Santorini's amazing views

The Best Way to Spend 3 Days in Santorini in 2020 (Awesome Cliffs + Magic Sunsets + More…)

by Kristina Dodier - updated December 15, 2019

The Greek Islands are some of the most beautiful landscapes I have witnessed as an avid traveller. 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. 

My take to find the perfect 3 day Santorini itinerary:

Traditional Greek orthodox blue dome church in Santorini
Enjoy the view from Traditional Greek orthodox blue dome church on a sunny summer day

Day 1

Arrive in Santorini! 

Most visitors travel to Santorini via ferry from Athens.

This is an exciting adventure with stunning panoramic views.

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 in appropriate footwear.

Beautiful Walkway, Santorini
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
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 their 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
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 from 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. 

Watch out for a beautiful sunset

Grab a bottle of wine and stare in awe at this beach unlike no 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 cosying up on the bright red sand and watching the sunset from this beach. 

Picture-pefect, Santorini
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. 

Fun Facts: 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?

Day 2

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

View of the caldera cliffs on the Fira to Oia hike.
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 quant 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, sunscreen and consider leaving before 8am. 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.
Stroll along this postcard-worthy village.

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: http://www.oia-santorini.net/oia-santorini-beaches.html

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
View of Venetian castle in Oia village on Santorini

Lucky´s 

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 an 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
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 11pm.

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, sprawling sea landscape and live in the moment. 

Day 3

Half day Catamaran cruise of Santorini complete with a BBQ and drinks: https://www.citytrip.travel/tour/Half-Day-Catamaran-Cruise-of-Santorini-with-BBQ-and-Drinks/17549P3/ 

*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 of the island, is your first stop. 

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

Top View, Santorini
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 to 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 site 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
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 for swimming in the sulphurous 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 travellers.

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
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
Hillside view from the cable car with sunset

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. 

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