When you dream of the Greeks Islands, I bet it’s Santorini that you picture! It’s the epitome of beauty and luxury with its white-washed buildings, grand cave hotels and cobbled streets. And as you can imagine when the weather gets warmer the tourists descend upon this small island in the millions. In fact, would you believe that every year over 2 million tourists visit Santorini!
For one, there are so many summer activities on offer in Santorini like scuba diving, cliff jumping and horse riding. And secondly, it’s just so scenic here from May to September! Think brightly colored sunsets, sparkling blue coastal views (the sunlight makes the water here appear even ‘bluer’ in the summer) and unique black sand beaches.
In this blog post, I will share with you all the best summer activities in Santorini as well as the best restaurants and hotels. This guide is all you’ll need if you’re visiting Santorini in the summer months!
Tips for Visiting Santorini in the Summer
It’s no surprise to me that Santorini is one of the most popular summer destinations in Europe, that’s because the weather here averages 28 Celsius (82 Fahrenheit). July and August are the hottest months with temperatures reaching 30 Celsius (86 Fahreneheit) and above. The nights here are hot too, typically only falling as low as 23 Celsius (73 Fahrenheit).
What I love most about summer in Santorini is the long daylight hours, meaning more time to pack your day with activities. The sun rises at 7 am in the summer and doesn’t set until 7.30 pm– which means you have about 12.5 hours of daylight!
As mentioned, Santorini is an incredibly popular summer vacation spot so it’s worth booking your accommodation and activities well in advance (at least 2 months before your visit is my advice). Some of my favourite summer activities in Santorini include relaxing at a black sand beach, watching the sunset from a hidden location (more on that below) and visiting the super-interesting Greek Pompeii!
I recommend spending at least a week in Santorini in the summer to truly get a feel for this stunning island, and that way you’re not rushing around trying to fit everything in. It also means that if your favorite restaurant or activity is booked out one day you can return and try another day instead of missing out!
In this blog, I’ve cherry-picked 11 of the best summer activities in Santorini as well as detailing 6 of the best cave hotels on the island) for every budget!
1. Hike between Fira and Oia (or Oia and Fira)
The Fira to Oia trail is 10.4 km (6.5 miles) and will take most people 3 hours to complete (one-way). Be sure to wear closed-toe, comfortable shoes for the walk – I wore flip-flops and it wasn’t my finest idea. It’s best to hike the trail at around 4 pm so that you avoid the intense heat during the day. That way, you’ll arrive in Oia in time for sunset, which is at 7.30 pm in the summer.
The walking trail is typically flat and easy, although there are a few uphill sections. It follows the rim of the caldera, so as you can imagine the views are stunning the whole way. It passes through the villages of Imerovigli, Firostefani and finally Oia. You can opt to take a small detour along the way to see Skaros Rock – a rocky headland that has epic ocean views. It was originally known as Epano Kastro and was destroyed in the 19th-century by an earthquake and today just the ruins remain. Skaros Rock is about halfway along the trail, near the town of Imerovigli.
2. Watch the sunset
Of course, Oia is the most popular village to watch the sunset in Santorini, specifically in front of Oia castle. However, this spot is thronged in the summer – there are literally hundreds of tourists gathered in this small area vying for space and trying to get that iconic sunset photo.
I’ve visited Santorini a few times now and I must admit that my favorite place to watch the sunset in Santorini is Skaros Rock in Imerovigli. As mentioned above, it’s at the halfway point on the walk between Fira and Oia. At sunset, the castle ruins are illuminated by the red-pinkish light of the sunset, which makes for a great photo. Whilst you’re in the area why not visit the lovely little Chapel of Theoskepasti, which faces the Caldera.
Another way to enjoy the sunset and avoid the crowds is to book a sunset boat tour. Most tours leave from either the port of Ammoudi in Oia or the port of Athinios every day at 15:00. The tours are typically 5 hours in duration and include a tour of the island of Santorini from the ocean and maybe even a spot of swimming or snorkeling. The tour ends with you dropping anchor in a prime spot to watch the sunset near Oia.
