What to visit in Santorini?
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Nestled in the cobalt blue of the Cyclades archipelago, beautiful Santorini is distinguished by its whitewashed houses with harmonious features colored in white and blue precious shades obtained from the lapis lazuli that resemble those of the national flag, its romantic landscapes, its crescent-shaped cliffs, and its pleasant nightlife. Did you know that the white houses are painted this color to disperse heat and their shape to shelter from the wind? At the same time, the colors represent the freedom Greece had after the 400-year Turkish rule. So many interesting curiosities related to history, don't you think? Find out with us everything you need to know about Santorini before you visit: the breathtaking views of the caldera, the black sandy beaches, windmills, and its tasty wines will be the stars of your trip!
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What not to miss?
This is the first place we recommend you visit - the capital of Santorini, Fira. If you expect picturesque alleyways, chic boutiques, cave houses, and infinity pools from your trip, you will have the opportunity to see all of this in Fira. The Firostefani villages and Imerovigli are the most popular places for tourists in this area. Also very common is a visit to the small port of Fira Skala, which requires some walking, so we recommend taking the cable car from the center of Fira. But of course, you might find a bit of a queue. If you like walking then you could do the walking route. But be warned that there are a lot of steps to climb!
The village of Oia is one of the most famous places you will surely have seen in any of the most popular photo backgrounds on the web. For sunset lovers, this place is a living spectacle. Following the collapse of the magma chamber of a volcano, a caldera was formed in this area and has become the main attraction of this destination. Be swept away by the red color palette, the delicate pink hues, and the pleasant atmosphere of the idyllic village. You can also reach Oia by trekking from Thera (Fira) enjoying breath-taking panoramic views from the shimmering blue of the sky, the sea, and church domes. The route is almost 10 km and takes about three hours.
A small fishing village located just below Oia, this area is full of small restaurants and taverns overlooking the sea and surrounding the bay. In this area, you can also take a dip in the open sea at the end of the path accessible by a cliff. It’s the perfect spot for great food and experience at sunset. Imagine the sounds of the sea, the wind, the light of the sun, the smell of freshly cooked fish, and the view of the fresh fish being delivered by the small local fishing boats. Well worth a visit! To reach this place you would have to go down a somewhat steep hill (200+ very steep steps). But you could also reach it by taxi, which would cost 15€ from Oia. On the road, you will also find donkeys available to go up and down paying 10€.
In a destination like Santorini, we recommend spending a few hours at the beach. With different characteristics, the beaches of the island are beautiful with crystal clear waters and plenty of water activities to do such as snorkeling and swimming in protected waters. We recommend some of the most famous ones: Kamari Beach is one of the most famous with Perissa, Perivolos and Agios Georgios are great beaches with black sand. Red beach is characterized by ochre-colored volcanic cliffs and White beach nearby. Vlihada Beach has white-colored cliffs. Monilithos beach, with shallow waters, and finally Kolumbo beach.
What else to visit?
Akrotiri archaeological site
The important archaeological site is located in the southern part of the island. Akrotiri is a village dating back to 1650 B.C. that after the eruption of volcanoes has left only a few remnants of its ancient history. There are many finds, magnificent ancient wall paintings: among the most famous are the fishermen's fresco and the blue monkey fresco. In addition, in the center of the village, you will find the splendid lighthouse that is one of the oldest in Greece. Enjoy the sunset sitting on the rocks!
There was the ancient name for Santorini, formerly the cradle of Mycenaean civilization and the setting that inspired Plato for the narration of the myth of Atlantis. To remind us of all this, the area of ancient Thera, an archaeological site of great charm, on a promontory between the two seas, immersed in the ruins of the old city. The sea as a curtain, the theatre, and the view of Kamari. A true open-air museum!
Museum of Prehistoric Thera
Located at the entrance to the town of Fira, for all those who are interested in archaeology and learning about the history of ancient Greece. There is a rich collection of artifacts of everyday life and polychrome frescoes, discovered during excavations in the 1960s in the area of Akrotiri. An interesting journey through time!
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist
Located at the top of the island and famous for its distinctive bell tower, which can be seen from above. Externally, it is a jewel of this island with yellow and blue decorations. The nice thing is that it has a terrace from which you can enjoy a beautiful view.
How to travel there?
