Santorini is one of the most famous, popular and remarkable Greek islands, so much so that we returned for a second visit! You already know it’s beautiful because you’ve seen all the Instagram pictures. And you already know it’s famous for its sunset at Oia and the beautiful whitewash buildings carved into the side of the volcanic island, but what don’t you already know about Santorini?
Read on to discover all the other things to do on this Meditteranean, sun-soaked island. The most surprising thing about Santorini is that there is much more to do on the island than you think. The island isn’t massive either, but there are a ton of things to do in Santorini, despite its size.
The island sits in the Aegean sea and forms part of the Cyclades Islands, and it’s full of wonder, from the wine to windmills and everything in between. Santorini resulted from one of the most significant recorded volcanic eruptions in human history, the Minoan eruption, which resulted in a unique and impressive landscape known as a caldera.
If you didn’t know (we didn’t!), a caldera is a significant depression formed when a volcano erupts and collapses, hence why there are two islands (Santorini and Thirasia) surrounding Nea Kameni, the volcano island, which we’ll talk about a little later.
We first visited Santorini in 2020 but had to leave the island because of Covid. Remember Covid? You can read what happened by clicking here. Anyway, we revised to tick off the rest of the things to do in Santorini we’d planned. But before we move on, did you know Thira is the official name for Santorini? It’s also the name of the capital, and Greece has around 6,000 islands and islets scattered around its seas, of which only 227 are inhabited. Let’s look at our list of things to do in Santorini!
18 Things to Do in Santorini
1 | Watch the Sunset at Oia
First up on our list of things to do in Santorini is to watch the sunset in Oia. Undoubtedly, the sunset at Oia is one of the most beautiful on the planet.
Head to the Castle of Oia for the best sunset view, but don’t forget to hang around a little longer. Everyone will disappear, and you’ll be left with the rich colours of the skyline while the hillside comes alive as the ambient light falls. Oia is the perfect place to get your camera out to capture that amazing sunset, so why not check out our travel photography tips to make the most of your camera? But there’s more to discover in Santorini than Oia and its sunset, so carry on reading our list of things to do in Santorini to find out what else there is to discover on this volcanic island!
2 | Wander the Streets of Thira
Thira is the capital of Santorini and the hub of the island. Because of this and its relatively small size, it gets pretty busy. While in Thira, a trip down to Santorini Old Harbour is worth it. You can walk via the Karavolades Stairs (this isn’t for the faint-hearted!) or take the cable car. You can also take a donkey, but we recommend you avoid that! There’s also the famous Three Bells of Fira, in the north of Thira. And despite the sunset not being as renowned as Oia, Thira offers another beautiful sunset you should witness if you have the time.
3 | Hike From Thira to Oia
A bumper crew trip wouldn’t be complete without a hike, would it?
The Thira to Oia hike is about 10km which will take you approximately 2.5 hours at a decent pace. And it’s worth every minute, even in the heat! Despite the distance and heat, the Thira to Oia hike is popular and surprisingly peaceful once you get out of Thira and Imerovigli. You’ll pass a snack shop around halfway, a few lovely churches and some epic views!
We recommend walking from Thira to Oia, enjoying the sunset and catching the bus back. If you haven’t already explored Oia when you visit for the sunset, plan to complete the Thira to Oia hike in time for sunset. You can spend a bit of time wandering the tiny streets of Oia and getting all your pictures for Instagram if you need to pass a bit of time!
4 | Hire a Quad
Hiring a quad might seem strange to see on a list of things to do in Santorini, but hear us out. A quad is a mode of transport, but it’s so much more than that! It’s a way to have a ton of fun while you’re getting from one place to another, and that’s why it’s high up on our list of things to do in Santorini because you need to get around, right?
Hiring a quad to get around Santorini is a safe and cost-effective way of getting around to see our list of things to do in Santorini. And with only 65 days of rain per year in Santorini, you don’t have to worry about getting wet! But remember your lip balm – the wind across your face will be sure to dry your lips out! Ha! Given the intense Mediterranean sun, you should cream up to protect your skin! Alternatives to quad hire are car hire and scooter hire. A quad is a cheaper alternative to a car and a safer alternative than a scooter, plus you can park them almost anywhere! The quad we hired cost 35 Euros per day.
