Santorini is one of those idyllic places that everyone wants to visit at least once in their lives. It is a picture-perfect oasis in the middle of the beautiful Aegean, with whitewashed buildings that look great against the rainbow of colors of the sunset.
And it's easy to see why. Whether you're soaking up the sun on one of the island's many black sand beaches, exploring its archaeological sites that date back thousands of years, or just sipping a glass of wine while watching the sun set into the sparkling sea, Santorini is a postcard-worthy place like no other.
Churches with blue domes cling precariously to steep cliffs and the deeper blue waters below sparkle. Windmills that are hundreds of years old keep an eye on the vineyards, and the streets are filled with cute cafes and small shops. But Santorini is also a treasure trove of different things to do that are often overlooked. From scuba diving and hiking to ancient ruins, wine tasting, and ocean cruises, this Greek island paradise has something for everyone.
To help you make the most of your time, we've made a list of 15 of the most fun things to do in Santorini. These activities range from those that get your heart racing to those that are more relaxing. So, whether you want a vacation full of activities or one where you can relax and spend time with your loved one, we've got you covered.
The ancient city of Thera is on a rocky point between two beautiful beaches. From there, visitors can see some of the most beautiful views of the other islands.
Thera is named after a mythical ruler of an island, and people lived there until 726 AD. It is still a popular archaeological site today.
On the hiking trail, you can see Roman baths, shops from the Hellenistic period, and walls from the Byzantine period up close. This important historical artifact is on Mesa Vouno, a rocky mountain in the southeast corner of the island, between the coastal villages of Perissa and Kamari. Even if there wasn't an ancient site to see, the seaside mountain's height of more than 365 meters would be reason enough to visit.
Taking a fishing trip out into the blue waters of the caldera is one of the most unusual things to do in Santorini. On a traditional wooden boat, you can sail around and try to catch shrimp or octopus with the help of your skipper. Or, you could hang a line over the side and try to catch some fish for lunch.
Whether you choose a private trip or a cheaper small group trip, these relaxing trips usually last about 5 hours, giving you plenty of time to sit back and relax on the deck once you've caught your fish.
Tip: If you want to fish and swim and snorkel in the hidden bays, you might want to go on one of the tours that include both.
Foodies, take note! If there's one thing that your friends and family back home will really love, it's a real Greek feast. In one of the island's many cooking classes, you'll cook up a storm with professional chefs, try out the freshest local flavors, and learn all about Greek culture through the language of food.
Traditional dishes like keftedes fritters and fava bean puree, as well as dessert, are part of the (usually) 4-course meal (like Saganaki, a mouth-watering fried cheese in filo pastry). And since it's Santorini, it's easy to visit wineries and try their wines.
Forget bland tourist menus and explore the delicious world of real Greek food in Santorini's traditional restaurants. At the many restaurants on this paradise island, you can try homemade aubergine salads, freshly caught calamari, and organic fava bean dips that will make your taste buds go crazy.
But there are so many options; where do we start? If you like seafood, try the fish at Sunset by Paraskevas. At Ouzeri Restaurant, the traditional moussaka is highly recommended. Or, for a Mediterranean meal with a twist, eat at Roka or Anogi and look at the sparkling sea as you eat traditional dishes like homemade pasta. If you're in Thera, you can enjoy the fresh ocean air and tasty food on the large open-air terrace at Argo.
Sit down at Kapari Taverna for a great option that has both great views and a lot of history. It's a great place to have a meal because it's tucked away in a 19th-century building covered with vines and flowers. And what a meal it will be!
All of the dishes here are based on traditional Greek recipes, from tzatziki and calamari to savory chicken dishes and ouzo. It's a tasty and fun way to learn about the culture!
Once you've seen the striking white church of Agios Georgios in the charming village of Imerovigli on the island's inner western coast, do yourself a favor and take the tiny trail out to the rocky headland of Skaros. The name "otherworldly" doesn't do this natural end-of-the-Earth outcrop justice.
This impressive rock used to be the site of an unconquered castle that was destroyed by an earthquake in the 19th century. Today, it stands on its own as one of the most beautiful places to take pictures in Santorini.
You won't be sorry if you climb over the old fortress ruins and take in the amazing views of the caldera.
Think you know a little about history? The Museum of Prehistoric Thira is a great place to feel like you've gone back in time. It takes us on a journey into a pre-volcanic Santorini, where we can see ancient artifacts that have been dug up from Akrotiri, Thira, and a lot of other interesting historic island sites.
As you walk through the exhibition halls, you'll be amazed by the bright colors of the earthenware ceramics that have stood the test of time. In the many collections, you can find marble statues, weapons, and even frescoes from ancient Crete.
Tip: If you go to the museum before you go to the prehistoric excavations in Akrotiri, you'll be able to figure out what you're looking at quickly.
The village of Emporio is the largest settlement on the island and one of the most beautiful. It is spread out in the foothills of Mount Prophet Elia and sits in the shadow of an old Venetian castle from the 15th century. One of the most relaxing things to do in Santorini is to walk around the medieval streets, which are full of charming shops, hidden restaurants, and whitewashed walls.
