Santorini is one of the most mesmerizing places you will ever see! It is the most visited of all the Greek islands and one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole world!
Find the top 10 things to do in Santorini and all the information you need for your holidays in Santorini Greece. Santorini (or Thira / Thera) can easily be reached by ferry from Athens and is perfect for island hopping to nearby Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, and Crete.
Top 10 things to do in Santorini
- Visit the active volcano – the heart of the island. The crater is located on the islet “Nea Kameni” facing the Caldera. It is reachable by boat from the harbour of Fira.
- Jet ski safari is an unconventional way of exploring Santorini. You can choose among different tours, taking you either to the beaches on the south coast, or to the volcano and Thirassia island. All tours are combined with swimming and snorkeling. It is extremely popular so book well in advance.
- Enjoy a sunset from one of the caldera villages. This is an absolute must at your visit in Santorini island. The golden shades on the sky and the colour explosion above the Aegean Sea is a spectacle worth living at least once in a lifetime.
- Visit the small harbour of Ammoudi – located right underneath the hill of Oia village. In the tiny fishing harbour you will enjoy fresh fish and seafood. It is beautiful and peaceful especially during sunset.
- Hike from Fira to Oia – it is one of the most spectacular hiking routes in Greece. The path is 10 km long, but the views along the caldera are mesmerizing. On your way you will pass the caldera villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli.
- Go on a wine tour – either the “Wine tour with sunset in Oia” or a “4-hour small group wine tour”. The Santorini wines are famous worldwide. The volcanic soil in the Aegean Sea produces some of the finest wines in the world.
- Explore the site of Akrotiri – an ancient Minoan huge settlement constructed approx. 4,500 B.C. It was discovered accidentally in the 1870s. Around 1.700 B.C. it was destroyed by an earthquake. The new town built on top of the ruins was destroyed a century later by the huge volcanic eruption.
- Swim at Red, White, and Black beaches – due to the unique geology the Santorini beaches are characterized with different coloured pebbles and sands – always surrounded by crystal-clear azure waters.
- Fishing Boat Tour – is an authentic and traditional activity. You embark on a “kaiki”, the wooden fishing boat, and practice fishing with a local fisherman, learning fishing techniques, and then cook and eat the catch of the day.
- Cable car ride from the old port to Fira – is often combined with a boat tour to the volcano at Nea Kameni islet. The boats are departing from the old port.
TICKETS & THINGS TO DO:
Why visit Santorini?
The ultimate reason to visit Santorini is its magical sunset. No photo can really capture the sun sinking into the horizon while the sky is dressed in fire and the warm light colours up the island in Fira or Oia. The shades of red create the surreal sunsets and the Santorini caldera gives you the most dramatic sea views at the wild cliffs dotted with whitewashed Cycladic houses. Enjoy the luxurious feeling of the Santorini hotels, the delicious food at great restaurants, and the dramatic landscape of a volcano, just asleep.
Where is Santorini Greece?
Santorini officially named Thira, is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approx. 73 km2. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. Santorini has a unique landscape. The famous caldera, the stunning red and black volcanic beaches, and the crater of the volcano in Nea Kameni, are all evidence of the dramatic origin of a landscape shaped by volcanic eruptions.
Santorini – Where to stay?
In Santorini, the accommodation is beyond comparation with luxurious hotels, infinity pools, whitewashed Cycladic villas, and five-stars service. Here you can spoil yourself rotten with spa treatments, vineyard tours and winetasting, shop till you drop in luxurious boutiques and enjoy romantic dinners while taking in the sunset above the endless Aegean Sea.
Santorini – What to see?
- Ancient Thera – is located near Kamari, on top of a cliff. The road up there is a bit windy and difficult, but it is worth the trouble. Situated between Kamari and Perissa beaches it offers amazing view above the Aegean Sea.
- Museum of Prehistoric Thera – is in Fira exhibiting findings excavated from Akrotiri, the ancient Thera and other places in Santorini. The exhibition includes marble statues, ceramics, Minoa frescoes from Akrotiri, tools, and weapons.
- Archaeological Museum of Santorini – is in Fira, the capital village of the island. Here you will see statues, sculptures, ceramics, vases, and findings from the ancient cemetery of Thera.
- Catholic Cathedral – is close to the Orthodox Church in the Catholic quarter of Fira. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and has beautiful colours and a belltower rebuilt after the horrific earthquake in 1956.
- Prophet Elias Monastery – is situated on the highest peak of Santorini, at an altitude of 565 metres. With its stunning view of the island, it is a perfect trekking destination.
- Thirassia Island – a small island just opposite Oia. It used to be part of Santorini before the ancient eruption of the volcano. Today it is frequently connected to Santorini by boat tours. It is a remote beauty with untouched nature and just a few inhabitants.
- Venetian castle – in the highest spot of Akrotiri is the centre of the village. It was built by Venetians in Medieval times to protect the island from invasions.
- Emporio castle – and the Goulas Tower are two attractions worth a visit because of their beautiful architecture. They are situated in the southern part of Santorini. They were built to protect the islanders from pirate attacks, and the Tower used to serve as a storehouse for crops, too.
