3 Days in Santorini – What to See, Do, and Eat


For a tiny island, Santorini sure packs a lot in. From red and black beaches to white and blue buildings, and a preserved settlement older than Pompeii, Santorini is about as diverse as the Greek Islands come. Thankfully its small size allows you to see it all with limited time. Whether you are traveling on a whim or scored a great deal on a packaged holiday, these tips on how to spend 3 days in Santorini will help you make the most of your time in paradise.

Day 1 – Tour Oia

One of your 3 days in Santorini can be spent in Oia alone. White buildings and blue-capped churches can be seen on postcards all over Greece for a reason. Oia is stunning. Perched on the westerly most cliffs, it is also the busiest town on Santorini. Tourists from all over the island (and the world) flock to Oia’s narrow streets for its charm and breathtaking sunsets. To save you from fighting the crowds base yourself in Oia. I stayed at the authentically Greek Esperas Hotel and loved every minute of it. After breakfast on my private terrace I strolled down to Amoudi Bay, the fishing village below, before the crowds and heat arrived. From there you can enjoy a different view of Oia and fishermen sharing their catch with local cats.

Heading east along the path you will come to a tiny island just off shore. This is a popular spot for cliff jumping and swimming.

If the heat is too much or you are looking for something a little different, you can hire a donkey to take you back up to Oia. Hilarious and unique.

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Lunch in Oia

Like any tourist town, there are several overpriced and low-quality spots to eat lunch in Oia. Unless you are looking to enjoy your meal with a view, head to Pitogyros for some of the best gyros on the island. If street food isn’t your thing try Roca for some authentic Greek that offers better value due to its tucked away location on the north side.

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Window Shop

After lunch, wander the tiny streets of Oia. Although there are plenty of touristy shops to avoid there are a few gems. Atlantis Books and the Icon Painting Work Shop are not to be missed. The latter is run by Dimitris Koliousis, a local artist who paints religious themed creations on reclaimed wood. Definitely not a “made in China” souvenir.

Postcard Perfect

For that postcard shot of Oia head to the cliff side. There are several vantage points for you to make your friends jealous from.

That Sunset

If you were smart enough to book a place like the Esperas Hotel you have the best seat in the house for sunset in Oia. Sit back with a cocktail and note the 100’s of people crowded on the hillside for what you get to enjoy from the privacy of your own terrace.

Day 2 – Get Wet

Santorini is home to the bluest water I have ever seen. To spend 3 days in Santorini and not get in it would be a shame. There are two major catamaran tours offering excursions but I recommend hiring a small boat from Triantafillou Sailing. This gives you a much more private tour and catered experience. Enjoy a scenic ride along the cliffs and wonder how the tiny churches were built into the rock face. Take a dip in the center of a volcano and float in the hot springs bubbling below.

A day out with Triantafillou Sailing also includes a trip over to Thirasia Island where you can snorkel in the clear blue waters. Again, if you have 3 days in Santorini, get out on and in the water. The views from above and below the surface are worth it.

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Day 3 – Explore

Exploring the island with only 3 days in Santorini is easy. Car, quad, and dune buggies are readily available to rent everywhere.

Note: you will pay a premium for renting one in Oia.

Red Beach

Exploring Santorini’s diverse beaches is a must do. Head to the southwest corner of the caldera for the Red Beach. The hike in is beautiful and the cool waters are your reward once there.

Black Beach

The Black Beach is a 7-kilometer stretch of volcanic sand and is lined with restaurants and bars. For a small fee you can enjoy cocktails under an umbrella while taking in the views.

Note: black sand is really hot! (der) Take your sandals with you if you go in the water.

Dig in

This 3 days in Santorini itinerary isn’t just about drinking and beach hopping. Head to Akrotiri for one of the most amazing archaeological sites in Europe. There you will find a preserved town that is older than Pompeii!

Note: pay the extra €10 and have a guide. It will make the visit that much more interesting.

Nightlife in Perissa

End your 3 days in Santorini with a little nightlife in Perissa. This area is popular with backpackers so drinks are cheap and the crowds are fun. Head to Dorian’s for the friendliest staff on the island and top it off with a visit to Santa Irini, a 24 hour bakery serving up Greek specialties like spanakopita.

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 3 Days in Santorini Good to Know

Get in: Daily ferry and flights from Athens and beyond.
Don’t Miss: Oia sunsets, Akrotiri and getting in the blue waters!


What say you?
Thoughts on this 3 Days in Santorini itinerary?
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  • Patrick Smith

    Oia looks amazing. A Greek Island trip has long been on my travel list.

  • I’m definitely bookmarking this as I’d love to visit Santorini. Do you think the donkeys are treated well, hopefully so?

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • I hope so. Donkeys are hard workers so would like to think that these trips are just a day at the office!

  • This is such a wonderful post! I want to visit Santorini…it looks so beautiful!

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  • Kathleen (Kat)

    Your pictures are stunning! And great guide for us who have not been to Greece yet. May I know which time of the year did you go, I gathered it was summer?

    • Thanks Kathleen! I was actually there early September. One of the best times to visit as crowds are thinner and prices are lower. As you can see by the photos, the weather is still great!

      • Kathleen (Kat)

        Early Sept…awesome! As long as the crowds are thinner and prices are lower, I’m happy 🙂

  • Shreya Mahajan

    Lovely post! 🙂 I’m solo travelling end of September for 2 weeks and plan to do Athens and Santorini only as I want to walk a place at least twice 🙂 Any tips on solo travel?

  • Medha Verma Bector

    I love this list because these are the exact things we did in Santorini in 3 days! I absolutely loved Oia and specifically Amoudi Bay. We also saw the sunset from Akrotiri lighthouse and it was gorgeous. We stayed at a hotel with an infinity pool in Fira and that was an awesome experience too. Santorini is so beautiful !

  • Lisa Rivera

    This is a great list, and somewhere I recommend everyone to see! Great post, Santorini is stunning.

  • Bee “Bee Du Jour” Du Jour

    Excellent list. I love how you managed to cover so much essential spots that can be made for all tastes in 72 hours. I had no idea they had a red beach, and thanks for sharing those perfect picture places to shoot.

  • Christina

    This was an awesome post!!!! I am definitely going to look into that hotel to catch the perfect sunset. I already bookmarked this for future reference. I have a friend who recently went to Santorini, but it was not until this post and your pictures did I finally go,”WOW”. You really captured the beauty of this city. Great job.

  • Jocelyn Rhodes

    Thank you for all this information, it will surely come in handy when my daughter and I visit Santorini in a couple of weeks.
    My only suggestion in regards to your itinerary would be to avoid riding the donkeys. If you look up information about these poor animals is that most of them are mistreated, and have injuries that are hidden/covered up by their heartless owners, so that tourists aren’t aware of the pain and suffering the donkeys are submitted to. It is better to just enjoy the exercise and views as you walk 🙂

  • Leigh Candice Dorkin

    This is SO perfect! I am literally on my way to Santorini right now!! I cant wait to explore Oia and see the sunsets! Taking notes from this post — all those photos are incredible!

  • Oia looks like a great place to visit. Those buildings are gorgeous. I’d love to visit one day

  • Dinh-Long

    The pictures are splendid (especially the ones of Akrotiri) and really makes me want to go there! You can basically do anything you want in Santorini, that’s amazing.