Things to do in Santorini

Must-see Santorini sights

With its iconic blue-domed churches, volcanic sand and booming beach bars, Santorini makes for a Greek island getaway with a difference.

  1. Amble enchanting Oia

  2. Step back in time at the Greek Pompeii

  3. Relax on Red Beach 

  4. Clamber the coast

  5. Take to the water 

  6. Quaff wine in a cave

  7. Dance ‘til dawn

While the nightclub scene attracts a younger crowd, the island’s also great for families and lovers of the great outdoors. One thing’s for sure, there are plenty of sights to see and things to do in Santorini, no matter what your age. And the sunsets ain’t half bad too.

1.  Amble enchanting Oia

White houses carved into cliffs. Cute cobbled streets. Epic caldera views. Sunsets that will take your breath way (really). It’s no wonder that Oia is one of the most photographed spots on all the Greek Islands.

Planning what to do in Oia is easy. Head down to the port for an alfresco lunch, then spend the afternoon exploring the craft shops and Naval Maritime Museum. Formally a mansion, this is home to a host of intriguing exhibits – sailors’ chests, rare figureheads, old models of ships – and a library. But be sure to leave enough time to bagsie a spot near the castle ruins to see the legendary sunset.

Best for: Town trekkers.

While you’re there: browse Atlantis Books - a warren of words selling books in multiple languages.

2.  Step back in time at the Greek Pompeii

Originally settled in the Bronze Age, the archaeological site at Akrotiri offers a (literal) glimpse into the island’s Minoan history.

Towards the end of the 17th-century a volcanic eruption covered the island in ash, preserving Akrotiri’s warm-hued frescos and artefacts, and the buildings you can see here today. Walkways over the excavated village reveal the island’s impressively advanced past (they had indoor toilets way back when). For history-lovers, this is easily  one of the best things to do in Santorini.

Best for: Antiquity enthusiasts.

While you’re there: ramble to Red Beach.

3. Relax on Red Beach

Santorini has an enviable range of beaches  - from quiet coves, to busy stretches of black volcanic sand – but to our mind Red Beach tops the league. Encased by craggy crimson cliffs, and fronted by brilliant blue waters, it’s accessed via a steep gravel path. With no facilities, you’ll need to come armed with supplies, but this secluded stunner is well worth adventuring to.

For a more family-friendly beach experience try Kamari. Backed by traditional houses, it has natural beauty by the bucket (sparkling back sand and a huge rock that rises from the sea), plus sunbeds, water sports, and more bars, shops and restaurants than you can shake a spade at.

Best for: Beach bums.

 While you’re there: Snorkel the crystalline sea - remember to bring your own mask.

4. Clamber the coast

Walkers wondering what to do in Santorini mustn’t miss hiking the 10 km coastal trail from the capital of Fira to Oia. The well-marked route takes in incredible views of the coastline and Santorini caldera. Committed trekkers could complete the trail in around three hours, but what’s the rush? Along the way, take a detour to Skaros Rock near the village of Imerovigli. Formed by a volcanic eruption around 68,000 BC, this mighty headland juts out to the Aegean and is home to the ruins of a fifteenth-century fortress that was built to stave off pirates. For Santorini holidays with added adventure, this is an unmissable experience.

Best for: Active-adventurers.

While you’re there: Time your hike to catch Oia’s sunset (so good we mentioned it twice).

5. Take to the water 

From family-friendly snorkelling trips, to luxury catamaran cruises, Santorini has a high seas excursion for everyone. For a full-on nature experience, take a volcano and hot springs trip to two uninhabited islands. You’ll get to hike to the crater of Santorina Volcano on Nea Kameni islet before heading to Palea Kameni to bathe in hot volcanic springs. 

For the island’s best snorkelling and diving jaunts, check out Atlantis diving centre in Oia. With regular trips to a couple of shallow water sites, this is a great way to introduce kids to the magic of underwater life.

Best for: Water babies.

While you’re there: Look out for dolphins.

6.  Quaff wine in a cave

Being one of the world’s oldest continuously productive winemaking areas, it’s no surprise that Santorini isn’t short of wine, or wine-tasting tours. If you have to pick one, we suggest visiting the Santorini Wine Museum.

Located in a labyrinth of caves and tunnels, (which makes it unique throughout Greece), this family-run outfit is an atmospheric way to find about the winemaking process, rounded-off with (what else?) a lively wine-tasting session. The Koutsogiannopoulos family also hosts regular evening events here, with a buffet, live music and traditional dancing. And more wine.

Best for: Wine-lovers.

While you’re there: Check out the cave houses, churches and chapels of Vothonas village.

7. Dance ‘til dawn

From crazy clubs in the capital, to booming beach bars along Perissa promenade, party animals will be spoiled for choice here, with DJs and singers whipping up cocktail-downing dancers until the early hours.

 Fira’s legendary Koo Club boasts the best of both worlds, with a sparkly two-storey space inside, plus three outside bars if you fancy bopping beneath palm trees. For Greek music, make your merry way to Mamounia Club, which occasionally hosts live bands you can boogie your heart out to.

Best for:  24-hour party people.
While you’re there: Dance, drink and be merry.

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