When you’re ready to break up your pool days with some Santorini sightseeing, you’ve got plenty of options. Whether you want a little adventure, culture, or history, I’ve got you covered with this list of top things to do on Santorini!
I’m dying to go back to Santorini, but also to explore other Greek islands. There’s truly nothing else like it! If you’re interested in heading to Greece, you can search and compare the fastest and most affordable routes here.
If you’re looking for things to do in Santorini, I’m covering all the best Santorini sightseeing ideas and activities in this post.
Pssst, heading to Greece? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
Top Santorini Sightseeing and Activities
1. Wine Tasting
Have you tried Santorini wine before? I’ll be honest, we tried a lot while we were there and most of it was not good.
There are, however, a few select Santorini wine tasting spots that are absolutely fantastic.
We chose one winery to visit based on locals’ recommendations, and it was Domaine Sigalas. We did their wine and food pairing for lunch and it was incredible!!
We had an amazing afternoon here, learning how the grape growing process is so different in Santorini because of their elements, like wind and volcanic soil.
Every pairing was perfectly done and the food was so delicious. We loved their wines and were in heaven.
When you’re feeling like you could use a little exercise and movement after lounging by the pool and eating all the delicious Greek things, there’s lots of great hiking you can do around Santorini.
The trail from Imerovigli to Oia is a popular one and has amazing views. The trail goes along the coastline and you’ll have views of the caldera and incredible rock formations along the way.
This hike is 5.4 miles and will take just under 3 hours to complete.
Skaros Rock is another popular hike that we did. Starting from Imerovigli, you’ll go down lots of narrow steps to get to the beginning of the trail. From there, it’s just under a mile hike out to Skaros Rock.
This was a moderate hike and we definitely got a good sweat going. The views are awesome!!
You’ll have epic scenery around you like Nea Kameni, the small, uninhabited island that forms Santorini’s caldera, and the expansive sea.
We spent about an hour round-trip doing this hike because we stopped for a lot of pictures and just soaking in the scenery.
Doing a sunset sail is one of the top things to do in Santorini! My Santorini sightseeing guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a cruise.
We booked this catamaran cruise with Sunset Oia Sailing through GetYourGuide, and I’d highly recommend them!
We stopped at the volcanic hot springs for a swim, which wasn’t very hot lol it was more like warm spots of water. But still fun to check out! And then made our way around to the red beach.
You could snorkel as well but there wasn’t much to see.
They made a fresh, delicious dinner for us on the boat, including some grilled chicken, greek salads, and orzo.
Then we headed back to Oia, to catch the sunset near Ammoudi Bay. We didn’t have a particularly amazing sunset that night, but it was still a great experience and we had so much fun on this boat trip.
If you’re visiting during shoulder seasons like we were in early October, bring a sweater with you just in case—the ride back can get windy and cold!
4. Ancient Thera
Ancient Thera is really cool to check out. It was once the religious and cultural center of Santorini island, and the ruins date back to the 8th century BC.
It’s located at the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain, on the east of Prophet Elias Mountain, and you’ll have to drive up a ton of switchbacks in order to get there.
Be sure to bring good shoes for walking around in. I made the mistake of wearing sandals and the ground was rocky, steep, and slippery at times, so I didn’t end up exploring as much as I would have wanted to if I had better shoes on. I didn’t want to risk spraining an ankle!
I’m not into beer but my husband is, so we had to stop by Santorini Brewing Company since it’s unique to Santorini. You can taste their new and up-and-coming beers here.
They have a lot of different experiences you can book, including a beer tasting with snacks starting at 25 Euro per adult, a food and beer culinary experience, group tours that are semi-private, or a VIP tour.
On their website it looks like they now have live concerts going on every week, which would be so fun!
Omied also bought some beers to go so he could enjoy them poolside at our hotel or on our hotel room patio.
6. Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Akrotiri was a settlement during the Cycladic Bronze age that was destroyed by the volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC. The volcanic ash preserved the remains and the site was excavated in 1967.
How magical would it be to go horseback riding along a black sand beach, looking out onto the Aegean sea??
Pretty darn magical.
We didn’t have time to do this during our trip but I absolutely would have loved to!
You can book a horseback riding trip with an expert guide here, and they have private or small group options available.
Explore Santorini’s sea caves by kayak! This day tour by kayak is perfect for spending an afternoon out on the water.
You’ll start at the beautiful red sand beach and paddle your kayak south, to check out sea caves, swim, snorkel, and do some cliff jumping if you feel so inclined.
They’ll also supply you with a picnic at the beach afterward—I’m sure you’ll have worked up an appetite by then!
9. Watch the Sunset from Oia Castle
You have to watch the sunset from Oia Castle at least one evening in Santorini! There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular spots to see the sunset—it’s absolutely stunning and iconic.
Sunset at the Oia Castle is one of the top tourist attractions Santorini has to offer. So that does mean there will be crowds.
You’ll want to get there at least an hour before the sunset to get a good spot, maybe even 1.5 hours if you want a place to sit.
We went over to Pitogyros to grab gyros before and got there 1.5 hours early to claim a spot to sit on the castle.
The views were absolutely epic!
10. Snap a Photo with Oia’s Iconic 3 Blue Domes
I will definitely write up a whole guide to the most Instagrammable spots in Santorini and link it here when it’s live, but in the meantime, the 3 blue domes are one of the most photographed spots in all of Greece, so you’ve got to add it to your Santorini sightseeing list.
