You will arrive at the port of Athinios, if you are not on a cruise ship. From there, a cliff leads you up towards the capital named Fira. You have several possibilities to get to Fira. Either by bus, taxi or rental car.
The bus costs only 2.30 euros but can bring some issues. The bus leaves between 7:20 and 18:55 clock 5 times a day or 2 times on weekends from the port of Athinios. This means that it is possible that you have to wait up to 2 hours for the next bus. Even if when the government says that the buses are well coordinated to the times of the ferrie arrival. The Bus takes about 85 minutes to Fira.
The cab is a good alternative. It will cost you about 35 euros, hardly no waiting time and with 30 min of driving time you will get relatively relaxed at the goal. Especially when you are able share a cab with other tourists.
Another option is to rental car. You can book a rental car directly at the habour but we recommend to do this online. This will be much cheaper because you can compaire prices.
Therefore decided to book a rental car for several days in advance. On “Santorini Rent a Car” we booked a small Hundai for 3 days for 18 euros. Afterwards we got the info that the car we already booked had to be brought to the port for a extra fee of 15 euros. Unfortunately, there was no text about this extra costs online. Nevertheless, this was a good offer. But ontop of that we did not get the car we had chosen. We got a much larger model, which we first did not recommend. But because the small and winding roads on Santorini a smaller car would be much more pleasant.
Fira is the capital and our first highlight on Santorini. Yes, it is really as beautiful as it looks on the postcards. Here you will find many beautiful boutiques between the small streets and picturesque white, blue houses. There are many Apartments with theirbown infinity pool a very unique sight especially at night when they light up. The sunset in Fira is one of the most beautiful views we have ever seen.
Activities in Fira:
- Fira offers a perfect photo backdrop in every corner.
- Discover the beautiful little streets of the city.
- The caldera offers a beautiful view especially at sunset.
- Small boutiques, jewelers and restaurants invite you to stroll.
- A short walk to the surrounding villages.
- Visit the small harbor down the cliffs.
- Visit the two museums.
Be aware that Santorini, is probably the most popular island in Greece. Therefore, you will find in the high season no alley in which you can stroll all alone . Our personal tip is if you have the opportunity, come here in the off-season between March-May or September-October.
If you want to make great photos plan for each photo hotspot half an hour lead time, if you want to get a snapshot without tourists in the background. If you have no problem with crowded places, Santorini will certainly be for sure an unforgettable adventure for you.
What we recommend is a walk to the surrounding villages. Especially the way to Firostefani (about 10 minutes walk) and to Imerovigli (30 minutes walk, to the highest point of the caldera) are really worth it.
The small port of Fira called Skala is also worth a walk. But you should know that there are almost 600 steps to climb down and up afterwards. So we cosider to take the cable car. For 6 euros each tour, it transports you back and forth from the city center to the small port.
There is also a donkey tour for about the same price, but due to animal welfare we personaly would advise against it.
Everyone who loves Greek history, should definitely visit at least one of the two museums that Fira has to offer:
Museum of Prehistoric Thera
In this museum you will find exciting remains, mainly from Akrotiri is the excavation site of Santorini which was discovered in 1967 and is one othe most famouse excavation sites of greece and maybe whole europe. You will learn more about the history of the origin of this unique island and the 5 different evolutions.
The archaeological museum
This museum, is more focused on the individual findings all over the island. So you will show vases and statues from long forgotten times.
Tip: The parking slots on the outskirts of the city are all free. So try to use them. Especially in the high season you have to be as early as possible in the city to enjoy Fira. After ten o’clock the city is really hot and crowded.
Next to Fira is Oia the second famouse town you surely know from some Poscars. Here you can find the famous church with the blue dome. The town is located in the very north of the island and will delight you with its incredible view of the entire caldera. From here you can enjoy the everyday sunset Santorini is known for.
Once you have found a good spot, you should stay there for the rest of the evening because thouse spots are very rare.
