Top 10 UNIQUE things to do in Santorini - Polkadot Passport

Top 10 UNIQUE things to do in Santorini


An island with more churches than houses, more donkeys than people, and more wine than water (or so a sign on the bathroom door told me)… Santorini really is a place like no either. Underwhelming is not a word that enters the vocabulary when you first lay eyes on this island. Hundreds of white-washed buildings gathered together on a striking volcanic cliff. The rich, blue Mediterranean ocean perfectly complements the signature blue domes of the many churches scattered around the island. This island truly is a sight to behold.

During our five day stay in Santorini, we rode donkeys, climbed an active volcano, jumped off a boat into hot springs, went quad biking on crazy roads, sun-baked on black sand beaches, dived into crystal clear waters, drunk cocktails by sunset and danced till dawn. As you can see, there are almost too many unique and incredible things to do during a visit to Santorini! If you are planning a trip to Santorini or even just fantasizing about onei, I’ve compiled for you a list of my favorite experiences that I hope you will enjoy as much as I did.

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

 1. Go cliff jumping at Amoudi Bay

Does jumping into crystal clear Mediterranean waters surrounded by the striking cliff faces of Santorini sound like your cup of tea? Well, then you HAVE TO check out this incredible swimming spot at Amoudi Bay. It was honestly one of the best things I did during my stay in Santorini. You can swim straight off the rocks, or if you are game, climb up the stairs of the massive boulder in the water and do your best dive in!

TO GET HERE: This spot is actually quite hidden and requires a bit of stair climbing, but I promise it will be worth it! Basically, from Oia, look for the big set of stairs that go down to Amoudi Bay. Once you reach Amoudi Bay, walk left along the cliff face. Keep walking over the rocks and eventually, you’ll spot paradise (and lots of people uncomfortably sun-baking on the rocks).

P.S. Make sure you have travel insurance just in case anything happens. I recommend SafetyWings or World Nomads. (More on that below)

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

2. Hike the Fira Trail

If you want a chance to up your Instagram game with some of the BEST photo opportunities Santorini has to offer, this hike is a must. The hike goes from Fira to Oia and is about three hours long (if you take it at a leisurely pace). I recommend doing the hike at sunset, as it won’t be as hot at this time of day, AND you’ll get the most beautiful photos at this time of day!

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

3. Stay in a Cave house

Or for that matter, anywhere typically Greek! We stayed in a lovely hostel called Caveland in Karterados for five nights during our stay in Santorini. The hostel itself felt wonderfully Grecian- think traditional, white-washed cave-style buildings featuring bright blue doors framed by fuchsia flowers. Complete with a pool, super friendly and helpful staff, and even morning yoga classes, it was incredible as far as hostels go (not to mention a total bargain)!

On the downside, the location was quite isolated and was a fifteen-minute walk to get into the main town of Fira. If you are looking to be in the center of all the action, your best bet is to actually stay in Fira, although you may pay a little more to do so. If you are seeking a quieter getaway with the best views of the caldera and have a bit more money to burn, I would recommend you check out all the amazing properties Oia has to offer!

See also: What to Pack for a Week in the Greek Islands

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

4. Hire a quad bike and drive around the island

What better way to explore this beautiful island then cruising down the roads with the wind in your hair!? Hiring a quad bike (or ATV) for the day is surprisingly cheap and only requires a standard license. It’s a great way to discover areas that aren’t accessible by bus (and to feel super cool while you’re at it).

If you are nervous about driving on the busier roads, head towards the black sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa- it’s a super easy drive with virtually no traffic. Just you and the open road baby! Alternatively, if you don’t have a driver license, you could cruise around the island on an electric bike tour instead.

If you want more of an adrenaline dose, Santorini also offers an endless array of activities including helicopter tours, parasailing, and scuba diving.


 5. Go on a Sunset Wine Tour

Santorini is home to many fantastic wineries, so make sure you don’t leave the island without sampling the island’s finest grapes!  If you want the full experience, take a sunset wine tour, where you will be taken to 3 traditional wineries to taste over 12 wines. On the final stop, you’ll get to sip your wine whilst watching Santorini’s famous sunset- there isn’t really much that can beat wine with a view!

