Santorini is such a beautiful place.If you ever get the chance to visit there are a couple of Must-See places you can’t pass on

1. Fira

Fira, Santorini’s capital, is one of the best places to see on the island.

During your trip to Santorini, you certainly want to

  • Discover the famous white and blue houses
  • Wander in picturesque narrow alleys
  • Enjoy chic boutiques and luxury hotels with infinity pools
  • Admire magnificent views of the caldera.

Well, you’re lucky: Fira has all of this!

It’s the perfect Cycladic town, a real postcard scenery.

Wander in the city’s alleys and discover the breathtaking viewpoints of the sea and the caldera. You will for sure fall in love with the island (even if it’s often crowded!).

From Fira, follow the beautiful walking trail to reach the villages of Firostefani (only a 10-minute walk) and Imerovigli (the highest point of the caldera, 30 minutes away from Fira). Plan at least between 1 and 2 hours, as you will stop every 2 meters to enjoy the view and take pictures!

You can also walk to the small port of Fira Skala. It’s quite easy to get down the 587 steps, but getting back up can be more difficult, especially under the sun!

If you’re too tired to walk, take Santorini’s cable car. During this nice ride, you will admire the island from a different angle. A one way ticket costs 6€.

You can also get a ride on a donkey, but I wouldn’t recommend it, as the animals are often abused.

If you’re a History lover, or if you want to know more about Santorini, you can visit 2 museums in Fira:

  • The Museum of Prehistoric Thera, exposing vestiges discovered in Akrotiri (I will tell you more about it later) and other archaeological excavations on Santorini.
  • The archaeological museum and its collection of remains from all Santorini, including vases from Akrotiri.

Fira is also a great place to enjoy the nightlife in Santorini: you will find the island’s best bars, restaurants and night clubs!


Voyage Tips – Advice

Try to visit Fira early in the morning, to avoid most of the crowd. The temperatures will be cooler and your stroll will be more pleasant.

If you arrive in Fira between 8h30 and 10h, it will also be easier to park your car. The good news is that all parking spaces are free!

Fira, one of the most beautiful villages in Santorini

2. Oia

Together with Fira, Oia is the other must-see tourist attraction in Santorini.

As in Fira, you will be amazed by Oia’s pretty white houses, churches with a blue dome, and splendid views over the entire caldera!

Oia is also known as the best place to enjoy the sunset in Santorini. At the end of the day, thousands of people are coming to the city for Santorini’s most famous show.

When you’ve found the perfect spot to admire the sunset, sit down and don’t leave it!

And if you’re looking for a quieter and more romantic atmosphere, you should book a table in one of the many bars and restaurants. Watching the sunset while enjoying a drink is for sure an amazing experience.

Just keep in mind that you’ll be asked for a minimum order amount per person. Don’t worry: as the drinks are quite expensive, this amount will be easy to reach.


Voyage Tips – Advice

The best place to watch the sunset in Oia is the Byzantine Castle. Be there at least 1 or 2 hours before, so you can get a good spot.

If you visit Oia in the afternoon or in the evening, you will have the perfect lighting for your pictures.

View from Oia village
The village of Oia, in Santorini

3. Caldera

Caldera Cliff Wall
Caldera Cliff Wall

Formed by the massive volcanic explosion that blew the center out of the island some 3,600 years ago, the caldera is the sea-filled volcanic crater that remained. Measuring 12 kilometers by seven kilometers, it is still home to volcanic activity – in its center rise the two Kaiméni islets with hot springs and gas emissions.

Various agencies offer one-day excursions of the caldera by boat, including time to bathe in the hot springs and then have lunch on Thirassia, a tiny island on the west side of the caldera affording amazing views back to Santorini across the water.

4. Akrotíri Archaeological Site

Archaeological artifacts at Akrotiri
Archaeological artifacts at Akrotiri

Near the village of modern Akrotíri, 12 kilometers southwest of Firá, the ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotíri was buried below lava following the 16th-century BC volcanic explosion that created the caldera. At the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, visitors can walk on pathways through the debris of the town to see remains of the clay buildings of this once thriving town. It is so well preserved that it’s often compared to Pompeii. The site has remnants of multi-level buildings, pottery, and drainage systems, proving that Santorini was a flourishing and prosperous island before the eruption and probably lived from shipping and trading.

