25 Best Things to Do in Santorini (for First-Time Visitors!)

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Are you planning your dream trip to Greece? If so, we have the best things to do in Santorini covered in this guide!

Are you planning your trip to Santorini last minute?

If youʻre booking your trip to Santorini last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

Top Experiences and Tours in Santorini:

  1. Best of Santorini with Wine & Sunset in Oia (top-selling Santorini tour!)
  2. Volcanic Islands Cruise with Hot Springs Visit (highly recommended!)
  3. Amazing Jet Ski Safari in Santorini (must-do for active travelers!)
  4. Premium Class Catamaran Cruise (great for couples!)
  5. Guided Local Wine Tasting Tour 

Top Hotels in Santorini:

  1. Rivari Santorini Hotel (in Kamari. I’ve stayed here and recommend!)
  2. Mythical Blue Luxury Suites (in Fira)
  3. Voreina Gallery Suites (in Pirgos)
  4. Phos The Boutique (in Akrotiri)
  5. Abyss (in Oia)

Santorini is a bucket-list destination for so many people… and this guide will cover some of the most epic activities and attractions in Santorini!

We also tell you our favorite places to stay, where to eat, and more! 

Best things to do in Santorini
Best things to do in Santorini

Did we miss any amazing places to visit in Santorini (or Santorini landmarks)? Let us know in the comments!

Best Things to Do in Santorini

Visit Oia (for the Sunset!)

Hidden on the northern tip of Santorini, Oia village is one magical place with Instagram-worthy spots in each corner.

The winding streets are ideal for getting lost.

Stroll up through the passageways to find the secret alleys with fewer people and marvel at the view of the sea and the blue domes of Agios Spyridonas and Anastaseos churches. 

An excellent way to explore the village is to take a wine tour, where you will taste 12 types of wine, including Vinsanto, Assyrtiko, and Nykteri.

Watching the sunset in Oia
Watching the sunset in Oia is one of the top things to do in Santorini

For an adrenaline rush, follow the 300-step staircase down to Ammoudi Bay and jump into the sea from the cliffs.

There are suitable rocks where the water is quite deep, and the rocks are always crowded.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the Red Bicycle restaurant, the best place to taste Chlorotyri goat cheese in an ntakos salad. You can also visit Roka restaurant for traditional fava with smoked eel. 

Do a Greek Wine Tasting Experience (with Winery Visits!)

Santorini is home to some of the most legendary wineries in Greece, with Europe’s oldest vineyards and outstanding traditional wines.

The Santorini wine tour will take you through the famous wineries and vineyards with authentic food, wine, and cultural experiences. 

Enjoying the wine of Santorini
Enjoying the wine of Santorini

The tour usually includes three traditional wineries where you will sample 12 wine varieties, including the most popular Assyrtiko, Vinsanto, and Nykteri, served with traditional delicacies.

Wine tastings are organized in famous volcanic vineyards on Santorini.

The tour lasts about 5 hours. It means the chances are you will enjoy the colors of a fantastic sunset with a glass of wine. 

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Discover Thira

Thira, also spelled Fira, is the capital of Santorini island, with spectacular views of whitewashed buildings. It is known for its busy energy, authentic restaurants, and shops. 

The symbol of the town is the Three Bells of Fira, the bells of the Catholic Church. It is the most photographed site here, so you will probably have to wait your turn to take a photo.

Hanging out in Thira
Hanging out in Thira, one of the must-visit places in Santorini

There are a few more churches not to miss: St. John the Baptist Cathedral and the largest Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral.

If you don’t have enough time to explore the whole town, ride the Santorini cable car to see the magnificent views from the port up to Fira. Summer is very busy, so book tickets in advance.

Don’t leave Fira without tasting local food and Greek flavors at Idol Restaurant Bar or Mylos, occupying the old windmill. 

Take a Jet Ski Safari from Perivolos

Get a different perspective of Santorini by taking a safari from Perivolos to Mesa Pigadia on a jet ski.

It is a unique experience for adventure lovers and those seeking to spice up their days on the island! 

The Santorini jet ski safari starts on Perivolos beach, leading southwest towards the panoramic beaches of Vlyhada, Red Beach, Kampia, and White Beach, and ends at the lighthouse of Santorini.

