The traditional village of Oia is the most photographed village in Greece and the Greek islands. It is the most famous place in Santorini to gaze at the volcano and the sunset.
Oia is a particularly beautiful spot on the caldera and offers postcard-like landscapes. It is a true labyrinth of cubic-shaped houses, whitewashed terraces, windmills, blue domes, and other amazing things.
Not to miss: Enjoy the Sunset from Oia Kastro • Take photos of the Blue dome Churches & the Windmill • Have lunch at Ammoudi harbor • Visit Atlantis bookstore (View more on our map of Oia)
Santorini Things to Do
We have gathered a list of the Best Things to Do in Santorini. This list includes the absolute must-sees and must-dos on the volcanic island: places to visit, attractions, where to swim, activities, tours, where to eat, and more. We have also added some more authentic and upcoming trends.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Explore Caldera Villages with Volcano views
2. Visit the Active Volcano & other attractions
3. Swim at lava-sand Beaches
4. Stay at the best hotels
5. Set sails on a boat trip around Santorini
6. Explore the island with your own car
7. Explore the Gastronomy Scene
8. Savour local wine varieties on a wine-tasting tour
9. Take part in Jet Ski Volcano Expeditions
10. Hike from Fira to Oia
11. Visit the small harbor of Ammoudi
12. Explore medieval & Authentic Villages
13. Watch a Movie at Cine Kamari
14. Opt in for helicopter tours & transfers to Mykonos
15. Join alternative Tours & activities
16. Explore Thirassia island
17. Have fun with other sea activities & sports
18. Witness the candlelight village of Pyrgos
19. Enjoy Art & Wine at Art Space Gallery
20. Visit the Lighthouse
21. Visit SAWA Animal Welfare Organization
More things to do
Oia, the most beautiful village on Santorini island
Built on the edge of the most famous volcanic cliffs, the caldera villages are an absolute must that must be added to anyone's things-to-do list!
The most famous villages are Oia, Imerovigli and Fira. They are also among the best locations for your stay.
The traditional village of Oia is the most photographed village in Greece and the Greek islands. It is the most famous place in Santorini to gaze at the volcano and the sunset.
The busy little town of Fira is the capital of Santorini. This is a great place to view Santorini’s traditional houses located above the caldera’s steep cliffs as well as the volcano and the sea.
In addition, the town provides all kinds of facilities and shops. There is a large number of restaurants and bars with spectacular views. One will also find some nightclubs full of activity until early in the morning.
Not to miss: Stroll around the village • Take photos of the Blue-domed churches • Visit the Archaeological Museum & Museum of Prehistoric Thera • Dinner with sunset views • Enjoy cocktails with volcano views (View more on our map of Fira)
While strolling around Fira, visit also the neighboring village of Firostefani, which is a few steps north. Homeric Poem hotel is located there along with its famous installation with a caique (traditional fishing boat) on the top of a terrace. The nice "instagramic" Galini Cafe is also nearby.
Another place to get a glimpse of Santorini’s volcanic scenery is Imerovigli, known as "the balcony to the Aegean". This village is particularly popular among couples in love, especially during the golden hour. It offers the best view of the volcano.
No to miss: Take the path to Skaros rock and the chapel of Theoskepasti • Visit Agios Ioannis Chapel • Take photos of the Blue-domed Church (View more on our map of Imerovigli)
The volcano of Santorini
With a history of many thousands of years, Santorini has a lot of sights & attractions to offer. A good idea is to add some of the most popular ones to your things-to-do list:
The active volcano has been responsible for creating, destroying, and reshaping Santorini and other islands all over the Aegean. In fact, in antiquity, it wiped out the entire Minoan civilization.
The volcano’s crater is located on "Nea Kameni", an islet that faces the caldera and can only be approached by boat. Once there, visitors have the unique opportunity to explore an ashen land, naturally decorated with almost exclusively black and red lava stones. From there, the world’s biggest Caldera can be seen, with the famous whitewashed villages built on its top.
Discover the Best Tours to the Volcano!
The crescent-shaped caldera of Santorini covers the entire part of the western side of the island. (View map)
The high volcanic cliffs of Santorini Caldera offer one of the most spectacular views of the sea and the volcano.
