My name’s Olga-Maria and I grew up in the co-capital of Greece, Thessaloniki. Welcome to my guide on the best things to do in Santorini.
In the social media world you will find me with the name @olga_maria_riante. Riante is my nickname which means “smiling” in French. As a person – I’m always organised, optimistic and try to keep a smile on my face at all times.
I have been travelling since I was a child. Mainly in Greece but for the last 3 years I have gone abroad. I love travelling because it gives me the chance to explore the world, learn new things, see different cultures and most importantly learn more about myself along the way.
A Special 6 Months in Santorini
Santorini was the island that chose me rather than me choosing it. I visited because I went to work there for 6 months. Even though I was there for work and not for vacation, it was still some of the most special months of my life. I had so many wonderful experiences in Santorini.
Exploring the island, getting to know myself better and meeting some great people – all while staying in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I felt excited from the first moment I set foot on the island. My excitement levels grew minute by minute the longer I was in Santorini.
When I saw those famous Santorini sunsets and visited the most famous places such as Fira and Imerovigli – I realised that I would totally fall in love with the island. Each passing day gave me more appreciation. I felt so lucky to be in Santorini at that specific moment in time.
Favourite Place in Santorini – Imerovigli
I had some wonderful experiences in Santorini and visited many stunning places. I’ve got fond memories of the sunsets I saw in different corners of the island. I remember seeing a gorgeous sunset on a cruise one evening.
But this island doesn’t just offer beautiful sunsets. It has gorgeous little villages that every visitor must see such as Pyrgos Kallistis, Emporio and Akrotiri. If you happen to be visiting during a full moon then you have to go and see this stunning scene from Kamari – a beach with black sand.
The full moon I saw was so romantic that it literally melted my heart. As well as sunsets, the moons of Santorini are worthy of admiration.
With that being said, my favorite place in Santorini is Imerovigli. I love this place a little more each time I visit. Why? Because in this location I totally calm down and become at peace with the world. It doesn’t have the noise that Fira and Oia have, especially during the summer months.
For me, it’s the most ideal place to see the sunset in peace and enjoy it with the most gorgeous view. There is something magical about Imerovigli.
Top 10 Things To Do in Santorini
Whether this is your first time to Santorini or your tenth, you never get tired of the many attractions of this special Greek island. I fell in love with everything from the jaw-dropping cliffs and sunsets, to the warmth of the people and the delicious cuisine. Below are my top 10 recommendations.
1. Enjoy a Beautiful Sunset Cruise in Santorini
A sunset cruise in Santorini departs at around 3pm and takes you around the island stopping off at beaches, viewpoints and hot springs. There are different types of sunset cruises you can go on in Santorini. Some include dinner and drinks while others just offer the sunset from the water.
2. Boat Excursion to the Volcanic Kameni Islands
There are two Kameni islands to explore: Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. Charter boats leave the Old Fira Port most hours during the day, including sunset tours for those who want to take in a magical dusk. Learning about the volcanic activity on these islands is always fascinating.
3. Visit one of the Top Wineries of Santorini
What is a trip to Santorini without enjoying a few glasses of local wine from a spectacular restaurant or from a world-class winery? The island has quite a few different wineries to choose from. Some of the best include: Estate Argyros, Santo Wines, Gaia, Vassaltis, Venetsanos and Gavalas Winery.
4. Discover the Ruins of the Minoan City, Akrotiri
If you go south from Oia you will find a different kind of treasure – the remnants of a ruined city called Akrotiri. Many comparisons have been made to Pompeii as the city was buried in a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. This city was home to the sophisticated Minoan people.
5. Swim at the Unique Red Beach of Santorini
The spectacular Red Beach of Santorini is a must-visit just for the fact that the pebbly sand here is so intensely red. The backdrop is also stunning. You can locate the beach 20-minutes drive south of Fira and walk down the steep path towards the beach. It’s the perfect place for a summer swim.
6. Eat Fresh Fish at the Ammoudi Village
Ammoudi village is one of the most picturesque spots on the whole island. For starters, to reach the village, you have to follow a winding downhill road which is charming in itself. On the way you’ll pass people riding donkeys. The architecture, atmosphere and fresh fish of Ammoudi are all superb.
7. Go Scuba Diving in the Southern Aegean Sea
Scuba diving isn’t the first thing you think of when visiting Santorini but the island offers some fantastic diving, whether you’re a beginner or pro. The island has been an attraction for explorers ever since Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau searched for the secrets of the Caldera.
8. Sample the Delicious Local Foods of Santorini
This one is a no-brainer given the fact that you’ll be in Greece. Some of the local food and dishes in Santorini are divine. Many dishes include fava beans, white eggplant and cherry tomatoes. I recommend trying the fava beans, tomato balls, Santorini salad, white eggplant and fish.
For dessert you can enjoy local sweets such as Kopania and Meletinia paired with a glass of local wine. Some of the best restaurants/taverns are Mesogaia, To Pinakio and Fistikies which are located in Kamari. Fresh fish is served in To Psaraki in Vlychada and the Dimitris tavern in Ammoudi.
9. Wander Down the Alleyways of Pirgos and Emporio
Some of the most pleasurable experiences in Santorini come from getting lost in the alleys of the villages scattered across the island. Two of the best are Pyrgos Kallistis and Emporio. The former is a relaxed village which offers fantastic little shops and the latter sits at the foot of Profitis Ilias Mountain.
10. Hike to Skaros Rock in Imerovigli
Skaros Rock is one of the best places to go for a short hike in Santorini. It’s a large rock formation located in Imerovigli. From here you can see views of both sides of the island – north and south as well as the Caldera. There used to be a castle on the rock but it got destroyed in an earthquake.
Secret Spots to Watch the Sunset in Santorini
Santorini is the type of place where any location is a good spot to watch the sunset. It’s just hard to see a bad one. If you’re looking for quiet places then I recommend Imerovigli and the lighthouse at Akrotiri.
Then, of course, there are the sunset cruises which offer a unique perspective of Santorini. Most people gather around the centres of Fira and Oia. The choice really is up to you and how you like to experience things.
The colours of the sky are just magical. Red, orange, purple and pink combine magnificently. I managed to see the sunset once a month from April to October. Every month was special but April and October were the best.
Tips for your Visit to Santorini
Firstly, if you want to avoid the crowds in Santorini you should visit in April, May, September or October. Obviously, the summer months are the most popular because of the warm weather and beach activities.
When it comes to the beaches there is more than just the Red Beach I mentioned before. You can go swimming at Vlychada, Monolithos, Kamari, Perivolos and White Beach – just to name a few of the best beaches.
I highly recommend going to Ammoudi village to eat fresh fish and enjoy the quaint and cozy atmosphere of this fishing village. Also, if you have the opportunity make sure you stay in a cave hotel overlooking the Caldera and walk the Fira-Oia or even the Fira-Imerovigli path.