One of my favourite travel destinations is definitely Greece! The island of Santorini is one of the most popular islands for tourists from all over the globe and I have been lucky enough to visit three times! There is plenty to do on the island so I hope you find this list both helpful and inspiring for your next trip to Santorini!
1. Stay In A Traditional Cave House
Staying in a traditional cave house is the coolest thing you can do on the island of Santorini! I have been lucky enough to stay in two very different but equally beautiful cave houses which I both booked through Airbnb. I high recommend booking through Airbnb if you are planning to stay in the picturesque town of Oia as hotels can be quite expensive, especially in peak time (May-August) due to the amount of tourists Oia attracts each year. Airbnb was definitely a much cheaper option and I believe I received the exact same experience: a gorgeous traditional cave house to stay in, amazing Greek hosts, exceptional service, wifi (oh so important!) and stunning views of the Caldera.
Cave House Number 1
Airbnb link: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/6002904
Cave House Number 2
Airbnb link: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/388137
Also booked through Airbnb, my husband and I stayed in this traditional cave house on our honeymoon! Staying in the town of Oia was definitely a splurge part of our 3 weeks in Greece, and we definitely paid a little more for this rental as we wanted to have our own private Jacuzzi tub!
2. Visit Black Beach and Red Beach
Two of the most popular beaches (that most tourists will go to) on the island of Santorini is Black beach and Red beach.
Black beach, also known as Kamari beach is a beautiful beach only about 10km from Fira, hosting gorgeous cliff views and also black sand! To get to this beach from Oia, you need to catch a bus to Fira, and then another bus to Kamari, which will only set you back approximately 5 euros one way. There are plenty of buses that leave from Fira to Kamari throughout the day.
A word of caution though, on black beach there are many restaurants and resorts that if you want to use their beach chairs and umbrellas, you would be required to buy something from them. If you are happy to do that, it’s fine but if you just want to relax for a few hours, then think about finding a spot to sit on the sand. Black beach was definitely one of my favourite beaches to visit as it has sand and great swimming! (something very important to Australians!)
Red beach, located just steps away from Akrotiri is quite a small-ish beach with red sand! It is definitely one of the most popular beaches on Santorini known for its red sand AND cliffs. To get to red beach from Oia, all you have to do is catch a bus to Fira and then another bus to Red beach. Red beach is a little further away than Black Beach, and when you arrive to red beach, you will have to walk a few minutes down the cliff to make it to the beach itself.
My husband and I visited red beach on our honeymoon, and our experience was that there was quite a lot of hype about the beach and it wasn’t as amazing as we were expecting. The water was beautiful, but the beach is quite small and with so many other tourists around (this was in September!) there was hardly any room to park our towel, and due to it being a small beach it was also close to the tide coming in as well. Red Beach is also a pebble beach so can become quite uncomfortable to sit on. On the bright side there is a small kiosk close to the beach where you can purchase some snacks and drinks if you would like to.
3. Swim At Ammoudi Bay
If you are staying in Oia, a short walk and 200+ steps down to the bottom of the cliffs you will find Ammoudi Bay! A beautiful bay with little shops, restaurants by the water, various boats and yachts ready to take you on fun filled day trip around the island! If you walk further along for another ten minutes you will find the perfect swimming spot where you can enjoy swimming below the cliffs, baking in the sun or if you’re feeling adventurous, jumping off a small cliff!
4. Watch The Famous Santorini Sunset At Sunset Rock
Sunset Rock is the most famous spot to catch the ever-so-breathtaking Santorini Sunset; the sunset which all the tourists literally applaud for at the end as it’s so beautiful and spectacular.
As you can see below, the sunset is quite amazing, so if you do want to witness this spectacular sight make sure you arrive very early to snag your spot (at least 1-1.5hrs early!). There are A LOT tourists from all over the world who come to see the famous sunset, along with their many cameras and selfie sticks so be aware you may or may not get the perfect photo if you do not grab the perfect spot early on! Sunset rock does become VERY CROWDED AT SUNSET. Also don’t bother trying to go out for dinner around sunset time either, all spots in restaurants will be full and very busy.
5. Better Yet, Find Your Own Santorini Sunset Spot…
My friend and I were staying in Santorini together and we decided to skip the sunset rock sunset one night (as it was wayyyy too crowded!) and seek out our own spot to watch the sunset. About five minutes walk from sunset rock towards the end of the cliffs we found a tiny carpark and captured this gorgeous view of the sunset below. Finding our own spot was more incredible than sunset rock; it was just my friend and I enjoying the view with no tourists, no other cameras, and no selfie sticks.
The other alternative is to purposely book to stay in a traditional cave house facing the direction of the famous sunset, which my husband and I purposely did on our honeymoon! We got to see the famous Santorini sunset every night from our private cave house (and one night from our private jacuzzi!) with zero crowds which made the experience of the sunset a very enjoyable one.
My husband and I actually filmed a time lapse of the sunset from our private cave house on our Gopro! Check out our Youtube channel: Lucas Travel
6. Spend The day Walking Through The Town Of Oia
Thousands upon thousands of tourists from all over the world have pinned Oia as one of the most popular travel destinations, due to the most beautiful, breathtaking and spectacular scenery. I spent many days exploring the streets of Oia taking hundreds of photos and being totally in awe of its beauty! If you are not planning to stay in the town of Oia itself on Santorini, I highly recommend visiting just for the day!
7. Go On A Day Trip to Nea Kameni and the Hot Springs
Nea Kameni is Santorini’s only active volcanic crater and is well worth the day trip to hike to the top if you would like to do something different and be a little adventurous! On my Greek Island Hopper tour with Topdeck Travel last year we spent the day hiking to the top of Nea Kameni and later jumped off our boat and swam to the hot springs where we smothered ourselves in mud (which might I add is great for your skin!)
8. Experience The True Meaning of Lunch/Dinner with a View
No matter which restaurant you choose in the town of Oia, you are almost guaranteed a spectacular view of the caldera AND mouth-watering and incredibly delicious Greek cuisine.
If you are staying in the little town of Oia I highly recommend you try out a different restaurant each night! Below are some photos of our lunch with a view!
9. Shop til you drop!
Oia is famous for its amazing shopping! Amongst the many beautiful restaurants with a view, there are also some pretty cool boutique shops as well! Whether you are after expensive (or not so expensive) jewellery, clothes (make sure you buy a traditional Greek dress!) or some typical touristy souvenirs, Oia is the place to purchase them!
10. Visit the coolest and most unique bookshop in the world.
In the heart of Oia is a book shop by the name of Atlantis Books. Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini is the only one of its kind in the world and from the moment you step inside you realise it is definitely no ordinary book shop. Piled high are titles by some of your favourite authors, accompanied with the rareness of first and second editions and uniquely designed book decor, encouraging an atmosphere of wonderment and amazement while also having an appreciation of the value of good literature.
Have you ever visited Santorini before?
What were your experiences?
Where did you stay? What did you do?