When you think about Greece what comes to mind? Whitewashed buildings, blue waters and blue domes with pretty girls in dresses taking photos (like I did haha)?
If so, you’re most likely thinking of Santorini which is one of the most photogenic and stunning islands I’ve ever been to.
There are so many great things to do in Greece and visiting Santorini should definitely be a part of your Greece Itinerary.
This is the ultimate guide for Santorini and I’ll share the best things to do in Santorini to help you plan the best 3-day Santorini Itinerary and make the most of your time there!
Even though it’s a small island, there are a bunch of amazing things to do in Santorini that you definitely won’t be bored!
From dining in great restaurants with epic views of the caldera, sunset drinks, beach days, exploring hot springs and volcanoes Santorini has something for everyone to fill your 3-day Itinerary for Santorini.
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How to get to Santorini from Athens?
You’ll likely be starting your adventure in Greece from Athens and there are 2 main ways to get to Santorini from Athens: Using a ferry or a flight.
The flight will usually be quicker but tends to be a bit more expensive and the ferry varies in time and price.
Athens to Santorini Ferry Info:
Blue Star Ferries are the most popular option for getting from Athens to Santorini with the ferry. During the summer, there are usually 4 or more ferries departing daily for Santorini. The ferry can cost anywhere from €30- €80 depending on the speed, time, day and provider.
Athens to Santorini Flight Info:
We got our flights for around €50-60, which was only a few euro more than the cheapest ferry and much faster so we opted for the flight.
Since we were using a budget airline for our flights, it only included 10kg of carry on luggage – unless we added checked luggage for an additional €15. Uh…nuh.
What’s the best way to get from santorini airport to my accommodation?
There are a few ways to get to your accommodation from the airport in Santorini:
1. Arrange an airport pick up with your accommodation. The price will depend on where you are staying on the island.
We were staying in Fira (ten minutes from the airport) and were quoted €20 for the pick-up. I negotiated it down to €15 and agreed because I didn’t want to waste any time since we were only in Santorini for a few days.
The ride from the airport to Fira town is only 10 minutes!!
2. Use the airport shuttle. The airport has shuttle buses which can hold appx. 8 people and it leaves when the bus is full. The price is per person and depends on where your accommodation is.
Here are the prices for each location (per person!):
From the airport to Fira the shuttle bus costs €10 per person! So as a couple that was €20 for a less than a 10-minute ride.
It costs €12 per person for the shuttle bus from the airport to Oia, so if you can negotiate a pick up from your accommodation for less than that cost, then do it!
3. Use the public buses. This is the cheapest way to do it and it’s relatively easy. When you arrive at the airport, just ask where the buses are and make your way there. The bus ticket costs approximately €1.80-€2.20 and is a pretty comfortable ride.
The buses run pretty sporadically, so using it depends on the time your flight gets in.
This site has the bus schedules available – all of the schedules may change slightly, but should still be approximately around the same time.
If you’re not in a rush, I suggest using the bus to save your money for something else!
**If it’s easier, just take the cab from the airport to your accommodation, but plan to take the bus from your accommodation to the airport when you’re leaving because it’s SO CHEAP!**
The best things to do in Santorini
Santorini is so beautiful and there are many great things to do here to easily fill up your 3-day itinerary. If you’re wondering how much time is needed in Santorini, I recommend planning to stay at least 3 days to get a good feel for this beautiful island although you can easily spend much longer!
Use these tips to plan the perfect 3-day itinerary for Santorini because these really are the best things to do in Santorini during your 3-day vacation.
1. Fira to Oia (or Oia to Fira) coastal walk
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Santorini is the famous Fira to Oia (or Oia to Fira) coastal walk. This walk is relatively easy, but the terrain is mostly cobblestone with some parts on gravel which makes it hard on your feet.
Tips for the Fira to Oia Coastal Walk:
- The complete walk will take between 3-4 hours depending on your pace and how often you stop for photos etc.
- Leave early by 7 or 8 am because there is no shade on this Fira to Oia coastal walk and if you leave early, there will be shade until about 8-9am provided by the island!
- Bring water and snacks because there isn’t anywhere to get it once you leave except for one stand about 2-3 hours into the walk
- Wear proper walking shoes with a good sole – flip flops are a no go.
- Take lots of pictures and ENJOY!
- You can easily take the bus back from Oia once you arrive – the bus station is located behind the big church in the main square.
2. Do a boat tour excursion
The boat tours are usually cheaper because they are done on huge old-style wooden boats which can hold up to 70-100 people.
We probably had around 50-60 people on ours, but there was seating in the front which had about 30 of us and also seating in the back on the second level which probably had around 30 people as well.
