When people think of the Greek islands, the first things that come to mind are beautiful whitewashed buildings and vibrant blue domes dotting the villages. This is exactly what you’ll find in Santorini.
The island can be crowded which can be a turn-off to some. But if you have limited time, Santorini is one Greek island that is very easy and quick to get to by air from Athens.
The one thing I wish we did for Santorini was plan more activities. Some people go to Santorini to do nothing, which is perfectly fine. But for the adventurous like myself and Eric, doing nothing can be very hard.
Here are the top 10 things I would recommend to anyone traveling to Santorini
Not only was this our favorite thing we did in Greece, but it was one of the top things we did on our entire trip through Europe. Sunset Oia Sailing picked us up near our Airbnb around 1:30pm to take us to Amoudi Bay. From there, we boarded our catamaran to sail around the island. We stopped at several different places to jump off and swim. We even got to snorkel a bit. They served us a delicious Greek dinner on board and we were given unlimited Greek white wine (which was dangerously smooth and refreshing). It was the best way to see the sunset because we were on the water and we didn’t have to fight any crowds.
Link to tour: Sunset Oia Sailing – Red Cruise
Price: 105€ per person for the shared sunset cruise (Red Cruise)
Time needed: plan for 5 hours
Helpful Info: Don’t bring much with you. One small daypack was all we brought. I didn’t bring my nice camera, but we did have our phones, one towel for the both of us, sunglasses, our room key, sunscreen, and our cover-up clothes. You won’t need any money (except if you want to tip the crew after). There isn’t really a secure place to put your things, so just keep this mind when you’re packing for this excursion. Also, if you sit out on the net, you will get wet. But don’t let this deter you; it’s so fun!
2. Swim in Amoudi Bay
Before I go into too much detail, Amoudi Bay is gorgeous. The water feels amazing and is so clear you can see straight to the bottom. Now here’s the hard truth: it is not easy to get to.
From Oia, you’ll have to walk down over 300 steps to reach the bay. Once you are down, turn left and walk through a restaurant. When you get to the other side of the restaurant, follow the volcanic rock path to reach the swimming spot (there will be lots of other people there).
- Wear good shoes (no flip-flops!). The stairs to Amoudi Bay are slippery, steep, hot, and covered in donkey droppings. If you wear flip-flops (like we did) you’ll want to take them off, but you won’t be able to because the stairs are too hot and dirty.
- Don’t bring valuables. If it’s just you and your travel companion, there will be nowhere to put your things and one of you will have to stay with your bag the entire time.
- Make sure you have enough water. The hike down is very hot, but the hike back up is hot and strenuous. Make sure you have enough water to keep you hydrated.
- Give yourself enough time to enjoy the water. We didn’t realize how long it would take to get down and back up, so we only got to enjoy the water for a little under an hour. It’s not worth the effort if you can’t stay for very long.
Time needed: 2 – 3 hours
3. Hike from Fira to Oia
We did not do this, but I wish we had made time for it. I could write a long paragraph explaining exactly how to do this, but there are so many other bloggers who have done the research, here are a few:
Santorini Dave – His tips are wonderful for the hike, but he also has so many useful posts about everything in Santorini. This is a great blog to bookmark for your research for your Santorini trip. This post is going from Fira to Oia, but the tips can be used either way.
My Premium Europe – This has some advice on this hike, but also includes several other beautiful hikes in Santorini. I’m seriously regretting not doing one of these hikes!
Santorini Tourism Website – Additional info and tips to help you with your trek.
Time needed: At least 3 – 4 hours
4. Visit a winery
Relatively speaking, Santorini is not huge. But they have enough wineries to keep you occupied for weeks! There are at least 16 wineries (possibly more) on the island. Here are the top 3, but if you want a detailed list, check out this post on the Santorini Secrets Blog.
- Santowines – This is the most well-known winery on Santorini. You can book your tasting online through their website.
- Venesantos – They have an option to visit for the sunset. This would be a great alternative to the massive hoards of crowds that gather in Oia!
- Domain Sigalas – This is the closest winery to Oia. You cannot book on their website, but you shouldn’t have a problem with just showing up for a tasting.
Time needed: About 2 hours
5. Visit a brewery
You’ll find plenty of wineries on the island, but only one brewery, Santorini Brewing Company. This beer is all over the island and thankfully it’s really good. Their most famous brew is called Yellow Donkey, but they have many others to choose from. You can visit the brewery to tour the facility as well as taste all of their different brews. To be honest, the beer we found on Santorini was way better than the stuff we found on the mainland in Athens. While you can only visit one physical brewery, Volkan Beer makes their beer with all locally sourced ingredients from Santorini. So make sure you try their beer too!
Time needed: A little over an hour
7. Rent a motorbike or ATV
This is a great way to see the entire island in a short amount of time. Since we didn’t do this ourselves, I did a little research and found other bloggers who have mapped out great routes to take by ATV.
Price: Ranges from $21 for a scooter to $95 for a buggy (full day rental)
Time needed: This totally depends on what you want to do. You can just go for a couple hours or the entire day.
8. Wander Oia first thing in the morning
I can’t recommend this enough. If you are staying in Oia, waking up early will be your only chance to see this part of Santorini without crowds. During the day, the tiny alleyways will be flooded with people. If you wake up a little after sunrise to wander town, you’ll be rewarded with the peaceful Santorini you’ve only dreamt about.
Tips: Try to get out right at sunrise or a little before. You’ll have at least 2 hours of complete serenity.
9. Spend the day in another part of the island
If you’re staying in Oia, take a day trip to Imerovigli or vice versa. Imerovigli is much quieter than Oia, so if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, a day trip to this quiet town will be a nice. If you’re already staying in Imerovigli, you must visit Oia at some point during your stay. Yes, there will be crowds, but there will be much more to do in this area as well as some of the best restaurants on the island.
10. Explore the Akrotiri ruins
There are ruins all over Greece, but did you know there are ruins on Santorini? I had no idea until I started doing research for our trip. It’s not a huge excavation, but for history buffs, this is something different that you’re sure to enjoy.
Price: 12€ per person
Time needed: 2 hours
No matter what your plan is for Santorini, you’re in for a wonderful time. The island will blow you away; it is actually more beautiful than all the pictures you’ve seen.
Would you add something to this list? Tell us in the comments below!