BOOK HERE | full list of sunset boat tours
3. Go wine tasting
You wouldn’t think that a small volcanic island would produce great wine but Santorini certainly hits the nail on the head with some great wines coming from the area. The mild Greek climate, combined with Santorini’s volcanic soil, enables a few unique grape varieties to grow. In fact, wine has been produced in Santorini for approximately 3,500 years!
Here’s a list of some of the best wine tours in Santorini.
The best known wine varieties in Santorini are Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani – all whites and Mandilaria, Mavrotragano and Voudomato – all reds. Santorini wines are high in alcohol content and have an intense flavor.
Why not try a slightly more unique wine tour and do a sunset tour – most tours include a stop at 3 wineries, ending in a winery with an epic view of the famous sunset. Worth noting is that some tours offer a full dinner, while most offer a cheese platter and nibbles. There are 5 different sunset wine tours to choose from.
4. Head to the beach
One of the most unique things to do in Santorini in the summer is to head to Kamari or Perissa for a relaxing day on a beautiful black sand beach. Be sure to wear shoes at all times as the sand will BURN your feet! You can rent a sunbed and umbrella on these beaches for a fee. And to keep you nice and refreshed in the hot greek sun there are lots of restaurants lining the edge of these beaches.
To get to Kamari | from Fira (the main town) get a KTEL bus which takes 15 minutes and costs approximately €2. The bus times vary from every 20 minutes in busy times to every hour in the mornings/ evenings.
To get to Perissa | from Fira (the main town) get a KTEL bus which takes 20 minutes and costs approximately €2. The bus departs hourly.
5. Cooldown at the free swimming pool
Lioyerma pool bar is located at Garbini Mills in Oia and it has a beautiful view overlooking the caldera. It’s one of the largest pools in Santorini and is a great spot to spend a few hours on a hot summers day, sunbathing and then cooling off in the pool. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset!
There’s a small fee to rent a sunbed here (about 5) and you can purchase drinks and food from the bar. The food is freshly prepared and the salads especially are delicious.
6. Go cliff jumping at Ammoudi Bay
Not for the faint-hearted – cliff jumping off Ammoudi Bay is a very popular summer activity with locals.
To reach the cliff jumping spot you will need to walk through the restaurants on Ammoudi Bay until you reach several black rocks, climb over the rocks and you will see your dive point a small steep rocky outcrop in the water. It’s just a short swim to reach the outcrop, there’s a rope to help you climb to the top. There’s a small white-washed church at the top from where you’ll jump and it’s a 20-foot jump into the deep waters below. Be careful and make sure to jump out so you don’t hit any of the rocks on the way down (it’s unlikely your travel insurance will cover you!)
7. Go scuba diving
Go Diving in one of the most unique diving locations in the world, here in Santorini. With clear blue waters and average visibility of up to 30 meters, plus, you can say you went diving in a volcano! You can even dive a shipwreck if you’re feeling brave.
This 4-hour tour begins from Ammoudi bay and takes you out past the caldera to see some smaller volcanic islands. Two different diving locations are included in the tour, where you dive depending on your group’s experience. Underwater Santorini is surprisingly magical – the water is so clear and you’re likely to see lava formations, shipwrecks and unique reefs on this particular tour.
8. Go on a boat cruise
Go on a cruise to some small islands off Santorini and visit a hot spring too. This tour takes between 6 – 10 hours and includes so many sights for the price! The tour starts from Athinios Port and includes stops at Nea Kamani, where you can walk to the crater of an active volcano and Palea Kameni to swim in the unique hot springs here. You will also be taken to the charming small village of Thirassia and finally the steep village of Manolas, where you can ride a donkey from the boat to the top of the village.
9. Go horse riding
Go horse-riding on Eros Beach – this is a 90 minute tour and takes you through sand dunes, along a golden beach with stunning canyon views all-round. Get ready to take loads of instagram-worthy photos!
This tour is suitable for all skill levels and if you’re feeling less-than-confident your experienced guide will take the time before you depart to show you the ropes (literally!). You will ride through the sand dunes at Caldera Beach and into the surrounding mountains, before coming to the black sand Eros Beach (which is breathtaking). The tour is 90 minutes in duration and is the perfect couples activity in Santorini!