Spend a few minutes at the 15th-century fortress before taking a stroll through the popular local market. Don't forget to take pictures of the beautiful blue-domed churches with their bell towers. You can have a great day out if you combine your visit with a trip to the nearby Perissa beach.
Those who are thirsty, take note! Is there anything better than a museum that's all about wine? Even more so when it has its own natural cave to live in. This unusual but interesting museum tells the story of vine growers in Santorini since the 1600s. It is a popular stop for wine lovers and partygoers (maybe before a night out on the town).
As you look at the displays and talk to the expert local winemakers, you'll learn how wine is made on this rare volcanic island and how the landscape affects the tastes and textures of the blends. You'll also learn the secrets that winemakers have kept hidden for centuries. Yes, there is a lot of tasting as well.
Assyrtiko is the most famous wine on the island. It is known for its smokiness and texture from minerals, but you can also try at least six other blends, both red and white.
Avid readers, take note. Hideaway for a while in this charming bookstore, which is filled with tones of Greek mythology, rare first editions, and dusty maps of the Mediterranean. This is not your average bookstore. Hidden behind the shelves are secret lofts where the staff sleeps at night.
Take a few minutes to sit on the beautiful terrace and read a book. The view and the story will take you away, even if only for a few minutes.
This cute little literary paradise on the main marble street of Oia is calling out to bookworms. It has books from every genre, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as a vintage collection of timeless mysteries and deep dives into ancient Greece.
This great gallery, which used to be a winery and tomato processing center in the 19th century, is a great place to enjoy both art and wine. Visitors can walk through the underground rocky caverns and look at the colorful modern art on the textured walls. This is a place where art and architecture come together in a spectacular way.
Finish your tour with a glass of great Greek wine made right here in the cellars by the owner and his family. If you're still thirsty, you can wander over to Volcanic Slopes Vineyards, Artemis Karamolegos, or Estate Argyros, all of which are highly regarded wineries.
One of the best things to do in Santorini is to eat a delicious Greek dinner while looking out over the Caldera. Take a seat on the beautiful dining balcony at Lycabettus in Oia or by the pool at the Astarte restaurant for pure romance.
You can watch the sun go down while you eat, or you can try something different and eat in a lava cave at The Wine Bar. In Oia, Sunsets lives up to its name, and Sunset Ammoudi by Paraskevas has baklava and seafood on the menu that looks as good as the view. There are so many great places to eat on the island that it's worth staying a couple of nights to try them all.
You'll want to spend some time at the island's rooftop bars, where you can enjoy great views and tasty drinks. At Mylos Cafe, Bar & Restaurant, you can have dinner or drinks with candles or under the shade of the windmill. At Character-Cafe Restaurant, you can spend the night sipping fancy cocktails.
Idol Cafe-Restaurant has a patio on the edge of a cliff, and Lava Lounge Cafe & Bar has live music and a beautiful view. Or, go to V Lounge Cafe and Cocktail Bar, where you can enjoy coffee, desserts, drinks, and views of the town and volcano.
When you walk on the popular Perissa Beach, you can leave your prints on the warm black sand. Not far from the amazing ruins of Ancient Thira, which date back to the 15th century BC, this black-sand beach has been a favorite spot for swimmers, snorkelers, and sunbathers for a long time. The water is clear and warm (up to 25° Celsius) during the summer (77 Fahrenheit).
After eating a picnic or reading a few chapters of your favorite book, take a few minutes to look at the huge Mesa Vouno rock that rises dramatically from the seabed. Then, spend the rest of the afternoon tanning on a sun lounger. It is a short drive from Fira, which is on the southwest side of Santorini.
One of the best-kept secrets on the island is the very romantic Heart of Santorini, which, as you might expect, is a favorite of Instagrammers. High up on the rough rim of the caldera, an ancient rock has been naturally carved into the shape of a heart. This makes for a beautiful frame for photos looking out to sea.
Not far from Megalochori, where you can find interesting places like the Agios Nikolaus chapel, Venetsanos Winery, Lost Atlantis Experience, and Gavalas Winery, you can take a short walk along the cliffs to get to the rocky heart, which is well worth the effort because of the views. Plan to ask her to marry you? You won't find a more romantic place in nature than this, that's for sure.
This small village in the north of Santorini is full of old-world charm. Imerovigli is higher up on the cliff than the nearby town of Fira. It has whitewashed balconies with views of the caldera and volcano. This is your chance to take pictures of cute chapels and famous churches. To get the full experience, go to one of the boutique bars and stay until the sun goes down.
Don't miss the 13th-century Skaros Venetian Fortress, and if you're feeling active, the 1.25-mile cobblestone hike from Fira to Imerovigli is picture-perfect. The detour to the Rock of Skaros is almost a must, even though it might add about 30 minutes to your trip.
Santorini is a beautiful Cycladic island in the southern Aegean Sea. It has amazing volcanic landscapes and world-famous views of sunsets. It is a luxury destination that's great for couples and has a rich history and wine culture to learn about. The beautiful, unique island has everything you want for a vacation: beautiful views, world-famous beaches, wine tasting, and a lot of places to eat. So, if you’re planning to visit Santorini, you'll be glad to know that this Greek island is a great place to go at any time of the year.