Top 6 experiences in Santorini in 2023
Are you planning to visit Santorini during your next trip to Greece? Are you looking for the best things to do while on this amazing and unique island?
Santorini has plenty of must-do and see attractions that you should include in your itinerary if you wish to get the most out of it in a short space of time.
Santorini is maybe the most renowned volcanic island in the world. Its not only known for its stunning sunset but also for the breathtaking Caldera landscapes and views, the whitewashed villages, the blue-domed churches, the vineyards and wineries. Not to forget the red, white and black beaches the deep blue crystal-clear waters
Here’s an easy but complete top 6 list to get you started.
Boat trips are among the best things to do in Santorini. You should experience a catamaran or motor yacht tour in the caldera waters before you leave the island.
Enjoy a unique sailing tour, explore the volcanic beaches, swim, and snorkel in the deep blue waters of the South Aegean Sea. Take photos and admire one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world! You will visit spots accessible only by boat such as Red & White beach, Black Mountain, Indian Rock, Warm Springs at the volcano and Thirassia island.
Luxury motor yachts, sailing and power catamaran, sailing boats, RIBs, small boats to rent without skipper, are all available for a tour from 3 hours to 5 hours or even for a full-day cruise.
Usually operators include in their packages, roundtrip transportation from/to your hotel, a freshly prepared meal on-board with BBQ or seafood, open bar, towels, and snorkeling gear.
Sunset cruises start approximately at 15:30.
As boat tours are very popular during summer season, make sure to book yours in advance.
- Enjoy a spectacular Helicopter Sightseeing Tour
Pick one Sightseeing Flight and enjoy incredible aerial views of the stunning Greek island and one of the most beautiful islands in the world, on a Private Helicopter flight. This tour is one of the most spectacular ways to soar above the picturesque landscapes and have a bird’s-eye view of Santorini’s incredible natural sights. Take advantage of this opportunity and create unique memories you cannot stop sharing. See all sites that is literally difficult to appreciate at ground level, away from the crowded caldera and the busy streets. Perfect for a romantic ride for two, a memorable group event or a family experience.
- Witness a gorgeous and romantic Sunset
This blessed part of the world is widely known for its magnificent sunset. Science tells us that the essence of a beautiful sunset is in the cloud layer. From bright orange to hot pink, the clouds are painted in ever-changing colors as the sun sets, highlighting the transition from day to night. Santorini’s sunset is always glorious, and you should experience it at its best visiting 2 different viewpoints.
- Oia (or “ia” as pronounced in Greek language). Oia is famous worldwide for its spectacular sunset and if you are planning to visit Santorini, most likely it is in your to do list. There are two spots to try. (a) Standing at the top of a ruined castle (kastro) near the windmill. Probably the most crowded spot in the island before, and during sunset so if you visit the place in the peak season you should arrive the earliest possible to have proper vistas without jumping over an ocean of heads). (b) For some kind of privacy avoiding the crowds, another beautiful spot during sunset time is right next to the famous Three Domes (just before Aspaki hotel)
- Akrotiri Lighthouse
This is a great alternative place to experience the uniqueness of the golden and gracious sunset. The lighthouse is at the end of a very narrow and probably rough road, with only a tiny car park right by the building. You’ll need to come early if you don’t want a stressful drive. Enjoy some quality time with your loved one(s), inspired by the serenity of the scenery and looking at the sailing boats crossing the caldera basin. Watching the sunset at the lighthouse enters your soul and lives there forever. It’s a magical moment and full of romance when the sun goes down under the pink sky before night falls, combined with the songs of seagulls flying overhead.
However, another perfect way to experience the natural beauty and stunning sunset of Santorini is by joining sunset cruises. Choose your favorite tour and vessel for an unforgettable experience! Last but not least, depending on the position of the sun throughout the year, you could watch at a perfect sunset even from other locations in Santorini, like Imerovigli, Fira and Megalochori.
