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A stunning view in Santorini, Greece
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 14 best things to do in Santorini

From red beaches to whitewashed buildings and clear blue waters, these are the best things to do in spectacular Santorini

Heidi Fuller-Love
Written by
Marissa Tajada
Written by
Heidi Fuller-Love

There’s nothing quite like standing at the top of the multicoloured cliffs that Santorini is famous for. This island is one of the most unique destinations in the world, and not just because it is in the huge crater of a volcano. The scenery here seems crafted by the Greek gods: whitewashed villages crown the island with views over its sea-flanked edges, rural vineyards span huge stretches inland, and the beaches are black, red and out of this world.

There’s plenty for explorers, foodies and culture vultures to discover, from archaeological sites to swimming spots and friendly hotels, brilliant wine and Mediterranean food.

🛏 The ultimate guide to where to stay in Santorini
🇬🇷 The best places to visit in Greece

Best things to do in Santorini

Ammoudi Bay
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kostas Limitsios

1. Ammoudi Bay

What is it? Tucked in the lower part of Oia, Ammoudi Bay is a tiny fishing village with a charming little dock. The water here sparkles deep blue and light turquoise – it’s holiday-brochure perfection.

Why go? The craggy coves here are perfect for a refreshing swim between sea rocks. It’s also one of the best places to find traditional Greek seafood tavernas, including the traditional Katina’s Taverna, where the tables are set just inches from the sea.  

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Akrotiri

2. Akrotiri

What is it? Known as the ‘Greek Pompeii’, Akrotiri is a wonderfully-preserved archaeological site where visitors get a glimpse of life on the island around 1450 BC.  

Why go? Like the famous Pompeii, a volcano erupted, and the layers of ash ended up preserving the settlements nearby. Today, the covered site’s panelled pathways take you on a journey between small homes, clay buildings, and artefacts which give a glimpse into what was like for the ancient Minoan civilization when it was at its peak.   

Red Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Red Beach

What is it? This is one of the most unique beaches in the world, aptly named for the unique colour of its sand.

Why go? Much to many visitors’ surprise, Santorini’s beaches aren’t fringed with tropical palms or laden with powdered, gold sand. This volcanic island gave birth to a spectacle of uniquely-hued landscapes and the Red Beach is one of them. It’s named after the rusty reddish tones of its sand, and the dramatic amber cliffs that dip into it. The island also has black and grey sand beaches on the east coast including Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari. All show off the amazing things that nature can do.

4. Tomato Factory Museum

What is it? A quirky museum in the remote seaside resort of Vlychada, dedicated to the island’s iconic tomato paste.

Why go? Even if you’re not a fan of the humble love apple, this fascinating museum housed in what was once the Nomikos family’s ketchup factory is well worth a visit. Apart from pulp-themed archive photos and video documentaries, there’s a cool courtyard café and an art gallery showcasing the work of local artists.


Sigalas Winery
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kevin Bovard

5. Sigalas Winery

What is it? One of a number of boutique wineries on the island, which produce some of Greece’s top wines.

Why go? To taste the incredible impact that growing grapes on volcanic soil can have on wine production. Santorini happens to be one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.  At the Sigalas Winery, a private sommelier can take you on a tour of vineyards that continue to harvest grapes with the ancient koulara technique – vines woven into basket-like forms.   

Akrotiri Lighthouse

6. Akrotiri Lighthouse

What is it? A stunningly picturesque stone watchtower with jaw-dropping sunset views on Santorini’s rugged southern flank.

Why go? You’re guaranteed to get a buzz just driving out to this 19th-century lighthouse, which stands at the end of a breathtaking - some would say terrifying - cliff-edge road winding to the tip of the island’s southernmost peninsula. If you manage to beat a path to this out-of-the-way spot at sundown, you’ll probably have those celebrated caldera sunset views all to yourself.

Caldera towns
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Cristina M

7. Caldera towns

What is it? The whitewashed towns that crown the steep cliff tops (calderas) of Santorini are one of this volcanic island’s most distinguishing features.

Why go? The sight of Santorini’s caldera towns – like white icing spilling from the island’s soaring cliffsides – is worth exploring by foot. Oia, Imerovigli, Firostefani and Fira each feature brightly whitewashed buildings and churches that create a string of white across Santorini’s clifftops, offering the most incredible views in an almost surreal setting.  

Fira to Oia hike
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Randy Levine

8. Fira to Oia hike

What is it? This scenic hike is quite possibly one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.

Why go? For one of the most unique trekking experiences on the Greek islands, follow the island path carved out between towns Fira and Oia. Known as the Fira-Oia Hike, it runs across the cliffs and through the villages of Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli.  The hiking trail spans under 10.5km and along the way, you’ll find yourself in amazing Instagram-worthy spots. It’s a good climb in both directions and can be challenging, especially under the summer sun.

Catamaran trip with Santorini Sailing

9. Catamaran trip with Santorini Sailing

What is it? A thrilling sailing trip from Vlychada.

Why go? This local-run day trip in a twin-hulled catamaran, which takes you on a tour of Santorini’s spectacular caldera, is a lot of fun. After chundering out to explore the lava-black heart of the volcano at Palea Kameni, you’ll leap into the sulphur-rich hot springs that bubble up from the surrounding seas and then end your day with a late lunch of feta-spiked Greek salad and herb-roasted chicken served with lashings of local wine.


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