Oia is probably the most famous and photographed village of Europe. Located on the north side of the island, at the edge of the Caldera, Oia is idyllic and offers an undisturbed, panoramic view of the Aegean sea and the volcano. Its traditional cycladic architecture with the small cubic-shaped colorful houses, blue-domed churches, bell towers, windmills, and narrow alleys is what makes this village a pole of attraction for millions of tourists every year. One of the top things to do on the island is to wander during the evening in this charming labyrinth. You will come across beautiful boutiques, art galleries, designed hotels, and fine dining restaurants. The combination of its sublime seaview and alluring architecture is what has made Oia a worldwide top romantic destination. Wondering how to get there? Just book your car with us and get the best rates!
Santorini Things to Do & See
What to do in Santorini, Greece? There are many things to do when setting foot in Santorini and some that still remain a bit off the spotlight and can offer you a more relaxed, serene and off the beaten track experience of this phenomenal island.
We have put together an up-to-date list of the best things to do, which can serve as a complete reference guide for when you organise your holidays to Santorini.
This list includes the absolute touristic must-sees and must-dos of Santorini, as well as some more authentic and upcoming trends of the island. It is of importance to mention that most of the tours and guides operating on the island are very well organised and professional. If you are visiting the island during the summer season, for a less than a 4-day stay, you will definitely have to book the tours that interest you in advance due to the high demand and limited spots.
TRENDING TOPICS ABOUT SANTORINI
Do not miss some essential topics about your holiday:
• Best Hotels in Santorini (Our selection) • How to get to Santorini by ferry
• Book your car at best rates • Best Day-Tours & Cruises
30+ Top Things to Do & See in Santorini
We have gathered a list of the best Things to Do & See while in Santorini. You can also view all things to do on our interactive map.
One cannot visit Santorini and not acknowledge how the Volcano is the heart of the island and an inseparable part of its traditions. Everything, from the architecture to the food and wine is related to the presence of this active Volcano that birthed, destroyed, and reshaped this fascinating island. The crater is located on an islet facing the Caldera called “Nea Kameni” and it is reachable by boat from the harbor of Fira. Imagine an ashen land naturally decorated with almost exclusively black and red lava stone and barely any plants or trees. With the dark sand surrounding your feet, you can admire a tranquil view of the world’s biggest Caldera and the whitewashed villages built on top. It is a very powerful scenery that should by all means be witnessed and added to your bucket list of Santorini. Near the island of Nea Kameni and thanks to the high temperatures inside the volcano there are hot springs where you can go swimming. As you close in towards the hot springs you will feel the water getting substantially warmer.
Not to miss: The Volcanic and Hot springs boat tour is strongly recommended!
In recent years, there have been new alternative tours developed in Santorini in order to explore the island in a more unconventional way. A jet ski safari across the south coast or the volcano is an unforgettable experience and strongly recommended! If you take the "south coast tour”, you will have the chance to visit the beaches of Perivolos, Vlyhada, Red beach, Kampia, White beach, and Mesa Pigadia. “The volcano tour” includes visits to Perivolos, Vlyhada, Red beach, Kampia, White Beach, Pharos of Akrotiri, Caldera, and the Volcano (Nea “New” Kameni).
Furthermore, the “Extreme Volcano tour” includes the places of the “Volcano tour” and is enriched with visits to Skaros, Mouzakia Bay, Armeni Bay, Ammoudi Bay, Thirassia, and Aspronisi. All tours are composed in such a way that allow the visitors to spend some relaxing time swimming or snorkeling. There’s no need to worry about required equipment expenses, as it is all provided by the tour moderators. Overall, the jet ski safari is considered a bestseller tour, definitely one of the things to do in Santorini, while it gives you the chance to visit most of the beaches of the island in just one day. An early booking is necessary during summertime due to very high demand.
Jet Ski Safaris are among the most popular tours and the availability is limited!
One of the absolute musts in Santorini is witnessing its world-famous sunset! If you are wondering how a quotidian happening strikes such a high place on the list, prepare to be dazzled.We all have contemplated the golden shades of the sky at sunset at various places, hundreds of times. But words can hardly describe the colorful manifestation that takes place above the Aegean sea and in front of your eyes. It is a spectacle so worthy of living at least once, that couples from all across the globe choose to exchange their marital vows underneath it.
