This list introduces you to some serious hidden gems in Santorini. Things you would not expect, places only locals share with friends.
This is the extension of our geeky travel guide, featuring 5 hidden gems to Santorini.
This handmade article will help you to spend 2 or 3 days in Santorini. If you are on the island for only a few days, you should get some transport. We included a guide to transport and scooters at the end of the article.
Update: new guide to 5 coolest Volcano Tours in Santorini
But even more important: Keep calm and relax.
The Greek island is beautiful just by wandering around.
The Ultimate list of fun things to do in Santorini
So, enough intro. WHAT do to in Santorini is question of the day. And here are our answers.
UPDATE: We put all locations and activities on a full map at the end of this article.
- Best activities in Santorini
- all on a map
- Seasons and Weather
- How to get to Santorini
- How long to stay
- Where to stay
1. Sunset from the fairy-tail Oia
Oia is the most northern tip of the island. This is the cliché, postcard village you probably have in mind.
It attracts visitors all year long. A charming village with little shops, cafes, hotels and spectacular views.
To be honest with you, prices here are steep but the views are spectacular and visit here is definitely one of the things that should be on your bucket list.
Due to its beauty, this is one of the unique things to do in Santorini.
My best recommendation: Take the Traditional Sightseeing Bus Tour.
This full day tour takes around 10 hours and covers everything you wish to experience in Santorini. It is hassle-free since you don’t have to ride on your own along the hilly roads and don’t need to care about parking and such.
This tour covers:
- Red Beach: a volcanic beach, best known for the unique color of the sand and red lava cliffs
- Traditional village: quaint village with hilltop windmills, fortified medieval castles and centuries-old churches
- Perissa Beach: for lunch time this beach is the spot. How about a quick dip in the sea before the food arrives? (lunch is not included)
- Santorini Winery: Visit a traditional winery and taste a few reds or whites of the wine selection
- Profitis Ilias: island’s highest peak with a wonderful views from the agricultural plains to the hilltop village of Oia
- Oia sunset: The islands #1 sight in no rush!
The highlight for me is the sunset in Oia village!
Find prices and schedule for the day trip here.
2. Virgin Beach (don’t tell anyone…)
In the full day tour I shared with you, you will visit two beautiful beaches. Yet, here is a hidden gem, a virgin beach.
Have a swim at Vlychada beach (address).
This is one of the untouched places in Santorini with amazing natural sand formations along the beach.
Further away from the swimmer’s beach there are few seafood taverns too. A quite famous one is Psaraki. All year long open, it is a small fish canteen right at the port. This is where I urge you to sit down for lunch or dinner – thank me later! 😉
Vlychada is also a fishing port of Santorini. It has a real island feel.
Update: Here are our 49 most beautiful photos from Santorini.
3. Have a fish in Ammoudi Bay
There are basically only a few things for what to do in Santorini:
- Take photos
- enjoy sunset
- Wine tasting
The sunset view from here is really great. And yes, it is a hidden gem, yet…
Another tavern I like is the Ammoudi.
This one is right near Oia and you can get there after climbing some (quite steep and many) steps. The food and the views are worth it!
It is basically a terrace hanging over the water – at least this is how it feels.
4. Magical sunset in the air (Parasailing)
Parasailing, time for some fun activities in Santorini!
What about a panoramic view from approximately 100m in the air?
Take a parasailing flight and see the volcano (and the island) from a different perspective.
Fly over the deep blue water of the Aegean sea. Make it even more magical flying during sunset. The experience is mind-blowing!
This can be a very romantic thing to do!
The parasail fits two people. Mixed with Santorini and sunset – a total must do for couples!
Adrenaline-Hunter is a platform dedicated to adventure tours and activities – really cool!
5. Volcano Boat Trip and Hot Springs
The second super unique thing to do in Santorini is this one!
Spend a day at the sea and take a boat trip to Volcano and Hot Springs. This is the perfect answer to what to see in Santorini.
Hike the Volcano and swim in the hot springs.
The longer version of this trip includes also a lunch stop at Thirassia island and Oia.
