Top 12 Unique Things To Do In Santorini
Magical sunsets in Oia, photogenic blue dome churches and colorful beaches attracts hundreds of visitors every year. Full of historic sites, quiet beaches and clear, blue waters, it should be near the top of any travel bucket list. There are so many amazing and some of the top unique things to do in Santorini that you’ll be spoilt for choice as soon as you land.
1) Watch the Sunset
Honestly, it’s one of the best things to do in Santorini. However, during the high season hundrends of visitors are trying to find the best spot in order to admire this unique scenery.
Oia is one of the most famous places in Santorini to watch the sunset. You’ll witness a magical sight that will leave you spell-bounded when the sun goes down the horizon.
Akrotiri Lighthouse is an alternative place to experience the impressive silhouette of the sunset. The view is beautiful enough to keep quite large numbers of people coming here every evening.
Moreover, a cruise on the Santorini caldera gives you a 360-degree sunset experience. Many of the cruises offer dinner and drinks which, with the gentle rocking of the boat, creates quite a romantic atmosphere.
2) Hike from Fira to Oia
This hike is 6 miles one-way and passes through four towns, including Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. Along the way, travelers will find numerous sites worth stopping for, in addition to spectacular ocean views and picturesque towns. One of these is Skaros Rock.
The best time to start this trek is in the morning. In the afternoon there is no shade and the sun may be too much for some. Take your time, enjoy the walk, and soak up the views. Allowing between 4 and 5 hours would be ideal.
No special equipment is needed for this walk in Santorini. Just a comfortable pair of shoes, some snacks, and some water. Remember to wear a hat and sunblock!
It is worth stopping at the col where the road to Pori beach is located on the right-hand side (east). In concusion, on the side of the Caldera the view of the volcanic rocks and the volcano is astonishing, while on the opposite side you will admire the Aegean Sea.
3) Get a Wine Tasting Tour
The history of viticulture is lost in prehistoric times, as it seems that the vineyard came to the Aegean from Phoenician merchants. During the excavations of Akrotiri, vessels and amphoraewere found that testify to the commercial transactions of Santorini wine at that time.
The vineyard of Santorini is the oldest vineyard in Greece and one of the rare European vineyards with vines. The fame of Santorini Wines today due to the marriage of the exceptional variety of Assyrtiko with the unique ecosystem of the island.
There are no fewer than nine indigenous types of grape that grow in the volcanic soil of Santorini. Aside from Assyrtiko, other whites are Athiri, a delicate ancient Greek variety and medium-bodied Aidani. From the reds, Mandilaria is highly aromatic while Mavrotragano is a deep-coloured wine high in tannins that reminds you of claret.
Apart from the unique sceneries and the famous volcano, Santorini, is a famous travel destination for the wine lovers. You can visit many vineyards (known for being the oldest in the world!) on the island with special tastings, and book your wine tasting tour.
4) Boat trips around Santorini
Boat trips are among the best things to do in Santorini.
The most famous tour is a 1-day cruise in the volcanic islands and Palea Kameni hot springs. During this day, you will explore the island of Nea Kameni and its still active volcano. You can even walk to the summit of the crater!
You will also stop at Palea Kameni hot springs to take a dip.Then, you will end your day on Thirassia island, located right in front of Santorini. As these tours are very popular, you should really book yours in advance.
Even more famous to choose, because of the privacy, is the luxury version of this cruise, on a catamaran.
The Day Cruise begins from the port of Vlychada. You will sail close to the Red and White Beach, the Black Mountain and the venetian Light house in Akrotiri, exploring the volcanic area, where the spectacular colors will amaze you. While heading towards the Hot Springs, you will feel the energy of the Volcano and the spirit or the island.
Next stop is Thirassia, a fishermen’s island, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Admire the unique view of Manolas village and taste a delicious lunch which is served on board.
