10 Unique Things To Do & See In Santorini, Greece
June 5, 2021
The first time I saw a picture of Santorini, I just couldn’t believe this place was real. You probably know the one: traditional Greek houses bathing in golden sunlight and looking out over a bright blue sea. As soon as I found out that this place was, in fact, real, I promised myself I would travel there some day. Fast forward a few years later and I can tell you that the island looks even more perfect in real life than it does in pictures.
I can also assure you that there’s more to do in Santorini besides posing on rooftops in colourful dresses or admiring the sunset like it’s a tourist attraction. During the week that I was there, I discovered a whole other side of the island that no one ever seems to mention. In this travel guide, I will walk you through 10 unique things to do & see in Santorini, as well as the best time to visit, where to stay and how to get around!
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MINI SANTORINI TRAVEL GUIDE
WHERE TO STAY
The best place to stay in Santorini will largely depend on what kind of vibe you prefer. If you like lots of shops, restaurants and bars and you don’t mind crowds, I’d go for Fira or Oia. If you’re looking for a bit more peace and quiet (with a view equally as spectacular), I would opt for Imerovigli. Or if you want to avoid crowds in Santorini altogether, I would head to the other side and book your accommodation in Perissa or Kamari.
Here are some great options if you’re still looking for a place to stay in Santorini:
- This gorgeous hotel in Oia is low-key persuading me to book another flight just so I can stay there. The pool, the clean white rooms, the jaw-dropping views from those cute little breakfast tables… This would be the perfect hotel for couples travelling to Santorini!
- Andromeda Villas & Spa Resort in Imerovigli is the hotel I booked for my trip and it was absolutely stunning. They even upgraded us to a junior suite with private balcony (another perk of visiting during off-season), but you can enjoy those Caldera views from pretty much anywhere. It’s definitely luxury, yet not as expensive as you would expect!
- Visiting Santorini on a budget can be a bit of a challenge, but there are some options out there, such as this colourful and traditional family run hotel in Perissa. It’s super affordable, close to the beach and has raving reviews!
WHEN TO VISIT
The weather in Santorini is nice and summery from May till October, with July and August being the most popular months to visit. I would personally avoid Santorini during the summer holidays because they’re the hottest months and the island isn’t really known for its beaches. Also, I can only imagine the hundreds of swarming tourists…
I went in October, which is great if you want to avoid crowds, though it is a little bit colder (especially in the evening). I personally think June and September are the best months to go, as you’ll get the best of both worlds: warm temperatures and quite busy but not insanely crowded yet.
HOW TO GET AROUND
The best way to get around in Santorini is by car or by scooter. There’s also a pretty decent bus system. I got to everywhere I wanted to go by bus and it’s very cheap as well. You also don’t have to buy tickets in advance; you can buy them on the bus, which is really convenient.
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN SANTORINI
1. The sunset in Oia
Watching the sunset from the idyllic town of Oia is one of the top things to do in Santorini and it just has to be included on your itinerary. It will be one of the most incredible sights you’ll ever witness in your life. However, I don’t know if I would recommend Oia during summer, as the crowds were already insane in October, which really says a lot!
Instead, I would consider going on a Catamaran tour as a couple or with a small group of people to admire the sunset (and the entire island) from there. It’s one of the best tours in Santorini and I kind of regret not doing this!
I absolutely loved getting lost in the streets of Santorini’s capital, Fira. The beautiful churches, the views, the restaurants serving the most delicious Greek food; it’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting. Not to mention the dozens of shops that sell all sorts of pretty jewelry and other cute decorations.
3. Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay is a small port town with lots of amazing seafood restaurants and a view of gorgeous turquoise water. I thought it was one of the most unique and charming places in Santorini.
Getting there is a bit tricky: it’s a steep road down all the way from Oia. You can either walk or go on donkeys. However, there has been criticism on the way that these animals are treated, so I decided to walk, as I wasn’t sure what I was supporting. However, it remains a popular tourist attraction to this day.
4. Red Beach in Akrotiri
In Akrotiri, which is on the other, less touristy side of Santorini, you can find a narrow beach at the edge of a massive red rock formation. I went on a cloudy day, but when the sun is shining the contrast between the red rocks and the bright blue sea would make for some pretty epic shots.
5. Perissa Black Sand Beach
Another awesome place to visit on the other side of Santorini is the Black Sand Beach in Perissa. The views are less overwhelming because you’re at sea level again, but I loved exploring these wilder parts of Santorini as well. You can walk for miles along the beach, eat a seafood pasta right by the water or go for a refreshing swim.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SANTORINI
6. Volcano & Hot Springs boat tour
For some more adventure, you can go on a tour to the nearby volcano (called the Caldera) and hot springs. One of the smaller islands that you can see from almost everywhere in Santorini is actually an active volcano!
The tour will start off with a big wooden ship picking you up and taking you to the Caldera. After a hike up the volcano (this gets quite hot so definitely bring water and a hat), you’ll have the opportunity to swim to the nearby hot springs and relax there. Fun fact: the sulfur in the water is supposed to be great for your skin!
7. Fira – Oia hiking trail
Another popular tourist activity in Santorini is hiking the trail that goes all the way from Fira to Oia, which takes about 2-3 hours. It definitely isn’t a flat road, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Obviously, you don’t have to hike the entire trail if you don’t want to. We walked from Imerovigli to Firostefani, which was only about 30 minutes. Everywhere you look, the view is simply unreal and you’ll most likely want to stop 58 times to take pictures.
8. Hike Skaros Rock
Skaros Rock in Imerovigli is yet another impressive piece of red rock formation that goes all the way into the ocean. The hike is short yet adventurous and will lead to some more epic views. Some people climb all the way to the top, but this was just a tad out of my comfort zone…
9. Chill out at the Open Air Cinema in Kamari
One of my favourite things to do in Santorini was going to the open air cinema in Kamari. It was super cosy and old school and the perfect date-night activity. Get some drinks, snacks and a blanket and you’re all set for a romantic movie night.
This may be Santorini’s best kept secret, since there weren’t even that many people the night we went (they were probably watching the sunset).
10. Visit Akrotiri Archaeological Site
I always like to include some culture into my trips, which Greece has an abundance of, even on its smallest islands! Did you know that Akrotiri was a Minoan settlement dating back from the Bronze Age? The town was destroyed in a volcanic eruption and buried in ash, which preserved the remains of frescoes and many objects and artworks that can be admired in the Akrotiri Archaeological Site.
Afterwards, you can walk around in the area, have lunch in one of the seaside restaurants and visit the famous red beach I mentioned before!
I hope you found this travel guide useful and got some inspiration on the best things to do and see on the beautiful island of Santorini!
Have you ever been to Santorini? What were your favourite activities or places you visited? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
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