Santorini jet ski tour - one of the best tours on the island!
Santorini jet ski tour – one of the best tours on the island!

During your tour, you will stop to swim and snorkel. Before the tour, you will be instructed on how to use the jet ski and its proper safety measures. 

For the tour, you will have a life jacket, a waterproof pouch for a phone, a wetsuit, and refreshing beverages. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and sunscreen with you.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Explore Emporio

Emporio is one of the many villages on Santorini island, situated at the foot of Mt. Prophitis Elias, with some unique medieval architectural designs.

It is underrated compared to other villages, but it has lots of value and places not to miss.

It is best to explore Emporio by strolling through the narrow, twisted labyrinths. Sometimes the alleys are very twisted, with arches and tunnels, making it easy to get lost. 

Things to do in Santorini - Emporio
Emporio has some of the best landmarks in Santorini

The main attraction of the village is the Venetian castle. You will see signs showing directions to the site in the tunnels.

Inside the castle, there is a church with a high tower. Actually, there were about 260 churches ruined during the earthquake.

Accommodations are cheaper in Emporio than in the white villages, so it can be a great option to stay here and travel around.

Check Out Ancient Thera

The archaeological site of Ancient Thera is an integral part of Santorini’s history. The ruins are located on the peak of Mesa Vouno, near Kamari.

It is usually a 3km winding trail perfect for hiking, and 2 more kilometers to Ancient Thera. 

Today, not much of the ancient city remains, but the ruins show the locations of markets, pagan temples, baths, a Roman forum, and a theater.

Ancient Thera
Ancient Thera – a famous attraction in Santorini

The finds of excavations—clay figures, vases, statues, pots, and other artifacts—are now kept in the Archaeological Museum of Thera, near the cable car entrance in Fira.

It is worth combining tours of Thera and Fira to get a full picture of Santorini’s history. 

Take a SUP and Snorkeling Tour in Santorini

Stand-up paddle and snorkel adventures in Santorini are an exciting way to enjoy the Santorini coastline.

The scenic paddle board excursion will wind around Kamari (Perissa beach), Mesa Pigadia (Red Beach), and the Caldera Panorama.

The tours are planned according to the wind direction to make your adventure the most exciting and unforgettable.

Snorkeling in Santorini
Snorkeling in Santorini

For 2.5 hours, you will paddle along the cliffs and Santorini bays, with stops for snorkeling and swimming in clear waters.

The tour provides all the gear, including life jackets, snorkeling equipment, and a pre-tour orientation session. Don’t forget to grab sunscreen, your swimsuit, and a towel. 

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Visit Beautiful Perissa

Perissa village is a traditional holiday gateway in Santorini.

Occupying the island’s east coast, Perissa is known for its volcanic black-sand beaches and well-developed tourist infrastructure with beach cafes, bars, showers, and sun loungers. 

Unlike the mountain villages of Oia or Fira, Perissa is more laid-back with a perfect balance of active and relaxing days.

Perissa beach - one of the best beaches on Santorini
Perissa Beach – one of the best beaches in Santorini

Take a short hike along the beach road to discover the Ancient Thera, the ruins of the city on the Messa Vouno.

It will take only 10 minutes, but you will have the best views of Kamari and Perissa. Back in the village, have a hearty meal with Greek specialties in Tranquilo Bar.

Go Horseback Riding in a Volcanic Landscape

Have you ever dreamt of racing on horseback on the seashore with your hair waving in the wind?

You can make your dream come true in Santorini during a horseback riding tour through Megalochori village and Eros black sand beach. 

Start your tour at the stables in the village to get acquainted with horses and pick your horse for the rest of the tour. Your first destination will be the vineyards and paths along the vineyards.

Hanging out with horses on Santorini
Hanging out with horses on Santorini

The trail will then lead you to the south, to the black sand beach with volcanic formations. 

Your whole tour will be captured by your guide, and, at the end, you will have amazing photos. 

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

See the Monastery of Profitis Ilias

The picturesque Santorini is home to many churches. The Prophet Elias Monastery is one of the oldest on the island and an important Greek Orthodox landmark.

It is also the highest point in Santorini, offering the most magnificent panorama.

