14 Incredible Things to do on Santorini, Greece

Things to do on Santorini | The Common Wanderer

Blue-domed white buildings and a dramatic caldera: Greece’s most famous island needs no introduction. Here are 14 incredible things to do on Santorini, including where to stay, how to get around, and what not to do too.


 

Our first glimpse of Santorini came, as it has for so many travellers before us, from the deck of our Bluestar ferry as it lurched towards Athinios port.

We say glimpse, but what we really mean is the first jaw-dropping moment of awe.

From our watery vantage point, arriving in Santorini was wholly a dramatic experience.

Sheer red cliffs tower hundreds of metres high, encircling the salt-sparkled sea, the craggy land all that remains of an ancient volcano that buried entire civilisations and drowned land with its fiery power. All along this scar-scrawled rock, sugar-cube villages domed with blue sprinkle the narrow ridges, a pretty icing atop layers of visible cataclysm.

An impossibly powerful, mesmerising illusion conjured to life.

While Santorini might be famous these days for its Oia sunsets, infinity pools, and Instagram crowd with dresses flowing in the breeze, in our five days on the island we found ourselves captivated by the history that lay beneath it.

The story of nature and power, devastation and resilience, repeated over and over in time and present in every single drop of wine, a mouthful of food, meandering village street and ancient city ruin.

From quiet traditional villages to still-smoking volcanic islands, there's a whole landscape of things to discover on Santorini; activities that appeal to history buffs and culture vultures, nature enthusiasts and those looking for that once-in-a-lifetime romantic getaway.

This curated Santorini guide showcases the best things to do on Santorini, beyond the well-worn paths of Fira and Oia, and showcases a totally different side to this once powerful volcano in the Aegean Sea.

Love our photos? They were all edited using our Europe Preset Pack, which you can purchase here!

 

14 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON SANTORINI


 
 
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The Best of Santorini

#1 Watch the famous Oia sunset

# 2 Get lost in Oia’s streets

#3 Visit Santorini’s traditional villages

#4 Sail the Seas with Santorini Sailing

#5 Wine-tasting at Domaine Sigalas

#6 Explore ancient history at Akrotiri

#7 Swim and cliff jump at Amoudi Bay

#8 Hike from Fira to Oia

#9 Visit Fira… then leave it

#10 Hike Skaros Rock

#11 Day trip to Nea Kameni

#12 Beach-hopping

#13 Have lunch at Metaxi Mas

#14 Stay in Imerovigli

 
 

WHERE IS SANTORINI?

Santorini (officially known as Thera) is a small island in the Cyclades, a group of islands in the Aegean sea, and about 200km southeast of Athens. It's the most southern of the Cycladic Islands, with Ios and Anafi for neighbours.

Historically, its position in the maritime crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Middle East made it a strong trading port, but also a target for marauding pirates. These days, it's home to 15 villages and is technically part of an archipelago comprised of Santorini, Thirassia, Aspronisi, and the volcanic remains of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, created after a volcanic eruption 3,700 years ago.

 
 
 
 

WHERE TO STAY ON SANTORINI

Most people stay in one of the three main caldera villages, Oia, Fira, or Imerovigli, during their time on Santorini, given their transport links, epic views, and the number of restaurants, cafes, and things to do in each.

Personally, we'd stay in Imerovigli if we ever went back to Santorini - it was quiet, beautiful, and had some of the best views on the whole island. That said, there’s a reason Oia is famous: it’s beautiful and a definite bucket list destination.

Fira, the island’s capital, is our least favourite of them all by a long way. Hotels here are seriously overpriced and quality is lacking. If you can, avoid!

Here are our recommendations:

IMEROVIGLI | Luxury stay: Kapari Natural Resort, a sustainably-minded boutique eco hotel.
Budget-friendly: We stayed at Remezzo Villas, and still dream of their caldera view!

OIA HOTELS | Luxury: Canaves Oia Suites and Spa built in to the cliffs of the caldera and with an epic infinity pool
Budget-friendly: Volcanic Arc Suites,

FIRA HOTELS | Luxury: Limestone Fira, luxury suites overlooking the caldera with private hot tub
Budget-friendly: Bedspot Hostel - a flashpacking hostel/hotel with private rooms also available.

