Want to know the best things to do in Santorini, Greece? I am Greek and I will present you with my top recommendations and how to avoid the tourist scams!
As soon as the ship enters the port of Santorini, a revitalizing air blows, deleting all the meanings that ravage your mind, welcoming you to the ultimate island of love!
I spent 1 week in the whole Santorini and it was as incredible as you’d expect. This Greek island was made famous by its natural beauty and the incredible sunsets.
Thira is the capital of the island. It is the heart of the island.
During summer, it’s densely populated, with traffic from motorbikes, cars, and pedestrians mashing together in a chaotic flow. A few residents informed me that during July and August is Chaos!
Coming here during May we were very lucky as it is considered the low season and it was very comfortable to go around. We stayed in the Village of Karterados, a small one just 20 minutes walk from Thira centre. We were staying was at a Villa with an en suite bathroom, AC, good WiFi for the grand total of $30/night (Villa Pelekanos)
Generally, Santorini is expensive. On the low season though, you can still find good prices. A meal at a restaurant will cost you around $20, drinks included. As a Vegan, you have the bonus that dishes are less expensive. A hotel room outside Fira and OIA $35 – $50 / night. If you decide to stay in Thira or OIA, please double or triple that price, especially in OIA. Regarding car rental from $35 – $45 / day and the bus ticket costs $2 one way.
The people in Santorini are incredibly friendly and accommodating.
If you’re looking to escape from your routine and experience the hospitality, here are 15 unforgettable experiences you must have while in Santorini.
1) Watch the Sunset
It emerged after the eruption of the volcano, gave millions of tourists small and big erotic moments, stole the impressions with the most beautiful sunset in the world, it is the island of Santorini and requires its visitor to fall in love, admire it and return quickly into her romantic straits! The ultimate destination for all couples in love!
And if none of these things suck you, Santorini will show you the secret weapon at dusk! He will take you by the hand and lead you to Oia, moments before sunset, and there he will let you contemplate the endless horizon stretching out in front of you with a fiery red sun sinking somewhere deep in the Aegean! The Aegean loses its blue coloration and gets a red hue, like the volcanic lava that created it! A mystery that you have never experienced before, the sunset of Santorini will bind you forever on the island
What happens in Santorini when the sun sets?
Dozens of people sitting on terraces and terraces admire silently one of the most rare spectacles on earth, filled with awe for the greatness they face. Everyone is eager to admire the sunset, climb even in the most unlikely places to have the best view and eventually break out in applause as soon as the sun is lost! Of course, they also make an appointment for the next afternoon!
Places to watch the sunset
–> At the edge of the breathtaking Caldera in OIA. Arrive early before 7 pm – Better avoid coz gets super crowded!
–> Skaros Rock at Imerovigli,
–> Cafe del Mar in Fira,
–> Akrotiri Lighthouse,
–> Franco’s cafe bar in Pyrgos Village,
–> Santorini’s alleys. Narrow alleys with typical restaurants and bars, hidden spots, windmills and white houses.
–> Katharos Lounge Restaurant in OIA.
2) Do not miss the Sunrise!
While the sunrise is considered the most spectacular in the whole world sorry but I prefer the absolute calmness of just watching the sun rise over the island.
3) Swim at one of the best beaches of Santorini (Kamari,Perissa, Perivolos, Vlychada)
Kamari with its impressive black sand and crystal-clear waters. Perissa is a popular and populated beach united with Perivollos beach. It is organized with umbrellas and beach beds, it has a water park, a diving center, and other water sports facilities.
Vlychada beach is super impressive, as the geological formations of the rocks are very dramatic as the long beach unfolds in front of your eyes.
4) Visit the Akrotiri and Ancient Akrotiri
Akrotiri is the most southern settlement of the island. The view from here is stunning! Ancient Akrotiri is covered by bioclimatic roof and walkways are suspended above the remains. Visitors can walk through them. A unique experience!
5) Take a Yoga Class
The most popular yoga facility is in Karterados island in Caveland. Veronica is the Yoga Teacher and runs classes every Tuesday and Thursday. The yoga terrace is outdoors, it is sheltered from the strong sun and has a great view of Fira town, Karterados village, and Aegean sea. Karterados is about 5 minutes drive/20 min walk from Fira town. I had 1 day Hatha yoga here and I highly recommend the class.
