini travel guides, one of the best tavernas or restaurants in Santorini is To Psaraki. Established in the Vlihada Harbour, one of the most scenic Santorini points of interest in the southern coast, To Psaraki has made both locals and tourists fall in love with its dish without needing much time.
The highlight of this Santorini taverna menu is its fresh seafood. When you decide to eat into Psaraki, you can choose to sit in the balcony where you can enjoy the mesmerizing blue Aegean Sea. To Psaraki is not only a wonderful place to eat but also a fantastic spot to go sightseeing in Santorini.
Great local ingredients mean great local food. Try Fava, a puree of yellow split peas, garlic and onions; it’s a Santorini specialty. The local white eggplant and cherry tomatoes are amazing as well.
Learn and read more about cuisine in Europe:
Enjoy a movie at the open-air cinema
One of the most famous places to go to Santorini is the city’s open-air cinema. Kamari open-air cinema (the cutest outdoor cinema ever)is located on the main road of the village of Kamari. Here, you get to watch a movie in an outdoor setting while enjoying Santorini nightlife.
If you reserve a seat prior to your visit, you have the chance to enter the theater before the walk-in visitors and choose your seats first. Once you choose your seat, you can head to the bar located inside the theater. Yes, you are not reading it wrong, a bar inside a theater. Not only selling popular movie snack like popcorn and candy bars, but you can actually order almost any kind of alcoholic beverages here, including beer, wine, and cocktails.
While waiting for the movie to start, you can try to make friends with other visitors. But if you are not in the mood to be chatty, you can enjoy the fast and free wifi facility here. If the movie is about to start, you will hear a bell ringing, telling you to get to your seats. If you run out of drinks or snack during the movie, you can go back to the bars to order some more.
Tip: In high season, reserve your seats by phone and make your life that bit easier.
Step back in time and visit the Akrotiri Archaeological site
If you want to go sightseeing in Santorini, and you wish to see a unique ancient site, make your way to Akrotiri. Here you will be amazed by dwellings that go way back to the Minoan Bronze Age. Based on the evidence found in this Santorini archeological site, it is concluded that the earliest settlement in this area was built in the fifth millennium BC.
The people relied on fishing and farming to support their lives. Unfortunately, the Theran Eruption in 1627 BC wiped out the entire civilization. Lucky enough, the volcanic ash covering this site had become a great preserving agent to this ancient site and all the objects in it until an early excavation was done in 1867. However, it was not until 100 years later that a massive modern excavation project was conducted, revealing the full site.
For those of you who are intrigued to know more about Akrotiri and the history behind this astonishing site, you can join a guided tour available in this Santorini point of interest.
The ruins of the Minoan settlement date back to around 1600 BC, and plays a role in ancient Greek history. As one of the most important prehistoric settlements, this archaeological site shouldn’t be missed on your trip to Santorini.
TIP: The entrance fee is €12 but it’s worth spending an extra €10 and getting a guide – you’ll understand what you are looking at so much better, and will better appreciate it’s historical significance.
Learn and read more about Santorini:
Hike to Profitis Ilias
At 567 meters above sea level, Profitis Ilias (Propet Elijah) – a beautiful monastery, is located at the highest point on the island. From here you get the absolute best views of the island. You can go to the top on a tour bus but if you hike, you can avoid the crowds and have this amazing place all to yourself.
Go To A Sleeping Volcano
Nea Kameni, or also known as Santorini Volcano, is a small island located very close to the Santorini island. This is without a doubt one of the fascinating things to see in Santorini. This volcano is not a dead one, it is only asleep. However, it is quite safe to go there as it is not active now. You can explore the mountain and sit on the caldera, waiting for the sun to set.
There are several natural warm water pool on this island. The water is believed to have therapeutic effects. Although the water is not hot compared to other famous hot springs, it is enjoyable to swim there.
Have Fun with The Sand And The Water
As an island in the Mediterranean, Santorini is blessed with beautiful beaches and pristine sea. There are quite a lot of fascinating beaches that you can visit during your trip to Santorini.
Some of the beaches are black and red sand beaches. Perivolos Beach is Santorini beach with the longest stretch of black sand. This beach is perfect for lazy summer days, as it is equipped with plenty of umbrellas and sunbeds. Finding food and drink is also an easy matter here. Kamari Beach is also an impressive black sand beach. Here, there are more than just getting the perfect tan.
If you are looking for something more unique that Santorini tourism can offer, you have to go to the Red Beach. It is named that way because the beach is surrounded by red cliff formation. It surely is a unique place to go sightseeing in Santorini.
Raise Your Glass and explore Santorini’s wine culture
One of the best Santorini things to do will be the wine tasting at Santo Winery. This winery will offer you an extensive wine tasting with 18 different kinds of wine available to be tasted along with the best cheese to pair with the wine. Santo Winery is also a great spot to see the sunset. There is a beautiful patio dedicated to sunset watching here. Can you imagine that? Wine, cheese, and sunset. Life cannot be more perfect than that, isn’t it?
You can also learn about winemaking in the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum. This underground Santorini museum does not only provide interesting information about the winemaking and the history of winemaking in Santorini but also provides wine tasting sessions to its visitors.
There are also other exciting wine tours in Santorini that you can take while you are on your trip to Santorini.
Have A View from Above
There are several ways to travel in Santorini, from conservative ways like walking and riding a donkey, to modern ways like renting ATVs and going in a cable car. The cable car is one of the most favorite things to do in Santorini. The Santorini cable car will take you from the Old Port up to Fira and vice versa.
It only takes 3 minutes to go that way, making it the fastest way to travel in Santorini. And, it does not cost you a lot of money. You only need to spend around 5 euros to go one way. The cable car leaves every 20 minutes. Enjoy a breathtaking view of Santorini while you are inside the cable car.
Appreciate The Work of Artists
Not only heaven for history enthusiasts, but Santorini is also a paradise for art lovers. One of the most interesting things to do in Santorini is visiting the art galleries. There are a few amazing art galleries to see on this island.
One of those art galleries is MATI Art Gallery situated in Fira. Here you will see artwork mostly made of metal and glass covered in brilliant colors.
Another Santorini art gallery that is worth visiting is Tzamia-Krystalla Art Gallery also located in Fira. In this Santorini tourist attraction, you will find not only contemporary paintings and sculpture but also ceramics and jewelry. After browsing the gallery’s collection, you can have a seat at the patio, enjoying the majestic sea view.
Need help to plan your trip? Start with these useful tips!
- Best Carry On Backpack: Top Weekender Backpack Reviews
- Best Luggage: Top Suitcase Reviews
- Backpacking Minimalist: How to Travel with Less (Minimalist Travel)
- Minimalist packing list for women
- Minimalist packing list for men
- Backpack vs Luggage: Which One to Use for Long Term Travel
Important travel tips and tricks:
- Before Flight Travel Checklist: Make Sure You Have Everything You Need!
- How to Find Cheap Flights Everywhere (Using Skyscanner)
- Why You Should Get a Travel Insurance for Your Next Adventure
- Hotel, Hostel, Airbnb, or Guesthouse: Which One to Choose for Accommodation?
- Top Travel Tips to Use When You Get to Your Destination
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- Have you been to Santorini?
- If yes, which of these things to do in Santorini you’ve done?
- If not, which one’s interest you most?
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