 
 

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND ON SANTORINI?

We spent 5 nights on Santorini and found it was more than enough time to see all the sights comfortably; you could easily get away with 3 nights and still see everything you'd like to, especially if you had your own transport organised.

It's also worth noting prices on Santorini are almost double that of what you'd find on other islands, like Naxos and Paros, so spending less time here will stretch your dollars further on your holiday.

 
 
Overlooking the caldera towards Oia in Santorini, Greece
 

 

14 INCREDIBLE THINGS TO DO ON SANTORINI

#1 WATCH THE FAMOUS SANTORINI SUNSET

Whether viewed shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of others at the ruins of Oia Castle, from the infinity pool of your bougie hotel, or from the deck of your sunset cruise, Santorini's sunset is world-famous for a reason: it's pretty bloody spectacular.

The obvious choice for many is in Oia, and especially the Oia Castle, where the white-washed, blue-domed town and dramatic caldera cliffs are illuminated by pink, purple, and gold pastel light. It’s a breathtaking experience — though you will have to share the magic with what feels like a million other people. It is, after all, the most famous place on the island (and maybe the world) for sunset!

Here are our tips for epic Santorini sunset viewing, both in Oia and beyond:

OIA CASTLE | You wouldn't know it to look at it now, but the ruins of the Oia Castle (Castle of Agios Nikolaos) are all that remains of a 15th-century Venetian castle watchtower that stood guard against marauding pirates in the area. The castle was ruined in an earthquake in 1956, and these days the only 'pirates' who breach the walls are the thousands of tourists who flock here to watch the sunset each day.

Be prepared to get there early to stake your place, take some water (or a beer!), and chat with those around you as you wait! We have to be super honest and say that having done both Oia Castle at sunset and exploring the town at sunrise, we much preferred sunrise in Oia, both for the soft morning light and the absence of crowds. If you have the option, we'd recommend also visiting in the wee hours to enjoy the peace and quiet!

AROUND THE ‘BLUE DOME’ CHURCHES IN OIA | Prefacing this with a caution to please not trespass around the famous Santorini 'Blue Domed Churches' (aka Agios Spiridonas and Agios Anastasis) - much of the area around here is private property, so please respect the signs. That said, there are lots of lovely public laneways near the two famous churches that make for great vantage points as the sunsets.

ON A SUNSET SAIL | There aren't many things better than a Santorini sunset.... except maybe taking a sunset cruise and watching the show over Oia from the deck of your own catamaran! It's a pretty romantic option for those looking for their sunset view with a side of salty air too.

THE TOWN OF IMEROVIGLI | Smack in the middle of the caldera ridgeline and with the sun setting into the ocean directly in front of you, the town of Imerovigli has one of the best sunset views of the dramatic Santorini landscape and sea beyond. It’s best served with a cocktail at one of the bars along the caldera, from the pool or balcony of your hotel (like the beauty of Remezzo Villas, where we stayed!), or from the rugged cliffs at Skaros Rock .

THE PYRGOS KASTELLI | This was actually our favourite sunset spot on the whole of Santorini; the island rolls out before you and is a beautiful sight as the sun sets over it, plus the Kastelli is super quiet. We had the whole area up at the ruins to ourselves!

 
 
 
Sunset overlooking Oia from Oia Castle, Santorini things to do
 
 

#2 GET LOST IN OIA'S BEAUTIFUL STREETS

There's a reason it's become the place to visit in the Greek Islands; the traditional buildings cascading down to the water, pops of blue from church domes, pretty windmills and world-class shopping and food are breathtaking to see and a charm to explore.

The main thoroughfare gets shoulder-to-shoulder busy, especially in the early evening, but duck off the main stretch and it's not hard to lose yourself in quiet, hidden alleyways.

The most popular places for sightseeing in Oia are:

AMMOUDI BAY | More on this one below, but Ammoudi is a rustic old fishing village and the port area directly underneath Oia

OIA CASTLE | As mentioned above, the popular sunset spot on Santorini!

