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Top 5 Things to Do on Santorini
Santorini is a jewel of the Aegean with phenomenal sunsets, breath-taking caldera views and fascinating ancient history. Despite its small size there is plenty to do on Santorini and if you are only planning a short visit, you may struggle to fit it all in! This article will help you narrow down your to-do list and show you the top 5 things to do on Santorini. We will show you the benefits of a sailing tour, explore wine and food tours, discuss the best places to view the sunset, describe the best hiking routes and uncover the island’s ancient past. With our help you can make the most of your time on this island paradise and plan an unforgettable, varied trip.
If you truly want to experience the wonder and beauty of Santorini, book yourself a spot on a sailing tour of the island. You get to enjoy some of the best views of the island at a relaxed pace with the opportunity to explore beaches, caves and snorkel spots that are not accessible from the coast. Plus, you will see the unforgettable site of the island’s blue domed churches against the dark rock of the island’s volcanic crater from the best vantage points.
Some of our favourite sailing tours are provided by MyWay Tours. On their luxury catamaran you can enjoy wonderful private tours of Santorini and its nearby islands and their friendly and professional team will ensure that you are well cared for. The catamaran provides private tours for up to 21 people, has 4 double cabins with en-suite bathrooms and a beautiful seating and sunbathing area for you to take in the views of the island. The captain knows all the hidden gems of the island and will take you to some of Santorini’s most magical white sand beaches and untouched landscapes where you can relax, swim or take a dive. Book your special trip with MyWay and experience the true Santorini!
2. Food and Wine tours
Santorini has a long, proud culinary history and some unique, delicious wines meaning a trip to the island would not be complete without experiencing both!
Santorini’s vineyards are some of the oldest in Europe. Unlike other vineyards across the continent, they were not wiped out by invasive phylloxera in the 19th century due to the unique volcanic soil made from pumice and volcanic ash. This soil together with the innovative basket growing technique where the vines are grown in a circular basket formation, makes Santorini wines truly exceptional. The wines are characterised by their high minerality, high acidity and high alcohol content.
The rich volcanic soil of Santorini is also perfect for growing a variety of delicious produce such as sweet Santorini tomatoes, olives, white aubergines and capers. You will find these included in a range of delicious traditional dishes or just served on their own with a bit of salt and olive oil. While visiting the island, make sure to try ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters), melitzanosalata (smoked aubergine salad) and melitinia (a sweet cheese pie).
One of the best ways to experience Santorini’s food and wine is with a local expert on a tour. Santorini Wine Tour provide excellent wine, food and cultural tours of the island that include wine tastings, vineyard tours, cookery lessons and even private tailored tours. Their tours are both fun and educational and really give you the true flavour of the island’s many delights! Staff are friendly, knowledgeable and will ensure you get the most out of your time on the island.
3. Watch the sunset
Seeing the sun set on Santorini is on many a bucket list and for good reason. The sight of the sun dipping below the waves is a wonderful sight wherever you are, but on Santorini it has another dimension. The spectacular colours of the sky from yellow to orange to red and then to a deep purple reflecting on the stark whites of the island’s buildings are breath-taking!
Little Oia on the west of the island is one of the favourite spots to view the sunset but if you want to avoid the crowds there are plenty of other great spots. One fun option is to join a sunset boat tour of the island, which you can even include dinner onboard for a really romantic experience. For more spectacular views head to Ammoudi Bay with its towering red cliffs near Oia, quiet Imerovigli with its Venetian castle, picturesque Akrotiri lighthouse or from Santo Winery. Most of these places will have bars and restaurants from where you can enjoy the view, just make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment! For a truly special experience, make sure to book a tour with MyWay that includes seeing one of the island's magical sunsets.
Santorini’s unique volcanic landscape is best explored on foot, especially for the most impressive views over the caldera. Going at your own pace you can experience the island’s sometimes Martian scenery up close, see its wonderful flora and fauna and take some amazing photos.