The monastery is located on the top of Mount Profitias Ilias (567 meters above sea level).

Profitis Ilias
Profitis Ilias is one of the most popular Santorini landmarks

There is a road to the monastery, but as a true traveler, take a 2.5-kilometer hiking trail from Pyrgos’ main square up to the mountain.

The trail is no less impressive; you will see a mountain covered with over 700 olive trees, plants, and flowers. 

The monastery is closed for visits, but you can still enjoy the beautiful facades and the chapel. 

Take a Santorini Highlights Tour (w/ Oia Sunset!)

The easiest and most effective way to see all the sites in Santorini is to take the highlights tour with wine tasting and sunset in Oia.

The 9-hour tour takes you through the most sought-after places and the main highlights.

The first location to visit is Profitis Ilias monastery, on the highest summit, with the best 360° views of the Aegean Sea and Santorini.

Santorini highlights tour views
Santorini highlights tour views

Continue your tour through the twisted alleys of Pyrgos Kallistis to discover its secret passageways.

Your next destination is Emporio, with its small Venetian fortress and cute houses. Time to have lunch, relax on Perissa beach and taste three types of local wine.

The final destination is Oia, where you will enjoy the hues of the Santorini sunset.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Enjoy the Open Air Cinema in Kamari

Even on holiday, there is always time for a good movie, especially if it’s in an open-air cinema in Santorini.

Preserving the traditions of ancient Greece, the Open Air Cinema Kamari has modern sound and projection, perfect lighting, and, of course, a unique atmosphere to enjoy your time.

The venue is in Kamari (a 20-minute drive from Fira), regularly showcasing popular movies from May to October, so it is not available during the winter months.

Open Air Cinema in Kamari on Santorini
Open Air Cinema in Kamari on Santorini

The Open-Air Cinema, with a 180-seated and 500-standing capacity, is also a popular place for parties and events.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m., but if you want to get the best seat, arrive no later than 8 p.m. Keep cash with you because you can pay for the ticket only in cash.

The venue has an on-site bar with craft cocktails and snacks (try the signature strawberry Daiquiri).

There is also a restaurant near the cinema, Metaxi Mas, which is actually one of the best restaurants on the island. 

Take a Volcanic Islands Cruise (with Hot Springs Visit!)

Take one of the most exciting tours around Santorini’s caldera with volcanic islands, visit the most popular villages, swim in hot springs, hike, and more. Let’s see each in turn.

The first location to visit is Nea Kameni, one of the two islands formed after the eruption of a volcano.

Upon reaching the island, hike to the only standing fig tree called Erinia before you relax in the hot springs hidden in Agios Nikolaos cove. 

Santorini catamaran tour
Santorini catamaran tour

The nearby island of Palea Kameni will be your next stop, where you can observe the black cliffs and swim in thermal waters.

You will have two more stops and hikes on Thirassia island with the villages of Manalos, Korfos, Riva, and Potamos. Before leaving, enjoy the sunset in Oia village. 

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Walk around Kamari

The small town of Kamari is located in the southeastern part of Santorini, 7 km from Fira. It is an ideal location for beachfront time and active holidays, including hiking to the closest sites. 

Usually crowded, Kamari’s promenade is home to restaurants, bars, and shops.

Plus, there is an open-air cinema to enjoy favorite movies and warm Santorini evenings.

Kamari beach
Kamari Beach is a must on a Santorini sightseeing day!

Kamari has much to offer, but guests choose it mainly for the beach, the best on the island, with black sand, water sports, and scuba diving lessons. 

Also, take an exciting hike to the Ancient Thera archaeological site on Mesa Vuono. It is a 5-kilometer winding trail with breathtaking panoramas. 

See a Small Village at Pyrgos Kallistis

Pyrgos Kallistis is not as famous, but it is definitely worth more attention and appreciation.

The small village is located at the highest point of Santorini. It means you will have the best views any time you look around. 

Pyrgos Kallistis
Pyrgos Kallistis is one of the most famous places to visit in Santorini

The first thing to do in Pyrgos is walk around and find all the narrow alleys leading to the 15th-century castle. The entire village is one long hiking trail up and down the hill, but you won’t get tired.