OIA WINDMILLS | The Oia windmills are just a couple of the handful of traditional windmills remaining on the island, historically used to mill flour.

ATLANTIS BOOKSTORE | One of our fave book stores in the whole world! Full of cosy nooks, a great selection of books, and a beautiful deck with epic views over the caldera

THE BLUE DOMES OF SANTORINI | The churches of Agios Spiridonas and Agios Anastasis are some of the most recognisable Greek islands icons, and the many laneways and alleys around here are gorgeous to get lost in.

KASTRO HOUSE | These gorgeous rust-coloured apartment will have been all over your IG feed already and for good reason - they're super cute!

CHURCH OF PANAGIA PLATSANI | You can't miss this famous Santorini attraction - it's in Oia's bustling main square in the heart of the town

Oia's insta-popularity precedes it, and with great fame unfortunately often comes great douchebag behaviour. Oia might feel like a fairytale, but people do still live here as they've done for centuries, so climbing on roofs (especially churches), over fences and signs marking private property, and generally just being obnoxious and inconsiderate to get your instagram shots really isn't cool.

 
 
 
 
 

#3 EXPLORE SANTORINI'S TRADITIONAL VILLAGES

In so many places, Santorini feels like an island that exists solely for tourists.

But travel just a few kilometres beyond the Caldera, and you'll discover rustic, traditional villages that are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Oia and Fira.

MEGALOCHORI

Megalochori is one of Santorini's most charming and traditional towns; a true warren of white-washed buildings and blue-domed churches, pretty main squares flanked by tavernas, and peaceful hidden laneways.

It's also known for the local sweet red Vinsanto wine produced here for centuries, and there are plenty of famous wineries (like Gavalas and Venetsanos) in the surrounding area — which is always a bonus!

Megalochori’s status amongst the wealthy wine merchants, land barons and traders of the 17th century is evident in the general beauty of the town and the grand mansions dotted about — whose high walls and solid wooden doors also provided protection against marauding pirates at the time. It was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in the '50s, but recent works by residents have restored the town to its former glory again.

Megalochori was one of our favourite places to visit on Santorini for a couple of reasons: the first was its obvious beauty and charm. The second was the sense that we were basically the only tourists there, observing 'true' life on one of Greece's most popular tourist islands.

Here are some of our favourite things to do in Megalochori:

PYRGOS

We raced to Pyrgos right as the sun started to dip in the hope of witnessing an epic sunset from Santorini’s highest village - and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

On an island where tourism has taken over and some of the towns have become soulless (looking at you, Fira), medieval Pyrgos is charmingly authentic and beautifully preserved. The streets are narrow and winding, and all of them seem to weave up towards the Kastelli eventually.

Built in 1580, the Pyrgos Kastelli (Castle) is the 'youngest' of the five castles on the island, and in our opinion, the best place to watch the whole of Santorini and the vast Aegean Sea unfolding right before your eyes. It's particularly breathtaking at sunset, especially if you can find a quiet corner to perch on amongst the ruins of the Kastelli.

Alternatively, if you're after a sundowner to accompany your view, Franco's Bar on the way to the top of Kastelli is a popular choice!

Our favourite things to do in Pyrgos:

  • Wander the pretty, narrow market streets of the old town

  • Watch sunset from the Kastelli

  • Enjoy a meal at Rosemary Restaurant

  • Sunset drinks at Franco Bar

READ | Our guide to the traditional villages of Santorini is coming soon!

 
 
 
 

#4 SAIL THE SEAS WITH SANTORINI SAILING

The views from the Caldera are pretty epic, but an awesome way to get a sense of their real scale and drama is from a totally different vantage point: the deck of a sailboat.

Captain Ted, the owner, is a colourful local legend well-known on the islands, and he’s been running Santorini Sailing tours around Santorini for years. We jumped aboard for a 5-hr half-day tour with them and had an awesome day soaking up that glorious Greek sunshine while also getting to explore in a romantic, adventurous way.

It's also worth noting that Santorini's beaches aren't renowned for their beauty or quality, so taking a sailing trip is the best way to get your fix of saltwater in pretty surroundings without feeling disappointed!

