Planning on visiting the spectacular island of Santorini and wondering how many days to spend there? It all depends on what you want to do, and how many days you have available. Although generally, the island has a lot to offer, you could even get a great taste of Santorini in a day.
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How Many Days Should You Stay in Santorini?
What to do in Santorini
From the breathtaking calderas to the untouched islands nearby, volcanic Santorini is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Popular worldwide for its magnificent sunsets, the jewel of the Aegean is a cosmopolitan yet raw hub for the perfect summer holiday. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Santorini:
- Take photos of the famous white and blue-domed churches
- Admire Caldera views
- Stroll through the alleys of Fira
- Enjoy Oia’s famous sunset
- Go hiking from Fira to Oia
- Go on a boat tour around Santorini
- Walk around the Old Port of Fira Skala
- Enjoy Fira’s nightlife
- Visit the ancient site of Akrotiri
- Visit the Archaeological Museum
- Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera
- Go shopping at chic boutiques
- Explore the island of Nea Kameni and the volcano by boat
- Visit Thirassia island opposite Santorini
- Swim at spectacular beaches
- Watch a film in Santorini’s open-air cinema
How To Spend 1 Day in Santorini
Santorini is relatively small, and its peculiar shape makes it possible to explore most of it in a day if you have planned a detailed itinerary. You can visit Santorini by catching an early flight from Athens Airport for the day and returning with the night flight.
As a cruise passenger, your ship will dock at the Old Port of Fira, from which you can either catch a cable car or walk the 600 steps to reach the picturesque village of Fira. From Fira, you can start exploring the island.
Here’s a 1-day-itinerary for you:
- Hike from Fira to Oia
You can always catch a private transfer to get to Oia- the most popular village in Santorini. However, this route from Fira to Oia is one of the most beautiful hikes of Greece, offering magnificent views over steep cliffs, calderas, and the endless Aegean blue.
The trail is 10 km long, but it is also downhill, allowing an easier descend, perfect for people who don’t have experience hiking. It consists mainly of roads and parts of dirt road, and it lasts about 3 hours.
On the way, you get the chance to pass through the villages Imerovigli and Firostefani, also traditional and picturesque
- Enjoy the village of Oia
The traditional village with whitewashed houses and blue elements is the jewel of Santorini. It is also very cosmopolitan, with countless bars and restaurants and 5-star luxury resorts.
You can simply enjoy the breathtaking views by strolling through the narrow, paved alleys or enjoy a cocktail with an unforgettable view. In Oia, you will also find other attractions including the Maritime Museum, a Venetian Fortress, and the Ammoudi port with 300 steps to climb.
Don’t miss the wonderful blue-domed churches around the village! Watching the sunset from Oia is the most famous attraction on the island!
- Visit the Akrotiri Archaeological Site
The most historically valuable site of Santorini is the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, which dates back to the Bronze age. The site is also known as the “Greek Pompeii” since it got covered in ash when the volcano erupted.
The site is well-preserved nonetheless, thanks to the meticulous work of the archaeologists, who restored most of the site to excellent condition.
- Swim on Perissa beach
The organized beach of Perissa is well-known for its natural volcanic beauty. It is visited by many travelers and tourists who wish to swim in its Aegean waters. You will find all the amenities you wish there, including sunbeds, umbrellas, and refreshments for the perfect afternoon swim by the waves.
- Enjoy the Sunset of your life
If you are planning to stay late, you get to enjoy the wonderful sunset! A lot can be said about the sunset in Santorini, none of which would do justice to the sight of it. For an unforgettable experience and the last taste of Santorini, make sure you find the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
The best solution would be heading back to Oia, to watch it from the most popular and most photographed spot. Another option would be to head back to Fira, which is also convenient and offers great panoramic views of the sunset.
For the detailed 1-day-itinerary for Santorini, you could also check here.
How To Spend 2 Days in Santorini
If you have time for an overnight stay, you surely get to explore more of the island. Here’s what else you can see in Santorini, apart from the above-mentioned 1-day-itinerary destinations:
Start your day with a hiking tour around the awe-inspiring volcano of Santorini. The earlier you set off, the better the conditions will be, as the midday sun in the Aegean is scorching and will make your hike uncomfortable.
The trail will lead you through the Caldera to the volcano itself, offering breathtaking views of Santorini along the way. The wild volcanic landscape looks almost extraterrestrial.
- Head for a Swim at Red Beach
What better way to cool down after your hike than visiting Red Beach, an idyllic landscape of unparalleled raw beauty? As its name suggests, the beach has rock formations of red color, in deep contrast with the emerald waters of the sea.
It is located near the area of Akrotiri, and it is quite small in size, so keep in mind that at times it gets crowded. There is road access and parking by the road, and then you have to follow an easy path for 2 minutes.
There are amenities such as umbrellas and sunbeds. Snorkeling at Red Beach is a must!
- Explore the villages of Pyrgos and Emporio
The lovely village of Emporio is the largest of Santorini. It features old, traditional houses of stunning architecture and a folk element worth discovering. Houses with staircases and lovely windows make the village the perfect spot to stroll around and immerse yourself in tradition.
You can also explore Pyrgos village, which is usually quieter but still stunning. It has a beautiful central church to visit and many alleys to wander around.
Find more ideas on what to do in 2 days here.
How To Spend 2 Days in Santorini
There are many options for boat tours around the island. You could go on a luxurious private catamaran cruise that offers great food and amazing caldera views.
For more affordable choices, consider the sunset cruise, which is an unforgettable experience of the magical sunset from the western part of Oia, in the sea. This is usually organized in small groups and offers you a lot of beach-hopping and caldera views.
A lot of these daily cruises offer the option of visiting the island of Thirassia just opposite the main island of Santorini, and the small island Nea Kameni and its active volcano accessible by sea.
Since you have the time, don’t miss out on the opportunity to taste Santorini’s famous wines by going on a wine tour. This alternative activity is ideal for those eager to immerse themselves in the island culture, get to know the folklore elements, and enjoy the wonderful agricultural landscape, instead of only the cosmopolitan side of the island.
This is an ideal recommendation for your afternoon when you can join the guided tour and get to learn more about the rich wine-making history of Santorini, which dates back 5000 years. On the trip, you’ll get to taste local delicacies such as bread and cheese and converse with expert winemakers, who dedicated their lives to their vines.
How To Spend 4+ Days in Santorini
- Visit the Museums
Use your extra time on the wonderful island to catch up on activities and sightseeing. You now have unlimited time to visit the Archaeological Museum in the village of Fira, with its Archaic to Roman sculpture collections, the Hellenistic frescoes and vases, and clay dating back to the Geometric period.
You can also visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, also located in Fira, with valuable collections of Neolithic and Cycladic periods and other wall painting collections.
- Go shopping
Invest your early afternoon hours after lunch on shopping at the lovely boutiques, hidden in the alleys of either Fira or Oia, where you will find luxurious merchandise and lovely souvenirs.
- Watch a film in Santorini’s open-air cinema
Experience the ultimate summer evening by watching a film in the open-air summer cinema of Kamari, just outside the entrance of Kamari town on the road to Fira. The cinema offers refreshments and snacks at its bar. A most romantic idea for your last evening in Santorini!
- Discover Santorini’s vibrant nightlife
In cosmopolitan Fira, you will get a taste of Santorini’s vibrant nightlife. Although not as known as Mykonos, the island offers a wide range of bars and clubs to enjoy cocktails and drinks on lovely summer nights with great views in the background. Enjoy your last moments on the magical island to the fullest and make great memories.
Check here my 4-day Santorini itinerary.