Oia, Fira, Imerovigli, and the other caldera settlements are certainly the most visited locations on the island. Many visitors get there, not only for their views but also for the unique atmosphere.
In addition, near the edge of the caldera, you will find some of the most fascinating hiking trails in the Cyclades.
Thanks to the high temperatures of the volcano there are hot springs where you can go swimming near the volcano's crater. The hot springs are located in the uninhabited islet Palea Kameni and the water reaches up to 35°C. The sulfur waters have a reddish tint and are a result of the island’s volcanic activity.
The springs can only be accessed with a boat trip & tour. You will be able to swim and enjoy their therapeutic properties.
For a glimpse into Santorini’s past, visit the thousands-year-old ruins of the Akrotiri Minoan site. In fact, it is believed that the town was originally constructed around 4,500 B.C.
This ancient city was buried in the volcanic ground when the volcano took over around 1,650 B.C.
Significant findings from different time periods can be found in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archaeological Museum in Fira. They host findings from the archaeological site of Ancient Thera as well as other sites on the island. The island also has some other museums: the Nautical museum, the Lost Atlantis museum, the tomato museum, and more.
The famous Red Beach of Santorini
Even though Santorini is part of the Cyclades, its beaches are very different from the ones of other Cycladic islands.
Santorini’s past volcanic activity resulted in a unique type of beach with black sand or pebbles. This scenery contrasts with the crystal clear azure waters of the sea just perfectly!
Note: You can now Rent your Sunbeds online!
Some of the best beaches you need to add to your to-do list are:
• Red Beach: Red Beach is the most impressive beach on Santorini. Named after the color of its sand and rocks, the beach offers an extraordinary sight! For the most part, the beach is not organized.
• Perivolos Beach: Covered in black sand and shingle, Perivolos is one of the longest beaches on the island. Its waters are crystal clear and the volcanic landscape is truly fascinating! Perivolos is fully organized, with sunbeds to rent and other tourist facilities. Perivolos is in the continuation of the popular Perissa beach.
• Kamari Beach: Similarly to Perivolos, Kamari beach is widely known for its unique volcanic setting. The seashore is covered with dark grey sand and the beach is about 5 km long. Beach bars, hotels, restaurants, and other facilities along the coastline offer sun loungers and sun umbrellas.
Honeymoon Petra Hotel
In Santorini, traditional Cycladic architecture merges with modern design and the finest services to offer an unforgettable accommodation experience.
You will find some of the world’s best hotels, with impressive cubic designs and amazing sea and volcano views.
Cave-like structures with whitewashed walls, arches, and other elements of Cycladic minimalism make Santorini’s hotels truly unique. One of the top facilities is the infinity pools. There are usually found in luxurious hotels in Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani with a hillside location.
Some of the best hotels are Grace hotel, Celestia Grand, Homeric, Poems, Honeymoon Petra, and Art Maison!
If you are looking for something really special, don't miss our selection of authentic cave houses.
Sailing boat trip on the submerged caldera
One of the best things to do is definitely a boat trip around the island.
These boat trips are extremely popular since they offer you the opportunity to visit the volcano, the hot springs, and Thirasia island and to see the caldera from another unique perspective. View routes on a map.
• Daily Boat trips: There are several tours proposed on a daily basis and at different hours. Afternoon schedules are the best, as you will be able to admire the sunset.
To begin with, the tour takes you to the islet of Nea Kameni. There, you will be able to walk on the active volcano and, even reach the summit of the crater. After that, you will be taken to the islet of Palea Kameni for a swim in the hot springs. Some of the tours also take you to the island of Thirasia, just in front of Santorini.
Pickup from your hotel and food on board is included in the price.
Note: This is the most popular attraction in Santorini so book your tour in advance!
Book this tour
• Luxury Catamaran boat trips: The boat trips are also proposed in a luxury version, on board a beautiful catamaran.
The tour includes snorkeling equipment, transfer from your hotel, food, and beverage onboard. More, at the end of the day, you will enjoy the sunset in a unique way.
In luxury trips, groups are smaller which gives you more privacy and tranquility.
