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Updated May 2024

If there’s one island I can never get enough of, it’s certainly Santorini. This ultimate guide to Santorini, Greece is just a taste of the incredibly beautiful this place is. After taking two separate trips to Santorini, I want to share my favorite things to do, where to stay, and more.

The tall cliffs overlook the caldera, creating the ultimate place to escape to in Greece. The warm hospitality, whitewashed houses of Oia, and the golden sunsets are highlights of a stay in Santorini. As part of the Cyclades, you’re in the heart of Greece’s iconic islands.

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do

Santorini is an iconic gem nestled in the Aegean Sea. Cascading whitewashed buildings adorned with cobalt blue domes cling to dramatic cliffs, overlooking the endless expanse of the sea. From the breathtaking vistas from the edge of the caldera to the volcanic red beach, every corner of Santorini has elements of ancient history and modern luxury.

I find that a minimum of three nights is necessary to properly explore Santorini. Part of the charm of visiting this island is kicking back at a hotel with a view, so be sure to budget in time for this too. Santorini has this very easygoing feel to it, which is why I love to recommend it for honeymooners as well.

So if you’re planning your trip to Santorini, read on for a guide for everything you need to know. I’m sharing some favorite eats, where to play, and where to stay on the iconic Grecian island.

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Santorini:

  1. Katikies Hotel (Oia), for the best luxury, romantic hotel
  2. Grace Hotel (Imerovigli), for the best-secluded hotel
  3. Astra Suites (Imerovigli), for the best design for the dollar

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece


Good to Know Before Visiting Santorini

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do
The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece

The Best Way to Get to Santorini

The best ways to reach Santorini are by flying into Santorini National Airport (JTR) from major European cities via direct flights during peak tourist seasons or by taking a ferry from Athens’ ports, like Piraeus or Rafina, which offer year-round services. Ferries provide a scenic journey across the Aegean Sea, taking around 5-8 hours depending on the type of ferry and route.

Additionally, during summer, there are direct flights and ferries connecting Santorini to other popular Cyclades islands like Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes. The choice between flying and ferry largely depends on factors such as itinerary, budget, and preference for travel time and experience.

Best Time of Year to Visit Santorini

The best time to visit Santorini is typically from late April to early November when the weather is warm and sunny, making it perfect for exploring the island. May and September are particularly good months as they offer pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower accommodation prices compared to the peak summer months of June to August.

However, if you prefer a quieter experience, visiting during the shoulder seasons of late April to early June or late September to early November can also be rewarding, as you’ll still enjoy pleasant weather while encountering fewer tourists. Keep in mind that while Santorini is beautiful year-round, some businesses may close during the winter months, and the weather can be cooler and unpredictable.

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do

Do I Need a Car in Santorini?

You can easily pass on a car if you plan to visit just Fira or Oia, but it may be worth renting one to visit the greater island. Most people use taxi to get around the island. If you do opt for a rental car, I recommend Discover Cars for the best car rental rates and coverage.

How Many Nights in Santorini?

I always recommend a minimum of three nights to soak in Santorini. You’ll want one day to chill by the pool and at the hotel, and another day or two to explore the island.

For more things to do in Greece, check out this page.


Where to Stay in Santorini

The debate on whether to stay in Oia or Fira is always a good one. I often suggest splitting the stay to get two different feels as the views are different. Fira tends to be busier with where the cruise ships dock, but there are some incredible hotels off the path.

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do

Oia tends to be better in terms of scenery and sunsets, but I’ve found the restaurants to be a bit more touristy. You can easily visit either by taxi as well. Here are my favorite hotels in Santorini:

  1. Katikies Hotel (Oia), for the best luxury, romantic hotel
  2. Grace Hotel (Imerovigli), for the best-secluded hotel
  3. Astra Suites (Imerovigli), for the best design for the dollar
  4. Mystique Santorini (Oia), for the best views
  5. Kirini Suites (Oia), for the best ultra luxe stay

What to Do in Santorini (Best Things to Do)

See the Sunset from Oia

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do

Catch the sunset from Oia overlooking the ocean — it’s a must-do at least once. The sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant hues – from fiery oranges and pinks to soft purples and blues. The Oia Castle ruins, situated at the western tip of the village, offer a prime vantage point for watching the sun sink into the Aegean Sea. Additionally, the cliffs and terraces along the caldera rim in Oia provide stunning panoramic views.

Sailing Day

Head out on a boat to sail the Aegean waters. One of the best things I did while in Santorini was sailing in the caldera (all formed by a volcanic eruption). You get incredible views of the volcanic islands and can sit back and relax. The company I used is no longer in operation, but this highly-rated sailing experience is what I would book. Or you could do a sunset sail with a dinner as well.

