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Santorini Tours & Day Trips

The best day trips in Santorini are the boat and wine tours. Every tour I’ve taken on Santorini has
been great (or very very good) – and I’ve never had a bad experience. It’s not absolutely
necessary to pre-book tours before arriving but if you’re on a short visit (less than five days) it’s
probably a good idea to reserve your tour in advance. From June to September the best tours can
be fully booked weeks in advance.

The Best Tours in Santorini

 Get Your Guide – The most complete list of Santorini tours. Good site for getting tour
discounts.
 Santorini Private Wine Tour (5 Hours) – Santorini has some great fucking wine
(Assyrtiko is my favorite). This is an intimate private tour for 2 to 6 people that visits 3
wineries and finishes with sunset views of the caldera (if you book the evening tour). There
is also a less expensive Santorini Sunset Wine Tour that is almost as good. It will have a
few more people but it’s still a small group tour (and some people enjoy meeting other
travelers so the fact that it’s not private may be a plus).
 Sunset Cruise: Caldera Sailing Tour – Every boat tour is different. The options
include: hike the volcano, swim in the hot springs, visit Thirassia, stop at Red Beach and
White Beach to swim and snorkel, eat lunch/dinner on board, and watch the sunset below
Oia. This one is the simplest (but still awesome) – it’s basically just sailing through the
caldera, stopping at a few beaches (outside of the caldera), then the hot springs, with
swimming, eating, and sunbathing. And finally watching the sunset on the boat from below
the Oia cliffs (the highlight). Bring a change of clothes to change into for the evening as it
gets a little cool if you’re still in your wet swim clothes. All boat tours mentioned here
provide meals onboard and have hotel pickup to start and finish the tour.
 Day Cruise: Luxury Catamaran Day Cruise – The most luxurious boat tour with the
best food and friendliest smallest group. This is a caldera boat tour with lots of swimming
and snorkeling. Unlimited drinks and free hotel pickup and drop-off. It’s similar to the Sunset
Cruise but without the sunset and there’s more swimming and time in the sun. (I just did this
tour in September and it’s as fun as ever.)
 Best of Santorini (6 Hours) – The best private tour in Santorini. No boats, this is a
sightseeing tour of the island itself with a professional guide. The tour visits three of my
favorite places: Akrotiri (the fantastic ruins of the ancient town destroyed by the volcano
eruption), Pyrgos (old town with twisting pathways and churches galore, incredible views
too), and Oia (the single most beautiful village on Santorini). There are also stops at Red
and Black beaches, a local winery (Venetsanos), and the picturesque town of Firostefani.
Hotel pickup and drop-off make this a super easy way to see the island in one day.
 Santorini Helicopter Flight – Amazing and unforgettable (though obviously not cheap).
Incredible views of the caldera, cliffs, volcano, vineyards, and towns. The ride is 30 minutes
long, which is a perfect length for seeing every angle of the island from above. Most people
do this as a couple but the price allows for a group of 5.
 Santorini Photography Tour – Amazing tour of Santorini’s best views and shots. (For
all photographers: from beginner to expert.)
 Santorini Fishing Tour – Wonderful tour of the waters around Santorini on a local
fishing boat. Fresh seafood lunch or dinner served on board (eat what you catch and empty
from the nets). The daytime tour is best for families and serious fishermen. The sunset
tour best for couples.

The Best Activities and Things To Do in Santorini


1. Hike From Fira to Oia

This is the single best thing to do on Santorini – and it’s free! The views are incredible. The hike
takes somewhere between 2 and 5 hours depending on your speed and how many pictures you
take along the way. Start in Fira and move north through Firostefani and then Imerovigli (this part
of the path feels more like a village sidewalk). From Imerovigli to Oia it’s largely rural with only a
few shops or restaurants on this stretch of path. Most people will want to wear a sturdy running
shoe for the walk but I’ve certainly seen people do it in flip flops. The route isn’t completely marked
but it’s fairly intuitive: stay on the path that follows the edge of the caldera and walk north (when in
doubt stay to the left/west). Of course, it’s fine to do the walk in the opposite direction but it feels
more natural (to me) to walk north to Oia and the island’s tip. And walking into Oia from the hills
above is an awesome finish. If it’s July or August I’d highly recommend starting before 8am.