Food is also offered and includes big portions and a delicious barbecue meal. Also, an open bar is available.
Note: The places are limited so book your tour in advance!
Book this tour or the Sunset version of it
Local car rental agency
Renting a car in Santorini will save you time and unlock destinations that can not be easily accessed on the island by bus or on a day tour.
Having your own mean of transportation will make your stay in Santorini much easier, you will move around at your own pace and will permit you to discover hidden and less touristy spots.
Lastly, if you want to spend most of the time of your stay in a Caldera village, you can opt-in for a car rental for a short period in order to discover specific locations that you are interested in visiting.
Book your car with us! We offer the best rates on the market!
Restaurant in Fira with volcano views
The continuously expanding gastronomic scene of Santorini has turned the island into one of the most significant culinary destinations in Greece. The most famous restaurants combine fine dining and magnificent sea views. At the same time, there are several taverns that are ready to offer an authentic experience.
The essence of traditional Greek cuisine lies in these small family-owned restaurants. By visiting one, you will get to enjoy delicious homemade meals at affordable prices. Some of the best options are Metaxy mas and To Psaraki, two of the best taverns on the island. There, you can try the classics of Greek gastronomy in a traditional setting.
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience like no other, consider having dinner at Selene. This restaurant can be compared to the finest European restaurants. It has undertaken a 35 years old ongoing project of embracing local products and creating a unique culinary scene.
Are you a gastronomy lover? Don't miss taking part in a cooking class and immerse yourself in the secrets of the local cuisine.
Traditional Canava winery in Santorini
Santorini deserves a spot on every wine lover’s bucket list.
The weather and the volcanic soil are the secrets to success. In fact, some of the finest and most renowned wines in the entire world are produced here.
Wine has been playing a huge role in local culture and economy ever since the ancient years. These days, it is just one of the many reasons to love Santorini.
You can either visit some of the wineries on your own or you can participate in an organized tour.
Our favorite wineries are Santo Wines, Sigalas, and Art Space.
Jet Ski Tour around Santorini
For an unforgettable experience on Santorini, we recommend a jet ski safari, an unusual way to explore the southern coast beaches.
The "south coast tour" will take you to the south coast beaches. Some of them are only accessible from the sea.
The jet ski safari is a bestseller tour and its availability is limited. It is highly advised to book your tour in advance!
View from the hiking path between Fira and Oia villages
One of the most spectacular island hiking routes in Greece is the path that connects Fira to Oia, via Firostefani and Imerovigli villages. The trail goes through half of the volcanic caldera.
Even for inexperienced hikers, this 3-4 hour course should totally make it to your Santorini things-to-do list! It is considered a relatively easy hiking path, with breathtaking views at any point of the route.
It is recommended to start either at dawn or before dusk in order to avoid the burning midday sun. You can make this hike on your own but it is recommended to make it with a professional.
The small harbor of Ammoudi, just below Oia village
Right underneath the hill from the famous Oia village, there is a tiny fishing harbor called Ammoudi.
Although it is very small it remains quaint, hosting delicious taverns where you can savor fresh fish and seafood.
There is no beach at Amoudi bay but some people swim in the area. After a 10-minute seaside walk, you will reach the islet of Agios Nikolaos. There, you will come across many people swimming in the sea. You can get in the water from the rocks.
Amoudi bay is also considered a beautiful and peaceful sunset spot.
The medieval architecture of Emporio village
Experience the authentic side of Santorini by visiting some of its traditional villages! These picturesque settlements are located on the mainland of Santorini and maintain their traditional character by remaining off the beaten track.
• Emporio, the medieval village: One of the most beautiful villages is Emporio, which has a prominent medieval character. Numerous renovated stone mansions have been turned into boutique hotels.
As you stroll around the alleys, you will notice some very interesting architectural details. The houses and monuments have old steep stairs and small neighboring balconies that are almost attached to one another. They also have arches and their doors are painted in vibrant colors. Bougainvillea trees and pergola vines are adding up a natural note.
• Pyrgos, the former capital: Pyrgos should also make it to your destination list, as the island’s former capital. The village lies on the slope of mount Profitis Ilias.
It is surrounded by the famous vineyards that produce the renowned Assyrtiko wine.
