Instantly recognizable from its sloping cliffs dotted with whitewashed buildings, rustic windmills with wooden sails, and sea-blue domed roofs, Santorini is simply stunning. One of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, the clandestine island is best known for its breathtaking views, remote beaches, and dazzling sunsets you’ll never forget!
While the idyllic isle is the perfect place to relax and do absolutely nothing at all, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Santorini when you start to get tired of the sun, sea, and sand.
From leisurely walks with astounding panoramas and visits to cute family-run wineries to ancient ruins just waiting to be explored and charming villages you’ll fall in love with, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Santorini. After a long day of sightseeing, the island’s swanky wine bars, homey tavernas, and celebrated restaurants will be ready to welcome you.
With such a great choice of things to see and do, you might be having a tough time getting started. To lend you a helping hand, we’ve compiled a list of the must-do things in Santorini. Add these attractions and activities to your Santorini bucket list and start looking forward to exploring one of the most beautiful islands in Greece!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Santorini, Greece
- 15 cool and unique things to do in Santorini
- 1. Discover What Santorini Was Like More Than 3,600 Years Ago
- 2. Go Wine Tasting at a Local Vineyard
- 3. Take a Scenic Hike from Fira to Oia
- 4. Step Back in Time in Ancient Thera
- 5. Have a Fresh Seafood Lunch at Beautiful Amoudi Bay
- 6. Take to the Sea on a Boat Tour
- 7. Check Out the Amazing Fireworks Show at the Ifestia Festival
- 8. Spend a Sun-Soaked Afternoon at Perissa Beach
- 9. Treat Yourself to a Plate of Saganaki
- 10. Get Lost in Fira
- 11. Broaden Your Cultural Horizons at the Megaron Gyzi Festival
- 12. Learn Something New at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera
- 13. Watch a Movie Under the Stars
- 14. Nibble on Savory Morsels of Tomatokeftedes
- 15. Watch the Sunset from Oia
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15 cool and unique things to do in Santorini
1. Discover What Santorini Was Like More Than 3,600 Years Ago
In around 1600 BC, Santorini (known as Thera back then) was devastated by a colossal volcanic eruption, causing the center of the island to collapse deep into the ocean. The eruption caused Santorini’s iconic caldera and sloping cliffs that are so beloved today.
The Akrotiri Archaeological Site is one of the top Santorini attractions where you can discover what the island was like before the volcanic eruption. Similar to Pompeii in Italy, the Akrotiri Archaeological Site allows you to walk through the ancient city along wood footbridges.
Despite the destructive effects of the volcano, much of the city is in great condition. You can see what the streets used to look like, admire the ancient buildings, gaze at a gorgeous fresco, and check out everyday items, like the kitchen utensils, flowerpots, beehives, and vases, that were uncovered.
Only one piece of gold was discovered at the site, and no human remains, meaning the site was either already abandoned or successfully evacuated. Excavations are still ongoing, and there is still a lot to be found, so you never know what you might see!
2. Go Wine Tasting at a Local Vineyard
If you’re a fan of wine, one of the coolest things to do in Santorini is to go wine tasting at a local vineyard. To visit multiple vineyards, it’s best to sign up for a tour, so you don’t have to worry about driving.
This half-day wine tasting tour is one of the most popular on the island. It lasts for 4 hours, includes the guidance of a local wine expert, and is done in a small group, so you won’t be stuck in a crowd. As well as several wineries, the tour also includes stopping by an observation deck to check out the views and a visit to a wine museum or wine art gallery!
If you prefer to do things on your own, there are plenty of wineries you can visit without a tour. SantoWines Winery, Venetsanos Winery, Estate Argyros, and Boutari Winery are all great choices. Here you can spend a lazy afternoon sipping all kinds of delicious Greek wine while nibbling on olives and cheese.
3. Take a Scenic Hike from Fira to Oia
For some of the best sights in Santorini, follow the volcanic trail leading from Fira to Oia. The 6-mile hike skirts the edge of the caldera and connects the two cities. It takes around 2 hours to complete and is something everyone can do – even if you’ve never hiked before in your life!
If you’re visiting Santorini in the summer, we recommend you set off early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the intense midday heat. Lace-up your comfy shoes, pack some water, and get ready to see some of the most spectacular views of your life.
Imerovigli and Finikia are two villages where you can stop if you feel you need a break along the way. But for most of your hike, you’ll be on your own in the alien-like landscape created by rugged volcanic land.
When you feel your energy levels drop, pause and simply take a good look at your surroundings. This alone should spur you on to complete the trail!
4. Step Back in Time in Ancient Thera
Santorini is home to a handful of ancient archeological sites, one of the most remarkable of which is Ancient Thera. Tucked away on the 1,200 foot-high Mesa Vouno mountain, this historic spot dates all the way back to the 9th century BC and includes long-lost pieces from the Byzantine, Roman, and Hellenic eras.
Although it was founded millennia ago, Ancient Thera wasn’t discovered until 1896, when Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen first stumbled upon the ruins. The area was explored twice more in the second half of the 20th century before becoming one of the most interesting things to see in Santorini for visitors.
