What to Do in Santorini for a week?

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Santorini, Greece! Just the name conjures up images of whitewashed buildings cascading down cliffsides, the Aegean Sea sparkling below. It’s a place that has topped countless travel bucket lists (mine included!). This magical island is famous for its sunsets, volcanic landscapes, and unique architecture. It’s a dream destination that offers something for everyone.

In this blog post, I’ll share my experience and tips for spending an unforgettable week in Santorini. From exploring ancient ruins to wine tasting, hiking to cliff jumping, this itinerary is packed with adventure. If you’re ready to tick Santorini off your travel list, get ready to dive in!

Day 1: Arrival and Setting the Scene

Your Santorini adventure begins as soon as you touch down at Santorini (Thira) International Airport or disembark at Athinios Port, the main gateway to this enchanting island. The excitement is palpable as you step onto Santorini’s soil, ready to embark on a journey filled with breathtaking views, ancient history, and culinary delights.

Getting around santorini

Navigating Santorini is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options catering to different preferences and budgets:

  • Taxis: Plentiful and convenient, taxis are a great option for getting around quickly and comfortably. However, it’s advisable to agree on a fare before starting your journey, as prices can vary depending on the distance and time of day.
  • Car or Scooter Rental: If you crave independence and the freedom to explore at your own pace, renting a car or scooter is the way to go. Numerous rental agencies are scattered throughout the island, offering a variety of vehicles to suit your needs. Driving in Santorini can be a bit of an adventure, with narrow roads, winding turns, and steep inclines, but the stunning views along the way make it all worthwhile.
  • Public Buses: For budget-conscious travelers, Santorini’s public bus system provides a reliable and affordable way to get around. The buses connect major towns and attractions, with frequent services throughout the day. Tickets can be purchased on board or at designated kiosks.
  • ATVs: These are a popular mode of transportation, especially for couples or small groups. They offer more flexibility than buses and are a fun way to explore the island’s backroads and hidden gems.
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Choosing your home base

Santorini boasts a diverse range of accommodations, each with its own unique charm and character. Choosing the right place to stay can greatly enhance your overall experience.

  • Fira: As the capital of Santorini, Fira is a bustling hub of activity, offering a wide array of shops, restaurants, bars, and nightlife options. Its cliffside location provides breathtaking views of the caldera, making it a popular choice for those seeking a lively atmosphere and stunning vistas.
  • Oia: Perched on the northern tip of the island, Oia is renowned for its romantic ambiance and world-famous sunsets. With its charming alleyways, blue-domed churches, and whitewashed houses, Oia exudes a postcard-perfect charm that is hard to resist. It’s the ideal choice for couples, honeymooners, and those seeking a tranquil escape.
  • Traditional Villages (Pyrgos, Megalochori): For a more authentic experience away from the crowds, consider staying in one of Santorini’s traditional villages. Pyrgos, with its labyrinthine streets, Venetian castle, and numerous churches, offers a glimpse into the island’s rich history and cultural heritage. Megalochori, known for its wineries and vineyards, provides a peaceful retreat where you can immerse yourself in the local way of life.
  • Imerovigli: Situated between Fira and Oia, Imerovigli is a quieter alternative that still offers stunning caldera views. Its peaceful atmosphere and romantic setting make it a popular choice for couples and those seeking a more relaxed stay.

Settling in

After checking into your accommodation, take some time to settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings. Here are a few suggestions for how to spend your first few hours in Santorini:

  • Stroll through your chosen town: Wander through the narrow streets, admire the unique architecture, and soak up the atmosphere.
  • Greek coffee break: Find a charming cafe with a terrace overlooking the caldera and indulge in a traditional Greek coffee and pastry.
  • Relax by the pool: If your accommodation has a pool, take a refreshing dip and soak up the sun.
  • Watch the sunset: If you’re lucky enough to arrive in time, head to a viewpoint to witness the magical Santorini sunset.
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Day 2: Unveiling Santorini’s Volcanic Marvels

Today, you’ll embark on a geological adventure to explore Santorini’s volcanic heart.

Boat tour to nea Kameni

A boat trip to Nea Kameni, the volcanic islet in the center of the caldera, is an absolute must-do. As you step onto the lunar-like landscape, you’ll feel the heat emanating from the active crater, a stark reminder of the island’s fiery past.