Pyrgos rests away from the intense touristic buzz of Caldera villages and preserves the rhythm of the local island life. Whitewashed houses, traditional churches, and paved alleys are some of its architectural elements, while the castle "Kasteli" is its biggest landmark.
• Megalochori, the traditional village: Another hidden gem is Megalochori, with numerous paved alleys and streets. The local architecture has the main role here.
Neoclassical mansions, blue domes, and artistic bell towers are some of the things that make Megalochori stand out. Some amazing local taverns are located in the village.
Cine Kamari, the open-cinema of Santorini
A very popular summer activity for the whole family is the open-air cinema in Kamari village.
Cine Kamari has a lovely garden and there is a bar that serves refreshments, snacks, cocktails, local wine, and beer.
There are two screenings every day and the films are in English with Greek subtitles.
Cine Kamari has been awarded as one of the best open-air cinemas worldwide. It is certainly a nice way to enjoy a true, under the stars, summer night in Santorini.
Make sure to add it to your itinerary as one of the best alternative things to do on the island!
Discover other Businesses of interest
Helicopter transfer from/to Mykonos
Helicopter tours and transfers in Santorini are a new trend and a popular luxury activity.
A helicopter tour offers unforgettable views of the Caldera, the volcanic island, and of course, the volcano! Although this new trend is not the most eco-friendly way to explore the island, the experience will be unforgettable! Availabilities are limited! You must book in advance.
Helicopter Transfers between Mykonos & Santorini
You can also book a Private helicopter transfer between Mykonos and Santorini and enjoy a luxurious flight above the Aegean Sea!
Private helicopter transfers are a fast, fun, and safe way to get from one island to the other. They also allow you to enjoy a panoramic view of the Cycladic landscape like no other.
During your transfer, you will get to see the most beautiful places on the islands. This includes lovely whitewashed villages, impressive cliffs, and the famous volcano of Santorini.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Photography tours in the alleys of Oia
Alternative tours are one of the things that have been increasingly gaining popularity among those who visit Santorini.
• Photography tours: Such tours allow you to see one of the most photogenic places on earth through the eyes of a professional photographer. Photography tours are a well-received trend in Santorini and many young people rush to opt in! With these tours, you will capture unusual and unfrequented spots. In addition, professional portraits of you with the most amazing background will be taken.
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• Sea Kayaking: Another alternative, and fun activity, is Sea Kayak Excursions on the southern coast. There are two tours per day that are suitable for couples, groups of friends and families, one in the morning and one in the evening. Swimming and snorkeling are also part of the tour.
Book in advance as the availability is limited!
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• Fishing boat tour: One of the activities that are closer to the authentic lifestyle of the island is the traditional fishing boat tour.
For an extraordinary dinner or lunch, embark on a "caique" (the traditional wooden fishing boat) and go fishing with local fishermen. You will learn different fishing techniques and the catch of the day will be cooked. It will be served for your lunch or dinner. And all these while gazing at the beautiful sunset and the astonishing coastal landscapes of Santorini.
Book this tour
The authentic Thirassia island
If your trip to Santorini lasts more than 4 days, it is recommended to include a day trip to Thirassia.
Thirasia is a small islet located very close to Santorini. It used to be a part of Santorini but it was cut off after a volcanic eruption.
Nowadays, it is only inhabited by 319 and remains untouched by mass tourism.
Santorini and Thirasia are like siblings that look a lot alike. They have the exact same geology, landscapes, and views, but with a very different character. Santorini is one of the most popular islands, with modern tourism infrastructures. On the other hand, Thirassia maintains a low profile by preserving an authentic lifestyle.
Thirassia can be accessed with a local ferry that departs from the port of Ammoudi, in Oia but also with some of the many organized boat trips.
SUP below the village of Oia
Apart from the organized tours, plenty of sports and other fun activities are offered on the island.
Scuba Diving is a great way to discover the underwater rock formations and rich marine life of Santorini!
Expect to come across lava formations, lobsters, clams, spirographs, colorful sponges, barracuda, many schools of fish, a small shipwreck, and more!
Also, don't forget to pay a tribute to Jacque Yves Cousteau by visiting his underwater memorial plaque!