10. Visit the Greek Pompeii
Akrotiri is one of the most important archaelogical sites in Greece. This is certainly one of the most unique things to do in Santorini! The town of Akrotiri was abandoned after a series of earthquakes, then covered by volcanic ash somewhere between 1620 and 1530 BC following a volcanic eruption. The ash has exceptionally preserved the settlement. Archaelogists have discovered Akrotiri had an elaborate drainage system, and was made up of many multi-storey buildings, each decorated with stunning wall-paintings. The luxurious quality of the furniture and ceramics found points to the town being very prosperous.
Today, Akrotiri is covered by a bioclimatic roof and its walkways are suspended above the site, this allows visitors to walk easily among the two and three-storey buildings.
GETTING TO AKROTIRI | there are regular buses from Fira to the car park at Akrotiri Red Beach – the journey will take approximately 20 minutes. Once you get off the bus, it’s a 250 metre walk to Akrotiri. The bus ticket costs around €2 for an adult. Alternatively, you can book one of these guided tours to Akrotiri.
11. Wander through one of the coolest book stores in the world
Atlantis Books in Oia – is one of the coolest bookshops in the world, think enchanting, charming & colorful. It is located on Nomikos Street in Oia and is actually housed within a historic Greek villa. Atlantis Books is owned and operated by several creatives who are very active in the local community, in fact, they set up a cool program called ‘the book donkey’ which brings books to the local schools.
For sale here are fiction and non-fiction books in most languages (Greek, French, Italian etc.) as well as rare antiquarian books and collectors’ first editions. Most tourists though come here to take photos of its quirky, mish-mashed interior.
Best restaurants in Santorini
- Athenian House in Imerovigli – has some of the best caldera and sunset views on Santorini. Be sure to book this months in advance
- Naoussa in Fira – traditional greek food on the northern end of Fira with a stunning view over the sea
- Elinikon in Oia – specializing in share dishes and meze platters and one of the best views from any restaurant in Oia. Definitely book this in advance.
- Panorama Balcony in Oia – only one table in the restaurant and one seating per night between 8 – 11pm. Book this years in advance!
- Ammoudi Fish Taverna in Ammoudi Bay – a slightly different view right by the water in Ammoudi Bay. The seafood is so fresh, mostly caught that very day.
Where to stay on Santorini
There are so many accommodation options in Santorini that it can be intimidating to choose a place to stay. Most tourists to Santorini want to tick an item off their bucket list and stay at the famous cave hotels on the island. Below I’ve listed 6 of the most staggeringly beautiful cave hotels in Santorini, there’s one for every budget!
- Perivolas in Oia – possibly the most famous hotel in Santorini, featured in numerous travel magazines and instagram accounts. Perfect for honeymooners, the view from your infinity pool is to-die-for. Save this one for a special occasion! ROOMS FROM | €1000 per night
- Iconic Santorini in Imerovigli – a small hotel in the quieter town of Imerovigli with a shared pool and a stunning view over the Caldera. ROOMS FROM | €650 per night
- Katikies Hotel in Oia – a larger hotel with 3 infinity pools all with excellent views of the caldera and the deep blue sea. ROOMS FROM | €1000 per night
- Afroessa in Imerovigli – brilliant value for money for what you get, each room has a private balcony with stunning views. ROOMS FROM | €350 per night
- Carpe Diem Santorini in Pyrgos – no kids allowed in this adults-only resort. For the views alone and the stunning rooms it’s great value for money. ROOMS FROM | €200 per night
- Chez Sophie Rooms & Suites in Kamari – family-run, excellent value for money and in a great location close to the beach. Sure, you don’t have the caldera views like you would in Oia or Fira but you have the beach. ROOMS FROM | €80 per night
Thanks for reading!
As you have read, there are heaps of awesome things to do in Santorini in summer, and I bet after reading this blog post you are just itching to visit this summer. I hope I’ve given you loads of inspiration for your vacation to Santorini!
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also enjoy my other blog posts about Greece. Some of my favorites include:
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