Finally time for my Santorini Travel Guide! Santorini is one of the most iconic summer destinations in the Mediterranean, and easily among the most popular Greek islands. Famous worldwide for its beautiful beaches, its exotic white eggplants and its dramatic views. If to summarize the Santorini experience in one word it would be….breathtaking!
Santorini has truly a diverse scenery, from black lava beaches to lovely old churches with blue domes and some of the best things to do in Santorini are well beyond its bright blue hues. This magic island has so much to offer, with its beautiful sunsets and impressive active volcano. We had a fantastic time at this Greek beauty and I hope you will enjoy my Santorini travel guide, including our four day itinerary! Let’s get to it!
Santorini Travel Guide: Getting Around
The best things to do in Santorini are located all over the island, and you’ll need a vehicle to get you places. If you’re looking for an active experience at the island, you can rent a scooter or perhaps a bike, although the latter isn’t very common. The best options to get around are rental ATVs and cars. If you are visiting during summer, I would strongly recommend a car with a working A/C. If you’re staying in Fira, my Santorini travel guide recommendation is renting a car at Damigox. For further comfort, they offer hotel drop-off and pick-up.
Do not miss this cool Santorini tour: Around the Island by Electric Bike tour on Get Your Guide!
Santorini Travel Guide: Where to Stay
When seeing the best things to do in Santorini and deciding where to stay, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a cheap destination. Hotel rooms can be particularly pricey if you’re looking for views of the caldera. Check out my full Santorini Hotel Reiview or find a summary below!
If you want to really enjoy the best things to do in Santorini, I recommend staying at Fira, the island’s capital and centre. Here, you can find lots of affordable hotel options, plus you’ll be near lots of eateries, bars, and shops. I recommend San Giorgio Villa, a newly renovated boutique hotel. It’s on a side street in the middle of town, so near everything while still maintaining some quiet – plus, it’s quite a cutie! Book your stay at San Giorgio Villa HERE!
If what you’re looking for in this Santorini travel guide are beachy spots, staying at Perissa is your best option. It’s a sweet place to stay, with a very beachy vibe to it. You’ll also find nice beach clubs here, plus a long boardwalk with bars and restaurants. Find the perfect Perissa hotel for you by clicking HERE!
Santorini has a lot of luxurious lodgings for boutique hotel lovers to pick. At Oia, the town with the best volcano views and magical sunsets, options abound. Here, you’ll find Caldera Premium Villas, a gem overlooking the caldera and offering a truly luxurious experience. Greek décor and incredible service are the staple here – but be aware that the price matches the view. Book your stay at Caldera Premium Villas HERE!
Imerovigli, a small town between Fira and Oia, also offers many luxurious hotels. A little away from the best things to do in Santorini, the location offers a much more peaceful time. Find the Imerovigli hotel of your dreams clicking HERE!
Best Things to Do in Santorini: 4-Day Itinerary
This Greek paradise is small but lively – so let’s get to the fun Santorini travel guide stuff!
Days 1 & 2: Fira & Its Surroundings
We did the first 10 things of this Santorini travel guide in just one day, as there’s barely a 10-15 minute drive between the different spots. However, to really enjoy the best things to do in Santorini, I’d recommend taking two or three days. That way, you have more time to enjoy each place!
1. Pyrgos, the Cute Mountain Village
Drive 15 minutes away from Fira to find this cute little town, which is tucked in the mountains. A quiet place with a slow life, cute little streets and a gorgeous church. It’s quite different from thriving Fira. Head here for some early views of the island, and start your day by having breakfast or lunch at Kantouni. A colorful café with good breakfast options and an outdoor terrace. Here you’ll discover one of the best things to do in Santorini: taking pics!
2. Monastery Prophet Elias & Its Magical Views
The highest point on the island and a jewel of this Santorini travel guide, the monastery is unmissable. Drive 10 minutes away from Pyrgos to get here, preferably early in the day, to avoid the crowds and find the best photo angles.
Built in the early 18th century, this fortress-resembling landmark is about 565 meters above sea level. On a clear day, you can see the whole of Santorini – and the sunsets here are unmatched. Truly one of the best things to do in Santorini!
3. Perissa, the Beach Darling
As a Cycladic island, some of the best things to do in Santorini revolve around the beach. My personal favorite out of all the local beaches is Perissa. A beauty with black lava shores. A darling of this Santorini travel guide, it’s so long it’s basically the same as Perivolo. However, I prefer the Perissa side because it has nicer beach clubs and cooler places to hang out. I highly recommend visiting Waves Chill Out club or The Beach Bar for great food.