Santorini is well connected and easy to reach from many parts of the world. Depending on where you go, it might be convenient for you to travel by ferry or by plane. So, it will be quite easy to get from the other islands and countries by plane. What you have to keep in mind is that aircraft prices are quite high, especially in the high season. In this regard, you should know that the island has an international airport “Santorini Airport” located about 10 kilometers from the capital Fira. You can reach the center by taxi which will cost 30 euros approximately and takes 35 minutes while by bus KTEL (http://www.ktel-santorini.gr) where the ticket costs 1,20 euros and takes 80 minutes.
Alternatively, the island can be reached by ferry from the port of Piraeus or Rafina. In this case, the journey will take longer but consider that the costs will be lower and you will be able to carry more luggage. You can also decide to arrive in Athens and then reach Santorini without any problem. The two main harbors are Athinios, 3 km from the capital Fira, and Skala, which is located right in the center of Fira. Keep in mind that the islands Ios, Paros, and Naxos are also well connected to Santorini through major Greek shipping companies.
Curiosity for you: around Santorini, you will certainly see donkeys; this is because they are used to transport goods and people from the lower to the higher areas. Tourists can also use this service by paying a fee. it's curious, isn't it?
A car isn't essential for traveling around the island and in general, we advise you not to rent one, as many of the roads are mountainous so they are narrow and winding. And the traffic is very frequent, so we don't want you to stress about getting to places.
When to travel there?
Santorini is a very small island with not many inhabitants so this makes it pleasant to stay and visit. Nevertheless, you should be aware that July and August are the busiest months. In May, June, September, and October, the weather remains warm and welcoming and the island's resorts are less crowded and the beaches have more space to welcome visitors, making them more liveable. During many months of the year, the city is only fully inhabited by locals. Many bars, restaurants, and hotels are closed. So, we recommend visiting Santorini from May to September where temperatures reach up to 30° with a slight breeze.
Santorini is not an inexpensive destination. Since it is very touristy, prices will be quite high. For example, a simple meal at an inexpensive restaurant can cost you 20€ per person, and in a mid-range restaurant, a local tavern can cost 40€. Be prepared that if you wish to dine or dine with a view, you can spend up to 50 euros per person.
As for accommodation price on average is from 60€ per night. In a hostel, you can pay 25€ per night while the price for a 3-star hotel starts from 84€ per night, and a room in a 5-stars hotel can cost 491€ per night. In any case, we hope you can find nice accommodation with a view!
Finally, regarding transport, they are not so expensive. For example, a bus ticket costs 1,80€ approximately.
Where to eat?
The gastronomy of Santorini consists of delicious dishes such as dolmàdes, briàm, moussaka, tiròpitta, marìdes, and fine wines such as niktéri or broùsko as the island is dotted with wine cellars. So, you cannot miss the chance to try these unique delicacies linked to Greek traditions.
We recommend a few places to delight your palate: Naoussa Restaurant where you can eat at sunset with a view of the caldera, Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna to have the sea right next to you, Santo Wines for a special aperitif, and Karma Greek Restaurant located in a suggestive garden. If you want to eat out, you'll have to book well in advance since restaurants are very crowded.
If you want to discover many other interesting facts about Greek cuisine and its original dishes, check out our article on Greek cuisine and follow @thewalkingparrot to keep up to date with new articles.
Festival IFaisteia (August)
The event held in August is characterized by dances and concerts, also because Santorini's festivals are rich in folklore. It represents the glory of nature by recalling the eruption of the volcano that took place on the island. bonfires and fireworks create a spectacle that will make you excited!
Episkopi Festival (15th August)
In the village of Mesa Gonia, the event is characterized by celebrations, music, dancing, ancient games, a procession, bazaar while enjoying a dish with broad beans. This event is nothing more than a festival related to these legumes.
International Music Festival (September)
It takes place during the first three weeks of September and since 1979 this event is held to celebrate music and guest artists from around the world. Recitals, orchestras, piano duets, and operatic music are the protagonists of this sharing moment everything is celebrated in church courtyards with lots of traditional delicacies and wine.
Other events: Feast of the Metamorphoses of Akrotiri (August), Feast of Profitis Ilias (20th July), Patronal Feast in Oia, and Perissa (September).
This is the end of our article on Santorini, hoping that you’ve enjoyed the reading, take a look at our other articles on the different destinations of Greece like Athens, Mykonos, Crete, and other places in Europe such as Lisbon, Porto, and Aveiro. Don’t forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases.