You want to visit Santorini because you have seen them right? You know, those photo’s all around social media that seem just too irresistible to experience yourself. Travelling to Santorini was on our wish list for a long time. We saw ourselves walking the white calderas with great views and visiting the cute places with the blue domes. But, there is so much more! When COVID-19 hit, we knew it was time to go due to the lack of tourism. In other words, we finally had the opportunity to have the island for ourselves. And it was a real pleasure with a fully packed itinerary. Of course, it is now time to share some favourite activities with you!
So what are now the best things to do in Santorini? We will cover the following to make sure you do not miss out on anything:
- Places to visit in Santorini
- Sunset in Santorini
- Active activities in Santorini
- Water activities in Santorini
Stay tuned for more blogs coming up in the near future. Surely we will spoil you with information more and more! Subscribe to our blog straightaway, in the right menu or below, to not miss any update.
Visit Santorini now for these 10 fun activities
1. Perissa Beach
Without a doubt, a black beach is always unique to visit in Santorini. Despite it not being a sand beach, but small black pebbles, Perissa will give you some real water fun for the day. The water is clear and very refreshing for a dip on those hot Greek summer days. Gosh, did we melt on some occasions! Besides that, you will find several restaurants and beach clubs alongside the long stretched beach. This makes it perfect to go to a beach club in Perissa mid-day. Like we did after our morning adventures and to recharge for the late afternoon, sunset and evening entertainment. Perissa centre is relatively small and we did not explore this much, besides enjoying a stroll past all small shops. If you are looking for some nice souvenirs, dresses, hats or hammam towels you will surely succeed in finding a gift for yourself here!
One beach restaurant we enjoyed, in particular, is Demilmar. All the way to the end of the road, close to some impressive rock formation. You can rent a sunbed of which the prices vary per row. For a front-row sunbed, we paid 10 euro per person, well spend for a splendid afternoon. The food was lovely, with a well-packed food menu for all foodies.
DId you know that Perissa is also perfect for a sunrise mission? Check out our blogpost of the prettiest beaches to see the sunrise in Perissa, which is the most beautiful sunrise in Santorini or worldwide witnessed.
2. Visit Pyrgos
Pyrgos is located very centrally and therefore perfect for a visit in Santorini. We enjoyed this ancient village a lot and definitely consider it a highlight of our trip. The place is very quiet and we did not see any tourist around. Doesn’t that sound perfect? Well, let’s make it even a bit better. Because, why is this place so special to be a highlight? Well, due to the fact that it is still a traditional village. Forget about the rich and famous, mass tourism and hotels with infinity pools. Wander around in the small alleys all the way to the top of the city, which is built on a hill. Above all other activities, getting lost here was a pleasure after every turn and in every corner.
Besides this, you can also visit churches. Shocking detail; there are around 40 churches in this small village! Of course, there are also some lovely shops, restaurants and beautiful viewpoints. If you have the opportunity, try to visit before sunset so you can finish the day with incredible views over the island with the sunset in the background.
3. Santorini sunsets
Indeed, we are talking about the must-see of Santorini! To be real, some might even visit the Santorini just for the impressive sunsets. We enjoyed the sunset on several locations that are all worth trying. In brief: every location was a different experience from romance in the middle of nowhere to a bar and to the most popular place in Santorini. Want to know more? Check out our blogpost Santorini sunset, a magical must see for all the ins and outs for a true sunset in Santorini experience!
4. Shopping: book & linen store
Visiting a bookstore sometimes feels like entering a different world. Even if you are not a reader, Atlantis books in Santorini is fun to visit! They have books in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Greek. Nowadays they have worldwide publicity due to recommendations or articles from important names like Lonely Planet and The New York Times. It is very easy to find the book store as it is on the main street in Oia.
Something that we LOVE and always try to score is linen clothing. As soon as we arrived in Santorini, we knew that this would be the place to find some new additions to our linen collection. There are beautiful boutiques around the island, but especially in Oia you will find some eye-catchers with great quality. For linen try the shops: B.loose store, The Silk Shop or Cave (Spilia) Greek Clothing. In this last shop, we also bought some pretty handmade sandals. It’s great!
5. Visit picturesque Oia
Of course, this picturesque village all the way in the northern tip of the island could not be left out of this list. Oia, a famous place in Santorini. To illustrate, imagine the white houses, the endless caldera views with blue domes and zigzagging narrow streets. The place where Instagram lovers’ picture-perfect dreams come true. We had the honour to visit Oia in one of its most unique moments; empty due to COVID! Speaking to several locals, they all mentioned that we would never experience Oia (or Santorini in general) like this ever again. No mass tourism in a place that is usually overloaded with tourists. And to be honest, therefore also prevents people from going on the busy days as the streets are packed.
Oia has many beautiful hotels and villas for your romantic stays. They often have infinity pools with irresistible views. Or even private pools that will surely never make you leave your room. The city furthermore offers a wide variety of shops, restaurants, bars and attractions. But visitors will mostly just walk around endlessly through the narrow streets, not knowing where you would end up. The sunset is a real hype here! The most popular spot on the island to experience a sunset in Oia is the castle viewpoint.