To be honest, it didn’t really feel like there were that many people on the boat with us because it was split like this.
There are lots of different boat tours to choose from ranging from as little as €20 per person up to €65 per person with dinner and unlimited wine included.
For €35 our boat tour included:
- Hiking on the volcano*
- Swimming in the hot springs
- 2 Hours on Thirassia Island (Could have skipped this, not much going on at this island)
- Watching the sunset from Oia
- A glass of wine (this was actually a plastic shot glass of wine)
*This tour cost €35 but did not include the entrance fee to the volcano which was €2.50 or transport to and from the old port.
How to get to the old port in Santorini:
You have to get the boat for the excursion at the old port and transport here is not included. There are a few ways to get to the old port in Santorini.
Option 1: Ride a donkey down to the pier for €6.
Option 2: Walk down 600 plus steps to the pier for FREE.
We did this, but I regretted it because there was SO MUCH DONKEY POOP on the stairs!! It was so gross and also the donkeys would go walking past you sporadically with no one on them as the owners moved them up and down.
Option 3: Take the cable car and get down to the pier in 3 minutes for €6.
We took the cable car up on the way back because there was no way in hell I was walking up donkey poop stairs in the dark.
3. Catamaran tour of the Island
Like the boat tours mentioned above, there are several different packages you can choose with prices ranging from €85 to over €150 per person depending on the itinerary, number of people, and food or drinks included.
You can do a day trip or a sunset trip – sunset usually cost a little more.
The catamaran tour we looked at from our hotel cost €90 and it started from Ammoudi bay near Oia, sailing towards Thirassia Island and swimming in the Hot springs. Then it continued on to the lighthouse on the south of the island, stopping at Black beach, White beach and Red beach.
It also included snorkeling gear, towels, transport to and from the hotel and dinner on board with unlimited local wine.
4. Walk to the Three Bells of Fira
This is a short walk from Fira, if you put it in Google maps you can walk there in about 15-20 minutes or so. There are signs which will lead you here, but if you get lost, just ask someone and they’ll be able to direct you there.
It’s really beautiful and there are usually fewer people here than in Oia, so you can still get a phenomenal photo with the blue domes in the background.
It was one of my favorite things to do in Santorini because we saw it on the first day we arrived and the views are simply breathtaking.
5. Rent a car or ATV to discover the island
One of the best ways to explore Santorini is by using an ATV to drive around the island. The roads are pretty good for the most part, but they are narrow so using an ATV makes it pretty easy to get around comfortably.
You’ll see lots of people driving them as it’s a pretty common and fun way to get around.
It’ll cost anywhere between €30-€50 a day to rent, but you can try to negotiate the costs as well.
6. Relax on the beaches!
While Santorini isn’t really known for its beaches, there are some pretty unique beaches here and should definitely be a part of your 3-day Santorini itinerary.
On the Southwest side of the island, there are 3 beaches – Red beach, White beach, and Black beach.
How to get to the beaches in Santorini?
Take the bus from Fira towards Akrotiri/Red Beach. Once you arrive, you’ll have to walk about 15 minutes to get to the red beach across the pier, until you reach some stairs.
Go up the stairs and continue walking west (the same direction as before). You’ll see a lot of people walking in the same direction, so you can’t really get lost.
You will cross the parking lot and make your way up the hill. Once at the top, you’ll be able to look down on the red beach, snap some pics then continue hiking down to the beach.
It gets a little sketchy because the path is just gravel, so be careful! It’s not a hard walk but it does take time and effort so if you want to skip it and get a ride there then go for the water taxi! (I wish I did, lol).
You’ll see the water taxi when you get off the bus and start walking towards the Red Beach. It costs €10 round trip and will take you to the Red beach, White beach and Black beach.
This is DEFINITELY worth it because the hike to the red beach alone is about 20 mins and getting to the other beaches isn’t easy.
One of the most interesting beaches I’ve ever been to is the Red Beach in Santorini. There is a bit of a hike to get to it, but from the top, it looks stunning.
The beach itself is actually made up of black and red pebbles so don’t forget to bring a towel or sarong for some cushioning if you plan to sit or lie down here comfortably.
The water was clear and offered a cool relief after laying out in the hot Greek sunshine for a bit.
7. Explore the Akrotiri ruins
If you’re really into history then one of the best things to do in Santorini during your 3-day Itinerary is to explore the Akrotiri ruins.
When you get off the bus headed for Akrotiri/Red Beach, walk up the road and you’ll reach the Akrotiri ruins.
It costs €12 for your entry ticket and you’ll be able to explore the ruins for as long as you like.
