18 must-do things to do in Santorini

Visiter Santorin

The best-known island in the Cyclades attracts visitors with its magnificent panoramas, crystal-clear waters and caldera! So, what are you waiting for to visit Santorini?

The emblematic island of the Cyclades, Santorini is a small volcanic archipelago nestled in the southeastern Aegean Sea, just a few kilometers from the Greek mainland. A dream tourist destination, Santorini attracts visitors with its enchanting setting, spectacular multicolored beaches (white, red or black sand), typical Greek houses and turquoise waters. This archipelago promises wonder and enchantment to its tourists.

In addition to its breathtaking scenery, Santorini also boasts a lifestyle that’s unique in Greece. Between the permanent sunshine and the idyllic setting, you’ll be seduced by the island known as « kallisté ».

To make the most of this authentic Greek scene, we’ve selected the must-do things to do in Santorini!

1. Visit Fira, Oia and the villages of Santorini

Visiter Santorin : Fira

Photo credit: Shutterstock – kavalenkava

A charming Cycladic village, Fira is the island’s largest town. At the foot of the volcano, in a rocky setting between long red and black sandy beaches, lies the charming town of Firma. Dotted with blue-domed churches, pastel-colored houses and cobbled streets, it offers sublime panoramas, especially of the caldera.

Visiter Santorin : Oia

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Dima Andrei Lucian

You can’t visit Santorini without visiting Oia! Situated on a cliffside, perched high above the caldera, the village of Oia is THE romantic spot for contemplating the magnificent sunsets.

As well as its sumptuous panoramas, it’s also famous for its typical Greek architecture! With its maze of narrow streets, blue-domed Orthodox churches and numerous steps, Oia offers tourists everything they’d expect from a small Cycladic town.

Pyrgos, Finikia, Ammoudi… other Santorini villages are well worth exploring. Discover our selection.

2. Playing archaeologist at the ancient site of Akrotiri

Visiter Santorin : Akrotiri

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Georgios Tsichlis

Discovered in 1967 by archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, Akrotiri is a village covered by the ashes of a Minoan volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago. Like a Greek Pompeii, Akrotiri is a must-see on Santorini.

Today, the ruins are sheltered by a bioclimatic roof that opens and closes, allowing air to circulate. This makes the site ideal for escaping the heat of summer days. A wooden walkway winds through the site. You can follow the tour by reserving an

audio-guide

. If you’re in a group, it’s a good idea to opt for a

of the ancient city.

3. The ancient city of Thera

La cité antique de Théra

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Allard One

Lovers of archaeology and history are in for a treat when they discover the ancient city of Thera. A visit to Santorini can be like stepping back in time. Like an open-air museum, the ruins of Thera shine out from the heights of the Mesa Vouno hill.

Overlooking the Aegean Sea, the sanctuary of Artemidoros welcomes visitors in search of knowledge. The site, rich in frescoes and columns, allows you to visit Santorini like never before!

4. Take a boat trip around the island

Croisière en bateau autour de Santorin

A sea trip during your stay in Santorini is ideal for soaking up the sun and touring the island. A number of cruises are available, generally following the same itinerary: you sail around Santorini’s caldera. Stops are planned to swim in the hot springs, see the active volcano and explore the typical villages of Thirassia and Oia.

Only the experience changes: the most popular cruise is also the least expensive, but still very crowded. Alternatives allow you to make the most of the experience if you choose small-group cruises, sunset cruises, or depending on the services offered on board.

Our selection of Santorini cruises

Note that it is also possible to hire a boat on your own. If you don’t know how to sail, most boats in Santorini are hired with a skipper. You can then make your own half-day or full-day circuit. You can also let your guide suggest an itinerary, with stops in small coves and on Santorini’s best-known islands, such as Néa Kaméni and Paléa Kaméni.

Find a boat to rent in Santorini

5. Hiking between Fira and Oia

Visiter Santorin en randonnée

Hiking between Fira and Oia Photo credit: Shutterstock – Anamaria Mejia

It’s one of the best things to do on Santorini, and it’s free! The hike between Fira and Oia(see route) offers incredible panoramic views of the island. The hike lasts between 2 and 5 hours, depending on your pace and the number of photo breaks you take along the way. The route is not completely signposted, but it’s fairly intuitive: stay on the path that follows the edge of the caldera and walk north from Fira. You can also hike in the opposite direction, but the walk north to Oia and the tip of the island is prettier. In the summer months, we advise you to set off early in the morning.

