Santorini is on everybody's bucket list. Even if you think you don't know Santorini, you probably know the iconic pictures of white houses and blue rooftops seen on travel posters and travel advertisement but of course the island is much more than that. Santorini is a volcanic island, which means lots of steep cliff sides, pebbled beaches, old ruins, volcano expeditions (if that's what you're into), but most importantly beautiful cities. I personally chose to spent my time exploring cities and beaches and if your time is limited that's what I recommend to do.
But really you don't need a lot of time in Santorini - just a few days actually. However, Santorini is a great starting point to go to other islands! You can go to so many islands from Santorini like Ios or Mykonos. But first, spend a few days exploring the beauty of Santorini. Here's all of my favourite Santorini spots that can all be done in a few days plus some extras if you have more time!
Getting around in Santorini is fairly easy. There's public busses going around the island every 30 minutes at least and they only cost between 1-3 euros so remember some change. You can find the bus schedule here. In Oía there's only one bus and that goes to Fira. The main bus station is in Fira and from here you can go almost everywhere - also to and from the airport.
If you want more freedom then you can rent a scooter, a quad or a car. Scooters are the cheapest option with about 26€ for a day. The quad bike is the most famous transportation form of Santorini and they're great if you have some bags you want to have with you since there's more room compared to a scooter. Some of the places I'm going to mention can only be accessed by renting some sort of transportation.
The castle ruins is the best viewpoint in all of Santorini. From here you can see both sides of Oía City and the beautiful caldera, which is not easy to see elsewhere since lots of the streets are private and only for guests at the hotels, which makes it hard to find a good spot with a view. Because of this and the excellent view, the spot is very popular and if you for sunset remember to arrive a few hours early to get a good seat!
Oía Church Bells
Right next to the blue domes in Oía are a pair of church bells that overlooks the blue water of the Aegean Sea and the white facades of the caldera buildings. It is not really a church anymore but a hotel, but they've left the bells and like the castle, it also provides you with spectacular views, however, only of one side of Oía and of course the caldera. The chuch bells have the memorable white and arched rooftop that everyone think of when thinking about Santorini. It's the perfect photo backdrop, especially during sunset when everything turns golden.
One of the best beaches in Santorini is Perissa Beach. Of course the island doesn't have sand beaches since it's a volcanic island, however, Perissa Beach is partly pebbled and partly black volcanic sand, which is why the beach also goes by the name Black Beach. Perissa Beach is very popular but the beach is so long that you won't find it hard to find a nice and quiet spot and for ten euros you can rent two sunbeds and an umbrella to relax in for the whole day. The long stretch of beach is dotted with great bars and restaurants so it's easy to find something to eat. You can also have a massage right on the beach!
The Blue Domes, Oía
The most iconic picture you'll see of Santorini is the one with the blue domes. Almost all cities in Santorini have their own blue dome, however, Oía has three very picturesque ones. You can see the domes from a spot next to the church bells, however, to get closer to them you have to find a hotel nearby since it's private ground or you can wait around and try and ask the staff if they'll let you come closer.
Yellow Church, Oía
Just as a reminder, not everything in Santorini is white and blue. Sometimes it's yellow and blue! I think this church deserves a visit as well with it's beautiful vibrant colours. It's also a place to enjoy some shade since it's a bit more nice and quiet here compared to the busy streets where all the main attractions are.
Oía in general
There's much more to see in Oía and you should definitely just walk around and get a bit lost. Check out the windmills or the old colourful parts of Oía! You can also take the many stairs down to Ammoudi Bay - maybe eat some fresh seafood for lunch down there. Also there's lots of shopping to do in both Oía and Fira - especially the jewellery is fantastic.
Sunsets in Santorini
Sunsets here are a category of its own! We did not have a single cloudy day in all of the week we spent here - and we saw the most beautiful orange/pink sunset every night without exception. Se all of the best sunset spots here.
If you have more time:
Red Beach, Akrotiri
Red Beach is one of the most famous attractions on the island. It is also a pebbled beach, however, this one is completely red (hence the name). The beach is easy to get to with the busses and then a very short walk, however, I recommend renting a scooter and driving by yourself. First of all you'll beat the crowds since the first bus leaves from Fira a bit late in the morning. Second of all, it's not the nicest beach to tan and swim in. We drove there and spent 30 minutes there until we decided to find a better beach to hang out for the rest of the day.
This is the beach we went to. It's like a greyish pebbled beach but the pebbles are small and rounded and easy to walk on. The beach is also free of crowds since the only way to get there is by renting a quad or a scooter. The downside is, there's only one place to eat at the beach, which doesn't give you that many options, however, the prices are still reasonable. The beach is perfect for a day away from the rush!
On your way to Perissa you can jump off at a little village called Pyrgos. Here you can spend an hour or two wandering around in the small narrow streets or go souvenir shopping! I recommend going in the morning and eat breakfast here. When we visited we fell in love with this adorable place called Agaze. It's this trendy but still very traditional Greek restaurant and they serve the very BEST breakfast. There's pancakes, greek yoghurt, eggs and bacon, toast and much much more.
Also only available with scooter or quad, which mean not as many tourists. The Lighthouse is located near the Red Beach, on the South-West end of the tip of the island and is great way to end the day. From the lighthouse you have undisturbed views of the sun setting over the caldera. If you want to watch the sunset without the crowds and don't care about the city view, then the Lighthouse is the place.
The Fira to Oía walk
This one is for you who love hiking or waking. It's a 10 km (6 miles) hike along the rim of a caldera between the two cities, but you'll be rewarded along the way with stunning caldera views and you get to explore some of the most beautiful cities: Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oía! It's a walk in very little shade so I recommend doing it very early in the morning or late in the afternoon especially in the Summer months. We did it at 7.30am and arrived in Oía three hours later. Read more about the walk here.
Stay at one of the many hotels with private jacuzzi
A must in Santorini got to be to stay at a hotel preferably on the cliff side with your own private jacuzzi on the terrace. When you go to Santorini, you'll notice there's small jacuzzis everywhere in the cities! You can even see them in some of my photos if you look cloesly! And it doesn't have to be far out of your budget. We only stayed two nights at this type of place and chose a standard Airbnb for the rest of the week, but the experience was so worth it! Imagine sitting in your jacuzzi with views of the ocean and maybe even the sunset if you choose the right side of the island!
More Santorini photos
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