25 Best Things to Do in Santorini
It can be confidently said that there is no other place in the world like Santorini, Greece The destination that is often found at the top of many travel bucket lists is as unique as can be; from the brilliant white houses to the deep azure waters, everything in Santorini is beautiful. Visitors can head straight over to see the famed sunsets over the romantic beaches while dining on delicious local cuisine. There are many sites and attractions that shouldn’t be missed while in Santorini, including seeing the frescoes in Akrotiri, drinking wine at the Canava Santorini Distillery, and exploring the uninhabited Nea Kameni island. Photo: pavantt/Fotolia
In 1627 BC, the Theran eruption destroyed a settlement on the island of Santorini. The volcanic ash that settled over it and ultimately buried it preserved the remains of the Minoan Bronze Age settlement now known as Akrotiri. Excavations at the site began in 1967 and local legend started claiming that the stunning remains may have been the inspiration for the story of Atlantis by Plato. Visitors will be able to see a large variety of artifacts, including Late Cycladic pottery such as vases and figurines; other pieces include bathtubs, beehives, oil lamps, and much more. The frescoes in Akrotiri are one of the most famed in Santorini and include images of the Minoan town, flowers, and other scenery.
Contact: Thera 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-08-19-39
The ancient city of Thera was inhabited from the 9th century BC to 726 AD and is located at the top of the Messavouno mountain. Named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, the city was excavated in the late 1800s by German archaeologist Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen. Visitors are invited to explore the remains, which can be reached via the many footpaths that wind up the mountain. Particularly noteworthy aspects of ancient Thera are the agora, the basilike stoa, and the theater, which was built into the slopes below the city and could seat over 1,500 people.
Contact: Kamari 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-08-19-39
»Archaeological Museum of Thera
The Archaeological Museum of Thera has an extensive collection filled with artifacts that date back to 700 BC. Items on display range from marble figurines and prehistoric vases to amphorae and other pottery. There are some beautiful sculptures and inscriptions, from the Archaic to the Roman period, which visitors can appreciate. One artifact that shouldn’t be missed is a krater with Attic black figures of four ships on the internal rim. The building that houses the museum is an architectural beauty and was built in 1960 to replace the previous museum, which had burned down during the earthquakes in 1956.
Contact: Erithrou Stavrou, Thira 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-02-22-17
Restored to its original beauty and charm, Argyris Mansion transports visitors back to the life of the glamorous and wealthy in 19th century Santorini. The property is in excellent condition and not only shows visitors the architecture and decor of an era past, but is also filled with many pieces of art and unique furnishings. The historic home is privately owned but open to the public, and there are many fun and friendly guides who can give visitors interesting tours filled with little details about Argyros. One of the best aspects of the mansion is the dedicated tasting room for wines of Canava Avantis; it has a fantastic ambiance and is filled with excellent wines for visitors to try.
Contact: Santorini 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-03-16-69
Photo: Argyros Mansion
»Byzantine Castle Ruins
Visitors vacationing in Santorini should make the time to explore the historic Byzantine castle ruins. Visitors are urged to wear comfortable shoes for the short hike up and should head up the ruins in time to see the stunning sunset. The remains of the 15th century castle offer one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the most photographed, sites in Greece; visitors can view a panoramic stretch of Santorini all the way from the citadel. The picturesque whitewashed buildings stand out against the towering windmill, azure seas, and spectacular cliffs to create something out of a fairytale.
Contact: Oia 847 02, Greece
»Canava Santorini Loukas Lygnos
Canava Santorini Loukas Lygnos was established in 1974 by Evagellos Lygnos and has been producing fine spirits since then. The same principles, methods, and recipes are used by his son, Loukas Lygnos, to continue the tradition today. Visitors are invited to take a tour of the distillery, understand the distillation process and, of course, try some of the spirits created at Canava Santorini. The on-site museum “Santorini the days gone by” lets visitors see the recreations of homes and work sites from the distillery’s past; the exhibits are filled with the original artifacts that have been collected over the years.
Contact: Mesaria, Thira 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-03-15-73
Situated at the north of Santorini, Imerovigli is a picturesque village that is recognized as one of the original settlements of Greece. The village was used in the old times to view approaching pirate ships because of the clear view across the caldera; today, visitors can still see the stunning views that Imerovigli offers without the fear of pirates. Known for being one of the most romantic destinations in Greece, Imerovigli is a must-visit location for all types of tourists. The streets are lined with traditional houses, hotels, cafes, taverns, and some breathtaking churches and chapels for visitors to explore.
»Lignos Folklore Museum
The Lignos Folklore Museum can be found in a cave house that was built in 1861 in Fira. Visitors will be able to explore the museum with exhibits such as the traditional winery with a wine press, antique utensils, barrels, and treading vats. Other exhibits include traditional workshops for carpenters and shoemakers and a historical archive filled with lithographs, manuscripts, and books. The art gallery at the Lignos Folklore Museum is filled with works by famous artists from around the world who were inspired by Santorini; in addition to these works, visitors will also be able to see many historical images of life on the island.
Contact: Fira - Kontochori Santorini 847 00 Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-02-27-92
Photo: Lucian Milasan/Fotolia
Founded in 1980, the main purpose of Megaro Gyzi is to offer cultural and spiritual development to locals and visitors in Santorini. The cultural center that Megaro Gyzi is housed in was donated by the Catholic Diocese of Santorini and has beautiful architecture and décor, which visitors can explore in detail. Depending on when they travel, visitors will be able to enjoy the many events held at the center throughout the year; these range from concerts and musical recitals to exhibitions, performances, film showings, and much more. The permanent collection includes authentic engravings, historical manuscripts, and a collection of Santorini’s strata.
Contact: 25is Martiou 405, Thira 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-02-30-77
Photo: Megaro Gyzi
»Museum of Minerals and Fossils
For over 10 years, the Museum of Minerals and Fossils in Perissa has been the center of attention when it comes to minerals and fossils from Greece as well as the rest of the world. Amongst the exhibitions is a rare collection of minerals from Lavrio and other original treasures dating back to over 1.5 billion years ago. Visitors will be able to see rare and old plant fossil from olive and palm trees that demonstrate the evolution of plants across the Aegean as well as Europe. People of all ages will love exploring the exhibits and the building in which the museum is housed.
Contact: Perissa 847 03, Greece, Phone: +30-69-76-40-37-71
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»Museum of Prehistoric Thera
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera houses ancient artifacts from various excavations from all over Santorini. The museum was built over the ruins of a church that was destroyed during the Amorgos earthquake in 1956. Now, visitors can explore the museum and see various artifacts that date back to from the Late Neolithic to the Late Cycladic period. The collections include ceramics, jewelry, sculptures, paintings, and various ritual objects. Some pieces that shouldn’t be missed are the Kastri group of objects and the Middle Cycladic pottery, which can be distinguished by the swallows found on many of the items.
Contact: Thera 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-02-22-17
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»Naval Maritime Museum
The Naval Maritime Museum can be found on the northwest coast of Santorini in a 19th century mansion that has been restored to house the historical artifacts. Extensively covering Greek maritime history, visitors will be able to see many interesting objects and artifacts. Some aspects of the museum that shouldn’t be missed include rare figureheads, old maritime equipment, models of old and new Thiran ships, and many seamen’s chests. Visitors will be able to see rare photographs regarding maritime history along with a library filled with rare writings about the marine development of the island.
Contact: Oia Santorini 847 02, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-07-11-56
Photo: Pictures news/Fotolia
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Located within the Santorini caldera, Nea Kameni is a small uninhabited Greek island that was formed by repeated eruptions of dacite lava and ash that occurred over the last two millennia. The island is a popular site for tourists during the summer months; visitors can get there on a quick boat ride and then climb a gravel path to the top of a volcanic crater for some breathtaking views of the volcano’s rim as well as the surroundings. There are many active sulfur vents scattered throughout the island as well as a carpet of beautiful red grassy succulents. The healing hot springs are the perfect place for visitors to revitalize themselves while on vacation to Santorini.
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»Poetry Olive Oil Tasting
Found in the Selene restaurant in the Santorini of the Past experience, Poetry Olive Oil Tasting allows visitors to get up close and personal with one of Greece’s most famed products: olive oil. Run by the Misichronis family, visitors will discover the delectable taste of some of the best Greek olive oils and their different uses in Mediterranean cuisine. The seminar will give guests details on the roots and history of six different olive oils from the island and how the oil plays an important role in the Mediterranean diet in a fun and memorable mezze and wine style experience.