The cruise ends in one of the most amazing spots in Santorini, the old port of Ammoudi in Oia. From that side you will be amazed from the beautiful views of the caldera and the differences of the ground because of the volcano.
The same cruise is operating also every eveing during the sunset time. The sunset cruises are higly recommended for the honeymooners since is one of the most romantic moments that you can live in your life!
5) Watch a movie at the Open Cinema Kamari
Established in 1987, Cine Kamari aims to preserve the strong tradition of theatre going, so adored by the Greeks. Offering locals and travellers alike the opportunity to watch movies under the stars in a “Secret Garden” like setting.
The latest in digital dolby 7.1 sound and CHRISTIE DIGITAL CINEMA projection on the 5x8m screen will give you a superior, unique cinematic experience.
Considered one of the best in the world by The Guardian, CNN and Travel Channel, this charming open-air cinema , also known to hosts various cultural events, including concerts, theatre plays, art exhibitions as well as new and old films, is located just outside Kamari town, on the island of Santorini.
Open from May until October.
Full bar with cocktails, local beer and wine, refreshments, ice cream and snacks.
Movies are in English with Greek subtitles.
The movies are usually starting at 21:00 o’clock and end at midnight. As the bus stop is a few meters away and the itineraries during the summer season usually change it is very useful renting your own car. Of course it is very easy to organize your transfer from anywhere in the island with a private guide for greater comfort.
6) Visit the famous Black Beach
Perissa Beach is located at the village of Perissa in the island of Santorini. There are a few things that make Perissa Beach worth spending time at. First of all, the volcanic activity on the island is evidenced at this beach in the form of its unique, black sand.
Over the centuries, the molten rock from various volcanic eruptions hardened and then eventually broke down due to erosion. Today, beachgoers can lounge in the warm sand, rent a sunbed, and in general enjoy the beauty that the unique color of this sand creates. The bays of Perivolos and Perissa are as popular, offering an abundance of water sports.
Apart from the wonderful black beach, the area of Perissa is one of the most popular destinations for accommodation. The area offers countless room options for low budget but also luxury hotels. The facilities they offer can please every visitor.
7) Book a Photo Tour
A different kind of photography tour is that where you take pictures of Santorini yourself under the instructions of a professional photographer. Photography tours are a well-received trend in Santorini island and one of the most unique things to do durion your stay!
This is a great way to see the island from a different perspective and also learn something photography tips. If you have time we recommend skipping the 1hour Photo tour, and deciding on the 2hrs or 3hrs for a unique experience.
8) Visit Akrotiri Excavations & Prehistoric Museum of Thera
Santorini is one of the most popular and beautiful Greek islands. It is known for its mystifying sunsets, unique beaches, vast wine production, and luxurious lifestyle. Apart from that, however, one of its biggest characteristics is its rich history that goes back thousands of years.
Proof of that is the archaeological site of Akrotiri that gives insight into an ancient world full of wonder. The buildings of Akrotiri are a unique example of impressive architecture.
Located on the southern side of the island, between the village of Akrotiri and the famous Red Beach. Magnificent structures with carved facades housed communal services. Private houses included workshops and warehouses besides the rooms for the family.
The building materials came from the island itself or were imported from other areas. Stone from the quarries of Thira was the main building material. Pebbles and gravels were collected and used for walls and floors.
Valuable timber from Crete was used for wooden frameworks in the walls providing antiseismic reinforcement. Slabs of plaster from Knossos quarries were placed on the floor over a layer of crushed purple shells.
As soon as you step foot on the archaeological site of Akrotiri you will be taken a back by the complexity of the structures.
The building of the Museum of Prehistoric Thera is located in the capital of the island of Santorini, Fira, at the junction of Mitropoleos and Dekigala streets. The imposing edifice, towering over the nearby buildings, is adjacent to the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, which is also worth a visit.
The exhibition contains interesting findings that bear witness to the turbulent history of the island. Thus, we will see geological specimens (such as fossilised plants and insects from the time before the first humans appeared on Santorini), sculptures, ceramics, jewellery, marble figurines, objects of everyday use, as well as wall paintings.