2. Santorini Photography Tour

I can not say enough great things about this wonderful tour. It’s run by a guy from New Zealand
named Olaf. The tour is for small groups of 1 to 4 and he tailors it based on the skill and interests
of the group. Are you just figuring how to use your new camera? Olaf’s your man. Are you a
serious enthusiast looking to find the best shots on Santorini? Olaf knows the places. It’s a little
expensive but this is a great way to see the island from a number of unique spots. Highly
recommended – but book far in advance.

3. Cable Car from Old Port to Fira


Walk down the stairs to the Old Port, grab a drink, then take the cable car back up (though you
can walk or cable car both ways if you want). From May to October the cable car runs every 20
minutes, 6:30 to 22:00 – a little longer hours in July and August, and a reduced schedule from
November until April. It costs 4€ for adults and 2€ for children.

4. Santorini Winery Tour

Santorini wine is great, the wineries are beautiful, and the people super friendly. It’s a fun and
easy way to see the island away from the caldera. A tour is the best way of exploring more than
one winery.

5. Santorini Helicopter Tour


This is pretty close to unforgettable. A wonderful tour from above of Santorini, the volcano, the
caldera, and all the villages perched along the cliff. If you’re going to Mykonos you can also do
a helicopter transfer between the two islands – which is fun, easy, and way faster than the ferry.

6. Walk the Volcano

The island in the middle of the caldera is Nea Kameni and where you’ll find the island’s active
volcano and the top point of interest in Santorini. The crater is 130 meters up and takes about 20
minutes to walk to. Sulfur vents are found along the way. The only way to get here is by doing
a volcano boat tour or hiring a chartered boat.

7. Ancient Akrotiri
See the ancient village left behind after the devastating volcanic eruption that made the island
uninhabitable. The site is the most interesting historical site on Santorini and very well preserved. I
highly recommend booking a tour guide in advance to show you around the site and discuss the
history of the island, the eruption, and the following destruction. Another option is the
excellent private tour of Akrotiri and 3 Santorini wineries.

8. Outdoor Cinema in Kamari

Family-friendly fun (depending on what’s playing, of course). Watch a movie outside as the sun
sets and the sky grows dark. Wine, beer, and simple snacks available. Movies start around
9:30pm. Sundays and the first and last day of any movie run are the busiest days. I recommend
getting here when the doors open at 8:30 to ensure a seat. There’s a bus stop directly across the
street with buses back to Fira. In summer the last bus should be after the movie is out but check
the schedule to be sure.

9. Sunset, Caldera, and Volcano Boat Tour


You can do both the volcano walk and the hot springs as part of a boat tour. Be sure to get a tour
that takes in the sunset too. There are also tour options to visit Thirassia (a small populated island
that forms part of the caldera ring with Santorini) and Red and Black beach. The boats start from
either Athinios port (where the ferries arrive), the Old Port below Fira (for this you can take the
cable car down), or Ammoudi Bay (below Oia), and most tours offer hotel pickup to get you to the
boat. All the tour companies are legitimate so buy the tour that suits your needs best as far as
timing, interests, and transportation.

10. Swim at Ammoudi Bay

One of the best swimming spots on Santorini is down the cliff from Oia at a spot just south of the
Ammoudi port. Walk or drive to Ammoudi Bay then take the path that leads south from the
restaurants in the port (can’t miss it, there’s only one way to go). It’s a 5 minute walk to a small
island (Agios Nikolaos) that you can swim out to. Then jump from the ledge (if you want).