Thirassia is located just across the main island of Santorini and locals claim it looks like Santorini about some 30 years ago.
Sounds pretty epic, right?!
There is a popular 7-hour volcano adventure tour, including a cruise. There you walk the Volcano, bathe in red mud and enjoy a boat ride.
For adrenaline junkies, go for a Jet Ski Tour to Volcano.
This way, you will drive to the different spots and explore the beautiful underworld. Snorkeling equipment will be provided.
Good to know: No experience in Jetski is required.
You can have a lunch here by the sea or in the village.
If you have just a few days on the island, you can get off the boat in Oia and enjoy the village and the sunset and return back to Fira with a bus.
This trip starts in Old port of Fira and the eager ones can get there using a donkey. Otherwise a cable car or walking steps are the options.
Please note: Hostelgeeks does not support any animal abuse, not now, not ever. Please do your own research on donkey-riding. Here are some helpful links such as Donkeys Mules and 3 reasons why the blogger Wanderbug does not ride a donkey.
6. Have lunch and a swim at Katharos beach
Oh, this one is great! This is a secret spot nearby touristic-famous Oia.
Here you can go for a wonderful swim and find nice food in a lounge bar just above the beach. Perfect for a lazy summer day.
Where to find Katharos Beach? We put it on the map for you.
7. Sunset Cruise and Volcano Tour
This is a must-do, in my opinion, a romantic and memorable sunset cruise.
Climb aboard the 74-foot Ocean Voyager or the 80-foot Tahiti catamaran for a 5-hour sunset cruise around Santorini in the Aegean Sea.
Sailing, snorkeling, snacks, white beaches, good vibes only and a mud bath!!
Head over to a secluded White Beach, only accessible from the sea, for more swimming and snorkeling in the shadow of the towering white cliffs. Free snorkeling equipment is available on board the catamaran where you’ll also be served a barbecue supper of salads and grilled pork.
Continue sailing inside the crescent-shaped Caldera, close to the volcano, and enjoy a final dip and mudbath in the Hot Springs.
Now, this is how you spend an epic, unforgettable day!
Read: our guide comparing the sailing tours in Santorini
8. Open-Air Cinema
The perfect activity for a warm night in summer. A night at an Open Air Cinema in Kamari is a must!
See one of the latest movies or an all-time classic films – they always mix it.
The open-air cinema is open from May to October.
Please refer to the official website of the open Air Cinema to check the opening time.
There is a small bar at the back of the cinema and each movie has a short break in the middle so you can get your next drink!
Daiquiries here are one of the best on the island! This one is also a great recommendation for the nightlife.
9. Pyrgos village
One of the places to visit in Santorini is Pyrgos. It’s a tiny village loaded with small gems.
Enjoy the look and feel of a real village with its locals, small shops and only few restaurants.
A sunset from top of the village and Franco’s Cafe is an amazing experience.
Yes, take a note: Franco’s Café.
The village is located on an elevated hill in the center of the island.
10. Go Sea Kayaking
This trip takes you around the Southern tip of the island.
With its spectacular rock formations and beaches, you will be so delighted by the scenery that you will be blowing happiness paddling around.
Check out all the details of the Sea kayaking tour, which includes a picnic.
11. Scuba Diving in Santorini
The beauty of Santorini continues underwater!
Try a new adventure while in Santorini and dive with the experts of Santorini Diving Center to explore the unique underwater world of the island.
Accompanied by a professional Dive master or Instructor you will have the chance to try scuba diving for the first time in safety, while exploring the sea bottom of Santorini. A fun and safe activity that should be on your bucket list!
You do not need to be athletic to try scuba diving. Anyone can do it thanks to the Discover Scuba Diving program. It’s an introductory scuba diving lesson guided by an experienced and certified instructor.
With this course you will learn how to use the scuba gear, and how to “breathe” underwater while scuba diving.
12. Crazy Donkeys (NOT what you think…)
Taste some of the locally brewed beer!
And don’t leave the island without a Crazy Donkey T-shirt you can find at some local souvenir shops.
