I’m lucky enough to have visited Santorini three times over the past few years, and it is—without question—one of the most magical, romantic places in the world. In the guide below, I tried to include the best things to do in Santorini, plus as many hotel and restaurant suggestions as I could based on my own experience (as well as places that came highly recommended by friends.) I’d love to hear other ideas in the comments, if you guys have any.
As far as activities…I kept my recommendations simple. Why? Because Santorini is truly the kind of place where you’ll find yourself wanting to relax and soak it all in. I’d suggest booking one or two things—like an ATV tour and an island-hopping boat ride—but otherwise, I’d recommend just taking it easy.
Post up at your hotel’s pool, order a bottle of chilled Assyrtiko—the local wine made in Santorini, which is amazing—and cherish every moment of Mediterranean paradise.
P.S. Be sure to check out my list of the this list of all the best things to do in Mykonos if you happen to be heading there before or after your trip.
The Best Things to Do in Santorini
There’s no denying that the food in Greece—and more specifically Santorini—is among the best in Europe. From fresh seafood to local mezes and traditional Greek street food, the choices are deliciously overwhelming.
Rather than trying to navigate it on your own, enlist the help of a local expert. There are a number of food and walking tours of the island, but this tour in particular is great because its pairs cuisine with a taste of Santorini’s rich history. Along the way you’ll hit up taverns, famed eateries, and iconic landmarks in a group of less than 8 people.
One of the best things I did was an island-hopping catamaran (photo below!) It’s a great way to see all the little beaches/islands that you otherwise wouldn’t have time for. There are a ton of great options here, and a lot of people have recommended Captain Ted’s as well.
I personally never did this, but everyone highly recommends renting ATVs and cruising around on them. (If anyone has a good company to book it through, drop the name in the comments!)
Hike the Caldera
Not for the faint of heart, but if you’re feeling ambitious, hike all 300 steps from the top of Oia to the bottom. Then treat yourself to lunch at Ammoudi Bay (more on that below.)
Considered the top local winery in Santorini. The vineyard itself is nothing to write home about (because of the arid climate, Greek vineyards tend to look dry rather than something lush that you’d see in Italy or California) but the tasting menu/wine pairing lunch was MIND BLOWING and the setting is divine. Book in advance.
Pro Tip: Did you know you can use this free trip planning tool from Google Maps to keep track of your itinerary?
The Best Hotels in Santorini
Choosing a hotel in Santorini can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve never been to the island before. The first thing you need to decide is how important it is for you to stay in Oia—which is the beautiful white village you see photos of all over Instagram (and below.)
Hotels in Oia (pronounced “EEE-yah”) will be more expensive than those outside of it—and rooms tend to be on the smaller side—but if you have the budget, I definitely think it’s worth the splurge.
The views are unlike anything you will experience in your life. It’s also worth noting that since the hotels are so stunning, and most have insane infinity pools, you’ll probably spend a lot of time at the hotel relaxing, which in my mind is money well spent.
I usually recommend spending two nights at a hotel in Oia, and then a few nights somewhere else, and whenever possible, try and book at least six months in advance. The list below is a combination of hotels I’ve stayed at and loved, and others that have come highly recommended by others.
- Andronis Luxury Suites (Oia)
- Katikies Santorini (Oia)
- Canaves Suites (Oia)
- Canaves Oia (Oia)
- Iconic Santorini (Oia)
- Cavo Tagoo
- Andronis Concept
- Grace Hotel Santorini
- Tsitouras Collection
- Astra Suites
- Erosantorini (this is a sprawling private villa, which I wrote about here. Great for big groups or families. It’s VERY pricey, but for those with an unlimited budget, I could not recommend it highly enough.)
The Best Restaurants in Santorini
Ammoudi Fish Tavern: My all-time favorite recommendation. Hike down the caldera in Oia and have lunch or sunset dinner/drinks here. It’s right on the water. Insanely beautiful view & freshest seafood ever.
In the photo below, you’ll see the restaurant in the bottom left corner, right near where the catamaran is docked.
Metaxi Mas: Considered the most authentic spot in Santorini. Everyone talks about it. Nothing fancy, just delicious fresh food beloved by locals and tourists alike. I’d recommend making a reservation in advance, or having your hotel call to make one for you.
Other highly recommended restaurants:
- Pitogyros (best gyros in Santorini)
- Lolita’s Gelato
- Fish Tavern Katina
- Kantouni Restaurant
Best Spots for Cocktails in Santorini
Catch: Around sunset time you’ll see 9 million people bum-rushing this one area of the caldera that has the best view, but if you want to avoid the chaos, go have drinks at Catch. It’s one of the only rooftop bars in Oia with a straight-on view of the sunset.
The Sphinx: Another great spot for sunset cocktails.
Tropical: In Fira, beautiful views.
Need help prepping for your trip? Check out this easy-to-follow Vacation Packing Guide, as well as my fool-proof secrets to surviving long haul flights, and all of the travel hacks I use to save money on fancy trips.
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