Santorini’s connections with North Africa can be deduced from the outstanding frescoes (most of which are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens) that decorated its houses. The site of the Akrotiri ruins reopened to the public in 2012, following several years of closure.

Akrotiri Map - Tourist Attractions
Akrotiri Map – Attractions (Historical)

5. Red Beach

Red Beach at Akrotíri
Red Beach at Akrotíri

Nearby the Akrotiri site, you will find the famous Red Beach below a spectacular red cliff wall. The beach is accessible along a path from the town of Akrotiri. You can also take a bus from Fira or drive and park nearby before venturing down a rocky path to reach the beach. The beach is also accessible by boat from Akrotiri, Kamari, and Perissa ports.

The small beach gets crowded during the summer, so be sure to get there early to snag a prime spot for great contrasting views of the red rocks against the aquamarine water. Also note that the beach is prone to landslides, and sections have been roped off from visitors.

6. Ancient Thira

Ancient Thira
Ancient Thira

See the ruins of Hellenistic temples and foundations of Roman and early-Byzantine buildings at ancient Thira, located on the southeast coast of Santorini. Ancient Thira dates back to the ninth century BC. Among the ruins, you’ll find religious sites, a theater, a gym for military trainees, and old administrative buildings. Finds from the site are also displayed in the archaeology museum of Firá

Ancient Thera - Site map
Ancient Thera Map (Historical)

7. Archeological Museum, Firá

Lion carving at the Archeological Museum, Fira
Lion carving at the Archeological Museum, Fira | Verity Cridland / photo modified

Lying close to the upper station of the cable-car in Firá, the small archaeological museum displays finds from Ancient Thira, ranging from the Dorian, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. Inscriptions dating from the Archaic to the Roman period, clay figurines of animals, and beautiful ceramic pottery are some of the finds exhibited at this museum.

8. Museum of Prehistoric Thira

Museum of Prehistoric Thira
Museum of Prehistoric Thira

The Museum of Prehistoric Thira displays finds from Akrotiri archaeological site in a modern white building located close to the 1950s Mitrópolis church in Firá. One of the top tourist attractions is the Blue Monkeys wall fresco. Other ancient artworks on display include marble figurines, painted ceramics, tools, and weapons.

9. Pyrgos

Church in Pyrgos
Church in Pyrgos

Pyrgos was Santorini’s capital before Firá took over in 1800. The tiny village of Pyrgos, located in the middle of Santorini, is made up of whitewashed Cycladic cottages built around the ruins of a medieval hilltop castle. Previously a sleepy, all-but-forgotten town, Pyrgos has, since 2004, started to cater to upmarket tourism with the opening of several small, chic restaurants and boutique hotels.

10. Profitis Ilias

Profitis Ilias
Profitis Ilias

From Pyrgos, a road runs to the summit of Mt. Profítis Ilías (584 meters), Santorini’s highest point, affording panoramic views of the island and out across the sea. Here stands the mighty Profitis Ilias Monastery, an 18th-century sanctuary that is open to the public.

Inside, you can see the church, with a richly carved iconostasis. Visit the museum displaying the miter and crozier of Patriarch Gregory V, who was hanged in Constantinople by the Turks in 1821. Also of interest are the library, the monastic archives, and the kitchen. The monastery ran one of the many “secret schools,” operated during the Turkish period.

11. Beach at Perissa

Beach at Perissa
Beach at Perissa

Santorini’s best known and most popular beach lies on the southeast coast, between the villages of Perissa and Perivolos. A six-kilometer-long stretch of fine, black volcanic sand, it is backed by tamarisk trees and overlooked by a string of seafood tavernas and cafés. There are sunbeds and umbrellas to rent, plus water sports facilities. It is approximately 12 kilometers from Firá.

12. Ammoudi Bay

The port of Ammoudi Bay
The port of Ammoudi Bay

At the base of the cliffs rising to the town of Oia, the port of Ammoudi Bay glistens above sparkling turquoise waters. Descend the 200 or so steps down from Oia, and you are in the picture-perfect setting that is Ammoudi, known for quaint Greek tavernas serving the catch of the day just inches from the waves, and isolated coves ideal for swimming. Another popular activity is cliff diving if that’s what gets your adrenaline pumping.

For a less adventurous and still exhilarating experience, hire a sailboat to bring you to the volcano for a swim in the hot springs.

