Santorini's amazing views

An Inspiring 3 Day Itinerary in Santorini (Awesome Cliffs + Magic Sunsets + More…)

by Kristina Dodier - updated November 6, 2023

The Greek Islands are some of the most beautiful landscapes I have witnessed as an avid traveler. Tourists flock to these destinations, but when you arrive in Santorini, you will immediately become entranced by this magical island atop rugged cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea. 

However, with so many cool things to do in the area, I am constantly asked about the best things to do in it. So I came up with what I think would be the perfect 3-day itinerary in Santorini for those who want to explore the best of it on a tight schedule.

My take to find the perfect 3 Day Itinerary in Santorini:

Traditional Greek orthodox blue dome church in Santorini -  3 Day Itinerary in Santorini

Related read: Top Things to Do in Rotterdam.

3 Day Itinerary in Santorini – Day 1

Arrive in Santorini! 

Most visitors travel to Santorini via ferry from Athens.

This is an exciting adventure with stunning panoramic views and where your itinerary in Santorini begins.

As you approach Santorini, you feel like you are arriving in a place that in a way doesn´t seem real.

The white architecture with deep blue hues is sprinkled around the jagged cliffs. From afar, it is hard to wrap your head around how this gift from nature is inhabited. 

*Although this island experiences warm, lovely weather, it is highly recommended that you pack comfortable walking shoes. Due to the nature of this terrain, it is much easier to get around inappropriate footwear.

Beautiful Walkway, Santorini

Fira is the capital of Santorini and the first spot on your first-time visitor´s checklist (after you check into your hotel or apartment, of course).

Get lost in the tiny streets where every turned corner boasts another spectacular view of the sea.

You will already fall in love with this unique island! 

Armeni Village, Santorini

Lunch at Ouzeri 

Greek food is healthy, fresh, and tasty.

Enjoy a lovely lunch at Ouzeri, which sources some of its ingredients from its organic farm.

It comes as no surprise that the fish on this island is top-notch. Check out the grilled stuffed fresh calamari, for a twist on this fried delight.

Vegetarian? No problem! This restaurant and Greece in general have plenty to offer in tasty vegetarian fare. 

Organic Lunch at Ouzeri

Akrotiri of Thera

After your taste buds have been captivated, it is time to check out a historical museum here in Fira.

Assuming you have heard of Pompeii, this site is called the “Greek Pompeii” because the site was covered in the ashes of a volcano.

One of the most important Minoan urban centers and ports in the Aegean Sea is known as the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri. 

Fun Facts

What happened to this settlement at the Akrotiri archaeological site? It was destroyed in the Theran eruption and buried in volcanic ash. This happened about 1627 BC. The ash preserved the remains of many objects and art. 

I will let you learn more about this fascinating museum when you visit the site. You will definitely feel chills as you walk around materials that have been protected in the same manner as in Pompeii. 

Red Beach 

After you have delved into some important history, time to unwind on this gorgeous red beach.

If you go here during the late afternoon/early evening (even during the busy summer months), you may find that there are not many people here. 

Sunset Santorini

Grab a bottle of wine and stare in awe at this beach unlike any other.

You will have to walk on some tough terrain (hence the walking shoe suggestion earlier in this article), but I promise it is worth every step.

I recommend cozying up on the bright red sand and watching the sunset from this beach. 

Picture-pefect, Santorini

Tropical Bar 

If you prefer outdoor seating while someone serves you food and cocktails while you watch the sunset, then check out Tropical Bar. This is located a few steps down from the main street.

Feel like dancing all night?

Tropical Bar is open until the wee hours of the morning where you can dance the night away. 

Did you know?

Santorini and the Greek Islands are known for their vibrant, all-night parties at the various clubs and bars. If you walk around after you take in the gorgeous sunset, it is impossible to miss the energetic party scene. Even the late-night gyro snack stands blast music. Why not eat and continue the party at the same time?

3 Day Itinerary in Santorini – Day 2

Fira to Oia Hike (wear or bring your bathing suit)

View of the caldera cliffs on the Fira to Oia hike.

