Planning a Santorini itinerary can be a joy when you’re about to head to one of the most popular islands to visit in Europe. If you’ve ever seen photos of white-washed buildings with blue dome roofs along a cliffside with a stunning sunset, you’re most likely looking at this Greek island. Many people flock to the island for its delicious food, surprisingly diverse landscape, and world-class sunsets.
If you get to spend a few days in Santorini, you’re in luck. We’ve built a list of the best Santorini itinerary that encompasses all the must-see parts of the island as well as some that are a little more off the beaten path. Whether you have 2, 3, or 4 days in Santorini, use this itinerary to help guide your trip planning.
How Many Days in Santorini?
The ideal amount of time to spend in Santorini is between 3 and 5 days. This gives you ample time to see most parts of the island and explore the towns without feeling rushed.
If you only have 2 days in Santorini, focus one day on exploring one of the larger towns and the second day on seeing other parts of the island.
If you have 3 days in Santorini or 4 days in Santorini, you can have a blend of relaxing and wandering. You can rent a car or ATV to explore different parts of the island or take a boat tour for a different view of Santorini.
If you have 5 days in Santorini, then it gives you a lot more time to relax and take things easy!
When it comes down to how many days to spend in Santorini, it’s truly up to you. Before booking flights or your ferry ticket, take a look at everything there is to do on the island and see what resonates with how you want to spend your trip.
If you want to spend a couple of days relaxing and enjoying the island views, 2 days might be perfect. If you want to relax and explore the island, consider bumping that number up to 4 to 5 days.
Getting To & Around Santorini
You have two options to reach Santorini. The first, and probably most convenient, is flying. There is a small airport located in the centre of the island near Fira.
You can easily hop on a regional flight from Athens to Santorini for an affordable price. The flight takes 45 minutes to one hour and there are several options every day. From the airport you can organise a transfer here.
The second arrival option is by ferry. There are a handful of ferry companies that operate between the Greek islands. The islands are divided into groups based on location. The ferry that goes to Santorini also stops at Paros and Naxos. There is also a ferry that goes to Milos, to Mykonos and from Crete if you’re staying in Chania or Heraklion.
A high-speed ferry takes 4 to 5 hours to reach Santorini from Athens. The ferry that stops at the other two islands first will take closer to 7 hours. Keep in mind, that ferries are less frequent if you’re coming to Santorini from Athens in winter. You can check ferry schedules here.
This is a good option if you are planning to also visit Naxos or Paros during your visit. If you get seasick easily, the ferry might not be the best option. From the ferry terminal, you can organise a transfer here if you don’t have your own transport.
Now, once on the island, you need a convenient way to get around. There is a local bus, but it hardly makes stops. Your best option is to rent a car or ATV. It’s very common to see ATVs on the main roads of Santorini as a mode of getting around the island – just keep in mind that this may not always be the safest option so make sure to be careful when operating!
If you want to see parts of the island independently, plan on renting one of these options for one or two days. Most hotels will have a way for you to rent an ATV through a partner company upon arrival but double-check with your accommodation.
If you want to rent a car while in Santorini, then consider browsing Rentalcars.com in order to find great deals across a number of different companies.
There are several tour companies that also operate across the island. This is another option for seeing parts of Santorini if you don’t want to rent a car or ATV and aren’t concerned about your overall Santorini trip cost. Some popular tours include this catamaran cruise, this highlights tour and this wine tour.
2,3 or 4 Days in Santorini Itinerary
With 2, 3 or 4 days to spend in Santorini, you’ll have plenty of time to eat delicious Mediterranean cuisine, catch a once-in-a-lifetime sunset, and explore this famous Greek island. Here are some ideas for how to build the best Santorini itinerary.
Day 1 – Pyrgos, Kamari Beach, Akrotiri & Emporio
Visit Pyrgos, the highest point in Santorini
Spend your first day in Santorini adjusting to your new surroundings. Have an easy morning then set out to explore parts of the island.
