Everyone wants to visit Santorini – it’s the stuff European travel dreams are made of! If you follow our tips for Santorini, this could be the trip of a lifetime.
American Living in Germany: Know Before You Go
Whenever you leave Germany, you need to bring your tourist passport. While your SOFA passport allows you to live in the country, it doesn’t give you the same rights as an EU citizen!
Don’t know the difference between your SOFA and tourist passport? Check out my PCS to Germany guide!
Also, Santorini is a popular travel destination, especially in the summer. As a result, the island isn’t just packed with people visiting for a few days – it also means that cruise ships will dock here daily. So be ready for the crowds!
And if you visit 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!
The 3 Best Things to Do in Santorini
Honestly, you could simply sit in front of the same cafe all weekend and the trip could still be your favorite vacation. It’s just such a beautiful place to be!
1. The Sunsets
It almost doesn’t seem fair for the sunset to be one of the best Santorini attractions, but I still have dreams about them. And while I recommend it as a top thing to do in Santorini, 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.
Pro tip: Eat the seafood! This is an island in the Mediterranean – why wouldn’t you try the local fish? Eat on the balcony of Naos for an incredible fine dining experience with breathtaking views!
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 sun goes down, take your time getting to your restaurant reservations because it’s going to be crowded (depending on where you 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. It has a dreamy and luxurious atmosphere that really elevates your vacation!
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, USB plugs, and staff bringing you beverages. There’s 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Santorini
Still have questions about where to stay in Santorini or what to do? Let me know in the comments!
I know what you want: that perfect Instagram shot of your Greek vacation. 270 Oia’s View has what you need! This residence on the north side of the island is a beautiful accommodation inside and out. If you want to stay on the south side, Apanemo is a good choice as well. If you have the budget for a more luxurious stay, Astra Suites is another good option.
It really depends on what you want from your beach experience! The best beach bars (like Wet Stories) are in the southeast. The beaches on the south end or in the east don’t have as many amenities, but they’re great for just relaxing (like Red Beach pictured above). If you want to go for a swim, head up north around Oia. The beaches are pebbly, which means the water is super clear! Check out Playa de Baxedes and Vourvoulos Beach for long stretches of open space or walk down to Paralia Katharos which is the closest beach from the main city of Oia.
Add These Santorini Activities to Your List