6. Rent a buggy
Time for some action! Even when we had a rental car already, we felt the urge to rent a buggy for the day. Racing around the island with the wind through the hair is such a fun experience. We went off-road over extremely bumpy roads we would not enter with the rental car. Going places in the countryside we otherwise wouldn’t visit made our visit to Santorini extra special. We also took the buggy up to the mountains in the surrounding of Perissa for some incredible viewpoints.
You can rent a buggy in many locations. You will surely see the shops on the side of the roads (or maybe ignore them before your partner sets his focus on it haha). We had plenty of choice due to being nearly the only tourists around. However, it is recommended to do book (any) rental transportation before arrival, or on your first day. It can happen that there is not much available anymore in the high season.
7. Boat tour in Santorini
The view from the waters is in some places the best! For this reason, discovering the Greek islands from a boat is highly recommended. This can be by catamaran, sailboat or even kayak trips. There are several options for a boat tour in Santorini where you will visit different parts of the island. Often followed by a bbq or other lunch or diner, and many activities to do like snorkelling, jet ski or fishing. Visit several beaches, volcanoes or some hot springs. Santorini Dave proposes several great options on his website. A highlight for many is to do a sunset cruise in Santorini. For a complete overview of all options, visit Santorini View.
8. Visit red beach in Santorini
A place with great scenery and beautiful deep blue waters is the Red Beach in Santorini. However, a good point to start with is that the remarkable rock formation around the beach is red and not the sand itself. The waters had some surprising colour combination from very crystal clear turquoise to deep blue waters, which was lovely to see and to dip in. During the morning the beach is mainly covered in shade, but from the end of the morning, you can definitely enjoy the first sunrays.
You have one small restaurant for food and drinks, and also options to rent sunbeds. But on the majority of the beach, you will need to drop down on your own towel. Besides that, we also recommend bringing your own snacks as the facilities are limited. Also, make sure to bring enough water to stay hydrated. Due to the lack of wind around the rock formation, it can get really hot.
Drive towards Akrotiri village and you will quickly find two ways to get to the beach; passing by food stand “Red beach Santorini Michael” (google maps) or bar/restaurant “Kaminia Beach”. On both sides, parking is available but limited around Kaminia Beach. If you come via the small church and Michael’s food stand, you will need to hike your way down to the beach. Here you can clearly see that you are on a volcanic island! Another option is to arrive by boat, several day trips visit the beach on their trip.
9. Hike from Fira to Oia
For those longing for an active day, we recommend hiking from Fira to Oia. A well-known hike (around 10km) on the island, passing through some beautiful places and viewpoints. However, please make sure you do take precautions on hot days. It is best to go early in the morning (7-8 am), bring sunscreen and a hat. It is the perfect activity to end up with sunstroke. In total, the hike can take min. 2 hours if you have a high pace. For those taking it easy and taking stops to admire the views and take photo’s, you can easily plan 4 hours of hiking. People hike this route on hiking shoes, sneakers and even flip-flops! However, even though it is considered an easy hike, we do recommend you to wear sneakers or a comfortable pair of sandals at least.
For this hike, you start in Fira and will firstly walk through villages with impressive views over the Calderas. Isn’t this how you dreamt about Santorini? Secondly, from Fira’s shops, churches and beautiful views you walk towards Firostefani, followed by Imerovigli. From here on you will leave the pathways through villages and enter a more rural area walking towards Oia. For a detailed explanation of the route and beautiful photo’s, check out this blog post from Earth Trekkers.
10. Most wanted: Caldera in Santorini
How do you know that you are in Santorini? Well, that is when you see the beautiful white calderas with blue domes! The moment you arrive at one of the viewpoints and see this, some kind of realization will come that you finally made it. When we visited it was extremely quiet, and that made it even more heavenly. Taking deep breaths in and out just listening to some birds and the quietness and calm area was such a satisfying moment. However, it is good to know that Santorini does not exist of those famous caldera villages only! Yes, we know some of you might expect that haha.
Seeing the caldera, you clearly see that mother nature did some impressive work after volcanic eruptions creating steep rocks where now villages are built on all levels. The prettiest villages with calderas are Fira, Imerovigli, Firastefani and Oia. Here you can find viewpoints, but also many restaurants and bars for the best memorable moments! If you do not feel like doing the big hike mentioned above, you surely should walk from Firostefani towards Fira.
A favourite in Fira is Galini Cafe in Firostefani. A perfect spot for some lounging with delicious food, drinks and lounge music. A perfect walk would be from Galini Cafe towards Fira, via the cafe Volkan on the Rocks. If you prefer to go to Oia, you will be able to find some very popular places around the Kastro houses. This picturesque caldera is very popular, so make sure you make reservations or be on time.
Will you visit Santorini for some of these fun activities? Tell us more about your experience below in the comments!