Between Fira and Oia there is a well-marked hiking trail that will take you through other villages such as Imerovigli, past some quaint blue-domed churches and offer you breath-taking views of the island and the Aegean along the edge of the caldera. It is a 10 km hike of varying terrain from paved paths to steep, rocky dirt paths. From Fira to Oia it is mostly a flat or downhill hike, so keep this in mind if you plan to do it the other way around! Along the route there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view and you also have the option of taking a detour to see Skaros Rock.
You will need good supportive shoes, plenty of water and a hat is recommended as there is little shelter along the route. If you are travelling during the summer, it is best to tackle the hike in the early morning to avoid the worst of the heat.
5. Visit Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Often called the ‘Greek Pompeii’, Akrotiri archaeological site is the remains of a major Bronze Age port town from the Minoan era. Sometime in the late 17th century BC the island suffered a series of severe earthquakes which were then followed by a huge volcanic eruption that destroyed much of the island and covered it in a layer of ash and lava. This eruption left behind an enormous crater or caldera and gave Santorini its unique shape.
Today you can visit the remains which have been excavated and are now preserved under a bioclimatic roof. You will be able to see the outlines and remains of multilevel buildings, complex drainage systems and even elaborate wall paintings which have been beautifully preserved. The accompanying museum gives you a fascinating insight into the life of the Minoan civilisation on the island before the eruption. There were trade links with the rest of Greece, Egypt and even Syria which can be seen in the number of ceramics and other objects that have survived.
The Akrotiri Archaeological site is located to the south of modern Akrotiri and can be reached by public bus from Fira or you can join a fantastic tour arranged by Kamari Tours. Their Archaeological Bus Tour will not just take you to see the amazing excavations at Akrotiri. On this tour you get to visit the island's highest point, the Prophet Elias monastery, for lovely views over the coast, Megalochori village, the island's famous Red Beach, the black sand beach at Perivolos and end at one of Santorini's most popular wineries. It is a full day out and a great way to see this side of the island!
Where to Stay on Santorini
When planning your trip to Santorini it can be challenging to decide where to stay as there are a number of factors to consider. Do you want caldera views? Do you want to be able to see the sunset? Do you peace and quiet or a lively party atmosphere? Are you looking for a luxury boutique hotel or a cheaper alternative?
When you have considered these questions, you can start choosing from the areas below:
This is the island’s capital and largest town on the island. It has everything you need from shops, to hotels to night clubs and is one of the most popular places to stay on the island. It is located right on the caldera with spectacular views and is well located for exploring the rest of the island. Its popularity does mean that it is often very busy and can be quite expensive.
If you are looking for a more relaxed stay with equally jaw dropping views of the caldera then Imerovigli is a great option. It has some of the island’s most exclusive and beautiful hotels and is the ideal location for a romantic break.
The Iconic Santorini boutique cave hotel is an unforgettable place to stay that we absolutely recommend to anyone travelling to Santorini. Perched on the caldera overlooking the Aegean and the other islands in the archipelago, this hotel offers amazing views, including of the island’s famous sunset. This award-winning hotel offers a unique atmosphere where guests can relax and unwind in unique cave accommodation with their own personal terrace and enjoy the fantastic onsite restaurant.
If you want to see the spectacular sunset every evening then make sure to book a room in quaint Oia. Located on the west tip of the caldera it is the most popular spot for viewing the sunset. It is a cute town with the typical Santorini architecture and winding cobbled streets. The main drawback of staying here are the crowds of tourists that flock here every evening.
Located on the other side of the island from the caldera, Kamari is a good option for families and those looking for cheaper options. Its black sand beaches are ideal for sunbathing and water sports and there are plenty of bus and tour options to explore the rest of the island. You can also hire a car for greater flexibility.
We hope these top tips on things to do in Santorini will help you plan your trip and have a memorable time on one of Greece’s most beautiful islands.
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