Time to sweat out your night of cocktails and dancing!

This is a fabulous activity and it is absolutely free of charge.

The views will have you stopping every few minutes for pictures.

The hike from Fira to Oia takes between 2-5 hours, depending on your speed.

The best part is that you certainly don´t have to rush, can stop for refreshments or breaks and you will never feel disappointed with your panoramic views of this heavenly island. 

Start in Fira and move north through Firostefani and then Imerovigli. This part of the path feels like a quaint village sidewalk.

From Imerovigli to Oia, it is largely rural.

You will only see a handful of stores; therefore, it is smart to pack water before you embark on this stretch of your adventure.

Traveling in July or August?

Wear hats, and sunscreen, and consider leaving before 8 am. The sun is hot and strong; be prepared and protect your skin. 

Fun Facts

Santorini is not the official name of this island. It is actually called Thira. Before Santorini became a popular name, the island was known as Kallístē, translating as “the most beautiful one.”  

Stroll along this postcard-worthy village and stop for a refreshing local beer.

Once you have reached your destination, time to relax!

Stroll along this postcard-worthy village and stop for a refreshing local beer. You have some options for an invigorating dip as well.

Check out one of the black sand beaches nearby:

Alternatively, if you are hoping to cool off, but aren´t up for sea swimming, Lioyerma pool in Oia is your perfect option.

This is the only public pool in Santorini. There is no fee, but you will have to purchase something to eat and/or drink. Strangely, it rarely gets super busy.

Cool off your body after the hike and rejuvenate with a delicious lunch. 

Take the bus back to Fira.

View of Venetian castle in Oia village on Santorini island in Greece


Found on the main street of Fira, Lucky´s is a gyro and souvlaki shop where you will find authentic food that won´t disappoint.

Many of these shops that target tourists serve average food that likely won´t leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. Lucky´s, however, is the real thing, just like anything you would find in Athens or mainland Greece.

Fun Facts

Gyros are ancient Greek street food. They consist of thinly sliced meat that rotates on a spit. The name derives from the Greek word “gheereezo.” This means, to turn, which is fitting, as the meat is rotating and spinning as it cooks. The meat (usually pork or lamb), is finely sliced and packed into a pita wrap with tomatoes, red onions, and some sort of greenery. Tzatziki, another Greek delight, is typically added as a sauce. 

Gyros with vegetable, meat and tzatziki sauce

Koo Club

Time to experience more of the famous Santorini nightlife at Koo Club.

This is the best dance bar in the center of Fira. It gets going late, usually after 11 pm.

Not up for a wild night out?

Let Santorini be your backdrop. The café culture is lovely here.

Find a nice outdoor space, lay back, and relax as you admire the distinctive white architecture, and sprawling sea landscape and live in the moment. 

3 Day Itinerary in Santorini – Day 3

Half-day Catamaran cruise of Santorini complete with a BBQ and drinks: 

*Wear a bathing suit that is dark in color. Do not wear a bathing suit with white (you will understand why later). 

This luxurious bus and boat tour of Santorini starts on land. You will be driven down to the port of Vlychada on the island´s southern coast.

Setting sail from the southern port of Vihada and follow along the diverse coastline.

The red beach in Akrotiri, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, is your first stop. 

Fun Fact

The distinct red coloration is caused by the rich minerals and iron soil. 

Top View, Santorini

Next, you will head to the white rocky beach, which is only accessible by boat.

Leaving the white beach and heading to the Venetian lighthouse, you sail below the Indian Rocks through caves and rock formations, characteristic of the Aegean landscape. 

After sailing below the lighthouse, the yacht will turn and enter the caldera of Santorini.

You will lose your breath at the sight of Santorini from this angle.

The picturesque white homes seem to hang from the cliffs like grapes on a vine and the cliff formations make you wonder how in the world anyone thought to build civilization here.

Also, note the volcanic islands of Palea and Nea Kameni.

Fun Facts

The observation conditions are perfect in this part of the world, mainly due to the sunny climate. This means that Santorini does not just attract tourists, but volcanologists as well. 

Windmill on white rocky beach

From there you will head to the crater of the volcano.

The yacht will sail around it, giving you a full view.

You will then stop at the thermal springs to swim in the sulfurous waters.

Not only does it feel exciting to jump off a boat in the middle of the sea like you are part of a movie, it is also like jumping into a natural spa. 

When I took this tour, I wore a white bathing suit. After my delightful spa treatment and swim, my white bathing suit turned into a rust-colored bathing suit.

I was not able to wash it out. Now, for me, it was totally worth it.

Every time I look at this bathing suit, I have wonderful memories, however, I think it is worth noting for future travelers.

Wear an old suit or a dark-colored suit to avoid the natural spa stains. 

Your tour concludes after you disembark at Vlychada Marina. 

Metaxy Mas

This is the perfect evening getaway.

You will have views of Kamari beach at one of the best restaurants in Santorini. I recommend making reservations.

The restaurant´s website describes it as “a relaxing space, reminiscent of an island house porch, and an atmosphere full of Aegean Sea´s colors and aromas.” Who wouldn´t want to eat here?

The gorgeous ingredients are sourced from their kitchen garden.

Tri Raki, which is a grape-based pomace brandy. This restaurant is a five-minute drive to the next activity: Outdoor Cinema Kamari

Beautiful red sunset on Santorini

Outdoor Cinema in Kamari

I can´t think of a better way to put a cherry on top of your Santorini island getaway than to lay back with your full belly and happy memories and watch a movie outside.

As the sun sets and the sky grows dark, enjoy a drink and observe a film.

Wine, beer, and simple snacks are available and movies start around 21:30.

I recommend arriving when the doors open at 8:30, to ensure a seat. There is a bus stop directly across the street with buses back to Fira. 

Santorini, Thira - View from cable car

Goodbye or in Greek: αντιο σας, Santorini!!! I am sure you will have countless pictures from this wonderful island, reminding you of this memorable trip. 

Discovering the Colorful Beaches of Santorini

If you’re yearning to experience Santorini’s magic without the constraints of a set schedule, I have just the spots for you. Venture into these must-visit gems at your own pace; I guarantee you won’t want to leave any stone unturned! 

Santorini is not just any Greek island; it’s a masterpiece of nature’s artistry and human civilization. Many travelers prioritize the sunsets and iconic blue domes, but an insightful itinerary in Santorini showcases a broader color palette. From the mystic hues of the red beach to the mesmerizing black sand of Kamari Beach, there’s so much more to see.

Red Beach – Nature’s Palette at Play

Hidden slightly off the beaten path, the red beach offers a dramatic contrast to the blue of the Aegean Sea. It’s an essential stop in any itinerary in Santorini for those who want to witness the power of volcanic activities. The vibrant red and black volcanic rocks paint a scene straight out of a dream.

Kamari Beach – The Ebon Shore

Kamari Beach promises an almost ethereal experience with its striking black sand. Located conveniently close to the Santorini airport, it’s a recommended first or last stop for anyone following an itinerary in Santorini. The dance of dark sands against the crystalline waters captures the heart and soul.

Ammoudi and Amoudi Bay

It’s not often that two places with such similar names stand out distinctly on a Santorini itinerary. Ammoudi Bay and Amoudi Bay, lying gracefully at the base of Oia, are mesmerizing coastal spots. They offer postcard-perfect views, lip-smacking seafood, and tantalizing dips into the Aegean Sea.

History Meets Horizon: Oia Castle

While Oia’s sunsets are legendary, the Oia Castle is an underrated gem in many itineraries in Santorini. This historic monument, overseeing the expansive Aegean Sea, narrates tales of the past amidst the beauty of the present.

Setting Foot on the Island

For adventurers flying into this paradise, the Santorini airport is your introduction to the island’s wonders. Strategically located, it ensures that your dream itinerary in Santorini begins without delay.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What did you think about this 3-day itinerary in Santorini? Do you think it is something you would enjoy? Let me know in the comments.

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