Walking about the alleys, you will find an open-air Theotokaki art exhibition with sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and pottery.

Finally, taste Vinsanto wine at Santo Wines and buy one bottle as a memory from Pyrgos.

Take a Southside E-bike Island Tour of Santorini

Take a bike tour to discover the southern part of the island with its ancient paths, off the beaten tracks in hidden villages.

An E-bike island tour is an ideal adventure through the black beaches of Perivolos and Perissa, where you can stop by and have a refreshing dip.

Next, drive to the archaeological site of Thera to find the ruins of ancient settlements.

Megalohori
Megalohori – a popular village in Santorini

Then, you will visit the villages of Emporio, as well as Megalohori to taste local wine and authentic food on the terrace of Feggera restaurant. 

The bike tour is ideal for occasional sports enthusiasts, but if you are an experienced mountain biker, you can switch to an advanced-level tour. 

Don’t forget to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring sunscreen.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Relax on the Red Beach

Volcanic eruptions shaped Santorini’s landscape, and Red Beach is one of the unique places on the island not to miss. Be ready for high temperatures because of the dark-colored sand.

For water sports, you can rent a sea bike or canoe. Don’t forget to bring snorkeling gear to explore the underwater world, which is no less exciting.

There are several ways to get to the beach, but the best way to see the surroundings is to take a hike from Akrotiri village through a small footpath.

Red beach
Red Beach is an iconic place to visit!

It is a short, 15-minute hike, but make sure to arrive as early as possible to avoid crowds.

The northern part of the beach is nudist-friendly, so keep this in mind when choosing a spot.

There are umbrellas and sunbeds on the beach, making your stay more comfortable. You can find snacks and coffee in the closest canteen. 

Wander around Santorini’s White Beach 

White Beach, or Lefki Ammos, is one of the many unique places in Santorini. The name of the beach comes from the high white cliffs and grey volcanic sand.

Actually, the beach is not white, but the grey sand does look white and mesmerizing in the background of the blue waters of the sea.

White Beach
White Beach

Get ready to spend a couple of hours snorkeling close to the beach and simply enjoying the whitewashed cliffs.

Unlike other beaches, White Beach is not accessible by car, but you can get to the beach by boat. If you are an experienced rock climber, you can take the challenge and hike to the beach.

Lefki Ammos is very small, with no sunbeds or umbrellas. Bring water and anything you will need on the beach.

Take a Catamaran Cruise (with BBQ and Drinks!)

What can be more romantic than cruising around Santorini and visiting all the famous sites on the island?

You will spend five hours sailing to beautiful beaches, snorkeling at multiple locations, and enjoying a BBQ meal with Greek wine and soft drinks. 

Santorini catamaran tour
Santorini catamaran tour

The first destination of your cruise is the Red Beach, with volcanic panoramas, changed with no less impressive White Beach views and the village of Akrotiri.

Sailing past the Indian Rocks, the boat takes you to the beautiful Akrotiri lighthouse on the high cliff, standing out with its whiteness.

You will also visit the villages of Oia, Imerovigli, Firostefani, and the Old Port of Fira. 

Before sailing back, make a short stop at volcanic hot springs for a relaxing dip and cruise around Nea Kameni for snorkeling.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Go Back in Time at the Akrotiri Ruins

Akrotiri was one of the first and most important settlements in Santorini, inhabited since the Late Neolithic times.

It gradually developed and became one of the centers of the Aegean, with multistoried buildings, wall paintings, and an elaborate drainage system.

Today, you can see the well-preserved ruins of the settlement, buried in the ashes of a volcanic eruption and discovered only in 1967.

Akrotiri ruins
Akrotiri ruins

That is why Akrotiri is referred to as the Greek Pompeii. The difference is that people had time to leave the town.

The Akrotiri ruins are located in the southeastern part of Santorini, a few kilometers from Akrotiri village.

The ruins are covered with a bioclimatic roof, but you can see everything close enough by walking on the boardwalk through the sections of ruins with signs.

Visit the Lighthouse of Akrotiri

The Akrotiri Lighthouse is the essence of Santorini’s romance, history, and beauty. It is located at the island’s southwestern end, in the village of Akrotiri, on the edge of a high cliff.

