Santorini is the first thing people think of when the Greek Islands come to mind. It is easy to see why. Its clifftop whitewashed walls and blue domes are dramatically gorgeous. I had high expectations and they were exceeded. We had 4 full days in Santorini and we packed them full of fun. I don’t think we left one corner of Santorini untouched!
Santorini Itinerary Day 1
Self-Guided ATV Tour
Rent an ATV and head to the beach! Santorini is known for its famed cliffside views rather than its beaches like on the other Greek Islands, but it has a few interesting ones.
The Red Beach
First stop, the Red Beach! This beach really is red! Contrasted with the blue sea and tall cliffs, it is very pretty! It is also very small and crowded. We went for a swim and laid out to dry but then we were back on our way!
The Black Beach
Next, scoot down to Perivolos and Perissa for black sand beaches. The beach is lined with tiki huts and rental chairs. We brought some feta cheese, olives, and beer for a makeshift picnic and laid in the chairs at La Plage Noire. They are free to lay in but you have to purchase something. The water here was very blue and clear! Perissa is a cool town with a backpacker vibe but it did not feel like Santorini!
Ancient Thera is up the hill from Perissa. We rode our ATVs as far as we could and then turned around. The hike seemed intense for flipflops! If you have time, check it out.
If you still have some time before sunset, swing by Pyrgos. We randomly wound up here and it was awesome. This town has all of the Santorini charm you’re looking for without the crowds! If I were to return I would stay here. We had an espresso and relaxed on a patio admiring the cute hotels and churches.
Sunset at Profitis Ilias
Head to the highest point on the island for sunset. Here you will find a quiet little monastery that has the best sunset views! It is absolutely stunning! Bring a jacket because it did get chilly quick on our ride home after the sun went down.
What You Need to Know About Renting an ATV in Santorini
Everything you read will recommend you rent an ATV while in Santorini and while I thought it meant rent one for a half day to cruise around, it actually means rent one as if you were renting a car. We rented ATVs though our hotel and used them daily. Cabs are way overpriced and while there are nice buses that we used once, they had a crazy long line. For the most independence and fun in Santorini, rent an ATV.
We were able to rent them with a US driver’s license but some companies were asking for an international driver’s license. This didn’t seem like a big deal but on the other Greek Islands, it was much more difficult to rent one without an international driver’s license.
Dinner at Argo
Head back to your hotel to freshen up then get ready for dinner in Fira. It seemed weird to be in Santorini our entire first day without seeing the iconic cliffside. But seeing it at night for the first time almost made it better!
We luckily snagged a last minute reservation at Argo but any stunning cliffside restaurant will do! Argo had amazing seafood and service and this is one of my most memorable meals of our trip. The Greek wine was flowing and the conversation delightful!
Go Out in Fira
I did not expect Santorini to have nightlife. I thought it was going to be all honeymooners and older cruise-goers. Fortunately for our third-wheel, Grant’s brother Mason, it had quite the booming social scene. The second most surprising part was that the nightlife it did have was not a fancy cocktail bar, it was a row of dive bars with sticky floors, DJs, and human-sized birdcages! Check out the Highlander Bar and Murphy’s for a fun night out dancing.
Santorini Itinerary Day 2
Breakfast at Galini Cafe
Start your day off looking at panoramic Mediterranean views.This cafe has one of the best views in Santorini and great food! It has a price tag to match, but it is totally worth it.
Cliff jumping at Ammoudi Bay
Hop on your ATV and ride to the north side of the island. Nestled below the cliffs of Oia is Ammoudi Bay. This bay is gorgeous and was one of my favorite places on Santorini. The water color is unreal! There are a few quaint seafood taverns lining the water. Stop in to try some sundried octopus or at least check it out as you walk by!
Follow the path past the restaurants and around the corner. You’ll soon see people swimming and cliff jumping! Grant and Mason did it and I played photographer. After the great booty bruise of Lake Atitlan, I am skeptical about cliff jumps! You can also walk up the heavily switchbacked path to Oia from Ammoudi Bay or ride a donkey. We decided to save Oia for later!
Sunset Cocktails at V Lounge in Fira
Sunset in Fira is a must-do on your Santorini Itinerary! We booked a table at V Lounge and it was perfect. The views are incredible. We recommend to set your GoPro on timelapse, sit back, and take it all in. After cocktails wander the shops of Fira and grab a frozen greek yogurt.
Santorini Itinerary Day 3
Since the first two days have been jam-packed with fun spend the morning relaxing before your sunset sail. For a light breakfast and good coffee, we recommend Coffee Island.
Sailing on a Catamaran
What better way to see Santorini than from the water!? We booked a catamaran cruise on Get Your Guide. We did the afternoon sunset tour and it was so much fun!
3 Things that are good to know:
- They advertise snorkeling and while the water is super clear, there are no fish.
- The volcano hot springs will stain your bathing suit / make it smell sulfurous so don’t wear white or a favorite.
- They sell it as going to see the beaches, but you never get off the boat. It is basically a glorified booze cruise with the best possible backdrop! The crew does a great job and there are plenty of drinks, great food, and music. We had a blast.
Santorini Itinerary Day 4
Hike from Fira to Oia
This was the highlight of our Santorini trip! I practically had to drag the boys out of bed to come but it was so worth it! This 6-mile hike took us about 3 hours and we were taking plenty of pictures along the way. There are some strenuous parts but overall it is very doable for most ability levels. This is the best way to take in breathtaking caldera views! Walking through Imerovigli was one of our favorite parts! Santorini Dave has a super detailed blog on how to do it which basically served as our guidebook. We timed it so we could end with a couple of hours to explore Oia before catching our final Santorini sunset.
Oia is quintessential Santorini. With high-end shops, whitewashed cobblestone, and the iconic 3 blue domes, it is very popular and highly photographed. We were on the cusp of low season and it was almost too much to bear. There were people playing paparazzi everywhere and doing anything and everything for the ’gram. It was almost hard to enjoy pretty Oia because of the swarms of people and DSLRs. Don’t get me wrong, I had to get a picture of the 3 blue domes too, it was just pretty over the top!
We preferred Fira but there were some things we loved about Oia. King Neptune’s was a great snack spot after our hike. The views were great! And Atlantis Books is a super cute independently owned bookstore. Their curated selection was awesome and we bought a couple of books!
Sunset Dinner at Elinikon in Oia
This restaurant is great! It had really good reviews but upon arrival, I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t until we went to the rooftop that I realized it was worth the hype. The sunset views behind the windmills were awesome. Plus the menu is delicious and reasonably priced. It was the perfect end to our Santorini vacation.
Where We Stayed in Santorini
We were on a budget so we chose an affordable centrally located hotel with a pool. Check it out here. It was nice enough and honestly, with this itinerary, we were barely there! There are plenty of luxury options in Santorini that look amazing. I think the cliffside hotels in Imerovigli would be extra dreamy.
What We Didn’t Do in Santorini
There are a few wineries we were planning on visiting but never got around to. If interested check out Boutari, Venetsanos, and Santo.
A Note about Names
The names in Santorini can be confusing since they are used interchangeably. The entire island is Santorini but used to be called Thera, sometimes spelled Thira. The capital is Fira which is often called Thera because the F and Th sound the same in Greek. This is what I gathered and is definitely not official. It’s all Greek to me!
Santorini is a must do on your Greek Island vacation. Santorini is more beautiful than the pictures and I absolutely loved it.
Feeling Dreamy in Santorini,