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Best Things to do in Santorini

Santorini is one of the most beautiful, stunning islands you will ever visit in the world. It can be a bit overwhelming as you start planning your trip to Santorini, especially when you are trying to figure out which village to stay in. The villages are spread out, so it’s easiest to stay in a place where you’ll also do most of your activities. Some of the most popular things to do include relaxing at your hotel, a sunset catamaran cruise, the Fira to Oia hike, exploring the villages of Oia and Fira, visiting a winery and eating at Ammoudi Bay.

Below, we’ve compiled the best things to do in Santorini, one of the world’s most picturesque islands. Whether you’re into relaxing in Santorini, the best shopping in Santorini or the best things to do in Santorini, you can all find it here.

Santorini Quick Links

Best Things to do in Santorini: Tips and Advice

  • One day: Walk around Oia
  • Two to Three days: Walk around Oia, sunset catamaran cruise, Fira to Oia hike, relax at hotel
  • Four or more days: Add a separate dinner or lunch at Ammoudi Bay (not before / after the catamaran), spend more time relaxing at your hotel
  • The best tour / excursions: Sunset Oia Sunset Catamaran, Diamond cruise which has less people. Be sure to check the port the exact cruise debarks and arrives back at before you book. There are multiple ports and some are on the other side of where you are staying.
  • Most important tip: Remember, Santorini is on a cliff. And, there are multiple villages in Santorini. Pay attention to where the things you want to do in Santorini are located and plan how you will get there. Some excursions will pick you up. Other activities you have to find your own transportation and it could be $50+ for a one way cab ride. It is easy to walk within the village you are staying at, but if you are in Oia and want to go to Fira it’s a bus / taxi ride or 3+ hour hike.

Fira to Oia Hike

Fira to Oia Hike, Oia to Fira Hike Santorini, best things to do in Santorini

The Fira to Oia Hike (or Oia to Fira Hike, you can start in either direction) offers breathtaking views of Santorini’s iconic caldera, and the villages of Oia, Fira and Imerovigli, which is in between Oia and Fira. Though our time in Santorini was short, we are very glad we spent the morning doing this hike. It had incredible views and we were able to explore another village. The hike is not too difficult, though it is best to wear sneakers and go early when it is a bit cooler. It is also best to bring water with you, though there are some places along the way or not too far off the path to get water or a bite to eat. We did the hike from Oia to Fira and also found it very easy to take the bus from Fira back to Santorini. The hike took us a little over 3 hours at a decent pace. A good rule of thumb is to assume 3 to 5 hours. When we got to Fira, we made sure to stop at Lucky’s Souvlaki, which has incredible gyros and souvlakis. We also read about the Fira to Oia hike on Santorini Dave, who included maps and lots of suggestions, before going on the hike.

Lunch or Dinner in Ammoudi Bay

Ammoudi Bay Santorini

Ammoudi Bay is located at the base of the cliffs below Oia. It is a hidden gem as you won’t stumble upon it unless you know to go there, but also a place that is frequently posted on social media. If you’ve seen a few dried octopus hanging by the bay, that’s where you’ll find that picture. There are several restaurants in Ammoudi Bay that have great views of the sunset, but are also great to go to for lunch. It is also right by the port that the catamarans take off from. Personally, we went to Ammoudi Fish Tavern for lunch and loved the feta wrapped in phyllo and dried octopus. We wish we were hungrier for a large meal because it all looked incredible. While you can hike down, remember it is at the base of the cliff. We elected to take a taxi there, and then hiked up after. The hike up the pathway wasn’t too bad and took us 15 minutes.

