Best Places to Visit in Santorini
Incredible sunsets, pearly white buildings adorned with bougainvillea, blue-domed churches and picturesque windmills make Santorini a popular destination. This Greek paradise attracts newlyweds and couples from all over the world to witness the famous Oia sunsets, swim in its hot springs, savor delicious cuisine and indulge in luxury resorts.
Whether you’re flying or catching a ferry from other islands, you can’t miss the stunning view of the mostly submerged caldera from its quaint settlement atop a lava-covered cliff. The whitewashed settlements of Firá and Oia are the island’s most attractive spots. Clinging to the cliff between the two towns, the small village provides a quieter, more relaxing setting for your vacation.
Santorini offers more than incredible scenery and colorful beaches. The island also has ancient archaeological sites and museums worth exploring. Buy yourself an ATV or a smart car and start experiencing the rugged island with its rough roads. Just be prepared to stop at every corner because the views never end.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Santorini and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Santorini
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Santorini:
Thíra, the capital of Santorini, consists of whitewashed cube houses and terraces, winding streets, small squares and blue-domed churches perched on the cliffs 300 meters above the caldera. From the small port of Scala, you can reach Fira on foot or by horse (hire a mule) via the steep and winding Stepped path (587 steps) or the cable car. The Oia Scenic Trail can also be reached from the neighboring towns of Fira to the crater cliffs.
The ferry docked at the port of Athiniós, connected by road to Firá, the cruise ship broke down in the crater and the passengers were transported to Skala. Firá makes a living mainly from tourism, and many of its buildings are now used as small hotels, apartments, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and jewelers.
Famous for its famous sunsets, Oia attracts tourists from all over the world. Located at the northern tip of Santorini, 12 km off the coast of Firá, Ía (Oia) is a picturesque village of whitewashed houses, many of which have been converted into stylish little boutique hotels with infinity pools. Like Firá, it makes a living from tourism but caters to a more upscale clientele.
From Ammoúdi Bay, steep winding roads lead into town, where you’ll find a number of seafood restaurants, most of them al fresco. Oia can be reached by the local KTEL bus or by following the cliff walk above the caldera (three hours from Fira).
Formed by a massive volcanic eruption that blew up the center of the island about 3,600 years ago, the caldera is an ocean-filled crater that still exists. Measuring 12 kilometers by 7 kilometers, the island is still a source of volcanic activity – at its center are two small islands of Kaimeni with hot springs and gas emissions.
Various agencies offer day trips to the caldera by boat, including a bath in the hot springs, after lunch on Thirassia, a small island on the west side of the caldera with stunning views of Santorini.
4. Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Located near the modern village of Akrotiri, 12 kilometers southwest of Fira, the crater was formed by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, and the ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotiri was buried under lava. At Akrotiri Archaeological Site, visitors can follow the trails through the town’s ruins to see the remains of clay buildings from this once thriving town. It is so well preserved that it is often compared to Pompeii. The site has the remains of multi-storey buildings, pottery and drainage systems, proving that Santorini was probably a prosperous shipping and trading island before the eruption.
Santorini’s connection to North Africa can be inferred from the remarkable frescoes that adorn their home, many of which are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The ruins of Akrotiri were reopened in 2012 after being closed for several years.
5. Red Beach
Near the ruins of Akrotiri, under a majestic red cliff wall, you will find the famous Red Beach. The beach can be reached by a footpath from the town of Akrotiri. You can also take a bus or park nearby by car from Fira and go down a rocky road to the beach. The beach can also be reached by boat from the ports of Akrotiri, Kamari and Perissa.
The small beach can be crowded in the summer, so be sure to get there early to grab the prime spot to get a view of the red rocks contrasting with the aquamarine water. Also, note that the beach is prone to landslides and some areas are closed by tourists.
6. Profitis Ilias
From Pyrgos, a road leads to the summit of Profites Ilias (584 m), Santorini’s highest point, with panoramic views of the island and the sea. Here stands the mighty Profitis Ilias, an 18th-century sanctuary open to the public.
Inside, you can see the church with beautifully carved icons. Visit the museum displaying the tower and cross of Patriarch Gregory V, who was hanged by the Turks in Istanbul in 1821. The library, the monastery archive and the kitchen are also interesting. The monastery operates one of the many “secret schools” operating during the Turkish period.
7. Beach at Perissa
Santorini’s most famous and popular beaches are located on the southeast coast, between the villages of Perissa and Perivolos. 6km of fine black volcanic sand backed by red willow trees overlooks an array of seafood bistros and cafes. There are sun loungers and umbrellas for rent, as well as water sports facilities. About 12 km from Firá.
8. Ammoudi Bay
At the foot of the cliffs leading to the town of Oia, the harbor of Amoudi Bay shimmers in its sparkling turquoise waters. Walk about 200 steps down from Oia and you’re just inches from the waves in picturesque Ammoudi, known for its quaint Greek taverns and isolated coves ideal for swimming. Another popular activity, if it gets your adrenaline pumping, is cliff diving.
For a less adventurous yet exhilarating experience, charter a sailboat to take you to the volcano for a swim in the hot springs.
9. Watch a show at Open Air Cinema Kamari
Would you like to see an outdoor movie screening? Go to Kamari, an open-air cinema. It was built in 1887 to allow locals and travelers alike to continue the Greek tradition of open-air theatre, which allows you to watch movies outdoors.
Grab a bite at the on-site franchise and watch a movie under the velvet stars in a garden setting. Located outside the city, this venue hosts concerts, art exhibitions and traditional theater performances as well as movies. This is a unique Santorini experience.
Official website: https://santorinicinema.com/
10. Take a boat trip to Santorini
A great way to get an idea of Santorini and one of its top attractions is to explore the island on a day boat tour. This way, you will have the opportunity to visit multiple sites at once and admire the beautiful turquoise and aquamarine waters that surround this volcanic island.
Many companies do boat tours around Santorini and many follow the same route. A popular cruise will first take you to the still active volcano at Nea Kameni, where you can hike to the top of the crater. You will then stop for a refreshing swim at the Palea Kameni hot springs. Then head to Thirassia Island in front of Santorini.
For a more luxurious experience, this tour can be booked on a catamaran with three swimming and snorkeling stops.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Santorini. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Santorini, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.