If you’re heading to the Greek Islands, consider a stay on Santorini as one of the top on your list! This beautiful island is formed by a volcano that erupted over 3500 years ago, creating a unique caldera of crystal clear Mediterranean waters.
First things first: Santorini is officially known as “Thera”, in Greek, which is helpful to know for booking planning purposes that these names can be used interchangeably.
When To Visit
The optimal, least busy time would be from late April – early June or September – October. Anytime during the summer months is beautiful, just note that you might be sharing with several other tourists during peak season.
Where to stay
Oia (Pronounced Eee-Yah)- this city is in the northernmost part of the island and the most popular city to stay. In the shoulder season, it’s relatively uncrowded, however, during peak season you’ll find it quite bustling with tourists. Stay in this area if you want the most luxurious accommodations and to be close to the shops and luxury lifestyle.
Imerovigli – located in the middle of the island and an especially great option if you have transportation to see the rest of the island. This area has plenty of restaurants and shops, but felt like a more authentic Greek experience than Oia.
Fira – further south, Fira is just a ten-minute walk from Imerovigli. This area you may find a little more budget-friendly and they have a bustling local town with shops and restaurants.
Rental Car – this was our mode of transportation for the week.
The pros of renting a car are that it’s easy to get around. Because it was early in the season, finding parking was not too difficult. However, it could be more challenging during the busy season. Street parking is available anywhere without restriction, so you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for parking or getting ticketed.
ATV: This is a fun option! Know that you will likely get a little dirty and have exhaust in your face/ on your clothes. Dress accordingly and use this as a fun sightseeing option rather than heading to a nice dinner.
Taxi: There are a limited number of taxis on the island, if you choose to use one, schedule it ahead of time!
Hike: This is a great way to experience the coastline. Hiking takes about 2-3 hours and I would recommend leaving early and bringing plenty of water and wear sunscreen, leaving before the sun becomes intense. Expect to be sweaty when you arrive! I wouldn’t recommend this before heading to a nice dinner or if you’re wanting to look picturesque in photos.
Things to Do
Black beach is a popular beach on Santorini. I highly recommend a day trip to the less busy islands for a more private beach experience, (see day trips from Santorini – coming soon) however if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and take a stroll down the dark-colored volcanic sand.
Take a sunset cruise
The sunset cruise is an absolute must! What an incredible way to experience the island. Most cruises will offer multiple locations for a swim and share about the geography of Santorini along the way. We took the cruise leaving from Oia which took 3 hours, dropping us off on the southern part of the island. The included shuttle pickup and drop-off made it easy and effortless so we could enjoy the trip. Unlimited complimentary food and wine are included in the cost!
Akrotiri village – ancient ruins
A trip to the ancient ruins of Akrotiri village will be especially amazing if you love historical sites. Learn more about how ancient civilizations lived on the island 3500 years ago at the time of the eruption that changed its landscape forever.
Visit Red Beach
Very close to Akrotiri village is Red beach, which gets its name from gorgeous volcanic rock towering over the beach. Bring hiking shoes as you’ll be hiking over rocks to get there. Even if you’re not a beach person, the walk to this magnificent cliff is worth the short 5-7 minute hike.
Take a day trip to a neighboring island! Our favorite islands were Folegandros and Anafi. If you’re in Santorini for more than a few days, consider taking a day or overnight trip to neighboring islands to experience the culture and more secluded beaches they offer. See our blog post about day trips from Santorini (COMING SOON)
Places to Eat
Aegean Sea in Imerovigli. We loved this delicious spot so much we went twice! They offer views overlooking the water and the staff was extra friendly. We loved the lamb shank and fish from the menu.
Sunsets in Ammoudi – Just south of Oia, this lovely restaurant was among many “fish taverns” along the water. Enjoy your meal while looking down at the crystal clear water below. What makes this place special is its history. Take a look at the photos of many celebrity visitors in between your courses.
Jimmy’s – this is more of a grab-and-go place, but the breakfast pastries and food here was delicious. Be sure to snag one of the gourmet ice cream bars in the fridge by the cashier. They are to die for. If you can’t make up your mind, buy an entire box like we did
Ready for more of greece?
See my blog posts for the best meals to eat in Santorini.