If you’re aiming to get a photo here, come in the morning when the light is soft. Obviously, during the afternoon, the lighting will be harsh, and then as the light starts to soften again in the early evening, you can expect there to be a very long line to take a photo here.
11. ATV Tour
Book an ATV tour for a day of exploration on the island!
When you’re in Santorini, you’ll see plenty of tourists driving ATVs around the island. But as our taxi driver told us, it’s pretty dangerous with all of the windy roads on the island and the fact that most tourists don’t know what they’re doing on an ATV. They have accidents all the time.
Instead of trying to go off on your own on an ATV rental, book a guided tour so you’ll get expert advice and a clear path to follow.
This excursion takes you to unknown parts of Santorini on their guided ATV tour, where you’ll get to discover beautiful landscapes, iconic caldera views, the windmills of Emporio, and the black sand beach.
You’ll enjoy a delicious seafood lunch at the end of the tour to cap off your trip.
Okayyyy this one is so fun. If you’re a blogger or just love getting epic shots for the ‘gram, you’re not going to want to miss this.
These flying dress photoshoots have become popular in Santorini, and I’m so glad I decided to book one.
There are a lot of flying dress photographers on the island and you’ll see signs for them in high-traffic areas like Oia. My best advice is to do research beforehand and not only look at the style of photography to make sure you like it, but also to look at the dresses they offer.
Some of the companies I checked out had dresses where the material looked cheap, wrinkled, or just not long enough to get the full effect.
Make sure there’s a dress style and color that you love before you book it. They will also usually have an assistant there to help with the dress (you need someone to throw the dress in the air lol).
I went with a blue dress and I absolutely LOVE how it looked with my skin tone and popped against the white buildings, while also complimenting the sea.
Our photos turned out epic and we used the one of me and Omied for our holiday card. I’ve never gotten so many texts and compliments over a holiday card before, hah!
13. Food Tour or Cooking Class
Greek food is awesome. From moussaka to octopus, we enjoyed so many delicious things during our time in Santorini!
Book a food and wine tour so you can explore some hidden gems with a local and discover places you wouldn’t have found on your own.
Or, take a cooking class so you can make some delicious Greek dishes yourself once you’re home.
14. Tour Smaller Towns around the Island
If you’re staying in one of the main towns like Oia or Fira, it’s really easy to get stuck in these areas. There are beautiful views, great restaurants, and enticing hotels with infinity pools.
But it’s absolutely worth it to venture out and explore some of the smaller towns on the island.
Towns like Pygros and Megalochori are so charming! You’ll find far fewer tourists here, much cheaper restaurants, and it’s just fun to see some different parts of Santorini.
15. Open Air Cinema
The Open Air Cinema in Santorini was closed when we were there, due to still recovering from the panny. But it’s open now and it looks SO fun!
They play movies in English with Greek subtitles in this outdoor movie theatre. How fun would it be to watch something like Mama Mia! under the stars??
It’s located at the entrance of Kamari, which is a half-hour drive south of Oia.
16. Akrotiri Lighthouse
The Akrotiri Lighthouse is located in the southernmost part of Santorini, and it’s another awesome place for sunset views. You’ll get an incredible view of the sun dipping into the Aegean sea from here.
Plus, the lighthouse itself makes for a picturesque atmosphere.
17. Profitis Ilias Monastery
The Monastery of Prophet Elijah is known for being one of the most important churches on Santorini. It’s located near the southeast town of Pyrgos, atop a summit.
Built in 1711, this particular monastery resembles a fortress. I wouldn’t say it’s the prettiest church you’ll come across in Santorini, but the views from up here are impressive!
Celebrate Greek culture with a Greek Wedding show! This interactive theatre show takes place in a 200-year-old Greek home.
As a guest, you’ll get to dance, listen to live music, drink wine and enjoy homemade Greek appetizers, and (maybe best of all) smash plates!
The show is in English but Greek songs will be in Greek.
Book the Greek Wedding show:
19. Ammoudi Bay
Ammoudi Bay is so picturesque! Walk down the steep stairs from Oia to Ammoudi and enjoy the views along the way.
Then, enjoy a sunset and dinner in the bay. Ammoudi Fish Tavern is the most iconic spot here, and for good reason. The food is incredible and the views and atmosphere are just unbelievable.
20. Red or Black Sand Beach
Heave a beach day at the red sand beach or black sand beach—just remember, “sand” might be in their names, but beaches in Santorini are more rocky than sandy.
That’s my guide for the best Santorini sightseeing! There’s so much to do and explore on this beautiful island and I’m dying to go back!
If you book any of these activities, tag me @wtfab so I can see!
Or if you think there’s something I’m missing that I need to add to my Santorini sightseeing guide, hit me up!
Heading to Greece? Check out my other Greece travel guides here.
Santorini is famous for its white-washed buildings along cliffs with blue domed churches, amazing sunsets, and red and black sand beaches.
Oia is known for being the most beautiful part of Santorini. All the iconic photos you’ve seen of Santorini are taken in Oia.
You don’t have to rent a car for the entirety of your trip, but if you want to explore outside of the town that you’re staying in, it’s advised to rent a car. Your hotel can easily help you rent a car for a day or two.
Loved this Santorini sightseeing guide? Be sure to check out my other Greece posts here!
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.