6) Visit Megaro Gizi
The story of Santorini in 4 walls! Incredibly thoughtful and prestigious building. Very interesting exhibits for the lovers and not of history. “There in the heart of the capital of Santorini island, in the Catholic district of Fira-town there is an old traditional winery at the stone walls of which, paintings, engravings, and sculptures are exhibited while music ensembles fill the air with sounds from all over the world, from past to modern time”
7) Hike for Fira to OIA
A unique destination, such a path constantly on the most beautiful balcony of the Aegean for a distance of 10 km you can not find anything just perfect. Do it with good athletics or trekking boots. The whole route has natural beauty unique if you exclude the excessive display of wealth and unnecessary opiate.
The best time to start is very early in the morning (I started at 5.30 am). The sooner the better. If you manage to be here at sunrise, you will feel the magic. The morning dew will make the trip very enjoyable and you will be at your destination early to have a coffee overlooking the caldera. When you are walking a place, you are tied to it and you learn its secrets, whatever your steps you are doing.
8) Eat Delicious Vegan Food
Santorini’s authentic Vegan Cusine it’s mouthwatering! The island has a few traditional Greek Food ones.
–> Tomatokeftedes – “Meat” Balls
Those round flatten balls are made from the small thick-skinned tomato. These cherry tomatoes tend to be disappeared. Only one factory is still working. Tourism replaced the production of it. It is unlikely that you would find similar tomatoes anywhere else in Greece. What makes them unique is that are waterless and that they keep all the sweetness inside. This product has come from Italy at the time when the island was owned by the Venetians.
You can find them, in every Restaurant in Santorini and they are absolutely delicious!!!! I couldn’t resist to eat them every day.
Just make sure that does NOT contain fish. In a few places, they add fish on the mix.
–> Fava (Broad Beans)
Other than the traditional ones mentioned below here you find a full list of Vegan choices around the Island.
9) Have a massage with Kasia Sitarz.
Massage services in the comfort of your home/ hotel/ villa by a certified massage therapist.
Kasia has in-depth knowledge of her work as she attends annual alternative treatment’s courses all over the world in order to expand her horizonsand achieve the best possible results her my massage therapies sessions based on a holistic approach of the body and mind.
*All the products used in my therapies are organic.
10) Visit Pyrgos Village early morning
Pyrgos, the old capital of Santorini, is a village in the mainland of the island, Pyrgos was built on the highest point of the island, on the slope of Mount Profitis Ilias, the highest point of the island. Until 1800 it was the capital of the island.
In the center of the village is the medieval castle that still preserves the characteristics of the Venetian Empire, with the Byzantine churches, medieval houses, and castles, churches that create a strong sense of power and prosperity. the Castle is preserved in a very good condition, with the houses amphitheatrically built around it. It is worth visiting the monastery of Prophet Elias, one of the oldest churches of Santorini, probably from the 10th century.
Climb up the mountain! There are both road journeys and paths to the top. See the view from the monastery. It’s pretty impressive. The monastery itself is usually closed, but on rare occasions, you can visit it. If you walk on foot, you can take a path down the other side of the mountain to Kamari or Perissa, and see Ancient Thira along the way.
11) Buy books from Atlantis Bookstore in OIA.
Atlantis Books opened in the spring of 2004 with the hope of bringing great art, literature, and conversation to one of the most beautiful environments in the world. We host writers and artists if they promise to make our place a little more interesting. One of the most beautiful bookstores! It is worth a visit even if you are in Oia! The bookstore is like a fairy story. Well done to Oliver and Craig!
12) Visit Ammoudi Bay
The second port of Oia. It goes down a stone-built path, but the climbing up is quite challenging. Avoid during hot times. Better choice of car as there is asphalt up there, but difficult parking in the summer. However, the harbor is very picturesque, on the water, with the rock of Oia on the back. Enjoy the path that crosses the settlement to the other side, where the brave ones can also swim. There is also the possibility of diving from the rocks, but it needs attention. Check first well why the waters are not as deep as they look like. The colors, however, are awesome! There are good beggars if you want, but be prepared because you are always Santorini!
Here you will also a few taverns to enjoy your lunch or dinner. Do not worry about Vegan food. You will definitely fond Fava and Tomatokeftedes as I mentioned above. Plus every Greek has Vegan Traditional foods. Read this on how to eat as a Vegan in Greece.
13) Visit Faros Products Market
What a unique experience! Experience the traditional market ‘’Faros’’ with its unforgettable tasty memories.
At the Southwestern tip of Santorini island, you will find a family store, where you can relish a wide variety of local products and wine. They are members of a living and actively involved three generations of agricultural family, so their homemade products are prepared with tender love & care, without any additives or preservatives, following their traditional recipes out of our organic cultivated farm, where no fertilizers or pesticides are used on the island’s unique and reach in minerals dry, volcanic ash soil.