Highlights of Oia:
- Sunset overlooking the whole caldera
- The famous churches with their blue roof
- Enjoy the exquisite bars and restaurants
If you like it a little bit more quiet, there is the possibility to reserve a place in one of the many restaurants or bars. Keep in mind, that the prices of cocktails or menues have adjusted to their demand and in most cases there is a minimum order value.
Tip: The best place to enjoy the sunset on Santorini is the Byzantine Castle. It is located on the western tip of the city. But first come, first served principe so plan to be there at least 1 hour before sunset.
3. Santorini boat tour
If you have a little more time, you should definitely take one of the boat tours. The most famous tour is the day tour to the volcanic island. Our number three for Santorini sightseeing.
It is an excursion that drives you to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Here you will explore a volcano that is still active. From there it will take you to the hot springs of Palea Kameni where you can take a warm bath. Finally you will go to Thirassia. This is the island opposite Santorini and has about 50 residents.
It is recommended to book this tour in advance, because it is often fully booked two days before the depature, at least in the high season.
For 37 euros you will be picked up by bus transfer from your hotel. There is an audio guide in 5 languages and all 3 stops mentioned are included. Click here for the tour at the volcano, the hot springs and Thirassia.
We took this tour in the off season. You have to take into account that the cable car ride costs 6 Euro per person. It brings you quickly to the Old Harbor, from where the boat tour starts. However, if you are not completely free from giddiness or have a fear of heights, you might want to consider the walk. Karo is afraid of heights and we had to use the cable car ride due to lack of time. We realised that with eyes closed and back turned, you can also survive the ride even if you are afraid of heights 🙂
For people who easily get seasick we recommend sitting in the back of the boat. There is often a bench with a backrest and a table. There you can hold on it tight while the boat wobbles.
Since the first stop is the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, you should think of hiking shoes, because it goes uphill on a sandy and stony paths. If you don’t have hiking shoes, then you should at least wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. You shold need a good headgear and plenty of water.
At the next stop, you have the opportunity dive into the hot springs. The water is orange due to the orange sand. Therefore, be sure to take dark bathing suits with you. Also a towel, which may get dirty. Karo had a white jacket which unfortunately had afterwards a lot of orange spots. Likewise her white swimsuit. Dont do the same mistake as we did.
The last stop is the small island Thirasia. The small town is a steep march uphill, which takes about 35 minutes. Here we also recommend comfortable shoes and headgear. Even if the way was very hard, it is worth it for the breathtaking view over santorini from the other side of the sea. We had a 2 hours stay and found some nice taverns and cafes to get strengthen again.
The second boat tour that we would like to recommend to you is the catamaran tour which includes food & drinks. The little bit more expensive boat tour with 75 euros promises full luxury on the one-day catamaran tour. The three mentioned spots from the prevous tour also are approached here . The only difference is that it takes place on a catarman. The tour includes a Greek barbecue and a also a snorkel stop. The snorkel equipment is also included.
4. The walk from Fira to Oia
On the walk from Fira to Oia you will not get out of the amazement. Here are a variety of different viewpoints that invite you to linger and marvel. The route is about 9 km long and goes along the edge of the caldera and relatively easy walk. The most difficult thing will be the heat, depending on the season. Therefore, our advice is to do the tour in the morning or in the evening if possible. You can plan the route that you arrive exactly at sunset in Oia and can enjoy it there.
Tip: A little tip on the side, for those traveling by car. You can park your car in Imerovigli instead of Fira, then the route is a little shorter. In Imerovigliare are also good parking slots.
5. Santorini beaches
Although Santorini is not necessarily famous for its beautiful beaches, the island does have some worth mentioning. Because of the volcanic rock Santorini has black as well as red beaches, which are above all exceptional. Our number five of the Santorini sights.
We ourselves tried to visit the red beach, but Google Maps sent us through such tricky narrow streets that we had to gave up. Because of our too large rental car, we did not fit through some street at all. It was quite frustrating.
Later on we found another way to a beach called Mesa Pigadi. This time it was a sandy, winding path steeply downhill. At the bottom we saw only black stones and rock formations. A few meters away we could see a stretch of beach. However, this means first of all to walk over all the stones and rocks, which had heated up by the sun a lot. No easy matter with flip-flops. A solid footwear is here a big advantage. Arrived at the beach we have seen that there were still some stones here. Therefore, a place to lie down must first be searched and also the way into the water is full of stones. Next time we will bring some water sandals with us on the Island an all the issues are solved.
