Everybody dreams of an amazing Santorini holiday: the beautiful blue rooftops, the amazing deep blue sea, the pink bougainvillea flowers. It’s for sure a scenery that you will never forget!
Santorini has many highlights, but everything comes down to its beautiful views!
I also mentioned in my last post, about things you should know before you go to Santorini, that contrary to popular opinion, Santorini is not just a place for couples holidays or honeymoons. Indeed you are faced with a lot of ‘trash the dress’ kind of wedding photo shoots, in a lot of ‘instagramable’ places, but they are for sure not overwhelming, especially if you do not let yourself get distracted by them.
There are also a lot of solo travelers, so don’t worry you will meet a lot of people to hang out with, if you are travelling alone. I was travelling with two other cousins, and we met a lot of people while going out. Actually, one night we where searching for a taxi to get back to our hotel (which was in Oia) from Fira (where all the clubs are), and we couldn’t find one. By coincidence we meet another 3 girls, which where also cousins and they offered us to drive us home. The night was saved! (And so was the next day… 🙂 )
So here are the top things you cannot miss in Santorini.
Sunsets in Oia
You must of heard about the amazing sunsets in Santorini! Well the best spot to see them is from the byzantine castle ruins in Oia town. There are buses that drive from Fira to Oia every 15 mins in the summer, so you don’t necessary need to stay in Oia in order to enjoy the beautiful sunset. Bus tickets cost around 1.8 EUR. However, if you do plan to view the sunset from Oia, then I would suggest you arrive in Oia at least 1 and a half hours before the event. The buses are usually full 1 hours before and the streets get really really crowded, you might not even reach the castle in time. Don’t worry, if you want to enjoy a nice quite dinner afterwards, you can, since all the tourists leave immediately after the sunset viewing and the streets clear out.
Byzantine Castle ruins Oia
The ruins are the remains of a 15th century castle between Oia and Ammoudia. The view from the ruins offers one of the best picturesque landscapes of Santorini: with the whitewashed buildings, blue rooftops, windmills and azure sea. In case you also want one of those ‘WOW’ pictures, I highly recommend a quick stop there.
Amoudi Bay is just a mere 300 steps down the caldera from Oia. The walk down offers a beautiful view of the caldera. Please do not use the mules! You made it until here, I am confident you will make it down (and up again) on your own two feet. Those pure creatures are very dehydrated and in pain…
Amoudi Bay is surrounded by red cliffs and whitewashed building and offers several eating possibilities. Traditional tavernas offer a variety of seafood options. It was, hands down, the beast seafood I’ve eaten in Santorini! You can also enjoy a quick swim, however please bring water shoes as it’s a rocky beach.
The castle was constructed in the 15th century by Venetians. Emporio village was a commercial center at that time and the castle has a role to safeguard the transactions and the residence in general, mainly form the pirate invasions which where very common in that time. It is one of the best preserved castles and one of the most important landmarks in Santorini. It’s a very beautiful walk through the fortified citadel, with its arches and small narrow pathways, it’s definitely a must do.
The castle is located 10 km from Fira and 4km from Perissa beach.
Pyrgos is the highest village of the whole island, and thus provides a perfect panoramic view of both sides of the island. It is extremely charming with it’s winding paths and stone houses, built in the traditional style of the Cycladic architecture. As you ascend through the village you will reach the Ventian Kasteli, one of the five castles in Santorini. It is built with 3 churches in and around it. The view from above is simply breath taking.
Pyrgos is 5km from Fira and 8km from Perissa and can be reached by bus.
While in Santorini you have to see the excavations of the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri. Similar to Pompeii, the city was buried under the ashes of a volcanic eruption in 1613 B.C. Life on Santorini and the nearby islands was destroyed. As a consequence of this eruption the caldera was formed. The history lesson that one gets there is quite interesting. Akrotiri is situated 9 Km from Fira.
Kayaking in Santorini
This was one of my favorite activity on Santorini. Most kayaking tours take you along to coast line, so you can admire the volcanic rock formations and you also paddle along the famous red and white beach. The tour is very fun and usually includes also snorkeling and lunch. I would recommend to take a half day tour, it is enough to enjoy the ride and get accustomed to scenery. Take care, if it is a bit windy (which it usually is on Santorini), then it can get a bit hard to paddle, especially if you are a beginner. But the tour guides are awesome and help one out of needed. You can also take a sunset kayaking tour, but honestly I found it a bit overpriced and it’s usually nicer during the day. Usually these tours cost around 90-100 EUR, and you can find more of them here.
Wine tasting in Santorini
I love wine, but honestly, even if you’re not a super big fan, I would still recommend to take a wine tour or just go by yourself to one of the many wineries in Santorini (18 wineries in total!). If you plan to visit more wineries I would definitely recommend a tour as it is easier to reach them and you can enjoy your tasting to the fullest, without worrying about your afterwards. Santorini is very popular for its wine tourism, so if you plan to take a tour book in advance as there are high chances it will sell out. Prices are around 120-130 EUR. The wines are unique to the region, due to its dry and favorable climate. Don’t miss Santorini’s Vinsanto, it’s a delicious dessert wine and you will definitely enjoy it. You can find popular wine tours here.
Catamaran Ride in Santorini
I really enjoyed the Catamaran ride to be honest (although I did get a bit sea sick at the end…but it was worth it). We sailed past the Black Mountain, to the volcano (island of Nea Karmeni) and we bathed in the hot springs reddish water, which is known for its therapeutic benefits, due to high amount of iron (hence also the reddish color). Maybe don’t stay too long in the water… it’s first of all not recommended and second of all, I think this was the root of my ‘sea sickness’ problem. The volcano of the Nea Karmeni is still active and has erupted the last time in 1953 (so not so long ago..). Optionally you can also hike up the volcano. Usually tours range around 100 – 150 EUR. Choose the one suited for you here.
Well, I already mentioned the White and Red Sea, which you can admire during a Kayaking tour in Santorini (so two birds with one stone), but there are many more beaches worth seeing.
The black sand beach of Perivolos beach is also a must see. But bring shoes…it’s gonna be hot! This is also a very lively spot: there is always music on the beach, it has the most bars and thrilling water sport activities. So, if you wanna stay at a beach and love the nightlife, this is the place for you!
Otherwise, if you are looking for some relaxation and downtime, then rather Perissa and Kamari beach are the answer! These locations are also very family friendly.
Ideal itinerary duration
I think with this 10 things, you covered everything important in Santornini. An itinerary of around 4-5 days, depending on your pace, should be sufficient to cover the above mentioned points.
Getting around Santorini
You can reach all destinations via public transport, I used only public transport while I was there and it was perfect and I never had any issues. Here you can find the bus schedules for Santorini’s bus lines. Also check out my blog post about things to know before you go in Santorini.
Now that your day is covered, how about looking at what you can do during evening and night time? Check out my blog post and find out which are the best restaurant and the best bars in Santorini.