Insider tips: Explore Santorini like a local
Megan & Aram is a travel blog that focuses mostly on travel in the Nordics and Eastern Europe with the occasional trip beyond those regions. We love coffee, promoting small businesses, and sports.
What should I do on my first trip to Santorini?
One of the best things to do in Santorini is to watch the sunset from the gorgeous town of Oia and see the white buildings drenched in golden light. Santorini also has some great beaches, including Red Beach or the black sand Perissa Beach. Or you can dig into Ancient Greek history at the archeological site of Akrotiri, which gives a fascinating look at life on the island long, long ago.
What are some hidden gems to see in Santorini?
If you want a quieter vibe than Oia or Fira, head to Pyrgos, where you can wander the peaceful, charming streets. While there, check out the little wine bar Brusco where you can relax on the patio with a drink and a delicious local mezze plate. For a stunning 360-degree view of Santorini, hike the trail up to Skaros Rock, a ruined fortress in Imerovigli.
How much time should I spend in Santorini?
While seeing Santorini’s top sights is doable in a weekend, the ideal Santorini itinerary should be about three to five days. It’s long enough to enjoy several towns and archeological sites and still have chunks of time open for hiking and enjoying the beaches. Oia and Fira are the most visited towns on Santorini, but don’t skip some great smaller villages such as Emporio, Imerovigli, and Perissa.
What food is Santorini known for?
Santorini’s rocky, volcanic soil results in some amazing produce, including the grapes that go into its delicious wine. Santorini also has several breweries that make local craft beer. Try tomatokeftedes to sample the sweet tomatoes grown on the island. Santorini is also known for a unique type of fava bean blended into a yummy dip. Try it with another Santorini star dish, the amazingly fresh seafood. Octopus is particularly popular here.
What is the best way to get around Santorini?
Santorini is fairly small and easy to get around, but if you want the most freedom, definitely rent a car. With a car you can be on your own timetable as well as have the freedom to stop at any villages or interesting sites you suddenly see on the way to your destination. Another option is traveling around the island by public bus. The main bus station is in Fira, where all the buses depart from and return to. This is a great budget-friendly option for getting around the island.
What are the best months to visit Santorini?
While beautiful in every season, the best times to visit Santorini are the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October. The weather is warm and pleasant and there are fewer crowds. It's quietest in winter, though it can be chilly, and some restaurants and sights are closed for the season. Summer is hot and crowded, but if you don’t mind the people, it has the warmest days for laying out on the beach and the liveliest evenings for going out.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
Fira, the island’s capital, has the most shops, markets, and the Fabrica Shopping Center with clothes, jewelry, shoes, homeware, and much more. Oia also has quite a few shops, including boutiques and souvenir shops.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Santorini?
If you want relaxed beach vibes, stay in Perissa where there is a gorgeous black sand beach. If you want amazing views and luxury accommodation, Oia’s cliffside villas with private pools overlooking the caldera are for you. If you need a more budget-friendly option but still want to be by Oia, consider staying in the neighboring town of Finikia, a 25-minute walk from Oia. If you want to be somewhere that you can easily explore the island from, stay in the centrally-located Fira.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Santorini?
Make fantastic memories with your family on a caldera boat cruise, where you’ll get a chance to see the island from afar, visit the volcano up close, and swim in volcanic hot springs. Good swimming options in Santorini for families include jumping off low rocks near Ammoudi Bay or playing in the black sand and waves at beaches like Kamari or Perissa. If you visit in the summer, don’t miss out on the cool open-air cinema in Kamari, which shows films in English with Greek subtitles.
What is the best thing to do in Santorini for solo travelers?
Santorini is great for solo travelers whether you want to be alone or meet other travelers. There are plenty of great hiking paths you can take by yourself, or join a walking tour to meet other people. Another great way to spend the day is relaxing on the beach. The best ones include Red Beach, Perissa, Perivolos, and Kamari. Treat yourself to a lovely sunset dinner with spectacular views at one of the terraced restaurants along the coast. If you want to check out Santorini’s nightlife, Fira is the liveliest town after dark.
What is the best thing to do in Santorini for couples?
Santorini is undoubtedly a famous couples’ destination with many romantic things to do. Book a private evening sailing trip to get spectacular views as the sun goes down to avoid the crowds waiting to watch the sunset. Just south of Órmos Athiniós is a heart-shaped hole in a rock (called the Heart of Santorini) that looks out on the caldera, which is a perfect place for a cute photo op with your partner. A nice dinner with sunset views or a wine tasting at one of the local vineyards are great ideas for ultimate romance.
What are the best annual events in Santorini?
In August, have fun at the Ifestia Festival (the Greek Volcano Festival), enjoying dance performances, concerts, and fireworks. In September, Fira hosts the International Music Festival of Santorini, which offers a variety of orchestral and operatic performances. If you’re in Santorini between May and October, don’t miss the fun open-air cinema in Kamari, which shows films in English with Greek subtitles.
What are the best things to do around Santorini?
Santorini has some fantastic outdoor activities to enjoy. Spend the day at the beach, where you can swim or snorkel. Hiking trails abound — an especially good one is the trail between Fira and Oia, which includes a path to Skaros Rock. You can discover the ancient archeological sites of Akrotiri and Ancient Thera. You can also explore some small islands in the caldera, such as Nea Kameni or Thirasia.
What are the best beaches around Santorini?
Santorini has a variety of interesting beaches you can choose from. Perissa and Perivolos are black sand beaches that are great for swimming. You can rent a beach lounger to relax the day away, and if you get hungry there are several beachside restaurants where you can grab a snack. Red Beach has a unique landscape and bright red sand. Kamari Beach, a pebbly, family-friendly beach, has crystal clear water with shops and restaurants nearby. While not a beach, Ammoudi Bay is a great spot for jumping off rocks and swimming in the water below.