The Pyrgos village is the former capital of Santorini and is around 7 kilometers south of Fira. It’s one of the most picturesque Greek villages. It’s usually not on the radar of most visitors.
It boasts a quiet, subtle charm that captures the attention of those who choose to visit. This less-trafficked village is a perfect stop for a late-morning stroll and lunch away from the crowds that flock to more popular towns for tourists like Oia and Fira.
Pyrgos is located at the top of a hill, the highest point in Santorini, so you’ll catch amazing views. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Pyrgos Kasteli, a well-preserved Venetian castle, as well as several local boutiques and cafes.
Walk along Kamari, the black sand beach
Santorini is famous for having uniquely-colored beaches, so it should come as no surprise that the island’s black sand beach is on an itinerary.
The island of Santorini was created when a volcano erupted in 1600 BC. The explosion also created the island’s black sand beaches, the only of its kind found in the entire Aegean.
The most popular black sand beaches, including Kamari, are located along the southeast coast, about a twenty minutes drive from Fira and visiting is one of the best things to do in Santorini.
Along the beach, you’ll find umbrellas and chairs, bars, and restaurants. Perissa and Perivolos are two known for their DJs and nightlife. There is also an assortment of water sports available for visitors.
Explore Visit Akrotiri for Minoan ruins
This prehistoric settlement is a step back in time. Built in the Bronze Age, Akrotiri is among the most important Minoan settlements and ports in the Aegean Sea. It was covered in volcanic ash in the 17th century BC, thus lending to its expert preservation today.
Akrotiri is often referred to as the “Greek Pompeii” because it was preserved by volcanic ash. The settlement has sophisticated buildings and an elaborate drainage system unique for its time.
Visitors to the site will walk under a bioclimatic roof, built to help preserve the ruins, and across walkways suspended over the remains.
This allows guests to walk among the impressive two and three-storey buildings. Akrotiri is a short drive from Fira and there are several tours available from Fira as well.
Stop at Emporio
A quick stop at Emporio will be well worth your time to close out day one of exploring Santorini’s history. This is another village that is less trafficked by tourists compared to other parts of the island.
Located at the foot of Santorini’s Mt. Porphitis Elias, Emporio captures some of the most interesting architecture you’ll find while exploring the island. It’s in the southern part of Santorini, about ten kilometers from Fira and near the black beaches.
It’s the largest of the villages in Santorini and an enticing walk through history. Make sure to visit the two historic churches and the castle complex, leftover from when Emporio was a major trading hub.
If you don’t have your own transport, you can see a number of these day 1 sites on this full-day tour.
Day 2 – Fira to Oia Hike
Hike Fira to Oia
Exploring by foot is often one of the best ways to see a new place. The hike from Fira to Oia is just over 6 miles and takes hikers along a trail with some of the island’s most spectacular views.
It’s a great way to start out your second day in Santorini. You’ll hike along concrete, cobblestone, and dirt paths with the total hike time coming to somewhere between 2 and 5 hours. Try to get an early start if possible.
The trail is entirely exposed and it tends to get hot the later you go in the day. Make sure you bring a sturdy pair of hiking shoes and a water bottle.
There are three different sections of elevation gain, but nothing more strenuous than a moderate-difficulty hike. After your hike, reward yourself with a tasty lunch in Oia.
Explore Oia (iconic views, Atlantis Books, Amoudi Bay)
Oia is perhaps one of the most famous spots on the island. For this reason, you can expect it to always be relatively busy. The iconic sunset photos you’ve most likely seen online are taken from viewpoints in Oia.
There are several outdoor restaurants where you can relax on the patio for a delicious meal and drink. Walk the winding streets to explore the local cafes and boutiques. Capture famous photos of the blue-domed buildings and visit the Castle of Oia.
You can admire the glistening blue waters of Amoudi Bay and close out the day by watching the Oia sunset from a restaurant while enjoying a glass of local wine.