Alternatively, appreciate the iconic Santorini sunset from the water with a 4-hour cruise on board a catamaran. On the cruise, you’ll sail see Santorini from a whole new angle, all whilst enjoying a barbeque dinner, plus unlimited wine and soft drinks. You even give you a chance to jump off for a swim or a snorkel!

See also: What it’s like to Sail the Saronic Islands

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

6. Eat Frozen Yogurt for dinner

Alright, I’ll let you off if least make it your second course after 2€ gyros. But seriously, the frozen yogurt I had in Santorini still lingers in my food dreams. If you are in Thira, you must check out Chillbox. They’ve even got Bueno sauce topping to put on your frozen yogurt- it’s almost too good to be true. Once your mouth is in heaven, you can sit back and think about how cool it is that you are eating frozen Greek yogurt in Greece. Yep, that’s next level cool.

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

7. Jump off a boat into hot springs

Picture this. You’re on a boat. You dive off into the cool Mediterranean ocean. You swim about twenty meters and suddenly, the water changes color and temperature and you’ve just swum into hot springs.  This is just another one of those unique things you HAVE to do during your stay in Santorini (just don’t wear your best swimsuit in the hot springs, I’m still mourning over my ruined bikini). Every day, boat tours in traditional wooden yachts leave from the Old Fira port which will take you to the hot springs and also to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, where you get the opportunity to hike around the rim of an active volcano.

 Things to do Santorini- Volcano Dinner

8. Experience the REAL meaning of dinner with a view

It’s not every day you have the option of dining with arguably one of the best views in the world. Even if you’re on a budget, choose at least one night to splurge a little at one of the many restaurants overlooking the ocean. Time your reservation for sunset and prepare to have your mind (and hopefully tastebuds) blown. The last night we were in Santorini we ate out at Volcano Blue, a reasonably-priced restaurant along the water at Fira with a priceless view. The timing of our meal could not have been more perfect. Not only did we get to watch that fiery red ball descend into the shimmering ocean, we also got to witness a spectacular firework show over the volcano once the sun went down!

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

9. Sunbake (or fry) on the black sand beaches

For a unique, and to be honest, slightly painful experience, head to the black sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa. Within seconds of stepping on to that hot sand in summer, your feet will fry and you’ll turn three shades darker. But hey, that’s all part of the fun- right? Luckily you can rent out a sun lounge and an umbrella to avoid these things, and then after a dip in the water, you can always retire to one of the many restaurants lining the beach for a well-deserved drink.

Top 10 things to do in Santorini

10. Get the perfect spot to watch the best sunset in the world

So I know it’s an obvious one, but there is a very good reason why this is recommended on every Santorini guide imaginable. I’m not exaggerating when I say that sunset at Santorini was by far the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen. Ever. There aren’t many crowds that erupt in a round of applause once the sun makes its final descent beneath the ocean. This is one of those pinch-yourself kinds of moments, one that you are going to remember for the rest of your life. To make watching the sunset over Oia the BEST experience possible, securing a good spot will make all the difference. My advice? Bring a little picnic, arrive at the very least an hour before sunset, and make your way up to the viewing platform and secure a good seat. Take a million photos, but also don’t forget to take time to really be in the moment, to soak it all in.


Airbnb $-$$$

You’ll find a fantastic range of unique accommodation to rent in Santorini on Airbnb, including the stunning Cavela with most places far better value for money than a traditional hotel. If you sign up with my link, you can even get $38 off your first visit!

Budget $

Caveland (Karterados) a hostel with stunning cave rooms, an amazing pool, and outdoor area, free wifi and breakfast included.

Mid-range $$

Ampelonas Apartments (Imerovigli)- great location near the town of Fira, spacious rooms with private terraces.

High-end $$$

Kirini Suites and Spa (Oia)- five-star luxury experience in the iconic town of Oia, incredible suites with private plunge pools, outstanding service.


There are two main ways you can arrive in Santorini- by boat or by plane. If you fly into Athens, you can catch the Blue Star ferry to Santorini, which will take eight hours and cost from €38. There are also high-speedboats that will take only 4-5 hours but cost you more.

Flying into Santorini can actually be cheaper than the ferry, especially with the rise of budget airlines like Ryanair. One of the easiest ways to find cheap flights to Santorini is through the free Skyscanner app (available on iOS or Android), which allows you to search across all airlines to find the most affordable fares. You can also use the Skyscanner flight search engine below to find flights:


I highly recommend getting travel insurance before ANY international trip. World Nomad’s offer the most flexible worldwide cover that I have come across, and you can purchase a policy online, even if your trip has already commenced. If you’re not traveling with tech gear, you may also want to check out SafetyWings, which is a bit more affordable.


