Things To Do In Santorini
Even if you've never been to this Cyclades island in the Aegean Sea, you'd remember it just by seeing it. Santorini has sweet colored houses with blue domes that are cut into steep peaks, turquoise colored water, and shining white structures finished with domed roofs that complement the color of the sky. Here you'll discover peace as you wander on the dark sand shorelines or the roads of a typical village like the Imerovigli.
The outstanding Oia is praised for its sunset which is tinted with every color as if from a skilled painter’s palette. The view from the top of the tower of Skaros Rock is striking and encompasses the islands that make Santorini. The colors of the sky and the sea seem to harmonize with one another while overlooking the volcanic caldera.
When To Go:
The best time to explore the wonders of Santorini is during the fall (September – October), when the climate is warm and the tourists are few. Like the greater part of the Cyclades, most guests come during the mid-year (June to August) or the summer season. You'll have to book your spot no less than two months in advance if you plan to go in these months. The tourist crowds are smaller during spring (November to February), which is the least favorable time to visit. However, before the Easter season (April) a lot of voyagers start returning to this most visited island in Greece.
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For a great variety of things to do, rain or shine, here is a list of the top places to visit while in Santorini:
Amoudi Bay (Oia)
The Amoudi Bay in the district of Oia is the best place to enjoy the sea. Here, the water is crystal clear, unlike other beaches where the sea is often rough with waves. The view of Oia from the bottom and the caldera is also enchanting. Along the way to the Bay, you will pass the harbor which is surrounded by a street of restaurants with fresh fish and fantastic views. It’s a gorgeous place with magnificent landscapes, and a pleasant walk to the lighthouse that offers a beautiful view of the sea and the steep walls of Oia. It has an endearing magical atmosphere, both day, and night. It is a small cove of paradise in enchanted colors.
You can find a small beach at the foot of Oia. There is also a small marina with all the restaurants as well as a path leading to a clearing where you can dive. It has a crystalline sea front and a small island that you can swim to for a fantastic view on Santorini. On the island, there is a church that can be seen only from the sea. The area is often windy so you may want to check the wind conditions first to not experience the nasty surprise of swimming in the rough sea with a strong current. The access is a bit difficult, but the scenes you see along the way make it worth it. There is a chance of not having umbrellas or observation decks as it is a cliff with small places where one could sit. If you prefer to swim, you can dive into the blue sea from a cliff about 7-8 meters high.
Sunset in Oia
The Sunset in Oia is a must see. Oia is a small gem in Greece, but it has this captivating charm where you get lost in the magic of the streets, white houses, and the blue domes. Beautiful glimpses and a charming sunset will make you gasp. You will be able to appreciate it more from other parts of the island (for example Firostefani), as the huge crowds that flock to Oia make you lose a little bit of the magic for that brief moment. You can stroll through the streets to see hundreds of shops and stores that are surrounded by a bright, candid atmosphere and the spectacular view of the blue sea. You will also find lots of places to eat or drink.
Oia is a lovely place, like a parallel dimension. From any point, you can admire the breathtaking landscape, the immensity of the sea, the breeze stirring, white roofs, and even cats that give the island a touch of color and nature. And, of course, you’ll find one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. There's one downside: if you do not arrive on time, you might see only the midnight moon because the crowd is always huge.
What entices tourists to visit this gallery is the bulletin board with creations displayed from above, showing different jewels replicated in an original and simple procedure. It is best to visit the Mnemossyne Gallery and dwell on every little object to admire the simplicity and uniqueness of a ring or a proposed necklace. If you’re on a holiday in Santorini, discover this special place where art and creativity play a fundamental role. The location of the store gallery is fascinating, and its space provides a complete overview of the city that is particularly striking. There are lots of original creations that catch the eye and also captivate you with even the simplest design. The availability and the friendliness of the staff do the rest. If you happen to be in Oia, a visit to this shop and gallery is highly recommended.
Don’t forget to buy a gift as a reminder of the beautiful island. Most tourists prefer having a ring designed with filigree (an intricate metalwork design for jewelry). Part of the great success of the gallery is the cheerful female consultant. The staff is always equipped with a smile and it is this how you will remember the place and its charming and friendly islanders.
Church of Panagia
When in Santorini, it is nice to see the places of worship with the background of the caldera and blue domes. If you’re inside the Church of Panagia, you will see the beautiful bell alleys and lovely views of the ocean. Known as the classical church of the Greek islands, it is not only nice to see it from the outside but also from the inside, where it is painted brightly, typical of Orthodox churches. The interior is decorated with frescoes of sacred images with an abundance of warm colors and the predominance of gold. The exterior reflects the characteristics of other churches on the island. It is located in the main square of Oia and fascinates both local and foreign crowds.
The church is famous for the ancient shrine that is stored here, called the "Sweet kiss of the Virgin". The sacred place is located in a quiet location in a small niche in the middle of the rock. It is the oldest church on the island, a monument from the Byzantine era. Due to the silence and the scent of flowers inside, you will get an indescribable feeling of harmony. The church is situated in a busy area where there are always lots of people, but it is worth a looking at; taking a break from the heat and bustle of the city. The coolness indoors promotes relaxation. Sit and listen to the holy service, as it is very interesting. It is filled with ancient icons and ornaments that are entirely exceptional. It breathes art, tradition and spirituality while calmly nestled in the hills of Santorini.
