Things to do in Santorini

Things to do in  Santorini

Step into the postcard

Santorini has been called several things over the ages—including Kalliste, meaning “The Most Beautiful One”—and it’s an apt description of an island with high cliffs set around a volcanic caldera in the azure Aegean Sea. Fira, the capital, is an enchanting mix of Venetian and Cycladic buildings set into steep cliffs, which are often climbed by cable car or donkey. Meanwhile, Oia's whitewashed walls and blue domes show off one of the most famous and beautiful sunsets in Europe. On a guided tour, these towns reveal Santorini’s charm, which also extends to the sea. Take a boat tour to experience the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, the hot springs of Palia Kameni, and the ancient lighthouse Akrotiri. There are beaches of many colors to enjoy on shore excursions: white, red, and even the black beaches of Perissa and Kamari. More private tours take visitors to traditional villages such as Megalochori and Pyrgos. The highest point on the island is the Monastery of Prophet Elias, and it’s a popular spot on guided tours for its views. Of course, no outing would be complete without sampling the Santorinian wine, distinctive for its minerality courtesy of the volcanic soil—sip while touring the wineries where each bottle was made.

Top 15 attractions in Santorini

Santorini Volcano

The “Santorini volcano” may refer to two different peaks: the first, Thira, exploded around 1600 BC and ended the thriving Minoan civilization and may have spawned the legend of Atlantis. Millennia of eruptions formed the second “Santorini volcano”—the island of Nea Kameni, drawing visitors eager to hike to the rim of its active crater.More


Perched on the steep edge of the caldera, looking out over the glittering Mediterranean, Oia (pronounced “ee-yuh”) is famed for its dreamy sunsets. Oia is also one of the most picturesque villages in Santorini, with its striking white buildings, blue-domed churches, and atmospheric cave houses burrowing into the volcanic rock.More

Red Beach

Santorini’s Red Beach is not your average white-sand beauty. Rather, it’s a narrow, pebbly stretch hemmed in by high scarlet cliffs and scattered with large volcanic rocks. Together with the sapphire blue waters of the Aegean Sea, these volcanic features create a striking natural color palette that draws photographers to its shores.More


Akrotiri came to an abrupt end in approximately 1613 BC with a catastrophic volcanic eruption that buried the Bronze Age settlement in a carpet of ash. Beginning in 1967, excavations of the Minoan town revealed buildings, drainage systems, and pottery, but no human remains or gold valuables, indicating locals had time to flee before disaster hit.More

Pyrgos (Pyrgos Kallistis)

This picturesque hillside village is set on a volcanic crater at the highest point on Santorini, offering panoramic views over the island. With whitewashed Cycladic architecture, Byzantine churches, and small winding cobblestone lanes, Pyrgos (Pyrgos Kallistis offers the historic charm of the Greek islands without the tourist crowds.More

White Beach

Tucked away on the south coast of Santorini, White Beach (Aspri Paralia) is sheltered by chalk-grey cliffs. This minuscule strand is actually composed of coarse black—not white—sand, and liberally peppered with grey and white pebbles as well as massive white volcanic boulders.More

Nea Kameni

Centered around a rugged volcanic crater, the small island of Nea Kameni offers a dramatic landscape, with dark cliffs sculpted from lava rock and orange-tinged natural thermal waters. The island’s striking landscape and natural hot springs make it a popular destination for day cruises from Santorini.More

Santorini Hot Springs

Santorini’s hot springs are on the tiny, uninhabited islet of Palea Kameni. Continuous volcanic activity underground maintains the springs’ temperature between 86ºF and 95ºF (30°C and 35°C). The sulfuric, orange-tinged spring waters that bubble up into a shallow cove off the islet’s coast are said to be curative for the skin and joints.More

Monastery of Profitis Ilias (Moni Profitou Iliou)

The Monastery of Profitis Ilias (Moni Profitou Iliou is perched on the mountain of the same name, the highest point on the southern half of Santorini. Built in the early 18th century, the complex is now home to a fine collection of Greek Orthodox icons and religious items, and the resident monks hold demonstrations of artisan crafts.More

Thirasia (Therasia)

Before a violent volcanic eruption in 1650 BC, Thirassia was part of Santorini’s mainland and now the pretty islet lies just off its western coast. With small pretty beaches, blue-domed churches, ancient stone villages and a population of only about 200, the little island is a perfectly serene spot to visit.More

Perivolos Beach

A deep expanse of black lava sand, Perivolos Beach (Paralia Perivolos runs along Santorini’s southeastern coast, merging into lively Perissa Beach to the north and quieter Agios Georgios Beach to the south. Buzzing beach bars, often with DJs, and coupled with sun loungers and a range of water sports, make the strip popular with a younger crowd.More