- Black beaches, which at first glance seem a bit strange, but invite you to swim by the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea. The most famous are Agios Georgios, Perissa and Perivolos.
- The Redbeach, which makes all honor to its name by the ocher-colored rock. You’ll find the beach on the southern part of the island.
- White Beach right next to the Redbeach you will find a beach made of white rock.
- Monilithos Beach is a beach that could be especially interesting for families with small children. Because here it takes a long time until the water reaches a dangerous depth for children.
- Kolumbo Beach in the northeast of the island a little bit more hidden you will find this nudist beach.
Even though the beaches are unusually beautiful, we have to honestly admit that all the hassle of getting there was not worth it for us. We’ve visited much nicer beaches at Naxos, Mykonos or Paros. We recommend you cool off in the pool rather than on the beach, but if it is the only greece island you will visit on your vacation then you defently have to swimm once in the beatiful clear agean sea.
6. Amoudi Bay
Amoudi is a small village about 20 minutes away from Oia. We would recommend to go there by foot, because a staircase leads directly from Oia to the small fishing village. By car it is a bit tricky. Not only is the road quite steep, but turning around can turn into an unwanted adventure. Since Amoudi is located below Oia, you have a beautiful view of the ocher-colored rock face and the town above.
The village, which lies directly at the water, invites you to linger in one of its many tavernas. All fish lovers among you will love the menus. For swimming you just have to follow the path that you came to the village further and you arrive to a small bathing beach.
7. Santorini Winetour
In addition to the unique sunset, Santorini is also known for its own wines, our seventh Santorini attraction. A wine tour is defenetly recommended if you like wine and have some time. There are several vineyards to visit and especially the white wines are a highlight. The 3 most famous vineyards are:
- The Boutari Vineyard
- The Gavalas Vineyard
- The Argyros Estate
There is a wine tour to visits all three of these places. However, you should bring a good head covering, because the sun is not to be underestimated in the high season. And at each vineyard, of course, there is a wine tasting. The whole tour takes about 5 hours and is a real treat not only for wine lovers.
For all of you who are interested in history should defenetly visit the place Akrotiri. This place was once a Minoan city, which has been completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption on Santorini in 1613 BC. Only about 3500 years later in 1967 it was rediscovered by the Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos. Since the excavations still continues, one can see the excavation site from above by some bridges above the site.
It is also exciting that no human remains were found here, which indicates that the inhabitants of the city have noticed the volcanic eruption before or have already emigrated from the city years before. Nevertheless, many pottery and ancient utensils were found in the houses. So don’t miss one of the biggest archaeological finds in Europe
Another archaeological site is Old Thera on the hill Mesa Vouno. The city was built in the 9th century BC. Exciting here is that the city has expanded over several time eras, so that today you can see remains of houses from old Greek, Byzantine and Roman times. Feel free to take a walk through this area and visit the remains from the different periods.
10. Open Air Cinema
A bit different than the other activities above are the cinemas. You can enjoy great movies under the clear starry sky of Santorini. Let yourself be enchanted and enjoy the warm summer breeze while watching one of the new or classic films the cinema has to offer. The Kamari Open Air Cinema is really beautifully situated in the middle of a small forest and is open every evening for its guests. The entrance fee is 8 euros.
While walking we also discovered a second open air cinema called Volkan Cinema. It is about 20 minutes walk from Fira in the direction of Imerivogli. It is located right on the edge of the caldera and has a fantastic view. Typical small chairs and tables invite you to watch movies. Its like a very nice tavern with a cinema screen. On the schedule were great Hollywood classics like “Mama Mia” and “My big greek wedding”.
Info: The cinemas show the movies in original title with Greek subtitle. That means if the movie is for example Chinese there will be no English translation. We hope you liked our summary and it will helped you for your next trip to santorini. If you have anything else to add, feel free to send us a message.