After walking (or catching a taxi) to the top of the mountain, you’ll be able to explore the remains of temples, the theater, agora, gymnasium, and rows of ruined houses. In Ancient Thera, important monuments were made using large limestone blocks, while everyday houses were constructed with smaller, random stones. See if you can notice the difference!
5. Have a Fresh Seafood Lunch at Beautiful Amoudi Bay
When you want something relaxing and peaceful to do, head to Amoudi Bay for a chilled-out lunch. A small fishing village hidden below Oia, Amoudi Bay is made up of quaint white houses set into an eye-catching ochre cliff face.
The easiest way to reach Amoudi Bay is to walk down the 300-step stairway that begins at Oia. You can drive, but there’s hardly any parking, so it’s best to walk. Lining the port, you’ll find a handful of fantastic restaurants, most of which specialize in fish and seafood.
Amoudi Fish Tavern is our favorite. This incredible place is so close to the sea that you’ll think you’re eating on a ship! If you arrive early in the morning, you might even be able to see local fishermen hauling their catches off their boats and into the restaurant to be served that day.
After a delicious lunch, take a leisurely stroll past the other restaurants. At the end of the path, you’ll come to a small cove perfect for swimming.
6. Take to the Sea on a Boat Tour
One of the top things to do in Santorini is to sign up for a boat tour. And with so many options available, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect experience just for you. But if you don’t know where to start, the most popular boat tour on the island is the volcano tour.
This tour departs from the old port of Santorini and heads straight for the island’s volcano. You’ve then got the chance to enjoy a guided walk around the volcano with a friendly guide who can answer all your questions and fill you in about the history of Santorini and its volcano. If you don’t feel like walking, you can stay on the boat and relax.
After that, you’ll hop back on the boat and sail to Santorini’s hot springs. These thermal waters feel amazing on your skin and are sure to cure any aches and pains you have!
If that’s not your thing, there are plenty of other boat tours to choose from. A sunset tour is a great option if you want to wow your travel partner with a romantic evening. This tour sets sail on a catamaran and includes a barbeque dinner and drinks. It’s the complete package!
7. Check Out the Amazing Fireworks Show at the Ifestia Festival
The Ifestia Festival is one of the most loved Santorini activities, and it was essentially created accidentally. In 1991, the island hosted a music concert and ended it with a fireworks show. The show was so extraordinary and well-received that they repeated it the following year. Fast forward three decades and the Ifestia Festival is still going strong!
Held each September throughout the island, the Ifestia Festival commemorates the volcanic eruption that changed the island’s history and landscape forever. The program changes every year, so even if you’ve attended the festival before, it’s always worth getting involved again if you visit on the right dates.
For many, the highlight of the event is the recreation of the volcanic eruption, which occurred around 1600 BC. To recreate the big event, dazzling fireworks are shot out of the volcano, accompanied by sound and light effects designed to reenact the lava flow and volcanic explosions.
The main event is backed up by music concerts, photography exhibitions, art displays, and dance performances that are spread out over several days.
8. Spend a Sun-Soaked Afternoon at Perissa Beach
Santorini is bursting with stunning beaches, and Perissa Beach is one of the best! Located just over 7 miles southeast of Fira, this gorgeous bay stretches on for more than 4 miles. With so much space, there’s always room to lay out your towel – no matter how busy the beach gets.
What’s so special about Perissa Beach is its dazzling black volcanic sand, crystal-clear waters just begging you to take a dip, and all the excellent facilities you need for a great day at the beach. It’s also home to the standout natural attraction that is Mesa Vouno. This giant mountain rises out of the water and into the sky, with Ancient Thera hiding at its peak.
Head toward the end of the beach, and you’ll find a top-notch diving location along with two diving centers where you can rent equipment. Alternately, there are plenty of watersport kiosks along the shore where you can sign up for everything, from parasailing and windsurfing to jet skiing and kayaking. There’s also a mini waterpark with slides and pools to keep the little ones entertained.
9. Treat Yourself to a Plate of Saganaki
If you’re a foodie, one of the best things to do in Santorini is to eat! Greek food really is spectacular, and Santorini does a great job of creating it at its finest. Out of everything we ate in Santorini, saganaki was definitely one of our favorites.
A popular appetizer in restaurants all over Santorini, saganaki is a piece of cheese fried in a pan until it develops a dark, crispy crust on the outside and a gooey center. Some places stuff extras into the cheese, like meat, seafood, or vegetables. But the cheese on its own is amazing!
Meli & Thymari is a fantastic place for saganaki and other classic Greek food. They also serve some great vegan dishes, which can be tricky to find in Santorini. Ouzeri is another highly recommended place to try this iconic Greek appetizer.
They also serve manouri cheese, which is similar and also worth a try. It’s a piece of cheese with a sesame crust that’s fried and served with the most delicious sour cherry sauce.
