Famed for its picture-perfect sunsets and pristine white buildings against the backdrop of the Aegean sea, Santorini is a hot favourite tourist destination amongst families and couples.
Besides basking in the sun on the beaches and sipping on cocktails, here are some other exciting Santorini activities you should definitely include on your Greece itinerary.
- Things to Do in Santorini, Greece
- Where to stay in Santorini?
- How to get to Santorini?
- Getting Around Santorini, Greece
- What to Eat in Santorini, Greece
Things to Do in Santorini, Greece
1. Take a day trip to Oia
Oia is the place to be to in Santorini to see the sun set with a backdrop of windmills and white houses.
To get to Oia, we hiked 4 hours (and got a really fierce tan afterwards). We started at 10am and reached at 2pm, hiking and snapping pictures along the way. We passed Perivolas and Imerovigli to finally reach Oia.
Our walk felt shorter by the things you see along the way. There is nowhere in Santorini where you cannot see the sea. We were entertained by different terrains, from black to white to red soils.
We took the wrong turn midway and had to toil through wild grass with spikes (yikes! The grass were made for the desert, it seems), cut through somebody’s plantation (oops!) and climb up a wall into a private hotel resort to finally be on the right track again.
Aha, it may be cheap thrill but that was the highlight of the hike. 😆
2. Swim or do cliff diving at Ammoudi Bay, Oia
Ammoudi bay, which is at the North edge of Oia, is a popular spot to swim. Cliff diving is possible too!
3. Explore Fira Town
Fira is the main town of Santorini, located on top of a cliff on a caldera. We saw the sunset in Santorini every single day, once at Oia when we hiked over and twice in Fira, because we stayed at Firostefani.
The walk between Firostefani and Fira, the main town, involves walking along the caldera (the edge of Santorini with full views of Fira) which was in the West.
Do remember to bring your camera along with you and go on a photography tour.
4. Ride donkeys in Fira
You can also ride donkeys in Fira uphill, and take the cable car downhill to the old port!
5. Explore Santorini on an ATV
Renting an ATV/ car/ motorbike is common here. In fact, it’s inaccessible to travel around the island without it, so be sure to bring a driving license if you’re planning to do that. They are strict on that.
An ATV costs 20-25€ for a full day. If you don’t have a license, that’s no major disadvantage either.
There isn’t much to spend your time on other than wandering around the small towns of Oia and Fira, or going further to the South to check out the beaches.
6. Winery tour
When at Santorini, we made sure to get our fill of Santorini wines at the various winery tours available. We tasted house wine, both red and white, at restaurants. They serve 0.25cl of wine at 3€.
What makes Santorini’s wine the most popular local product is because its grapes are grown on Santorini’s rich volcanic soil.
7. Lounge by the beach
Another one of Santorini’s attractions is its gorgeous beaches. We spent 2 of the afternoons lounging by Santorini’s beaches (and trying to salvage my tan). The waters are crystal clear, though they aren’t the best beaches I’ve been to.
For a different and unique beach experience, be sure to take a trip to the red beach and black beach. Before heading to the red beach, do check if it is opened as it is sometimes closed due to falling rocks.
8. Go souvenir-shopping
There are very nice ornaments that are handmade from the Greek locals, often in the familiar turquoise and blue colours. I would totally have gotten them if I weren’t trying to pack all of my 6-months’-worth of items in one luggage.
Where to stay in Santorini?
I don’t usually promote the accommodation I stay, but this hotel in Santorini where we picked was almost perfect.
Villa Firostefani offers:
- Free pick up from the port
- Free breakfast daily
- 7 min walk to Fira, the main town, with picturesque views of Firostefani and Fira
- 1 min walk to bus stop
- Sunrise views from the sea
- Responsive to requests
- Clean rooms, kind hosts
All these for 20€ a night in Santorini! They are a family-run business so their service was very warm.
Granted, it does not have an infinity pool nor does it sit on in the middle of white terraces. It isn’t the biggest nor the most comfortable hotel room. If you prefer that you’re better off looking in places like Imerovigli or Oia – you won’t be disappointed!
But if you’re budget-conscious yet want to be close to the centre, it is perfect.
How to get to Santorini?
To get to Santorini there are 2 ways – by boat or by air.
Getting to Santorini By Air
Ryan Air offers cheap flights sometimes, either from Athens or from other international countries. No harm trying your luck there!
Getting to Santorini By Boat
There are 2 types of boat trips from Athens. Speed boat and normal ferry. Normal ferry takes 6 hours from Athens and costs 37.50€. The ferries are always crowded with people. There are 3 floors with seats, with both indoor and outdoor options available. Speed boat shaves off a couple of hours, though the prices are more.
Should I buy the boat tickets online or on-site?
Well, if you buy online you’re guaranteed a place but you pay a little fee (3€). It saves you time from queuing and the risk of being rejected.
Getting Around Santorini, Greece
When you’re on the island, the most popular option is to rent an ATV.
You can also hike or ride the bus around the major attractions, like what we did. In fact, buses cost no more than 2€ one-way.
What to Eat in Santorini, Greece
As part of travelling on a budget in Europe, we mostly stuck to gyros and kebabs, which costed less than 3€ per meal. Of course, we couldn’t resist the occasional Greek food, which consisted heavily of yoghurt, olive oil, olives and cheese.
One shocking thing I experienced was what Santorini, the island, truly looks like in reality versus what you see on social media. In pictures, all you see are the stark white against blue roofs of villas and churches.
In actual fact, the rest of Santorini is filled with barren land, agriculture and hilly cliffs.
Being on the islands of Greece is a different travel experience all right. All my trips, I’ve been walking from place to place to check out the various attractions. But on beach islands like this, part of enjoying it is lazing by the beach. Perfect to unwind (though I didn’t have much to unwind for I’ve been cruising around Europe for the previous months, heh heh).
Expenses in Santorini Accom: 20€/night Ferry to: 37.50€ Free pick up to hotel Food: 12.90€/day (Restaurant meals: 6-9€ Gyros/ kebab: 2.60€) Breakfast provided by hotel Packed snacks for lunch during hike & beach: 2.50€ 52.66€/day, 3 full days