The Santorini archipelago has an extensive network of hiking trails, so you won’t get lost as most of them are well-maintained and well-marked. We recommend you read our article on the most beautiful hikes in Santorini.

6. Getting to the island of Thirassia

Île de Thirassia, Santorin

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Gildas_29

Authentic and peaceful, the island of Thirassia is a must-see on Santorini! The second largest island in the archipelago, it is not overrun by tourists. In fact, the island’s inhabitants prefer to farm, while holidaymakers come here to enjoy a gentle lifestyle in harmony with nature.

Don’t miss the tavernas, the monasteries scattered around the island, the charming hamlets of Manolas and Potamos, and the island’s two main ports.

A classic Santorini activity is an excursion to Thirassia on a half-day cruise.

7. Nea Kameni crater and Santorini caldera

Néa Kameni

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Ivan Mateev

You can’t visit Santorini without admiring its caldera! It’s an enormous volcanic crater submerged by water and surrounded by cliffs that delimit the bay of the Santorini archipelago.

In fact, at its heart lies the island of Néa Kaméni, Santorini’s « bubbling » point. This is where the volcano is most active! The atmosphere is hot, the rocks black or red, the plants sparse… In short, a chaotic landscape in all its splendour!

8. The warm waters of Palea Kameni

Palea Kameni

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Philip Lange

Big sister to Néa Kameni, the island nicknamed « the old burnt one » is also a volcanic island full of resources. Unlike its little sister Néa Kameni, known for its « grey » volcano, i.e. its explosive, viscous lava, Palea Kameni offers thermal hot springs.

Bathing in shimmering waters at almost 30°C is pure relaxation! What’s more, the red mud found in the springs is excellent for the skin! You don’t even have to go to the spa! A visit to Santorini satisfies all your desires for well-being and body care!

9. Visit Santorini’s vineyards

Vignobles de Santorin

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alexandros Michailidis

Ah… Greek gastronomy, a real delight, isn’t it? If you’re a gourmet or a bon vivant, you really shouldn’t miss the archipelago’s vineyards. It would be a shame to visit Santorini and miss out on this Greek savoir-faire!

Imagine elegant wine estates in harmony with Greek nature and culture. They’d have sumptuous cellars housing exceptional wines with delicate, intense and complex aromas, adorned with charming, almost artistically colored gowns. If this picture appeals to you, Generation Voyage highly recommends :

  • Venetsanos Estate;
  • Vassaltis Vineyard;
  • Gaia wine cellars.

10. Santorini Wine Museum

Musée du vin de Santorin

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Antonio Gravante

Created by the Koutsoyianopoulos family, the Wine Museum is a must-see on Santorini. Open all year round from 9am to 7pm, the Wine Museum passes on its knowledge and traditions through enriching, attractive and delicious tours! At the end, you can taste four wines from the nearby Koutsoyannopoulos winery.

Good to know: admission costs just €15.

11. The beaches

Red Beach

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Sabine Klein

Santorini is synonymous with beaches and swimming! This is definitely the activity to do on Santorini! Surrounded by crystal-clear waters, the Santorini archipelago boasts magnificent black sandbanks dominated by numerous rocky spurs. Fans of lounging and sunbathing will be delighted to bask in the sun with their feet in the water.

In Santorini, each beach has its own identity, which is why the landscapes vary so much. Generation Voyage’s favorites are :

  • Red Beach: undoubtedly Santorini’s best-known beach, Red Beach attracts tourists with its shades of red and black;
  • Kamari beach: if you’re a fan of sonos and organized beaches, Kamari is the place for you;
  • Vlychada beach: little-visited, this is one of the archipelago’s pearls. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, this is the place to come and relax!

12. Jet-skiing in the south of the island

Randonnée en jet-ski à Santorin

This is one of Santorini’s most popular and unusual activities. On board your jet ski, you set off from the black sandy beach of Perivolos and head south-west towards the beaches of Vlyhada, Red beach, Kampia beach and White beach, until you reach Mesa Pigadia beach and Santorini’s famous lighthouse. Weather permitting, a snorkeling session is planned off Mesa Pigadia beach.

13. Diving around the caldera and volcanic islands

Plongée Santorin

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Jana Hake

There are wonderful diving spots all around Santorini’s volcanoes and caldera. Professional diving schools organize sessions for all levels.

14. Other water activities in Santorini

Kayak à Santorin

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Iryna Kalamurza

Surrounded by water, the Santorini archipelago abounds with water activities to delight young and old alike. Very popular with holidaymakers, water activities are fun and awe-inspiring. Which of Santorini’s many aquatic activities do you prefer?