10. Get Lost in Fira
Fira, the capital city of Santorini, is one of the places you’ve absolutely got to visit during your stay on the island. The picture-perfect Cycladic town is the ideal place to simply wander around and see what you come across. Meander along coastal streets, move down hidden passageways, and peek around unassuming corners to see what you can find.
If you prefer your days out to be a little more structured, there are plenty of things you can add to your Fira to-do list. Here you’ll find Santorini’s emblematic caldera, the picturesque Fira Skala port, and Santorini’s cable car, which will whisk you down to the port while treating you to amazing coastal views.
In spite of its sleepy appearance, Fira is one of the best places for nightlife in Santorini. If you arrive in the evening, you’ll have a fantastic range of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to choose from. Alternately, if you want a quieter experience, visit early in the morning when the crowds will be thin and the temperature will be cool.
11. Broaden Your Cultural Horizons at the Megaron Gyzi Festival
The Megaron Gyzi Festival should be at the top of your Santorini bucket list if you’re visiting in August. Held at the d in the center of Fira each year, the festival is a vibrant celebration of culture and arts, packing loads of different activities into just a few weeks. The festival began in 1981 and was so popular right from the very beginning that it has continued each year since.
From theatrical performances and lectures to music concerts and art exhibitions, the festival is full of exciting performances you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. As an added bonus, each lineup includes a fantastic selection of local and international artists, so you can witness performances from around the world without leaving Santorini.
One of the best things about the Megaron Gyzi Festival is that all activities are completely free. Check the website to see what’s going to be happening during your visit, then add it all into your vacation itinerary!
12. Learn Something New at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera
Despite its tiny size, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera is one of the top things to do in Santorini to expand your knowledge about the island and its past. Nestled in the heart of Thira, the compact museum is home to magnificent frescoes and countless archeological treasures discovered at the Akrotiri Archaeological Site.
Here you can check out pieces older than you can possibly imagine, including pottery that dates all the way back to 3000 BC! Not only are these items fascinating to look at, but they’re also a great way to learn about early life in Greece and imagine what it was like back then.
One tip: the Museum of Prehistoric Thera is best to visit after you’ve already been to the Akrotiri Archaeological Site. The items will make more sense after you’ve visited the other site first, and you’ll have a better time! The museum only takes around 30 minutes to explore, making it a great short stop to include in your sightseeing itinerary.
13. Watch a Movie Under the Stars
The Greek island is filled with wonderful honeymoon activities, and one of the most romantic things to do in Santorini is to go to an open-air cinema and watch a movie under the stars! The Kamari Open Air Cinema is one of the most magical and should definitely be at the top of your to-do list.
Open from May until October, this outdoor cinema is hidden away in the middle of a forest. The natural silence of the surroundings, the towering trees, and the wonderful smell of bougainvillea make it one of the best possible places to relax and watch a movie.
Movies are shown each night at 9:30 pm in English with Greek subtitles. The program changes often, so check the website to find out what’s being screened before you go.
There’s a small bar on site that serves a staggeringly wide selection of drinks. Here you can grab everything from cocktails, local beers, and local wines to mocktails, milkshakes, and juices. They also serve up chips, nachos, popcorn, and hot dogs for you to snack on.
14. Nibble on Savory Morsels of Tomatokeftedes
The tomatoes in Santorini are awesome, and the best way to try them is to order tomatokeftedes. A type of tomato fritter, tomato keftedes are made of a combination of fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, and fresh mint or oregano covered in a light batter that’s deep-fried until it reaches golden-brown perfection.
They’re so light and crispy that they’re the perfect way to start your meal or nibble on alongside a glass of wine. They’re even better when dipped into a tangy yogurt sauce.
Because they’re so popular, you’ll find tomatokeftedes in most restaurants, either as a snack/starter on its own or as part of a mezze platter. Roza’s in Vourvoulos is one of the best places to try them. The owner grows the tomatoes herself, so you know they’re 100% fresh.
Apsithia Restaurant in Oia is another fantastic place for tomatokeftedes, where you can snack on them while soaking up the unobstructed ocean views.
15. Watch the Sunset from Oia
One of the most popular things to do in Santorini is to watch the sunset from Oia, and there’s a good reason for it! The view is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen in the world. Even if you’ve already seen a million sunsets, none are quite as captivating and moving as the one you’ll see from Oia.
Start your experience with a late afternoon walk around the clifftop town to give yourself a feel for the place. If you’re super organized, make a reservation at a restaurant and enjoy a romantic dinner for two while the sun sets. Santorini Sunsets is one of the most perfectly positioned restaurants from which to watch the natural show. They also dish up some wonderful seafood.
If you prefer to be a little more spontaneous, take a wander over to the cliffs and find yourself a spot to watch the sunset when you’re ready. It can get crowded, especially during the summer.
If you’re looking for something a bit quieter, head to the Monastery of Profitis Ilias on the other side of the island. The view is different, but it’s still enchanting, and you might even have the place all to yourself. Either way, watching the sunset should be at the top of your Santorini bucket list!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Santorini. What’s your favorite thing to do in Santorini?
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