- Skaros Rock – is about 20 minutes’ walk west of Imerovigli. Here a strange rock with remains of a Venetian castle can be seen in front of the Caldera.
- Lighthouse – one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece (1892). Located on the southwestern side of Santorini it offers a stunning view of the Caldera.
- Bellonio Cultural Centre – frequently organizing art exhibitions, musical concerts, theatrical plays, and lectures, it is in Fira.
- Megaron Gyzi – housing exhibitions and cultural events during summer. It is in Fira.
- Museums worth visiting – Nautical Museum, located in Oia, Lost Atlantis Experience (virtual reality experience), located in Megalochori, Argyros Mansion in Messaria, Folklore Museum (includes an underground winery with a wine press) in Fira.
- Churches worth seeing – Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral (Fira), Church of Panagia Episkopi (Mesa Gonia), Agios Nikolaos Monastery (Firostefani), Holy Trinity Church (Pyrgos), Church of Holy Cross (Perissa), Panagia Katefiani (Perissa), Dominican Convent (Fira)
Santorini Beach Guide
Partly organized beaches
- Red beach – is with its black and red volcanic pebbles and hot water one of the most beautiful and famous beaches in Santorini. Located 12 km southwest of Fira.
- Perissa beach – Pebbled, family friendly, diving club, watersports, located 12 km southeast of Fira
- Kamari beach – Sandy, family friendly, diving club, watersports, located 8,5 km southeast of Fira
- Perivolos beach – Sandy, family friendly, watersports, located 11 km south of Fira.
- Agios Georgios beach – Sandy, watersports, located 11 km souteast of Fira.
- Vlychada beach – Sandy, nudism friendly, located 10 km south of Fira.
- Kambia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located between Red beach and White beach 14 km southwest of Fira.
- Caldera beach – Pebbled, secluded, located north of Akrotiri 10 km southwest of Fira.
- Mesa Pigadia beach – Sandy and pebbled, located near the village of Akrotiri 14 km southwest of Fira.
- Cape Columbo beach – Pebbled, secluded, often windy, nudism friendly, located 8,5 km northeast of Fira.
- White beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, located 13,5 southwest of Fira.
- Monolithos beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, located 6 km east of Fira.
- Vourvoulos beach – Pebbled, secluded, windy, often with big waves, located 4,5 km east of Fira.
- Baxedes beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, located 10 km northwest of Fira, but close to Oia.
- Armeni beach – Black and red pebbles in small beach with village, located below the village of Oia.
- Exomitis beach – Sandy and pebbled beach is located near Vlychada at the end of Perissa beach, about 13 km south of Fira.
- Gialos beach – Pebbled, secluded beach with view to the volcano, located 9 km south of Fira.
- Xiropigado beach – Sandy and pebbled, secluded, located between Pori and Vourvoulos beach 5 km northeast of Fira.
- Pori beach – Sandy and pebbled, secluded on the east coast of the island 6 km north of Fira.
Santorini – How to get there?
There are several ways to visit Santorini. You can fly directly from Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” or embark one of the ferries from one of the main ports of Athens, Piraeus or Rafina. All year round there is a daily boat from Piraeus to Santorini. If you would like to go island hopping combining your holiday with a stay at different Aegean islands you can use the ferry service connecting the islands, for example to Mykonos, Crete, Naxos, or Paros. There are no flights between the islands, but you can reach Santorini from Mykonos by helicopter. Santorini receives direct flights from London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague, Frankfurt, Venice, and more. You might also reach Santorini on a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea.
Santorini – Weather and climate
Santorini weather month by monthRead more
- Santorini in January – the weather is cold and may be rainy and windy. Most hotels and restaurants are closed.
- Santorini in February – this is considered as the coldest month of the year.
- Santorini in March – spring is beginning and there is a change in the weather with more sun, but it is still quite cold. When not cloudy or rainy the sun is nice warm and temperatures enjoyable. Cold during nights.
- Santorini in April – the weather is warmer, and April is the perfect month for hiking, but not for swimming at the beaches.
- Santorini in May – mostly sunny and warm. Maybe the best time of the year with fewer tourists and low hotel rates and cheaper flights. You can enjoy the beaches; the sea is still rather cold.
- Santorini in June – it is summer, and the weather is great. Still not too hot, but sunny. Great month for the beaches and sights without crowds. Hotel rates and flight fares are still low.
- Santorini in July – Hot and sunny weather, but remarkably busy. You need to book ferry tickets and hotel rooms at least two months in advance. It is also one of the most expensive months.
- Santorini in August – this is the hottest month of the year. Being surrounded by the sea, Santorini still has rather cool night temperatures. The strong north winds in August (Meltemia) keeps the temperatures down. August is the most crowded and the busiest month and just as expensive as July.
- Santorini in September – the beginning of the autumn season. Temperatures are cooling down and the colours of Santorini start changing. The sea temperature is still great for swimming and it is not so crowdy and expensive as in July and August.