13. See a Show at Open Air Cinema Kamari

Open air cinema in Kamari
Open air cinema in Kamari | FotoHelin /

Fancy an al fresco movie screening? Head to the Open Air Cinema Kamari. It was constructed in 1887 with the goal of letting locals and travelers continue the Greek tradition of the outdoor theater by allowing you to check out movies al fresco.

Grab a snack from the on-site concession and watch a film under the light of a starry velvet sky in a garden setting. Besides movies, this venue just outside the town limits also hosts concerts, art exhibitions, and traditional theater performances. It is a unique Santorini experience.

Official Site:

14. Take a Santorini Boat Trip

Boat tour off Santorini
Boat tour off Santorini

A great way to get a feel for Santorini, and another of its top tourist attractions, is to explore the island on a day-long boat trip. This way, you’ll have an opportunity to check out a number of attractions in one go and also take in the gorgeous turquoise and aquamarine waters surrounding this volcanic isle.

A number of companies run boat tours around Santorini, and many follow the same route. One popular cruise takes you first to the still active volcano on Nea Kameni, where you can hike to the crater’s summit. You’ll then pause for a dip in the Palea Kameni hot springs. Trips then head to Thirassia Island fronting Santorini.

For a more luxe experience, this trip can be booked on a catamaran and on these, you’ll also get to make three swimming and snorkeling stops.

Where to Stay on Santorini for Sightseeing

If you are coming to Santorini for the postcard perfect views out over the caldera and the Aegean Sea, the best places to stay are in the towns of Oia or Firá. These towns are perched along the clifftop, high above the water, with fabulous views, gleaming white hillside terraces, and quaint narrow streets. Below are some highly rated hotels in good locations:

Luxury Hotels:

  • Filotera Suites is a luxury boutique hotel in Oia with a spectacular cliffside location and incredible views. An infinity pool and lovely terraces on the edge of the caldera look out over the sparkling blue water, and rooms are cave-style suites.
  • In the same category but offering a more traditional feel is the boutique hotel of Pezoules, also located along the edge of the caldera in Oia, affording spectacular views and luxury suites.
  • The posh Celestia Grand in Firá is another stunning clifftop property, with a beautiful pool; large, airy rooms, including villas with private pools; and impeccable service.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • Oia’s Sunset Apartments is in a convenient location near the bus stop and features a lovely pool and a variety of accommodation options.
  • In Firá, Costa Marina Villas offers basic, comfortable rooms, some with balconies, and cozy common areas.
  • For a little better value and a quieter atmosphere, try the Grand View Hotel in Megalochori, south of Firá. With excellent views and a pool overlooking the caldera, this hotel is hard to beat in this price range.

Budget Hotels:

  • In Oia, a 15-minute walk from shops and restaurants but near a bus stop, the Anemomilos Hotel Apartments offers a pool, sea views, and complimentary breakfast. This hotel has simple but clean rooms and apartments, well-kept grounds, and is known for good service.
  • With an excellent location in Firá, near shops and restaurants, the Hotel Kavalari is a cliffside property with beautiful views, nice patio areas, and comfortable rooms.
  • The Pansion Zaharoula, just a 10-minute walk from Firá, has spacious, air-conditioned rooms, but the property lacks a pool.

Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Santorini

An organized tour is a great way to see all the highlights of the island without the hassle of trying to find your way around. Experienced guides share information about the island’s history as well as insider tips about its culture and attractions, and these tours include convenient pickup and drop-off at your hotel, saving you time and money. Below are some fun tour options that guarantee the lowest price:

  • See the Sights: A great way to learn about Santorini’s history, explore picturesque villages, and see spectacular sunset views is on the full-day Oia Sunset and Traditional Villages Tour in Santorini. With pickup and drop-off from your hotel, this tour takes you in a comfortable air-conditioned coach to explore the Minoan excavations at Akrotiri, the pretty village of Pyrgos, and sunset views from Oia. If you prefer to tailor your tour to suit your interests, the Private Custom Tour: Santorini in a Day is an excellent choice. You can choose between a five-hour tour or upgrade to an eight-hour tour, with stops at your favorite attractions, from ancient archeological sites and traditional villages to beautiful black-sand beaches. This tour also includes convenient hotel or cruise ship port pickup and drop-off.