Top excursions on Santorini, Greece

When looking for the top excursions on Santorini you really are spoiled for choice and, with the island being only 10 miles long and less than four miles wide, everything is within easy reach.

Top Excursions on Santorini © hans-johnson - Flickr Creative Commons
Top Excursions on Santorini © hans-johnson - Flickr Creative Commons

The cheapest option by far is to travel independently by bus, while hiring a car is a great option if you like visiting more remote places of interest. Exploring on your own means you can go at a pace that best suits you, and adapt your plans as you please. But if that's not for you there are plenty of organised coach excursions or small group tours, both of which give you the advantage of a knowledgeable guide.

Top things to see and do on Santorini

If you opt for a holiday in Santorini, you'll quickly see that the jewel in the island's crown is without doubt the whitewashed, marble paved Oia, although there are plenty of other lovely villages and archaeological sites to visit, hikes and water sports to enjoy, lovely beaches and even other islands to explore.

Visit Oia to see the iconic Santorini

Once a sleepy village, Oia is now a stylish, bustling and exclusive resort, very popular with photographers, especially at sunset. The best time to visit though is early in the morning or out of season as it does get extremely busy; its popularity as a top excursion on Santorini is understandable, being one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean.

Beautiful Oia, Santorini, Greece © Kathryn Burrington - TravelWithKat.com
Beautiful Oia, Santorini, Greece © Kathryn Burrington - TravelWithKat.com

There's a pretty harbour here too which is worth exploring and while it's a steep climb back up there are donkeys available to ride - an experience in itself.

Explore Pyrgos for a more authentic experience

If you'd prefer somewhere a little less crowded and a lot more authentic then try Pyrgos, where white-washed houses huddle around the ruins of a Venetian hilltop castle. It's a lovely village to explore with a maze of the narrow alleyways each calling you to walk on and see what is around the next corner.

Hike Thirassia, Santorini's little sister

If you want to get completely away from other tourists and explore a really authentic village, however, you should head for Manolas on the neighbouring island of Thirassia. Here the views across to the main island are breathtaking and yet, apart from a single restaurant, this village remains completely untouched by tourism.

Manolas Bay, Santorini © Kathryn Burrington - TravelWithKat.com
Manolas Bay, Santorini © Kathryn Burrington - TravelWithKat.com

While you can easily visit independently, Santorini Experts offers a fabulous tour, giving you an insight into village life and the islands' history. After exploring Manolas, you'll hike across to the other side of the island and discover an abandoned cave house village, finishing up with a traditional late lunch before catching the boat back to Oia.

Uncover Akrotiri and the ancient Santorini

Probably the most significant archaeological site in the Cyclades, Akrotiri was an important city until it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and a volcanic eruption in the 17th century BC. It's a fascinating site with much preserved, similar to Pompeii. Join a guided tour to bring the ruins back to life.

Fira Harbour, Santorini © Kathryn Burrington - TravelWithKat.com
Fira Harbour, Santorini © Kathryn Burrington - TravelWithKat.com

Shopping at Fira, the island's capital

With designer boutiques and numerous souvenir, arts and craft shops, Fira is a shopaholic's paradise. While very touristy it still has its charms. Catch the cable car down to the harbour for a more laid back atmosphere or to find out more about ancient Santorini the Museum of Prehistoric Thera is a must.

Join a food and wine tour

As well as delicious cuisine Santorini also produces some excellent wines and you'll find plenty of colourful places to eat and drink traditional fare. If, however, you really want to learn more about the local wine as well as how to cook authentic dishes, why not join a wine and food tour like the one offered by Santorini Wine Adventures. It makes a really entertaining introduction to Santorini gastronomy.

Sea kayaking, Santorini - photo courtesy of www.santoriniseakayak.com
Sea kayaking, Santorini - photo courtesy of www.santoriniseakayak.com

Take to the water in a kayak

If you're after something a little more adventurous Santorini Sea Kayak offers guided tours around the island by water. No previous experience is required. You'll get a completely different view of the island and you can stop for a spot of snorkelling as well as a picnic.

Hike from Oia to Fira

For fabulous views of the caldera (the ancient volcanic crater now filled with seawater), follow the six-mile trail from Oia to Fira, or vice versa. Walking shoes are recommended as in at least one section the ground is quite loose under foot. The best time to go is just after sunrise or late in the afternoon. Be sure to take plenty of water with you plus the usual hat and sun lotion, and allow up to three hours to complete the walk.

On the hike from Oia to Fira © Steve Jurvetson - Flickr Creative Commons
On the hike from Oia to Fira © Steve Jurvetson - Flickr Creative Commons

While these are our choices for top excursions on Santorini, in addition there are some lovely beaches to visit, more hiking trails, two young volcanic islands in the centre of the caldera, not to mention the ancient city of Thera, and the pretty cliff-top village of Imerovigli. The list just goes on and on.

Tempted to try one of these top excursions on Santorini in 2015 for yourself? Check out Santorini's weather page for details on the climate and the five day forecast, then head over to Olympic Holidays which specialises in breaks to Greece, and Viator, which offers many packages on day trips and excursions in Santorini. For anything else, visit our travel deals and discounts section, including great value holidays, flights, accommodation, and car hire.

Kathryn Burrington

Kathryn Burrington
Posted on Wednesday 11th March 2015 in: Culture Europe Excursions

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