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