If you have the chance to visit Santorini, you should take it. While you look for the best places to stay in Santorini, you will no doubt also be searching for that ideal Greek itinerary to help you discover more of this spectacular island.
After all, there are breathtaking views at every turn. From the historic sites to the beaches, and from the architecture to the quaint towns, there is always something that will captivate. Amid the blue-domed structures and stretching beyond into the sunsets that melt into the sea, your next travel itinerary really needs to be on this magical Greek island.
Here are some of the most spectacular sights you will find as you make your way through Europe and into Greece, reserving some time to spend in Santorini.
A list of things to behold in Santorini can’t possibly be without Oia. As the cultural center of the island, it holds the most resplendent views of all. Those famed blue-domed churches dot the seaside. Some of the best places to stay in Santorini are those exclusive hotels that overlook the caldera. The brilliant sunsets cast a gorgeous warming glow over the white and blue architectural elements, bathing them with reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks until it finally seems to be swallowed by the water.
Imerovigli is a quaint little village perched on the highest point of the island. This is a must-see on your itinerary to Greece, affording you stunning views of the volcano and Skaros rock. While you’ll no doubt want to see that sunset in Oia on one of your nights on this island, make sure you capture it here at Imerovigli too. The town is full of charms of its own with those white-walled architectural elements topped with blue roofs dipping down the slants toward the sea. As a side bonus, it’s more off the beaten path, meaning you’ll have an incredibly authentic non-touristy look at Santorini from here.
Jutting up from the Aegean Sea, you’ll find Skaros Rock while you’re in Imerovigli. It deserves a mention all to itself, and while it is a popular site for visitors, it is simply breathtaking, especially given that it was made by volcanic eruptions. It served as a fortress with Rock and Kato Kastro, two castles. Put on your hiking shoes and make the trek where you’ll be surrounded by impeccable views of the sea the whole way. As the waters shimmer and the salty air hits your skin, you’ll feel more alive than ever.
One thing about islands is that they have plentiful beaches. If you need to pick and choose which ones to stop at, make sure Vlychada is on your list. You’ll find it at the south point of the island, complete with majestically rocky cliffs that add a stunning contrast to the dark sands below. It’s another spot that is less traveled in favor of some of the other beaches. But let the others have them for this slice of heavenly land is a quieter place for relaxation, allowing you to drift into bliss along the shore in a state of pure contentment.
By contrast, Red Beach is one of the most famous beaches you’ll find when looking for the best places to stay in Santorini. The red lava rock formations stand out amid the black sands with the blue sea beyond for one of the most amazing sights to behold. To avoid the crowds, come in the morning to revel in the beauty in a more peaceful way.
Fira is Santorini’s capital, making it an essential stop when you’re planning a trip to Greece. Here, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the volcano, especially when the sun sets. Stunning hotels abound in Fira amid a pulsating nightlife and interesting attractions. Among them, the Old Port at the foot of the city is a colorful little stop, brimming with sunshine yellows, sea blues, and rustic reds. As the water sprays up from the docks, it is one of the most lovely things to witness during your stay.
Just south of Fira, you’ll find a simple village called Megalochori. With tight and winding streets and those whitewashed houses, you’ll find more blue-domed churches tucked in between. Beautiful Greek bell towers beckon, making the perfect backdrop for your photos. Everything comes alive in the central square, a place where you can sit for a spell, unwinding with a cup of Greek coffee in hand. Let the aroma envelop you as you take it all in.
On a hilltop, Pyrgos, a medieval village takes you back in time. Amid the white houses reside Byzantine churches and the epic ruins of what was once a Venetian castle. You can almost picture what life was like back then as you trudge through the steep streets brimming with lively tavernas and shops bursting with authentic souvenirs to take back home. Venture a little outward and you’ll find the Greek vines that grow Assyrtiko grapes that make some of the most delicious wines. Sample them and have a look at the monastery of the Prophet Elijah for a gloriously relaxing afternoon in Santorini.
Regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites in the entire country of Greece, you will not want to miss the chance to view this prehistoric settlement. Amid the rocky ruins, treasures await with ancient art that depicts the lives of the people that once called it home. Once you finish winding your way through the colorful frescos, find the lighthouse nearby to marvel at the difference in architectural elements with a backdrop of the sea.
By far, one of the most picturesque locations, as you look for the best places to stay in Santorini, is that of Amoudi Bay. It is the same fabled place where adventure enthusiasts flock to jump from the rocky cliffs into the shimmering blue waters below. The bay brims with a livelihood unlike anything else where tavernas welcome patrons with the aromas of authentic Greek cuisine luring them to tables. You’ll certainly work up an appetite for the fresh seafood here thanks to the 200 stairs that lead from the Oia to the bay below.
Back in Oia, the Castle of Agios Nikolaos is a Venetian-style building from the 15th century. The nobles used it as their perch to keep watch over the village, ensuring enemies wouldn’t approach from the waters. Wander in and out of the archways and porticos, snapping photos of the architectural elements that still stand strong and proud, keeping watch over the sea below. Treat yourself to the phenomenal views you’re afforded of as much of the island as you can see from high above in this glorious vantage point.
And finally, no trip to Santorini would be complete without seeing the Volcano of Santorini. This volcano was critical to the shape and morphology of Santorini itself. In fact, volcanic eruptions under the water made the island smaller and less round. It caused it to go from Strogili to Santorini along with four other islands that are easy to access from here.
While that’s certainly fascinating, the best part is that the eruptions created the Caldera of Santorini. These enormous cliffs are where you see those small yet stunning white houses and hotels that contrast so deeply with the intense blues of the waters. It was also what helped to create the beaches of black sand in the area.
With the active volcano itself underneath the water, you’ll want to head to the black lava islands known as Nea Kameni and Palaia Kameni. A look at the crater will remind you how vast the world is and how small we all are. Hiking along this steaming wonder of nature, be sure to touch the black lava rocks, long cooled and harmless, a reminder of the fragility of life.
Head to the famed Hot Springs in the foothills of Palaia Kameni where the smells of sulfur abound. Splash in the therapeutic waters and cover yourself in mud as you gaze beyond to behold the amazing views of the Caldera ahead.
Without a doubt, the best places to stay in Santorini are popular for a reason. They put you up close and personal to these incredible sights. At every turn on this island, there seems to be something charming to indulge your senses. From the smell of the salty sea air to the dazzling windows that open to its ancient past, Santorini is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Greece.
We hunt travel deals, tips, hacks, and more weekly to get the best ones for you.
To Travel Is