Things to do in Santorini: Attractions and places to visit

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The picturesque island of Santorini belongs to the small Greek archipelago in the southern Aegean Sea. It is also known by the name Santorini, which derives from the Italian Santa Irene. Today, beaches with black and red sand as well as the striking rock relief remind us of their origin from volcanic lava and the consequences of the severe volcanic eruption many years ago.

Santorini has a few particularly charming towns such as Oia. A city on cliffs, which offers besides a breathtaking view with postcard motive character many other interesting places. The ancient Thera archaeological site takes visitors on a historical journey through time and Santorini has a spectacular sunset for romantics.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights on Santorini.

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1. Capital Fira with cathedral

The city itself is a sight in itself. The fantastic play of colours consisting of lush green palm trees, snow-white buildings with the typical blue roofs and the black crater rim make it a visual highlight. The landmark, the cathedral, can be seen from all over the city.

After the earthquake in 1956 it was reached again directly at the Kratergasse and is a real magnet for visitors. From the outside, the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist with its colourful bell tower is an imposing sight. Your interior decorates elaborately beautiful murals.

2. Excavations in ancient Alt-Thera

On a promontory in the east of Santorini lies the ancient town of Thera. It is assumed that the first settlement took place before the 9th century. This is indicated by the remains discovered in the 6th and 7th centuries. The church of Agios Stephanos is located directly at the entrance of the excavation site on the ridge of Mesavouno. It was built from the remains of a princely basilica.

The scenic building and the orchestra of the Ptolemaic Theatre are still clearly visible today. Further ruins such as those of the Dionysos Temple or the garrison grammar school provide insights into the former settlement life. The buildings made of the limestone of the mountain create a striking contrast to the familiar Santorini.

3. Sunset in Oía

Those who have already seen some catalogue photos, documentations or postcards from Santorini will surely have already met the locality Oía in the north of the island. The old seafaring village has long since become one of Santorini’s best-known sights and is a delight with its Cycladic architecture and lots of charm – even if it can get very crowded on some days.

But it is not only the snow-white flat-roofed houses with blue doors and shutters that have made Oia so famous. Deliveries of goods through the narrow, winding lanes are still climbed by mule today. Every evening at sunset in Oía it gets tricky – the atmosphere is breathtakingly beautiful! The best spots are in the west of the village, e.g. at the old Lontza Kastel.

4. Caldera, the cauldron of the volcano

The Caldera is something very special for Santorini connoisseurs. However, many people cannot imagine anything precise under this term. In short, this name stands for the cauldron of the former volcano. Even thousands of years ago, eruptions caused the western edge of the volcano to sink into the sea.

What is impressive, however, is the fact that the arched port of Santorini is in fact a volcanic crater filled with water. A walk along the caldera is one of the most beautiful sights on Santorini. The most popular route runs from Fira via Firostefani and Imerovigli to Oiá.

5. Red Beach Santorini

When it comes to the sightseeings of the island Santorini, the Red Beach should not be missed. The end of the narrow access road to the church of Agios Nikolaos Mavrorachidi is also the beginning of an impressive natural beauty. The white church shines in front of dark red huge volcanic rocks.

A small path uphill takes you to a plateau with a view of Red Beach and its bay. Here the deep blue sea meets the lava wall towering in dark red. Fine red and black sand provides a play of colours that is particularly impressive when swimming from the water.

6. Boat trip to Nea Kaméni

In 2001, the government declared Nea Kaméni, an island directly off Thira, a national nature and geological park. A visit to the rather barren volcanic island is offered by numerous tour operators and is done by excursion boats. Combinations of Nea Kaméni with the neighbouring islands Paléa Kaméni and Thirasia are popular.

The small hike to the summit, the Georgios dome, is particularly worthwhile on Kaméni. Here, one does not only see two volcanic craters on the island, but can also marvel at the crater edge of Santorini’s main island Thira with the villages Imerovigli, Firostefani and Fira.

7. Panagia Episkopi near Mesa Gonia

The former bishop’s church Panagia Episkopi was donated by Emperor Alexios I according to a traditional inscription. The building stands on Santorini’s highest elevation about 600 meters southeast of Mesa Gonia. Red tiles but also simple plaster decorate the roofs of the Kreuzkuppelkirche. The cross arm with altar has a semicircular apse with a domed triple window on the outside.

Due to extensions, there are various rooms of different sizes in the interior. Various icon stands are lined up on the walls of the interiors. The church has been a listed building since 1962. Every year a celebration takes place on 15 August. Celebrated is the “Dormition of the Most Holy Master of ours, the Mother of God”.

8. Venetian Castle Goulas

The village of Emporio in the southern interior of Santorini dates back to the Middle Ages. The Venetian castle of Goulas was an extremely important fortress for Emporio during the Venetian period. The way to their remains, which can be admired by holidaymakers, leads through small tranquil alleys.

An extensive exploration tour away from the castle is also worthwhile. The old part captivates by unique architecture and really traditional Greek flair. Emporio, with its castle, is one of Santorini’s most famous landmarks, which you should not miss.

9. Wine tasting on Santorini

More than 1500 hectares of land on the island are used for viticulture. Santorini is famous for its excellent wines. Visitors can visit a wide range of wineries and taste their wines. The Boutari winery is one of the most visited. It is located near the Red Beach.

However, our favourites are the very modern Vassaltis Vineyards, which serve great wines as well as delicious delicacies, and Artemis Karamolegos Winery in the village. The latter usually does not offer own tours, but one is also as an individual day visitor always a welcome guest. It’s worth it!

10. Lighthouse Faros at Cape Akrotiri

In the outer southwest of Santorini, the small village of Akrotiri awaits visitors who want to explore something special away from the classic sights. Trees bent by storms point the way on the last part of the road to the small lighthouse Faros at Cape Akrotiri.

High above the Aegean Sea you will find quiet and idyllic spots with wonderful views around the 110-metre-high tower. Over the crater the view reaches north to Oia. Incoming cruise ships produce impressive photo motifs and the sunset is particularly romantic due to its remoteness.

More things to do and activities for your Santorini holiday

Best time to visit Santorini

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Santorini:

May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Santorini.

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