Santorini is one of Greece’s most beautiful islands and draws millions of visitors yearly. The island is in the Southern Aegean Sea and is known for its incredible hikes, beaches, and stunning viewpoints.
Spending one day in Santorini offers time to see much of the island but you should plan an itinerary so you can see as much as possible.
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How to Visit Santorini in One Day
Early and late planes from Athens
One of the remarkable things about Santorini is the island’s size. It is relatively small and you can cram in many attractions if you see Santorini in one day. In fact, you can catch a flight from Athens in the morning and fly back at night time.
Due to Santorini’s popularity, you can catch various flights throughout the day. The flight is only 45 minutes long, so you don’t have to worry about prolonged and arduous travel.
As a cruise passenger
Santorini is a popular stop for many cruises sailing the Meditteranean Sea. Cruise ships dock just outside the Old Port in Fira, and you will need to get a tender boat to get you offshore. From the old port of Fira you can catch a cable car or climb 600 steps to get to the town, so be ready for this. Here you will also find the famous Santorini donkeys but I would advise not using them to get to the top.
You should keep in mind that you will find queues at the cable car.
From Fira, you can organize a private tour that can get you around the island or take the bus to Oia and other places.
Things to See in Santorini in One Day
Explore Oia Village
If you’re spending one day in Santorini, you’ll have to visit Oia. This is Santorini’s most famous village and world-renowned for its beauty. In Oia, there are various examples of stunning Greek architecture, luxury 5-star hotels, and fantastic sunset views.
The town is home to traditional houses, narrow streets, and delicious Greek cuisine. Popular attractions include the Maritime Museum, which consists of a library, parts of a Venetian fortress, and historical maritime exhibits. There is also a small port called Ammoudi, and you can get here by walking down 300 steps.
Once you’re down there, you can find small boats, beautiful views, and delicious seafood restaurants. Oia is famous for its world-class sunsets – you can see them all over Instagram – and you should hike up to the hills to catch the best views.
The sunsets aren’t the most photographed part of Santorini; that award goes to the Blue Domed Churches. You can see these dotted around Oia, with the two most famous churches being Agios Spiridonas and Anastasios.
Explore Pygros or Emporio Village
Firstly, you can explore Pyrgos – Santorini’s former capital city. It is the best-kept medieval area on Santorini and has a significant place in Greece’s history. One of the main reasons tourists come here is the views. You can catch panoramic views of the coast that are truly stunning and worth the journey.
Pyrgos has some of Santorini’s most incredible infinity pools, balconies, and terraces that tourists love to see. Perhaps the best aspect of Pyrgos is that it isn’t as busy as other areas of Santorini. Santorini attracts millions of cruise ship visitors but Pyrgos is not the first stop. It is less busy, less advertised, and quainter than other beautiful Santorini hotspots.
The other option is visiting Emporio village – the largest Santorini village. You’ll find Emporio in Santorini’s center where it is home to various beautiful yards and houses. Historically, Emporio was Santorini’s center of commercial affairs making it a vibrant area. It is a quiet place that attracts some visitors in today’s era but less than other Santorini areas.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of shops, cafes, and traditional hotels. You can also find traditional taverns offering some of the island’s most extraordinary Greek cuisine. The most popular Emporio attraction is the medieval Kasteli, a fortified Santorini castle. Once you go inside the castle, you can find a church dating back to the 16th century. There are superb island views from the castle.
You can choose either of these spots or both during your trip. Either way, they are excellent areas to visit on your one day Santorini itinerary.
Akrotiri Archeological Site
The next destination on your one-day Santorini itinerary should be the Akrotiri archaeological site. The site dates back to the Bronze Age, where it was one of the most significant Minoan areas.
The connections of the Akrotiri site span from Egypt to Syria. Historians state that the site dates back to about 4,000 years ago before the development of the island into a commercial hub.
Unfortunately, a massive volcanic eruption covered the town in a layer of volcanic ash, and why Akrotiri is known as the “Greek Pompeii”. Archaeologists have undertaken extensive excavations on the site turning it into one of Greece’s best attractions. Unfortunately, not all sites are as well-preserved in Greece, which makes the Akrotiri unique.
Take a Photo on Red Beach
Santorini is home to Red Beach, which is incredibly popular with tourists. The sand of the beach and surrounding cliffs are colored red due to volcanic activity, and it is one of the world’s rarest sites. But it is also accessible to the public and has sunbeds and umbrellas.
If you’re looking for a refreshing swim – which you’ll need during the summer – the beach has crystalline blue waters offering an excellent place to go swimming and snorkeling. The beach often gets hot because there isn’t much wind, so be sure to bring your swimwear. You can also get to nearby White Beach by boat, another stunning beach that visitors love.
Swim on a Volcanic Beach
Although Santorini isn’t as famous as other Greek islands for its beaches, you could still visit some of the other volcanic beaches if you have the time. Perissa Beach is a renowned tourist beach because there are loads of sunbeds, umbrellas, and beautiful blue seas to swim in.
Alternatively, why not visit Perivolos Beach? It is an excellent volcanic beach and ideal for a refreshing afternoon swim. Many weddings take place on this beach.
Visit a Winery or Do a Wine Tour
Did you know that Santorini is famous for its wine? The island has several excellent wineries, and a perfect way to end your one day in Santorini is by doing a wine tour.
The Santorini: 4-Hour Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour offers the ultimate Santorini wine tour. You will enjoy expert grape variety advice while learning about the island’s 3,500-year history of winemaking. Also, the tour provides the chance to enjoy 12 different varieties, all produced on the island.
If You Are Staying Late
Watch the Sunset
So you’ve decided to stay late? What an excellent choice, it means you’ll get to see some of Santorini’s world-famous sunsets. If you want to capture one of the island’s incredible sunsets, you need to head to Oia. It is the best place to view a sunset, and if you get up high, you’ll get some breathtaking shots of it.
Alternatively, you should check Fira because it is also superb for sunsets, and it’s closer to the airport if you have a late flight to catch.
Have a Cocktail in the Caldera in Fira
Fira is an excellent place to grab a drink after a long and hard day of exploring. Plus, it was probably hot if you visited during summertime. Sit down, relax, and chat about your day of exploring while you watch the sunset.
How to Get Around Santorini in a Day
Rent a Car From the Airport
You should hire a car from the airport if you arrive via plane. Buses in Santorini can be challenging to catch, and you will avoid the long and painful waiting times for buses if you have a car.
Plus, you can stop wherever you want. Santorini is full of incredible spots, and you want the chance to marvel at the views wherever you are.
Book a Private Tour
A private tour is an effective way to see as much of Santorini as possible. We recommend the Private Half-Day Sightseeing Tour of Santorini because it offers a comprehensive tour of the entire island.
You’ll enjoy a five-hour tour that takes you wherever you want. Also, Santorini is very hot during the summer, and they offer an air-conditioned vehicle. It is the best option if you’re spending one day in Santorini from a cruise ship.
Use the Local Buses
The local buses are an excellent way to get around, even if you sometimes have to wait for them. However, it is the best budget option compared to the others, and you’ll get to view Fira and Oia. If you push it, you might be able to see another place along the way.
One downside of the buses is that they don’t go everywhere on the island. But if you’re looking to visit the main tourist attractions, you will not be disappointed by the buses on a day in Santorini.