11. Santorini Fishing Tour


Very professional, very fun fishing tour with lots of hands-on action and a huge lunch. The
daytime/lunch tour is best for most but there’s also a sunset fishing tour if that sounds appealing.

12. Explore the Paths, Alleys, and Stairwells of Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli

This is basically the hike from Fira to Oia but instead of continuing to Oia you can stop in
Imerovigli, explore a little, and turn back around. All 3 towns have beautiful views and are worth a
walk-through.

13. Walk to Skaros Rock


Descend the cliff to the path to Skaros Rock and explore the far side of the outcrop (there’s a little
church hidden on the far side) and climb to the top of the rock if you’re brave enough. Great views
too. The path starts just south of Grace Santorini hotel.

14. Take a Private Tour of Santorini

Find the hidden paths, alleys, beaches, photo shots, amazing villages, and quiet spots all around
the island. All tours are good but there’s something a little extra special about doing a private tour
(if it works with your budget, not cheap).

15. Explore the Paths, Alleys, and Stairwells of Oia

Oia has even more hidden pathways than Fira. Be sure to get off the main path and explore the
magical views you’ll stumble upon. A good place to start is to find the restaurant Lotza then take
the path down the cliff directly to the right of the restaurant.

16. Ancient Thera

Find Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine ruins – and spectacular views – at this ancient island
capital on the top of Messa Vouno mountain. You can hike the steep trail up from Kamari or
Perissa, drive the narrow switchbacky road to the entrance, or hop on the 10€ shuttle from Kamari
below. Expect maximum wind and minimum facilities – there are no bathrooms at the top. 4€
adults, kids free. 8am-3pm Tuesday-Sunday.

17. Ride the Donkeys

Ride the donkeys either from the Old Port up to Fira or from Amoudi Bay up to Oia.
18. Explore the Santorini Countryside

This is one of the advantages of renting a car in Santorini – you can get away from the main towns
and explore the beautiful countryside. The island’s small – you can almost always see the sea –
but there’s lots of farmland (especially in the south) and you can’t drive for very long without
stumbling across a winery.

19. Dinner with a View

The food is often better when you go to a restaurant without a view. But regardless, you have to
have dinner with a view of the caldera at least one night while in Santorini. Mezzois my favorite
restaurant with a view on Santorini. (And these are my favorite restaurants on Santorini.)
20. Kamari Beach

Good swimming (though it’s a pebble-beach) and lots of restaurants. The pedestrian only street
along the beach is fun to walk at night when it gets quite busy.

21. Swim in the Hot Springs

Jump from the boat into the cold water of the caldera then swim towards the warm water of the
volcanic hot springs. It never gets hot but it’s warm enough to never feel the need to get out. The
only way to get to the hot springs is by doing a boat tour.
22. Emporio

On the way to Perissa beach in the south of Santorini you’ll find this magical little town. There’s
almost never any tourists here and though it’s small it’s still plenty big enough to get good and lost
in the tangle of alleyways.

23. Lioyerma Public Swimming Pool

If your hotel doesn’t have a pool this is a good option if you’re staying in Oia – but I don’t think I’d
come all the way from Fira just for the pool. No fee, just buy a drink or some food and you can sit
all day. Nice view. (And has a sunset view too.) This is a great way to finish the Fira to Oia hike.
24. Watch the Sunset in Oia

Bring a bottle of wine and hang out on the cliffs of Oia watching the sun set. It is busy so be
prepared for crowds. Forget about finding a taxi back to Fira or Imerovigli but there are extra
buses waiting for the crowds after the sunset so there’s often no wait. Elinikon is the best Oia
restaurant with views of the sunset.

