Santorini (Fira) is a magical Greek island enveloped in mystery and charm. Often referred to as the “crown jewel of Greece,” Santorini continues to be one of the most popular destinations in the country, becoming one of the world’s top honeymoon spots. Santorini has some of the most unique geographical characteristics of any other island in the world – it was literally formed by a series of catastrophic volcanic explosions over the course of thousands of years. The result is a wonderland of steep cliffs, ebony volcanic rocks and mesmerizing ocean views.
Check out our article: Top 6 Beaches in Santorini, Greece
We had the pleasure of traveling to Santorini in May 2013 to create a Davidsbeenhere Santorini Guide and Travel Episodes. After spending five unforgettable days here, we amassed a significant treasure trove of pictures and memories. Here is what we think, no, we know, are the top ten things to see and do in Santorini:
Stay at an Aqua Vista Hotel
With easily the most opulent collection of properties throughout the island, Aqua Vista Hotels is a leader in Santorini’s hospitality industry. Five-star boutique accommodations, incredible caldera views and an excellent reputation in luxury travel make Aqua Vista Hotels your go-to source for finding the perfect hotel for your trip to Santorini. We recommend Adamant Suites in Fira and Above Blue Suites in the quaint Imerovigli Village.
Take a Private Tour
Those of you who are arriving in Santorini by cruise ship and are interested in a private shore excursion, Omega Travel has tailor-made tours based on your interests – a great way to maximize your visit to Santorini. Their guide will meet you at the cable car exit point in Fira and can take you to do everything you’ll read about in this article plus more. Omega Travel also offers private tours of Santorini, whether you’re staying just a few days or two weeks. We love that their tours are 100% customizable and all their guests are transported in comfort and style (Mercedes Benz vans).
Visit Donkey Brewery
For centuries, the island has been a prominent producer of wine, but with a little entrepreneurial spirit, Donkey Brewery was born. The three brews, Yellow, Red, and Crazy, have caught the attention of local and international beer enthusiasts alike. Donkey beers have now become some of the most sought-after brews in Greece. Stop by the brewery for a quick tour and delicious sampling of Donkey Brewery’s products. We like Crazy Donkey the best!
When you think of Santorini, what comes to mind? If you pictured whitewashed houses with blue shutters, then you must be imagining the beautiful village of Oia. Perched on the northwest edge of the caldera, Oia is a maze of narrow streets, renovated cave houses and small squares. This town used to be a cluster of seamen houses, but now hosts thousands of tourists each year wanting to experience its breathtaking ocean views and take photos of one of the most iconic landscapes in all of Greece.
Go to Kamari Beach
This black pebble beach is framed by the jagged cliffs of Mesa Vouno and Profitis Ilias Mountains, as well as the crystalline waters of the Aegean. The Kamari Beach seafront promenade features a plethora of dining and shopping options. Walk up and down this bustling avenue, or find your perfect chill spot under a thatched umbrella. We suggest Nichteri Restaurant for a sampling of authentic local cuisine in a charming setting just steps from the beach.
Visit Ancient Akrotiri
Santorini is known for its sun and sea, but it also has a fascinating history as well! Click here to watch the video of this intriguing archaeological site that is often referred to as the “Pompeii of the Aegean.”
Take a Donkey ride in Fira
Donkeys and Santorini go together like pigeons and the Piazza San Marco. They’re an integral part of the local tourism scene, providing tourists much-appreciated rides up and down the 588 steps leading down to the old harbor of Fira. There are hundreds of donkeys and mules lined up along the way. The cost is 5 Euros per person one-way. Please note, that all those donkeys means there are droppings everywhere, so you may want to watch your step. For sensitive noses, there is the funicular, which costs the same and takes about three minutes in either direction.
Go on a Wine Tour
The island of Santorini has a long history in viniculture, with the indigenous white Assyrtiko grape being the dominant variety. Wine production on the island dates back to Roman times, but particularly flourished under Venetian control during the Middle Ages. Visitors have plenty of dry whites, roses and reds to sample at the island’s best wineries. We suggest Sigalas and Gaia Wineries for their clean, comfortable facilities and good selection of wines.
Book your Santorini Winery Tour today!
Eat at Selene Restaurant
It’s not every day you find Michelin-star worthy food in a tiny, unassuming village, but we sure did. Head to the traditional village of Pyrgos to dine at one of the island’s premiere restaurants, Selene. Be sure to make your reservation ahead of time so that you don’t miss out on Selene’s scrumptious five-star menu of Mediterranean delights. Top quality ingredients, innovative cooking techniques and elegant presentations make Selene well worth the short drive from Fira. Selene in two words: must try!
Have a Sunset Dinner in Amoudi Port
So by now you’ve probably noticed that in Greece it’s all about the food. For a fabulous sunset to accompany your traditional seafood meze dishes, head down to Dimitris Taverna in Amoudi Port. From here, you’ll have the best views of the old port as you watch the sun dip down behind the bobbling fishing boats. Fresh fish, local wine and sea views… what could be better? Be sure to call ahead to reserve a table close to the water.
Santorini’s unique landscape is best appreciated from the water. Split the cost with your travel buddies and hit the waves on a luxury catamaran by Santorini Sailing. A sailing tour will reveal multihued rock formations, stunning private beaches, and incredible views of the whitewashed towns perched high on the caldera. Stop for a swimming break and enjoy the plentiful seafood lunch prepared by the crew. This all-inclusive experience is the ultimate way to experience Santorini!
Need a taxi transfer from the port, hotel or airport? Book your taxi transfer here!
So there you have our list of top ten things to see and do in Santorini. If you think we left anything out, we would love to get your feedback! Leave us a question or comment below.