Top Ten Things to See and Do in Santorini, Greece

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

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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.

See also
11 Greek Islands You Should Visit

Take a Private Tour

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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

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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!

Explore Oia

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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.

See also
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Go to Kamari Beach

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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

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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

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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.

See also
10 Ancient Greek Sites on Greek Islands

Go on a Wine Tour

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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

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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

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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.

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Go Sailing!

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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!

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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.

A special thanks to Aqua Vista HotelsSantorini Sailing and Vazeos Rent A Car.

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  1. Hi, you do not comment on Fira at all. Is it not worth mentioning?
    My wife and i will have a few hours off a liner next month. We thought of visiting Oia then Fira to make sure that we are near our ship and therefore be on time for its departure.

  2. Thank you for the great info regarding Santorini!! I also wanted to see if you have been to Mykonos and if you had any suggestions?? We will be staying in Santorini for 3 days and Mykonos for 3 days, thanks so much!!

  3. Hi David

    After our wedding in April, we will fly to Santorini the next day from Singapore. My colleague said, the people there does not really welcome
    Asian? Is it true? I hope it not as I’m looking forward to my honeymoon.

    Romi

  4. Hi there David.. We will be in Santorini from 1 June to 3 June. would like your recommendation for booking our stay, travel around, venues that you would recommend?

  5. Hi David

    Me and my husband are coming in April to Santorini staying at Thira. I was wondering what sort of activities or places to visit you would recommend? I wanted to see old towns and nice shopping centres for gifts for family. What would you suggest? And what beaches are really good. I also wanted to ask about the hot springs? What do you do there?

    Thanks!

    Hena

  6. Love the article!!
    We’re visiting Mykonos for 3 days and travelling by boat to Santorini for 4 days in June. Is there a good hotel in Fira to stay in with a low budget?
    We want to gain time by discovering most of Santorini by 4 days if it’s possible and enough. What are the best activities and sites to do in 4 days? And I heard about cliff jumping, is it present in Santorini?
    Thank you in advance. looking forward for your reply. 🙂

    • Hi Sarah,

      I don’t know about the low budget hotels, but I would recommend renting an apartment on AirBnB. You can do all the activities on this list in four days and still have extra time.

  7. Hi,

    Fantastic article and even more interesting are all the comments from the people who have visited. My wife and I are coming in April for 7days. How do we go about organising our to do list? Should we book our activities online prior to coming or book once we are there? Also how much do you think we will spend if we are to do one activity per day?

    Thanks

    • Hi Anis,

      Thanks for writing me. It really depends on the activity. The most expensive one is Santorini Sailing. You can do one per day but I would suggest trying to do 3 per day. You should book most of them in advance.

  8. would you let us know how much money we should bring to do this list 🙂

  9. Hi there David. Your blog is very informative. We will be in Santorini from 1 Sept. to the 12th. We are mature, but pretty social people, and would like your recommendation for meeting like minded couples. So many tourist locations, others on vacation tend not to engage strangers. Are there particular venues that you would recommend?

  10. Hello David My wife and I are going to Greece in March and I’m nervous this is the second time we have been out of the country and I want to make sure its a great experience. My wife wants to do the wine tours but she also wants to go to Athens. How possible is it to get there in a day. we will be there for 8 days.

  11. Hi David, Thanks for the reply. We have finally finalised our itinerary to Folegandros and Milos. 🙂

    Do you think it is an absolute “MUST” to do wine tour in santorini? Do you think its worth it?

    Cheers!

  12. My husband and I are heading to Greece for our honeymoon end of may til June 11. Its good to read list of things to do and I will definitely have to check out some winery tour. We will spend 5 nights in santorini alone and planning to hop to Naxos and Mykonos. I realised that it is fairly difficult to remember name of the island because they are so unique. Are most local speaks English? I’m quite nervous not knowing if it will be difficult to communicate with local in case we are lost somewhere or need directions.

    Cheers,
    Beth.