25. The Seafood Restaurants Of Amoudi Bay

Walk down the stairs from Oia to the Ammoudi Port and find a little port with 4 restaurants serving
ridiculously fresh seafood. All the restaurants are good but Ammoudi Taverna is my favorite. It’s
surprisingly quiet down here and you can usually get away without a reservation.
26. Atlantis Books in Oia

This is a classic little bookstore. Often named as one of the top 10 bookshops in the world. Simply
wonderful. Be sure to support the store and buy something. They also sell a self-made map of
Santorini (worth the 5€) with the staff’s favorite things to do around the island.

27. Museum of Prehistoric Fira

On the main street in Fira this small museum is worth a 45 minute visit. It’s not huge but is
especially interesting if you visit Akrotiri first. A 5-minute walk away is the Megaro Gyzi
museum (near the Catholic church). It’s smaller still but worth a look if you want more Santorini
history. And seeking it out is a good way to see some of the hidden alleys of Fira that you might
otherwise miss.
28. Red Beach

Just down the road from the Akrotiri ruins, Red Beach is the most spectacular and picturesque of
any Santorini beach. From the bus stop or car park it’s about a 15 minute walk into the beach.
(Sometimes closed due to the risk from falling rock, proceed at your own risk.)

29. Lighthouse on Southern Tip of Santorini

The lighthouse is the destination but the draw is the incredible views looking north into the caldera
– very different than the views from Fira or Oia and you can really see the circular nature of the
caldera from this vantage point.
30. Explore the Fishing Villages on East Coast of Island

There are several small villages on the east coast of the island (north of Monolithos) that are worth
a visit. Yalos is one of the better restaurants on the island and a good stop.

31. Take the Boat to Thirassia Island

Thirassia forms the western side of the caldera and was connected to Santorini before the
volcanic eruption. It’s inhabited, has some good tavernas, and is worth the 1€ boat ride to visit.
Boats leave several times a day from Ammoudi and the Old Fira port. Last one back is usually
around 5pm so plan wisely or you’ll be spending the night on the island.
32. Santorini Wine Museum

The winery has a 300 meter long wine cave that shows the history and development of Santorini
wine over the previous 5 centuries. Admission to the museum includes 4 wine tastings from the
Koutsoyannopoulos winery.

33. Art Space Winery

This winery is rarely visited by any tours so you need to visit on your own. It’s a charming mix of
caves, art, and great wine.
34. Perissa & Perivolos Beaches

Perissa is the best swimming beach on Santorini and has the nicest sand. Good restaurants are
spread along the beach front. Tranquillo is the funnest beach bar. Seasideis the best restaurant.
Perissa is about a 30 minute drive from Fira and 45 minutes from Oia. Perivolos Beach is the
southern part of the same stretch of sand but there’s little to distinguish one beach from the other.

35. Jet Ski Tour to Volcano

A fun and unique way of seeing the caldera. There are different tours that go different places – all
leave from Perivolos in the south of the island. The shortest tour (“South Tour”) visits nearby Red
Beach and White Beach and lasts about 90 minutes. The medium-length (“Volcano Tour”, 140
minutes) goes all the way into the caldera and stops for a swim in the hot springs. The longest tour
(“Grand Tour”, 200 minutes) takes the volcano tour and adds Thirassia and Ammoudi Bay. The
tours that go into the caldera are pretty intense and the waves can be big. It’s a taxing activity but
super fun. My son has does the volcano tour when he was 14 and 15 years old and considers it
one of the funnest things we’ve ever done. Email Wavesports to enquire about openings on
required dates: info@wavesports.gr. Staff are friendly and helpful. They also do parasailing,
tubing, and water skiing.

36. Greek Cooking Class

The food in Santorini is amazing. Obviously, it’s easy to enjoy plenty of great food without doing a
tour but the guides are so knowledgeable and the tours so fun it’s really worth doing one. Like any
Santorini tour the odds of doing one and then regretting it are almost zero.

37. Best Dance Bar

The Koo Club is in central Fira and gets going about 11pm.
38. Funnest Bar in Santorini

200 meters south of the Koo Club is the crazy little bar 2 Brothers. If you let the bartender hit you
over the head with a bat (while wearing a helmet) you get a cheap liquor shot. It sounds obnoxious
(and it is) but the saving grace is that everyone here is super friendly and there’s very little attitude.
Good times.

