12 Things to Do in Santorini for the Perfect Greek Holiday

12 Things to Do in Santorini for the Perfect Greek Holiday

We can’t stop thinking about Santorini’s breathtaking views.

Think of a volcanic island flecked with blue roofs along dramatic cliffs that overlook the Aegean Sea, and you have Santorini. With its reputation for gorgeous seascapes and sunsets, this popular destination boasts a wild beauty that only nature could carve. And while there’s certainly no shortage of exciting things to do in Santorini, we’ve rounded up the best highlights for the Greek vacation of your dreams.

Also read: 30 Basic Greek Words & Phrases to Learn Before Your Trip

Best time to travel to Santorini

things to do in santorini

Image credit: Claudia Aguilar

Santorini boasts a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. For most travellers, the best time to visit would be during summertime; that is, from June to September. Although, keep in mind that August is often the hottest month, where the temperature can go as high as 30°C. 

If you prefer fewer crowds while still having good weather during your Santorini vacation, we recommend going in May or October. It’s still quite sunny during these times, and most of the attractions are up and running. However, the waters might not be warm enough for swimming during these months — especially for those who are used to the tropics! 

Also read: 7 Tips for Exploring Greece on a Budget

Best things to do in Santorini, Greece

1. Wander through picturesque alleys at Fira

things to do in santorini: fira

If you’re feeling sprightly enough, walking is one of the best ways to explore Fira, the lively capital and commercial hub of Santorini; and later, Oia (pronounced “ee-ya”), the hilltop town with the iconic blue-domed churches. In April, it’s quite common to spot wildflowers blooming along the ridge of the caldera, which you will pass on the trail from Fira to Oia. 

Image credit: Michelle Sevidal Conde

As you follow a scenic footpath marked by signposts, you’ll come across all kinds of surprises! Give yourself ample time to get lost in the streets lined with interesting doorways, cafes, and wonderful little shops selling everything from clothes to jewellery to souvenirs. 

Image credit (L-R): H Fall; Michelle Conde

Although the hike from Fira to Oia can be finished in around three hours, most people prefer to take their time when it comes to sightseeing. After all, who wouldn’t want to stop and stare at such breathtaking views? 

2. Try the Greek pastries at Svoronos Bakery

things to do in santorini: eat baklava

While chasing down all the photo-worthy sights in Fira, drop by Svoronos Bakery for some of the best Greek bread in Santorini. Would you believe that this family-owned establishment has been selling baked goods since 1896? Naturally, you just have to try them out!

Take a scrumptious bite out of their sesame-crusted bread rings, a popular snack among the locals. Or the, which sinks under the teeth with a golden crisp, coming away with flavours of honey and pistachio. This bakery also happens to be open 24/7, so you can satisfy your cravings anytime you want! 

Also read: Foods You Must Try in Greece

3. Admire the blue-domed churches in Oia

things to do in santorini

Image credit: sorincolac via Canva Pro

The lovely village of Oia is home to the jewel-blue churches — the most famous one being the Agioi Theodoroi — and pristine white buildings that come to mind when you think of Santorini. Clustered along reddish cliffs, these picture-perfect houses, villas, hotels, restaurants, and staircases call out to you with striking panoramic views over the shimmering sea. You might think they are part of a dream, but no, Oia really is that stunning! 

Image credit: Ryan

There are winding lanes of marble stone and hints of fuchsia bougainvillaea, along with boutique shops and hidden passageways at every turn. Halfway through your journey, you will be grasping for words — and for more space in your camera roll! 

4. Visit the Venetsanos Winery for world-class wines

How can anybody pass up the opportunity to sample the finest wines in Greece? If you’re searching for unique tours and things to do in Santorini, a wine-tasting excursion will more than whet your appetite.

We recommend that you can explore Venetsanos Winery, one of the most prominent harvesters of the Santorini grape and wine producers in the region. This exceptional winery offers a guided walk around the teeming vineyards and the distinctive wines in their cellar. 

5. Find sensational reads at Atlantis Books

things to do in santorini: atlantis books

Image credit: Norbert Nagel

Hailed as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, Atlantis Books is a wondrous retreat for curious travellers. Here, the entrance is surrounded by colourful murals and thought-provoking inscriptions. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this treasure in Santorini, you will descend into a cave-like tunnel of books, piled high and as far as the eye can see. 

Image credit: Michelle Sevidal Conde

Before it became a haven for bibliophiles, however, this humble building used to be the house of a sea captain. How cool is that? For this very reason, you can still spot a few nautical-inspired touches around the bookstore. 

And like most Santorini attractions, every corner is postcard material. There’s even a rooftop terrace that looks out onto the Aegean Sea! 

things to do in santorini: roofstop terrace

Image credit (L-R): Atlantis Books Official Instagram Page; Michelle Sevidal Conde

Without a doubt, this gem of a bookstore ranks pretty high up on our list of things to do in Santorini. It will be hard to leave this place empty-handed! 

6. Catch a film at an open-air cinema

In the middle of a lush garden, the Open Air Cinema Kamari invites spectators to watch movies the way they were meant to be viewed — at least, according to Greek tradition.

If you remember from your history class, the ancient Greeks once built vast outdoor theatres to host their plays. Today, this open-air cinema in the village of Kamari honours that legacy by featuring Hollywood movies (with Greek subtitles) and seating around 100 visitors under a starry night sky!