Day 3 – Nea Kameni, Hot Springs & Thirassia Island
Visit Nea Kameni caldera
Day three of this Santorini itinerary takes you off the island. A boat ride from Santorini to explore the nearby Nea Kameni caldera is a trip well worth your time.
There are daily cruises that take visitors to the caldera. Here, you can hop from the boat and take a hike on solidified lava to reach the main crater that still pours out sulphur steam.
Reaching the caldera is about a 20-minute walk from the boat dock. From Nea Kameni, you’ll get excellent views of Fira and Oia. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you and maybe lunch.
You can enjoy your meal while taking in the views from this volcanic island.
Swim in hot springs
Nea Kameni is a popular attraction for those visiting Santorini. One of the most famous sites is the hot springs. The last time this volcano erupted was in the 1950s. It’s been dormant since but is still considered active.
The volcanic activity in the area has created hot springs that maintain a comfortable temperature that is safe for visitors to swim in. Many boat tours to the island stop in at the hot springs to allow visitors to enjoy the warm waters.
The hot springs here are famous for their healing properties, so make sure to bask in these enjoyable waters during your visit.
Boat ride to Thirassia Island
Thirassia is a quiet village on an island one mile off the coast of Oia. It used to be connected to Santorini, but the 1600 BCE volcanic eruption severed the connection between the two islands.
Many tourists don’t make it out to Thirassia Island, so it remains relatively untouched by visitors. This makes it the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination in Santorini if you find yourself wanting to venture away from the crowds.
There are a few hotels on the island, but you’ll mostly find a lot of vineyards and natural spaces. One of the best ways to see the island is by renting an electric mountain bike to explore.
If you don’t have your own transport, you can see a number of these stops on this full-day cruise.
Day 4 – Food and Wine Tour & an Evening in Fira
Go on a wine or food tour
To close out your 4 days in Santorini, consider a relaxing wine tour. Santorini is well known for having several great wineries and vineyards for visitors to tour.
You can easily book a tour out of Fira or Oia for an educational and fun exploration of Greek wine such as this half-day tour. If you’re more of a foodie, maybe you would rather book a food tour such as this 5-hour tour to enjoy all the delicious Greek food you’ll find on the island.
A few types of yummy Greek food to have on your list might be fava beans, tomato fritters, Greek salad, or Saganaki. Remember to eat and drink to your heart’s content while visiting Santorini, and the rest of Greece as well.
Sunset and nightlife in Fira
It’s your last night in Santorini. Find a bar or restaurant to enjoy a drink or meal and watch the sun sink below the horizon. Settle into a cliffside bar in Fira or perch at the top of Amoudi Bay near Oia to enjoy the view.
The sunset in Santorini is perhaps one of the most well-known attractions of the island. Bear in mind that you’ll most likely encounter some heavy crowds when the sun is going down, especially in Oia and Fira.
If you want to watch from somewhere in these towns, try to get there early for a comfortable seat.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Kalimera Hotel – A family-run hotel located close to a couple of different beaches, they offer basic comfortable rooms suitable for couples and families. Breakfast is included and there is a swimming pool at the hotel. Click here to check availability
Seaside Breeze – An upscale hotel that offers both standard rooms and larger suites with all rooms having their own balcony. There is a terrace, pool and breakfast daily for guests. Click here to check availability
Remezzo Villas – A luxurious option, primarily offering suites with stunning sea views. There is the option to include breakfast and a lovely swimming pool and terrace. Click here to check availability
Caveland Hostel – Located in a small village on Santorini, this hostel is set in an old winery and offers both private rooms and dorms. There is a kitchen and swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Santorini!
Your Santorini itinerary should be catered to the kind of experience you’re envisioning. There is truly something for everyone on this island. Sunset viewings are an absolute must. Choose to spend your days relaxing around town or setting out to explore the rest of the island. No matter how many days you have in Santorini, visiting this Greek island will be a trip that you’ll never forget.
Are you planning to visit Santorini? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!