I had been dreaming of Santorini, the pearl of the Aegean, for a long time. The white houses with the blue domes that stand on the edge of the steep volcanic cliffs, with a magnificent view of the deep blue sea – simply a dream destination.
You want to fulfill this dream soon and would like to know in advance where it is most beautiful on Santorini? Which places and experiences you shouldn’t miss? Be one step ahead of the many other tourists and check out my best tips for Santorini here.
#1 Hike from Fira to Oia
Are you fit enough to walk? Then a hike from Fira to Oia, or alternatively the other way around, should definitely be on your to-do list.
Leave the daytime crowds of Fira behind you and set off on the secluded hiking trail, which offers unforgettable views; always with Oia and the glittering Mediterranean in view.
For the approx. 3-hour hike, you should take enough to drink as well as sun cream and possibly a hat. There are no places to stop for refreshments along the way, so you should make sure you have enough to eat.
In my opinion, the hike is also doable in midsummer. But everyone must be able to make their own decision. The most exhausting section is actually the beginning; the ascent from Fira to Imerovigli. After that, the path is less difficult. And don’t worry about the way back. Just take the bus, which will take you back to Fira for around €2.
Once you finally reach Oia, you are rewarded with an incredible view that makes you forget all the effort. I had already imagined it to be beautiful, but the reality actually beat that.
The only drawback that overshadowed the spectacular hike was that there were too many tourists in Oia at lunchtime. My tip no. 2 provides a remedy.
#2 Oia at sunrise
You read everywhere that the sunset in Oia is supposed to be so fantastic. That may be true, but the crowds can spoil the mood and destroy what is actually such a romantic moment. Thanks to the flood of people, you can see absolutely nothing of Oia itself! Yes, that’s what I actually mean.
But what is the solution? Because you should definitely not miss out on Oia during your Santorini vacation. It’s simple: set your alarm clock for 5 a.m. and visit Oia at sunrise.
In summer, the sun rises between 6 and 7 a.m. and there are only a handful of tourists in the narrow streets. This is how you can see and enjoy Oia; one of our best vacation moments ever. The atmosphere in the early morning cannot be compared with that at lunchtime or in the evening. No commotion, no squeezing; just peace and quiet and a fantastic view.
If you’re not staying in Oia because of the high hotel room prices, you’re probably wondering how best to get there so early in the morning. What’s the coolest way to drive to Oia in the middle of the night? With the quad bike, of course. And that brings us to my tip no. 3.
#3 Explore the island on a quad bike
The smartest thing you can do on Santorini: Hire a quad bike or scooter and explore the entire island at your own pace.
There are numerous rental companies on Santorini – especially in the capital Fira. Rental costs €20-€40 per day, depending on the size and performance of the vehicle. The freedom and flexibility it gives you: simply priceless.
As the island is so small, you can basically cover it all in one day. You can also get to more remote places that would be difficult or impossible to reach without a vehicle, such as the ancient city of Old Thera or the Akrotiri Lighthouse.
Why a quad bike or scooter rather than a car? On the one hand, quad biking is of course more fun. The distances are also so short that the journeys are not strenuous or lengthy. On the other hand, it is much easier to find a parking space on a quad bike or scooter and you are also more flexible in the narrow streets of Santorini’s villages.
Are you convinced and looking for a trustworthy landlord? I can recommend renting from Tony’s. The owner and the staff are very friendly and offer an impeccable service that doesn’t leave you feeling queasy.
#4 Sunset in Imerovigli
As already mentioned, the sunset in Oia is always praised. You could be forgiven for thinking it is THE sunset city par excellence. It is therefore not surprising that there are huge crowds of tourists there in the evening. If you want to escape the madness, you can watch an equally beautiful sunset from Imerovigli, with considerably fewer crowds.
Imerovigli is located to the north of Fira. The transition between the two cities is fluid and not even noticeable. It is best to walk from Fira in the direction of Imerovigli, always along the caldera. You do have to climb a few steps, but the offered views distract from the effort.
At about the height of Skaros Rock, you can look for a nice spot to watch the sunset. Climb down or up a few stairs until you find a quiet spot with a beautiful view. Seek and ye shall find and enjoy.
#5 Red Beach
As Santorini is a volcanic island, it has extraordinary beaches in a wide variety of colors. In the south of the island you will find Black Beach, White Beach and the unique Red Beach.
You will look in vain for a fine sandy beach here. But the backdrop and the play of colors between the red stones and the blue sea are simply fantastic. The crowds are quite large and parking spaces are scarce, but a short detour – especially on a quad bike – is worthwhile.
#6 Akrotiri Lighthouse
Not far from Red Beach, at the south-western end of Santorini, is the Akrotiri Lighthouse. From here you have a wonderful view of the crescent-shaped island, from Fira to Oia and, of course, the offshore islands of Nea Kameni and Thirasia. Big bonus: only a few tourists get lost here.
#7 The hospitality of the Greeks
Whether in the hotels, in the restaurants or simply on the street, the warmth of the Greeks left a lasting impression. Although countless tourists overrun the small island every summer, the locals do not seem to lose their patience and zest for life. One reason why I will definitely visit Greece again.
#8 Hotels on Santorini
As you may have already read in my hotel tips for Santorini article, I loved our accommodation – especially considering the prices we paid in high season. This is by no means a matter of course for such a popular destination.
Nice hosts, beautiful facilities and a cozy and delicious breakfast in the best sunshine – the cherry on the cake of our Santorini vacation.
top rated ★
#9 The views
The view of the blue sea, the steep caldera and the white houses – impossible to get enough of. I always had my camera at the ready because it felt like every alleyway and every corner was a wonderful photo opportunity.
Fira and Oia in particular were unsurpassed in terms of beauty. The view of the sea is also most impressive from here. But because the island is so small, you can basically see the sea from everywhere. Oceanview guarenteed.
#10 The colors of Santorini
White, blue and pink. This is the best way to describe Santorini in colors. Simply a perfect place to take photos and therefore also an Instagram hotspot.
#11 Three Blue Domes
Finally, an extra tip for photographing the famous Santorini postcard motif: The three blue domes in Oia. As we had to search for the right photo spot ourselves, here is the GPS data so that you can find it easily: 36°27’40.5 “N 25°22’33.0 “E.
Santorini’s most popular photo motif is naturally under siege. Patience is therefore required here if you don’t arrive at 7 a.m. (see tip no. 2).
The three blue domes of Oia – a worthy final highlight.
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