Thinking About Going to Greece? Here Are 17 Awesome Things to Do in Santorini

Steve Cummings

There are many great Greek islands for exciting, relaxing, and memorable vacations. 

In the following article, though, we want to discuss one – Santorini. Located at the southernmost point of the Cyclades and known by locals as Thira, from the Classical Greek name Thera, Santorini is truly fascinating and beautiful.

It is the location of one of the most significant recorded volcano eruptions in history, around 3,600 years ago. The eruption then caused a giant tsunami that hit Crete and led to the end of the Minoan civilization.

Modern Santorini is a watery paradise founded on the remains of that ancient and extinct volcano. To put things into perspective, towns like Imerovigli, Fira, and Oia are all perched on the caldera's edge. Even though it has an arid and hot climate for most of the year, it also experiences a lot of wind. Don't let any of that put you off, though; as you will see, there are many amazing things to do in Santorini.

1. Walk to Skaros Rock

Skaros Rock
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If you are visiting Imerovigli at any time during your stay on the island, one of the best things to see and do in Santorini is to take a walk and enjoy the jaw-dropping site of Skaros Rock. This large rock promontory sticks out from the island below the town. It was once home to an ancient castle and some fortresses. Nowadays, it's a fantastic hiking spot and great for holiday snaps.

While there, you can follow the trails over the rock and take in the Imerovigli vistas and the ancient fortresses' old ruins.

2. Hike From Fira Along to Oia

If you want to stretch your legs and explore the scenic edge of the caldera, you can hike from Fira to Imerovigli and then onto Oia. This is one of the more active things to do in Santorini and offers the chance to take spectacular views of the caldera and Oia. 

Be aware, as the walk is roughly 6 miles long, it can take between 3 and 5 hours, depending on how often you want to stop and how fast you are on your feet. The good news is despite it taking you up and down hillsides and along dirt tracks, much of the route is paved.

3. Ammoudi Bay

Ammoudi Bay
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Whatever you are looking to get from your trip, one of the things to do on Santorini Island that offers up an incredible array of opportunities is to visit Ammoudi Bay. Perched down from the cliff at Oia, Ammoudi Bay is a stunning part of the island. Although small, you can dine at a traditional seafood restaurant, lounge on the beach, dip in the water, or even try cliff jumping if daring.

4. Explore Imerovigli

Imerovigli Village
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When you want to escape the busier parts of the island like Oia or Fira, one of the best things to do in Santorini is explore the sleepy and quaint town of Imerovigli. 

Now, it's fair to say the busier parts of the island are more active for a reason – they have more in the way of entertainment and shopping. However, if you want the salty sea air, the beautiful warmth of the sun, and stunning views of this magical island, Imerovigli is ideal. 

There are several popular restaurants, despite how quiet the town is, so once you have explored the nods to its past and taken lots of photographs, you can stop for something to eat.

5. Red Beach

Red Beach
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When you are looking for budget-friendly things to do in Santorini, there is nothing much better than a trip to one of the many beaches. Curiously, you will notice from the following few entries in this guide that there are a lot of striking and vibrantly colored beaches on Santorini. 

One of the most intriguing of these is the Red Beach. After all, it is the most iconic beach on the island, thanks to its red hues. As you may have figured out, the red comes from the fragments of pulverized volcanic rock that cover it.

Take care when visiting this beach because landslides are common.

6. Black Sand Beaches

Black Sand Beaches
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Like many Greek islands, the island is very romantic, so there is no shortage of great things to do in Santorini for couples. One thing we highly recommend if you want to have a day at the beach but fancy something a little different from the norm is heading to the Black Sand beaches of Perissa and Perivolos. 

There are several restaurants, beach bars, cafes, and small shops to explore when you want to have a bite to eat or just take a break from the sand and the sea.

7. White Beach

Close to the Red Beach is another colorful beach known as the White Beach. Like the Black Beach, though, it has black sand, not white sand. The name refers to the white cliffs in the area, which is why it is one of the best things to see in Santorini. 

You can access the beach via boat, but there are also less involved ways to take in the sights of the white-chalky hills.

8. Wine Tasting

As wine-making is an essential and massive part of the island's economy, wine tasting is one of the top things to do in Santorini. Assyrtiko is the main grape used in much of the wine made on Santorini. 

There are many wineries dotted around the island that you can book a tour to visit or go on your own. Venetsanos Winery is a great place to see the wine-making process up close and sample some delicious wine, while Santos Wines is the most popular.

9. Take in a Movie at Cine Kamari

It's fair to say even the busiest places in Santorini can be a little pedestrian sometimes. However, if you are looking for things to do in Santorini for young adults slightly different from standard vacation activities, why not go to Cine Kamari? 

