Millions of people go to Santorini every year, and they don’t just come for the views. They come for the history, culture, and fun. In this guide, I’ll be telling you everything you need to know about Santorini.
Table of Contents
1. Best things to do in Santorini
- Fira to Oia Hike
- Other towns
- Kamari Open Air Cinema
- Volcano Cruise
2. Where to Stay In…
3. Best Restaurants In…
4. How to Get Around By…
5. How To Get to Santorini by…
Best Things to do in Santorini
Fira is the biggest town and capital of Santorini. This town has many things to do and is one of the most active towns in Santorini. Also, buses stop here very frequently, so it’s easy to get around. You can see amazing caldera views from almost everywhere in the town. Firostefani is another town just north of Fira. It is a good place to be if you want to be close to the action but in a more sleepy town instead, since it is only a 15 minute walk from Fira.
Oia is probably the most famous town on Santorini. It is much like Fira, since it’s on the caldera, but Oia is smaller and less crowded. But, especially when sunset comes, Oia becomes packed. Many of the best hotels are here, and if you go to Santorini, you’ll want to make sure to at least spend one day in this town. Oia is at the northern tip of the island.
Fira to Oia Hike
The hike from Fira to Oia is a must-do in Santorini. The trail starts in Fira, behind the Atlantis Hotel in the middle of town. You could always to the Oia to Fira hike, but most people like it better to go to Oia, because it is amazing to see the little white houses in the distance. Make sure to start out your hike in the early morning or late afternoon, just don’t go too late, because the hike takes about three hours. And make sure not to go in the middle of the day, since the sun is horrible if you do that.
When there’s a fork in the path, unless you want to visit a town to get water or food, opt for the left trail, because that’s the one that’ll continue on the caldera, so you don’t have to walk through the bustling towns. After you finish the hike, a good thing to do is to cliff jump in Ammoudi Bay in Oia.
Imerovigli is a town on the caldera right between Oia and Fira. On the Fira to Oia hike, you will pass through this town. Imerovigli has the best caldera and sunset views in Santorini, according to many people. Imerovigli is a good base if you want to stay right in the middle of Fira and Oia, but you may want to have a car if you go there, even though the bus system is pretty great. Great hotels are in Imerovigli as well.
The beaches in Santorini are different compared to the other beaches in Greece. Since Santorini is a volcanic island, it doesn’t have the soft golden sand many of the beaches in Greece are famous for, Santorini has many different colors of sand. Here are some famous beaches:
Red Beach: It’s what it says it is: a red beach. The beach is in the town of Akrotiri, on the southern tip of the island and it is shrouded by ocher cliffs.
Kamari Beach: A long, black sanded beach. It is one of the most visited in Santorini.
Perissa Beach: Just south of Kamari, this beach is also long and black sanded.
White Beach: This beach does not have white sand, but the cliffs around are white, so that’s where it gets its name. This beach is next to Red Beach.
Monolithos: Monolithos is a black sand beach, but the sand almost seems a bit gray, like ashes.
Akrotiri is the most visited historical site in Santorini. Thousands of years ago, there was a volcanic eruption that created Santorini’s caldera and covered the town of Akrotiri in ash. Much like Italy’s Pompeii, you can now see the remains of Akrotiri from so long ago.
Fira, Oia, and Imerovigli aren’t the only towns on Santorini. There are so many others like:
Kamari: This town has the famous Kamari Beach, but it doesn’t have any caldera views, since it is on the other side of the island.
Perissa: Perissa has Perissa Beach. It is a fun little town to be in to look around and just relax.
Pyrgos: Pyrgos is a little town. It is some historical sites like Pyrgos Castle, but if you came here, you would come for its sleepy feel and narrow, cobbled streets.
Emporio: Emporio is a larger town in the south. It is a lot like Pyrgos.
Kamari Open Air Cinema
One of the best things to do in Greece is to visit an open air cinema. There is one in Kamari. The movies start at 8:30 PM, so it is fun to watch a movie and look at the stars. The cinema also serves food. The line can be long, and there is a first come, first serve policy, so you may want to come and stand in line some time before the doors open.
Another fun thing to do in Santorini is the do the volcano cruise. Many, like this are small group tours, but others, like this one, are private cruises. Most boat trips take you to some beaches to swim and snorkel at, like Red Beach and White Beach, and then they take you to the hot springs for a quick swim and the volcano. Many times the trip ends in Oia to watch the sunset.
Where to Stay In…
I’ll be listing some budget, mid-range, almost luxury, and luxury hotels in Fira. But, remember that this is Santorini, so things will be more expensive.
City Break Hotel– Hotel in the middle of Fira with comfortable rooms and a short walk to many sites.
Platia– Adult only hotel in the center of Fira. There are many shops and restaurants around.
San Marino Suites By Calm Collection– Hotel a short walk out of Fira with sea views and great pools, some rooms have private pools and hot tubs.
Uma Ray Suites– Hotel in the center of Fira with pools and modern design.
Iriana Suites– Hotel with private hot tubs and pools, and there’s included breakfast. Many rooms have a caldera view. One of the best value for money hotels in Fira.
Hotel Thireas– This hotel has rooms with caldera views and terraces. There is also a great breakfast.
Alta Vista Suites– This hotel is in Firostefani, located a ten minute walk from Fira, making it a quiet but still close to the action location to be in. The hotel has a wonderful free breakfast, a breathtaking infinity pool overlooking the caldera, and big, comfortable rooms that have really amazing caldera views. This is one of my favorite hotels in Santorini.
Athina Luxury Suites– One of the most prominent hotels in Fira, with amazing caldera views and big, clean rooms. There is also free breakfast and a pool.
Celestia Grand– This hotel is away from the crowds of Fira, so you can still be near the city, but not be near it at the same time. This hotel has caldera views and pools.