Top 10 things to do in Santorini

In the end, words describing Santorini just don’t do it justice and come to think of it, neither do photographs. This place just HAS to be experienced.

Check out our adventures in Mykonos:


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Top 10 Things To Do in Santorini


  • Reply
    April 9, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Yaaay can’t wait to visit Santorini this autumn! Such great tips – I made sure to take notes for when I’m travelling there! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Margo Paige
    April 10, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    oh this is so beautiful and just what I needed before my trip to Santorini next weekend! Thanks, dear!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Great list, we’re definitely going cliff jumping, thanks for the info on how to get there! Now we just need Santorini to warm up a bit in the next month!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Wow! Thanks so much for all the great tips!!

  • Reply
    May 4, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Awesome post – will be banking these ideas for my trip here in July :)!

  • Reply
    Sadie Rose
    May 28, 2015 at 6:15 am

    I absolutely love these photos, you’re quite talented! What camera(s) did you use on this trip? x

  • Reply
    Christan P
    May 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Santorini looks interesting telling by your images. I might consider visiting that place next time I travel. Thanks for sharing Nicola!

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 5:13 am

    Great post and gorgeous pictures! I also recommend Red Beach!

  • Reply
    July 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    wow, I’m going to Santorini in a month & I’ve been looking everywhere for realistic tips on what to do. all the travels sites just give generic touristy stuff that you need loads of money to do. thank you so much for this.

    p.s. – I rarely ever comment on blogs but this was very helpful!

    • Reply
      July 23, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Aw thank you so much for your feedback! It makes me so happy to hear this. You will have such an incredible time in Santorini, it’s a beautiful place! Let me know if you need any more advice on your stay :)

      • Reply
        July 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        I’m planning a trip to santorinin and just wanted to say I agree with Lorenzo,loved this blog post- really great practical day to day tips! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Nathan Taylor
    July 26, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I’m going to santorini in August and was wondering when was the fireworks? And if you could recommend anywhere to eat that would be great :)

    Thank you

  • Reply
    yuki mizuma
    August 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    This looks amazing! I was wondering – you have to swim to get to the cliff to jump off of in amoudi bay right? How did you get your camera there! I want to bring my dslr but I’m worried that I won’t be able to safely get it there.

    • Reply
      August 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Hey :) Yes you do have to swim out to the cliff which makes it a little tricky, I brought an underwater camera so that’s what I used for the photos! Good luck x

  • Reply
    August 8, 2015 at 10:55 am

    This is absolutely amazing! I’m going in September and definitely will check out everything on this list! Can I ask what underwater camera you bought and used? The photos are amazing!

    • Reply
      August 8, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Hey! I used a panasonic FT4 for the underwater shots :) Now I’ve got a go pro and would probably recommend that above and beyond the FT4! Its so versatile and the picte quality is amazing :) Have an incredible time in Santorini x

  • Reply
    August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Aaah, such gorgeous shots! :) I was in Santorini in early May and had an amazing time as well, and I stayed in Caveland. Definitely the coolest hostel ever. Did you guys rent an ATV? I ended up doing so and it made Caveland SO much more convenient being able to come and go as I pleased instead of relying on bus schedules/having to walk to Fira.

    Also, to add to the list- I didn’t get Chillbox but Lolita’s Gelato in Oia is some of the best gelato I’ve ever had (and this is coming from someone whose favorite country in the world is Italy!).

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Rachael Jelnicky
    November 1, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Heading there next week for an impromptu trip from Berlin. Thanks so much for the tips. I bookmarked the page to reference when there!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    I LOVEEEEEEE your photos!!!!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Your photos are amazing!! What camera/editing application did you use? Will definitely be doing these when I go to Santorini this summer :)

  • Reply
    April 9, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Please don’t ride the donkeys in Santorini. A quick Google search will tell you how poorly the animals are treated:

  • Reply
    April 11, 2016 at 3:44 am

    Great post! Question- what is the restaurant with the hammocks (the main photo of this post) called? Did I miss it?

    • Reply
      August 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you so much for this post, it makes me wanna go to santorini right now and not only in october ???? I was also wondering, however, where this place was?

