Everyone wants to visit Santorini – it’s the stuff European travel dreams are made of! If you follow our instructions for things to do in Santorini, this could be the trip of a lifetime. Here are our top 3 tips for what to do on your Santorini vacation.
But before we start, if you’re arriving to Santorini island via ferry, make sure you coordinate a taxi driver or shuttle before you arrive. When you get off the ferry, it’s chaotic, people are everywhere, it’s hot, and you’ll want to get out of that sweaty mess as soon as humanly possible!
1. Sunsets and Tourism
I still have dreams about the breathtaking sunsets on Santorini island. This is definitely a top thing to do in Santorini, but it’s also a top thing to do for literally everyone else on the small island.
You need to prepare for the foot traffic. First, make a dinner reservation for after you watch the sunset. Otherwise you will be fighting for availability with everyone else.
Once you have reservations, make your way to your sunset location early. How early? As early as possible! You can go into the town of Oia (white buildings with blue rooftops) like everyone else, or you could go on the trail a little bit outside of the city.
Santorini has a walking trail above the cliffs that go from one end of the island to the other. There, you can enjoy an unobstructed, crowdless view of the sunset. If you’re looking for a place to stay, we recommend 270 Oias View. It has lovely family-style living quarters right on the hiking trails, and is walking distance into the city.
After the sunset goes down, take your time getting to your restaurant reservations because it’s going to be crowded (depending on where you decided to watch the sunset). Keep in mind that every time cruise ships are parked on the coast of the island, you’re probably going to fight large crowds and foot traffic.
2. The Beach
The best beaches in Santorini are on the southeast side of the island. I recommend visiting Wet Stories Beach Bar.
There aren’t many beaches where you can just put down your towel for free. But it’s worth paying to have a comfortable spot on the sand, along with working restrooms and staff bringing you beverages. There is also other entertainment available, like a DJ and beach volleyball.
3. The History
Did you know Santorini island was once a huge volcano that erupted in 1500 BC? The eruption is one of the largest recorded eruptions on earth.
How about the name of Santorini island? Did you know the island has taken many names over the years? The name “Santorini” references Saint Irene, the name of an old church in the city of Perissa. Before Santorini, the name of the island was Kalliste (“the most beautiful one”), then Strongyle (“the circular one”). And the official name of the island is actually Thira.
To learn more, I recommend visiting the ancient ruins to get more familiar with the transformation of this volcanic island.