A volcanic island set in the brilliant blue waters of the Aegean Sea, Santorini packs a lot into a small package. Take in the dramatic landscapes and crystal clear waters, explore cliff-top villages and hidden beaches, and discover thousands of years of culture and history with our essential guide of things to do in Santorini.
It's the view that has featured on a million and more postcards and for good reason. Climb the narrow streets of Oia to the castle and you'll be looking out across the rooftops of the village where the whitewashed houses and famous windmills seem to be clinging to the side of the cliff. There are great views of the volcano, the islands, the sea and, if you go for the sunset, all with the backdrop of a dramatic natural display of colour.
Follow hundreds of steps down the cliff from Oia and you'll reach the fishing village of Amoudi Bay. You can swim from the rocks or even jump from the cliffs if you are feeling adventurous, while the village itself is home to numerous fish and seafood restaurants and tavernas with tables overlooking the bay.
By Klearchos Kapoutsis from Santorini, Greece - Ammoudi, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25307100
The red cliffs that give the beach its name provide a dramatic setting for a day on the water, but perhaps the more interesting sights can be found beneath the surface. Red Beach is sheltered, the water is clear and there are plenty of fish and other sea life waiting to be discovered. If you don't fancy the rocky walk to get there, a number of local tour companies offer boat trips including snorkelling and scuba diving off Red Beach and elsewhere around the island.
They have been making wine on Santorini since ancient times, with most vineyards home to indigenous grapes such as Assyrtiko, which produces a full-bodied white wine for which the island is famous. Domaine Sigalas has won awards for its wines both in Greece and abroad, and you can visit the winery, take a tour and enjoy a wine tasting or an evening meal surrounded by the vines.
If there is one thing you can do to get a feel from the special landscapes of Santorini, it's to walk the Fira-Oia hiking trail. You'll be walking the rim of the Santorini caldera, taking in the clifftop villages along the way. Altogether the trail is about six miles long and will take three to four hours, with fabulous views across to neighbouring islands all along the way. You can extend the walk by taking a detour to Skaros Rock from Imerovigli, a striking natural landmark and lookout point.
Akrotiri was a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on Santorini, that was destroyed in a volcanic eruption over three thousand years ago. Surprisingly, as a result of this tragic event, it ended up being incredibly well-preserved. This means it's possible to get a real sense of the streets and buildings as you walk in the footsteps of the residents who lived and worked there all those years ago. There are daily guided tours of the site or you can explore it at your own pace.
By Norbert Nagel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20526143Climb the Volcanic Crater of Nea Kameni
If you've ever wanted to walk the entire rim of a volcanic crater, take a boat tour to the uninhabited island of Nea Kameni where a trail leads you 130m up from sea level to the crater itself. Most tours will also give you the chance to swim in volcanic hot springs, a reminder if it was needed that this volcano is most definitely still active!
By Norbert Nagel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23243741Watch the Sunset from the Open Water
There are many great spots to watch the sun go down on Santorini, but it is hard to beat the view from the deck of a boat. Sunset boat tours often combine visits to other islands, such as Theresia or Nea Kameni, and give you the chance to swim in the volcanic hot springs or snorkel off some of Santorini's famous beaches. Boat tours leave from Athinios ferry port, the Amoudi Bay or the Old Port.
Santorini is not only home to dramatic landscapes and atmospheric villages, but also one of the finest bookshops in the world. You'll find Atlantis Books in Oia, where the shop is not only home to a fine selection of new and used books, including lots about the island and Greece in general, but also a great view from the terrace. Don't miss its self-produced map and guide to the island for more things to see and do.
Looking for a place to stay in Santorini? Find your perfect island home by checking out our hotels in Santorini.