  • Reply
    April 12, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Love the cover picture( docks with textile blankets, pillow and hammock) – where was it taken? Don’t forget about visiting the Akrotiri archeological site!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Great list and awesome photos!

    I would also add, while you’re hiring that quad bike, to ride over to Koloumbos beach (or Cape Columbo/Kolumbo beach), a spectacular pebbled beach with cliffs behind it. We went there for the caves you can swim around the cape to at the right time of day.
    It is a nude beach too, but don’t let that put you off (or you might it embrace it as the case may be!). If you want to get away from the tourists and experience the real Santorini, this is the place!

    I also second Josie’s comment about the donkeys, it’s not an experience I wanted to have because of how I saw them treated while we were there… Sad but true.

  • Reply
    Deb Thompson (@newjetsetters)
    April 18, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Great blog post – I was just in Santorini but it was at a really bad time. I was so disappointed! Wind was howling, it was actually chilly, and half of Thira was under construction with tarps blowing and dust and concrete flying into your eyes. I gave up! Too sad. Hopefully will make it back one day to have a great experience like yours! Enjoying your posts, keep them up! Hope you will come by to explore mine as well :)

  • Reply
    April 22, 2016 at 3:22 am

    Loved Santorini. There is so much to do or so little as you want but OMG what sunsets in Oia. Renting ATV is the best way to get around. Been there 3 times and will go back again. Also please leave the donkeys alone not a good way to go.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Nicola! Your pics of Santorini are staggeringly beautiful – especially the sunset images of Oia. Can you please recommend how to get to the spot you took of the second last photo on this page (the one with you and the town behind you)? Was this from the old castle? That’s my favourite pic! Is this the same spot as the first photo right at the top of this page?

    • Reply
      May 9, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Hi Jules!

      Thanks so much for your kind words :) You’ll find the lookout point if you go to the main village of Oia then look for stairs going down towards the water, there is a viewing platform and its easy to spot because its always filled with tourists haha!

      Hope that helps :)

      • Reply
        May 14, 2016 at 1:53 am

        Thanks so much hun :) My next question is – how on earth did you manage to fight the crowd in order to get such an amazing photo (without any obstruction of tourists in the images)? Did you get there several hours beforehand? Happy travels!

      • Reply
        May 14, 2016 at 4:07 am

        so sorry for all the questions (i have one more because i’m really bad with directions) – are these the stairs that lead to Amoudi Bay? thank you

  • Reply
    May 20, 2016 at 6:39 am

    i am doing a school project and this is a place we can do and i just fell in love , Such a beautiful place and amazing pictures .

  • Reply
    May 21, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Your Blogs are so awesome and your Pictures are truly stunning. I love the filters and how you edit the Pictures. Could you tell me what program or app you’re using?
    Thanks so much lovely xxx

  • Reply
    Tara (Múzsa)
    July 2, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Hi, Is this your photo?
    If yes, could you please tell me where is it exactly? Thank you!

    • Reply
      Janie Demkowski
      July 29, 2016 at 7:36 am

      I have the same question- it’s what brought me to the site. I am headed there in the fall and would LOVE to go to that picture :)

      • Reply
        July 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm

        Hey there! Actually this place is a cafe in Turkey at Saklikent Gorge! I think someone pinned it off my instagram and it links to the wrong article. But if you are in Turkey I would definitely recommend visiting it :)

  • Reply
    Batsheva Marcus
    July 10, 2016 at 3:41 am

    I must add: rent a small jeep, drive around the island stopping at wineries fortastings.
    Shopping in Fira for great cotton products,
    Sleeping in oia, waking up to the caldera view, and: going by elevator down to the harbour where all the huge ferries arrive, watching the hords of tourists drinking ouzo, and then climbing by foot 400 stairs all the way back to Fira. The most beautiful island!!

    • Reply
      July 23, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Brilliant suggestions! I definitely want to re-visit and try more things :)

  • Reply
    July 27, 2016 at 1:00 am

    I’m not sure if you’ve been to Croatia but Hvar, Dubrovnik, Vis, Pucisca, Bol, Mali Losinj , Rovinj, Sibenik , Plitvice lakes are breathtaking

  • Reply
    August 10, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I’m glad I found this! How deep was the water cliff diving?

