Experience the Magic of Santorini: A One Week Itinerary

Ingrid & Alex

Everybody and their mother is talking about Santorini Island. They have been there, are planning to go, or are dreaming about organizing a trip to the lovely, picture-perfect Greek island. So read further if you want to experience Greek vibes and spend one week in Santorini.

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One week in Santorini

Where to stay in Santorini?  

One week in Santorini
Santorini black sand beach in Kamari
The beautiful black beach of Kamari on the Eastern part of Santorini Island

My personal experience is that the Western side is perfect for visiting on a day trip, having a sunset dinner, and booking a room with a caldera view for a night or two

But I would choose the Eastern side for longer stays.

If you want access to the sea and the beach, many seafront restaurants with a wide variety of delicious food at a fair price, and bars with live music and sparkling cocktails, I suggest you stay in Kamari.

That’s what we did during our first visit, and we do not regret it at all

Recommended Hotels

Here is a list of good places to stay on both sides of the island.

  • Apanemo Hotel & Suites. It is a typical white Greek hotel that offers an incredible view over the caldera. It is not a big place, which gives it a boutique hotel vibe, and it is in a less crowded part of the island, Akrotiri. Check it out here!
  • William’s Houses. Located in Akrotiri, they are perhaps some of the most stunning apartments in Santorini. The best part of this place, apart from the caldera view, is that you can have it from your jacuzzi bathtub. 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. Check it out here!
  • Hotel Sunshine. If you want to spend less and don’t mind staying in Kamari, on the eastern part of the island, choose to stay here. It has traditional Greek decor, a great pool, a sea view, and a private beach with small volcanic stones. You can quickly get around and travel to the rest of Santorini. See availability here!
  • Santorini Kastelli Resort. Staying in this resort will allow you to take stunning pictures. It offers 5-star accommodation in a quiet location in Kamari at an affordable price. See more here!

The Famous Santorini Sunsets

If you plan to go to Oia, I suggest you book a table at one of the restaurants with the best view.

If you don’t want to book a table and spend the money on dinner, remember that the best spot for sunset in Oia is the top of the island, the Byzantine Castle Ruins.

Make sure to come here early because the place tends to get very crowded the closer you get to sunset, and people will race for the best spots. Thus, grab a bottle of wine and head to the area as early as 5:30 PM.

Santorini Island unique experiences

Sunsets are also lovely in the island’s capital, Fira, where getting a table without reservation is easier. Personally, I preferred to be sure and booked a table for the last night on the island at the lovely Volcano Blue Restaurant.

It was a choice based on the restaurant’s reviews on TripAdvisor, and I have to admit the experience was wonderful. 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 will most probably need to find another spot since they don’t accept children and infants during sunset hours.

Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments

When to visit the island?

Situated in the Cyclades islands, temperatures in Santorini are mild throughout the year. But you’ll want to visit in April-June or September-November to make the best of your one week in Santorini. July and August can be extremely hot and crowded, while the winter months can be chilly.

Also, check out my article about what to wear in Santorini, so you come prepared.

Do you need a car?

You can definitely rent a car, but you don’t need one.

We preferred to book guided tours (including transportation) for the essential attractions and used public transportation to explore the larger settlements like Oia and Fira.

If you choose to rent a car, I suggest you go with Discover Cars. They can help you save money and have a flexible cancellation policy. Just make sure you read our post about driving in Greece.

Secure your best car rental price here!

Some Santorini Island unique experiences to have

Even though Santorini island is relatively 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 that the climb will not be easy. But it is all worth it for the incredible view, the black lava ground, and seeing the ground zero of the explosion that gave the island its current form.

Make sure to bring sports shoes and plenty of drinking water.

If you visit the volcano, the trip will probably include a dive at the hot springs. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed by 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. Still, when in Rome…

This is one of the most popular activities in Santorini and is 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. 

Book your guide tour here ahead of time!

Visit Therasia (or Thirasia)

As part of the one-day trip to the volcano, we made a three-hour stop on the smaller island of Therasia. It was actually part of Santorini many years ago but separated after the volcano erupted.

The experience was particularly funny because we ended up for lunch at this traditional, water-facing tavern owned and run by a family. The place was a bit shabby but authentic, and the food was tasty and cheap.

On this little island, there are only 319 inhabitants and two 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.

Explore the streets of Oia

But try not to arrive at the port and climb the oh-so-many stairs on a hot August afternoon. We did, and it was taxing, to say the least.

Of course, you can “rent” a donkey and ride it to the top. Still, 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).

To add to our misery, the stairs were dotted with ..oh well, donkey poop. Imagine us, gasping for air as we struggled to climb the donkey-smelling stairs without stepping into poop. At least, it was a memorable experience.

Once you’re in the city, you’ll fall in love!

Oia is a fantastic destination with charming restaurants, small souvenir shops, and lazy cats daydreaming under colorful flowers. Because of its beauty, the place is thronged by tourists, but if you avoid peak season, the crowds are manageable.

