Imagine waking up to a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea, with the famous caldera and pastel-colored villages in the background. Santorini, a jewel in the Aegean Sea, is a destination that awakens all your senses. Its stunning beauty, timeless allure, and incredible vibe make it a must-visit for anyone seeking a truly unforgettable Greek experience.
In just one day, you can explore the island’s diverse landscapes, taste its delicious local cuisine, and immerse yourself in its rich history. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an action-packed adventure, a day in Santorini will be simply magical. So pack your bags and get ready for a journey to one of Greece’s most beautiful islands.
In this article, I’ll provide you with a packed itinerary for a fulfilling day. Take the time to adapt it to your needs and expectations. You don’t have to do everything. Enjoy your day trip to Santorini!
The Best Time to Visit Santorini
Visiting Santorini is a unique experience that can be enjoyed all year round, with each season offering its own special charm.
Santorini in Winter
The winter months in Santorini are mild and offer a peaceful atmosphere, making it the ideal time for a budget-friendly getaway. It’s the perfect time to explore the island’s cultural and historical sites, take scenic walks, and indulge in local cuisine without the crowds. Accommodation and activity prices are also more affordable, making it an excellent opportunity for budget-conscious travelers.
Santorini in Spring
For a more intimate experience, visit Santorini in the spring, in April and May. The weather is still comfortable, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. The crowds are smaller, making it an ideal time for leisurely strolls and sightseeing. With wildflowers in full bloom, the island is at its most vibrant and a perfect backdrop for photos.
Santorini in Summer
Summer is the peak season in Santorini and the best time for beach lovers and those seeking a livelier experience. With the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea and perfect weather, it’s the time for swimming and snorkeling. While the crowds can be overwhelming, the lively nightlife offers a refreshing alternative to traditional activities like sightseeing, dining, and swimming.
Santorini in Autumn
The autumn months of October are an ideal time for those seeking a mix of entertainment, relaxation, and a quieter atmosphere. The weather is still warm and comfortable, and the crowds have dwindled, making it a great time for scenic walks, exploring cultural and historical sites, and occasional partying. With changing leaves and soft light, the island takes on a warm and cozy atmosphere, making it an ideal time for a romantic getaway.
Learn more about the weather and what to wear in Santorini
No matter when you choose to visit, Santorini is a destination that won’t disappoint. Each season offers its own unique charm and is sure to create unforgettable memories. Want to know the weather in Santorini for a specific month? I invite you to read this article where I detail everything you need to know.
Itinerary for Visiting Santorini in 1 Day
Santorini is an idyllic paradise that will enchant you with its breathtaking beauty. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or a first-time visitor, this Aegean Sea island will surely captivate you with its crystal-clear waters, unique landscapes, and charming villages. However, with so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I’ve created the perfect itinerary to help you make the most of your day in Santorini.
From iconic red and black sand beaches to picturesque villages with whitewashed buildings and blue rooftops, Santorini is a feast for the senses. To fully enjoy everything this island has to offer, you’ll need a well-planned itinerary that covers all the main sights and activities.
With my itinerary, you can be sure that you’ll make the most of your day on the island. Whether you prefer a more relaxed pace or a packed day, my recommendations adapt to your interests and preferences.
The Best Way to Get Around in Santorini
Santorini is not very large, but it’s still large enough to make it quite challenging to explore its picturesque landscapes and bustling towns on foot. With such limited time, it’s crucial to plan your itinerary in a way that maximizes your time and allows you to see as much of the island as possible. To achieve this, several transportation options are available to you.
Getting Around by Bus in Santorini
The first option is to take the bus. Santorini has a well-connected public transportation system, with local buses (KTEL) serving all the villages and major tourist attractions. Buses operate daily and connect most places you might want to visit, such as Oia, Fira, and Perissa. However, the ticket costs for bus rides can add up, especially if you plan to visit multiple destinations throughout the day. A bus ride costs approximately 2.50 EUR. And to be honest, they are not always reliable.
Getting Around by Rental Car in Santorini
Another option is to rent a car. Renting a car is the most convenient way to get around the island as it gives you the freedom to explore different destinations at your own pace. Most car rental companies are located at the airport or in the capital, Fira, and rental prices start from 65 EUR per day. You can find my complete article on how to rent a car in Santorini here.
Getting Around by Motorcycle in Santorini
But why settle for a car when you can rent a motorcycle and cruise around Santorini in style? Renting a motorcycle is the perfect way to explore the island without having to worry about parking spaces or traffic. You can find my complete article on how to rent a motorcycle in Santorini here.