39. Best Greek Bar

If you want to party with the locals (or Greeks from the mainland) then Mamounia is the place. Of
course, being a Greek bar, it doesn’t get busy until after 1pm.
40. Best Singles Bar or Place to Meet Other Travelers

Tropical is one of my favorite bars in Santorini (single or not) and has great views. Friendly staff
and something about the layout make it the best place to meet solo and single travelers.

41. Best Bar in Oia

Hasapiko (also called Mary Kay’s) is a great throwback bar with old timers and tourists sitting
around while the music thumps. A small crowd usually moves about on the tiny dance floor. This is
the only bar in Oia – but great. Gets busy about 10 or 11pm.
42. Best Dessert

You have to try a baklava and ice cream if you’re in Greece. Lotza in Oia serves the best baklava
on the island. (Zotos in Fira has the best gelato on Santorini.)

43. Best Restaurant with Sunset View in Oia

Elinikon is a new restaurant with tons of charm. Delicous small plates that are best shared. Superb
views of the sunset. +30 2286 071994 • elinikon2016@gmail.com
44. Best View of Santorini

Walk up the meandering lanes of Pyrgos (15 minutes south of Fira) to the top of the hill. There
you’ll find a castle, a church, and these marvelous views of the entire island. The 6-Hour Best of
Santorini is an easy way to visit the most interesting Santorini villages (Pyrgos, Oia, and others).

45. Eat Local Farm Food

There are many little farms on Santorini and they produce some wonderful local food. A good way
to experience this is at the rustic Good Heart restaurant (they have their own farm) in south
Santorini (about a 15 minute drive from Fira and easy to find).
46. Best Gyro In Santorini

Many of the gyro and souvlaki shops that target tourists make some pretty average food. Not
Lucky’s. This is the real thing and just as good as anything you’ll find in Athens or mainland
Greece. Lucky’s is on the main street of Fira and a 3 minute walk from the bus station. (Ask
anyone and they’ll point you in the right direction.) Pito Gyros in Oia is also good.

47. Greek Easter

If you happen to be in Santorini for Greek Easter (usually different dates than western Easter) be
prepared for something special. On the night of Easter Friday go to Pyrgos where the whole town
is magically lit with candles. Saturday night be prepared for fireworks (Fira is the best spot to see
them) when the fast ends at midnight. And on Easter Sunday many Greek restaurants will have a
special menu with roasted pork and greek dishes (be sure to reserve a table in advance).

48. Day Trip or Overnight Trip to Ios

The great beaches on Ios and its proximity to Santorini make it the best day trip island from
Santorini … but an overnight trip is better.

49. Most Unique Place To Stay in Santorini


You can stay in this windmill. Really! It’s the Windmills Suite at Golden Sunset Villas in
Oia and it’s pretty incredible. It sits at the tip of Oia where everyone gathers to watch the sunset –
but you have this huge patio with incredible views all to yourself (it can easily fit 20 people if you
had friends staying nearby and wanted to host a sunset party). My wife, 2 kids, and I stayed in the
windmill this past summer and absolutely loved it. There’s a kitchen, full bathroom, 2 “bedrooms”,
and plenty of room. The stairs are steep, narrow, and admittedly, a little tricky. The good news:
there’s only one windmill suite on Santorini. The bad news: there’s only one true windmill suite on
Santorini. – So book early. Free breakfast is included.

50. Best Thing To Do On Final Night in Santorini

The White Door Theatro puts on an unbelievably fun show about a Greek family wedding. There’s
singing, dancing, and a simple storyline. Guests are made to feel part of the wedding party. There
are light snacks and lots of wine. Even my 12 and 15 year old boys thought this was hysterical.
Good fun.