During your visit to the market you will savor samples of various products while relating to you the cultivation methods, and practices they apply for the production of local Fava, baby tomatoes, wild capers, wild herbs, grapes and fresh or dry preserved fruits.
Maria is a beautiful lady and a wonderful hostess. Fava beans and homemade sprays are so delicious. Try the leaves of the boar if you never tried it.
14) Visit the Red Beach
Very nice beach, unique beauty. Before going down to the beach get water, coffee from the canteen next to the chapel in the parking lot. It has very good prices canteen and fresh juices made from fresh fruit selected by the customer! The beach does not have sunbeds umbrellas so be aware of the timing. From time to time a few rocks falling off so be aware.
15) Visit Fira and OIA town.
Fira is the capital of the island, the place with the most gathered shops for food, drink, ride, fun. Visit the day and night so you can compare the view. There are 3 parking spaces in Fira, leave your car in one of them and walk. The view of the caldera is unique. Fira also has the museum of prehistoric times, if you have time and mood to visit to understand the history of Thira.
The other option is to follow the path that is along the caldera to Firostefani and Imerovigli. On the way, you will find several cafes to sit down to enjoy the view but also the different angles of the caldera. Cruise ships, Thirasia islands, New and Old Kameni and of course the sea and the caldera form a beautiful scenery. Ascending to Imerovigli can be tedious if the day is summer with a lot of sun. When you arrive in Imerovigli and after wandering, you can walk to the rock that is seen from all sides and where is the chapel of Theoskepasti.
Oia is located at the northwest end of the caldera, opposite the island of Thirasia. Though far less than Fira, its colors and narrow alleys are unique. It offers a different view of the caldera and of course the famous sunset. The only bad thing is that 1-2 hours before the sunset fills up with a lot of people who have come almost exclusively for this. If you want to explore it, prefer a quieter time. At the edge of the settlement is the famous place where most people gather for the sunset, the reminiscent of a castle. If you want to feel like being a tourist on Santorini, be equipped with a camera and you are ready!
Below Oia is the picturesque bay of Ammoudi that I mentioned above. If one wants to stay up late and see the sunset, another unique experience.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Dress comfortable with light clothing and comfortable shoes, you will walk a lot!
- Don’t forget your sunscreen,
- How to Get to Santorini: with a direct flight to Santorini (only from within Europe at the moment) or with a direct flight to Athens, Greece and then a 5hrs/8hrs ferry or a direct 1hr flight from Athens to Santorini (read the detailed guide),
- Santorini has become super popular and if you want to visit during June, July and August you must get prepared for high prices and not available in hotels. It’s better to book your hotel prior to traveling. During May, you can easily find accommodation while you arrive on the island. Just check a few hotels online, call them for availability. Plus do not forget to negotiate the price,
- Where to Stay in Santorini: for the famous views stay in Oia, Fira (the capital town), Imerovigli, Firostefani – way more expensive, but for being closer to the beaches stay in Perissa, Perivolos or Kamari. An excellent affordable idea is to stay in Karderados village, just 20 mins walk for Fira center.
- When is the best time of the year to visit Santorini: June, July, and August are super crowded so better go in May or September when it’s still summer weather but slightly less crowded,
- What’s the best advice you can give me for Santorini: Rent a car or a scooter! Santorini is quite a small island and you can go from one place to the other, at maximum 25 minutes. The prices for a car, during May, was very affordable. Just 30 Euros/day (During May).
- Driving: Roads on the island are very well maintained and easy to drive around. Just be aware of the big public buses and the black tourist ones. In addition, do not forget your GPS or google map! There are not so clear signs on the main roads and small streets. Also no traffic lights outside main towns.
- Public transportation: Very affordable at 1.80-2.40 euro/way depends on the area of your visit. Buses are very well maintained and go to the popular areas of Santorini but not on some hidden gems. Bear in mind that often get super crowded and you don’t have any seat.
- Affordable food: Visit the villages and not the main towns as Fira and Oia. Oia especially is SUPER expensive!
- If you are raw Vegan, supermarkets have an excellent variety of fruit, vegetables, and nuts, at good prices.
- If you really want to experience the real Santorini, visit the villages, talk to locals and experience the popular Thira and OIA during very early in the morning.
Are you visiting another place in Greece? Here you will find a guide about Greek foods and what to know before your Greek trip.
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