Skaros Rock (Imerovigli)
In front of the Imerovigli, you will find the promontory of Skaros Rock, a mighty bastion of a rock that once formed the first human settlement organized on this island. The look of the formation from the country (it resembles a tower) is impressive and pushes curious guests to discover it closely. Imerovigli is located on a steep descent next to hotels and it will take about 10 minutes of walking to get to the part that connects the peninsula to the island. Then, after another 10 minutes, you can reach the top without much difficulty as long as you wear sturdy shoes with a good grip on the bottom, such as hiking shoes.
The view from the top of the tower is beautiful and encompasses the islands that make Santorini, with the colors of the sky and the sea, appearing as it one grand picture. It is located between the blue stand of white buildings that are overlooking the caldera. The sunset from here is simply fantastic, but you will definitely need to have flashlights on the way back and be sure to remember the location. It is accompanied by rising water, the path is very exposed to the sun, and the wind is very strong at the top. An alternative to reaching the summit is by taking the saddle leading to a church located on the opposite side of the one addressed to Imerovigli -towards the caldera. It’s a peaceful place of recollection, softly encompassed in the vision of the sea, the port of Santorini and maritime traffic, from a great peak above the ocean.
Choose a sunny and cool day to take a hike to the Santorini Volcano. The view of the volcano is nothing compared to a visit to the volcano and the views on the island, and going around the volcano brings extraordinary pleasure. Only the inhabitants around the volcano can tell you about the full extent of what happened during the eruption of the volcano in the 1950’s. The hike can be long, so put on comfortable shoes and bring enough drinking water. The views are all worth it and you will definitely fall in love with Santorini and yearn to come back here once again once you do.
The island is really bare and there is certainly a lot you can do to make it more beautiful. You can see the top of Oia and Fira and admire Santorini for its beauty and cleanliness. If there is time, turn to Oia and look for the entrances to the houses up and down the streets that offer beautiful pools. It is still something that should be experienced--maybe even more than once--while in Santorini. Otherwise, you can try to spend three / four days enjoying the sea, the Greek meals, sunsets, and nightlife. Travel tip: Arrive early and go up the chairlift. Find a way to get to Oia (you can rent a van for 12 people, totaling 8 Euros each) to admire its landscapes and its houses and then go back to Fira to see it too.
Ancient Thera (Kamari)
The ascent from Kamari to Ancient Thera is pretty steep. The view is spectacular and the entrance fee is 2 Euros. It is a short climb and you can visit the ruins there. There are brochures and signs that will help you mentally rebuild the village. If you want to, you can walk down to Perissa and Kamari and take the boat. The complex of the Ancient Thera on top of the Kamari is spectacular.
The ruins themselves are quite common, but not completely devoid of value. They take on a different aspect if combined with the surrounding landscape. You can admire the scenes from the fifth level, up to the excavations, ranging from the deep blue sea and the mountain behind the villages of Kamari and Perissa, located at the foot of the hill. Be aware that the place is very sunny, and even though it's breezy it is easy to get sunburned, so be sure to bring sunscreen when touring this part of Kamari.
Open Air Cinema Kamari
The Open Air Cinema Kamari is a beautiful outdoor theater with marvelous designs that comes with a rather expensive price (10 Euros). It is an outdoor cinema that is well managed and placed in a Greek theater to allow viewing from all angles. Smoking and non-smoking rooms are also available. Although priced a little higher than any other attractions in Santorini, it is definitely worth the money. There are movies shown in the original language with subtitles in Greek. It is within walking distance from Kamari and is located opposite from the bus stop (Kamari-Fira).
You must arrive at least half an hour before the opening time to secure a seat - before it gets sold out.
The setting is gorgeous and full of lush vegetation and the screen can be nicely seen from the side seats. The best time to visit is in September when the island is not as crowded compared to the high season.Although it is popular and prone to sell-outs, it is a fun and relaxing way to add to your beautiful day at the beach.
Museum of Prehistoric Thera (Fira)
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera (Fira) is small and takes less than an hour to visit. The exhibits are very unique and come mostly from Akrotiri. Frescoes such as those of the house of the Lord, or one that demonstrates the trade with Africa can be found here. You’ll also find papyri and blue monkeys, stone and alabaster vases, bronzes, ceramics and the elegant statue of a goat.
This museum is located in Fira (Santorini's capital) and collects the exhibits (amphorae, ornaments, murals, etc.) found in the ancient archeological site of Akrotiri. If you are interested in the history of the island, a visit to this prehistoric museum is a must.
Akrotiri Archaeological Site
The Akrotiri Archaeological Site has the remains of some walls and amphora. Even though it is not in perfect condition, for those who like to feel the charm of walking in a place so rich in history, it is worth a visit. It has a covered structure (you can even visit it during the hottest part of the day) with explanations in English. You should go there in the morning in order to have time for everything. Unfortunately, the visit does not come with a guide to explain the history of the archeological site. Nevertheless, it's still worth seeing its excavated artifacts.
Everyone knows that Santorini is a volcanic island and that its half-moon shape was caused by the collapse of a large caldera after a terrifying eruption. This was probably also the cause of the decline of the Minoan civilization in nearby Crete due to a tsunami. The volcano is still there and has remained in slumber for many centuries. It is located facing the sea in the form of a first outcrop called "old burnt", as well as a newer one. A visit by boat, when you're here, is a must.
Santorini is a must-see place to visit in Greece; besides seeing the most impressive vistas, tourist sites, idyllic beaches, and natural pools, you will enjoy getting to know its fascinating culture and hospitable locals.
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