We all know Santorini is stunning, we’ve drooled over online photos and videos when planning a trip to this glowing sun-kissed island and wondered, we’ve wondered can it really be this beautiful? Once you arrive, you will discover the island delivers what it promises on social media, it is truly drop dead gorgeous.
During your stay in Santorini you can easily spend much of your time on a patio or beach drinking in the views of dazzling whitewashed buildings topped with aquamarine roofs but there is more to do on this bustling little island, here’s our top picks for anyone wanting to explore Santorini by water and by land.
Jet Ski Along the Coast of Santorini
If you think Santorini is beautiful on land, just imagine how wonderful it looks from the water. Hopping on a jet ski is a perfect way to explore the coast plus you get to experience the exhilaration of being on a wee little boat in the middle of the big, blue Aegan sea. The bonus of a jet ski tour along the southern coast of Santorini is that it is just you, the ocean and the view, you are so very far away from the crowds, the heat and the busyness of this popular tourist destination. The coastal water tour starts on the black beach of Perivolos, where you can find several companies offering activities including paddle-boarding, parasailing, canoeing and our favourite pick, jet skiing. All tours include snorkeling, and visits to Vlyhada, Red Beach, Kampia, the inaccessible-by-land White Beach and Mesa Pigadia, for an additional charge you can book a tour that also includes a trip across the Caldera to the Nea “New” Karmeni volcano and hot springs.
Sunset Views at Akrotiri Lighthouse
Another must-experience attraction on the southern coast of Santorini is the Akrotiri Lighthouse. Akrotiri is about a twenty-minute drive from Perivolos Beach and it is a perfect place to end your day on the island. Sunset views from the top of the rocks are worthy of many instagram photos, from this vantage point you can see the entire coastline set aglow as the sun slowly disappears into the ocean, simply spectacular. The lighthouse itself is not open to the public, but it is a still a wonderful place to enjoy the ocean, the views and the island. Top tip: Try to get to the lighthouse about an hour before sunset, parking is very limited and it can get busy right before sunset.
Hike the Fira to Oia Trail
Walking the Fira to Oia Trail guarantees you: great scenery, an escape from the crowds, fresh ocean air and a well cared for footpath located away from the roads that winds its way up to the very northern end of island. This is an absolutely amazing walk, about two and half hours and 11kms in length, the trail takes you from Fira through sweet little villages and remote coastal spots until you reach the lovely town of Oia. The only bad patch is about a 100 metre stretch near Oia where you do have to use the main road but thankfully that is short and if not sweet, the remainder of the hike is all separated from car traffic. We suggest a very, very early start to the hike to avoid as much of the intense mid-day heat as possible.
About an hour walk from Fira you will reach the village of Imerovigli and Skaros Rock. The path will split near the Blue Note restaurant, you can choose to go right which leads into the village proper where you can buy snacks or water, if you stay to the left, this path also heads towards Oia, and you score some sensational scenic views of the caldera (volcanic edge of the island) and Skaros Rock. You can climb Skaros Rock on your walk to Oia but we would recommend you save this for another day, the rock deserves to be explored and enjoyed for more than just a short time. The path to Skaros Rock can be found near the Grace Santorini Hotel and it will lead you to the many steps you need to climb towards Skaros. The trail is pretty easy but you will definitely need good walking shoes, a word of warning, the very summit of the rock will require scaling a nearly vertical rock wall.
You would be smart to skip this scary challenge and instead make your way to the tiny Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis nestled on the north side, the views from this spot are just as lovely without the worry of falling off a large cliff. Be sure to look out for the cool cave also located on this part of the rock; it comes complete with a tiny tunnel!
From Imerovigli you have about a two-hour walk before you reach Oia, this was my favourite part. The crowds disappear, the path meanders quietly along the coast and you are alone with Santorini and its magnificent views, this is where you can relax, slow down a bit and experience island life sans hordes of people. When you spot the Island of Thirassia you know you are close to Oia and the end of your hike. Once you’ve arrived in Oia, wander, relax and enjoy the views and maybe enjoy a glass of wine or yummy gelato from Lolita’s, well deserved after a hot day of walking!
With its gorgeous views, dazzling whitewashed towns and many ways to explore Santorini by water and land, there’s no need to worry about what to do on this magical little island. Book your flight to Greece today and get ready to have fun!
Cover photo credits : Dian Emery