- Book a wine tasting and food pairing experience
When one considers of famous wine destinations, somebody may think of France or Italy, but Santorini, believe it or not, is a top wine destination in Europe. That’s because the wine-growing soil of Santorini, which is partially made up of volcanic sediment, produces a unique flavor that’s hard to find elsewhere. Not only that, but to protect the harvest from strong Aegean Sea gusts, vine trees are frequently fashioned into circles and grown on the ground (rather than propped upright in rows).
Wineries can be found all around island, however the majority are located in Santorini’s central area. When visiting a winery, patrons tend to receive a complimentary snack, such as bread and cheese, along with their tasting. Many of Santorini’s wines are featured in the island’s restaurants for visitors who don’t have time to spend a day of touring wineries. Ask your server about local wines, or keep an eye out for white wines like Nychteri, or Assyrtiko and Vinsanto (a dessert wine),
A unique wine-tasting tour will take you to Santorini’s most iconic wineries and traditional cellars.
Taste amazing wines from Europe’s oldest vineyards and learn how to combine with melt-in-your-mouth Greek specialty foods.
There are several tours specialized in wine and food activities, providing small-group and private Santorini winery tours for guests to learn about the island’s wine, food, and culture. The main elements that you will feel with Wine Tours in Santorini are the explosive combination of wine, tastes, and emotions!
- Explore the Archaeological excavation site
A vast archaeological site in the village of Akrotiri, on the south coast of the island, is considered a significant geological discovery. Let’s go into its past!
Akrotiri, is a settlement that was one of the major cities and ports of the Aegean during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (20th-17th century BC). It was a crowded city of 20 acres with a remarkable social structure, public roads, sewerage, sanitary engineering, multi-storey buildings. The buildings of Akrotiri are a unique example of impressive architecture. Magnificent structures with carved facades housed communal services. Private houses included workshops and warehouses besides the rooms for the family. The building materials came from the island itself or were imported from other areas. Stone from the quarries of Thira was the main building material. Pebbles and gravels were collected and used for walls and floors. Valuable timber from Crete was used for wooden frameworks in the walls providing antiseismic reinforcement. Slabs of plaster from Knossos quarries were placed on the floor over a layer of crushed purple shells. Know-how and good taste were obvious in every activity. Various imported materials and objects prove the relationships and the contact of Akrotiri with Minoan Crete, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Continental Greece as well as Egypt and Syria. evere earthquakes forced the inhabitants to abandon the city in the last quarter of the 17thc.BC. The departure took place in an organized and methodical way. The old walls collapsed. Piles of stones were gathered in areas where they would not obstruct circulation, ready to be reused. The big vessels were placed under the doorways, so that they would be well protected. The desire and the hope to return were obvious. The valuable objects left with the inhabitants who abandoned the town. The absence of human skeletons on the site proves decidedly that the inhabitants had time to abandon the settlement. More probably they abandoned the island as well. Perhaps the disaster caught them gathered in an open space or even in the port trying to save themselves and their belongings. The biblical volcanic eruption that followed did not make it possible for them to return in Santorini, but it offered to the scholars a great amount of evidence about the Aegean world and the sea- trading settlement of Akrotiri at its peak.
How does one go to the Aktotiri Archaeological site?
The prehistoric site of Akrotiri is a 20-minute drive from Fira and is easily accessible by vehicle or public transportation. If you choose to visit the site by car, there is ample parking and the famed Red Beach is only a short distance away, both of which are well worth seeing. Fira’s public transit is also reliable, and the main bus station in Fira can provide you with the most up-to-date bus timetable.
Visitors can now walk around the city’s ruins, observe the narrow stone-paved streets, and admire the ruins of the large squares, the mud and stone houses, and the basements that were used as storage and workshops, while some of the significant objects discovered are on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira. The National Archaeological Museum in Athens also has some well-known wall murals.
You can also pick from guided tours and excursions that include visits to all of Santorini’s most beautiful and well-known locations while traveling in the comfort of knowing that everything is taken care of for you.
- Take a Private Luxury MEGA Sightseeing Tour
Get aboard a luxurious vehicle and visit the major attractions and most renowned spots on the island in one day. You can visit locations like hillside villages and volcanic beaches or customize your itinerary to check out specific places that interest you. A muti-hour exploration and introduction to the island’s natural, cultural, and culinary delights.