Not to miss: Sunset with a view of the biggest caldera in the world on board of a sailing boat is a one-of-a-kind experience. If you want to take it to the next level, we suggest taking a sailing tour during that time of the day!
The gastronomic scene in Santorini has experienced a big growth due to tourism and has become one of the most significant culinary destinations in Greece, ripe with fine dining restaurants adorned with charming views. That said,it is at the local taverns where the heart of the traditional Greek cuisine on the island beats and is considered as the most authentic place, with affordable prices and delicious, homey meals. We have created a list of the best places to eat on the island. Metaxy mas and To psaraki are two taverns highly recommended for a traditional setting and classic dishes.
Probably the most contemporary architectural signature structures of Santorini are the infinity pools. These pools are built along the Caldera and are found mainly at the villages of Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani. They are parts of luxury hotels, suites, and villas. What makes them very special and unique is their breathtaking sea view along with the illusion that the pool and the sea are connected. This effect results from the fact that they are built on the hillside. You will find many hotels with private and non-private infinity pools. We strongly recommend adding at least one infinity pool day in your things to do while at Santorini. For that, some of the best hotels are: Grace Santorini Hotel (that has been awarded as one of the best pools in the world), Katikies, Cavo tagoo, and more.
Not to miss: Discover our list of the best hotels in Santorini.
Right underneath the hill from the famous Oia village, there is a tiny fishing harbor called Amoudi. Although it is very small it remains quaint, hosting delicious taverns where you can savor fresh fish and seafood. It may not have a beach but if you walk down a 10-minute seaside path from the port, you will come across many tourists swimming in its clear blue waters. You can dive directly from the rocks which is really refreshing, especially after descending the 300 steps from Oia. It is also considered a beautiful and peaceful sunset spot.
Not to miss: Your visit to Amoudi can be combined with a romantic catamaran tour during the morning or the sunset! Discover the tours including Ammoudi.
Santorini is a wine lover's mecca. This relatively small piece of volcanic soil in the heart of the Aegean sea produces some of the finest and most renowned wines worldwide. The wine routes are an important part of the island’s life and economy and have turned into a dynamic and emerging touristic trend. You don’t have to be a sommelier or an expert to appreciate a good glass of wine. You can either visit some wineries independently or you can take a tour. We highly suggest adding them in your things to do list while in Santorini.
Not to miss: The "Wine tour with sunset in Oia" and the "4-hour small group wine tour" are well organised and popular whereas the Catamaran cruise, winery and Oia sunset combo tour is for travellers seeking to combine more than one themed tours in the same day.
One of the most spectacular island hiking routes in Greece is the 10km path that connects Fira to Oia. It is strongly recommended to add this 3-4 hour scenic course to your to-do list even if you are not an experienced hiker. The trail lines up half of the Volcanic Caldera from Fira up to Oia via Firostefani and Imerovigli. The views throughout the way are mesmerizing. The immense Aegean sea and an active volcano will be keeping you company while you traverse through the Caldera villages. It is categorized on the low difficulty spectrum as a hiking route, although it is advisable to begin either at dawn or close to dusk in order to avoid any unwanted midday sun strokes or overheating.
Not to miss: We recommend you taking the guided walking tour.
The Akrotiri Minoan site is a must-visit on Santorini and one of the main attractions of the island. This big settlement of more than 4000 years was discovered accidentally in the 1870s, while the major part of the excavation took place almost a century later. Unearthed then was the ancient town of Akrotiri along with its houses, roads and items of daily life, all of Minoan origins. Archaeologists believe that the town was originally constructed around 4,500 B.C. but in the 17th century B.C. it was destroyed by an earthquake. A new town was built on the ruins of the old town until it was also destroyed by the volcanic eruption about one century later.
Not to miss: A guided tour to the Minoan site of Akrotiri is absolutely a must!
