Looking for things to do in Santorini, Greece? Here’s our Santorini travel guide, including all the best beaches and best restaurants.
Greece is absolutely stunning. We felt at home the moment we stepped off the plane onto the island of Santorini and into our home for the week, a white-washed bungalow fit for the set of Mama Mia. We rented the place with some of our dearest friends and my sister. The time was filled with beaches, hikes with stunning views, fresh Greek salads, crystal blue water, and lots of laughing and bottles of wine late into the evening. Here are all the things to do in Santorini, including our favorite Santorini pics, beaches, and the best restaurants in Santorini.
Where to stay in Santorini, Greece
The Aibnb we stayed in was Villa Marily and it’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever stayed. In the world. No joke. It’s located in the village of Imerovigli, a quaint, sleepy village that was much more our style than the very busy city of Oia. The house is a traditional Santorini cave house right on the Caldera, a huge volcanic crater that looks onto an inactive volcano. Unlike most of the cave houses in Santorini, Villa Marily runs wide and not deep in the rock, so there was a lot of natural light throughout the day.
Check out these insane views from our villa. It was absolutely perfect for our party of 5, and we spent much of our time just sunning ourselves on the patio and talking late into the night with a bottle of wine. The price is a steal, but it is a bit rustic in some senses (for example, we had to rig up the shower head with dental floss, etc). It was a small price to pay for one of our most beautiful memories.
Here’s the view from Alex and my window. These Santorini pics get me every time!
This view from our patio was right into the Santorini caldera, which was created when a volcano erupted 3,500 years ago. The islands rose up out of the ocean about 300 years ago.
The next best thing to gazing at the gorgeous views in Santorini is doing the same thing on Santorini beaches! We did a tour of many of the Santorini beaches (we rented a car, which made it easy to get around). Here are our favorites!
The Red Beach
The Red Beach is arguably the most famous of Santorini beaches. It’s a gorgeous beach surrounded by cliffs of red volcanic rock. The Red Beach is located in Akrotiri village, 12 kilometers south west of Fira. We drove there in our rental car, but you can also take a bus from Fira. Because it’s so picturesque, it can get busy. It’s best earlier in the morning and later afternoon. Make sure to bring lots of snacks and water because there are no facilities at this beach.
One of our favorite Santorini beaches is called Vlychada Beach. This beach is surrounded by large carved cliffs that look like a sculptor’s work! However, they’re formed by a natural process of the volcano, the wind, and the sea. Vlychada Beach is an easily accessible beach by car or bus. It’s located on the south coast of Santorini, 13 kilometers from Fira.
Best restaurants in Santorini
If you’re looking for things to do in Santorini: how about eating? Savoring a Greek salad in Greece might be one of the greatest pleasures on Earth! It’s the most beautiful simple combination: cool cucumber, juicy tomato, red onion, and salty, savory feta and Kalamata olives, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. Under the hot Santorini sun, it feels like literal heaven. That and chewy pita bread triangles tipped into tzatziki, that refreshing cucumber yogurt dill dip. Go to Santorini, order these two things, and let all your troubles melt away. You can order these in just about any of the Santorini restaurants, and they will be fantastic no matter where you are.
A few things you also must most definitely order when in Santorini: at one restaurant, we ordered the “feta in the oven” for the table. It became one of our favorite Greek appetizers! What came out was a large block of feta, baked in the oven with tomatoes and Kalamata olives. It was savory and delicious that we made sure to order it as often as we saw it on the menu. Another favorite Greek recipe to order is tabbouleh: that traditional salad of bulgur wheat, tomatoes, a whole lot of parlsey, and lemon. Alex and I used to order it at our favorite Greek restaurant in college, so eating in Greece was a huge treat!
Now, for our opinions on the best Santorini restaurants. Here are a few of the Santorini restaurants that we loved:
- Kyprida Restaurant in Oia – a fabulous restaurant with tasteful Greek dishes, prepared by a French chef
- Skala Restaurant in Oia – a traditional Greek restaurant with fabulous views
- To Steki Tou Nikou in Imerovigli – worth the trek; traditional recipes, no tourists, and great prices!
This beet salad with mint vinaigrette and the sieftalies (a type of chicken kebab) were dishes at our favorite restaurant in Oia, Kyprida. The fresh flavors and creative vegetable dishes were fabulous.
Best Santorini pics
Of all the things to do in Santorini, of course getting some of those incredible Santorini pics was top of our list. Here are some of our favorite places to visit for epic Santorini pics (outside of the Santorini beaches, of course). This is Skaros Rock, one of our favorite places to hike and watch the sunset. Skaros Rock was just a 10-minute walk from our Airbnb in Imerovigli.
Hiking to Oia Santorini
Another place to get perfect Santorini pics is going to the town of Oia. If you’ve seen those iconic Santorini pics of the blue domes in the white city hugging the cliff, it’s Oia! Oia is pretty touristy: at any moment there were about 5 brides within our sightlines doing wedding photos! So we loved staying in the quierter village of Imerovigli and then hiking in to Oia. Views from our hike from Imerovigli to the village of Oia were incredible! And of course Oia is extraordinarily picturesque.
And that’s all: all the things to do in Santorini, Greece! We heartily recommend a trip there if you’re considering one. Have you been to Greece, or thinking of taking a trip there? Let us know any thoughts in the comments!
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About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.