Everybody and their mother is talking about Santorini Island Greece! Either they have been there, planning to go or are dreaming about organizing a trip on the lovely picture-perfect Greek island so read further if you want to have a taste of some Greek vibes and spend one week in Santorini.
And I have to admit I was a victim of the trend myself and decided to spend my Summer of 2017 vacation on the lovely Santorini Island in Greece. Of course, you can always choose to visit Santorini during winter, when you will skip the crowds, but still, get some sun.
One week in Santorini
Things to know before you go
Before choosing this destination, there are a few things you might need to know, which I did not know before getting there but I think would be useful for other tourists planning their holidays here.
Looking for less known Greek Islands?
First of all, the Santorini island is relatively small, shaped like a croissant ( yum!), mainly split into two sides:
- the Western side with houses nestled un hills, narrow steep streets, and of course the most famous caldera view;
- and the Eastern part where you will find all the beaches and access to the sea.
Where to stay in Santorini?
My personal experience, and what I would also do if I would ever get back to the Greek island (and read that “when” not “if”), is that the Western side is perfect for visiting on a day trip, booking a table for dinner over sunset and maybe just booking a room with a view for 1 or 2 nights (especially for your Santorini honeymoon).
But I would definitely choose the Eastern side for staying over a longer period of time.
If you want access to the sea and to the beach, many seafront restaurants with a large variety of delicious food at a fair price, bars with live music and sparkling cocktails, I suggest you choose Kamari.
That’s what we did and we are not regretting it at all, actually, we are planning to return here in Spring for a long weekend since we liked it so much.
Wondering what to wear in Santorini? Take a look!
Just make sure not to miss the incredible sunsets Oia or Fira have up their sleeve.
Here is a list of incredible places to stay in, on both sides of the island. And if you still want more, check out my very comprehensive list of places where to stay in Santorini, along with the best regions and some stunning hotels.
- Apanemo Hotel & Suites – a typical white Greek hotel, which offers an incredible view over the caldera. It is not a big place, which will give you a boutique hotel vibe, and it is not in the most crowded area of the Island – being set in Akrotiri. Check it out here!
- William’s Houses – maybe one of the most stunning apartments in Santorini, the best part of this place, apart from the caldera view, is the fact that you can have it from your jacuzzi bathtub. Set also in Akrotiri. See availability and prices here!
- Kaleidoscope Cave Houses – you cannot go to Santorini and not stay at least one night in this incredibly iconic type of hotel. You simply must experience waking up with this view and stroll around Oia early in the morning. And let’s not talk about the view from that tub. See when they are available here!
- Evilio Houses – you won’t have to fight for your spot to watch the sunset in the best location in Oia Santorini when you book your room at this stunning hotel. The view from the terrace is one of the most popular and well-known pictures of Santorini Greece. Check it out here!
- Hotel Sunshine – choose to stay here if you want to spend less and don’t mind staying in Kamari, on the Eastern part of the island. Traditional Greek decor, a great pool, sea view, and a private beach with small volcanic stones. You can easily get around and travel to the rest of Santorini. See availability here!
- Santorini Kastelli Resort – also in Kamari, you’ll find it easy to take some stunning pictures in this all-Greek resort. 5-star accommodation, in a quiet location, and at an affordable price. See more here!
Other resources to read:
A comprehensive list of the best Airbnbs in Oia for affordable accommodation with caldera view!
What should you know about the sunset on Santorini Island Greece?
If you’re planning to go to Oia (or Ia as the Greeks call the city), make sure to book a table at one of the restaurants with the best view.
We didn’t and still got a beautiful view but it would have been nicer with a nice glass of wine in hand, sitting at a table.
If you don’t want to book a table and spend the money on dinner, bear in mind that the best spot for sunset in Oia is the very top of the island and more precisely the Byzantine Castle Ruins.
Make sure to come here early because the place tends to get very crowded the closer you get to the sunset and people will try to win the best spot there is. Thus, grab a bottle of wine and head to the area as early as 5:30 PM.
Sunsets are as lovely also in the island’s capital, Fira (or Thira) where you will find it easier to get a table, also without a reservation. Personally, I preferred being sure and booked a table for the last night on the island at the lovely Volcano Blue Restaurant.
It has been a choice based on the reviews the restaurant had on TripAdvisor and I have to admit the experience was wonderful and everything from the service, to the food, to the view, was just perfect. (No, I did not get any incentive for the review).