When you’re done, head over to the Red beach to relax!
8. Do a photoshoot in Oia
If you don’t have at least one pic with a blue dome in it, did you even go to Santorini?
How to get the shot with the famous 3 Blue Domes in Oia:
If you’re walking up from the bus station, you’ll enter the main square with the big church on your right-hand side.
Walk up and make a right onto that main street (towards the caldera). Keep walking until you see a sign for Alexandros Jewelry. Make a left there and continue down the path until you see this place!
There may be a line up to get your photo, but at least you’ll get one without anyone else in it!
9. Eat at a restaurant with epic sunset views of the caldera
This is a must-do in Santorini because there is nowhere else on earth like it! There are plenty of restaurants in Santorini with amazing views of the caldera and I’ve mentioned a few good ones in Fira below!
10. get lost in the streets of fira
While this isn’t really a thing to do on your 3-day itinerary in Santorini, it is fun and you should just allow yourself the time to get lost in the labyrinth of streets in this little maze town.
You’ll start to really get a feel for the town and you’ll start to recognize places and feel more comfortable.
For such a small town, we definitely got lost and turned around quite a few times lol.
3-day itinerary for Santorini
- Explore Fira
- Walk along the coastline and go to the three Bells of Fira cathedral
- Eat dinner on the caldera for sunset views
- Have drinks at Sea La Vie
- Fira to Oia Coastal Walk
- Oia photoshoot
- Bus back to Fira – grab a quick lunch at Lucky’s Slouvaki
- Head to Akrotiri/Red Beach
- Enjoy the red beach, white beach and black beach!
- Sunset drinks
- Sleep in and explore Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli
- Have lunch on the caldera in Imerovigli
- After lunch, head back to Fira and go on the sunset boat tour or catamaran excursion – you need to be at the old port for 3:00-3:30pm
what’s the best way to get around Santorini?
There are 4 main ways to get around Santorini.
1. Rent a car. This will cost approximately €40-€50 per day. You may be able to negotiate the price if you want it for more than a day and you will also have to return it with a full tank which can easily add up.
2. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent an ATV. It’s a really popular way to get around and fun too! The streets in Santorini are quite narrow, so ATVs are great for navigating. They’re pretty easy to use, but not too safe, so only do this if you really feel confident and have TRAVEL INSURANCE – just in case!
3. You can use taxis. The cost will vary depending on where you’re going, but it will cost approximately €15-€20 to get from Fira to Oia which is about 15-25 minutes away.
4. Use the public buses. This is the best way to get around the island because they run pretty frequently, go to all of the main tourist spots and are really comfortable coach buses!
Most of the buses start in Fira and then continue on to the destination.
For example, if you want to go to Oia and are staying in the South of the island near Akrotiri/Red Beach, you will take the bus from the Akrotiri stop and get off in Fira. Then you will transfer, and take another bus from Fira to Oia.
schedule from Fira to all of the other places in Santorini (as of aug 2019):
what’s the Best Area to Stay in Santorini?
The best area to stay in Santorini really depends on what you’re looking for.
If you want to be in the midst of the action, then stay in Fira. The nightlife is great and there is no shortage of great bars and restaurants to choose from.
There are many nightclubs and its really lively at night.
There are many great restaurants with unbelievable views of the caldera and lots of cheap eats available as well.
To top it all off, you can get anywhere quickly and easily from Fira since all of the buses stop here!
We stayed in Fira and loved it. I personally think Fira is the best place to stay in Santorini because the airport is close, which means its cheaper to get to, most boat excursions leave from the old port here, its the great starting point for the Fira to Oia coastal walk, there are lots of affordable places to eat and great views of the caldera and its walking distance to the other towns nearby like Firostefani and Imerovigli.
Best Hotels In Fira:
We stayed at Plastiras Rooms which was located about ten minutes from the main town, it was the cheapest place during the high season so it may be pretty cheap any other times since it’s not directly in town!
Other great hotels in Fira are:
Firostefani is just a quick 15-minute walk north of Fira and is much quieter. If you stay here there will be fewer crowds but you’ll still be a quick walk away from the bustling city of Fira.
There are some really amazing accommodations with epic views of the Caldera available here, so if you just want to chill and enjoy the views, this may be the perfect spot for you.
Best Hotels In Firostefani:
If you continue walking about 15 minutes North from Firostefani, you’ll reach Imerovigli. This town has a similar vibe as Firostefani but is a little further away from Fira.
Like Firostefani, there’s not much going on here, but accommodations may be slightly more expensive than Fira but offer peace, solitude and breathtaking views of the caldera with your own private pool!