Pretty fun thing to do in Santorini, no doubt!
13. Yoga with views to Fira
Which would be better than your daily yoga?
Practicing it on a nice terrace with views to Fira Town, Karterados, and the Aegean Sea.
That covers the full package, doesn’t it?
14. Wander the seaside promenade
Enjoy an evening stroll at the seaside promenade in Kamari with its many shops, restaurants and cafes.
Kamari is a typical seaside resort with a nice black beach.
For dinner check out the Italian restaurant “Sabia Nera” or Burgers and quick snacks at Prince.
15. Go swimming in Perivolos
Probably the best beach of the island: Perivolos.
The sea here is calm even during the days when a seasonal wind meltemi hits the island.
Looking for a Family friendly bar? Have a look at Terra Nera.
16. Have a seat, have a coffee
Have a coffee at Demilmar, this cafe restaurant at the beach is right at the foot of a magnificent hill above Perissa beach.
It is open all year long, and they offer events with live music.
17. Stop for photos at Red beach
A list on things to do in Santorini could NOT be completed without some great photo spots.
The Red Beach is a natural phenomena at the south of the island.
Be aware of falling rocks, therefore do not stay down there for too long.
There are as well many guided photography tours in Santorini.
18. What to see in Santorini? 6.000 years of history
Take a guided visit to the Ancient Akrotiri, an archaeological site that reveals a history of 6000+ years.
It is worth to rent a real guide that will show you around.
You can book one at the entrance, but it’s recommended to book ahead of time. The cost is usually 60 Euros/ visit.
Smart Tip: Ask around Caveland Hostel or your accommodation if someone wants to join to split costs. You can also wait a little bit at the entrance to see if there are more people interested so you can share the cost.
Read: Review of Caveland Hostel – the only 5 Star Hostel in Santorini
Taste white eggplant, puree from fava beans, tomato fries, local Santorinian salad with a small cherry tomatoes and local cucumber variety called katsouni.
Kira Niki being one of the most popular places by local’s.
20. The Freshest fish
Talking about food, what about Eat fish at one of the seaside taverns in Akrotiri?
All the restaurants on the shore are former boat houses and offer fresh catch of the day!
Nikola’s cave being our favorite.
All year long open is restaurant The Dolphins.
21. Cooking class
What about learning how to cook like a Geek?
That way, you can just use the recipees to go back to Santorini every time you wish (in a sensorial way).
In the cooking class, you will:
- Learn to cook like a Greek with a professional chef
- Visit premier wineries in the countryside
- Taste 9 different wines with a local expert
- Sample traditional Greek aperitifs such as Raki and Ouzo
- Enjoy a complimentary lunch in a traditional restaurant
22. Tomato Factory Museum
Both are located at the same complex in Vlychada.
During summer season you can attend one of the many theater, music or dance performances there, too.
23.”Follow this Water-Taxi”
In the heat of the summer use a water taxi to take you for a swim to Black Beach, Red Beach and White Beach.
You can just hop on/hop off as you like, you pay at the beginning at Akrotiri beach.
Note: you will be jumping into the open sea from the boat.
All the three beaches are best discovered from the sea.
24. Your Light house photo and Sunset views
Drive to the South-West end of the tip of the island where you will find Faros light house. (have a look on our map for location)
See the sunset from there. And of course, bring your camera!
25. Local Beach and Tavern
On a calm day enjoy a day at Aegialos beach. A lunch at local Yalos tavern is a must.
This beach is somewhat secluded and has only couple of stylish sun beds.
Yalos serves also delicious cocktails!
26. Bike tour
Another way to experience the sunset in Santoriniwould be… by bike!
But as Santorini roads are quite hairpin and curved , make sure you join a tour with e-Bikes.
You will thank me later for this tip.
Get your Sunset tour with e-Bike here and experience the lovely landscapes of Santorini from a saddle of an electric bike.
Stop to taste delicious wines and cheeses, and then watch the sunset over the caldera of the volcano.
27. Hike from Fira to Oia
This 3 hours hike comes with splendid views!