  • Stand-paddle: stable and foamy, this board is ideal for a gentle introduction to water sports. The cruising speed you adopt allows you to admire the surroundings. You’ll be amazed by the magical scenery all around you, but be careful not to fall off;
  • Kitesurfing & windsurfing: waves and wind will be your best allies during these adrenalin-pumping activities;
  • Wakeboarding & water-skiing: if you’re a daredevil, these two water sports are for you! But be prepared for a fall, because keeping your balance isn’t as easy as it looks;
  • Flyboard & overboard: why not try a soaring activity above the water? Flyboarding and overboarding are impressive thrills!
  • The , this activity offers the sensations of paragliding except that you are above the water.

15. Quad & 4×4 outing

Visiter Santorin en 4x4

Photo credit: Shutterstock – REDMASON

Visit Santorini in a 4×4 or quad bike and become a true adventurer with the soul of an adventurer. Discovering the island on a motorized tour is an unforgettable and original experience.

You’ll be able to admire breathtaking scenery and experience the thrill of 4×4 and quad biking. You’ll see the magnificent caldera, the turquoise sea and the volcanic islands.

16. Helicopter flights over Santorini

Faire de l'hélicoptère à Santorin

Photo credit: Shutterstock – marchello74

If you want to visit Santorini in an original and surprising way, opt for a helicopter flight! What better way to admire the immensity and beauty of the island than from the air? Take to the skies above the archipelago and enjoy a breathtaking view of the red and black volcanic islets.

From up here, you can also see the green vineyards contrasting with the picturesque hamlets colored in white and blue.

Good to know: for 1h30, the price is €500 minimum and may vary depending on the group.

17. Take a Greek cooking class

Spanakopita

Photo credit: Shutterstock – from my point of view

A visit to Santorini also means discovering the local cuisine and traditional dishes! You’ll immediately think of the famous moussaka, the delicious tzatziki and stuffed vine leaves. But there’s much more to Greek cuisine than these iconic dishes. Among the country’s best specialties, we suggest grilled octopus, spanakopita (spinach, feta and herb puff pastry) or galaktoboureko (traditional semolina and lemon custard dessert).

And if you’d like to make them again at home, you can take a half-day cooking class for €80. This culinary and gastronomic experience will appeal to both cooking enthusiasts and the curious who want to discover a new savoir-faire.

18. Enjoy the nightlife

Fira by night

Fira by night Photo credit: Flickr – Maik-T. Šebenik

With its many bars, restaurants and discos, nightlife is very lively in the Cyclades. Partying in Santorini is almost an institution! If you’re a fan of endless parties, we recommend a visit to Fira. Always awake and lively, it promises to party the night away!

How to get to Santorini

To get to Santorini, you can choose to travel by air or sea.

By plane

There are many direct or stopover flights from France (Paris, Nantes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier) to Thira airport. If you choose to fly to the archipelago, use a flight comparison service like Ulysse to find the best deal. The platform will show you the best solution, according to your criteria.

By ferry

Santorini is well connected by ferry. You can book a trip from mainland Greece (Piraeus, Rafina), the Cyclades (Anafi, Ios, Katapola…), the Dodecanese (Kasos, Cos…) and Crete (Sitia, Heraklion…) to the Santorini archipelago (Thera). Direct Ferries, the ferry comparison service, makes it easy for you to book a trip. The site matches prices and timetables of available crossings with the information you enter in the search engine.

Getting around Santorini

Once there, you can take a bus or cab to your hotel or vacation rental. If you want to be able to get around freely throughout your stay, it’s best to rent a car locally. To find the best car rental deals, we recommend the Rentalcars platform.

Where to stay in Santorini?

As one of the volcanic archipelagos of the Cyclades, Santorini is popular with tourists despite its limited supply. Indeed, of the 5 islets that make up the archipelago, only Santorini is habitable. But don’t panic, there’s plenty on offer on this island. The most important thing is to choose the right part of the island to stay in. Read our article on the best places to stay on Santorini.

You’ll find the best deals on this hotel comparator. We also advise you to book in advance, as during the summer months, prices soar and choice is limited.

Among the luxury hotels, Generation Voyage recommends On The Rocks. If you prefer a quiet, typical Airbnb, we suggest Sunset Views From Sideras House in Oia Center and Canava Villas II in Santorini in Medieval Village. If you’re on a tighter budget, you’ll easily find what you’re looking for in the island’s campsites and youth hostels.

So what are you waiting for to visit Santorini?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Santorini,