Best Hotels In Imerovigli:
Oia is a romantic part of Santorini and it’s a bit smaller than Fira, but is known for its famous sunset views. There are many nice restaurants here and its a little more expensive to stay here as well.
Oia is where the famous blue domes are located, you know, the ones that Santorini has become famous for.
Its beautiful and very photogenic, but can be extremely busy too.
Best Hotels In Oia:
If you want to be off the beaten path, and stay somewhere a little more private you can stay in the South of the Island near Red beach/ Akrotiri.
Best Hotels In Akrotiri:
Or you can also stay on the opposite side of the caldera where accommodation would be much cheaper, in Kamari/Perissa near the black sand beach.
Best Hotels In Kamari:
Best Hotels In in Perissa:
- Gardenia Hotel
- Villa Perissa Thira
- Alice Blue Apartments & Suites
- Katikies Hotel – The Leading Hotels of the World
Best restaurants with a Caldera view in Santorini
I would suggest making reservations in advance for at least one caldera view restaurant for dinner so you don’t miss out on it as they are frequently booked out. It’s one of the best things to do in Santorini so you can relax, enjoy amazing food, wine and company all while watching an amazing sunset.
Some of the best restaurants in Santorini with epic views and amazing food are:
1. Argo. It’s number one on Trip Advisor and mentioned on a lot of blogs so they are fully booked for sunset reservations for over a month out! If you want to eat here, make your reservations early because they will be full.
We tried to get last-minute reservations but it was impossible.
2. Volcano Blue. Santorini is about the views, I suggest sunset dinner at volcano blue the set menu is 5 courses and only cost €37!!! Everything was so delicious and the sunset views were incredible.
3. Lithos. Great seafood and pretty affordable too.
4. Fanari. They have some great sharing platters at good prices!
5. Nikki’s. It has two levels both with great views of the caldera and each night it was packed! You’ll get great food and good service here.
Best bars with a caldera view in Santorini
- Tropical Bar – Good vibes and good drinks. Happy hour starts at 9 pm.
- Idol Lounge – Very hip bar, with pricey cocktails but has great caldera views.
- V lounge – Stylish bar with amazing views.
- PK Cocktail Bar – They serve some of the best cocktails on the island.
- Sea La Vie – Located right next to Idol Bar, Sea La Vie has some of the cheapest drinks and beautiful views of the caldera. Starting at 8 pm, they have a great happy hour menu which features €5 wine and €8 cocktails!
- Casablanca – Great bar for drinks and food
best bars Not on the Caldera:
- Two Brothers Bar, Murphys, and The Town become clubs at night and have cheap drinks too. Two brothers bar even serves €3 beer all night long! Be warned, these bars are very narrow, become full-on dance clubs and get PACKED at night!
- If you like shisha, The Pure has great shisha but it’s on the street view, not the caldera
Clubs in Santorini:
Enigma and Koo Club are located on the same street at Murphy’s bar and are relatively close to each other as well.
Unlike the bars that turn into dance clubs at night, these clubs have cover fees but also give you drink tickets.
I only checked the price for Enigma, and it was €10 cover with one drink included. I assume Koo Club is roughly the same.
Best restaurants with cheap eats in Santorini
As in life, we should always have a balance. You should eat at least 2 of these restaurants during your 3-day vacation in Santorini.
Lucky’s Slouvaki – If you don’t go anywhere else, you MUST try the gyro at Lucky’s Slouvaki. It’s. SO. GOOD! We got one at least once a day. They’re only 2.60 per gyro which makes them perfect for a light lunch or even a snack!
Bakaliveraka – Located on the main road just a little north of Mcdonalds you’ll find this small traditional Greek restaurant. We stumbled on it randomly and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of food and the price!
We got at least 5 plates, wine and beer for less than €30! It definitely one of the best cheap restaurants in Santorini!
Svoronos Bakery – This bakery has all kinds of yummy stuff like spinach pies, cheese pies, baklava, sandwiches and more all for less than €5.
Nick the Grill – Another good gyro spot with cheap eats.
Best Coffee/Cafes in Santorini:
There are a lot of cafes and good coffee on the street right after the bus station, walking the opposite way from the caldera.
You should check out:
- The Coffee Lab
- Magma City Cafe
- Coffee Island
- Lila cafe.
The Freddo cappuccino from Coffee Island is SO GOOD!! You have to try it!
Santorini definitely lived up to the hype and did not disappoint! This small Greek island is full of so many amazing things to do and has unbelievable views too.
I hope this helps you plan the perfect 3-day itinerary in Santorini Greece! I’ve shared all the best things to do and hope that you enjoy your vacation as much as we did!
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