While there’s a pretty good chance you’ll want to spend more than 24 hours in sun-soaked Santorini, if you only have time for a quick trip you can still make the most of your time with the help of our expert local guides. Read on for everything you need to know about spending an epic 24 hours in Santorini.
Start your day in Santorini with a visit to Oia, a postcard-perfect village with whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches, and bougainvillea-filled alleys perched on the edge of multicoloured cliffs. Before you head out exploring, stop at Melenio Bakery for fresh baked goods, Greek coffee, and delicious desserts while enjoying breathtaking views over the sea and the caldera. Although Oia is one of the most beautiful villages in Santorini due to the uninterrupted views of the Aegean Sea and nearby volcanic islands, it’s worth visiting Oia before cruise ship tourists arrive. So, start your Santorini experience with an early breakfast so you can enjoy the views uninterrupted.
After enjoying breakfast in Oia, head beyond the standard tourist path to the inland part of Santorini and visit the lovely, towered village of Pyrgos. Renting a car or taking a taxi are the best ways to get here from Oia, and the journey should take around 30 minutes. Stroll around the labyrinthine lanes with their pastel-hued houses, blue-domed churches, and vineyards. Take your time and sip a coffee in a pleasant café by the square and experience traditional, locals life. Before continuing your day, walk all the way up the mediaeval castle of the village to admire the gorgeous views.
If you feel exploring more of the area before lunch, visit the 18th-century Profitis Ilias Monastery that is home to several chapels and important religious art. The monastery is located on the highest peak of the island, so be ready to admire a 360-degree panoramic vista. We strongly recommend exploring this off-the-beaten-path corner of the island because you’ll have the opportunity to experience local life away from crowds of tourists.
After spending all morning exploring the island, take a five-minute taxi ride (or drive if you’ve rented a car) and stop at Artemis Karamolegos Winery in the village of Exo Gonia to taste some exceptional wines alongside local specialties. Santorini is a wine-lover’s paradise, home to some of the best spots to taste artisanal wines. Visiting this estate, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the kouloura method, a specific technique of cultivation followed in Santorini, according to which the vines are woven into continuous circles to form a basket to protect the vines from the island’s harsh winds.
After some lunch and a wine tasting, it’s a 20-minute drive or taxi ride to your next stop, the most important archeological area of Santorini: Akrotiri. Being one of the Bronze Age’s most sophisticated and well-preserved settlements, a visit here will give you the chance to get a glimpse of what life was like around 3500 years ago. Like Pompeii in Italy, a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago destroyed the Minoan town of Akrotiri, covering it with a thin layer of volcanic ash, and as a result, preserving its remains in remarkable condition. Follow the pathways among the ancient structures and clay buildings, and imagine how inhabitants of the past might have lived during Minoan civilization.
After exploring the site, head to nearby Red Beach to admire the view of the red volcanic rocks, and depending on your mood to relax on the red sand or have a quick swim. Red Beach’s rock formations and colour are spectacular due to the volcanic activities of the island.
As the sun is setting, select the best place along the caldera to enjoy Santorini’s epic sunset, one of the most beautiful in the world. Skip Oia’s sunset, the most famous on the island, as it’s overly touristy. Instead, stay in Akrotiri or head to the village of Megalochari. From Akrotiri, it’s about a 10-minute drive or taxi ride.
When night falls, visit Fira, the capital and liveliest part of the island (a 20-minute ride from Megalochari). Stroll around the narrow back lanes of the town where most of the restaurants and nightlife venues are found. Stop at the lovely balcony of Tropical Bar for drinks in a cozy setting with rock and reggae tunes. If you feel like doing some shopping, you’re in luck as the shops are open quite late. There are many restaurants to choose from so you’ll have your pick of great options.
Layovers in Santorini take place while on a cruise as it’s included in the itinerary, providing five or six free hours to stroll around the island. If you enter the island via airport and continue your island hopping by ferry, a minimum four to five hours layover will be enough. Layovers between different flights is not common.
The best way to get from the airport to the sites is by taxi. A one-way journey from the airport to Fira, the capital of Santorini, takes about 15 minutes by bus, while reaching the village of Oia is about 30 minutes by taxi. From Fira to the Athinios Ferry Port it’s a 20 minute taxi ride. We recommend downloading the Aegean taxi app to prearrange your ride.
If you want to see Santorini in a few hours in the morning or afternoon, explore any of the spectacular villages perched on the top of the steep cliffs of Santorini’s caldera. Villages such as Oia, Imerovigli, Fira, and Firostefani offer amazing strolls around whitewashed alleyways, and incredible views of the caldera. You will experience the most dramatic corner of the Aegean Sea and one of the most spectacular views in the world.
If you’re in Santorini for an evening or nighttime layover, enjoy the amazing sunset, one of the most beautiful in the world. Oia’s sunset may be the most famous, but as locals we suggest you try the equally beautiful and less-crowded spots like Firostefani, Megalochari, or Akrotiri, which offer idyllic scenery lit up in a red-orange glow and violet haze.
If your layover is at night, your best option is to visit Fira, the liveliest part of the island. Most of the restaurants and nightlife venues are found here, hidden in the narrow back lanes of the town and offering great views. You’ll experience one of the most magical and romantic sunsets in the world, or a great dinner and signature cocktails at perfectly-located restaurants and bars near the caldera’s edge.