Magical sunsets in Oia, photogenic blue dome churches and colorful beaches attracts hundreds of visitors every year. Full of historic sites, quiet beaches and clear, blue waters, it should be near the top of any travel bucket list. There are so many amazing and some of the top unique things to do in Santorini that you’ll be spoilt for choice as soon as you land.
1) Watch the Sunset
Honestly, it’s one of the best things to do in Santorini. However, you won’t be alone in your idea. Oia is one of the most famous places in Santorini to watch the sunset. You’ll witness a magical sight that will leave you spell-bounded when the sun goes down the horizon.
Akrotiri Lighthouse is an alternative place to experience the impressive silhouette of the sunset. The view is beautiful enough to keep quite large numbers of people coming here every evening.
Moreover, a cruise on the Santorini caldera gives you a 360-degree sunset experience. Many of the cruises offer dinner and drinks which, with the gentle rocking of the boat, creates quite a romantic atmosphere.
2) Hike from Fira to Oia
This hike is 6 miles one-way and passes through four towns, including Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. Along the way, travelers will find numerous sites worth stopping for, in addition to spectacular ocean views and picturesque towns. One of these is Skaros Rock.
The best time to start this trek is in the morning. In the afternoon there is no shade and the sun may be too much for some. It is worth stopping at the col where the road to Pori beach is located on the right-hand side (east). In concusion, on the side of the Caldera the view of the volcanic rocks and the volcano is astonishing, while on the opposite side you will admire the Aegean Sea.
3) Get a Wine Tasting Tour
Wine has been playing a huge role in local culture and economy ever since the ancient years. These days it is just one of the many reasons to love Santorini.
There are no fewer than nine indigenous types of grape that grow in the volcanic soil of Santorini. Aside from Assyrtiko, other whites are Athiri, a delicate ancient Greek variety and medium-bodied Aidani. From the reds, Mandilaria is highly aromatic while Mavrotragano is a deep-coloured wine high in tannins that reminds you of claret.
You can visit many vineyards (known for being the oldest in the world!) on the island, and book your wine tasting tour.
4) Boat trips around Santorini
Boat trips are among the best things to do in Santorini.
The most famous tour is a 1-day cruise in the volcanic islands and Palea Kameni hot springs. During this day, you will explore the island of Nea Kameni and its still active volcano. You can even walk to the summit of the crater!
You will also stop at Palea Kameni hot springs to take a dip.Then, you will end your day on Thirassia island, located right in front of Santorini. As these tours are very popular, you should really book yours in advance.
Even more famous to choose, because of the privacy, is the luxury version of this cruise, on a catamaran. You will sail around Santorini, and enjoy 3 stops for swimming, including one at the hot springs. Snorkeling equipment is even included! The price includes the minibus transfer from your hotel, the guided tour, the Greek Barbecue and unlimited drinks. At the end of the day, you will also admire the beautiful sunset from the sea.
5) Watch a movie at the Open Cinema Kamari
Established in 1987, Cine Kamari aims to preserve the strong tradition of theatre going, so adored by the Greeks. Offering locals and travellers alike the opportunity to watch movies under the stars in a “Secret Garden” like setting.
The latest in digital dolby 7.1 sound and CHRISTIE DIGITAL CINEMA projection on the 5x8m screen will give you a superior, unique cinematic experience.
Considered one of the best in the world by The Guardian, CNN and Travel Channel, this charming open-air cinema , also known to hosts various cultural events, including concerts, theatre plays, art exhibitions as well as new and old films, is located just outside Kamari town, on the island of Santorini.
Open from May until October.
Full bar with cocktails, local beer and wine, refreshments, ice cream and snacks.
Movies are in English with Greek subtitles.
6) Visit the famous Black Beach
Perissa Beach is located at the village of Perissa in the island of Santorini. There are a few things that make Perissa Beach worth spending time at. First of all, the volcanic activity on the island is evidenced at this beach in the form of its unique, black sand.
Over the centuries, the molten rock from various volcanic eruptions hardened and then eventually broke down due to erosion. Today, beachgoers can lounge in the warm sand, rent a sunbed, and in general enjoy the beauty that the unique color of this sand creates. The bays of Perivolos and Perissa are as popular, offering an abundance of water sports.
7) Book a Photo Tour
A different kind of photography tour is that where you take pictures of Santorini yourself under the instructions of a professional photographer. Photography tours are a well-received trend in Santorini island and one of the most unique things to do durion your stay!
8) Visit Akrotiri Excavations
The buildings of Akrotiri are a unique example of impressive architecture. Located on the southern side of the island, between the village of Akrotiri and the famous Red Beach. Magnificent structures with carved facades housed communal services. Private houses included workshops and warehouses besides the rooms for the family.
The building materials came from the island itself or were imported from other areas. Stone from the quarries of Thira was the main building material. Pebbles and gravels were collected and used for walls and floors. Valuable timber from Crete was used for wooden frameworks in the walls providing antiseismic reinforcement. Slabs of plaster from Knossos quarries were placed on the floor over a layer of crushed purple shells.
As soon as you step foot on the archaeological site of Akrotiri you will be taken a back by the complexity of the structures.
9) Visit the most traditional village- Pyrgos Village
Pyrgos Village, with its Venetian Castle, is situated 7.5 km east of Fira, in Santorini. “Pyrgos” in Greek means “Tower”. Originally the village of Pyrgos was built on the hillside, away from the sea and surrounded by a wall. It was meant to be a defensive “Tower”.
After medieval times, when the pirate threats were gone, houses expanded outside the wall and thus the village took its current form. What remains of the old village today, are the ruins of the castle and the name “Tower” aka Pyrgos.
Pyrgos has recently become a very popular destination for tourists visiting Santorini and that is for a good reason. It is truly one of the most beautiful traditional settlements you will find in Santorini and the best sample of Medieval architecture. In 1995, it was declared a “preserved monument”.
10) Visit the Ancient Thira
Ancient Thera is an ancient city and capital on a ridge of the steep, 360 m high Messa Vouno mountain in Santorini.
It was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD.
The ancient city consisted of a street almost 800 m long and especially wide for its time extending in a southeastern direction and containing several imposing buildings.
If you’re driving, take the narrow, switchbacked road from Kamari for 3km. From Perissa, a hike up a dusty path takes a bit over an hour to reach the site.
11) Visit the small port of Ammoudi
Ammoudi is a beautiful small port located underneath the village of Oia between 200 and 300 steps below . The port is full of amazing restaurants with seafood, and the blue clear waters lapping at table’s edge. Its definately worth it to add it in your best things to do list.
The port is busy with boat tours arriving and departing all day long. Catamarans bring tourists to see the volcano and swim in the hot springs. With these tours the visitors have also the chance to admire the caldera cliffs and beaches, and the popular Santorini sunset.
12) Visit Thirasia island
A small foot passenger boat departing from Ammoudi port under Oia, on the northwest coast of Santorini. This is the quickest way to get to Thirasia, as it takes around 10 minutes. The volcanic landscape, the wild beauty and the serene atmosphere of the island make it an unspoiled paradise. There are amazing walking tours that give you the option to explore this unspoiled island.