9) Visit the most traditional village- Pyrgos Village
Pyrgos Village, with its Venetian Castle, is situated 7.5 km east of Fira, in Santorini. The greek meaning of the word ”Pyrgos” is “Tower”. Originally the village of Pyrgos was built on the hillside, away from the sea and surrounded by a wall. It was meant to be a defensive “Tower”.
After medieval times, when the pirate threats were gone, houses expanded outside the wall and thus the village took its current form. What remains of the old village today, are the ruins of the castle and the name “Tower” aka Pyrgos.
Apart from its history as a military bastion, Pyrgos was also a holy town with a plethora of churches and chapels built in the area around Mount Profitis Ilias and its famous monastery.
As the star of the monastery and the village itself declined, lonely Pyrgos served as a place of exile for religious and political prisoners, right up into the Metaxas regime and the outbreak of the Second World War.
Pyrgos has recently become a very popular destination for tourists visiting Santorini and that is for a good reason. It is truly one of the most beautiful traditional settlements you will find in Santorini and the best sample of Medieval architecture. In 1995, it was declared a “preserved monument”.
10) Visit the Ancient Thira
Ancient Thera is an ancient city and capital on a ridge of the steep, 360 m high Messa Vouno mountain in Santorini.
It was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD.
The ancient city consisted of a street almost 800 m long and especially wide for its time extending in a southeastern direction and containing several imposing buildings.
Before you enter the city, you will notice many curved rocks on your right and left. These used to be the city’s cemeteries. They were outside the city as it was considered back luck to bury the dead close to the living.
If you’re driving, take the narrow, switchbacked road from Kamari for 3km. From Perissa, a hike up a dusty path takes a bit over an hour to reach the site.
11) Visit the small port of Ammoudi
Ammoudi bay is a beautiful small port located underneath the village of Oia between 200 and 300 steps below . The port is full of amazing restaurants with seafood, and the blue clear waters lapping at table’s edge. Its definately worth it to add it in your best things to do list.
The port is busy with boat tours arriving and departing all day long. Catamarans bring tourists to see the volcano and swim in the hot springs. With these tours the visitors have also the chance to admire the caldera cliffs and beaches, and the popular Santorini sunset.
12) Visit Thirasia island
Thirasia is a small piece of the western coast of the ancient island of Strongili, which had been cut off after the devastating earthquake in 1500 BC. Today you can make yourself an idea of the former round form of the island by uniting Thirasia, Santorini and Aspronisi imaginally.
By chance it was ground that the beautiful daughter of King Thira Thirasia was hiding for thousands of years remnants of an ancient culture after the huge destruction of the volcano in 1500 BC. In the middle of the 18th century pumice stone was mined on a large scale from the quarry of the family Nikolaos Spiridonas Alafouzos in Thirasia, which was used for the construction of the Suez Canal.
The workers in the quarry found remains of a building, of earthwaren vessels and even of a human skeleton. These findings were the reason why excavations were started in Akrotiri and in other places of Santorini.
A small foot passenger boat departing from Ammoudi port under Oia, on the northwest coast of Santorini. This is the quickest way to get to Thirasia, as it takes around 10 minutes. The volcanic landscape, the wild beauty and the serene atmosphere of the island make it an unspoiled paradise. There are amazing walking tours that give you the option to explore this unspoiled island.
The island of Thirasia has a lot of resemblances with Santorini. The architecture of the houses and churches, the whitewashed houses, the low vegetation and her deep blue waters are some of the island’s characteristics. Thirasia is an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy peaceful vacation.
As a conclusion, Santorini is a small island but the places worth visiting are countless. The best way to get to know all aspects of this island is to organize combination tours through which one can visit many places even in one day.
Οrganize your days as best you can to include all of the above in your Santorini vacation!!!