Take a Hike

One of the most famous trails is the Fira to Oia hike, which follows the caldera rim and offers breathtaking views of the volcanic cliffs, traditional villages, and the sparkling Aegean Sea. This approximately 10-kilometer route takes around 2 to 4 hours to complete, depending on your pace and stops along the way. Another great hike is out to Skaros Rock which I did on my last trip. Located near the village of Imerovigli, Skaros Rock is a dramatic rocky outcrop that juts out into the Aegean Sea, offering panoramic vistas of the caldera and surrounding islands. Once you reach Skaros Rock, you can explore the ruins of the medieval fortress that once stood atop the rock, providing a fascinating glimpse into Santorini’s past.

Go Wine Tasting

Santorini is home to many local wineries that you can opt to visit while there. Santorini is renowned for its volcanic soil, which imparts distinctive flavors to its wines, particularly the Assyrtiko grape variety. Some popular wineries to visit include Santo Wines, Gaia Wines, and Domaine Sigalas, each offering stunning views of the caldera and the opportunity to taste some of Santorini’s finest wines.

Explore Amoudi Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do

Make the walk down to pop into the bay for local fish restaurants. The port is really charming and you’ll see fishermen coming in with fresh fish from the day. I love to go around the corner and jump off the rocks for a dip in the sea.

Explore Oia

Take in the views from Oia and get lost along the winding alleys. You can also take a day trip to the black sand beach or the red rock beach across the island if you’re looking to get out. Truly one of the best things to do in Oia is to simply just wander the little roads.


Where to Eat in Santorini

Skiza Cafe (Oia)

It’s nestled in the heart of the postcard-perfect village of Oia, Skiza Cafe is where you go for that ultimate Santorini vibe without the fuss. Come here to get some incredible baklava as well.

Rastoni (Fira)

Tucked away in the heart of Fira, Santorini’s bustling capital, this cozy little spot offers a taste of authentic Greek hospitality. With its whitewashed walls, vibrant flowers, and welcoming atmosphere, Rastoni is the perfect escape — the views here are spectacular. Rastoni serves up delicious Mediterranean cuisine with a side of island charm. I would call ahead to get a seat on their terrace.

Aktaion (Firostefani)

Aktaion in Fira is a hidden gem in the heart of Santorini’s capital. This cozy taverna exudes that unmistakable Greek island vibe, with its whitewashed walls, colorful flowers, and laid-back atmosphere. You’ll find all of the classic Greek dishes like moussaka and souvlaki or fresh seafood straight from the Aegean.

1800-Floga (Oia)

This was one of my favorite spots for a rooftop view with a drink. Super easygoing.

Naoussa (Fira)

Naoussa in Fira is a Santorini must-visit for those craving a taste of Greece with a modern twist. This chic restaurant seamlessly blends traditional Greek flavors with contemporary flair.

Ammoudi Fish Tavern (Ammoudi Bay, Oia)

Always packed, it’s some of the freshest seafood and worth the wait right at sea level. This is such a classic spot for a bite in Santorini, and I’ve been here on both trips now. The open-air restaurant is truly a highlight and the sunset views here are also great.


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The Ultimate Guide to Santorini, Greece

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

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I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


Xx,
Jessica

7 Comments

  1. You’ve really managed to capture Santorini in a fresh light. As arguably the most famous island destination in Greece, the travel blogging sphere is over-saturated with Santorini content, but your photography is just sublime. You’ve re-sparked my interest in traveling there! What time of the year would you recommend for visiting?

    http://www.thegingerpassports.com

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      Dani, thank you so much for the kind words!! It means the world. I’d recommend going in late May or early September. The island kind of shuts down from October-April as the winds can get pretty bad.

  2. I recently saw a video on Instagram of someone staying in Santorini and the most amazing and beautiful sunset I think I’ve ever seen in my life, it moved very quickly up my bucket list.

    It always looks so awesome, but so expensive and on my current budget travel adventure, it may be one of those places I have to save up for and treat myself!

    http://www.bodywithmind.co.uk

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      It’s definitely a splurge trip and I would recommend definitely going!!

  3. Hi Jessica! This is such a great piece! My husband and I are doing Greece his coming June. We are taking a cruise and then plan on staying about 5-6 days in either Santorini or Mykonos. Would you recommend splitting the trip and doing both or picking one? We never get to relax so we will be doing more relaxing then trying to hustle around seeing everything. We were just going to do one but after reading your posts I’m so torn!! Thank you!

  4. Santorini, is a dreamy place. There are several heavenly place in Greece, but this might be one of the best. I always travel to taste the food first ( I am a food lover). And when it meets with dreamy blue water and the view from up hill, just feels like heaven.

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