Located in the pretty little village of Kamari, where it takes its name, is this fantastic little open-air cinema, which has been cited as one of the best in the world. The cinema shows two films a day, and all the films are in English and bolstered by Greek subtitles.

There is a little garden with a bar for refreshments, a bite to eat, and some wine or beer.

10. Visit Akrotiri

White Beach
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For any history buffs looking for one of the top things to see in Santorini on a tight budget, consider a trip to Akrotiri. An archeological site, Akrotiri offers a unique glimpse into the past with the ruins of an old village that was once standing and thriving there around 4,500 BC. This is the same village buried by the infamous volcano eruption that devastated much of the area.

11. Learn to Cook with a Santorini Local

Food buffs will not want to miss one of the unique things to do in Santorini – learn to cook with a local chef. There are many options for this kind of experience in which you will learn how to cook many popular Greek recipes and prepare your meals from farm to table.

12. Take a Helicopter Trip Over the Island

Looking for more adventurous things to do in Santorini? One activity that is becoming more popular with thrill-seeking travelers is helicopter trips. 

While these are not the most frugal vacation ideas, they do offer you the chance to have an unforgettable experience. Most helicopter tours take in views from the sky of the volcano itself, the volcanic island, the caldera, and everything else in between. Private helicopter trips between Santorini and neighboring Mykonos and across the Aegean Sea are available.

13. Sea Activities and Aquatic Sports

As an island in the middle of some of the most beautifully crystal clear waters in Europe, there are plenty of things to do in Santorini for young adults around the seas surrounding the island. 

For example, you can take part in scuba diving to explore the rock formations below the surface and find some of the beautiful sea creatures that call the waters of the island home. You can expect a small shipwreck, many schools of fish, barracuda, sea sponges in different colors, spirographs, clams, lobsters, and some stunning lava formations.

There is also an underwater memorial plaque for the late great Jacques Cousteau.

For something above the water's surface, why not have a go at SUP or Stand-up Paddling? This fun activity lets you catch a tan while staying cool and drinking in those gorgeous views.

14. Wine and Art Mix at Art Space Gallery

Interested in some more high-brow things to do in Santorini for couples? If you love art and like a nice glass of wine, then the Art Space Gallery is a must-visit attraction in Exo Gonia. 

The island's cultural hub is the gallery, which features various fine art, from sculptures to contemporary paintings. It is housed in a building first built in 1861 and is an outstanding example of the traditional style of cave houses the island was known for in the past.

15. Akrotiri Lighthouse

Akrotiri Lighthouse
Credit: Depositphotos

If adventurous things to do in Santorini are what you're looking for, then consider visiting the lighthouse that stands atop Akrotiri. A lighthouse might only sound particularly adventurous once you realize where it is found. 

First built in 1892 by a French construction company, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece, and although you can't get into the lighthouse, the views across the island from around it are awe-inspiring.

The adventurous part comes from the fact that it is at the top of a cliff in the southern part of the island. Not for those scared of heights!

16. Ancient Thira

For another look into the past, one of the best things to do in Santorini is to visit the site of the ancient Thira settlement. The city was inhabited from the 9th century BS to 726 AD. The fact that any of it still stands is a testimony to its importance. While you can drive to the ancient site, it is best to take a bus there from Kamari, as the road is narrow and treacherous.

17. Sunset Over Imerovigli

Although you can have a similar experience in Oia, Imerovigli is quiet and less popular, making it a more serene and intimate moment to watch the sunset. You can do this while walking around the narrow and winding walkways or by dining at one of the local restaurants, of which there are many options.

Better still, if you are staying in Imerovigli, you can take in the view of the sun setting from the comfort of a plunge pool or hot tub (these can be reserved at many hotels) or the terrace. Either way, you choose to drink, the clear views will surely be one of the top things to see in Santorini while you're there. Beautiful and romantic, it can be a great end to a vacation for couples.

Final Thoughts

Santorini may be less famous than Corfu, Crete, or other well-known Grecian isles and vacation hotspots, but you should not write it off before you try it. As we have shown, there are many great things to do in Santorini, whatever type of holiday you want. Santorini is an excellent choice for action-packed water sports and activities or hiking for hours around the changing scenery. Santorini is also the perfect destination if you prefer a more peaceful and relaxed break away from your busy life.

You get everything you could want from a sunshine-rich Greek holiday, often for cheaper and with less crowds, if you choose some of the less popular destinations in our list. Whatever you do when you get there, we hope you have a lovely time in Santorini. We always try to improve our lists and find more frugal and inexpensive recommendations; if you think we have missed something, please let us know in the comments section below. Thank you!

Related: 14 Amazing Greek Islands to Consider for Your First Time In Greece

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