Just note that if you are planning to book a table here for sunset and you are traveling with kids, you most probably will need to find another spot, since they don’t accept children and infants during sunset hours.
When to visit Santorini Greece
Situated in the Cyclades islands, temperatures in Santorini don’t get really low. But if you want to make the best out of your one week in Santorini, you’ll want to visit between April and late November.
That’s when temperatures are nice and precipitations are low.
However, in this timeframe, you will want to avoid going to Santorini in August because that’s when prices skyrocket, the main places you will want to see are packed with tourists, and temperatures are very high.
How to dress in Santorini
Because you will want to look your best on your Santorini vacation, I’ve chosen some pretty and comfortable options for dresses you will want to take with you.
I’m sure you will want to return from vacation with some amazing pictures and memories, and that’s why I always make sure to bring the perfect selection. Of course, anything would look good with Santorini as a background, but try to choose vivid colors, clothing with Greek patterns, white or blue.
Getting from the airport and around the island
No matter where you arrive in Santorini – by place at the Fira Airport, or by boat/ferry in Ammoudi Bay – there are plenty of options when it comes to getting to your hotel.
From Santorini airport, in Fira, you will either want to catch a taxi, book a private transfer, or take the bus, no matter where you choose to stay on the island. Many tourists choose the private transfer because it is so affordable and it takes such a load off your shoulders – who wants to travel around the island with heavy luggage and worry about timetables and bus stops?
The Ktel public buses link lots of towns around Santorini island, they are affordable and have many options daily. It can be a great way of getting around Santorini without a car, but maybe not as you arrive. The downside of public transportation is that it is not that comfortable when you travel with large luggage, and it might not get you very close to your hotel.
From the main port in Ammoudi, you’ll have to climb the few hundred stairs to the top of the hill, and the center of Oia. If you don’t choose to stay in Oia (even though you will want to after seeing this list of stunning & affordable Airbnbs in Oia) head towards the bus stop. There are plenty of taxi options as well you will choose from here.
Do you need a car in Santorini?
We didn’t do it, and chose to book private tours, especially if you plan to go wine tasting (an absolute must in Santorini).
Sure, you won’t have the flexibility you would when you rent a car, but you won’t waste any time. We relied on the people that knew the island best, thus got to see many things in a short time.
However, when you have one week in Santorini, you might want to mix and match. You can choose to rent a car for a few days and get to explore the island at your own pace. On the other days, you can go on catamaran cruises, wine tasting tours, and any other tour you might find appealing.
If you choose to rent a car, Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They always have the best and most competitive prices, and they do have a flexible cancellation policy.
Some Santorini Island unique experiences to have
Even though Santorini island is rather small, you will have plenty of things to do in one week in Santorini and fill up your schedule when you are not relaxing on the beach.
Take the boat and go to the volcano
You cannot miss this even though I have to warn you, the climb up won’t be exactly easy and it will be windy as hell. But it is all worth it for the incredible view and for seeing the black lava ground and the thing that made the island what it is today.
Make sure to bring sports shoes and plenty of water.
If you get to the volcano, the trip will most certainly include a dive at the hot springs. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed b this particular activity because first of all the hot springs are not exactly hot, and secondly, I felt like swimming in a large pond of rust.
This is one of the most popular activities in Santorini, likely to be sold out, thus I encourage you to book it in advance. You will also take advantage of better offers and have flexible cancellation options.
Visit Therasia (or Thirasia)
As part of the one-day trip to the volcano, we got included also a 3 hours stop on the smaller island of Therasia, which was actually part of Santorini many years ago and got separated after the volcano eruption.
The experience was particularly funny because we ended up for lunch at this small, very traditional, water-facing Taverna, owned and run by a family. The place was not the cleanest or well organized I’ve ever seen, but it was sure authentic and the food was tasty and cheap.
On this little island, there are only 319 inhabitants and 2 small villages – one in the port and one up the hill. We chose to stay only in the small one in the port, but I’m sure that if you have the time and spirit to climb the stairs, the view from above will not disappoint either.
Get lost on the streets of Oia
But try not to arrive at the port and climb the oh so many stairs up to the hill as we did, on a hot August day, in the middle of sunshine.
