The Greek island of Santorini is a popular destination, known almost exclusively for its stunning views of the sunset. However, this island has more to offer than a glowing orange sky. Santorini is (roughly) only 23 square miles, but there many options out there to maximize your visit. Here are the top 8 things to do while visiting the island.
1. Cliff Jumping At Kamari Beach
Santorini is full of beaches, and Kamari is one of the most popular. While Kamari may be an extremely crowded tourist destination, it’s also the perfect spot for a little bit of adventure. At the south end of the beach there are cliffs that lend the perfect opportunity to free fall into the bright blue ocean.
2. Ancient Thera
Just up the mountain from Kamari and named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, there is an ancient city originally inhabited in the late 9th century BC through 726 AD. Accessible by foot (or by car up an impressive set of switchbacks) this is a must-see for history buffs. It is not a free destination, but it’s one of a kind!
3. Wine Tasting
With half a dozen wineries on this small island, you're sure to find the perfect bottle to enjoy at sunset. Be sure to try a variety of wines, and pair them with some delicious treats like stuffed vine leaves! Domaine Sigalas, a winery on the north side of the island, is a short drive from both Fira and Oia, ensuring you a quick route back to catch the sunset.
4. Beach Hopping
Let’s be honest, you are in Greece for the beautiful oceans and its equally alluring beaches. Kamari beach may be the island’s most popular, but it’s not the only beach and each one has its own distinct flair. If you are looking for some privacy, the northeast shore offers a series of small beaches, frequented mostly by locals. Red Beach is unique beach colored red from lava rock. White Beach is right next to Red Beach, but boasts stark white cliffs. Check out this handy beach guide for more info!
5. Volcano Hiking
Nestled inside the crescent of the main island lies Nea Kameni, Santorini’s famed volcano. Hike the volcanic countryside, experience hot springs, or even hop over to the neighbor island of Thirasia.
6. Retail Therapy
Santorini is a gold mine for those who enjoy a bit of shopping. Oia houses anything from handmade crafts, to fine art, to designer handbags. Don’t spend all your time on one street either, because every corner offers something a little bit different. Looking for some reading material? Check out Atlantis Books, a quaint book shop in Oia.
7. Seaside Dining
Vacation is for eating, and Greek vacations are for eating well. Surrounded by water, it’s only fitting that Santorini offers a miscellany of fresh seafood. Step outside your comfort zone and head to Amoudi, just below Oia, for an ocean-side meal of swordfish or calamari!
Alright, you’ve had a busy day. You really should relax and watch the sunset. The two best places to watch are from Oia, where the sun sets directly into the ocean in a glorious ball of fire, and Fira, where it sets directly over the caldera. Both are breathtaking and you will come to understand the hype.
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, look into booking your stays on Airbnb. You may not get the 5 star, cliff-side hotel, but you just might get an affordable, remarkable experience staying in a hillside village. It’s not often that you are hanging out on a beautiful Greek island, so be sure to make the most of it!
Want more? There are plenty of destinations small in size but packed with potential.
(All photos by the author)