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Are you wondering how long to stay in Santorini?

If you’re planning on visiting Greece, it can be difficult to estimate how much time you need. That’s why we want to help you figure out how many days to spend in Santorini.

When planning your trip to this Greek island, the two primary considerations are your interests and your budget. Santorini is, besides Mykonos, one of the most expensive places in Greece, so if you’re a budget traveller, you’ll be limited by the amount of money you want to spend.

The other important consideration is your interests. Do you love beaches? Are you a history buff? Do you want to see the highlights and take nice Instagram pictures along the way?

This article will cover what to do in Santorini and then go through multiple options and itineraries that will make it easy for you to choose how many nights to spend on the island.

AT A GLANCE

Are you short on time and still need to book your trip? Then check out the following references:

Best hotels in Santorini:

Book your ferry from Athens to Santorini on Directferries.

Best day tours in Santorini:

How many days in Santorini do you need?

Best things to do in Santorini, Greece

#1 Explore Oia

Blue Domed church in Oia

Have you ever seen pictures of blue-domed churches and windmills in Santorini?

Those are from Oia, the island’s most famous village. You can find Oia at the northernmost tip, perching on the cliffs of the caldera.

For many visitors, exploring Oia is the highlight of their trip to Santorini. What to do on the island depends largely on your interests, but we think that everyone should at least see the blue-domed churches once.

Another highlight is watching the sunset from Oia. The sun sets behind the caldera, and you can enjoy a beautiful view from the village. Oia Castle is the most famous location for watching the sun go down, but be prepared to share it with many other tourists.

Another alternative is to find a bar or restaurant from where you have a view over the caldera. This can be pretty pricey, as you’re paying for the view, but it’s a great option if you’d rather pay than fight the crowds.

#2 Discover the ruins of Akrotiri

Ruins at the site of Akrotiri in Santorini

 

For me, one of the most fun things to do in Santorini was to visit Akrotiri.

To understand Akrotiri, you need to know that the island of Santorini was once much bigger. It had a round shape, with a large volcano in its middle. Somewhere on its slopes, close to the sea, the Cycladic people settled in a town called Akrotiri.

In the 16th century BC, the volcano exploded, causing one of the biggest volcano explosions in human history. The island collapsed, and a layer of several meters of volcanic ash covered the settlement of Akrotiri.

Fortunately, the inhabitants of Akrotiri abandoned their town just before the eruption. Nevertheless, what remained in their houses offers you a fascinating insight into the Bronze Age culture. In Akrotiri, you can see frescoes painted thousands of years ago. You can walk amongst the multi-story houses and even see Bronze Age toilets!

If you’re visiting, make sure to get a guide or join a guided tour. The archaeological site is even more impressive if someone explains its history.

#3 Caldera Day Trip

Boats in a bay at the volcano in the Santorini Caldera

When considering how many days to stay in Santorini, take into account any day trips you want to do.

One of our favourite day trips in Santorini is a boat ride across the caldera. Those trips usually include multiple stops. First, you explore the volcano.

Remember how we mentioned that Santorini was once much larger, with a volcano in the middle? Well, that volcano still exists.

You can take a boat and then hike to the top of the crater in the middle of the caldera. Once you’re up here, take a look around and try to make out the former shape of the island. In the east, you have the half-moon shaped island of Santorini. On the other side, you can see Thirassia. Before the eruption, those landmasses were once part of the same island.

Besides climbing the volcano, you also get to swim in hot springs and explore the island of Thirassia, making this one of the best day trips from Santorini.

#4 Relax at a beach

View of Red Beach from a nearby cliff

Do beaches come to your mind when you’re thinking about Santorini? How many days you want to spend on the island also depends on how much time you want to spend at the beach.

It’s easy to spend a week exploring the beaches of Santorini. Kamari is very popular, with its black sand, and you can rent beach chairs and sun umbrellas here.

A very scenic location is Red Beach, which you can find close to Akrotiri. The sand here is red, and red cliffs tower behind the beach. While you won’t find any restaurants here, the scenery makes it worth it.

Another option is to join a catamaran tour that takes you to multiple beaches. That way, you get to see different parts of the island, and you can still enjoy a relaxing day.

#5 Explore Fira

View of Fira, Santorini

Fira (also sometimes called Thira) is the biggest city on the island.

When planning a trip to Santorini, sooner or later, you have to decide where to stay. The most obvious choice is Oia, but basing yourself in Fira is also a great idea.

Even if you’re not staying in Fira, you should come here to explore the city. From here, you have a fantastic view of the caldera. Plus, you can find lots of great shops, bars and restaurants here.

We loved the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, where you can see some of the fantastic wall paintings and artefacts from Akrotiri.

Another great thing to do in Thira is to walk down to the Old Port and get back up by cable car. You’re guaranteed some fantastic views along the way!