Getting Around by Quad Bike – Having Fun in Santorini
Do you want to explore the island of Santorini and have a unique and memorable travel experience? Then it’s time to hop on a quad bike! It’s the easiest, most economical, and safest mode of transportation to explore the island. By renting a quad bike, you’ll have the freedom to explore the island at your own pace, stop for photos anytime you like, and discover Santorini’s hidden gems. You’ll also save money on transportation costs and avoid queues for taxis or crowded tourist buses. Clearly, this is the transportation mode I recommend; you can read my article about it here.
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A Day to Explore Santorini – The Perfect Itinerary
8 – 10 AM (2 hours)
Start your day in Santorini with an exploration of the ancient city of Akrotiri. This unique archaeological site is a hidden gem of the island, and it’s best visited in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy peace and tranquility. The people who once lived in Santorini left a rich heritage consisting of elaborate canal systems, multi-story houses, and wall paintings. After the catastrophic volcanic eruption that forever changed the island’s landscape, everything was preserved under a thick layer of ash for centuries, protecting the ruins that we can still admire today.
Akrotiri today is a small town slightly north of the archaeological site. You can park at the small parking area near the Akrotiri Museum, just a few minutes’ walk from the excavations. Both the archaeological site and the museum open at 8 AM, so try to arrive as early as possible. In many ways, this place is reminiscent of Pompeii, which is more famous despite being more recent.
Learn more about Akrotiri, the village, and the ancient ruins in the complete article here: Visiting Akrotiri in Santorini, Greece – Complete Guide.
10 – 11 AM (1 hour)
Red Beach is a must-visit destination in Santorini, offering a breathtaking and unforgettable experience. With its vibrant red sand, volcanic rocks, and crystal-clear waters, it’s truly a sight to behold. To get there, you can either walk or drive to the nearby Orthodox Church of Saint Nikolaos and then follow the short path around the cape.
What sets Red Beach apart from other beaches on the island is its vivid red color, which is the result of iron deposits in the sand and cliffs. It creates a striking contrast with the deep blue waters and provides a stylish backdrop for photos. Despite its popularity, the beach is well worth a visit. If you go there not too late, you can enjoy a refreshing and delightful morning swim.
So, if you’re looking for a unique and stunning beach, be sure to add Red Beach to your itinerary during your visit to Santorini. Learn more about Red Beach with my top tips in the complete article here: Red Beach in Santorini, the Complete Guide.
11 – 11:30 AM (30 minutes)
After exploring the unique and picturesque Red Beach, it’s time to head to the highest peak on the island, Profitis Ilias. This beautiful location is named after the Moni Profiti Ilia (Prophet Elias) monastery, which was built in 1712 and played a significant role in Santorini’s cultural and intellectual life. The monks of the time were prosperous merchants, allowing them to amass a valuable collection of Bibles, icons, ethnographic objects, and other important religious items.
Today, visitors to the site can explore the on-site museum, which contains many of these incredible artifacts, providing insight into Santorini’s rich history and cultural heritage. However, the real highlight of the Profitis Ilias visit is the breathtaking panoramic view across the entire island. It’s one of the best places for photos and capturing the beauty of Santorini from above.
Visiting the Ruins of Ancient Thera
11:30 AM – 1 PM (1.5 hours)
Located east of Profitis Ilias, the ruins of Ancient Thera are a perfect destination for history and nature enthusiasts. You can access them by taking a winding road from the picturesque villages of Pyrgos Kallistis, Exo Gonia, and Kamari. These seaside resorts are located below the steep and rocky Mesa Vouno mountain. When you arrive at Ancient Thera, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking mountainous landscape and the millennium-old history of Santorini.
You’ll need to take a short hike (no more than 20 minutes) to reach the entrance of the archaeological site. There, you’ll find remnants of public buildings such as temples, markets, baths, cemeteries, and a theater. Ancient Thera was founded by Dorian settlers from Sparta, who recognized its strategic importance and established a thriving city there. Archaeological finds include statues, vases, and figurines dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries BC.
In addition to its rich historical heritage, Ancient Thera also offers breathtaking views across the entire island of Santorini. Take your time to walk through the archaeological site, admire the carvings in the rock, and explore the remnants of ancient life in Ancient Thera. It’s a must-see experience for any visitor to Santorini.
Learn more about Ancient Thera and watch my video in the complete article here: The Ancient City of Thera in Santorini – Guide.
1 PM – 2 PM (1 hour)
If you’re looking for an exceptional beach, Kamari’s black beach is a place not to be missed. This beach stands out from the others with its black sand, a result of the island’s volcanic activity. The black sand gives this beach a dramatic and enchanting atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else.
