If you’re planning a trip to Greece, one of the most popular Greek islands to visit is Santorini, with its villages perched atop sheer walls dropping down into the sea (the result of a massive volcanic eruption). Santorini is romantic with some of the most beautiful sunsets but you don’t have to be part of a couple to visit here. And if you're staying in Athens, you can easily add Santorini to your city itinerary. Discover what to do in Santorini Greece with our guide below.
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Spend Time in Fira, Santorini
You can't go to Santorini without seeing its capital, and one of the places to visit in Santorini is Fira. Spend some time sauntering around the capital town, soaking up the ambience as you wander through the cobblestone alleys, photographing the cubist houses and churches that you come across. Find a spot on the magnificent Caldera, and bask in the awe of dramatic views, and the overwhelming calm of the big blue.
Walk from Fira to Oia
For the active solo, you can hike from Fira to Oia past towns and along the rim of a volcanic crater. The whole walk is approximately 6 miles (10 km) and is a mix of terrain that will take you less than 5 hours to complete (depending on how fast you like to walk). You can also do the route in the reverse direction but it’s recommended to experience it from Fira.
Santorini in Greece is a bucket list destination, known for its trademark white-washed, blue shuttered stucco structures built into hillsides overlooking the Aegean Sea. When thinking about Santorini you probably associate it with the hilltop location of Oia – the picture-perfect place to take in the best Santorini sunset – but in reality, Oia is the most crowded during sundown. Seeing a perfect sunset is one of the things to do in Oia but to avoid the crowds, you could visit earlier to admire the array of colourful houses whilst strolling around the cobblestone alleys. Then choose one of the other handful of locations on the island to admire the sunset for a less crowded experience.
Stop at Pyrgos
When in Santorini, make sure to make a stop at the beautiful Pyrgos village. It is one of the lesser-known parts of the island and has a traditional character and reveals a side of Santorini that is still very much connected to its roots. Pyrgos is a medieval settlement with mostly Byzantine, stark white and blue dome churches. Located on Santorini’s highest point, the fortified village offers incredible panoramic views of the entire island, while its quaint streets will reveal the allurement of its Kastro castle, one step at a time.
The area of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini is another that offers a different than usual vantage point. It is located on the crescent’s southernmost tip with staggering views of the Caldera and Oia settlements as well as the Volcano in the midst of the Aegean. It is also home to one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, the Red Beach.
Visit the picturesque village of Megalochori, with its historic mansions dating back to the 17th century. It used to be where the merchants of the island stayed, and it definitely still has a more grandiose flair about it with manor-like houses with high walls and inner courtyards. Walk through the village through its stone pathways to see its impressive bell towers that blend Cycladic style with a more flamboyant, baroque approach. Or take a guided tour to learn more about its history and traditions, culminating at a traditional vineyard for wine tasting
Relax on a Beach
Another of the things to do in Santorini Greece is to relax on one of Santorini’s beaches. There are plenty to choose from: the White, the Red and the Black beach, and some in-between. The Black sand beach is the largest of them all, with a long stretch of ebony sand. Vlichada beach offers a lunar-like landscape and is a good size beach, unlike the Red and White beaches which are smaller and more popular. If you choose one of the lesser-known beaches, they are equally as impressive.
See The Lighthouse
Soak up the sunset on your way back from one of the beaches, at the Akrotiri Lighthouse, one of the free things to do in Santorini. Located 18 km from Fira in the village of Akrotiri. Constructed in the late 19th century, it sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. You’re not permitted to go inside it but it is one of the oldest ones in Greece and offers picturesque photos during sunset when the sunlight shines into the lighthouse.
Checking out the colourful beaches is of course a must, but you can also delve into the underwater charm of Santorini and get to see hidden visuals beneath surface level. Explore some of the best sites around Caldera and the Volcanic islands and venture into caves and underwater canyons spotting eels or an octopus. For first-timers to scuba diving, the experience comes with an assisted dive so you’ll be arm in arm with one of the certified instructors discovering the depths of the sea bed of this volcanic island. If you prefer to snorkel instead, House Reef has shallow waters and plenty of fish and crustaceans to see.
