But beyond all that, there are so many things to do on Santorini. Explore the black sand beaches, party until daylight, eat at some local tavernas, and visit some ancient sites. You won’t be disappointed.
Places to Visit in Santorini
- Ancient Thera
- Red Sand Beach
- Atlantis Book Store – Oia
Unique Things to See and Do in Santorini
- Take a boat tour to the volcano and swim in the hot springs
- Climb the mountain to Ancient Thera
- Hike to Oia from Fira
- Take a sunset cruise
- Eat at a taverna (especially try fava)
- Ride a donkey
- Visit a black sand beach or a red sand beach
- Wine taste some of Santorini’s special wines
Santorini is largely a tourist island. Few people live here year-round, and if you’re visiting during the winter months, you’ll find many restaurants and shops closed down. When spring and summer rolls around again, this place turns into a tourist hotspot. Santorini isn’t like other islands in this regard. You won’t find a great deal of genuine Greek life here, but if you look in the right places, you’ll learn what makes Santorini so unique.
First, Santorini was a major home for the ancient Minoan civilization. When the volcano erupted thousands of years ago, it wiped out the civilization entirely. But if you head to the Akrotiri ancient site, you’ll find one of the best-preserved Minoan towns in Greece – a sort of Greek Pompeii. Volcanic ash and debris drove many people out of their homes, but it preserved the artwork and much of the furnishings beautifully. If you go to the Archaeological Museum of Thera in Fira, you can see some of these intricately carved furniture pieces on display. There’s a lot to be learned about the Minoans from this site.
For more of the classics, Ancient Thera can be found atop Mount Messavouno. Most people overlook this ancient city site. It was first occupied by the Dorians in the 9th century BC, and later in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras, proving that Santorini was once a very important island.
Did you know…?
Santorini’s real name is actually Thera (but nobody calls it that).
Did you ALSO know…?
Some people believe that Santorini is the Lost City of Atlantis.
Getting around Santorini
Santorini is a BIG island. It’s a lot bigger than you think, but it doesn’t have a great deal of infrastructure. Taxis are readily available at every corner, and there is one bus system that consists of comfortable tourist-like coaches. It’ll take you anywhere on the island for cheap, but the schedules are considerably less convenient in the winter months. If you can, splurge on a rental car at the airport.
Fira is the main town, so stay here if you prefer some convenience. Otherwise, towns are sprawled out and walking between them isn’t much of an option.
Best time of year to travel to Santorini
Between November and March, you’ll find Santorini practically a ghost town. Businesses close down for the season, and locals flee to Athens. But it isn’t impossible to find a place to stay or eat – sometimes the best experiences come when you’re not in the height of tourism season. Prices are much cheaper as well. Temperatures can be somewhat chilly, but things improve in February.
From April onwards is when Santorini really comes to life. The beaches are packed, and so are the towns. The height of the season is between July and August when temperatures are hottest as well. September and October are fantastic times to visit – fewer crowds, and warm temperatures.
Ready to plan your visit to Santorini? Check out these popular guides and trips.