Santorini is the smallest island in a chain of islands of a circular, volcanic caldera called by the same name and has recently been voted as one of the most beautiful islands in not only Greece but also the entire Mediterranean region. Though the official name of the island is Thera, it is still widely called Santorini.
The stunning beauty of this island has made it a tourist destination for millions and created an economy funded almost entirely by tourism alone. Since Santorini is on the European bucket list of so many travelers, there is a wealth of fun and exciting things to do in Santorini. When planning your own vacation to this Greek island paradise, check out this article of the most popular things to do in Santorini.
Things to do in Santorini
Hike the Picturesque City of Oia
When you are researching Santorini, one of the most prevalent suggestions of things to do in Santorini is a visit to the stunning city of Oia. With its famous white-washed alleys and streets and blue-topped homes terraced along the volcanic hillsides, Oia is a perfect destination filled with restaurants, luxury hotels and attractions galore.
By far the most exciting and popular way to get to the city is by hiking the trail from Fira to Oia. This stunning trail skirts the rim of the caldera, offering picturesque views of the city in the distance as well as sweeping vistas of the ocean. Small villages and ancient churches dot the path and at a length of only 5.5 miles, is often one of the most highly suggested ways to take in the beauty and grace of the island of Santorini.
Step Back in time at the ruins of Prehistoric Thira
The ruins of prehistoric Thira date back to the 9th Century B.C. and provide not only an amazing array of ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras but also sweeping views of the Aegean Sea and Santorian landscape. Examples of religious buildings, theaters and even an ancient gym exist and the admission price is surprisingly affordable! One of the most popular routes to access this site is a short one-hour hike from the nearby town of Kamari, providing even more examples of the scenic beauty of the area, another example of the many things to do in Santorini.
Take in the sunset from Profitis Ilias Monastery
Most guidebooks and travel sites will tell you that you absolutely need to see the sunset from the city of Oia, but an influx of tourists often makes the city unbearably crowded around sundown. One little known secret is that the views are just as amazing, if not more so, from the highest point on the island.
One of the most stunning things to do in Santorini is a visit to Profitis Ilias Monastery. Standing atop the highest point near the small village of Pyrgos, the monastery itself is a site to behold and the sunset is incredible as you bask in sweeping views of the island below! Dating back to 1711, the monastery is also home to a small museum that offers a glimpse into life on Santorini with relics and items dating as far back as the 17th century as well as examples of everyday life from the past, including traditional shoemaking, candle making and winemaking.
Sample the Santorian Wines at a local Winery
While you are in Pyrgos, make a visit to SantoWines Winery. Another of the most popular things to do in Santorini is visiting wineries and taking part in wine-tastings of the islands unique wine varietal and SantoWines Winery is one of the most highly recommended places to do so. Santorini has been producing wine since as early as the Roman era with some accounts claiming that it has been produced on this islands since around 1500 B.C. SantoWines is one of the most modern wineries in all of Greece and is also home to the Wine Tourism Center, bringing in nearly 400,000 visitors annually to try the wines, sample the food and experience the process of winemaking from grape to bottle.
Get a taste for local life at Ammoudi Bay
Located near the popular city of Oia is the small fishing town of Ammoudi Bay. Inaccessible by road, the only way down is a long staircase along the cliff edge, providing views of Oia in the distance as well as Ammoudi Bay below. The harbor is filled with small fishing boats and beach goers intrepid enough to do so can practice their cliff diving into the ocean waters below. There are a number of restaurants along the bay specializing in seafood and local Greek cuisine, making a trek to Ammoudi Bay one of the best things to do in Santorini for those seeking a different view of life on this Greek Island.
Catch a movie at the Open Air Cinema at Kamari
After a day in the sun, finish out your evening with a unique experience at the famed Open Air Cinema in Kamari. Surrounded by lush vegetation and leafy palms, the cinema is softly lit and basks under the night sky while the Mediterranean breeze blows through the space modeled after a Roman amphitheater. Also providing a bar for refreshments and boasting A level movies, a visit to this location is one of the best things to do in Santorini. Don’t worry about the language barrier! All the movies are offered in English with Greek subtitles!
Stay in a Luxury Hotel
Santorini is riddled with stunning luxury hotels that offer breathtaking views and even have pools in the room.
Relax on the Black Sands at Perissa Beach
The remarkable black sand of Perissa Beach is a unique feature of this location and well worth a visit to the area. The beach bars of Perissa are some of the most popular, as well as local tavernas and plenty of beds for sunbathing along the typically quiet beach, making a visit to this beach one of the most popular of things to do in Santorini for those seeking a relaxing getaway. As the best beaches in Santorini are worth visiting.
Dance the night away in Fira
If you are looking for exciting nightlife, Fira is the place to go in Santorini! Filled with cocktail bars and dance clubs, you are sure to find something that appeals to you. From jazz clubs to tango bars and even a boat bar, clubbing and bar-hopping in Fira ranks high on the list of things to do in Santorini.
Take in the view from Akrotiri Lighthouse
Akrotiri Lighthouse is on the southernmost peninsula of the island of Santorini and provides sweeping, expansive views of the ocean. Famed as one of the most stunning places to view the sunrise and sunset, the peculiar and easily recognisable square tower stands almost 10 meters high and at night emits a bright radiant white light every 20-30 seconds. Nearby, the famed Red Beach is also often included on lists of things to do in Santorini, the volcanic soil creating sand that is a deep red in color is stark contrast to the usual white sand beaches found around Greece.
Get Wonderfully Lost
Take a walk through the beautiful white washed streets laced with flowers and beautiful doors and get lost in it all.
Marvel at the Sites of Ancient Akrotiri
Housed under a protective roof to prevent damage to the delicate site from the elements, the ancient ruins of Akrotiri are often nicknamed “The Pompeii of the Aegean” because the full structures of the ancient Minoan society were perfectly preserved under the volcanic ash and soil of the island. While most ruins are simply the remnants of foundations and stone structures, this site often includes the full walls of the ancient structures, including the mud plastered walls and even some of the white-wash that has been part of ancient Greek architecture for thousands of years. Because this site is on almost every traveler’s list of things to do in Santorini, it is advised to arrive early before the various cruise ships unload their passengers by the hundreds.
Get up Close to an Active Volcano
Cruise ships and sailing excursions are the best and only way to get up close and personal with an active volcano. The boat will take you directly to the island as well as the natural thermal hot springs nearby. Take a ship over the ocean waters, hike around the rim of the volcano and then rest and recuperate from your adventures with a long soak in the thermal waters heated by the active volcano nearby. If you plan your timing just right, you might be able to catch a sunset over the sweeping waters on the sea on your return trip to the island, another of the things to do in Santorini that tops every traveler’s bucket list.
Santorini is a vibrant and beautiful island paradise overflowing with history and natural sites that have been rated among the top in not only the Mediterranean but also the world. If you have more time to explore, you could spend one week in Greece outside of the islands learning about the rich culture and history.
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