Situated atop a rugged cliff overlooking the ocean, Santorini is a town made from dreams. Iconic white buildings sit in contrast to the shimmering turquoise ocean in the distance, creating vistas that will leave you astounded at the beauty that lies here.
Stunning Santorini is a popular holiday destination because of its picturesque villages, incredible local cuisine and plentiful opportunities for beach and boat holidays, which are perfect for those looking to do some Greek island hopping.
Santorini’s location on the southern side of the Aegean sea means that the island often has glorious sunshine which only makes it an even more desirable place to visit on holiday. It’s also a surprisingly historical destination, as during the 17th century a volcano erupted and reshaped the island into what you see it as today.
If you are planning a holiday to Santorini, you may be wondering what there is to do on the island other than basking in the incredible surrounding scenery. We’ve put together this guide to share our top recommendations for what to do when visiting this stunning travel destination.
Explore the Capital
Since the 18th century, Fira has been the capital city of Santorini. This busy city is one of the most sophisticated places on the island, making it great for those who are looking for museums, boutique shops and amazing bars and restaurants.
Fira also has great nightlife. As the sun sets the city comes to life, with bars and clubs buzzing and venues hosting all kinds of performances to keep you entertained whilst on holiday.
However, great shopping and a cosmopolitan atmosphere aren’t all that Fira has to offer. This beautiful city also thrives off its reputation as being home to some of the best natural beauty and coastal views on the island, so there’s plenty of stunning scenery to explore around the area as well.
Hike from Fira to Oia
If you are looking for an adventure when visiting Santorini and want to explore the island by foot, a great way to do this is by hiking from Fira to Oia. This route allows for the perfect opportunity to explore other beautiful towns in Santorini such as Imerovigli and Firostefani, offering some of the most stunning views of the island and out to sea.
There are other detours you can take whilst on the hike, one of which is to the popular Skaros Rock. This is a rocky edge that towers over the sea, providing you with stunning panoramic coastal vistas. Skaros Rock can be found near the village of Imerovigli, one of the towns you pass through whilst on the hike.
The entire hike from Fira to Oia is about 6 miles, with a mixture of pedestrian paths through the towns and more rugged hiking routes. If you plan on hiking in summer, bear in mind that there is limited shade whilst on the trail and be sure to pack plenty of water as there are some pretty strenuous sections.
Lounge on Santorini’s Best Beaches
Santorini offers a plethora of stunning sandy stretches, all with their own individual setting and offerings. Whatever type of beach you are looking for, you will be sure to find it when exploring this outstanding island.
Some of the top beaches on the island that are absolutely worth a visit are listed below.
Red Beach is particularly popular because of its unique setting and scenery. With towering cliff edges and rust-red rocks overlooking the sand, it stands out to many visitors because its appearance is very distinctive compared to other beaches in Greece.
Being one of the rockier beaches on the island, it is worth noting that a good pair of sandals is essential when exploring this part of the coast. However, the photo opportunities are definitely worth it.
Eros Beach is arguably one of the most romantic beaches on Santorini. Named after the Greek god of love and desire, taking one look at the scenery makes it easy to see where this title came from.
The sand on Eros Beach is typical of others on the island, consisting of black, pebbly stones. This secluded spot is perfect for those looking for some peace and serenity when visiting Santorini.
In contrast to Red Beach, White Beach offers another unique setting for a beach day on Santorini, with its rough white cliffs that overlook the coastline.
White Beach is a fairly small cove with the usual black sands that are found on many other beaches on the island. The other special thing about this spot is that the fish here are in abundance, so it’s a great location for snorkelling.
Watch the Sunset in Oia
If you’re the kind of traveller that loves watching sunsets, then spending an evening in Oia should be top of your list when visiting Santorini.
One of the more popular spots to watch the sunset is near Oia Castle. As the sun goes down to end another day, the last bit of light illuminates the windmills and whitewashed buildings that can be seen from the castle, creating a truly magical view.
When deciding to watch the sunset from Oia Castle, bear in mind that many crowds gather here and it can get quite busy, so arriving early will ensure you get the best spot.
Explore the Mediaeval Villages
As there are so many great things to choose from, it can be hard to decide where’s best for Santorini sightseeing. If you’re seeking history and heritage, then a stroll through the mediaeval and traditional villages on the island will be just the ticket!
Villages like Akrotiri and Perissa are great options for those looking to explore some of Santorini’s traditional towns.
