Santorini is an island-phenomenon whose reputation precedes it. And for good reason. On this legendary island in the Cyclades, all your senses seem magnified, a product of its many contrasts: black earth against whitewashed homes clinging to the cliff-side, or wild volcanic sculptures against sleek Cycladic lines.
Also known as Thera in Greek, Santorini is an island immortalised by poets and painters thanks to its celebrated light, multicoloured cliffs and picture-perfect sunsets. If it’s always been your dream to visit Santorini, here is just the start of what awaits you.
Things to do on Santorini island
Lay back and let the luxury-fest begin
Santorini and luxury are synonymous. This is the island of infinity pools that flirt with the edge of the cliff, with the Aegean Sea laid out in front of you in all its glory. So how about starting off relaxing on a sunbed, a refreshing cocktail in hand? Or perhaps a romantic meal for two, paired with a fine wine (made locally, of course)? You’ll be in the mood to explore more in no time.
Explore Akrotiri, the Pompeii of the Aegean
Akrotiri is a prehistoric city that lies beneath a bioclimatic shelter. Walking over wooden bridges, you will encounter one of the most important and well-preserved civilisations in the Mediterranean, which was covered by the ashes of the great volcanic eruption of 1600 BC. Visit the museum of Prehistoric Thera, at Fira, to admire its famous frescoes, among them Spring, The Monkeys and The African. A world frozen in time awaits you on the island of Santorini.
Taste the exquisite cuisine of Santorini
The cuisine of Santorini boasts extraordinary ingredients thanks to the nutrient-rich volcanic soil. Amongst the island’s specialities are its famous sun-dried cherry tomatoes, fava beans (split peas), capers, and white eggplant. The local chefs are always experimenting, combining traditional recipes with modern gastronomy, making the island a top culinary destination in Greece.
Swim in Santorini’s unique waters
Santorini island is lined with unique beaches in exotic colours of black, red, and white, a product of its explosive past. At Kokkini Paralia (Red Beach), Aspri Paralia (White Beach), Perivolos, Perissa and Kamari, the earth has been naturally transformed into immortal works of art.
Take a stroll along the rim of the caldera
Top (literally) of all the experiences to enjoy on Santorini island is to take a stroll along the rim of the caldera, from Fira to Firostefani and Imerovigli. The more adventurous can challenge themselves by taking the path to Oia, passing the Prophet Elijah’s Church, Chapel of the Cross and Black Mountain, which is iridescent at sunset.
Enjoy a hike with a caldera view
Experience the world-famous Santorini sunset
Viewing the sunset from Oia, as thousands do each year, is a ritual. For a few minutes, the energy of the landscape is palpable. When the fiery sun sinks into the sea within the caldera, this scene will be forever cherished in your heart.
Take a boat trip to an island in the caldera
You can easily rent a boat or hop on a day cruise at Athinio, Gialos or Ammoudi and take a tour around the caldera. Discover the islands opposite Santorini, especially Thirasia where you can experience the Santorini of 50 years ago.
Head back in time with a boat trip to Thirasia
Visit the volcano of Nea Kameni
Red and black rocks create a wild landscape around the crater on Nea Kameni, another small island at the centre of the caldera. From the top of a volcano with a 2.5 million-year history, the view is simply incredible. The myth that Santorini is the ancient city of Atlantis, which submerged over 9,500 years ago, comes to life before your eyes. And just off shore, there are thermal waters that form a volcanic spa.
Hidden gems of Santorini island
The wineries of Finikia
A stone’s throw from cosmopolitan Oia, you will discover the multicoloured settlement of Finikia. These old wineries have been converted into homes that are not your typical Cycladic stonewash white but rather are painted in ochre, blue and pink, and provide a beautiful contrast against the dark blue background of the Aegean. Walk the cobblestone streets, take a rest in the courtyard of St Matrona, with its huge palm tree, and taste the local delicacies in the area’s tavernas.
The medieval capital
The commanding conical rock of Skaros, visible from the settlements of Fira and Imerovigli, is situated 330m above sea level. Here you will discover the medieval capital of Santorini. And within the Venetian castle, you will find houses, temples and the former residences of the nobility. Climb to the top and the entire panorama of the caldera – from Oia to Fira – unfolds before you.
A private Santorini sunset
If you prefer a quieter, more intimate experience, enjoy the sunset in Skaros at Imerovigli, in Kato Fira, or at the lighthouse of Akrotiri.
Scuba diving in volcanic waters
Explore Santorini’s mysterious depths: Cape Tripiti in Thirasia, the shipwreck at Taxiarchis, Palia Kameni, Adiavatis reef, the caves at Mesa Pigadia and the "Indian rock” in Akrotiri.
The taste of ancient vineyards
It’s time to invoke the spirit of Dionysus! Try the one-of-a-kind whites and reds of Santorini, especially the renowned Vinsanto from the vineyards that have a legacy of more than 3,200 years.
Sample the wine routes of Santorini
Lessons in the local cuisine
Enrol on one of the many culinary classes on offer and learn to make Santorini’s rich and varied delicacies, such as tomato fritters, sfougato, melitinia and sweet koufeto.
In the mood for more? Here are 12 Unforgettable things to do in Santorini.
FAQs about Santorini, Greece
Where is Santorini?Santorini is a member of Greece’s Cyclades islands, the most famous island chain in the Aegean Sea. Other Cycladic islands include Mykonos, Paros, Syros, Naxos and Milos.
How do you get to Santorini?Santorini has an airport with regular direct flights to Athens and international arrivals during the summer months. There are regular ferries to/from Piraeus and Rafina (eastern Attica) and many other Greek islands, including the Cyclades (Ios, Milos, Syros, Paros etc), Dodecanese (including Rhodes and Kos) and Crete. High-speed ferries can reach Santorini from Piraeus in 4hrs while conventional ferries take 8hrs.
What is Santorini best known for?Santorini is best known for its caldera views, classic Cycladic architecture (whitewashed cubed houses with blue shutters and little churches with domed roofs), luxury hotels and villas and romantic sunsets. It is also known for its traditional villages, white wines (Assyrtiko), Mediterranean cuisine and the volcano that created the caldera and its unique landscape that includes colourful beaches.
Where are the best sunset spots on Santorini? Probably the most famous sunset spot on Santorini is from Oia or just outside the village. The sunset from Imerovigli is made more special by the view of Thirasia island in the caldera. And if you hike from Fira to Oia, there are many more intimate viewpoints along the way. Possibly the most personal sunset is from the Akrotiri lighthouse.
How many days do you need in Santorini?There are so many things to do in Santorini that you can dedicate your entire holiday (6-7 days) to the island, but you can also spend just a few days there as part of an island-hopping itinerary to get a taste of it.
Is Santorini a good honeymoon destination?Santorini is considered one of the most romantic destinations in the world and is a dream honeymoon and wedding location for many couples. The sunset views along the caldera, luxury accommodation and dining/entertainment options are considered amongst the most romantic in the world.
When is the best time to visit Santorini?Santorini does get busy in the peak summer months, so it is at its best in April-mid-June & mid-September-early November) when the experience becomes even more personal but the weather is usually still great.
What is the best way to get around Santorini?Santorini is not a very big island and there is a very good road network and bus service. You can hire a car or motorbike on the island and there is a cable car from the old port, Athinios, up to Fira.
How do you get to the volcano of Santorini?There are regular boat trips from Santorini to the island of Nea Kameni, in the caldera, where you walk 30 minutes over the volcanic landscape to the crater of the famous volcano. Boat trips often include stops to swim in the thermal springs off the coast of New Kameni and its little brother, Palea Kameni.