Every Greek island seems to have its own unique character and charm. Santorini, Greece is no different, but what makes it different is its distinct geography. This means the clifftop views are amazing, you can find blue water beaches made up of black, red, and white lava sand, and lots of history.
Santorini is an island of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. It is relatively small, about 30 miles in area, so you can easily navigate from one end to the other in an hour. I suggest you take your time and explore all of the 14 villages rather than rush as each village has its own charm.
Whether you have a trip planned solely to discover Santorini or you are on a cruise and in port for the day, these are the top things that should be a must-see while you are there.
Fira is the capital of Santorini. If you are porting in Santorini, this is your first taste of the island. There are a few options getting from the cruise ship: walking, donkey, or cable car. I recommend the cable car, but it does have a slight fee. The village is alive with restaurants and bars that have amazing sea views. Shopping is for knick-knacks also fun to do in Fira.
Firostefani and Imerovigli are villages that are an easy 15-minute walk in opposite directions along the caldera (footpath) from Fira. They are out of the hustle and bustle of Fira but offer less crowded and more local restaurants, bars, and shopping.
Oia pronounced “EE-A” is on the northwestern tip of the island overlooking the Aegean Sea. When you think of Santorini, and probably Greece, this is the picturesque place you see featured most with whitewashed houses sculpted into the cliffs. Oia is filled with small shops, galleries, restaurants, and lots of tourists, so be ready to fight for your spot to get a picture of the spectacular views. There is one spot, The Kastro, that I would recommend getting some really cool pictures. If you walk all the way to the end of the main street with the sea on your left-hand side, look down. You should see a small port below, Amoudi. It is not only a photo opportunity but a fun place to watch boats come and go. If you have time and want to see a stunning sunset, do it in Oia!
Perissa and Perivolos are the black sandy beaches on the island of Santorini. Perissa is Santorini’s most popular beach know for water sports and nightlife. Privolos is smaller with fewer crowds where you can find some peace and tranquility. They are both very similar with long stretches of beach with plenty of umbrellas and sunbeds that you can relax the day away. Both have restaurants and bars close by to enjoy a snack or drink as you soak in the sun.
Red beach is a sight to see, it is gorgeous! It is situated at the bottom of a steep red hill that was formed by volcanic rocks of various colors, but primarily red, as you can probably guess by its name. You can stop and take pictures from the top of the hill, which I would recommend. You can go to the beach here, but it is not as established as the black beaches, so it does not have amenities available.
Near Red Beach is Akrotiri village, which is an archaeological site, that if you have extra time is worth a few hours.
While in Santorini we utilized Santorini Skyline Travel to be our Private Guide to show us around the island. Not only was it extremely comfortable and convenient, but we were able to learn so much that we may not have the opportunity to due to the knowledge of our guide. I would highly recommend it if you are interested in exploring the island with a local.