Listing 7 unique things to do in Santorini!
You have definitely heard of Santorini – I’m sure of it. Santorini is top of most peoples travel bucket list and for good reason – from stunning sunsets to white-washed cave houses and fancy restaurants. This greek island has something for everyone from the family-friendly beach town of Perissa to the very romantic Oia.
Despite what you may think Santorini caters to every type of traveler. In fact, there are many budget-friendly & splurge-worthy things to do in Santorini!
So, read on to find out our top 7 unique things you must do in Santorini (both budget & splurge-worthy).
Watch the sunset (but not from where you think)
Instead of joining the huge crowds in Oia, why not travel a little further to the venetian ruins on Skaros Rock in Imerovigli. Imerovigli is the next town over from Oia and you can walk between the two if you’re feeling adventurous. Skaros Rock was originally known as Epano Kastro. The fortress was destroyed in the 19th-century by an earthquake and today just the ruins remain. At sunset, the castle ruins are illuminated by the red-pinkish light of the sunset. 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
Hike the Fira to Oia trail
The Fira to Oia trail is 6.5 miles in total and includes some of the best photo opportunities on the island. If you walk at a leisurely pace it should take you approximately 3 hours. Hike the trail just before sunset to avoid the intense hear, ideally starting in Fira and ending in Oia for the famous sunset session. Wear suitable footwear – you don’t need hiking boots but good walking shoes are a must. Don’t do it in flip-flops like me. Also, bring some water as there are long stretches without any stores.
Visit a black sand beach
Yep, you read that right – you don’t need to visit Hawaii for a black sand beach. This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Santorini. Head to Kamari or Perissa for the black sand experience on Santorini, but 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.
Go on a wine tour
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. Did you know | wine has been produced in Santorini for approximately 3,500 years!
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.
Here’s some of the best wine tours in Santorini.
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 HERE | 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.
Have dinner or lunch with a view
Surely, one of the best views in the world has to be watching the sunset from Oia or Fira. And what better way to enjoy the view than with a meze platter, plenty of tzatziki and a nice glass of Santorini wine in one of the best restaurants on Santorini.
Some great dishes to try on Santorini include fava (aka puréed yellow split peas), domatania (aka a type of cherry tomato), white aubergines, & vinsanto dessert wine. And of course you must not miss the fresh seafood especially in the restaurants in Ammoudi Bay.
Here are 5 of the best restaurants with a view on Santorini –
- Athenian House in Imerovigli – has some of the best caldera and sunset views on Santorini. TOP TIP | 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.
Get a great deal on a cave hotel
Would you believe – you can stay in a hostel within a cave in Santorini! Thus, saving the $$$ whilst still getting the cool factor that comes with staying in a cave hotel. Caveland is a 30-minute walk from Fira but has an outdoor pool and is contained within an 18th century winery. You can stay in a shared dorm or book a private room. There are shared kitchen facilities so you can cook at the hostel and save some extra money. PRIVATE ROOMS FROM | €76 per night
Some other amazing cave hotels varying in budget on Santorini can be found listed below.
P.S. If you do book any of the below hotels through these links, I will get a teeny commission, whilst you still keep the best available rate.
- 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
Some more unique things to do in Santorini
- Atlantis Books in Oia – is one of the coolest bookshops in the world, think quirky, charming & colorful. ADDRESS | Nomikos Street, Oia
- Go Diving – with clear blue waters, average visibility of up to 30m, plus, you can say you went diving in a volcano! You can even dive a shipwreck if you’re feeling brave. BOOK YOUR DIVE | HERE
Is Santorini worth the hype?
The short answer is yes. It’s a bucket-list destination and listed in countless travel articles as one of the most beautiful places on earth. So there’s a lot of expectation for tourists when visiting Santorini. Keep in mind that during the Summer months it is very busy – I mean there are literally thousands of people grappling for the best seat to watch the sunset.
Do your research beforehand about when to visit and what to do before to avoid disappointment!
Santorini is expensive especially if you want to stay in Fira or Oia – we actually ended up getting a great last-minute deal on booking.com but for the most part I’d advise booking well in advance to get the best price and to ensure you’re not disappointed when the hotel you had in mind inevitably sells out. Some ways to save money in Santorini would be to get an apartment with a kitchenette so you can eat/drink in and to spend your days doing one of the many fantastic free things to do in Santorini.
What can you do for free in Santorini?
- Hike the Fira to Oia trail – this will take approximately 3 hours each way
- Visit one of the many beaches on the island, some of the best include Kamari & Perissa
- Cool down at the free swimming pool – Lioyerma public pool is located in Oia. *You will need to purchase a drink or food to use the sunloungers here
- Go cliff jumping at Ammoudi Bay – not for the faint-hearted. A very popular sunset activity with locals.
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Tell me, what did you think of our list of unique things to do in Santorini? Did we miss anywhere? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
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