And if you head to some of the places we mention below, like SAWA and Ancient Thira, you’ll be sure to drive along some fun roads. We hired ours from the awesome guys at Moto Empire in Perissa. It’s a family-run business, and Martha will be sure to look after you, as they did us. Click here to visit their website for more information.
5 | Visit a Tomato Factory
Of the 500,000 tons of tomato paste originating in Greece per year, 300,000 are created by D. Nomikos. And you can take a tour around their old tomato factory in Santorini.
We’re sure you will leave the museum with a new appreciation of tomatoes! At the end of the audio tour, you get the opportunity to press your own can and taste the tomato paste and tomato juice. Who knew tomato juice would be so tasty? According to the host, salt, pepper and lemon juice are the key!
The tour is a good length. It’s informative and interesting without going on too long, and you get an audio guide to take you through the story of the tomato factory. There is an entrance fee and for up-to-date prices and more information, click here.
Finally, did you know the tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegetable?
6 | Bathe on Paralia Vlichada Beach
Once you’ve visited Tomato Industrial Museum, head down to the sea and turn right onto Paralia Vlichada Beach. Beaches are definitely more Stacey’s thing than mine (Joel), but this one is a bit different – where volcanic sand meets an incredible cliff face. The landscape is just stunning with the soft sandstone banks and naturally formed patterns. Paralia Vlichada Beach is also pretty quiet because it’s not a popular tourist spot but be aware part of the beach is for the naturists, so if this is a problem, don’t wander too far down!
7 | Visit Pyrgos
Oia and Thira steal the thunder from the other towns and villages around Santorini, but if there is one other you should try to visit, it’s Pyrgos, our favourite village in Santorini. You will get lost in the maze of little streets, and don’t forget to head up to Pyrgos Callisti’s Castle for some fantastic views before wandering back down. Keep an eye out for Loupa, the little dog and the musicians in the little tunnel near Franco’s Cafè, too!
8 | Visit Megalochori
Megalochori is another lovely little village of Santorini that’s worth a visit. It’s famous for its bell tower, and there’s a beautiful little square with a taverna, perfect for a spot of lunch after a little wander. There’s also a nifty little leather shop where Stelios makes all his leather goods. But the best part about Megalochori is that it is close to the Heart of Santorini.
9 | Visit the Heart of Santorini
No, this isn’t the middle of Santorini, but a rock formation, much to our surprise!
It’s a great place to visit during the day and is also home to the Church of Agios Nikolaos, a cute little church carved into the rock.
The Heart of Santorini also offers a beautiful alternative to the sunsets of Oia and Thira, where you get to see the Mediterranean sunset over Plaka Bay and the neighbouring islands of Nea Kameni and Thirasia.
10 | Get Lost in a Venetian Settlement
Emporio is another gem of Santorini and a little bit under the tourist radar. We passed through numerous times before finally deciding to stop, and we are so glad we did! Emporio is home to Kasteli, which is the heart of the village. It’s an old Venetian settlement and castle, and it’s a rabbit warren of tiny little streets lined with tiny steps and doors. The ruin of the Tower of Nimborio, also known as Goulas, is also interesting. While you’re there, you can see the windmills over at Gavrilos Hill.
11 | Go Beer Tasting
If you’re a beer lover, this is one of the things to do in Santorini you can’t miss! But it’s not just beer tasting anywhere; it’s at the Santorini Brewing Company. You’ll find their donkey logo all over the island, but they brew the beer in the middle of the island, just outside Kamari. It’s a tiny brewery that you don’t get to look around but head up to the bar where you can taste the different beers and even pick up some merch if you fancy it. You can get a free sticker and pin badge; ask for it! We recommend the weissbier, an unfiltered wheat beer – it was our favourite!
12 | Visit Akrotiri
Akrotiri is Santorini’s equivalent of Italy’s Pompeii – a town covered in volcanic ash from an eruption in the 17th century BC. It’s a remarkable place entirely undercover and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece due to the exceptional level of preservation from the volcanic ash. Can you believe the eruption happened over 3000 years ago, but the inhabitants of Akrotiri had sophisticated drainage systems and multi-storey houses?!
13 | Visit the Coloured Beaches
There are three coloured beaches on Santorini – Black, Red and White.