In another post, I’ve gathered a list of the best things to do in Oia

Donkeys of Santorini
Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments
Road to Oia

Take a panoramic view trip of Santorini Island

You can do that 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 view of the island.

Book your ATV-Quad Experience here!

We started by going to the highest spot on the island, where you can have a 360-degree view and, if you have time, visit the Prophet Elias’s Monastery.

Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments
The tallest point on Santorini Island

Visit Megalochori

Moving on, we visited an old Greek settlement, Megalochori, which I particularly loved because of its narrow streets and white houses with blue doors and windows.

Everything was so quiet and peaceful; it was a perfect Zen location. You won’t need more than 30 min to visit the place, but you will surely love it!

Everything you need to know about Santorini

Santorini Island Greece small villages

The real-world Atlantis: Akrotiri Archeological Site

Another stop was the Akrotiri Archeological Site, which you should definitely visit if you are passionate about history. The city reached its zenith two thousand years before Christ was born.

The city and its civilization were so advanced that they originated the Atlantis myth.

Alas, the legend of Atlantis was deadly accurate, at least in one regard.

When the volcano erupted in 1627 BC, lava buried Akrotiri under a mountain of lava.

Remember the caldera? It used to be the center of the island. What about Santorini’s croissant shape? Just imagine the magnitude of the explosion that obliterated more than half of the island, leaving only a rump in its wake. It might have seemed like the end of the world for the ancient inhabitants of Akrotiri.

Go back in time and stroll on the streets of ancient Atlantis.

Book your private guided tour here!

Akrotiri Santorini Island
The ancient city of Akrotiri

The Read Beach and the Black Beach

After a short picture stop at the Red Beach of Santorini, we spent some time at Perissa Beach, known as the Black Beach. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at this beautiful restaurant, which has sunbeds directly overlooking the sea.

If you’re asking yourself whether Red Beach is a place to consider for sunbathing, I wouldn’t recommend it. It is rocky, and bathing is prohibited, although we saw people ignoring the ban.

Santorini Island beaches
Red Beach of Santorini Island
Where to eat in Santorini
Perissa Beach Santorini
Where to eat in Santorini
41 Restaurant on Perissa Beach

Go on a wine-tasting tour

Our last stop and one of the greatest parts of the trip was SantoWines winery, the Union of Santorini Cooperatives founded in 1947. Here, you will find an amazing mix of delicious wines and incredible views over the caldera.

We tasted three types of wine, finishing with the best of them all, Vinsanto – the red, sweet dessert wine. If you plan a trip here, book a table and one of the wine-tasting packages. Note also that they organize weddings on location, so if you want something unique and memorable, this is just the place for you.

Overall, the winery tour felt a bit rushed. We would have liked to spend a bit more time there.

Here is the tourist’s favorite tour option if you want to understand Santorini’s wine culture and enjoy a few wine options with a sunset view.

It is a full-day guided tour of Santorini. You will see the island’s main highlights and finish your day in Oia for sunset and wine tasting.

See more and book your tour here!

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.

See more about the tour here!

Santorini Island things to do
SantoWines view
Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments
Wedding at SantoWines

Don’t miss out on Fira

The capital of Santorini Island, Greece – sure, Oia is beautiful, but Fira is in no way wanting.

You can explore the city on foot or take the funicular down to the port and back up again. Don’t miss out on the best Belvedere viewpoint, from which you will return home with many beautiful pictures.

Why not have a professional photo session to create a memory that will last forever? 

Flytographer has been featured everywhere, from The New York Times to Martha Stewart Weddings, and has been called “The Future of Travel Photography” by Conde Nast Traveler and “The #1 Gift for Travelers” by Forbes. It is a female-founded company with an all-female team! Book here to get a discount!

Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments
Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments
Santorini Island unique experiences | IngridZenMoments

Go on a catamaran cruise along the caldera

If sailing to the volcano and climbing it hasn’t caught your attention, this catamaran cruise will suit your taste. It is one of the most popular activities, drawing tens of people on a daily basis.

After all, who wouldn’t like to sail along the coastline and admire Santorini’s beautiful villages, especially during sunset? This is the perfect activity whether you are traveling for a special occasion or are in Santorini for a laid-back vacation.

Book your cruise on a luxury catamaran here with food and drinks!

Nature lovers, don’t miss snorkeling and exploring sea caves

Yes, nature lovers will have plenty of activities on Santorini island. Still, one of my favorites is renting a kayak and exploring the beautiful hidden spots along the coastline.

Book your tour here!

So what do you say? Would you give Santorini Island, Greece, a chance? Or would you prefer a trip to Crete? Check out my comparison of Santorini and Crete and choose the right option for you.

If you decide on Crete, read my post about an Eastern Crete itinerary.

PIN FOR LATER!

Santorini Greece might just be the ultimate Greek destination, one of the best Greek islands to see and experience. Spend your vacation in the Cyclades islands and learn everything about Greeke Santorini things to do.

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