Sunset Catamaran

Catamaran Sunset Cruise Santorini, best thing to do

Doing the sunset catamaran in Santorini is on many best things to do in Santorini lists and friends recommendations and for good reason. It is the best way to see parts of the island, including the Ancient Lighthouse, Akrotiri and Indian Rock. And, you’ll also stop by the red beach for swimming and at the white beach for swimming. You’ll also be able to swim in the Hot Springs. One thing we learned is that it does get very windy in Santorini and while we were lucky our cruise wasn’t cancelled (they were cancelled the day after us), we weren’t able to go to all of the stops because the water was too choppy that day. We were still able to enjoy the time on the water and relax on the catamaran. We went with the Sunset Oia Diamond Sunset Cruise as it picked up and dropped off from Ammoudi port, which is closest to Oia, and also had less people. They do have cheaper options which have more people per boat or leave from a different port which is much farther from Oia and requires more time in their van going to and from the port. Make sure to book this early as it does fill up! Part of the reason why the prices are different at different times of the year is because the cruise is shorter when the sunset is earlier.

Shop in Oia

shopping in Oia Santorini

The shopping in Oia is great. There is a mix of traditional charm and modern elegance. You can find locally crafted ceramics, linen clothing and handmade jewelry to designer jewelry. We found the shopping in Oia to be second best in all the places we shopped in Greece. The best we found was in Athens, with many stores offering VAT refunds and cheaper prices in general. The prices were more expensive in Oia, and no store we purchased at offered VAT refunds, though we did find a great selection of linen clothing and bathing suits.

Blue Domes in Oia

blue dome churches Santorini

The blue domes in Oia are among Santorini’s most photographed landmarks. These blue domes are the tops of the churches, and are perched atop whitewashed buildings that add a pop of vibrant color to Oia’s skyline. It is best to take pictures of the blue domes early, as once the cruise crowds come and people start coming to watch the sunset, lines will form to take these pictures and it will be quite crowded.

Sunset Pictures in Oia

Santorini sunset, Canaves Epitome

Sunset is another very popular time for pictures in Oia, and you will see crowds form to take pictures of the sunset in Oia in the most popular locations. Many hotels in Oia have views of the caldera, which is not on the same side as the sunset, so the best place to take sunset pictures in Oia away from crowds is to go to a restaurant. This includes going to one of the popular restaurants in Ammoudi Bay, which has a great view of the sunset. Roka, which is in the town of Oia, also has a great view of the sunset.

Windy Dress Photoshoot in Oia

While you’re walking around Oia, you may notice professional photographer shoots of a female in a billowing gown. This is actually a popular thing to do in Santorini and it’s called the flying dress experience. Women book the flying dress experience and get dressed up in a billowing gown for a professional photo shoot. The photoshoot has a gorgeous background of the whitewashed buildings, Santorini’s iconic cliffs, and the blue sea. Often, these photoshoots are in the morning when there are fewer crowds.

Visit Santo Wines Winery

If you enjoy visiting wineries during your travels, Santo Wines Winery in Santorini is a must do. Santo Wines is one of the largest and most renowned wineries in Santorini and it has a spectacular setting, award winning wines, has tours and tastings as well as a wine shop and restaurant. It is perched atop the caldera cliffs, and offers a panoramic view of the Aegean Sea and Santorini’s volcanic landscape. Some of it’s most exceptional wines include Assyritiko, Nykteri and Vinsanto, made from indigenous Santorini grape varieties.

Relax at hotel

best things to do in santorini relax at your hotel, cave hotel santorini

Many hotels in Santorini are absolutely stunning, offering gorgeous views of the caldera or sunset, private pools and cave suites. What better way to enjoy Santorini than enjoy one of the best, most unique hotel stays you’ll ever have. Your hotel offers a private sanctuary to unwind and enjoy the breathtaking views. Treat yourself to this luxury hotel experience while in Santorini and spend some time enjoying it.

Best Things to do in Santorini Conclusion

In conclusion, the best things to do in Santorini are to take in the breathtaking beauty as you walk around the villages such as Oia and Fira, enjoy a sunset cruise, relax at your private hotel oasis, shop and hike from Oia to Fira. Santorini is filled with charming villages, blue domed churches, breathtaking views of the caldera and gorgeous sunsets. Santorini is a top honeymoon destination and it’s no wonder why.

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