There’s a long boardwalk here, lined up with restaurants and bars, perfect for an afternoon drink – you’ll find many cute design spots in the area.
4. Take a Break with a View
One of the best things to do in Santorini is stopping for some afternoon drinks or watch the sunset away from busy Fira. Between Perissa and the Red Beach, you’ll find the Caldera View Resort bar and restaurant. We passed it as we were on the road and absolutely fell in love with the place. We had lovely ice creams here and enjoyed the magnificent view – I can only imagine the beautiful sunsets in this place. A perfect photo and Instagram spot!
If you totally fell in love with the Caldera View Resort, remember that this is also a hotel. Book your stay HERE!
5. Dramatic Views at The Red Beach
As you’ll find on this Santorini travel guide, the island’s beaches are very diverse. One of the most iconic is the Red Beach, with its bright brick-coloured sand. On the skirts of a dramatic cliff, the look here is dramatic and breathtaking!
This is an entirely natural beach, and there aren’t any specialised facilities. At most, you’ll find a parking lot at the beginning of the trek here, with a few scattered restaurants. Then, you can walk five to ten minutes through the scenery to the actual beach. Grab a towel and enjoy the view – it’s well within the best things to do in Santorini!
6. The Akrotiri Ruins
Much like Italy has the remains of Pompeii, a city devastated by the Vesuvius, Santorini has Akrotiri. The town has been in ruins since the Bronze Age, when the Theran eruption destroyed it. Many of the frescoes were preserved by lava, and it’s now a major Santorini travel guide landmark.
7. The Akrotiri Lighthouse
Offering lovely views of the ocean, visiting the Akrotiri lighthouse is one of the best things to do in Santorini. Located in one of the corners of the island, the lighthouse itself isn’t that impressive – but the drive sure is. An essential landmark on any Santorini travel guide. The best idea here is to walk around the lighthouse and find a cliff. Here, enjoy the views – and maybe stay for sunset. One great thing about this place is that it’s not very touristic, so you’ll have it all to yourself!
8. Enjoy the Drive
One thing that you won’t find on every Santorini travel guide: look around. When driving across the island, take in the marvelous views everywhere. Photographers will find a dreamland on this Greek paradise, with all its mountains, volcanic details, dramatic color contrasts…
You’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world, so be sure to enjoy that!
9. Explore the Fira Labyrinthic Little Streets
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Santorini is simply getting lost in its main village. At Fira, you’ll find a kind of labyrinth: small streets with cute little boutiques, restaurants, and bars. From handicrafts to local design shops, it’s easy to just wander outside the main streets and find unique things. Prices are cheaper than in Oia, and it’s the place to find straw bags, hats and leather sandals – the classic Greek look.
Avoid tourist traps and you’ll find yourself in heaven!
10. Catch a Sunset in Town
Every Santorini travel guide will recommend to take in a sunset and Fira – and it’s because they’re just that magical. The most popular photo spot will do the trick, up the blue stairs on the caldera side. If you get in about an hour before the actual sunset, you’ll see the light leaving the bustling restaurants and bars. Once the sun is down, it’ll get less crowded here, and you can fully enjoy the white-washed houses on the cliff, the last rays of sun and the deep blue Mediterranean.
11. Walk from Fira to Oia
If exercising is a big part of your vacation, you’ll love this section of my Santorini travel guide. It takes between 3 and 5 hours to walk between these two towns, so it’s a pretty great exercise – unless it’s summer. If you’re visiting during the hotter months, there’s a risk of dehydration because of the high temperatures. So I would recommend this for the less hot season!
You can also take a bus to Oia, but it’s very crowded. For a travel with a silver lining experience, ask your hotel to book you a cab, which is about €25.
Days 2-3: Oia
The most iconic and postcard-famous town on the island is a must on this Santorini travel guide. This is the place with the best views of the caldera, and the contrasts are wild. Whitewashed houses along the steep cliff, the Mediterranean combined with the deep blue domes, the oil bell towers. Plus, the views of nearby volcano islands are incredible… it really is magical!
Oia includes some of the best things to do in Santorini, and certainly the most famous spots. It’s also an extremely popular place to visit, so if you’re heading there for a day trip, arrive early!