Also read: Greece Itinerary: Witnessing the Magic of Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos in 10 Days 

7. Dine al fresco at a traditional Greek restaurant

things to do in santorini: enjoy greek cuisine

Image credit: Michelle Sevidal Conde

Anywhere you go, Greek food is packed with the freshest ingredients. Among the many delightful things to do in Santorini, getting to know the rich flavours of traditional Greek cuisine is an unforgettable experience — and it should be savoured with every spoonful. 

Consider exploring the fishing port of Ammoudi Bay for eateries with grilled fish and calamari, where you can enjoy your dinner with an outlook of the sea. Or, swing by Lucky’s Souvlaki for the best gyros and meat skewers on the island. To level up your dining experience, the owner himself will eagerly take your order and assemble it right before your eyes! 

things to do in santorini

Image credit: Michelle Sevidal Conde

Alternatively, you can feel right at home at a garden restaurant like Pelican Kipos, which serves homemade local specialities in the calming shade of palm trees. Tuck into a classic Greek salad glistening with juicy tomatoes, fresh olives, delicious feta cheese, lemon, and olive oil. 

If you have your heart set on a specific restaurant, be sure to make a reservation well ahead of your trip. When you get to Santorini, you may find that everyone is clamouring for their own bite of heaven!  

8. Witness Santorini’s famous sunsets

Image credit: Vishal Jadav

Enjoy a peerless view of Santorini when you watch the sun slip into the Aegean Sea, bathing the island in purple and orange. You can take a catamaran cruise that will lead you past several Santorini attractions like Red Beach and Nea Kameni (more on these later), before arriving just in time to see the sunset over the slopes of Oia. 

Image credit: Michelle Sevidal Conde

This mesmerising vista is what inspires so many tourists (and maybe you, too!) to embark on a pilgrimage to Santorini. For a moment, it feels as if time is standing still. Whether you are watching the sunset from a boat or the twisting streets along the caldera, this experience will surely leave your heart full. 

9. Go for a swim at the Red Beach

things to do in santorini

Image credit: juliemayfeng via Canva Pro

If it weren’t for the azure waters and white boats dotting its unique landscape, the Red Beach of Santorini would look like something from a sci-fi film. This scenic cove near Akrotiri village is right below a cliff, offering vacationers relaxed seclusion —  even when it gets crowded during peak season. This same cliff also shields the beach from the wind, making it an ideal place for snorkelling, even on windy days. 

Given that it’s among the popular Santorini attractions, we recommend dropping by earlier in the day to enjoy the tranquillity. There are limited sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent, and two kiosks at the entrance that sell snacks and refreshments.  Meanwhile, the northern end is an ideal spot for naturists looking to get that full tan. 

10. Discover parts of the ancient city of Akrotiri

things to do in santorini

Image credit: Andrey Khrobosotov via Canva Pro

Just a short walk from Red Beach is the Akrotiri archaeological site — essentially, Greece’s version of Pompeii. However, this is one significantly older, as it dates back to the Minoan Bronze Age. It’s set inside a spacious building to protect the millennia-old mud-brick houses, with elevated walkways that take visitors around the perimeter. Below, you can get a closer look at the reconstructed buildings that offer a glimpse of the great civilisation.

Image credit: vkp-australia via Canva Pro

According to scholars, Akrotiri was initially a quaint fishing and farming village, but eventually grew into a prosperous city when it became part of the East-West trade routes. It was also a civilisation that was quite ahead of its time, as proven by its impressive buildings that go up three stories high and feature amenities like indoor toilets, underfloor heating, and exquisite frescoes. 

11. Explore the centre of the Santorini caldera

things to do in santorini

Image credit: ivanmateev via Canva Pro

Some of you might already know that the main island of Santorini forms part of a large (and mostly submerged) caldera. Right in the middle are the islands of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, which are just a short boat ride away. There are regular tours offered at the Old Port in Fira, but if you want a more specific excursion, it’s best to book in advance! 

Image credit: isabela66 via Canva Pro

For those who want a closer look at the volcanic activity that formed the archipelago, better add these to your list of things to do in Santorini. You can opt for a hiking tour that goes up to the summit, where the incredible crater awaits! Craving more outdoor adventures? In a spot surrounding the two islands, there are hot springs that visitors can only reach by swimming. 

12. Climb to the highest point of Santorini

Image credit: Arian Zwegers

How about a breathtaking panorama of Santorini and its surrounding islands? Look no further than Mount Profitis Ilias, which straddles the villages of Pyrgos and Kamari. At 567m above sea level, its summit is the highest peak on the island. Its roads are mostly paved, so you can easily reach the top via car, bus, or even ATV. But if you’re feeling extra athletic, you can also trek to the top! 

Image credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis

The mountain is also home to the Profitis Ilias Monastery, which has been around since 1711. An impressive (albeit underrated) example of ​​Cycladic architecture, it remains home to several monks to this day. That said, the actual monastery isn’t open to outsiders. Nonetheless, you can still visit the neighbouring Chapel of Saint Nektarios and admire the stunning frescoes and Byzantine icons and sculptures.

Also read: Beyond Santorini and Mykonos: 8 Fairytale Islands in Greece You Need to Visit

Image credit: Michelle Sevidal Conde

There are so many enchanting things to do in Santorini, yet not nearly enough time for all that we want to accomplish. Did we miss any of your favourite attractions? Tell us a story about your last vacation to this idyllic Greek island, and don’t forget to tag us in your photos: @tripzillamag!


Featured image credit: Sabine Klein / 500px via Canva Pro

About Authors

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany wrote articles on travel, food, and pop culture for TripZilla. As she plans her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Tiffany Conde

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Marcy Miniano