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14 Best Things To Do In Santorini

From sprawling white sand beaches to ancient ruins in the southern Aegean Sea. 

The main reason Santorini is suspected of being the true location of Atlantis—or the cause of its demise—makes sense once you know a little of the island’s history. Santorini, aka Thira, is an archipelago of Greek islands made up of the remaining bits of a massive volcano which, upon eruption, collapsed in on itself and created a massive tsunami in the surrounding region (enter Atlantis myths). The result, however, is more beautiful than anyone could have anticipated. White villages set atop black, crescent-shaped cliffs dropping straight into an azure sea provide breathtaking sunsets from their highest point. 

Stroll through the villages of Fira, Pyrgos, Firostefani, and Oia; wander through whitewashed alleys and staircases; tour the stunning hot springs and volcanic islands; take a refreshing dip in Amoudi Bay; and discover the endless wonders the caldera holds.

With so much to do, see, and eat, it's hard to know how best to plan out your itinerary for optimal sightseeing—whether it's your first time visiting or your fifth. This list of the best things to do in Santorini is a great place to start. 

But remember—no list of things to do can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Journy. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete with restaurants, cafés, bars, Assyrtiko wine tastings, catamaran boat tours, ATV rides, transportation, day trips, sunset cruises, accommodation, nightlife, and more.

Thinking about spending a few days in Athens during your trip? Refer to this list of the best things to do in the capital city. And if one island just isn't enough for you, tack on a few days in Mykonos with a stay at one of its best hotels.

1Explore Amoudi Bay


Unnamed Rd,, Ormos Ammoudiou 847 02, Greece
Perched in the volcanic cliffs of western Santorini, just 270(ish) steps below the town of Oia, is Amoudi Bay, a great spot to swim (although it can be rocky) and watch the sun go down. There are also select spots where you can go cliff diving into the azure Mediterranean waters.

2Explore The City Of Oia


Ia 847 02, Greece
Oia is a coastal town on the northwestern tip of Santorini, Greece. The town is known for its dazzling whitewashed houses carved into the rugged clifftops, and overlooks a vast caldera filled with water. 

Worth visiting is the Naval Maritime Museum. Housed in a 19th-century mansion, it has exhibits on local seafaring history, including old figureheads, sailors’ chests, and models of old ships. Nearby is the ruined Oia Castle, known for its sunset views.
Sounds like something you’d like to experience? Trust the experts at Journy to build an itinerary from scratch just for you with all the must-see sights and hidden gems.

3Take In The Rainbow Beauty Of Red Beach


Grecia, Thira
On the coast of the Aegean island of Santorini you’ll find one of the most famous, and beautiful, beaches the island has to offer: Red Beach. 

The distinctive red hue is due to the beach’s formation: it’s surrounded by red and black volcanic rock from the nearby caldera (large volcanic crater). Arrive early to see how the light plays with the different colors in the rocks and sand, and to get in ahead of the crowds.

4Relax On Kamari Beach


Παναγίας Μυρτιδιωτίσσης, Kamari 847 00, Greece
Kamari beach is a place where black volcanic sand meets dazzling crystalline waters.

Here, you can try your hand at different watersports, beach sports, or simply meander along its promenade lined with shops and restaurants. Despite its popularity, Kamari beach—aka black beach—has been awarded a Blue Flag for its cleanliness, so you can sit at one of its tavernas and look out on an unspoiled landscape.

5See The Ancient Ruins At Akrotiri


Thera, Greece
Arkrotiri is a famous Bronze Age settlement that, today, is an important preserved site of ancient culture and civilization.

Take the trip to the site to discover just how important Greece was in the Ancient world, as well as its vast connections. Having been covered with volcanic ash after an eruption, the site of Arkrotiri is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece.

6Relax On The Black Sand At Perissa beach


Perissa, Greece
Perissa beach offers up everything you could want from a day by the sea: plenty of places to sunbathe, stunning crystal waters, watersports, diving spots, and a number of beachfront tavernas and cafés.