Discover the Scuba Diving centers
In addition, Stand Up Paddling or SUP is the next big thing when it comes to sea activities in Santorini. It is a fun way to play in the water while enjoying the breathtaking views. You can rent your SUP at Perivolos beach or take an organized SUP tour. It is a strongly recommended fun activity for the whole family!
Discover the SUP centers
Pyrgos village for Easter day (© Winfried Rusch)
Visiting Santorini during the Orthodox Easter, and more specifically during the Epitaph walking ceremony, allows you to experience an authentic side of the local life.
Thanks to the light of thousands of candles around the village, Pyrgos turns into a unique spectacle mesmerizing any visitor!
Art Space gallery and winery in Exo Gonia village
The love for art and wine intermingles in this one-of-a-kind winery and gallery in Exo Gonia.
The Art Space Gallery cultural hub of Santorini one of the best things to visit.
You will have the chance to see some fine contemporary paintings and sculptures while tasting wines.
The building was constructed in 1861 and is an example of the traditional cave house architecture of the island.
The lighthouse of Akrotiri
It was constructed by a French Company in 1892 and is one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece. It is considered a timeless romantic spot during sunrise or sunset and of course a top photogenic place.
Access inside the lighthouse is not permitted but the view from there is totally worth your visit. The area is away from the tourist crowds and has a calm and serene atmosphere.
If you visit it during sunset, remember to bring with you a bottle of local wine. From there, you will get to sit and watch the boats come and go.
SAWA is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, founded in 1992 and devoted to loving and taking care of animals in Santorini.
Its shelter near Akrotiri houses numerous adorable creatures. Stray dogs or cats are a major problem in Santorini; so are maltreated donkeys or mules. This cannot remain unnoticed.
If you pass by, make a stop to say hi! Feel welcome to support SAWA’s purposes.
Visit their website: www.sawasantorini.com
But that’s not all! There are a lot more things to do in Santorini; from amazing places for coffee and cocktails to nightclubs.
We invite you to explore even more options that the island has to offer: • Tours • Kitesurfing • Festivals • Yoga • Massage • Spa
What to do at night?
Santorini has a vivid nightlife. It consists mainly of wine- bars, bars with lounge music as well as nightclubs and dancing venues that remain open until dawn.
Most of them are located in Fira.
What is there to do for families?
Sightseeing is one of the best family activities in Santorini. There are many museums to see and non-touristy villages or family-friendly beaches to discover.
Some tours & organized activities are also suitable for families, including volcano tours and visits to the ancient Minoan site of Akrotiri. The lost Atlantis 9d experience is another good alternative.
Is Santorini good for couples?
Santorini is considered the most romantic island in Greece.
Sunset-gazing, watching movies at the open-air cinema Kamari, dining at gourmet restaurants, and going on a jet-ski and helicopter tours are some of the recommended activities for couples and honeymooners.
What to do in one, two, and three days?
If you only have one day in Santorini, make sure to visit the photogenic villages of Oia, Imerovigli, and Fira.
In 2 days in Santorini, you will be able to visit the volcano and a few major cultural sites or smaller villages in addition to the famous caldera villages.
View our recommendations.
What is the best month to enjoy the activities?
September is the best time to visit Santorini, as well as May and June.
When is the best time to book activities and tours?
If you are traveling to Santorini during the high season it is recommended to have booked your activities or tours 2-3 months in advance.
It is a very touristic destination and everything gets sold out quickly.
Are there special requirements for activities and tours?
There are no special requirements in order to participate in activities and organized tours. Some sea activities such as jet ski tours have a minimum 12 years of age requirement.
What to do when it rains?
What to do in the old port?
From the old port of Santorini, you can take the cable car to Fira, the main town. Fira is a nice village to visit. From there, you can take a bus or a taxi and visit Oia, the most beautiful village in Santorini.
Does Santorini have water sports?
Watersport centers are available at many beaches of Santorini. Some sea-related activities available include sailing & jet skiing near the volcano, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and sailing.
Does Santorini have hiking?
Santorini offers plenty of hiking opportunities, including the famous Trail from Fira to Oia.