Santorini is one of the most popular destinations in Greece and the world, and for good reasons. The island is famous for its stunning caldera views, whitewashed villages, volcanic beaches, and rich history and culture. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or an adventure trip, Santorini has something for everyone. Here are some of the best things to do in Santorini and how to enjoy them according to your preferences and budget.
Explore the history and culture of Santorini
Santorini has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the Neolithic period. The island was home to a flourishing Minoan civilization that was destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption around 1600 BC, which also created the caldera that defines Santorini’s landscape today. Some believe that this eruption was the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis, the lost city that sank into the sea. You can learn more about the ancient history of Santorini by visiting the archaeological sites and museums on the island.
This is one of the most important prehistoric settlements in the Aegean region, dating back to the 4th millennium BC. Akrotiri was buried under volcanic ash after the eruption, preserving its buildings, frescoes, pottery, and other artifacts. You can walk through the excavated site and admire the sophisticated urban planning, architecture, and art of the Minoans. Akrotiri is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm (April to October) or 8 am to 3 pm (November to March). The entrance fee is 12 euros per person.
This is another archaeological site located on a hilltop above Kamari beach. Ancient Thera was founded by the Dorian Greeks in the 9th century BC and was inhabited until the Roman times. You can see the remains of temples, sanctuaries, houses, theaters, markets, and cemeteries that reflect the different periods of Santorini’s history. Ancient Thera is open daily from 8 am to 3 pm (except Mondays). The entrance fee is 4 euros per person.
Museum of Prehistoric Thera:
This museum in Fira showcases the findings from Akrotiri and other prehistoric sites on Santorini. You can see a collection of pottery, sculptures, jewelry, wall paintings, tools, and weapons that illustrate the life and culture of the Minoans and other ancient civilizations on the island. The museum is open daily from 8:30 am to 3 pm (except Mondays). The entrance fee is 6 euros per person.
Archaeological Museum of Thera:
This museum in Fira displays artifacts from Ancient Thera and other historical periods of Santorini, such as the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman eras. You can see statues, inscriptions, coins, vases, and other objects that reveal the political, social, and religious aspects of Santorini’s past. The museum is open daily from 8:30 am to 3 pm (except Tuesdays). The entrance fee is 2 euros per person.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Santorini
Santorini is blessed with a unique natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors every year. The island offers stunning views of the caldera, the volcano, and the Aegean Sea from various vantage points. You can also enjoy the diverse beaches that range from black to red to white sand or pebbles. Here are some of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty of Santorini.
Hike from Fira to Oia:
This is one of the most scenic hikes in Greece, as it follows the caldera edge along a paved path that connects Fira with Oia, passing through Firostefani and Imerovigli. The hike takes about 3 hours one way and offers spectacular views of the caldera, the volcano islands, and the villages along the way. You can also stop at various churches, cafes, and shops on your way. The best time to do this hike is early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat and crowds.
Visit Red Beach:
This is one of the most famous beaches on Santorini, located near Akrotiri village. Red Beach is named after its striking red cliffs and sand that contrast with the blue sea. The beach is accessible by car, bus, or boat, but you have to walk for about 10 minutes on a rocky path to reach it. The beach is small and crowded, so it is not ideal for swimming or relaxing, but it is worth a visit for its unique scenery and photo opportunities.
Take a boat tour to the volcano islands:
This is one of the most popular activities on Santorini, as it allows you to explore the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, which are part of the caldera. You can take a boat tour from the old port of Fira or from Amoudi Bay in Oia, and enjoy a cruise around the caldera, with stops at the volcano islands. You can hike to the crater of Nea Kameni and see the steam vents and sulfur deposits, and swim in the hot springs of Palea Kameni. The boat tours usually last for 3 to 5 hours and cost between 20 to 40 euros per person.
Watch the sunset in Oia:
This is one of the most iconic experiences on Santorini, as Oia is renowned for its spectacular sunsets that paint the sky and the sea with vivid colors. You can find a spot on the caldera edge, near the castle ruins, or at one of the many cafes and restaurants that offer sunset views. You can also take a sunset cruise from Amoudi Bay and enjoy the view from the water. Be prepared for large crowds and arrive early to secure a good spot.
Have fun with various activities and experiences on Santorini
Santorini is not only a place to admire the views and relax, but also a place to have fun and try new things. The island offers a variety of activities and experiences for different interests and ages, such as water sports, wine tasting, cooking classes, horse riding, and more. Here are some of the best things to do on Santorini for a memorable vacation.
Try water sports:
Santorini has many beaches that offer water sports facilities, such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet skiing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and more. You can find water sports centers at Perissa, Perivolos, Kamari, Monolithos, and Vlychada beaches. You can also rent equipment or take lessons from qualified instructors. The prices vary depending on the activity and duration, but you can expect to pay between 10 to 50 euros per person.
Taste local wine:
Santorini is famous for its wine production, which dates back to ancient times. The island has a unique volcanic soil and climate that create distinctive grape varieties and wines. You can visit some of the many wineries on Santorini and taste their products, such as Assyrtiko, Vinsanto, Nykteri, and Mavrotragano. You can also learn about the history and culture of wine making on Santorini and see the traditional methods and tools used by the local winemakers. Some of the most popular wineries on Santorini are Santo Wines, Domaine Sigalas, Venetsanos Winery, Gavalas Winery, and Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum.
Learn how to cook Greek food:
Santorini has a rich culinary tradition that reflects its history, culture, and geography. The island is known for its fresh seafood, local cheese, cherry tomatoes, fava beans, capers, and other delicacies. You can learn how to cook some of these dishes by taking a cooking class on Santorini. You can join a group or book a private session with a local chef who will teach you how to prepare authentic Greek recipes using local ingredients. You can also enjoy your creations with wine and dessert at the end of the class. Some of the best cooking classes on Santorini are Petra Kouzina, Santorini Cooking Class & Wine Tasting by Aroma Avlis Food & Wine Restaurant , Selene Restaurant Cooking Class , and Cooking Class at Aegialos Restaurant .
Ride a horse along the beach:
Santorini has some beautiful beaches that are perfect for horse riding. You can book a horse riding tour on Santorini and enjoy a ride along the black sand beach of Perissa or Vlychada , or along the caldera cliffs near Megalochori . You can also watch the sunset from your horseback or swim with your horse in the sea. The horse riding tours are suitable for all levels of riders and include equipment, guide, and transfer. Some of the best horse riding tours on Santorini are Santo Horse Riding , Experience Horse Riding ,