We propose you to visit:
- Fira & Firostefani:
Fira, the island’s capital and largest settlement, is the island’s commercial and cultural center. Located at 400 meters above sea level on the western tip of the crescent-shaped Caldera, it offers spectacular panoramic views of the sea as well as the two volcanic islands of Palaia Kammeni and Nea Kammeni, as well as the surrounding countryside.
In Fira, the houses are typically Cycladic and cubic in style, with low ceilings, whitewashed walls, and blue-painted accents. It is possible to stroll through the charming commercial streets of Fira, which are lined with boutiques and cocktail bars, and to visit a number of notable cultural institutions, such as the Archaeological Museum, the Prehistoric Thera Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Megaron Gyzi Cultural Institute, and the Bellonio Cultural Center. Consider paying a visit to Firostefani, a neighboring charming village with amazing views that serves as a natural extension of Fira, as part of your tour itinerary. On foot, it takes approximately 10 minutes to get there.
Imerovigli is a picturesque village located in Santorini’s central west region, only 3.5 kilometers from Fira.
It is a continuation of Fira geographically and is regarded as one of the most magnificent balconies of the Aegean because to its location above a cliff that provides a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea, the caldera, and the volcano.
Indeed, the name “Imerovigli” derives from the word “vigla”, which means “viewpoint,” as this site once permitted residents to watch approaching pirate ships.
Imerovigli is one of the most popular destinations in Santorini these days, and the town is an authentic representation of Cycladic architecture, with tiny lanes, whitewashed houses perched on the cliff edge, romantic sunsets, and amazing secret sites to find.
In terms of sightseeing, the most prominent attraction in this area is Skaros, a massive rock formation located directly in front of Imerovigli. The road to Skaros Rock is considered to be one of the best hiking trails in Santorini, as it is relatively straightforward to follow.
Skaros Rock’s ruins are all that remain of a 13th-century castle that was abandoned in the 18th century and collapsed due to an earthquake.
Additionally, Imerovigli’s several chapels (Agios Ioannis, Agios Georgios, and Theoskepasti) are worth visiting for their exquisite architecture. The Anastaseos church, located in the village center, is one of Santorini’s famed, blue-domed churches.
A magnificent multicolored village perched on the cliff’s edge overlooking the volcano and the island of Thirassia. Oia, or ‘ia as it is pronounced in Greek, is Santorini’s most visited and acclaimed most scenic village.
This small, gorgeous village, straight out of a postcard, is a favorite destination for painters, photographers, and lovers due to its breathtaking views and romantic ambiance. The sunset in Oia stimulates all of your senses.
Oia is located in the northern portion of the Caldera, 12 kilometers from Fira, the island’s capital.
Because practically all of the alleys are paved, the only way to get around is on foot. Expect to see countless attractive residences with traditional architecture and sun-kissed terraces, the famous blue-domed churches and various chapels, as well as several lovely restaurants, pubs, cafes, and stores while strolling through Oia.
Below the village is the little bay of Ammoudi, which serves as the port of Oia. A set of 300 wide staircases (about 1000 steps) will lead you directly to Ammoudi from Oia’s Castle, and if you wish to do this, you can inform your driver to wait for you downstairs.
You can spend some time at Ammoudi admiring the sea and fishing boats while tasting some sea food delicacies at one of the local taverns.
If you want to spend more time in the area, walk towards left side to St. Nicholas islet. (a small island about 20 meters from the coastline which provides a target to swim). This little rocky island its very popular from his platform from which you can jump or dive.
- Pyrgos village and the Monastery of Prophet Ilias:
Just 7.5 kilometers southeast of Fira, emerges the most traditional and largest preserved village of the island that is, Pyrgos . What makes Pyrgos unique is the fact that it is the highest village of the whole island, providing great panoramic views of both sides of the island.
Pyrgos is surrounded by blue domed churches and vineyards. Here and there you will meet small galleries and shops tucked into hidden corners, as you get around the uphill and downhill alleys. At the bottom of the village around the main, round square with its tall pine trees and quaint little coffee shops, is the focal point for socializing and entertainment. Regardless of the season, its busiest time is noon, when people gather for ouzo or Santorinian beer accompanied by excellent local meze.