You can relax on comfortable sun loungers and swim in the clear, crystalline waters. The beach is surrounded by rocky cliffs and imposing mountains, making it truly magical. It’s a great spot for taking beautiful beach photos in Santorini, as the backdrop is really stylish.
For adventure enthusiasts, there are also various water sports options available. Try your hand at windsurfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Whether you prefer relaxation or exploring the waters, Kamari’s black beach has something for everyone.
1:30 PM – 3 PM (1.5 hours)
Santorini is famous for its unique and delicious wines, making them one of the best souvenirs to bring back from the island. For an unforgettable wine tasting experience, head to Artemis Karamoulegos Winery, a winery located between Kamari and Fira. This destination is just a 7-minute quad ride from Kamari and Black Beach. The winery also offers a beautiful shaded garden to enjoy your wine tasting to the fullest.
The tasting experience costs around 30 euros per person, and while this may seem reasonable, I believe that for a more comprehensive experience, it’s best to combine it with a good meal. This way, you can truly appreciate the nuances of each wine and differentiate them more clearly.
So, for wine enthusiasts, a detour to Artemis Karamoulegos is a must. Bring your camera to record your wine tastings, and take home an unforgettable memory of your trip to Santorini.
You can discover my complete experience at Artemis Karamoulegos Winery and wine tasting in Santorini here: Wine Tasting in Santorini.
Grab a Bite Before Continuing
1:30 PM – 3 PM (1.5 hours, concurrent with wine tasting)
After visiting the wineries, it’s time for a delicious lunch with a view. Santorini is known for its exceptional cuisine and wine, and local vineyards offer the perfect opportunity to taste both. At Artemis Karamoulegos, for example, you can have a food and wine pairing experience, which is really great.
Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or simply looking for a quiet lunch, you’ll find plenty to delight your palate. For a lighter option, try a charcuterie board with an assortment of cheeses and meats, or if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the full tasting and gastronomic experience. This option includes premium wines perfectly matched with traditional Greek or Santorinian dishes.
Fira and its Prehistoric Museum
3 PM – 5:30 PM (2.5 hours)
Now it’s time to head to Fira, the capital of Santorini, just a few minutes’ quad ride from the wine tasting. You can take your time wandering through the labyrinthine alleys along the caldera.
But most importantly, make your way to the Prehistoric Museum in Fira. This small but interesting museum showcases a multitude of ancient treasures, including beautiful frescoes, pottery, and other artifacts from the island’s rich history.
From the stunning ruins of Akrotiri to the humble pottery of Potamos, the museum brings Santorini’s rich cultural heritage to life. Dive into the island’s past by admiring the intricate frescoes and imagining life in ancient times. And if you’re looking to delve deeper into Greece’s history, don’t miss the nearby Folklore Museum, housed in a traditional Greek house and featuring a range of fascinating family objects, old clothing, and other artifacts.
5:30 PM – 7 PM (1.5 hours)
The day is slowly coming to an end, but before the sunset, you must head to Imerovigli. This magical village seems like it’s straight out of a fairy tale, offering a fascinating view of the caldera, the Aegean Sea, and the legendary sunset.
As you stroll through its narrow streets, admire the traditional whitewashed houses and elegant hotels scattered along the coastline. The Monastery of Saint Nicholas is a hidden gem where visitors can immerse themselves in Santorini’s rich history and appreciate its unique culture.
The main square is the heart of Imerovigli, where locals gather to chat and keep up with the latest news. Take a walk along the path leading to the caldera and marvel at the breathtaking views of the volcano and the Aegean Sea. With several viewpoints in the village, breathtaking sights are in abundance in Imerovigli. Personally, this is where I choose to stay, as I find the location perfect.
Oia and its Sunset to End the Day
7 PM – 8:30 PM (1.5 hours)
The sunset in Oia is an experience not to be missed. It’s a moment when the village comes alive with the warm glow of the setting sun. To make the most of this experience, it’s essential to find the right spot. The ruins of the castle provide the ideal setting for an unforgettable sunset but can get quite crowded.
Find yourself a spot with a panoramic view of the Aegean Sea. Watch the sun dip below the horizon and cast a range of orange and pink hues into the sky. It’s an ideal spot to relax and soak in the beauty of the island. This is clearly the romantic moment of the day. Why not even have a cozy sunset picnic or a glass of wine with a loved one? Whatever your preference, don’t forget to bring a camera, as the memories will last a lifetime.
Watching the sunset in Oia is a challenge in itself. Check out my best tips and tricks for enjoying this experience: Sunset in Oia, Santorini: An Unmissable Experience.