  • Hike to the crater’s rim: For the adventurous, a hike to the top of Nea Kameni is a rewarding experience. The trail can be challenging, but the panoramic views of the caldera and surrounding islands are worth the effort.
  • Explore the geothermal vents: Along the way, you’ll encounter several geothermal vents emitting sulfurous fumes, a unique reminder of the island’s volcanic activity.
  • Volcanic beaches: Some boat tours include a stop at Palea Kameni, where you can swim in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the hot springs.

Red beach and white beach

Santorini is home to some of the most unique beaches in the world, thanks to its volcanic landscape.

  • Red Beach: Nestled beneath towering red cliffs, the Red Beach is a sight to behold. The beach itself is composed of black volcanic sand, contrasting beautifully with the deep red hues of the cliffs.
  • White Beach: Located just a short distance from the Red Beach, the White Beach is another must-visit. Its pristine white pebbles and crystal-clear waters create a picturesque setting that is perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Tips for visiting the red and white beach

  • Wear sturdy shoes: The paths leading to the beaches can be rocky and uneven.
  • Bring plenty of water: The sun can be intense, so it’s important to stay hydrated.
  • Consider a boat trip: The easiest way to reach both beaches is by boat. Many boat tours combine a visit to Nea Kameni with stops at the Red and White Beach.
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Day 3: A Journey Through Time: Akrotiri and Santorini’s Ancient Past

Today, you’ll step back in time and immerse yourself in the island’s rich history and archaeological wonders.

Akrotiri archaeological site

Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan city buried under volcanic ash for centuries, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. As you wander through the well-preserved ruins, you’ll be transported back to a time when Santorini was a thriving center of Minoan civilization.

  • Minoan houses: Explore the multi-story houses with their intricate frescoes, pottery, and other artifacts.
  • Drainage system: Marvel at the sophisticated drainage system that once carried rainwater and sewage away from the city.
  • Streets and squares: Walk along the ancient streets and imagine the bustling life that once filled these squares.

Museum of prehistoric thera

To delve deeper into Santorini’s past, a visit to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira is highly recommended. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts unearthed from Akrotiri and other archaeological sites across the island.

  • Frescoes: Admire the beautifully preserved frescoes depicting scenes of Minoan life, including bull-leaping, fishing, and religious ceremonies.
  • Pottery: Discover a wide variety of pottery, from everyday utensils to elaborate ceremonial vessels.
  • Tools and weapons: Learn about the tools and weapons used by the Minoans in their daily lives.

Other historical sites

In addition to Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, there are several other historical sites worth visiting in Santorini:

  • Ancient Thera: Located on the Mesa Vouno mountain, Ancient Thera offers stunning views of the caldera and surrounding islands. The ruins of this ancient city date back to the 9th century BC.
  • Archaeological Museum of Santorini: This museum in Fira houses a collection of artifacts from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.
  • Byzantine Castle Ruins: Located in Pyrgos, these ruins offer a glimpse into Santorini’s medieval past.
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Day 4: Sailing the Caldera and Hidden Gems

Prepare to be mesmerized as you embark on a sailing adventure around the caldera, one of Santorini’s most iconic landscapes.

Caldera cruise (half-day or full-day)

Caldera cruises are a popular way to experience Santorini’s dramatic beauty from a different perspective. Choose from a variety of options, ranging from half-day trips to full-day excursions with lunch and swimming stops.

  • Scenic Views: As you sail across the azure waters, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the caldera’s towering cliffs, volcanic islands, and whitewashed villages.
  • Palea Kameni: Many cruises include a visit to Palea Kameni, where you can take a dip in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the hot springs.
  • Secluded Beaches: Some cruises also offer stops at secluded beaches accessible only by boat, providing a peaceful escape from the crowds.
  • Sunset Cruises: For a truly magical experience, consider a sunset cruise. As the sun dips below the horizon, the caldera is bathed in a warm glow, creating a romantic and unforgettable setting.