Homeric Poems Hotel– This hotel, located in Firostefani, is famous for its caldera views. The rooms are traditionally made and it is nicely decorated. The breakfast is known to be excellent. Some of the rooms have private pools overlooking the caldera.
Celestia Grand Hotel
Budget: As far as I know, there aren’t very many.
Ether Sunset Oia– Hotel in Oia with a pool and sea and sunset views.
Enalion Suites– Hotel a ten minute walk from Oia with an optional $17 breakfast.
Oia Collection Hotel– Hotel with amazing caldera views and big rooms.
Clio’s Dream Villa– Villa with great caldera views and hot tubs.
Canaves Oia– Amazing hotel that has ocean views, private pools, included breakfast, and it is close to the center of Oia. This is one of the best hotels in Santorini, but also one of the most expensive.
Katikies Hotel Santorini- The Leading Hotels of the World– Katikies is also known as one of the best hotels in Santorini. They have a wonderful restaurant, but there are only four tables, so book early! There are also many swimming pools that have really incredible views out to the caldera. The hotel has an amazing breakfast and you can also get a room with a private plunge pool.
Budget: Not many budget options.
Luna Rossa– Apartments with sea or caldera views and comfortable rooms.
Casa Bianca– Hotel with free breakfast and a pool. Some rooms have an ocean view.
Heliotopos– Hotel with included breakfast and amazing caldera views.
Amber Light Villas– Amazing hotel with included breakfast, great caldera views, and private hot tubs and pools. It is one of the best value for money hotels in Imerovigli.
Cavo Tagoo Santorini– Hotel with caldera views, included breakfast, private hot tubs and pools, and rooms house up to four people.
Absolute Bliss Hotel– Adult only hotel with the best caldera views in Imerovigli, great breakfast, and private hot tubs and pools.
Aqua Mare Luxury Suites– Private pools, included breakfast, incredible caldera views, and modern rooms.
Astra Suites– Astra Suites makes it to the top ten best hotels in Santorini almost every time. It has amazing pools that have views of the caldera, a wonderful breakfast, a Mediterranean gourmet restaurant, and beautiful rooms.
(Other hotels in Imerovigli are: Grace Hotel, which is known as one of the best hotels, Iconic Santorini, which is known for its views, and Santorini Princess Spa Hotel, which is known for having probably the best sunset in Imerovigli. )
Akis Hotel– Comfortable, affordable rooms with city views and in the center of Kamari.
Acqua Vatos Santorini Hotel– Hotel in the middle of Kamari with an amazing big pool and modern rooms.
Aegean View Hotel– Hotel with included breakfast and ocean views.
Hotel Sunshine– Modern hotel with amazing sea views and included breakfast. One of the best value for money hotels in Kamari.
Kamari Beach Hotel– Beachfront hotel with included breakfast. Some rooms have sea views.
Costa Grand Resort and Spa– Modern Hotel right on Kamari Beach. Some rooms have a great sea view.
Santorini Kastelli Resort– Hotel with included breakfast and gardens. There are also large pools.
Costa Grand Resort and Spa
Best Restaurants In…
Breakfast: Galini Cafe– The cafe serves great food and there are also amazing views.
Lunch: Rakadiko MeRaki– Traditional Greek Restaurant; if you asked a local where to eat, they would lead you here.
Dinner: Argo Restaurant– Amazing restaurant with superb food and incredible caldera views.
Dessert: Solo Gelato– Some of the best gelato in Fira.
Breakfast: Melenio– Cafe with amazing coffee, tea, and cakes in the middle of Oia.
Lunch: Armeni Restaurant– Restaurant with amazing food. It is located in Ammoudi Bay, right by the water.
Dinner: Lycabettus Restaurant– Amazing restaurant with great caldera views. It is expensive, but most agree that its worth it. Just remember to reserve very early.
Dessert: Lolita’s Gelato– Known as the best gelato place in Oia
Breakfast: Confetti Dessert Boutique– Great Cafe with lots of French options like crepes and macaroons.
Lunch: Avocado Restaurant– Family run restaurant in Imerovigli that has delicious food.
Dinner: The Athenian House– Restaurant overlooking the ocean and caldera, with great food. One of the most famous restaurants in Santorini.
Dessert: I recommend Confetti Dessert Boutique for dessert as well.
The Athenian House
Breakfast: JuiceMe– Great juice and breakfast cafe in the center of Kamari.
Lunch: Soul By Splash– Amazing restaurant in the middle of Kamari right on Kamari Beach.
Dinner: Fistikies– Nice traditional restaurant with amazing food.
Dessert: Milopetra Bakery– Bakery with delicious cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.
Soul By Splash Restaurant
How To Get Around Santorini By…
The Santorini bus system is very good. The main hub for all the buses is Fira, since it’s the capital. Buses go to Akrotiri, Oia, Kamari, Perissa, Imerovigli, and a lot of other towns.
The buses in the Athinios Port
If you wanted to, you could rent a car in Santorini. Maybe, if you stayed in a smaller town, you would get one, but really, you should just use the buses. Since Santorini is a hilly island, the narrow roads can be tough to navigate. But, getting a car won’t make your vacation worse, in fact, it probably will make it better, because you don’t need to wait for a bus.
How to Get to Santorini By…
The most common way to get to Santorini is by ferry. All the ferries arrive in the Fira port. Going on a ferry is a great experience, since you can see the caldera from below.
Another way to get to Santorini is by plane, and of course, this is quicker than a ferry. Santorini has an international airport, so you can get here from many places in the world. When you take a plane to Santorini, you also get to enjoy a beautiful view of the caldera and some of the towns.
Hopefully you learned a lot about Santorini and know what to do if you go there.