The day starts with a hotel pick-up and transfer to the Vlychada Port where your lux Catamaran sets sail from. After a quick sail to the first swimming spot, it's straight off the side of the boat, into the sparkling blue water with snorkel masks in hand.

The day's sailing also takes in the white beach, red beach, Akrotiri Lighthouse, the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, and dramatic scenery of the Caldera from the water. The crew also took us to their own secret sulphuric hot springs well away from the famous Santorini hot springs that often get super overcrowded. While the Springs themselves aren't much to write home about, not having to share them with anyone else was a definite bonus.

The crew also whipped up an amazing spread for lunch, with grilled meats and seafood, plus pasta dishes and salads for us veggies — all accompanied by a much-welcomed open bar. Sitting on the deck and soaking up the sun while feasting on delicious food and chatting with new friends was one of the best things we did on Santorini.


THE DETAILS

TOURS | Tours run for about 5 hours, and can be booked here

 
 
 
 


#5 DO A WINE-TASTING AT DOMAINE SIGALAS

For such a small island in the Aegean Sea, Santorini certainly packs an outsized punch when it comes to its wine scene: 18 different wineries can be found nestled in the small slips of ancient land between the caldera and the sparkling sea.

Not many places in the world can boast such diversity of wine-making, which makes Santorini pretty special.

Our pick of the bunch was Domaine Sigalas, an award-winning winery on the ancient plains surrounding Oia. It's smaller, more peaceful, and feels more genuine and friendly than other options on the island. Plus their gorgeous shaded terrace overlooking the vineyard was the perfect antidote to the scorching hot, blustery summer's day we visited them on!

As with many Santorini wines, the most commonly used grape here is the local white Assyrtiko grape, planted in the arid volcanic-ash-rich soil. You can pair a tasting flight with a tour of the vineyard, or opt for a tasting flight alone (we did the latter).

We can also vouch for their a la carte food menu; the Skioufiktá, a Cretan pasta with sun dried tomatoes and Cretan cheese was delightful.

Wine tastings start at €16 from their a la carte menu, while tours of the winery accompanied by wine tasting start at €50. For more information or to book click here


THE DETAILS

Where | Domaine Sigalas, Baxes Santorini

When | Open every day from 11am - 8pm

Cost | Wine tastings begin at €16, meals are €14-18

 
 
 
 


#6 EXPLORE SANTORINI’S VOLCANIC HISTORY AT AKROTIRI

For thousands of years now, Plato's legend of Atlantis, the lost city and civilisation that slipped beneath the waves without a trace, has captured the imagination of millions (including these two travellers, who first encountered it via an engrossing cartoon episode of Ducktales, way back in the '90s — but we digress).

So what relevance do Atlantis and an old episode of Ducktales hold to this guide to the best things to do on Santorini? Well, legend and some historians suggest that Santorini, and its ancient city of Akrotiri, may just be that lost city after the eruption of the Thera volcano some 3700 years ago.

While there's not a lot of evidence to support that claim, what is known is that Akrotiri was once a thriving Minoan Bronze Age settlement and that it's basically Santorini's answer to Pompeii: an ancient city and its everyday objects (like many, many ceramic pots and the odd tile) choked and then preserved under thick layers of ash and volcanic rock.

Akrotiri was only rediscovered in the 60s, and today you can tour around the enclosed ruins. The space is kind of like a large enclosed aeroplane hanger, with wooden footbridges in parts that allow you to walk along the city's streets and amongst the remains of its buildings.

It is less well-preserved than Pompeii — some of the buildings are little more than rubble — but for those who have a fascination with ancient cultures and civilisations, it's still a chance to go back a few thousand years and experience the island pre-Instagram and flowy dress shoots.

TOURS | If you're looking for a guided tour of Akrotiri, we recommend this guided walking tour with a licensed archaeologist


And for those who can't get enough of the ancient history, a few more historically-focused things to do while on Santorini:

The Lost Atlantis Experience | Just outside Megalochori, the Lost Atlantis Experience delves right into both this and the ancient eruption. Buy your tickets ahead of time here.

Ancient Ruins | The ruins of Ancient Thera at Messa Vuono and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira both have very mixed reports as to whether they're worth visiting. We didn't visit either of them.