Types of boats

There are several types of boats available for caldera cruises, each offering a different experience:

  • Catamarans: These spacious boats are ideal for larger groups and offer plenty of room to relax and soak up the sun.
  • Sailing Yachts: For a more intimate experience, consider a sailing yacht. These elegant vessels offer a quieter and more romantic atmosphere.
  • Traditional Boats (Caïques): For a taste of Santorini’s maritime heritage, opt for a traditional caïque. These wooden boats are often used for fishing and offer a more traditional and authentic sailing experience.
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Tips for booking a caldera cruise

  • Book in advance: Especially during peak season (June-August), cruises can fill up quickly.
  • Choose the right time: Sunset cruises are incredibly popular, but morning or afternoon cruises offer a different perspective and may be less crowded.
  • Consider your interests: Some cruises focus on sightseeing, while others include activities like swimming, snorkeling, or fishing. Choose a cruise that aligns with your interests.
  • Compare prices and inclusions: Prices can vary depending on the type of boat, duration of the cruise, and inclusions (such as meals and drinks). Do your research and compare different options before booking.

Day 5: Foodie Delights: Unveiling Santorini’s Culinary Scene

Santorini is a foodie paradise, with a rich culinary scene that reflects its unique terroir and cultural heritage. From traditional tavernas serving family recipes to upscale restaurants with innovative cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Beyond tourist hotspots

While the touristy areas of Fira and Oia offer a wide range of dining options, venturing off the beaten path will reward you with a more authentic culinary experience. Seek out family-run tavernas tucked away in villages or hidden down quiet alleyways. These establishments often serve dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, passed down through generations.

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Must-try dishes

Santorini’s cuisine is a delightful blend of Mediterranean flavours, with a focus on fresh seafood, seasonal vegetables, and local products. Here are a few must-try dishes:

  • Fava: This creamy split pea puree is a staple on many Santorini menus. It’s often served as an appetizer with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of capers.
  • Tomato fritters (domatokeftedes): Made with Santorini’s sweet cherry tomatoes, these fritters are a delicious and flavourful treat. They’re often served as a starter or side dish.
  • White eggplant: Santorini is known for its unique white eggplants, which are sweeter and less bitter than their purple counterparts. You’ll find them in various dishes, from salads to moussaka.
  • Fresh seafood: With its prime location in the Aegean Sea, Santorini offers an abundance of fresh seafood. Grilled octopus, calamari, and fish are just a few of the delectable options you’ll find on menus throughout the island.

Ammoudi Bay

For the freshest seafood experience, head to Ammoudi Bay, a picturesque fishing harbour located below Oia. Here, you’ll find a cluster of tavernas serving up the day’s catch, along with stunning views of the caldera.

Santorini wines

Santorini is renowned for its unique wines, produced from grapes grown in volcanic soil. The island’s most famous wine is Assyrtiko, a white grape variety that yields crisp, dry wines with mineral notes. Other notable wines include Nykteri, a barrel-aged Assyrtiko, and Vinsanto, a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes.

  • Winery tours and tastings: To learn more about Santorini’s winemaking traditions and sample the local wines, consider visiting one of the many wineries scattered across the island. Many offer tours and tastings, providing a fascinating insight into the winemaking process.
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Day 6: A Day of Leisure or Adventure

Today is your day to create your own Santorini adventure, whether that means indulging in relaxation or embarking on new explorations.

Relaxation

  • Beaches: Santorini boasts a variety of beaches, each with its own unique charm. The black sand beaches of Perissa and Perivolos are popular for their lively atmosphere and numerous beach bars. For a more tranquil setting, head to the quieter coves of Vlychada or Baxedes.
  • Spa treatments: Treat yourself to a relaxing massage, facial, or body treatment at one of Santorini’s many spas.
  • Sunset cocktails: Enjoy a refreshing cocktail while watching the sunset over the caldera. There are countless bars and restaurants with stunning views to choose from.

Exploration

  • Pyrgos: Wander through the narrow alleyways of this charming village and admire its traditional architecture, Venetian castle, and numerous churches.
  • Megalochori: Discover the wineries and vineyards of this peaceful village and learn about Santorini’s winemaking traditions.
  • Art Galleries: Santorini is home to several art galleries showcasing the works of local and international artists.
  • Museums: Learn about the island’s history and culture at the Archaeological Museum of Santorini or the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.

Adventure

  • Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding: Explore the coastline from a different perspective and discover hidden coves and beaches.
  • Hiking from Fira to Oia: Embark on a scenic hike along the caldera rim, offering breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and surrounding islands.
  • Wine tasting tours: Visit various wineries and sample a wide range of Santorini wines.

