We spent 4 incredible days in Santorini in June 2015. It is a place that we will forever hold close to our hearts. It's the kind of place you find yourself daydreaming about long after you've visited, which is probably the reason we're posting about it two years later!
To help you plan your own trip, we've listed the top 10 things we would recommend doing while you're in Santorini.
1. Explore Fira
Fira is the closest town to the ferry, and as a result it's one of the most popular places to stay on the island. We stayed just outside of the city center, which we liked because we could enjoy some peace and quiet at our hotel while still being less than a 10 min walk away from town.
Fira is located on the edge of the island overlooking the caldera, with incredible views. There's lots you can do in Fira and it is all very walkable. Wander the shops, try a wine tasting, go to a museum...you could even attempt the 587 steps down to the Old Port (or take the cable car).
2. Hike from Fira to Oia
Hiking from Fira to Oia was one of the highlights of our trip. It took us about 3 hours including stops along the way. The hike itself is only about 10km, but it takes longer than you would expect due to the heat. We would definitely recommend starting as early as possible, and bringing lots of water with you because the shops along the way aren't always open. Don't forget your sunscreen either! There is zero shade as you're walking. Once you get to Oia, you can explore the town for the day before grabbing a bus back to Fira in the evening.
3. Get lost in the streets of Oia
Oia is pretty magical. The famous "blue roofs" of Santorini are located here, and there are countless photo opportunities around every corner.
Eat out on a patio overlooking the caldera, wander the streets and little shops, eat as much ice cream as you can, and enjoy every minute!
4. Take the stairs down to Ammoudi Bay in Oia
You might not be keen on trekking down this steep set of 300 steps after you just completed your hike from Fira to Oia, but it's worth it. There is no beach here, but it's a lovely spot to jump into the water from the rocks. There are also a number of seafood restaurants right on the water.
5. Rent an ATV for the day
I have Slade to thank for this one. If it weren't for him, I would have been too scared to do this and I really would have missed out. Renting an ATV is not only a TON of fun, but it opens up the opportunity to see parts of the island that you need a vehicle to reach.
There are many companies that offer ATVs. Do your research, find one that is reputable with good reviews online, and make sure you have insurance in case anything goes wrong. We rented our ATV from Motor Inn and had a great experience with them. They dropped the ATV at our hotel in the morning and picked it up that evening. They had no hidden fees and provided insurance with no deductible. We'd rent from them again.
6. Hit the beaches
There are a number of beaches on the island, and each have their own unique characteristics. These were the ones we went to:
Red Beach - as its name gives away, this beach is made up of red pebbles and is set against an incredible wall of red volcanic rock.
Perissa Beach - this pebbled beach is tucked into a little cove. The water here was really nice. There are a number of restaurants really close by.
Kamari Beach - there is a lovely boardwalk along this beach with countless shops and restaurants. It has a relaxing vacation atmosphere.
7. Get to the highest point on the island
Mt Profitis Ilias is Santorini's highest point at 567m. The Monastery of Profitis Ilias, built in 1712, is located at the top of the mountain. We did not visit the monastery itself, but we really enjoyed the view from up here. There was no one else around when we went up, so we were able to relax and take it all in.
8. Take in the views from Akrotiri Lighthouse
Akrotiri Lighthouse was built in 1892 and is one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece. It is perched on top of a rocky cliff at the southern tip of Santorini and offers fantastic views of the whole island.
9. Watch the sunset
There are so many places to watch the sunset from...we would recommend any of the following:
Mt Profitis Ilias
10. Relax with no itinerary
Let time slow down and enjoy having no plans at all. Relax by the pool at your hotel, or find a perch somewhere in town overlooking the caldera and just people-watch. Santorini is a special place, and it's not meant for running around trying to fit too many things into your day.
Planning a trip to Santorini? Let us know if you have any questions for us in the comments :)