12. The Caldera Hotel Experience
While pricy, staying by the caldera is a downright unforgettable and romantic experience. The hotels are quiet and shielded, and you can easily spend the whole day here – just make sure to book a place with a pool. Take the time to experience Oia in the mornings and evenings, when the crowds are gone – it’s easily one of the best things to do in Santorini.
We stayed at Caldera Premium Villas, and I can’t recommend it enough. A gem on the cliffside with a great pool, it’s pure Greek luxury with magic views. The honeymoon suite was wonderful, with its hot tub and huge private terrace. Book your stay HERE
13. Explore the Streets of Oia
One of my favorite Santorini travel guide recommendations: walk around and be mesmerized by the colours! The tiny streets of Oia are very picturesque, full of shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s a deluxe destination with stores to match, including beautiful handicrafts. So many surprises await here, including streets full of flowers – keep your eyes peeled!
14. Prepare to Snap Away
One of the best things to do in Santorini, particularly in Oia, is taking pictures like crazy! This is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited. The castle, the bell towers, the gorgeous church – it’s just such a camera-ready town. However, it tends to be crowded during the day, and you’ll find yourself making queues at the popular photo spots. I know… this is the backside of our Instagram crazy world…
For pictures without people, get up at sunrise! While it may sound like more trouble than it’s worth, you’ll get Oia all to yourself, with spectacular pics and a moment to remeber!
15. Groove to the Pink Oia Vibes
A little secret on this Santorini travel guide: just opposite the Oia Castle ruins, there’s a little piece of pink. The lovely colors in this corner are a big step from the white and blue from the rest of town – perfect to take pics!
16. Wine & Dine, with a View
Enjoying the views of Oia is one of the best things to do in Santorini, and it’s even better when accompanied with delicious food. Luckily, the town is full of cafés, bars, and restaurants.
When it was time for lunch, we walked up to the cliff to the restaurant above our hotel, Apsithia. A lovely place with good food and service. The highlight here was obviously the view. For casual dinners, we usually headed to Mezzo or to the cute local spot Roka, which quickly became a favorite with its amazing Greek food and colorful design.
Around the Oia Castle, you can find a few rooftop bars and restaurants to spend a quiet sunset. Loved the vibe at Oia Gefsis, a charming rooftop bar, and restaurant.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious dining experience, Naos provides the right type of white dining. A rooftop mixing old elements and contemporary design, it’s quite the experience with a view. For a romantic evening out, the Lada restaurant at Andronis boutique hotel gave us a dreamy evening.
17. Admire the Sunset
Oia is the most iconic sunset spot on the island, and no Santorini travel guide is complete without mentioning it. The most iconic place to catch the sun setting is the Oia Castle, but you have to get there early to grab a good spot, as it’s usually very crowded.
From the ruins’ walls, you can catch incredible views overlooking the pink and white houses – one night we were up there, we even had a guy playing guitar here. The ultimate romantic experience.
If you want a more chill experience, book a rooftop restaurant and have a drink while you see the colours!
Santorini is one of those places that are more beautiful in real life than can be captured on photos! A must visit among the Greek islands! We fell so in love with this place and hope to be back soon again!
Travel with a Silver Lining Beyond the Santorini Travel Guide
Inspired to see the world by the best things to do in Santorini? Then check out some of my other posts!
- Do not miss my Santorini Hotel Post!
- Looking for more Cyclades fun? Do not miss my Mykonos Travel Guide or Instagram Guide. For all my posts on Greece, read my section on Greece!
- For more of my favorite European destinations check out my Amalfi Coast Road trip Guide & the Ultimate Algarve Coast Guide.
- Check out my top three posts: Lisbon Instagram spots, trendy Moscow restaurants, and dreamy photography places in the Amalfi Coast!
Booking Support & Input for the Best Things to do in Santorini
- Flights. Find the best flight prices for Greece and the world through Momondo. Check out their all-in-one travel app!
- Transfer. Waste no time and get to the best things to do in Santorini in a heartbeat. Book a transfer from the airport to your hotel in advance.
- Hotels. Find the hotel of your dreams anywhere in Santorini thanks to Booking.com – just clicking here!
- Tours. Get Your Guide is my go-to tool to plan every detail of my trip, filling each trip with wonderful tours and experiences. For a unique time, check out this Sea Kayak Tour at Sunset. Then check out the GTG Santorini city guide, below!
Did you love this Santorini travel guide? Then check out some pins for the best things to do in Santorini, below!