With just a few days on Santorini, here is what I recommend! This is based on my girls trip here, which was arguably the best vacation of my life. There are loads more things to do, but this should be a good overview for any first timers!
Don’t forget to check out my FULL GREECE ITINERARY blog that corresponds with this post!
Map of the sites in this post:
DAY 1- Arrive to Fira, Santorini
We arrived to Fira after exploring Crete, and took the “Highspeed 7” ferry with Hellenic Seaways. However you arrive, an affordable option for lodging in Santorini is to start in Fira. When you arrive at the port in Fira, take a shuttle up the mountain and into town. Check in to your hotel, and immediately explore the area. With every corner looking like a postcard with all its cliff-side panoramas and stunning views, how could you not?
Our first stop was the Karavolades stairs that lead from Fira town to the water. There are donkeys everywhere, and avoiding the poop while trying not to get run over by rogue donkeys is actually pretty challenging! You could walk it, but most people opt to take the cable car back up. You can then explore the cobbled streets of Fira, and your hotel pool! There are several small parks with spectacular vistas, and then you can begin the ever-struggled hunt for a decent place to eat dinner. Luckily, we found a great spot with perfect views for our first legendary “Santorini Sunset“!
Lodging: Loizos Stylish Residence – An affordable place in Fira. The pool was always in the shade, and was too cold to swim in, but the facilities and location were great!
Day 2: Fira ⇒ Oía, Santorini
For our second day on Santorini, we left Fira to check out the famous town of Oia (pronounced ee-ahh). We took an 8am local bus (30 minutes), and arrived to surprisingly empty streets! Taking advantage of this, we headed straight down the long stairs (about 300 steps) towards Amoudi Bay.
This is a popular swimming hole, but it didn’t ever feel overly crowded with tourists. I had heard about it thanks to my obsession with the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” movie, so yes… this is the same place the girls go jumping off the rocks!
Upon reaching the bottom of the bay, take a left, and walk along the rocks and cliff edges. You will follow a little trail to an area where you can set up towels, change, and go swimming near a tiny rock island known as Agios Nickolaus.
There we swam, snorkeled, and enjoyed one of the most spectacular views of my life! Some people swim out to the island to jump off the rock, but I had a hard time getting up there as the rocks were so slick. After enjoying the beautiful day, we paid an old man 5 euros for a donkey ride back up the mountain. It wasn’t quite as glamorous as I’d always envisioned. I can’t say I recommend it, as the donkeys didn’t seem to be very well hydrated or cared for, but live and learn!
Back in Oia, we began the hunt for the iconic blue-domed churches. We used a blog post to help us find it- and got some great photos! NOTE: Remember to be respectful of the properties and their owners. Do not climb on domes or roofs without permission! Don’t be “that bad instagrammer“! When you are ready to leave Oia, take the public bus back to your hotel in Thira .
Lodging: Loizos Stylish Residence
Day 3: Oía, Santorini
Today pack up and leave your hotel in Thira, and take the local bus to Oia again. Walk along the “Golden Road”, enjoying clifftop views, until you arrive at your new hotel. We spent a few hours swimming and relaxing at the hotel pool, and hanging out in our Santorini “cave-style” room. For this day though, I highly recommend taking some sort of 5-6 hour “Oia Sunset Tour” (we went with the Santorini Yachting Club). Our hotel owner recommended this to us, and I am very glad he did!
This was easily my favorite day of the trip! On this tour, you will be picked up by staff, and drive down to Amoudi Bay. Boarding your yacht, you’ll be offered unlimited wine and great music. They will also let you try some ouzo! The yacht has about 30 people on it, but did not feel overly crowded. During your time on the boat you stop at:
Nea Kameni Volcanic Hot Springs
Red Sand Beach
White Sand Beach
In between stops, you can lay out on the rope bedding over the water while the crew cooks up a delicious dinner. We had the chance to do some snorkeling, and the evening ended with an unforgettable view of the sunset from the water in Amoudi Bay.
Lodging: Anemomilos Hotel– Affordable, family run place with a great restaurant and beautiful pool. Our room was a private cave-style house with personal balcony- we loved it here!
Other Options to Add In:
Rent an ATV for the day and explore the island in a unique way! I highly suggest this if you have time to squeeze it in!
If you’re a history lover, check out the excavation and archaeological site of Akrotiri (famed to be the true inspiration behind the lost city of Atlantis!).
Speaking of Akrotiri, visit its lighthouse for an epic sunset view!
Stop at “Ancient Thira” archaeological site for epic views from high up!
If you’re the active type, hike up the side of the Nea Kameni volcano! There is a 1.6 mile loop with some epic views!
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As always, all reviews and opinions are my own. However, I may receive a small commission should you choose to book any of the hotels or tours listed above. This helps with the costs of running this site.