What to do in Santorini

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Santorini: The Must-Do Activities

Santorini: What to do when you get there?

Undoubtedly the most famous Greek island, and a top destination for many travellers - those who come to Santorini, never want to leave. This island, in the southern Aegean Sea, is home to dramatic cliffs, stunning sunsets, thermal waters, charming hidden coves and pristine black sand beaches. Santorini is known around the world for its spectacular rugged volcanic landscape and the contrastingly smooth round white buildings situated on the edges of these volcanic caldera cliff faces.

Water Sports – Sailing, Jet Skiing, SUP

A bucketlist destination for many, this island, known for its recognisable architecture, local boutique shopping and incredible Greek cuisine, is also home to some great water sports. The waters around this island are a fantastic place to try scuba diving and snorkeling amongst the thriving marine life, as well as jet skiing and jet boating on the blue of the Aegean Sea. With great views to be discovered of this remarkable island from the water, sailing is a great option for those that want to watch the sun set over the domed chapel roofs, from a more private location or from a different perspective than other visitors.

Stand up paddle is a popular activity at this destination, as the views of the white buildings of the towns of Fira and Oia, contrasting with the dark volcanic rock that the island is made of, is best seen from the water. For a romantic holiday activity, watch the sunset on your paddleboards from the water. For a bigger adrenaline rush, try flyboarding, hoverboarding, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

World-famous Cliffside Architecture – Oia and Fira

Wander through the towns of Oia and Fira, perhaps the most famous and easily recognised places on Earth. Both locations offer great shopping, traditional Greek cuisine, cave hotels and incredible architecture. Stroll around the narrow streets of both locations, both mazes of winding paths and staircases, of blue-roofed chapels and both offering great panoramic views of the uninhabited Nea Kameni Island, part of the dormant volcano that comprises Santorini and at the centre of the Santorini Caldera. Oia, the smaller of the two settlements, at the north-west of the island is a less touristy destination that Fira, Santorini’s capital, and a great place to watch the sunset.

Oia is home to landmarks such as stunning cliff top 15th century Byzantine castle ruins, Saint Nicholas Church, a small chapel situated on a small volcanic island off the end of Oia’s coast and the beautiful blue-dome roofed Anastasi Church. Just around the headland from Oia is the small village of Ammoudi, a great spot for scuba diving around the famous Ammoudi reef and wreck, and an excellent place to find colourful port-front restaurants with incredible sea views.

Hiking from Oia to Fira, a popular route and approximately 10km, is a great way to see more of the island and to discover little chapels and great views off the beaten track. Once you arrive, Fira has much to see, with a number of great museums such as the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, Archaeological Museum Fira, the Lignos folklore Museum and a number of art galleries and the world-famous Three Bells of Fira church.

Black Sand Beaches and Sulphur Springs

For beautiful black sand beaches, head to the east and south of the island, to Kamari Beach and Mera beach, near Perissa. Both areas offer a great selection of shops and restaurants, as well as great opportunities for water sports such as stand up paddle, snorkeling and windsurfing at Kamari Beach and adventure dives, scuba diving courses, snorkeling, jet skiing, jet boating, SUP, flyboarding and parasailing at Perissa Beach. For incredible views of the rugged mountain backdrop, head to this east side of the island.

The south-west side of the island offers the stunning White Beach – with its name being in reference to the bright white limestone cliffs it is backed by. This black sand beach is only accessible by ferry, boat or kayak, and can be seen whilst on sea kayaking excursions that take you around this part of the island and its volcanic rock formations and to see the Akrotiri Lighthouse, which from itself has stunning views. Whilst in the area, take a 15 minutes’ drive across the width of the island to the inside of the caldera to Caldera Beach, the only beach on the inside of this dormant volcanic area.

Vlychada beach is also on this southern side of the island, and is another black sand beach; with incredible volcanic pumice cliffs that make it seem like an otherworldly landscape. This gorgeous, quiet beach is definitely worth a visit, as it has to be seen to be believed.