They are all located in the same area of the island, although you’ll find other black beaches on the island, such as Paralia Vlichada Beach, which we mentioned above. To get to the white beach, you’re best off getting the boat. The boat operates a hop-on, hop-off off at each beach and originates at the port near the tomato museum.
14 | Wander Ancient Thera
Ancient Thera sits at the very top of a mountain and is accessible via two towns – Perissa and Kamari, which sit on either side of this massive hill. We paid 6 Euros to enter, and we can’t find an official website for accurate prices, so you’ll have to arrive and see what it costs on the day! Ha.
The ruins aren’t much more than piles of stones, but it’s the wonder of a world that went before us that piqued our interest. We wander the ruins with intrigue about who walked the paths before us and what they did to fill their days. It’s also fascinating how advanced these people were. It’s also remarkable they got stuff up and down the sides of that mountain! Ha! The road from Kamari is a fun drive up, too, and there is parking, although it’s limited. There’s also a little snack bar at the top to take on some fluids, which you should do because it’s hot at the top!
15 | Volunteer at SAWA
One of the unique things to do in Santorini is to spend some time volunteering. Who would have thought of volunteering while on holiday on a beautiful Greek island? Well, read on if this piqued your interest! SAWA stands for the Santorini Animal Welfare Association, a non-government and not-for-profit organisation that maintains a no-kill policy.
They look after the unwanted animals of Santorini, ranging from dogs to donkeys.
There are quite a few donkeys at SAWA, probably because of their use around the island as a tourist attraction to get people up and down hills. At thebumpercrew.com, we believe in honesty and authenticity, and that’s why ‘riding a donkey’ isn’t on our list of things to do in Santorini. We don’t like the thought of exploiting an animal for tourism.
The owners told us that animals are often left tied to the gate because they are no use to their owners anymore. Donkeys that carry tourists around for fun are abandoned once they are too old or have health issues and are no longer useful to their owners.
Visit SAWA if you have the time and want to give something back. You can always donate through their website if that’s not your thing. We’re sure they would appreciate any support you can give. Failing that, don’t take a donkey ride.
16 | Go Wine Tasting
We’re not big into wine, but visiting Santorini and not going wine-tasting would, quite frankly, be an offence! Ha! Santorini is regarded the world over for the wine it produces and is also home to the only museum of its kind in Greece, the Koutsogiannopoulos Wine Museum, which is nestled in a 300-metre-long cave, 8 metres below the ground.
Check this out, too – it took the family 21 years to build the museum! The museum is interesting – it explains all you need to know about wine production in Santorini (which is surprisingly enjoyable!) and ends with some wine tasting, which is what we are all in it for, right?! Wait until you get the dessert wine with the chocolate – it will blow your mind!
17 | Eat Gyros
Did you even go to Greece if you didn’t eat gyros? If you want to avoid eating at a restaurant one evening, then grabbing yourself a gyros on the go and casually watching a sunset is a must. A Gyros is a taste of modern Greece and a cheaper alternative to a sit-down meal. Plenty of places do take-away, so grab that gyros and a bottle of White Donkey and find your spot to watch one of the best sunsets in the Mediterranean.
18 | Visit an Active Volcano
The last up on our list of things to do in Santorini is to visit an active volcano. On any other list of things to do in Santorini, you might expect this to be a little higher up but not on this one. It’s worth a visit if you have time, but if you don’t, go and explore the rest of what Santorini has to offer. A trip to Nea Kameni will consume most of your day, if not all of it. But if you make it, you can hike around the volcano and, depending on which boat tour you’re on, bathe in some hot springs.
Things to do in Santorini
- Watch the Sunset at Oia
- Wander the Streets of Thira
- Hike From Thira to Oia
- Hire a Quad
- Visit a Tomato Factory
- Bathe on Paralia Vlichada Beach
- Visit Pyrgos
- Visit Megalochori
- Visit the Heart of Santorini
- Get Lost in a Venetian Settlement
- Go Beer Tasting
- Visit Akrotiri
- Visit the Coloured Beaches
- Wander Ancient Thera
- Volunteer at SAWA
- Go Wine Tasting
- Eat Gyros
- Visit an Active Volcano
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