Are you wondering what are the best things to do in Santorini? I had a chance to visit Santorini for a day with my mother-in-law. We enjoyed the scenic views and different activities in Santorini. It was a day trip excursion from Heraklion, Crete.
Located in the Southern Aegean Sea, Santorini is a group of islands that is very popular with visitors coming to Greece. Santorini is one of the popular cruise ship stops in the Mediterranean. Santorini island is equally popular for honeymooners, couples on romantic trips and family holidaymakers.
To help you get more excited about your future trip – as if you need to! – Let me share with you this list of things to do in the beautiful islands of Santorini.
The list of the best things to do in Santorini Greece:
Watch the sunset in the Caldera
Watching the sunset in Santorini is one of the most romantic things to do on the island. Santorini’s caldera serves as a beautiful backdrop of the quintessential romantic Santorini scene. This is one of the main reasons this is a popular romantic wedding destination in Europe.
The famous caldera of Santorini is an aftermath of the volcanic eruption over thousands of years. Over time, some parts of the original caldera got destroyed or submerged in the sea because of volcanic activities.
Cruise on the Caldera
During my visit to Santorini, I didn’t want to miss the chance to cruise on the caldera. The caldera cruise was just offered to my mother-in-law and me by chance in the coach that we used to travel around the island from the port. Of course, it would be rude not to say no.
My mother-in-law and I got aboard this beautiful sailboat. Together with other fellow passengers, we cruised around the beautiful caldera. It was lovely to see Santorini from another perspective and view.
If you also want to arrange this kind of mini-cruise as an excursion during your stay in Santorini, you can book this affordable Santorini Caldera Cruise in Viator.
Swim on the volcano crater
Swimming on the volcano crater in Santorini is one of the adventurous things to do on the island. The visit to the crater was included in the caldera cruise package that we had. We can see the yellow hues of sulfur and smell the eggy sulfuric fumes coming from the volcano.
The locals believed that a quick dip in the water is beneficial for the skin. Make sure to bring a swimming costume with you! I forgot mine, so that’s another reason to visit Santorini again.
Visit Oia town
Oia (pronounced as “ee-a”) is located on the northwest side of the Santorini island. It is a popular town in Santorini due to its picturesque view of the Caldera and the rugged cliffside white stone houses. It is an upscale part of the island due to its historical maritime port, luxury hotels and restaurants that are mainly located here.
I immensely enjoyed my visit to Oia. As cliche as it might sound, but it was dream come true to see this part of Santorini. Be prepared to wear comfy shoes as there is a lot of walking and going up and down the stairs due to the cliffside location of the town.
I suggest going to the furthest tip of the Oia facing the caldera, it is a perfect spot to see the sunset and a good vantage point for photography.
Relax at the Beach
A visit to Santorini would not be complete if you do not enjoy the beaches. Relaxing at the beach is one of the top favourite things to do in Santorini. There are plenty of options to choose from the Black Beach in Mesa Pigadia, Perivolos, Kamari and Perissa. The distinct black sandy beaches of Santorini are formed due to the volcanic activities on the island over thousands of years.
However, the black sand coast of these beaches gets very hot during the day. Make sure to wear your sandals or get a well-layered mat before lying down on the sand to protect you from getting burned.
Alternatively, you can rent sun loungers on Santorini beaches for around €7 to €10 Euros a day. In some cases, sun loungers are free to use if you are buying food or drinks from the restaurants that own them.
Visit Fira town
Fira is the capital of Santorini island, it is a busy and lively district of the island. During my visit to Santorini, I enjoyed the lively vibes of Fira with its upbeat restaurants, bars and shops. A visit to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera is a great way to appreciate the culture and history of Santorini.
Fira also has a great array of hotels and traditional whitewashed villas that are overlooking the breathtaking views of the caldera and Aegean sea.
During our visit to Fira, my mother-in-law and I had a quick lunch at a local cafe to try tasty yet, budget-friendly Gyros. There are loads of budget-friendly restaurants in Fira as well, of course, the one with the view would be more pricey.
If you are up for an adventure, you can take the seemingly endless stairs heading down to the Santorini Old Harbor. Alternatively, you can take the cable car that would take you down to the harbour.
There are some local traditional donkeys for hire as well near the cliff area on route to the harbour, but I find it sad and cruel to see the donkeys struggling with heavy passengers on their backs.
Stay in a stone whitewashed houses
The iconic colour combination of white and blue resemble the beautiful colours of the Mediterranean. The majority of the houses and hotels in Santorini are known for their whitewashed and blue doors and window paint.
It is a great experience to stay in one of these traditional buildings, they typically come with a beautiful view of the caldera and the Aegean sea.
So are you also wondering why is Santorini painted white?
There are a few reasons and history behind this: First, the white paint is used to cool down the stone houses. Second, due to the cholera outbreak, it was mandated to paint the houses white due to the paint’s limestone content that has natural disinfectant ingredient. Third, it is a symbol of patriotism against the military dictatorship in the 1960s.
So why are the roofs blue in Santorini?
The blue paint in most houses and buildings in Santorini was originally from a blue cleaning agent called “Loulaki”. It was readily available to most households to use paint to give contrast to their houses.
Try the red pistachio
These Greek red pistachios are locally grown in Santorini from Nomikos Estate. It is rich in flavour, perfectly roasted and double dried that giving the pistachios distinct salty flavoured and the natural reddish colours come out vibrantly.
Due to the volcanic soil in Santorini, this gives the local pistachios a unique reddish tint. I love pistachios! So when I saw these local red pistachios for sale in Santorini, I immediately bought them.
Go shopping for souvenirs
If you fancy a bit of retail therapy in Santorini, head to the shopping high street of Fira. You can find loads of clothing, arts, jewellery and other souvenirs that will remind you of Santorini.
Make sure to wear your comfy shoes and sturdy bags for this retail shopping spree. Be mindful not to take photos of the jewellery and arts that are for sale. They really take this offence seriously and make you delete the photos.
Blue Dome Churches
It is impossible not to notice the iconic blue roof domes of Santorini. Most of these domes are the churches in Santorini. There are around 600 churches and chapels of different sizes on Santorini island alone.
If you are wondering why does Santorini have loads of churches and chapels? These places of worship are offerings and symbols of gratitude to the family’s patron saint that granted them safety in the sea and bounty harvest.
If you want to take the perfect postcard photo that will capture the quintessential beauty of Santorini, the Church of Panagia Akathistos Hymn, Saint Spyridon Oia Holy Orthodox Church and the Church of the Resurrection of the Lord in Oia are the most photographed and popular churches to visit to take that instagrammable shots.
I hope that this list of the best things to do in Santorini, Greece will inspire you to visit and have a great time on the island!