For something completely different, head to Red Beach, in between White Beach and Vlychada beach, with stunning red sand and red rock cliffs as the backdrop, this beach is unlike any you’ll have seen before. The beaches on this southern side of Santorini are able to be seen by boat, with boat trips passing by, and stopping at, these areas, and also offering a visit to the fascinating sulphur hot springs, on the Nea Kameni island. This natural geothermal landmark is highly worth a visit, for a fun afternoon swim in the area’s naturally heated water.

History – Preserved Ancient Settlements

Santorini is the perfect destination for history lovers and those interested in geology or volcanology… or just anyone that is curious about how it is possible for such beautiful settlements to exist on the edges of a dormant flooded volcano. This destination is home to preserved ancient settlements, ruined castles, museums and old churches - proving that Santorini is so much more than just the Instagrammable paradise that we’ve come to know it to be in the 21st century.

Head to Akrotiri, to see a well-preserved Minoan settlement - wander around this area of archeological excavation and discover what an ancient Minoan settlement from around 4,500BC looks like. This settlement was well-preserved after being covered in volcanic ash and not discovered until the 19th century.

Another ancient settlement on this island is Ancient Thera, on the east of the island between Kamari and Perissa beaches. These ancient ruins are accessible by foot, and a great place to hike to, and also to see some incredible panoramic views. These mountain-top ruins boast incredible Aegean Sea views and date all the way back from the 9th Century BC. Situated on the Mesa Vouno Mountain – another great place to hike, in the east of Santorini, this archaeological find was unearthed in the late 19th/early 20th century.

Getting There and Getting Around – Ferries, Private Boat Rentals and Boat Excursions

Ferries to the island go from Greece’s capital city, Athens (year round) and from a number of other islands in the area such as Paros, Naxos and Crete, at select seasons of the year. On arrival in Santorini, ferries harbour in the Santorini New Harbour in the central-western area of Ormos Athinios, from which location visitors have a big choice to make… go to the east and south of the island for incredible beaches, ruins of ancient settlements, hiking and water sports such as sea kayaking, jet skiing, jet boating, scuba diving and snorkeling. Or adversely, up to the well-known, world-recognised towns of Oia and Fira in the north and north-west of the island for sailing and diving experiences and incredible sunset views.

Visitors arriving in Santorini by plane will land at the island’s airport; Santorini Airport, in the central part of the island, from where, the beaches and water sports of the south and eastern areas are easily accessible.

Private sail boat rentals, boat tours and excursions are great ways of getting between beaches and areas not as accessible from the land, such as between the Red, White and Black Beaches and between Perissa and Kamari beaches.

Santorini: All our activities

Boat Tours

Boat Tours

29 activities

Customer feedbacks on Santorini

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Yi Z., United Kingdom — 04/06/2024
I had an exceptional windsurfing experience, thanks to the professional instructor who provided excellent advice perfect for beginners. The course was well-equipped with high-quality gear and designed to be highly informative, making the learning process enjoyable and effective. The instructor's expertise and approachable teaching style greatly enhanced my confidence and skills on the water. Highly recommended for anyone looking to start windsurfing!
Deborah K., United States — 28/05/2024
It was so fun and definitely worth the time and money. It was a last minute booking for us but it worked out great. They picked us up and dropped us off and we were able to have such a unique experience around Santorini.
Maurice H., France — 17/05/2024
It was a very impressive and well-organized experience to discover the beautiful nature of the Santorini caldera.
Harry H., United Kingdom — 03/05/2024
Easily the best experience of my life, so insightful, interesting and fun, it has inspired me to take on diving as a hobby in the future, dimitris was incredibly helpful and inspiring he took us through everything step by step, easy to follow, interesting and great fun, I highly recommend for anyone visiting Santorini
Allie H., United States — 04/11/2023
A repeat worthy dive if we were ever to return to the island.

Around Santorini

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