Beaches in Santorini might not be endless or sandy compared to the other Cyclades but truth be told, they are spectacular! The Red beach for example is one of the most scenic landscapes you will see on the island. The red cliffs, the azure waters, and the black sand make a very photogenic palette. It is true that during high season it might get too crowded but it is totally worth your visit even if you eventually decide not to swim.
Santorini is an island surrounded by the Aegean sea. Due to its geology, the beaches on the island are very different compared to those endless sandy beaches of the other islands of the cycladic complex. Contrasting the crystal clear azure waters, the beaches are mainly pebbled or with black sand and wild, raw scenery. However swimming and spending the day by the beach is a must in the things to do in Santorini and very refreshing, especially during those hot summer days. The most famous beaches on the island are Red beach, Perivolos, Perissa, Kamari, Monolithos, White beach, Agios Georgios, and Vlychada. Most of them are family-friendly with pristine and calm blue waters. They have organised parts with beach bars, sunbeds and umbrellas and less organised parts where you can lay down with your towel and enjoy the sea for free. Columbo beach is at the north of the island and is an unorganised, nudist-friendly beach.
Discover an extensive list of the beaches of Santorini.
Not to miss: Discover the available watersports on the island of Santorini!
Note: You can now rent your sunbeds online!
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera is located in Fira and exhibits findings from the prehistoric times that have been excavated from Akrotiri Minoan site, the Ancient Thera, and other areas on Santorini. Exhibits include ceramics, marble statues, Minoan frescoes, tools and weaponry. A visit to the Museum will give you a good insight into the island’s life during ancient times and is surely a must-do!
Santorini is arguably one of the most photogenic places on earth. Getting to know this instagramic gem through the eyes of a professional photographer is a great idea. Photography tours are a well-received trend in Santorini and many young people rush to opt-in! Taking these tours will help you take pictures of unusual and unfrequented spots, as well as professional portraits of you with the most amazing background.
Santorini is an island with many things to do. If your holiday to Santorini lasts less than 4 days then it is not recommended to include a day trip to a nearby island apart from Thirassia that is really close. If you have planned on staying a bit longer, then a day trip to Ios is the most optimal and probably the only option for a refreshing, full-day visit. Ios is also an island of the Cyclades but with a very different character than Santorini. Ios is famous for its numerous amazing, sandy, unspoiled beaches with crystal clear waters.
On the other hand, Santorini is great for island hopping trips. Since it is a very popular island, its port is connected by ferry with most of the Cyclades islands as well as Crete. Some of the most popular island-hopping destinations from Santorini are: Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Anafi, Ios, Milos and Crete.
Not to miss: You can check availability and book your ferry tickets directly with us!
Thirasia is a small islet located very close to Santorini. It used to be a part of the initial island but was cut off after the volcanic eruption. Nowadays, it counts only 319 inhabitants and remains a virgin island away from mass tourism. Santorini and Thirasia are like siblings that look a lot alike, having the exact same geology, landscapes, and views but with very different characters. Santorini is one of the most popular islands with modern tourism infrastructure whereas Thirassia maintains a low profile and an authentic lifestyle. Many tourists skip a visit to Thirasia island, but we believe a boat tour should definitely be on your things to do list. Strolling around the small alleys with the colourful houses and churches or dining at the local taverns might sound simple but is an excellent option if you want to escape from the crowds of Santorini.
Not to miss: Βook the best selling tour to Thirasia!
Apart from wine, the Santorinian soil produces three other exquisite products with distinctive flavor: a kind of beans called “fava” that has been cultivated on the island for more than 3500 years according to archaeologists and is a listed Protected Designation of Origin product, the capers that are found everywhere on the island and often accompany “fava” dishes and lastly, the greek salad and mouth watering cherry tomatoes. During your visit to the island, you will have the chance to taste them in different recipes at the local taverns and in fine dining restaurants.There is also a museum dedicated to the cherry tomato production at Vlychada Beach, which we recommend travellers to pay a visit to.
Selene is not yet another fine dining restaurant. It is a 35 years old ongoing project of embracing greek, cycladic, and santorinian products and creating a culinary scene that can be compared with the finest restaurants of the biggest European cities. Selene is housed in a former monastery in Fira village and is one of the main gastronomic attractions on the island. Bear in mind that you will need a reservation in advance in order to dine at one of their tables. Also, if you want a full gastronomic experience you can take the cooking and tasting classes that are organised by the chefs of the restaurant.