Dinner at a Restaurant
8:30 PM – 10:30 PM (2 hours)
You’re in Oia, and I recommend staying there for dinner. The village is home to several restaurants and inns with breathtaking views. In fact, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a delightful dinner. Whether you opt for traditional Greek cuisine or tapas, you’ll find a charming culinary experience with a view to match. Local restaurants serve carefully prepared dishes, relying on tried-and-true family recipes passed down through generations.
If you have the budget, I highly recommend Lycabettus. Under the stars, on a terrace overlooking the sea and the volcanic landscape, inspired by Mediterranean and Greek cuisines, the menu consists of appetizers, main courses, and set menus designed with the finest local ingredients.
Find the best restaurants in Oia directly on this page, with their prices and features: The 8 Best Restaurants in Oia, Santorini.
Spending the Evening in Santorini
10:30 PM – Late Night
If you’re looking for a quieter evening in Oia, there are several bars and restaurants that offer a relaxed atmosphere along with panoramic views. Sit back, have a drink, and soak in the magnificent sunset backdrop. Whether you prefer a glass of locally produced wine, a craft cocktail, or simply a cold beer, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.
If you want to spend the night partying, then I recommend heading back to Fira. It’s in the capital city that you’ll find the most vibrant nightlife, bars, and nightclubs.
Staying in Santorini – 1 Day
It has been a busy day, and now it’s time for you to find a hotel to sleep in. Clearly, there is no shortage of options in Santorini. Although relatively expensive, you’ll find accommodations to suit all tastes and budgets. For a one-day visit to Santorini, I encourage you to book a hotel in the same village where you ended your last activity. In this case, it’s Oia.
The hotels in Oia are all luxurious, offering a wide range of amenities and comfort. You can find a list of the best luxury hotels in Oia on this page: The 7 Best Luxury Hotels in Oia, Santorini.
If you prefer to spend the night in another village that might be closer to the port or the airport, you can consider Fira, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, Akrotiri, and more. They will be less expensive than Oia, while still being accessible. You can find a selection here: The 6 Most Luxurious Hotels in Santorini – Dream Stay in the Cyclades.
One Day in Santorini
Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular islands, offering a unique combination of picturesque towns, ancient ruins, and natural wonders. To make the most of your day on this island, I recommend doing all the activities mentioned earlier in the article. This way, you won’t miss out on any of the island’s highlights.
Firstly, to discover the must-see places on the island, opt for one of the many organized tours. Private tours will take you to some of the most important sites with dedicated and experienced guides ready to share their knowledge. Alternatively, for more autonomy (which I recommend), you can rent a quad and plan your day yourself.
Exploring Other Islands
Santorini is also an excellent starting point for exploring other Greek islands. In just a few hours, you can find yourself on most other Cyclades islands. Don’t hesitate to explore the region; it’s well worth it. The ferry system is straightforward, affordable, and fast. Discover the best islands to visit from Santorini in this article: Greek Islands to Explore from Santorini by Ferry – Comparison.
But believe me, whatever your choices for your day in Santorini, you will have an unforgettable adventure.
Tips for Visiting Santorini in 1 Day
Make the most of your one-day adventure in Santorini with my tips. A day is still very short to fully enjoy the island, but it can be done. Optimize your time by following my tips below, and you will have an extraordinary day.
1. Start Your Day Early in the Morning
Early departure is essential to make the most of your day on the island of Santorini. By arriving early, you can avoid crowds and enjoy the most spectacular views. For example, by getting up early to explore Akrotiri, you can enjoy views of the Aegean Sea and the entire island in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Additionally, arriving early at Red Beach allows you to enjoy the crystal-clear water and sand without being disturbed by crowds.
Moreover, starting early also allows you to make the most of the best lighting for taking photos. Morning light is often softer and more pleasant, making it the ideal time to capture memories of your trip.
2. Plan Your Day Carefully
As I mentioned, a one-day excursion to Santorini is really short. Clearly, there is no room for improvisation or uncertainty. But you’re on the right article! You can use the list of activities and customize it to your preferences. Try to always know where you’re going, what you’ll do there, and how long you plan to stay.
3. Language and Currency
Most residents of Santorini speak English fluently, so you don’t have to worry about language barriers. When it comes to money, the official currency of the island is the euro, with many banks and ATMs available throughout the region. Still, it’s a good idea to have cash on hand. Many places do not accept credit cards.
4. Snacks and Water
Above all, be sure to bring some snacks and bottled water for your day. You start early and finish late, with meals at lunch and dinner being relatively far apart. You should have some food and water in your bag to sustain yourself between activities. Please note that tap water in Santorini is not potable, so make sure to have an adequate supply of bottled water.
Discover the best of Santorini
Article mis à jours le 7 February 2024 par Pierre Bouyer