Of course, you can “rent” a donkey to bring you to the top, but I did not see it as a reliable means of transportation, especially on the narrow streets, with the abyss on my left (and it looks like I’m not the only one to think that, Eileen at Pure Wander has the same opinion).
You will need to know as well that, if you choose to go on foot, the road will be filled with ..oh well, donkey poop.. and you just need to imagine how it smells on a hot summer day. But once you’ll be in the city, you’ll fall in love!
Oia is an amazing destination, packed with charming restaurants, small souvenir shops, lazy cats daydreaming under colorful flowers. It is true Oia can be packed with tourists, but by choosing the right moment to visit, you will make the best out of your stroll.
I’ve gathered here all the best things to do in Oia and I’m convinced this post will make your life easier.
Take a panoramic view trip of Santorini Island Greece
You can do that either by renting a car or an ATV or by taking an organized trip provided by a local travel agency. We chose the latter and had a great overview of Santorini Island Greece in one day, this being doable since the island is rather small.
We started out by going to the highest spot on the island, from where you can have a 360 degrees view and, if you have time, visit the Prophet Elias’s Monastery.
Moving on, we got to visit a small old Greek city, the city of Megalochori, which I particularly loved because it was so small, the streets so narrow, the houses so white with such a lovely contrast with the blue doors and windows.
Everything was so quiet and peaceful, perfect for a Zen location. You won’t need more than 30 min to visit the city from one end to the other, but you will surely love it!
Another stop was at the Akrotiri settlement, where you definitely need to go if you are passionate about history since this is where people lived back in the 5th century BC.
The city is thought to have been the inspiration of Plato’s Atlantis and has been destroyed and covered by lava when the volcano erupted in 1627 BC.
Just by looking at the rocks and walls you probably will not feel much, but I encourage you to look at the bigger picture and imagine how life was in this so very old settlement, how advanced people were at that time and the guide will most certainly help you with a lot of interesting information.
After a short picture stop at the Red Beach of Santorini, we got also 2 hours stop on the beach, at Perissa beach, also known as the black beach where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch, on the beach, at this beautiful restaurant with sunbeds directly overlooking the sea.
If you’re asking yourself whether the Red beach is a place to consider for sunbathing, I wouldn’t recommend it, since it is really rocky and as far as we’ve been told, officially it is not allowed to bath here ( even though people were there at the beach when we’ve been).
Our last stop and one of the greatest parts of the trip was at SantoWines winery, the Union of Santorini Cooperatives founded in 1947, where you will find an amazing mix between delicious wines and incredible views over the caldera.
We tasted 3 types of wine, finishing with the best of them all, Vinsanto – the red, sweet, dessert wine. If you plan a trip here, make sure to book a table and one of the wine tasting packages. Note also that they organize weddings on location, so if you are looking for something special and memorable, this is just the place for you.
Overall the winery tour felt a bit rushed in my opinion, and we couldn’t really spend as much time as I would have liked here.
If you want to have a better understanding of the wine culture of Santorini, and also enjoy a few wine options with a sunset view, here is the tourist’s favorite tour option.
It is a full-day Santorini guided tour, where you will get to see the island’s main highlights, and finish your day in Oia, for sunset and wine tasting.
If you have already seen the island or you prefer to do it on your own at your own pace, a wine tasting tour with pick-up from your hotel is what you are looking for. You will get to visit some of the best wineries on the island and sample organic local wine directly from their producers.
Don’t miss out on Fira
The capital of Santorini Island Greece – sure Oia is beautiful, but Fira is as beautiful and will not disappoint, trust me.
You can take the city on foot or choose to take the funicular down to the port and back up again. Don’t miss out on the best Belvedere viewpoint from where you will come back home with a lot of beautiful pictures.
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Go on a catamaran cruise along the caldera
If sailing to the volcano and climbing it hasn’t caught your attention, then this catamaran cruise will be more suited for your taste. It is one of the most popular activities that draw tens of people on a daily basis.
After all, who wouldn’t; like to sail along the coastline, admire Santorini’s beautiful villages, especially during sunset? This is the perfect activity no matter if you are traveling for a special occasion or are in Santorini for a laid-back vacation.
Nature lovers, don’t miss snorkeling and exploring sea caves
Yes, nature lovers will have plenty of activities to choose from on Santorini island, but one of my favorite ones will always be renting a kayak and exploring the beautiful hidden spots along the coastline.
So what do you say, would you give Santorini Island Greece a chance?
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