How many days in Santorini for first-timers?

Street in Oia during Sunset

If this is your first time in Santorini, we recommend spending 3 days. Santorini is large enough that you can keep yourself busy for three days. You can then decide if you love it enough that you want to come back one day or if you’ve had enough.

Let’s give you an example of an itinerary of Santorini for first-timers.

Start on your first day by visiting Fira. We recommend just enjoying the city and exploring the narrow alleys before heading to Oia around noon. You want to stay in Oia until sunset, but you also want to have enough time to discover the village and take pictures of the famous blue domes and windmills.

On your second day, head to Akrotiri in the morning to visit the Bronze Age ruins we mentioned above. Afterwards, you can decide whether you prefer to spend the afternoon at Red Beach or whether you want to head back to Fira and walk down to the harbour or visit museums and churches.

Finally, take a boat tour across the caldera on your third day. Make sure to wear good walking shoes so you can climb to the top of the volcano in the middle of the crater and take your swimwear to cool down in the sea.

How many days in Santorini on a budget?

Santorini is not a budget destination. If your money is limited, we recommend spending at most 2 or 3 days in Santorini.

If you want to see the island’s highlights, you need to spend 3 days in Santorini. Greece, however, has a lot of other scenic islands that you can visit and that are much cheaper. Therefore, it might be best to only stay for 2 days and head elsewhere afterwards.

We really loved Paros. The island is just as beautiful as Santorini but less crowded and cheaper. Check out our post about the best things to do in Parikia, the island’s capital, to get an impression of what to see and do.

When travelling on a budget, we highly recommend booking a hotel in Fira. Don’t stay overnight in Oia, as hotels there are amongst the most expensive on the island. Also, consider skipping any expensive boat tours and stick to cheap or free activities instead.

As an example, spend your first day hiking from Fira to Oia. Pack your own lunch, as restaurants in Oia can be very expensive! You then have time to explore Oia and take pictures before heading back to Fira for dinner.

The next day, take advantage of the cheap buses that connect all villages on Santorini and head to a beach. Red beach close to Akrotiri is a great destination, for example. Once you’ve had enough of the beach, you can return to Fira and explore the town in the afternoon.

How many days in Santorini for beach lovers?

View of Thirassia from the water

If you love beaches, then you should spend around 5 days in Santorini.

This gives you enough time to see the island’s highlights and to still spend some time relaxing at the beach.

Are five days in Santorini enough to see all of the beaches? Definitely not, but while Santorini has unique beaches with red or black sand, you won’t find any of the cute bays with golden sand. Therefore, this leaves you with enough time to head to another island and relax on the beaches there.

We highly recommend visiting Oia and Fira, as those are the most iconic villages on Santorini. Make sure to put aside at least half a day for each of them. Oia is particularly beautiful at sunset, but you will need to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.

Besides that, we also recommend going to Akrotiri and Red Beach. You can visit the ruins in the morning and spend the rest of the day at Red Beach, which is very close by.

Head to Kamiri or white beach to relax by the water on the remaining days. We also think that a catamaran tour is an excellent option as you will stop at numerous beaches along the way. Plus, you get to see Santorini from many different angles, and the boat tours usually include lunch and sometimes even an open bar.

How many days in Santorini for your honeymoon?

If you’re spending your honeymoon in Santorini, you don’t want to rush your trip.

Therefore, we recommend spending around a week in Santorini.

Street in Oia in Santorini, Greece

If you have enough money, you can splurge on one of the fantastic hotels in Oia that offer a Caldera view and a private pool (the Aspaki by Art Maisons, for example, has a beautiful honeymoon suite). Keep in mind, though, that those hotels cost A LOT of money, so it’s up to you to decide whether you think it will be worth it.

No matter what kind of accommodation you choose, your one-week itinerary for Santorini should include visits to Oia and Fira, as well as some time at the beaches.

You could consider reserving a nice hotel with a caldera view in Oia or Fira for dinner. From there, you can then watch the sunset without having to fight the crowds.

We also recommend getting up early one day for sunrise. At that time, you can explore Oia without running into many people. It’s the perfect time to take pictures of the blue domes without queuing.

Make sure to take boat tours to the caldera and to some of the island’s best beaches. If you get bored during your one week and you want to see a different island, you could even go on a day trip to Mykonos. The ferry only takes around two and a half hours, so if you leave early enough, you have enough time to explore Mykonos.


We hope you now have a better idea of how many days to spend in Santorini. You can, of course, add another day or leave earlier, depending on your interests.

While you’re in Greece, we highly recommend visiting at least one more island. We personally loved Paros, but there are lots of great options. Check out the ferry connections before booking any hotels, as the timetables change depending on the season and getting around can be challenging.

We have lots of other posts about Santorini and Greece that will help you plan your trip, so make sure to take a look:

Until your next adventure!

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Author

Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.

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