You’ll be following an ancient trail connecting these two absolute highlights of the island.
Best time for the hike is spring when the flowers on the island are blooming and the weather is pleasant.
Once in Oia, you can enjoy the sunset and return back by a local bus.
Have a look at #1.
28. Gyros, anyone?
Eat gyros at Lucky Souvlakia in Fira.
It tastes even better after a night out in Fira town.
Gyros is a meat wrapped in a pitta bread. It is a very typical, Greek dish.
29. Hiking and Rock-Climbing
On the question what to do in Santorini, you may not expect this one: rock climbing.
Yet, it’s a popular activity – for the active traveler!
Hike up Skaros hill in Imerovigli. This magnificent rock in Imerovigli offers a amazing view of the volcano and a sunset.
The rock is very well visible from anywhere in Imerovigli and you just follow the dirt road that will lead you up.
An easy rock climbing is required to get to the very top.
Start your way there about an hour before the sunset.
Then, you will have enough time to enjoy the views and perhaps have a glass of wine there (you need to bring it with you).
30. Wine Tasting (of course!)
Well, this one is so obvious, right?!
Do wine tasting at one of local wineries.
Your wine can be always combined with snacks so this could be your light dinner.
Here you can find the most popular Winery Tour in Santorini.
It is a half-day trip where you can taste different volcanic wines.
My best recommendation, however, is this one: Join a Half-Day Adventure Wine tour.
On this tour you visit 3 renowned wineries and sample 12 different wine styles, served with cheese and snacks.
Extra 31. Kick-Back in a tiny bay
Go for a lazy afternoon to Eros beach, small bay with a great beach bar, snacks and cocktails.
You can have a massage here too.
Eros beach is also a famous venue for small wedding parties.
Extra 32. Visit Finikia village with its authentic village feel
Finikia village is just at the entrance to Oia and it is a real local village without many hotels.
Have a meal at Krinaki.
Get the lunch or dinner started with a delicious, local wine.
Wanna make us jealous? Drop us an Instagram and tag us with @hostelgeeks.
Extra 33: Helicopter Tour in Santorini
A bird eye view of Santorini is quite impressive.
Can you imagine to experience it? It is possible with an helicopter ride.
During the flight, you will enjoy the great views while flying over the island, such as:
- Oia, the famous village of Santorini
- a volcano
- Picturesque white washed houses with blue and yellow doors
In certain cases it’s possible to fly a bit closer so you can capture the perfect selfie in Santorini.sc
Looking for romance? Make sure you choose the sunset hour.
Extra 34: Nightlife of Fira Town
Have a night out in Fira town. For good cocktails go to a stylish Tango bar.
A more laid back crowd and music is at Tropical.
Both places have a great view of the Caldera and Fira town by night.
For the nightlife, here is a list of cool bars we recommend:
- PK Cocktail Bar (great view, a posh bar-option)
- Black Stone (beach bar in south-east)
- Theros Wave Bar (another beach bar with good vibes and music)
- Terra Nera family-friendly option (cool beach cafe always full but they haven’t got a bar. It is more of a family place. Change it to Seaside if you like.)
2. All activities on a map
You are still here?!
Wow…You see, Santorini is more than “only” the endless photo-spots and sunsets to admire.
While there is no way you should skip that, we hope this list of things to do in Santorini comes in handy on our next trip.
We put all locations on a handy map. Just click through the Santorini Map and see what is in your area to check out.
(Open map in new tab here)
3. Shopping in Santorini
The images when we think about Santorini are very clear:
- white clothing
- beach decoration elements
- cute sandals
Yes, you will find this is all over the island.
The only struggle will be deciding how many things you will bring back home.
4. Seasons and Weather in Santorini
Santorini is a beautiful volcanic island, attracting visitors especially from early March until late November.
Depending on your interests and the time of the year, you might enjoy some wonderful hikes and spectacular views in spring and autumn, or just sunbathing and swimming at one of the many black beaches during the summer.
From May/ June to mid-September there is usually zero rain fall.
