There's more to this idyllic island than Instagram photoshoots.
oia in santorini

It’s sunrise.

Somehow you’ve dragged yourself out of bed and slipped into the balcony pool. The early morning sun is glowing on the stone walls of your hotel. You glance down at the steep slope below, where a patchwork tapestry of white and blue rooftops crisscrosses until it meets the Aegean Sea. You bite into a pastry you grabbed from the floating breakfast conjured, as if by magic, to your room.

Later, you’ll sip endless wine and gorge on all the Greek food you can, while the sun dips low on the horizon, wondering when you’ll wake up…

This isn’t a dream. This is Santorini. 

And trust us, it’s so much more than this.

Admire the beauty of Oia

a lit walkway through oia, Santorini at dusk

Oia is the part of Santorini that you’ve probably seen on Instagram and tourism ads. You know, the ones featuring marble white homes with blue dome roofs sat atop soaring oceanside cliffs.

There’s not really one main landmark to see in Oia. Instead, just spend some time walking through this beautiful postcard-worthy village while taking in the sights. If you decide to snap a few pics for the ‘gram, just remember to be respectful of Oia locals and look out for any “no trespassing” signs posted.

You could stay for lunch or dinner but the prices will almost certainly put a dent in your wallet. But it’s definitely worth sticking around Oia for breathtaking sunset views. Just be sure to arrive early to get a spot.

Go village hopping

stairs descending down a cliff toward water

Everyone’s seen the stunning white-walled, blue-roofed town of Oia, one of the most recognizable places in the world. But few know that Santorini goes beyond this one picturesque town and that exploring it further should be at the top of your to-do list.

The island’s capital is Fira, a larger, livelier alternative to Oia. Luckily, it’s just as beautiful and looks out over the seas atop rugged cliffs that were once the sides of the volcano crater. Plenty of hotel options mean it could be worth staying here too. To get away from the crowds, try Imerovigli. Sitting atop a cliff, this balcony village boasts Venetian ruins and glorious seafood. 

Akrotiri’s red beach and ruins perfectly preserved in volcanic ash earned it the nickname “Pompeii of the Aegean,” while the contrasting black sands of Perissa can satiate the naturally inclined with its Geological museum and wonderful watersports.

Sometimes having no plan is the best. Rent a scooter, and go explore. The island is small enough for you to see a lot of it, and each corner lends something unique to the experience.

Get historic in Akrotiri

close up of ancient pottery in Akrotiri, Santorini

Everyone’s seen the stunning white-walled, blue-roofed town of Oia, one of the most recognizable places in the world. But few know that Santorini goes beyond this one picturesque town and that exploring it further should be at the top of your to-do list.

The island’s capital is Fira, a larger, livelier alternative to Oia. Luckily, it’s just as beautiful and looks out over the seas atop rugged cliffs that were once the sides of the volcano crater. Plenty of hotel options mean it could be worth staying here too. To get away from the crowds, try Imerovigli. Sitting atop a cliff, this balcony village boasts Venetian ruins and glorious seafood. 

Akrotiri’s red beach and ruins perfectly preserved in volcanic ash earned it the nickname “Pompeii of the Aegean,” while the contrasting black sands of Perissa can satiate the naturally inclined with its Geological museum and wonderful watersports.

Sometimes having no plan is the best. Rent a scooter, and go explore. The island is small enough for you to see a lot of it, and each corner lends something unique to the experience.

See the famous Red Sand Beach

sunbathers line the shore of Santorini's red beach

Everyone’s seen the stunning white-walled, blue-roofed town of Oia, one of the most recognizable places in the world. But few know that Santorini goes beyond this one picturesque town and that exploring it further should be at the top of your to-do list.

The island’s capital is Fira, a larger, livelier alternative to Oia. Luckily, it’s just as beautiful and looks out over the seas atop rugged cliffs that were once the sides of the volcano crater. Plenty of hotel options mean it could be worth staying here too. To get away from the crowds, try Imerovigli. Sitting atop a cliff, this balcony village boasts Venetian ruins and glorious seafood. 

Akrotiri’s red beach and ruins perfectly preserved in volcanic ash earned it the nickname “Pompeii of the Aegean,” while the contrasting black sands of Perissa can satiate the naturally inclined with its Geological museum and wonderful watersports.

Sometimes having no plan is the best. Rent a scooter, and go explore. The island is small enough for you to see a lot of it, and each corner lends something unique to the experience.

Catch a sunset

sun setting behind white blue-domed buildings in Santorini

As simple as it sounds, sunsets on Santorini are a special event. Most tourists wind up planning their day around finding a good spot to watch the late evening light dip down below the horizon as the sky turns a vibrant shade of crimson.

Of course, in a town with sunsets as legendary as Santorini, finding that special spot to share with someone (man, woman, or bottle of wine) can be harder than you think. For your first sunset, try and reserve a table at the Mystique Hotel. You’ll have your own front-row view of the Caldera as the sun goes down, your dinner, and a bottle of wine while you watch. What could be better?

For a different experience, book yourself onto a sunset wine-tasting or take a wander to a more isolated spot on the island. The Donkey stairs in Fira are a fantastic choice to settle down and enjoy the view sans crowds.

If you’re craving solitude, take it one step further, rent yourself a boat, and watch it from the water.

Want to uncover the best of Santorini?

Check out Next Stop: Santorini for the best places to stay, eat, and explore in Santorini!

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