After Pyrgos you are heading to the highest spot of the island (567 meters) that is located between Pyrgos and Kamari. The Mountain’s name is Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elijah), coming from the Monastery with the same name on its peak. From this vantage point, you will enjoy a striking view (360 degrees) of the entire island, from the patchwork agricultural plains to the hilltop village of Oia.
The Monastery was built in 1712. The walls round the Monastery remind of a fortress. The history of Profitis Ilias is long and very important for the life of Santorini during the centuries. In earlier times, owned its’ own ship which conducted private business for the benefit of the monastery and at the same time the Monastery was an active intellectual and patriotic influence. From 1806 to 1845 it ran a school where the Greek language and literature were taught.
- Megalochori Village
Megalochori is one of the most traditional and picturesque villages of Santorini. Located on the southwest part of Santorini, about 9 kilometers from the capital Fira. Megalochori keeps its beautiful architecture with the picturesque square (a place that is the heart of the village where locals gather in traditional cafes to unwind and have fun, creating a warm atmosphere) the narrow streets, the Neoclassical mansions and the typical cave houses of Santorini.
A great effort has been made by local residents and businessmen to preserve the characteristics and beauty of this traditional settlement, and many of the original houses that had fallen into disrepair, have been restored to their former glory.
The uncountable vineyards which extend beyond the countryside offer a magnificent setting and some of the most famous wines of Santorini. Megalochori, is definitely a place to experience the rich wine tradition is some of the wineries open to the public.
Getting to the Heart of Santorini in Megalochori.
Ask your driver to leave the vehicle at the closest point.
Once at the dirt trail, you’ll soon get to some steps leading down to the ‘Heart of Santorini’ – a naturally carved hole with an amazing view of the caldera and cliffs!
- Eros beach – Vlychada:
Walk on the black beach at Eros Beach and have a cup of coffee or fresh juice staring at the impressive rock formations.
On the southern coast of the island, there is Eros, a wonderful, secluded beach. You are getting there following a dirt road that leads to a restricted parking area. Eros, is part of the 2 kilometer long beach of Vlychada, however this specific impressive and unique beach section stands out. The landscape is dominated by the dark sand, small black volcanic pebbles, and hard white volcanic rock of Santorini in formations reminiscent of a lunar landscape, ending at steep vertical slopes just before the sea.
There you can find straw umbrellas, sun loungers, a couple of large beach tents and comfy cabanas where you can enjoy a beach day not necessarily during the tour.
Over the beach section there is an elegant, exotic, and cheerful built from stone and wood, bar restaurant, in absolute harmony with the surroundings.
- Red Beach
The red beach is an extraordinary place and one of the most famous and beautiful beaches of Santorini. It is located in the area of Akrotiri in the south part of the island and close to the famous Akrotiri Excavation site. Its surroundings by enormous volcanic rocks, the black and red pebbles, and the sand of various colors, mainly red, that created from the volcanic eruption, compose a wild scenery that attracts all the visitors and captivates everyone from the minute they step their foot on this stunning place. Snorkeling is highly recommended due to the interesting underwater rocks formation.
The access is relatively easy. Your driver will park the car at a parking space close to the beach, and you should continue all the way down that takes about two minutes. As you gradually get down to the beach you will be impressed by the different colorings of the cliffs.
- Perivolos (Black Beach)
Perivolos Beach is a well-known spot on the island’s southern part, around 10 kilometers south of Fira. Perivolos is the island’s most cosmopolitan and vibrant beach, well protected from the strong northern winds and popular to couples and young people coming to hang out in beautiful beach bars.
The beach features deep clear waters and is coated with black lava sand which is unique to Santorini beaches as a result of the volcanic eruption, and of course cannot be found anywhere else in the Aegean Sea.
It’s the island’s longest black beach and one of its most attractive, with upscale beach bar-restaurants, hotels, and activities for all hours of the day.
Perivolos is without a doubt one of Santorini’s most well-organized beaches, offering a plethora of exhilarating activities such as water sports, jet ski, scuba diving, beach volley, parasailing, and paragliding.