THE DETAILS

Where | Akrotiri Archaeological Site, Akrotiri

When | Friday - Wednesday: 8:00am - 8:00pm, Thursday: 8:30am - 3:30pm

Cost | €12 entry per person. €6 reduced entry available for seniors and those under 25 from non-EU countries.

BOOK | Guided walking tour of Akrotiri with a licensed Archaeologist

 
 
 
 
 

#7 VISIT (AND CLIFF JUMP!) AT AMMOUDI BAY

Any closet Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants fans in the house? Because one half of this travelling duo was more than a little excited to see Ammoudi Bay and relive the famous scene where Lena tumbles into the sea and is rescued by strapping young fisherman Kostas — who woos her by throwing small fish back into the sea. A love story for the ages really.

In all seriousness though, Ammoudi Bay is a quaint former fishing village nestled into the red cliffs right underneath Oia. The two are connected by about 300 steps from Oia Castle, though you can also drive down to the bay itself (which we did).

If you take the stairs, please do not take the donkey rides back. The issues around their mistreatment are well documented and supporting animal tourism is always unethical in our view (read our guide to responsible travel here). You can organise a taxi back up to Oia for €10.

The bay is lined with gorgeously rustic fish tavernas where water laps right at the table's edge and the day's octopus hangs in the sun to dry. The walking path weaves through the taverna patios; Ammoudi Fish Tavern is the most popular.

Once you've reached the last taverna, you can also continue along the dirt track for about 5-10 minutes to reach a picturesque bay that's super popular for swimming and cliff jumping through the day (another scene from the Sisterhood movies!).

There's no official beach here, but just throw your towel down on the rocks and you're set! Bring water and lots of sunscreen / a hat as there's no shade here.

THE DETAILS

WHERE | Ammoudi Bay (Órmos Ammoúdi), Santorini

EAT | Ammoudi Bay Fish Taverna

 
 
 
 
 

#8 HIKE FROM FIRA TO OIA

The hike from Fira to Oia (via Imerovigli) is a breathtaking 10.5 km hike along the spine of the Caldera, passing through famous white-washed villages, dramatic clifftop scenery and the never-ending blues of the Aegean Sea below.

On an island that often feels packed and chaotic, this trail is a welcome oasis of tranquillity and natural beauty.

Walking direct, the hike will take you anywhere between 2.5 - 3 hours to complete one way. But given the trail takes you past some of the nicer villages (Imerovigli), fancy hotels, and Santorini sightseeing stops (like Skaros Rock and a number of pretty churches) along the way, you absolutely could turn this into a whole day's adventure with meal stops and exploring included.

The Fira to Oia hike can be taken in either direction you choose, although our biggest tip would be to get it started as early as you can in the morning to avoid the midday heat. There isn't much shade on Santorini generally, but particularly along the trail, and the sun basically beats down ferociously on you for most of the day. Lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen are essential for this hike!

After you've completed your hike, you can take the bus from Oia to Fira (or vice versa) again for about €1.80.

 
 
 
 

#9 VISIT FIRA, THEN LEAVE IT

Fira is the island's capital, and where you'll find the biggest array of hotels, shops, and restaurants. It's also where most of the cruise ship crowds land, and where many of the public transport links leave from.

Look, a lot of people love Fira and find it beautiful, and that’s totally fine.

We’re just not those people. — and you certainly aren’t going to find any glowing reviews of it here.

For us, it was soulless, overpriced and trashy — with signs for fish spas (gross) on every second corner, pushy shop owners touting bog-standard tourist paraphernalia, and crappy bars spruiking overpriced watered-down cocktails and terrible food at double the price merely because of the caldera view.

Obviously, we're not huge fans of Fira, but given Santorini is one of those 'once-in-a-lifetime' places, we know that plenty of you (like us, pre visiting!) will be keen to spend some time here regardless.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas for things to do in Fira worth a quick glance:

  • Wander the narrow streets of the Old Market area

  • Do the Fira to Oia walk along the Caldera in the morning (more on this below!)