The early and late season (March and October) has cold evenings and pleasant day temperatures with occasional rain. It’s a perfect time either way.
Sunset in Santorini is spectacular and there are several really great location for it.
Be aware, during very high season some of the most famous sunset spots can get really crowded. It’s a good idea to get to your sunset location early, find a place at a local cafe or restaurant and watch it with a cool drink or a sip of wine and dinner.
In July and August at some restaurants you will have to book your table in advance.
5. Renting scooter in Santorini
Renting a vehicle is something seriously to consider.
This way you can move around easily and discover the best places in Santorini.
Islands are best discovered when you have the freedom to decide when and where to go. It allows you to see also more off-beat locations you would not be able to visit when using just a local transportation. Quad bikes are popular, in early and late season a car is advantage as it can suddenly rain.
Our friends from Caveland Hostel, the 5 Star Hostel in Santorini will help you with all your rentals. And of course, make sure you are back home early enough to join the BBQs and events at the hostel.
Here is our full review of Caveland Santorini
It includes a big swimming pool, former winery shots and of course, a gorgeous landscape.
6. How to get to Santorini?
Since it’s an island, a ferry is the best way for the island-hopping.
The earlier you can book hotels and flights the better (I recommend at least 4 to 9 months in advance).
It is a super handy and brand new search engine for flights with unique features. You can do a radius search for instance.
Read: our review of Kiwi.com
7. How long to stay on the island?
A good visit should be at least 3 nights long!
Consider staying longer if you are keen about trying various beaches in the summer. At the same time you can explore local villages and views in the afternoons.
A handy guide is as well Live, Love and Travel Santorini.
8. Where to stay in Santorini?
Santorini is a tiny island, but it has enough options for every kind of traveler.
Just 2 minutes walk from the view and with views of the famous caldera you find Kokkinos Villa.
Kokkinos is in one of the less-populated parts of an overpopulated island and a delicious breakfast is included.
Cause staying on an appartment does not mean you have to cook all day long!
Santorini is a great set for a romantic escape, don’t you think?
If you want to nail your romantic trip, book an adults only villa with sunset views and great service like Oia Mare Villas.
Note: You might not leave the room.
On a Budget
If you are staying on a budget but still want to get the Santorin vibes, we do recommend you to stay at Caveland Santorini, an old former winery turned into a 5 Star Hostel.
Read the full review of Caveland here.
If you just want to get the cheapest accommodation, here you find the all hostels in Santorini.
We got you a 35€ discount for your first booking on AirBnb as well.
Best Family Hotel
Finding a family friendly hotel in Santorini is not easey, we heard. Many places are for adults only.
Nissia Appartments is one of the best options when staying in Santorini with your family.
It is right on the beach and with great access to restaurants and shops,
Luxury Villa: The Alti Santorini Suites
What about a villa for yourself with private pool and great views over the volcano?
Santorini is really a place to treat yourself.
That is what offers Alti Santorini Suites:
- private pool
- views over the caldera
- great service
- and a spacious modern room
Summary: TOP Things to do in Santorini
Besides this list, there is much more. By no means is this a full list.
This incredibly gorgeous island is romantic, photogenic, loaded with history, great food and cool vibes. You are about to spend a memorable vacation, no doubt!
Update: our 49 most beautiful photos from Santorini.
Have a look at the ultimate Lonely Planet for Greek Islands.
For us it was quite surprising to see how many interesting activities, hidden beaches and tours are still out there.
We would love to extend this list. Do you have any other great spots and recommendations?
Please leave a comment below or drop us a line.
More Fun Things to do in Europe:
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- 29 fun things to do in Lisbon, Portugal
Safe travels and enjoy this dreamy island,
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Hostel Packing List
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.The most important things to pack are:
- eye mask
- key chain flashlight
- the right backpack, the Nomatic (our review of Nomatic here) or Lowe Alpine Lightflite 45 Pack
- packing cubes
- generic padlock (fitting all locker types)
- quick-dry travel towel
- universal power adapter
- travel-sized toiletries