    • Hi Beth, sounds like a great itinerary. Congrats on your recent wedding! In my experience Santorini is very touristic so you probably won’t have a problem getting by with speaking English at your hotel, at restaurants and shops. Same goes for Mykonos. I haven’t been to Naxos so I can’t say for sure, but if you’re planning to sightsee on your own in any of the island, I strongly suggest a good road map (gas stations sell them or stop by the tourist information office to get one). That way, you’ll always have it on hand and even if a local needs to give you directions and doesn’t speak English well, they can help point the way on the map. I doubt you’ll have any issues getting around. Greeks are generally always willing to help and are very friendly/ welcoming. Enjoy your trip!!

  13. Thanks!

  14. Hello,
    I am planning a trip for three days to Greece. I wanted to stay in a hotel in Athens and have one day in Athens, fly to Santorini for one day, and maybe sail to a different island for the last day. Is this worthwhile? Do I need more time in any of these places? What are the main things to see? Should we stay overnight in Santorini or come back at night to Athens? What do you think?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Bee, thanks for stopping by. I definitely think you should stay in Santorini and try to see more of it instead of fitting in a second island because you having limited time and wouldn’t want to waste time flying to another island that you won’t really see in depth. Santorini is by far one of the most beautiful in Greece and there is so much to do as you can see in this article.

      I would spend a day in Athens to see the main sites then fly to Santorini and get a wonderful table with a sunset view for dinner, wake up in the morning and keep sightseeing. The last day you should fly straight to Athens to catch your flight home.

  15. Hi david
    Me and my fiancee have just decided to have our honeymoon in santorini:))
    We have 7 days
    What hotels suites 4 stars or 5 can u recommend us there
    And what places should we visit
    Thank u in advance

  16. i will be going Greece from 7-13th november 2015, see online that many shops/boat trip will be closed after october is it true?is the boat to volcano and hot spring from Fira will not be available nov?Thank u very much for ur sharing:)

    • Hi Diana,

      Thanks for writing me. Yes I do think most shops and restaurants will be closed for winter. I would call Santorini Sailing and find out if they are still doing tours in November. Let me know how it goes.

  17. Hi David I am planning to visit Santorini soon. Is it safe if I travel alone. I will be hiring a car there and want to do most of the things you mentioned. I have only seen the place in pictures and will be visiting there from India. Can u suggest something

    • Its extremely safe! Do everything I said on the list and that should be enough for a three day visit. Also getting around by car is easy because there are two main roads.

  18. Would a very kind person take me there?? I am half Greek and I have never had the opportunity to go. It would be a truly wonderful blessing. Thank you for reading.

  19. Hi, a friend and I will have 2 or 3 days to visit Santorini. May I ask which area you most recommend? I heard Inverogil is lovely but Fira or Oia may be better? Also, will we need a car? Thank you

    • Hi Gerty, thanks for your comment. There are a lot of comments above that I recommend you check out. Personally, I think Fira/ Oia are better if you have limited time. Have a great trip!

  20. Thank you for the tips and to write down this great recommendations.
    To remember al the beautiful places and receive Santorini at your doorstep I would recommend the luxury parcel from http://elladalane.com
    a fantastic and authentic selection of Greek products from Santorini and the Cyclades

  21. At Amoudi bay I recommend the Katina Fish Tavern. You can take a Discover Santorini Tour from Omega Travel. Last stop is amoudi bay for sunset and dinner. http://www.omegatravel.gr

  22. Hi from albania
    After a week, i am going to santorini for my honeymoon.
    These tips seem very useful
    Can’t wait to get there & to.explore ever cm of this island 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by! That trip sounds incredible. Safe travels!

  23. Hi David,
    I’m planning to go to Santorini in the next month, and wonder if there is a possibility of hopping over to Athens for a day or so. Are there low fares available for short flights that would make this possible? Thanks for the great tips here!

    • Hi Donna, Thanks for leaving a comment and you’re welcome for the suggestions. The only two Greek regional airlines that I know of are Olympic and Aegean. They are actually the same company. Use the flex date option for cheaper fares. If your budget is tighter and you don’t mind taking more time to arrive to Athens, check out the high speed ferry schedules here: http://www.ferries.gr/hfd/