  • Visit the Three Bells of Fira church (aka The Catholic Church of the Dormition)

  • Walk down to the old port and take the Santorini Cable Car back up

  • Explore prehistoric Santorini at the Museum of Prehistoric Fira and go back in time at the Archaeological Museum

You can pretty much skip the restaurants and bars here, especially those on the Caldera — honestly, the food is average and charged at double simply for the view.

 
 
 
 

#10 HIKE SKAROS ROCK | SANTORINI THINGS TO DO

One of the most striking features of the landscape around Imerovigli is Skaros Rock, a jagged promontory protruding from the Aegean Sea, vaguely reminiscent of Sri Lanka’s Sigiriya.

Once the capital of Santorini, it was also home to the island’s most important medieval castle — the castle provided protection to the villagers from the fierce pirates that sailed the seas here for over 600 years — and a Christian monastery, until the 18th century when the former was mostly destroyed by an earthquake.

What's left of the site today is fairly insignificant; a few foundations scattered about that certainly don't represent the fortress’ legend of never having been conquered. But that’s not to say that visiting Skaros Rock itself isn’t worth your time; the hike is still one of the best things to do on Santorini for the equally breathtaking and slightly terrifying views of the Caldera alone.

The hike takes about 45 minutes from the edge of Imerovigli to the outcrop, but shouldn’t be underestimated; it’s mostly up and down, and absolutely needs to be avoided in the middle of the day when the heat is searing (we know this because we made this mistake so you don’t have to).

The trail is clearly marked, and you can also continue on past the main promontory and down to the monastery (Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti) too.

THE DETAILS

Where | Skaros Rock, Imerovigli

Note | the area is prone to rockslides (we actually saw one as we hiked down to the rock), and the area is generally pretty precarious, so this is one place to avoid standing too close to the edge or lingering for too long under cliff sides.

READ | Our guide to the Skaros Rock hike (coming soon)

 
 
Skaros Rock Hike - one of the best things to do on Santorini
 
 
 

#11 VISIT NEA KAMENI AND PALEA KAMENI | SANTORINI ATTRACTIONS

Much of Santorini's landscape, villages, and culture are borne from the literal ashes of the eruptions that have torn it apart over millennia, and you'd be hard-pressed to do anything on the island without encountering a remnant of that past.

Take the volcanic explorations further by going to the heart of Santorini's volcano to the islands of Nea Kameni (literally means 'new burnt island') and Palea Kameni ('old burnt island'), in the centre of the caldera.

Both were formed during the eruption 400 years ago and Nea Kameni is still active; it last erupted in the '50s. For a totally different experience in Santorini, take a water taxi or a guided day tour from old Fira port to Nea Kameni and hike through the moon-like landscape to the top of the volcano's crater where steam still rises from today.

The landscape is barren and incredibly hot during the summer months, so be prepared with plenty of water, a hat and sunglasses or you're in for a sweltering day. A local guide told us to expect temperatures about 5c hotter on Nea Kameni than on Santorini itself, so consider yourself warned!

The warm waters surrounding the islands are also concentrated with minerals like iron and manganese, making them perfect for a super therapeutic post-hike dip before your return back to the 'mainland' again.

THE DETAILS

Where | Nea Kameni, Santorini

How | Boats depart regularly each day from the old port of Fira and from Athinios too.

TOURS | Either take a charter boat from old Fira port, or jump aboard this day tour of Nea Kameni

 
 
Nea Kameni island is a top attraction to visit on Santorini
 
 

#12 SPEND A LITTLE TIME BEACH-HOPPING

Honestly, even Santorini's locals will tell you that most of their beaches aren't anything special; most can be skipped entirely during your stay in favour of hanging by your hotel's pool or by booking a sailing trip (like Santorini Sailing, above!).

That said, if you're still keen to get some beach time on Santorini, here are a few tips:

WHITE BEACH | Soaring white cliffs above unusually clear blue water make for a beautiful sight here at White Beach, but getting there is an adventure in itself. Only accessible via boat, White Beach is a true Castaway experience.

Water taxis leave from the Red Beach parking area, and once you're here the secluded beach is yours to explore, snorkel, or swim to your heart's content. There are umbrellas here but no drinks or snack vendors so be sure to come well stocked for the day.