Fira–Oia Hike

Winding through whitewashed villages and rugged Mediterranean landscapes, the clifftop Fira–Oia hike is one of Greece’s most beautiful walks. The trail links Fira (Santorini’s postcard-perfect capital) with Oia (a village known for its sunset views) and takes you along the rim of the sunken crater of the island’s dormant volcano.More

Kamari Beach

Stretching for around 3 miles (5 kilometers), dark-sand Kamari Beach is sandwiched between the blue Aegean waters and the mountain peak of Mesa Vouno. With a bar- and restaurant-lined promenade behind it and lots of facilities nearby, it’s one of the best places to park yourself for a day of relaxation.More

Skaros Rock

A rocky promontory jutting into the caldera, Skaros Rock soars 65 feet (20 meters into the sky, cutting a striking silhouette that can be seen as far as Fira and Oia. One of Santorini’s most memorable natural features, this black lava-rock cliff is an ideal vantage point for admiring the sunset over the Aegean Sea and Kameni islands.More

Ancient Thera

Set on the island’s highest hilltop, Santorini’s ancient capital was once a thriving center of commerce and culture. Today, visitors can enjoy views of the Aegean while walking among ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras, including a central agora, temples, porticoed administrative buildings, and an impressive theater.More

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All about Santorini

When to visit

If you like your holidays sizzling, hot, and sociable, June to September is the ideal time to visit Santorini. In summer, travelers cram onto the island and take advantage of its average 82°F (28°C) temperatures and enjoy annual events like July’s Jazz Festival and September’s Ifestia fireworks. The island is less crowded before and after the summer crush, so consider visiting in April, May, or October if you prefer milder temperatures, less crowded beaches, and a quieter island vibe.

Getting around

Santorini’s busy towns are laced with pedestrian-only lanes, so you’ll need to explore those areas on foot. That said, there are many ways to get around the rest of the island. There are buses that run between towns and to the beaches, and plenty of cabs available. Nevertheless, a rental car or moped is the most convenient way to explore if you want to see the island; just be prepared for heavy summer traffic and limited parking around Fira and at popular beaches.

Traveler tips

Many travelers pass through Santorini’s inland towns on route to its beaches. If you can, however, take an afternoon to visit the small town of Emporio, nestled below Profitis Ilias, the island’s highest peak. Look for To Kafenedaki, a tiny, traditional coffee shop next to a beautiful church, and enjoy an ice-cold vanilla frappé at one of the simple tables and drink in the setting—it’s traditional Santorini at its best. On the way to or from town, you can also stop at the Monastery of Profitis Ilias.


People Also Ask

What is Santorini known for?

Santorini is famous for its cliff-top villages, with white houses and blue-domed churches clinging to the edge of a volcanic caldera. Island sunsets can be spectacular, while Santorini beaches come in three colors: black, white, and red. Santorini wines, grown in volcanic soil on ancient stock, are unique in the world.

How many days do you need in Santorini?

Many travelers visit Santorini as one stop on an island-hopping adventure by ferry (which is cleaner and greener than flying). You can see the essentials in three days or spend a week or even a fortnight enjoying the beaches, the nightlife, the restaurant scene—and those fantastic views.

What should I not miss in Santorini?

Those dramatic caldera cliffs are the focal point of any Santorini visit: savor a sunset and stroll some of the Fira-Oia hike. Don’t miss a sailing cruise, with stops at hot springs and a gently smoldering volcano. Wine tastings are a must for foodies, while history buffs will adore the Akrotiri ruins.

What is the most famous part of Santorini?

Nestled into the edge of the volcanic caldera, the cliff-top villages are the most famous parts of Santorini. Oia is the best known village, thanks to glorious sunsets, gorgeous hotels, villas, and restaurants, and striking historic windmills. But bustling, lively Fira also has a claim to fame: it’s the island’s capital.

What is the nightlife like in Santorini?

Santorini nightlife varies depending on location. On the cliff-top west coast, Oia offers stylish restaurants and elite lounge bars, while the capital Fira boasts some lively bars and clubs. The seafront resorts of Perissa and Kamari on the east coast have beach bars, beach clubs, and restaurants.

Is Santorini expensive?

No. It’s possible to live a very luxe lifestyle in Santorini, but the island does not have to be expensive. Staying in the stunning cliff-top village of Oia will cost top dollar, but Perissa and Kamari, on Santorini’s beach side, are popular vacation destinations for ordinary European travelers.

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