The Best Things to Do on Santorini

Santorini is one of the world’s most popular islands, and for good reason! It’s beautiful, photogenic, and the ultimate Instagrammable location. But it’s so much more than that!

The gorgeous photos you see all over the Internet barely scratch the surface on what this island truly has to offer. Here’s your ultimate list of what to do on Santorini!

Walk Up the Steps from Amoudi Bay to Oia Village

Most bloggers will tell you how to avoid this experience, but not this blogger! If you’re physically able, I encourage you to walk up from Amoudi Bay to Oia for the experience, the views, the appreciation for how people used to travel—on foot! Instead of focusing on how many steps there are and how long the journey is, look around and see Santorini’s old world side.

If you’re able, take the stairs!
Make those steps count for you! The Best Fitness Apps for Travelers

Stay in a Cave Hotel

On the surface, this may sound rugged, unique, intriguing, or perhaps adventurous! The word “luxury” may not be the first word that comes to mind, but that’s exactly what you’ll be thinking when you step into one of Oia’s, Imerovigli’s, or Fira’s luxury accommodations.

Carved into the face of the Caldera, people have been living in caves like these for centuries. Many of these dwellings were badly damaged in the 1956 earthquake that rocked the island, but since then, they’ve been reimagined into boutique hotels, suites, and villas. Staying in one yourself will be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Built right into the side of the Caldera
Get all the details: What It’s Like Staying at Oia Mare Villas, Santorini

Go Photographing

This is a main draw for visitors to the island in the age of Instagram, and as such, it’s become a major industry! You can actually hire a photographer to capture you (and a loved one perhaps) at some of Santorini’s most iconic locations, and some even offer dress rental so you can get that flowy shot you’re always seeing on “the ‘Gram.”

You can, of course, take your own photos! There’s no shortage of blue domes, coloful doorways, or beautiful backgrounds around the island, but please be polite. Try to go out early so you’re not blocking the only thoroughfare through town for the hundreds of thousand of tourists who also have the right to be there.

And remember that people actually live their day to day lives on the island. They’ve had to put up signs at a local school telling people they’re not allowed to take photos of the children. Why do people need to be told that? Because people have done that in the past. Use common sense, and be courteous!

Find a spot and strike a pose!
The Best Shot is the Shot You Got: The Best Tips for Travel Photography

Take a Sailing Tour of the Caldera

This was a delight! We took a half-day tour on a traditional boat with Caldera Yachting, and we got to see the island from a whole different perspective. There are some places on the island that are only accessible by boat. You’ll also get to see both the “old” and “new” volcanoes in the middle of Santorini’s caldera, and make a stop off the coast of the neighboring island of Therasia. In fact, I’m inspired to go back and visit this island specifically in the future!

We never would have known about this hidden church without our boat tour!
More here: What It’s Like Taking a Traditional Boat Tour on Santorini with Caldera Yachting

Visit Akrotiri Archaeological Site

Did you know there’s a “Pompeii of Greece,” and that it’s right there on Santorini? It’s true! This was very high on my list of things to do, partially because I’d never heard of it until I started doing my research. There was a catastrophic volcanic explosion in the 17th century B.C. (that’s over 3,500 years ago!), which both destroyed and preserved the town of Akrotiri. Excavations began in 1967 (A.D.), and continue to the present day. A walk around the ruins is at the same time interesting, baffling, and a little bit spooky.

For me, seeing door and window frames make me think of this as a “real” place from the past.
Read next: Mistakes People Make When Planning a Trip to Greece (and how to avoid them)

Visit Oia Castle’s Ruins

Oia Castle is definitely “ruined,” but it’s gorgeous in a broken sort of way! Visiting the castle is completely free, and it’s easy to find, too. It dates back to the 15th century A.D., and was originally built to keep a lookout for… Pirates! This was not the only castle on the island, but it’s the only one that remains after a variety of earthquakes over the centuries. This is also where you’ll find the best view of Oia villlage, especially at sunset.

Oia Castle is one of the most impressive ruins!
Read this first: Everything You Need to Know Before You Decide to Stay in Oia, Santorini

Catch the Sunset on Oia’s Architecture

It’s the thing everyone does! The best place to watch is either from the water or from Oia Castle. Get there at least an hour before the sun officially sets so that you can see the colors on the buildings change with about a zillion of your fellow travelers. Many people claim their spot 3-4 hours in advance (or more!), but you don’t have to. Just be polite and enjoy the view!

Sunset on Oia
Also helpful: What to Pack for a Week in Greece (Athens + Santorini)

Hike from Oia to Fira

Many people hike this route from Fira to Oia, but we went the opposite direction, and we weren’t the only ones! The views are unbelievable, and it’s a whole different side of one of the most famous islands in the world. It’s a definite must for any hiker, just make sure you bring sunscreen, water, and food. It’s a 6-7 mile hike, depending on what route you take! (Don’t worry, you can take the bus or a cab back to your accommodation when you finish.

You can’t see or experience this anywhere else in the world.
Read on: Everything You Need to Know about the Hike from Oia to Fira, Santorini

Dine with an Epic View

The food in Greece, including Santorini, is some of the best in the world–the whole world! But what gives it the edge? The number of places where you can eat it with a view like the one below. Whether you’re looking for a fancy meal, casual pizza, or simply dessert and coffee, you’ll definitely find a place to come for the food and stay for the view.

If the food isn’t impressive enough, the view will be!
Keep eating: The Best Places to Eat in Oia

Want more? Don’t miss What to Know Before You Visit Santorini, and find all my posts about Santorini on my dedicated Greece Page!

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