Contact: Phone: +30-22-86-02-22-49
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»Santorini Arts Factory
Conveniently located next to the beautiful Vlychada Beach, the Santorini Arts Factory gives visitors the opportunity to understand the arts from previous decades. There are many beautiful works on display at the museum, which is also connected to an events space that has new workshops and exhibitions rotating through it all the time. Visitors might be able to catch one of the music festivals, concerts, or live performances held at the Santorini Arts Factory depending on when they are there. Any of the local guides will be more than happy to show visitors around and share useful information and tips about the space and the art on display.
Contact: Phone: +30-21-06-85-88-20
Photo: Santorini Arts Factory
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Considered one of the natural wonders of the Earth, the Santorini caldera is a 4-mile-long basin that was created by a volcanic explosion over 3,500 years ago. The explosion completely changed the topography of the Mediterranean coast and the remaining basin soon became linked to the myths of Atlantis. Visitors will be able to see stunning views from Cape Exomitis or Cape Mavropetra. Visitors looking for some exciting nightlife can head straight to Oia, which is filled with hotels, bars, and restaurants with fabulous panoramic views of the surroundings. Other activities include hiking, scuba diving, and going on donkey rides to the summit to see the stunning scenery.
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»Santorini MTB Adventures
Due to its rugged landscape and hidden gems, one of the best ways to truly discover everything Santorini has to offer is by exploring on a bicycle. Everyone from beginners to pro-cyclists will love riding over the unique landscape and getting an up-close and personal look at the surrounding region. Visitors can choose to rent a bicycle and ride on their own, or they can join Santorini MTB Adventures on one of the many guided eBike tours. Some of the more popular tours that visitors choose to go on are the sunset tour, the seaside tour, and the cross-island tour. For those looking to go somewhere specific, the experts at MTB Adventures will create a customized tour based on what visitors would like to see and do.
Contact: Phone: +30-22-86-03-05-54
Photo: Y. Papadimitriou/Fotolia
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»Santorini of the Past
Offering the best cultural and gastronomy experience on the island, Santorini of the Past comprises many different things to give visitors one fully rounded experiences. These include contemporary cultural and gastronomic spaces, such as the renowned Selene restaurant, a guesthouse that offers a true Santorini-style stay, and much more. Visitors there are invited to participate in wine tastings, try their hand at Greek cuisine with cooking classes from a local chef, or take part in seminars and other events. Visitors will also be able to take back some amazing authentic souvenirs from their visit to Santorini of the Past.
Contact: 56, Panepistimiou Ave. 10678 Athens, Greece, Phone: +30-21-03-30-50-95
Photo: Santorini of the Past
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»Santorini Walking Tours
The guided walking tours offered by Santorini Walking Tours allow visitors to explore and experience Santorini just like a local. Walking tours allow people who aren’t familiar with the land to get to the hidden gems of the land, through whitewashed villages and picturesque cobblestone alleys. The off-the-beaten-path tour experience gives visitors the opportunity to mingle with the locals and get to know artists, winemakers, and craftsmen, try traditional cuisine, and learn about ancient traditions from the volcanic island. Some of the most popular tours offered are the Santorini Wanderlust, the Caldera Hike, Oia’s Hidden Treasures, and Southern Exposure.
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»Santorini Wine Adventure
Santorini is known for its delicious wines and spirits, and visitors can discover the most distinct wineries and traditional cellars of the area with Santorini Wine Adventure. All the tours offered are run by highly experienced Greek enologists, who provide guests with a tour personalized to what they would like to eat and drink. From tasting wines in the oldest vineyards in Europe to learning to cook like a Greek with fresh, local ingredients, Santorini Wine Adventure offers it all. One of the most famous tours offered is the Trails of History and Wine, which lets people explore the history and past of the island while sipping a crisp volcanic wine.
Contact: Fira 1564, Thira 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-69-32-96-00-62
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Santozeum is a great museum that connects Santorini with artists and institutions around the world. The creative platform invites the community to learn more about arts, humanities, and sciences. One of the main exhibits are the frescoes that were discovered in an excavated archaeological site in Akrotiri. There are many workshops and events held at Santozeum throughout the year for visitors to participate in and connect with artists and scholars from various places. Since the museum is housed at the top of a mountain, visitors will also be able to enjoy some spectacular views.