Emporio is another traditional village located on the mainland of the island. It is the biggest settlement in Santorini with a prominent medieval character. The village has many renovated stone mansions that have turned into boutique hotels, traditional tavernas, and wine bars. As you stroll around the alleys you will notice some very interesting architectural details, such as the old steep stairs leading to upper floors, small neighboring balconies that are almost attached to one another, colourful wooden doors and small arches. Bougainvillea trees and pergolas of vine leaves are adding up a natural and fresh note. The main attraction of Emporio is its castle “Kasteli” and the Tower of Nimporio “Goulas”.
Sea kayak excursions at the southern coast is an alternative and very fun activity for couples, groups of friends, and families, justifiable earning its place in the best things to do while in Santorini. There are two tours per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Swimming and snorkeling are also part of the tour. This tour is considered more environmentally friendly compared to the jet ski tour and it allows for visiting most of the beaches on the island.
Book the Sea kayaking tour in advance as the availability is limited!
Helicopter tours are the new trend on things-to-do in Santorini. Although it is not the most eco-friendly way to explore the island, it will offer you an experience of a lifetime and some of the most amazing views of Santorini, the Caldera, and the Volcano from above. It is very common to take the tour for special occasions such as an anniversary.
Availabilities are limited! Book your Helicopter tour.
Santorini is hands down a hotel oriented destination and choosing the right place to stay will play a vital role in your holiday. On the island, you can find some of the most stylish accommodations in the world, and travelers surge to stay in one of those cubic, whitewashed suites or villas with amazing sea and volcano views. On Santorini island, traditional cycladic architecture merges with modern design and the finest services. Boutique hotels with a small number of rooms and suites as well as private villas are the main type of accommodation that you can find here. Of course, staying in one of those rooms may be considered pricey but take our word, this will be well-worth the money! We have created an up-to-date selection of the best hotels on the island where you can discover all the essential information you could need, view our recommendations, check availability, and book your stay. Our filters will help you optimize your search.
Although a visit to a bookstore is not the first thing that comes to your mind when visiting a Greek island, “Atlantis” in Oia is an exception. This book shop was created by a group of American and European literature enthusiasts that wanted to make a retreat for readers and writers in one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean. On the shelves you will find books in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, and, of course, Greek. Don’t hesitate to buy one of their books and support their vision. Taking back home a translation of the Greek classic tragedies, historical and philosophical texts, or poems is the perfect souvenir!
Apart from the organised tours, there are plenty of sports and fun activities that are offered on the island and that are very popular when visiting Santorini. This is a short list:
• Scuba diving: Santorini has a very interesting sea bed with rock and lava formations and a rich marine life. There are scuba diving sessions for beginners where you will be given an introductory lesson by an experienced and certified instructor. After the lesson, you will go for a guided dive to a nearby rocky reef. If you are already feeling comfortable, you can continue for a dive in open water around the Caldera and the Volcano. There are also advanced diving sessions for certified divers. The center offers easy and quick access to all the dive sites around the Caldera and the new and old Volcano. Prepare to explore a very interesting sea bed with lava formations, lobsters, clams, spirographs, colourful sponges, barracuda, many schools of fish, and even a small shipwreck!
• SUP: Stand up paddling 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 and fun activity for the whole family!
Imerovigli is one of the main Caldera villages also known as “the balcony to the Aegean”. It has breathtaking sea and sunset views and is built with respect to the principles of cycladic architecture. “Anastasis” church has the characteristic blue dome overlooking the sea and the volcano and is one of the island’s most photographed attractions.
The main landmark of the village is the Skaros rock. It is a huge, black peak at the edge of the village that has been formed as a result of the volcanic activity of the island. On the rock, there are some ruins of an old castle that make the place even more interesting. The Skaros rock is considered as one of the best viewpoints of the island, definitely worthy of a spot in the things to do while in Santorini. From there, you can take a path and walk further down to a remote picturesque chapel called “Panagia Theoskepasti”.