Day 7: Farewell to Santorini

As your Santorini adventure draws to a close, take some time to reflect on the incredible experiences you’ve had.

Final morning

  • Revisit a favorite spot: Enjoy a final coffee, meal, or view at your favourite cafe, restaurant, or viewpoint.
  • Souvenir shopping: Pick up some unique gifts and mementos to remind you of your time in Santorini.
  • Departure arrangements: Confirm your transportation and check-out time, ensuring a smooth departure.

Last-minute activities

If time allows, here are a few additional activities you can squeeze in before your departure:

  • Santorini Caldera Hike: Embark on a final hike along the caldera rim, soaking in the panoramic views one last time.
  • Wine Museum: Learn about the history of winemaking in Santorini and sample some of the island’s finest vintages.
  • Volcano House: Visit this unique museum located in a cave dwelling and discover the fascinating geological history of Santorini.
  • Matoyianni Street: Stroll along this bustling street in Fira, lined with shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • Lighthouse: Take a trip to the Akrotiri Lighthouse for stunning views of the caldera and the Aegean Sea.

Farewell feast

Before you leave Santorini, treat yourself to one last delicious meal at a traditional taverna or a trendy restaurant. Savor the flavours of Santorini’s cuisine, raise a glass of Assyrtiko wine, and toast to an unforgettable journey.

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Evening Activities and Hidden Gems

Santorini’s magic doesn’t fade with the setting sun. As darkness falls, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. Here are a few suggestions for evening activities and hidden gems that will make your Santorini experience even more memorable.

Evening activities

  • Sunset in Oia: No trip to Santorini would be complete without witnessing the world-famous sunset in Oia. Find a spot early to secure the best view, and prepare to be mesmerized as the sky explodes in a kaleidoscope of colours.
  • Nightlife in Fira: For those seeking a lively atmosphere, Fira is the place to be. The town comes alive after dark with a plethora of bars, clubs, and restaurants offering caldera views. Sip cocktails, dance the night away, or simply enjoy the vibrant energy of the crowd.
  • Traditional music evenings: Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a traditional music evening. Several tavernas in Oia and other villages offer live music and dancing, providing a fun and authentic way to experience Santorini’s vibrant traditions.
  • Open-air cinemas: Santorini is home to several open-air cinemas, where you can watch a movie under the stars. This unique experience is a great way to relax and unwind after a day of exploring.
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Hidden gems

  • Santo Wines Winery: Perched on a cliffside overlooking the caldera, Santo Wines Winery offers stunning views and a wide selection of Santorini wines. Take a tour of the winery, learn about the winemaking process, and sample their award-winning vintages.
  • Hiking from Fira to Oia: If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, consider hiking the scenic trail from Fira to Oia. The trail winds along the caldera rim, offering breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and surrounding islands. The hike takes about 3-4 hours and is best done in the cooler hours of the morning or evening.
  • Ammoudi Bay: Located below Oia, Ammoudi Bay is a picturesque fishing harbour with a handful of excellent seafood restaurants. Enjoy fresh fish, grilled octopus, and other delicacies while admiring the stunning views of the caldera.
  • Santorini Arts Factory: This cultural centre, located in the village of Vlychada, hosts a variety of art exhibitions, concerts, and other events throughout the year.
  • Cooking classes: For a hands-on culinary experience, consider taking a cooking class. Several establishments in Santorini offer classes where you can learn to prepare traditional Greek dishes using fresh, local ingredients.

Wrapping Up

From volcanic landscapes and ancient ruins to sun-kissed beaches and culinary delights, Santorini has it all. This one-week itinerary is just a starting point for your own adventure, offering a mix of must-see attractions and hidden gems.

Whether you’re exploring the dramatic caldera by boat, indulging in fresh seafood by the harbour, or simply watching the sunset over the Aegean Sea, Santorini promises unforgettable memories.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Santorini escape today and get ready to experience the magic of this extraordinary island for yourself. It’s time to make your travel dreams a reality!

Make Your Trip Easier

I’m all about planning trips on your own and figuring your way around the local scene. But still, I don’t want to leave you like a fish out of water!

Here are some resources I regularly use whenever I travel (on my own or with other people):

xo, Alice


Alice

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