THE BLACK SAND BEACHES | Santorini's volcanic history means most beaches are black sand. Perissa and Perivolos basically join to form one long volcanic sand beach with beach bars, tavernas, and comfy sunbeds. Both can be accessed by direct bus from Fira and are family and budget friendly.

Agios Giorgios beach is their upscale sibling and can be found at the southern end of Perivolos, while popular Kamari beach, can also be accessed via a 30-min water taxi from Perissa, or by direct bus from Fira too.

RED BEACH | Red Beach, named for its crimson cliffs rising out of the crystal blue water below, is a breathtaking sight and features on many guides to Santorini's best attractions. But the island's most famous beach has actually been officially closed since 2013 following a landslide and many subsequent rockfalls.

Thousands of tourists ignore the signs and crumbling cliffs each year and climb down anyway, but between the risk of landslides and the very minimal beach left to actually sit comfortably on, we'd say it's a risk not worth taking.

The beach can still be admired via boat, which is what we did!

 
 
Red beach, one of the best places to visit on Santorini
 
 

#13 HAVE LUNCH AT METAXI MAS | THE BEST RESTAURANT ON SANTORINI

Tucked well off the beaten path in the small village of Exo Gonia and nestled behind the huge yellow Agios Charalambos church, Metaxi Mas taverna's location might be unassuming but the food absolutely isn't.

Bringing together flavours from both the Cretan and Santorinian kitchens, this was the best meal we had by far on Santorini. In fact, we'd go as far as saying it was the best we had in the entirety of our two-month Greek islands trip.

Metaxi Mas is the epitome of family-run hospitality: seriously authentic, soulful home-style cooking accompanied by friendly service that evokes the feeling of arriving at the home of a long-lost friend. The open terrace's position at the top of a hill also means that the sweeping views over the island and the Aegean sea are the perfect pairing for any meal too.

For fellow veggie friends, the vegetarian options are incredible and plentiful (a rarity in the islands). The baked asparagus with Cretan cheese is a flavour sensation that's absolutely not to be missed! We also had the white aubergine baked with tomato and feta, the grilled Pleurotus mushrooms, and the Fava, all of which were mouthwateringly good.

We can't stress this enough: you need to make a reservation in advance for Metaxi Mas. We managed to get a booking for 3pm.

Within ten minutes, they were already turning people away both in person and over the phone — and this was in off season!

THE DETAILS

Where | Metaxi Mas, Exo Gonia, Santorini

When | Daily from 2:30pm - 11:30pm

 
 
 
 

#14 STAY IN IMEROVIGLI

Forget Fira and Oia, the clifftop town of Imerovigli is the best town to stay in on Santorini by far.

It's the highest of the caldera towns, with sweeping views over the caldera, Skaros Rock, and endless sea make for some of the best sunset-watching on the island. But its real charm is in its peace and quiet, a marked difference from the atmosphere of the other main caldera towns that are a constant hive of activity.

Many of the more exclusive boutique stays on Santorini are actually here in Imerovigli, particularly on the Fira-Oia hike leading out of the village. But for those without endless pockets of cash, the good news is there are also plenty of lovely stays here for a fraction of the price tag too.

We stayed at Remezzo Villas; once a traditional vineyard and cellar from the 1800s transformed into a beautiful family-run boutique hotel. While the hotel itself was beautiful, a mix of white-washed buildings and rustic pastel converted barns and cellars, our favourite pastime was sitting on the terrace and taking in the 180-degree panoramic views of the island's wild volcanic coastlines and the magical sunset that seemed to drop into the sea right in front of us.

There aren't as many restaurant options in Imerovigli, but we can definitely recommend Anogi for traditional food, friendly service, and a generally warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Fira is also about 20-30 minutes walk away via the Fira-Oia pedestrian trail, which makes for an easy wander if you want more options.

THE DETAILS

Where | Remezzo Villas, Imerovigli

BOOK | Prices and info for Remezzo available here

 
 
 
 

 

SANTORINI TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

HOW TO GET TO SANTORINI

Santorini is extremely well connected by ferry to both other islands and Athens, as well as via direct flights from many capital cities in Europe and beyond during the peak months.