- Santorini in October – now the temperature is cooling more. Depending on the weather it might be perfect for a holiday, but sometimes it can get rainy.
- Santorini in November – Winter is soon coming, and the weather is not good anymore. It is often cold and cloudy.
- Santorini in December – now it is the beginning of the winter season with cold and rainy weather.
When did Santorini last erupt?
The caldera of Santorini is cut by at least four partially overlapping calderas. The oldest of them was formed approx. 180,000 years before the present era (BP). The current caldera was form about 3600 years BP during the Minoan eruption (the one we know of today). Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni were formed by multiple, initially submarine eruptions at the centre of the caldera. Although dormant, the volcano of Santorini is still active.Read more
The last eruption of Nea and Palea Kameni was in 1950. Now only fumarolic activity takes place, primarily inside the recently active craters. Renewed deformation was registered around the caldera in 2011 and 2012. The enormous Minoan eruption of Santorini in the 17th century before B.C. may have inspired the legend of Atlantis. It was rated 7, which is the highest score of any historical eruption according to the Volcanic Explosivity Index.
Santorini and its caldera and islets
In reality Santorini is this which remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements, on what used to be one single island, and created the current geological caldera.Read more
A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km, is surrounded by 300 m high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest.
The Minoan eruption and the collapse of the Minoan civilization
The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (also called the Thera erution), which occurred some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization.Read more
The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of feet deep and a theory holds that this may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.
Hot desert climate caused by the lava
The inner coast around the caldera is a sheer precipice of more than 300 m drop at its highest, and exhibits the various layers of solidified lava on top of each other, and the main towns perched on the crest.Read more
The ground then slopes outwards and downwards towards the outer perimeter, and the outer beaches are smooth and shallow. Beach sand color depends on which geologic layer is exposed; there are beaches with sand or pebbles made of solidified lava of various colors: the Red Beach, the Black Beach, the White Beach, etc. The water at the darker colored beaches is significantly warmer because the lava acts as a heat absorber. Santorini and Anafi are the only locations in Europe to feature a hot desert climate.
The Minoan Akrotiri
Excavations that started in 1967 at the site called Akrotiri have made Thera the best-known “Minoan” site outside of Crete, the homeland of the culture. Only the southern tip of a large town has been uncovered, yet it has revealed complexes of multi-level buildings, streets, and squares with remains of walls standing as high as eight metres, all entombed in the solidified ash of the famous eruption of Thera. A loom-workshop suggests organized textile weaving for export. This Bronze Age civilization thrived between 3000 to 2000 BC, and reached its peak in the period 2000 to 1580 BC.
The lost city of Atlantis?
Pipes with running water and water closets found at Akrotiri are the oldest of its kind ever to be discovered. The pipes run in twin systems, indicating that the Therans used both hot and cold water supplies; the origin of the hot water probably was geothermic, given the volcano’s proximity. The dual pipe system suggesting hot and cold running water, the advanced architecture, and the apparent layout of the Akrotiri find resemble Plato’s description of the legendary lost city of Atlantis, further indicating the Minoans as the culture which primarily inspired the Atlantis legend.
Trips to the volcano, the hot springs and the island of Therasia
Try a trip to the volcano, passing the Hot Springs and then the island of Therasia. You will enjoy the hike up the volcano. Your guide will explain about the surroundings and the geology. The terrain is like the moon or Mars. Great views of Santorini as well. You can choose to go on the glass bottom boat. The Hot Springs is really a warm inlet at the smaller volcano for swimming off the boat. This trip is worth the money, specially if you like hiking and geology.
TICKETS & THINGS TO DO:
Recommended activities in Santorini
Santorini Dive Center
When you visit Satorini island you’ll have the opportunity to diving in the amazing surrounding sea. There are a few very good diving centers on the island among which is the Santorini Dive Center, operating from Perissa, as well as from Akrotiri. They promise to introduce you to the ultimate diving experience on the island. They have multilingual professional instructors, well maintened, high quality scube equipment and the full range of educational oportunities for certified or non divers.
You can try: Dive trips to the volcano, Wall dives, wreck dives, cave dives, discober scuba
Diving courses PADI-CMAS, Specialty dives, snorkeling
Here in Santorini you will also find the ‘Aegean Divers’ diving centre. Having had long experience in recreational diving at all levels of certified divers as well as in training, the Aegean Divers welcome both amateur and professional divers and help them experience and enjoy some of the most beautiful and exciting diving destinations in Greece. All diving tours and courses offered by “Aegean Divers” can be booked securely and safely with their online booking system.
Santorini Sea Kayak – Day Tours
Have a fantastic day out on the waters in a kayak. The tour leaders manage every thing from the pickup at the hotel, all the equipment, a good lunch, and lots of fun along the way. There wil be extra guides with the kids so that everybody feel safe to enjoy the trip.
Thoroughly recommended as a day out. You can choose to do the whole 7 mile tour or to pick one of the shorter routes.
Open-air Cinema Kamari
This could be a great evening for you, quite different and very cool. Popcorn, Mythos beer and a good film await you! Great little place a definite must!