Besides the obviously stunning views, Santorini is home to some impressive buildings, from church domes to the homes of the locals, everything is just simply beautiful. Enjoy some delicious traditional Greek food, all washed down with a glass of Santorini’s finest wine at a restaurant watching the sunset. Or visit some of the best wineries and vineyards in Santorini with breathtaking views of the volcanic cliff.
If you don’t have your own transport, you can take a guided wine tour on a day trip and even visit more than one winery as part of the experience. Or enjoy a Santorini sunset from a volcanic vineyard. There’s even a wine museum on the island where you can sample wines inside a cave.
Take a Boat Cruise
Santorini’s volcano is the reason behind the island’s particular shape today and one of the best ways to see it is on a boat cruise where you’ll stop at Nea Kameni and see the crater of the active volcano. You can combine a boat tour with a visit to the hot springs where you can swim in the green sulphur waters then relax on the Thirassia islands which used to be part of the island of Santorini. Or just sail at dusk to watch the sunset over Santorini. They are also a great way to meet others especially if you decide on a catamaran cruise with lunch and an open bar or a premium cruise with a BBQ and drinks included in the price. You can find boat tours for any type of solo.
Where To Stay in Santorini
If you have money to splurge, Santorini has some gorgeous properties to stay in with views of the caldera. For those on a budget, there are hostels on the island or look for properties that are further back from the views. For the night owl who wants to sample some Greek nightlife, you may prefer to stay in Fira, the beating heart of Santorini and explore the other locations during the day. Other good places to stay are Oia, Firostefani and Imerovigli.
Plus there’s Airbnb which offers rental accommodation in Santorini on a short-term basis and rooms with a local. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
All of the accommodations below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement.
Antonia Hotel – €
This 2-star hotel is located in Fira in a great location just 100 yards from the main square (there’s a waffle place on the corner too). It’s close to shops, cafes and restaurants and the staff are really friendly. There’s an outdoor pool for you to laze around and it’s a short walk to be rewarded with a beautiful view. They also offer a shuttle to and from the airport. Choose from a standard double or twin or a superior double room.
- Prices from £33 / €39 per night for a standard double or twin room
- To book, check prices or availability for: Antonia Hotel
This gorgeous hostel is located in an old 18th-century winery in Karterados, a typical Santorinian village surrounded by vineyards. The hostel offers activities to help you meet others staying there such as sociable barbecues and dinners or you may prefer to relax in a yoga session instead. Stay in one of the girls-only caves with large mirrors and a hairdryer on request. As well as free continental breakfast, they offer a variety of accommodation from dorm rooms in caves to single beds and private rooms. Plus where else can you stay in a former winery in one of the most beautiful places in Greece?
- Prices from £133 / €155 for 2 nights for a deluxe double room
- To book, check prices or availability for: Santorini Caveland
Dream Island Hotel – €€
There’s a reason that this place is called Dream Island Hotel. In the heart of Fira this 3-star Cycladic-style hotel has amazing views of the sea. There is a bar to mingle with others or a satellite tv in your room to just relax in the evenings. It’s family run with a lovely vibe and plenty of hospitality from the owners and staff. With first-class views over the island. we think it's one of the best places to stay in Santorini! Choose from a single room with a patio or sea view, a standard double or twin room, an apartment or a villa.
- Prices from £70 / €82 per night for a single room with a patio
- To book, check prices or availability for: Dream Island Hotel
Astarte Suites – €€€
This 5-star hotel is pricey but if you’re looking for world-class service on one of the best Greek islands, these suites even have their own private jacuzzi. Located on a cliff, the hotel is exceptional with staff, views and food to match. Enjoy a sunset dinner in Akrotiri at one of the most beautiful spots on the island, right on the southernmost tip of its crescent shape. From there you can admire the entire Caldera, the white clifftop settlements, the volcano and the sunset. Bliss…
- Prices from £762 / €893 for 2 nights for a senior suite with spa bath and caldera view
- To book, check prices or availability for: Astarte Suites
Have you been to Santorini? What's your favourite thing to do here?
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