Santorini is arguably the most popular Greek island destination, and for good reason! Unique beaches, beautiful cliff sides, world-famous architecture, and incredible Greek food and wine all contribute to Santorini’s charm.
My family and I stayed in Oía at the Oía Mare Villas. To get to the resort, we had to climb down over 200 stairs. However, we had a private sunset view from the balcony of one of our rooms (111!) and each room had a kitchenette and was sizable. We spent four days and three nights on the island, and therefore had plenty of time to explore! Here is a list of my seven favorite sights I experienced during my time on Santorini.
1. Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay is a beautiful picturesque little cove located at the northern-most tip of Oía. It’s a tucked away haven, so in order to get there, follow the pedestrian path to the very end, veer left and don’t stop descending until you get to the bottom of the cliffs on the caldera side of the island.
Amoudi Bay is known for two things: its restaurants that serve locally-sourced fresh seafood, and its cliff jumping experience. We were pressed for time, so we didn’t get to eat at the bay; however, the cliff jump was a lot of fun!
FYI: The jump from the cliff is about 20 feet tall, and there’s a fair bit of rock climbing and a little bit of swimming to get to it. I definitely suggest bringing a pair of water shoes! It would make the rock climbing a lot easier, and also makes the necessary running start a less painful experience.
2. Black Beach
I’m not gonna lie, this sand is hot and painful to walk on. But what else would you expect from black volcanic sand? Otherwise known as Perissa Beach, the infamous ‘black’ beach of Santorini is located on the southeast coast of the island. The contrasting light cliffs surrounding the dark sand of the beach was truly a sight to behold, and the multiple restaurants and storefronts that offer beach chairs turn this shore into a relaxing destination.
FYI: Depending on where you are staying, you can either take a cab to the spot or rent an ATV to drive yourself around the island. ATV rentals are really affordable and a fun way to explore the entire island!
3. Red Beach
The red beach is an entirely different beast of its own! The beach is more like a cove rather than the expansive area that is Perissa beach. The blue is a beautiful blue-green hue which makes the rocks seem even more red in comparison. There’s also a lengthy hike you can partake in that leads to nearby ruins, but we opted out of that since the sun was pretty unforgiving the day that we visited.
FYI: There’s a good-length, slightly treacherous-looking path that leads down to the actual area where you can lay out and soak in the sun, and you can swim out to some rocks that jut out of the water for some great photo ops!
4. Sunsets in Oía
There’s a reason why everyone has been told to go to Oía to see the sunset every night. From the northern most tip of the island, you can literally watch the sun disappear into the sea each night!
On the flip side, everyone and their mother has been told to go to Oía, so if you want a prime spot on the castle or along the wall at the end of the pedestrian path, then you need to get there at least an hour and a half before the sun sets.
If you want to capture a different side of the Santorini sunset, here’s an FYI from a local: while everyone else is focused on the sun sinking beneath the horizon, turn around and take in the changing colors of the buildings on the caldera side of the island. The reflection of the sunlight on the buildings is almost just as beautiful!
5. Volcano of Santorini
One of the first tidbits of trivia we learned upon arriving at our hotel in Santorini was the story of the cataclysmic volcanic eruption which forever altered the shape of the island. From that moment on, I was intrigued by the active volcano. So, my family and I took a day trip from the Old Port of Fira to the Volcano of Santorini and the Hot Springs of Palea Kameni in order to get up close and personal with it!
It’s a steep climb and the mediterranean weather doesn’t help one bit! But once you reach a crater that’s been roped off and the ground has started to level out, you’ll know you’ve reached the top. Also, the air will start to smell like sulfur, which is a pretty telltale sign in itself. We were lucky and got to witness some smoke being vented from the crater, which made the trip well worth it.
Not to mention the view, which was incredible to say the least. You get a panoramic, 360-degree view of all of the islands that compose Santorini. If you want to be able to say that you’ve seen Santorini in its entirety, this is definitely the day trip for you.
FYI: The tour guides will tell you that it’s just an easy 20 minute walk to the volcano crater but that is a big, FAT lie (unless you’re power-walking to the top and not stopping to enjoy yourself, that is.) I like to think of myself as being in pretty decent shape, and it took me nearly 35-40 minutes. In addition, the water of the hot springs isn’t hot per se, but warm. It’s about a 30-yard swim from the boat to the spring, so you have to be a strong swimmer!
The volcanic soil of the island facilitates great growth of grape vines, which results in lots and lots of great wine! As a result, the island is host to a variety of wineries that pride themselves on their locally grown wines. Whether you’re a fan of white or red, there are unique blends to satisfy everyone’s preferences.
Sigalas Winery is a family-owned, small winery that covers several acres. We stopped by after visiting the beaches for a tasting and were not disappointed! We tasted nearly 10 different types of wines, all of which were delicious. My personal favorite was their Assyrtiko.
Santo Wines is a much larger winery– they source their wines from farmers all over the Cyclades. You can tell just how big they are as soon as you pull into their driveway! Santo Wines offers informative winery tours coupled with a tasting of their four most popular wines. The sight to behold? The view of the volcano from their balcony, which is just astonishing.
7. Lucky’s & Lotza
Okay, you got me! Restaurants aren’t exactly a ‘sight’ to see when visiting Santorini. However, the food you eat here is so damn good that it’s worth mentioning, and I guarantee you that it will definitely awaken your other senses!
Firstly, the gyros you’ll eat at Lucky Souvlaki’s are the most flavorful pitas I had during my entire stay in Greece! The workers are so kind, and their housemade hot sauce was to die for.
Secondly, Lotza’s in Oía is home-y and an absolute delight to dine at. The entire staff in the small restaurant treat you like family and are always so happy to see you walk in. And the view of the volcano from Lotza’s balcony kind of counts as a sight, right?
What were your favorite things about your time in Santorini?