Having been awarded the Blue Flag for its cleanliness, Perissa is a wildly popular spot for locals and tourists alike, offering gorgeous dark sand and deep blue waters.

7Visit The Byzantine Castle Ruins & Catch One Of The Most Famous Sunsets In The World 


Byzantine Castle Ruins, Oia, Greece
The Byzantine Castle ruins in Oia are now one of the prime spots to watch a famous Oia sunset, but before is became a BYOB cocktail spot, it was the site of one of Santorini’s grandest residences. Once the Castle of Saint Nikolas, home to the Dargenta family and descendants of Byzantine emperor Romanos Argyros, the building slowly degraded over time from pirate invasions and earthquakes to the ruins you can visit today. Climb the hillside with picnic supplies and find prime seating before the sun begins to set—people tend to flock here right before sunset. No matter what time of day you go, make sure you pay a visit for the outstanding views and photo ops. 

8Take In The Amazing Views From Skaros Rock & Ekklisia Theoskepasti 


Santorini 847 00, Greece
Climb to the top of Santorini’s former capital, Skaros Rock, for the most memorable view over Imerovigli. While the hour-long climb is on the challenging side, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the caldera, the serene Santorini-white architecture, and the magnificent Ekklisia Theoskepasti church. The climb is most rewarding in the early morning or before sunset. Be sure to bring water and wear sneakers.

9Check Out The Beautiful Catholic Cathedral Church of Saint John The Baptist


Agiou Ioannou, Thira 847 00, Greece
Located on a quiet side street in the heart of Fira, St John the Baptist is one of the few Roman Catholic Cathedrals in Greece. With its elegant architecture, stained glass window, and serene views of the ocean, this cathedral is a peaceful escape from the crowds of Santorini. You must be dressed appropriately (meaning no tank tops or hats) in order to enter.

10Venture Off The Beaten Path In Megalochori


Megalochori 847 00, Greece
Off the beaten path and inland from the caldera cliffs, Megalochori is a quintessentially Greek village: picturesque, quiet, white-washed, and teeming with bougainvillea flowers. Leave ample time to wander through its narrow cobblestone streets and peaceful town square. 

11Take The Santorini Cable Car From Fira Down To Sea Level 


Ormos Firon 847 00, Greece
Ride the cable car or hike down the steep, winding Karavolades Stairs from Fira down to the port at sea level. Here, you'll see the famous donkeys of Santorini transporting goods and people up and down the stairs.

Insider tip: In the off-season, cable cars only run when cruise ships are in port. Check for cruise ships when planning your cable car trip, otherwise, your only transportation options are by foot or donkey!

12Visit The Legendary Atlantis Books E.E.


Oia, Greece
Located in the basement of a traditional white house in Oia, Atlantis is an independent bookstore with an eclectic English language selection that has served as a haven for readers and writers for over a decade. Founded by Americans Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise, who traveled to Santorini in 2002 and ran out of things to read while they were there, the shop has a rotating, live-in staff and earns more praise than profit. Guardian journalist Jeremy Mercer counts this as one of his 10 favorite bookstores in the world.

13Snap A Photo At The Three Bells of Fira


Oia 847 00, Greece
The Three Bells of Fira sit atop The Catholic Church of the Dormition, which is known as much for its bells as for its iconic blue dome. This is a favorite spot for photographers, as it offers one of the best vantage points of the sea, the caldera, and the soaring cliffs of the western end of the island. 

14Walk Along The Caldera


Thera 847 00, Greece
A "caldera" is a geographic term that refers to the rim which forms after a volcanic eruption. The one is Santorini is particularly striking since it extends more than 1,000 feet above sea level and an additional thousand feet below. At one point, it formed a full circular ring; however, after the Minoan eruption in 1600 BCE (when Santorini was known as Thera), only a portion remained. Stretching four miles in diameter, the caldera features steep rocks and towering cliffs between the cities of Oia and Fira. 

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