BY FLIGHT

You can fly to Santorini from Athens year-round, while during the summer months there are direct flights from many European capitals to Santorini. From the airport, you can take the 10-minute local bus for ~€2, or taxis will range between €30-45.

BY FERRY

As one of the Cyclades most popular islands, Santorini is super well connected by ferry to all other major islands and the mainland.

There are multiple daily ferries from Piraeus (the mainland Athens port) as well as nearby Cycladic islands. Ferries were our preference for getting around the islands, both for cutting down on unnecessary short flights, and also because they're generally the faster, more comfortable, and more affordable option anyway.

BOOK | We booked all our ferry tickets through FerryHopper.

From the Ferry terminal, you can take the local bus to Fira for about €2. Alternatively, taxis are about €25-35 from the port to Fira and Imerovigli, while shared transfers are similarly priced.

 

 

HOW TO GET AROUND SANTORINI

There are a few ways to get around Santorini, although which one you should opt for kind of depends on whether you're planning to visit during peak season or not.

SCOOTER OR ATV

The best option if you want more flexibility and freedom with your Santorini itinerary while not spending an absolute fortune on car rental. In peak season, you'll want to be able to zip about more freely than you can in a car or by local bus.

We hired an ATV through Tony's in Fira, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. Genuinely the loveliest family-run business who really cared about the safety and comfort of customers — they picked us up from Imerovigli when we rented our ATV and wouldn't let us leave the premises without going for a proper test drive — and also had some of the best rates on the island.

Note that to rent a scooter in Greece you'll need to show proof of a motorbike license.

LOCAL BUS

Buses are by far the cheapest mode of transport on Santorini, and the network is pretty good and reliable. Most tickets between major hubs generally cost around €1.80 (the most we paid was €2.50 for a ticket) and are paid in cash to the bus driver. Most buses connect in and out of Fira, which is the only super annoying part (like when you're trying to get between Oia and Imerovigli, but have to switch at Fira!).

The buses themselves are decent; they're air-conditioned and comfortable, although in peak season they fill up seriously quickly and you may find yourself standing. They run frequently, although the timings are sometimes a little limiting when you want to pack lots of Santorini's best things to do into a single day.

During the peak of summer, we'd recommend getting to the bus stop early, and be prepared to queue for a while (it can also get pretty pushy!).

BY CAR

Our least favourite option for getting around Santorini, especially in peak season. Car rental here is hideously expensive, and the mostly single lane roads just choke under the level of traffic on them.

Plenty of locals talked about 30-minute drives stretching into traffic-clogged 2+ hours through July and August, something we witnessed the beginning of during our visit (and in a vastly reduced pandemic season, no less!).

If you can avoid it, personally we'd say don't bother hiring a car.

BOOK | Search and book car rental on Santorini


 

TRAVEL INSURANCE | STAY SAFE IN THE GREEK ISLANDS

If you can't afford travel insurance, you really can't afford to travel. As the current global situation has taught many people, things can go wrong anywhere in the world - and insurance is often the only way of mitigating any issues with minimal expense or stress for you.

For all travellers | HeyMondo - COVID-19 coverage, comprehensive travel + medical insurance, an app with 24-hour medical support, and no out of pocket fees. *Get 5% off your policy by booking through our link here.

For digital nomads | SafetyWing - COVID-19 coverage, comprehensive travel & medical, and policies can be purchased while already abroad.

Car Insurance | Insurance4CarHire - a great annual car insurance policy

*In normal times, we recommend using World Nomads travel insurance, but unfortunately they're not currently covering COVID-19 related claims right now.

 

 

PLANNING A TRIP TO GREECE SOON?

Check out these essential guides, travel tips, and more to help you plan your trip:

GREECE SAILING | This is what it’s like to sail the Greek Saronic Islands with Medsailors

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider

PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world? Click here to view our detailed photography gear guide, as well as our top travel photography tips!

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL | Responsible travel is important. REALLY IMPORTANT. Learn our top responsible travel tips to help you, your family and friends travel more consciously around the globe

ECO FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials

 


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That, and you're officially a legend.