  • Reply
    Teri Yeung
    August 26, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Hi! Loved your suggestions…they were ACTUALLY unique things to do in Santorini. Found this through pinterest but was wondering where the image on Pinterest is actually from? Couldn’t find it here.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2016 at 8:43 am

      Hey there! I’m so glad you enjoyed the list :) The image on pinterest is actually from a place in Turkey called Saklikent Gorge- I think someone must have pinned it from my Instagram feed and for some reason it’s linked to this blog post!

  • Reply
    Kristine Li
    September 2, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    You had such a fun time in Santorini! With plenty of awesome photos to boot =)

  • Reply
    Ricardo Ferreira
    September 8, 2016 at 2:02 am

    Hey hello there :D

    can you plz tell me where did you take your cover photo?

  • Reply
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    […] “So I know it’s an obvious one…. Watching the sunset at Oia is on every ‘top 10 things to do in Santorini’ list and in every destination guide you’ll find. There is a very good reason for this! I don’t need to exaggerate when I say that sunset at Santorini was by far the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen. Ever. There aren’t many crowds that erupt in a round of applause once the sun makes its final descent beneath the ocean. This is one of those pinch-yourself kind of moments, one that you are going to remember for the rest of your life.” — Polkadot Passport […]

  • Reply
    October 12, 2016 at 5:46 am

    I am in Santorini now, and while I agree with the list above, I would recommend that people also spend time to visit a nearby island (Serifos is my favourite), for the following reasons:
    – cheaper
    – more beaches (quantity of beaches to choose from are not Santorini’s strong point at all compared to nearby islands) with less people
    – a heck of a lot less people. Oia was just ridiculously overly touristy, and way too crowded. I live in London and am used to rush hour transport, so believe me when I say Oia at sunset was on a completely different level to rush hour traffic you would expect in a major city. I could barely move because of all the tourists and cruise ship passengers, and this is in October, so I can’t begin to imagine the hell it must be during high season. Sadly I didn’t enjoy Oia in the slightest. The sunset in the south of the island near the lighthouse in Akrotiri is more manageable.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    February 11, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    hello, dear! love the pics! but that last photo of you whith the whole of the city at the back is just mesmerizing! where exactly is that? thanks!

  • Reply
    The Moment Keepers
    February 13, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Great photos! We did some of it when we’re in Santorini :)

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 3:12 am

    Love this post – thank you so much for some fab tips. Will be booking a honeymoon dinner at Volcano Blue ♥

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    March 20, 2017 at 2:39 am

    very nice pictures, a good review! One Question where did u make that last picture you sitting on the rock?
    That’s a very good viewpoint for pictures

  • Reply
    Shannon Paige
    April 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Oh my god I loved this list SO much and your blog is just beautiful! You are so blessed to go on so many adventures! We go to Santorini this May 10-19th and I am currently writing a bucket list post which should be up tonight. I used one of your pictures but credited you and hope that is okay! I would love if you had time to check out my blog…it’s a time blog with less than 600 followers, but I am slowly but surely getting there! =P

  • Reply
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    July 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Love your blog

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  • Reply
    Jules Manher
    March 8, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Hi! Love the list, thank you for sharing. I’m going in June!
    The picture you use for your Pinterest message, the cover, can you pls tell me where that is?

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    June 20, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Lovely place. I’d love to come back there and again savored its uniqueness :)

  • Reply
    July 31, 2018 at 5:03 am

    ahahahah love that you included the stragglers in the video! can’t wait to visit Greece in a month :)

  • Reply
    December 1, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I’m a huge believer in not knocking things before I try them, but I’ve tried filipino food multiple times now, and I absolutely hated it every time. There is no balance in the flavours and herbs and spices like in thai food, it’s not rich and filling like malaysian food, it’s not beautifully seasoned like cantonese food.

    But whenever I bring up how awful it is, all the jingoistic pinoys pop up, claiming that their food is THE BEST EVER, and telling people that they “just haven’t eaten at the right places”. It makes me doubt my experiences and try their recommendations again, and it is disgusting every time and I still hate it every time. I still believe in not knocking things before trying them. I’ve tried it, and I’m knocking it. It is one of the worst cuisines in the world.

    I understand if they view it as comfort food because they grew up with it, but in the end it’s nothing to be proud of and the blind nationalism is just so grating. Maybe they need to take a step back and ask themselves why are there so few “right places” and so many wrong places?

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