It is a white building, contrasting against the backdrop of the blue Aegean sea and the cliffs.

Located 15 kilometers from Kamari or Fira, the lighthouse is easily accessible by road. It is 5 km away from the village’s bus terminal.

Lighthouse of Akrotiri
Lighthouse of Akrotiri

This means you can either take a private tour or hike the remaining 5 kilometers to the destination.

Watching the sunsets here is a popular activity, so make sure you plan your visit accordingly.

Also, combine your tour of the lighthouse with hiking to the excavations of Akrotiri and Red Beach.

Go Sea Kayaking in Santorini

Water sports are extremely popular in Santorini, and kayaking is one of the options.

The 4-hour kayak excursion on the island’s southern coast is an exciting experience with unique views of the caldera.

You will have a stop at Kambia Beach to see colorful fish, sea urchins, and even octopuses.

Kayaking in Santorini
Kayaking in Santorini

The only requirement for the tour is the ability to swim. Before sailing off, a guide will teach you how to paddle.

There are two options to choose from. You can take a tour in the morning to enjoy the views with daylight or wait for the fascinating colors of the sunset while sea kayaking.

Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, towel, water, and snacks.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Visit the Best Coffee Shops in Santorini

Even the most exciting vacation will not be complete without a good cup of coffee. Here are the most popular places with the best coffee on the island.

CoffeeLab Santorini

You will see the coffee shop during your hike to the Ancient Thera. Tourists often come here to eat the famous donuts and have great espresso.

CoffeeLab offers coffee made from locally roasted, super aromatic, and fresh beans. Also, consider this venue as a perfect choice for tasty breakfasts.

Address: Επαρχιακή οδός Καρτεράδου-Φηρών

Refreshing ice coffee on Santorini
Refreshing ice coffee on Santorini

Coffee Island

The chain of coffee shops in Santorini offers all the beloved varieties of coffee, snacks, and refreshing beverages at adequate prices.

Address: Agios Athanasios Thiras

Admire the Heart of Santorini

The Heart of Santorini is a unique place discovered just recently in the village of Megalochori, near the Agios Nikolaos chapel.

It is a natural heart-shaped hole in the rock that opens to the sea and the volcano.

Thanks to social media, the location quickly became popular, and couples rushed to Megalochori to see the romantic spot, take photos, and make proposals.

Heart of Santorini
Heart of Santorini

It may be hard to find the Heart of Santorini, so use the map to navigate and find the road that takes you to the heart. It is a 10-minute hike to the parking lot and the steps leading to the site.

Plan your visit close to the sunset to watch the most incredible sunset in Santorini. Below the viewpoint, you will see the chapel carved into the cliff.

Eat at Some of the Best Restaurants in Santorini

One of the best travel destinations has it all: nature, architecture, culture, and food!

Santorini is the best gateway to reimagining your Greek food experience. Here are three of the best restaurants in Santorini to start your Greek food tour.

Metaxi Mas

A long-standing, popular restaurant is Exo Gonia, in the heart of Santorini. The Santorini restaurant offers authentic Cretan and Greek dishes with exceptionally fresh ingredients.

Metaxi Mas
Metaxi Mas

Try grilled octopus tentacles with herbs or oven-baked asparagus with a glass of local wine.

Address: Έξω Γωνιά 847 00

Argo Restaurant

For awesome sunset meals and the best views of the caldera, choose Argo Restaurant in Fira. It is a must for any Santorini itinerary!

The signature dishes are fava, fried tomato cakes, seafood platters, and traditional desserts.

Delicious food at Argo Restaurant
Delicious food at Argo Restaurant

Address: Fira town Caldera, Firá

Kapari Wine Bar & Restaurant

With Greek and Mediterranean dishes, Kapari Wine restaurant in Imerovigli is a great choice to taste local daurade or smoked octopus, a generous selection of premium wines, and desserts enjoyed on the open terrace.

Address: Imerovigli 847 00

Where to Stay in Santorini

There are plenty of amazing places to stay in Santorini and here are a few of our favorites, including the affordable place I stayed on my last trip!

Did we miss any of the best things to do in Santorini? Let us know your favorite Santorini attractions and places in the comments! Thanks!

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