Contact: Agiou Mina, Thira 847 00, Greece, Phone: +30-69-39-76-33-99
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»Sunset Oia Sailing Cruises
Sailing around Santorini is one of the best ways to explore the island and Sunset Oia is the expert at organizing sailing tours based on what visitors want. From yacht excursions for a group of friends to private romantic cruises for a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, Sunset Oia has it covered. The cruises take visitors to various famous beaches on the island of Santorini, the therapeutic waters of Santorini’s hot springs, and many other locations. Visitors will be able to sail the calm waters while exploring the hidden treasures of Santorini and viewing a mesmerizing sunset in Oia.
Contact: Oia, Thira 847 02, Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-07-22-00
Photo: Lucian Bolca/Fotolia
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Therasia is a small island off the coast of Santorini that visitors can get to with a scenic 20-minute boat ride down Ammoudi Bay to Therasia’s port of Riva. The island has remained true to its roots over the years and is filled with authenticity and tradition that have remained an important part of its appeal. The natural beauty and serenity of the island are a welcome change from the hustle of the mainland. Visitors can spend the day exploring the land on a guided boat tour and learn about the history of Therasia and its volcano; many day excursions can be scheduled for visitors to spend time with the locals and take part in different activities.
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»Tomato Industrial Museum
The Tomato Industrial Museum is a former tomato processing factory that has been converted into a museum so that visitors can explore the history of Santorini’s tomato paste industry. Though visitors may find it odd to have an entire museum dedicated to Santorini’s delicious tomatoes, the museum is a fun way for the entire family to spend the day. Visitors can learn all about why the island’s tomatoes have a distinctive flavor – because they grow in the soft volcanic soil of Santorini. The museum also goes into detail about how the small pre-industrial technology plant grew in the early 1900s.
Contact: Vlichada, Santorini, 847 00
Photo: Tomato Industrial Museum
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Santorini is famed for its delicious wines, and there’s no better place for visitors to understand the history of the area’s wine making than at the Santorini Wine Museum. Visitors can go on a personal tour of the extraordinary natural cave in which the museum is housed. It is six meters below ground and presents visitors with the opportunity to see the evolution of wine production in Santorini. Local tour guides and audio guides ensure that visitors get the most from their experience, and the tour ends with a ritual wine tasting in the winery. Visitors looking to get a traditional Greek experience should head there on Friday nights as they host a delicious buffet meal with live entertainment, costumes, and Greek dancing.
Contact: Vothonas Santorini 847 00 Greece, Phone: +30-22-86-03-13-22
Photo: Wine Museum
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25 Best Things to Do in Santorini
- Akrotiri, Photo: Courtesy of THIERRY - Fotolia.com
- Ancient Thera, Photo: Courtesy of dutchlight - Fotolia.com
- Archaeological Museum of Thera, Photo: Courtesy of quasarphotos - Fotolia.com
- Argyros Mansion, Photo: Argyros Mansion
- Byzantine Castle Ruins, Photo: Courtesy of saiko3p - Fotolia.com
- Canava Santorini Loukas Lygnos, Photo: Courtesy of pfongabe33 - Fotolia.com
- Imerovigli, Photo: Courtesy of pop_gino - Fotolia.com
- Lignos Folklore Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Lucian Milasan - Fotolia.com
- Megaro Gyzi, Photo: Megaro Gyzi
- Museum of Minerals and Fossils, Photo: Courtesy of greentellect - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Photo: Courtesy of saiko3p - Fotolia.com
- Naval Maritime Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Pictures news - Fotolia.com
- Nea Kameni, Photo: Courtesy of alekosa - Fotolia.com
- Poetry Olive Oil Tasting, Photo: Courtesy of Deno - Fotolia.com
- Santorini Arts Factory, Photo: Santorini Arts Factory
- Santorini Caldera, Photo: Courtesy of santosha57 - Fotolia.com
- Santorini MTB Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of Y. Papadimitriou - Fotolia.com
- Santorini of the Past, Photo: Santorini of the Past
- Santorini Walking Tours, Photo: Courtesy of travnikovstudio - Fotolia.com
- Santorini Wine Adventure, Photo: Courtesy of pillerss - Fotolia.com
- Santozeum, Photo: Santozeum
- Sunset Oia Sailing Cruises, Photo: Courtesy of Lucian Bolca - Fotolia.com
- Therasia, Photo: Courtesy of ventura - Fotolia.com
- Tomato Industrial Museum, Photo: Tomato Industrial Museum
- Wine Museum, Photo: Wine Museum
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of pavantt - Fotolia.com
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