Featuring iconic white-washed cliff-side villages overlooking the Aegean, Santorini captures the heart of every person from the very first sight. The picturesque island becomes a favorite getaway which has so much more to offer beautiful scenery, signature architecture and relaxing beaches. This blog post will showcase my Top 10 things to do in Santorini Greece.
Besides the list for Top 10 best things to do in Santorini Greece, there will be some advice on how to find things to do and some travel tips.
How to find best thing to do in Santorini
Being a top tourist destination, it is not difficult to make up your wishlist for things to do in Santorini. Here are some ways to find things to do in Santorini Greece:
- Google: Search for the most recommended places.
- Tripadvisor: Read reviews for tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants.
- Instagram: Search for posts which check-in in Santorini and use hashtags related to Venice.
- Pinterest: Pin some ideas for your upcoming trips.
1. Sunset in Oia
Renowned as the most beautiful place to watch the sunset in the world, it is no surprise that watching the sunset in Oia tops the list for best things to do in Santorini.
Tourists start descending the Oia cliff area two hours before sunset and hold their spot til the sun goes down.The sunset turned out to be frustrating and stressful. There was no available space at the Byzantine Castle Ruin (the most beautiful place to watch the sunset in Oia) when I got there.
I can do nothing but escape from the crowd. I thought that I could not have missed the beautiful sunset and just wandered around to seek “a last ray of hope”. And “there can be miracles when you believe”. Finally, I found a little secret place in which I could enjoy the sunset by myself without any interruption.
The sunset in Oia in my opinion is not that beautiful to travel all the way and compete for a “place to stand”. If you ask me, where is the most beautiful place in the world to watch the sunset? It must be the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey.
2. Pop your Instagram’s feed with white and blue
The typical white houses and iconic blue domes make incredible photo scenes. There’s no wonder that Santorini was named as one of the most photogenic destinations for travelers. Just put the camera on and you can get “perfect” photos without effort.
However, keep in mind that there are not only you who take the photos but thousands of people. And it seems impossible to snap photos without getting photobombed.
Here are a number of tips for you to get better photos in this Greek island:
- Avoid main streets where tourists pouring the streets
- Wake up early when other tourists are sleeping (I will tell more about this in the next part of this blog post).
- Focus on small details like door handles, bells or church crosses
3. Sunrise in Fira
Too much spotlight for the sunset, however there is no single spotlight for the sunrise. If the sunset in Oia tops the list for best things to do in Santorini, the sunrise is worth a position in the list also.
I woke up at 4:30 and rushed to the promenade area. Early morning is also the perfect time to capture the picturesque moment of the town…of course without any traces of tourists. The usually bustling Fira turns into a serene place for a calming sunrise walk.
Though that moment lasted for a very short time, it turned out to be the most memorable one in my trip. Finally, I can admire the spectacular beauty of Santorini, without competing with other tourists.
4. Taking a ferry to Santorini
Thanks to rising demand from tourists, there are more flights to Santorini which shorten the travel time remarkably compared to that of ferry. However, taking a ferry seems to remain as the more scenic one as it offers the chance to see the Aegean Sea along the way.
I booked the early ferry back to Athens. Right before boarding, we made our way to the deck area to watch the magnificent sunrise over the Aegean Sea. Believe me, it is out of this world.
There are many ferries operating between Athens and Santorini, including Anek Lines/Aegeon Pelagos, Sea Jets, Zante Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways. Make sure to book the big ferry to avoid bumpy rides and book the ticket in advance.
5. Hang out at some of the extraordinary beaches
Another activity to claim a spot in my best things to do in Santorini Greece list is going to the beach. The special volcanic formation has given the Greek island spectacular beaches. And this is the reason why you can see black, white and red beaches (instead of sandy beaches). It will be an extraordinary experience to try in Santorini.
I spent a year pursuing the master degree in the United Kingdom where the weather is changeable without any notice. Sunny beaches are what I craved for.
You can see all the beaches in Akrotiri. The best way to get to the beach is by taxi boat as those beaches are not so accessible by car or motorbike. The driver will drop at any beaches upon your request. Don’t forget to bring along cash, towels and some snacks.
6. Walk along the Fira promenade
Situated directly at the top of the amazing Caldera cliff, Fira promenade is where you can feel the true pulse of Santorini. Filled with cafes, restaurants, clubs, bars, shops and stores, the promenade area is where it’s all happening.
Whether morning, afternoon or evening, a walk along the Fira promenade is always a good idea.
7. Discover the hidden charm inside alleyways
The charm of Santorini is not encapsulated along the promenade area, but inside alleyways also. It will be such an exciting experience as you don’t know where these alleys will lead you to. Sometimes a church, sometimes a viewpoint or sometimes a dead end.
Along the way, you can find some hidden charms including lovely bookstores, souvenir shops or themed restaurants nestled inside the busy streets. Don’t hesitate to drop in any shops.
8. Dine at any restaurant
White-wahsed house dotted by blue domes stands out in the backdrop of a clear blue sky and Aegean Sea is the ideal setting to enjoy a drink, lunch or dinner. And it is not difficult to find a restaurant with extraordinary views in Santorini.
Here are some tips for better dining experience in Santorini:
- Remember to dine before sunset, as when the sun comes down, every view no matter caldera, ocean or neighborhood view will be covered with darkness.
- Avoid lunch and dinner time (may be 1 hour earlier of later)
- If possible, make the reservation in advance to secure your spot
- Read the reviews on TripAdvisor to make your decision
9. Explore the other side of the island
Almost all inhabitants of Santorini lie on the west side of the island which leaves the east side underdeveloped.
By losing the way to the Three Bells of Fira, we have a chance to explore the “you-never-seen” image of the island. Though these areas will be different from the picture-perfect image of the island, it is worth a visit for showing the other side of the “paradise”.
All you will see is dark black color of volcanic soil stretched over the land with barely no greenery and of course no tourists. To be honest, I found this place to be interesting since I could see things that other can’t.
10. Admire the churches in Santorini
Despite its small size, Santorini has over 450 churches in different sizes and shapes that are scattered throughout various villages. According to some locals, “there are more churches than houses, there are more donkeys than people, and there is more wine than there is water.”
Each church bears witness to a unique history and owns a distinct feature which differs itself from the others. No matter where churches are located (inside the village, on the edge of the cliff or in the hillside of the beach), they are all worth a visit for their aura represented in special architecture, iconic bell towers and the amazing views some of them offer.
Summary: Top 10 things to do in Santorini Greece
Santorini Travel Tips
– “Say no” to Google Maps when traveling in Santorini. That most convenient app led me to the middle of nowhere and it took me over 20 minutes to find the way out.
– Book your flight ticket, ferry ticket and accommodation in advance, especially when you are traveling during peak season.
– Travel to Santorini during May to October if you wish to see clear blue sky and experience full service.
– Spend at least 3 days to see most of the top tourist places on this Greece island. You can stay more if your budget allows (I found the accommodation in Santorini is quite expensive so 3 nights is enough for me)
– Book your accommodation in Fira as it is the main hub of the island (Oia may be the best place to admire the sunset but not so budget-friendly).
If you need any further information, kindly see other posts in my Traveling to Greece below:
– MUST-USE WEBSITE TO PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP –