Discover Santorini: top things to see & do

When looking for the best day trips 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 way to get around 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.

However, 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.

If you opt for a holiday to this beloved Greek island, 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, beaches and even other islands to explore.

Getting to Santorini: for a sunny break to remember, check out the current offers on escapes to Santorini with Jet2holidays*, which departs from airports across the UK.

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 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

Head to 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 delightful village to get lost in with a maze of narrow alleyways each calling you to walk on and see what's around the next corner.

Hike Thirassia, Santorini's little sister

If you want to get completely away from other tourists, make for Manolas on the neighbouring island of Thirassia.

Here the views across to the main island are breathtaking and yet it remains pleasantly untouched by tourism.

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

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 ancient Akrotiri

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

Shop in Fira, the island's capital

With designer boutiques and numerous souvenir, arts and craft shops, Fira is a shopaholic's paradise.

While undeniably 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.

Take a 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 for a really entertaining introduction to Santorini's gastronomy.

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

Take to the water

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 and a picnic, too.

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

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 underfoot.

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.

Of course, there's far more to do when visiting Santorini than just our top picks. There are beautiful beaches to visit, more hiking trails, two young volcanic islands in the centre of the caldera, not to mention the ancient city of Thira* and the cliff-top village of Imerovigli*. The list just goes on...

Weather in Santorini

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Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
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Find out more about the weather in Santorini and see when we think is the very best time to go to make the most of these exciting day trips.

Ready to book your island escape? Check out the latest deals on holidays to the glorious Greek island of Santorini with Jet2holidays today.

More about Santorini

  • Top deals & discounts
  • Santorini weather overview
  • Santorini climate averages by month
  • More destinations
  • Best time to go to Santorini
  • Santorini 5-day weather forecast

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Kathryn Burrington

Kathryn Burrington
Article updated on Wednesday 12th February 2020 in: Culture Europe Excursions

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