Akrotiri is a quiet village, which means that there is far less tourist traffic in comparison to many other places on the island. You can also visit Akrotiri lighthouse, which is rich in history and displays stunning views of the island.
Perissa village is perfect for those looking for a coastal town in Santorini and is only 8 miles away from the capital, Fira. Perissa is also particularly popular for its unique beach, which has striking black sand.
Sail Around Santorini
One of the most popular things to do in Santorini is sailing around the island. No matter where you’re staying this should be an easy activity to get involved with, as there are plenty of boat excursions heading out from around the island each day.
You have the option to take a trip out on a boat with other tourists, charter a private vessel or have a go at sailing a boat yourself. Whatever you choose, setting sail when visiting Santorini will take your breath away, as you get the chance to admire the island from a different point of view.
Some of the cruises around Santorini also offer meals whilst you sail, so you can sit back, take in the incredible views and enjoy an authentic Greek meal whilst the sun beams down from above.
Explore Thirassia Island
Visiting Thirassia is one of the top things to do in Santorini thanks to the destination’s history and stunning scenery. Thirassia island is located about 14 miles away from Santorini and takes around 10 minutes. To get there, a small passenger boat leaves from Oia 3 to 4 times a day.
One interesting aspect of Thirassia is that it was once a part of Santorini island. When the volcano erupted in 1500 BC it broke Santorini into many pieces, and as a result, Thirassia became a separate island.
There are only 150 inhabitants on Thirassia island, but this small but mighty isle is absolutely worth a visit when on your holiday in Santorini. Some of the aspects that attract many tourists to Thirassia are the colourful houses, untouched beaches and stunning nature that resides on the island.
Walk Around Ancient Thera
When wondering where to go in Santorini during your stay, a wander around the volcano known as Ancient Thera is a great option for those looking to see a different side of the island.
Situated at the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain, a trip to Ancient Thera will also provide you with a great opportunity to hike whilst visiting Santorini. Being an impressive 365 metres high, a hike up the mountain offers stunning views across the ocean and coastline.
Ancient Thera is connected to one of the most important historic periods in Santorini and was once the home of an ancient civilisation. Visitors can explore the archaeological site and see the ruins of the settlement of a colony that arrived here in the 8th century BC.
Do a Tasting at Santo Wines Winery
If a luxury stay in Santorini is on your agenda and sipping wine in a beautiful setting sounds like your kind of holiday, then a trip to Santo Wines Winery will be right up your street.
Offering an iconic wine tasting experience in Santorini is what Santo Wines Winery is really good at. You get to choose what variety of wines you would like to taste, all whilst sitting in the volcanic vineyard; a picturesque setting allows for a truly unforgettable experience.
Finding things to do in Santorini isn’t overly difficult, as there is always plenty going on. However, if you’d rather spend your time relaxing under the beaming sun, then a trip to a winery is a great choice.
Take in the View from the Akrotiri Lighthouse
Akrotiri Lighthouse is situated on the southwestern tip of the island and allows for some of the most incredible views on the island.
The history of Akrotiri Lighthouse is what makes it so special today. Built in 1892, it was one of the first lighthouses to be manufactured in Greece and is considered to be one of Santorini’s finest attractions.
If you happen to be visiting Akrotiri, then you can access the lighthouse from the village by walking along a roughly 5km route. Enjoy ocean views, a classic whitewashed building and a plethora of history. What more could you ask for?
Witness the Village of Pyrgos
The hidden gem of Pyrgos village is just 4 miles from the capital of Santorini. When choosing places to visit on the island, this quaint village offers a completely different atmosphere from anywhere else around.
As you explore Pyrgos, you will come across a main square that is encompassed by tall pine trees and great little cafes. The charm here is what really attracts most visitors, with its picturesque narrow streets and authentic feel, you can immerse yourself in traditional Greece whilst visiting.
Pyrgos offers a great atmosphere for those seeking a village in Santorini that is more off the beaten path. This hidden little town shows a real authentic side of Santorini and is much quieter than many of the other places on the island.
We hope that after reading our top recommendations for what to do when visiting Santorini, you’re eager to visit this stunning island with plenty to tick off your itinerary. Whether you’re looking to unwind and relax during your stay or would rather explore and get active, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island.
If you are planning a trip to Santorini, The Villa Collection can help make your stay even more luxurious with our range of rental properties on the island. Feel free to browse the collection, or get in contact with the team if you require more information.
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