A visit to Pyrgos village which is located on the mainland of the island is totally worth it if you are seeking a more authentic side of Santorini. The village, which was the former capital of the island, is built at the slope of Profitis Ilias mount and is surrounded by the famous vineyards of the island that produce the renowned Assyrtiko wine. The cruise crowds usually overlook paying a visit there and Pyrgos rests away from the intense touristic buzz of the Caldera villages, maintaining the rhythm of the local island life. Whitewashed houses, traditional churches, paved alleys, and the landmark of the village, the castle “Kasteli” on the top are some of its architectural elements. Pyrgos has a discreet charm and is considered a hidden gem on Santorini.
How to get there? Just book your car with us and get the best rates!
A traditional village that remains away from the beaten path and that has managed to maintain its traditional character is Megalochori village. It lies on a hill and has numerous paved alleys and streets. The local architecture is the protagonist here: cave houses, neoclassical mansions, blue domes, artistic bell towers, picturesque squares and local taverns are what make Megalochori stand out. The churches of “Agios Nikolas” and “Panagia tis Plakas” are built literally at the edge of the cliff offering awe-inspiring views.
Not to miss: An organised tour of the village combined with a wine tour will give you a good insight into the authentic lifestyle of Santorini.
The Lighthouse is located in Akrotiri at the southwesternmost point of the island. 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 the local wine or beer and sit at its white stone walls while watching the boats come and go.
A very popular summer activity for the whole family is the open-air cinema in Kamari village. The cinema has a garden-like atmosphere and a bar serving refreshments, snacks, cocktails, local wine and beer. There are two screenings every day and the films are in English with Greek subtitles. It has been voted as one of the best open-air cinemas worldwide and it is certainly a nice way to enjoy a true, under the stars summer night in Santorini. Make sure to add it in your itinerary, as it is one of the best alternative things to do on the island! More info on www.santorinicinema.com.
The love of art and wine intermingles into this one of a kind winery and gallery in Exo Gonia. The Art Space Gallery cultural hub of Santorini should not be left out from your to-do list. During your visit, you will have the chance to see some of the finest contemporary paintings and sculptures while tasting wines. The building was built in 1861 and is an example of the traditional cave house architecture of the island.
A visit to the Archaeological Museum should not be left out of your things to do list when visiting Santorini. It is located at the center of Fira and exhibits findings from the Archaeological sites of Akrotiri, and elsewhere on the island. The antiquities collection hosted by the Museum is considered very important since there is a series of exhibits deriving from the archaic years, Cycladic civilization, the Minoan civilization, and more.
Taking a traditional fishing boat tour is one of those activities that remain close to the authentic lifestyle of the island. If you want to experience a different kind of dinner or lunch, embark on a “kaiki” the traditional wooden fishing boat, practice fishing with local fishermen, learn different fishing techniques, and then cook and eat the catch of the day while gazing at the beautiful sunset or the astonishing coastal landscapes of Santorini. The Traditional fishing trip and fresh fish lunch and Sunset fishing trip with dinner and drinks are considered two very satisfactory options for the whole family.
Horseback riding is a wonderful experience regardless of the place, highly recommended as one of the alternative, naturalistic things to do. Combining this with trotting on lava beaches with sand dunes, gazing at an amazing sunset while the sun is literally diving into the sea is one of the most refreshing experiences one could hope for their holidays. It is one of the most romantic activities offered on the island and extremely popular among couples and honeymooners.
The cable car is a way of transportation that has also turned into an attraction on the island. It connects the old port with Fira, the Capital of the island. The use of the Cable car is often combined with a visit or tour to the Volcano since some boats going to Nea Kameni islet depart from the old port. The views from the cable car and the photographic opportunities it creates are fantastic whilst the ride is really entertaining, especially for kids.
More things to do
But that’s not all! There are a lot more things to do in Santorini; from amazing places for coffee and pastries, bars, open-air cinemas, sports activities, to cooking workshops and more.
We invite you to explore even more options that the island has to offer and which will fulfill all visitors’ needs: Tours & Activities, Sports, Wellness, Workshops and more.