Last updated on November 21st, 2020 at 03:07 pm
One of the most frequently asked questions we get from travellers is “How many days in Santorini do I need”. In this article, we will help you decide how long to spend on the most popular island in Greece.
How long should you spend in Santorini Greece?
The Greek island of Santorini has a lot to offer. You can find quaint villages, pretty blue-domed houses, awesome landscapes, ancient sites and museums, the world-famous view to the caldera, and, well, the famous Santorini sunset.
With this in mind, the question “how many days in Santorini do I need?” is very similar to the question “how long is a piece of string?”. In theory, you can spend any amount of time in Santorini – a day, a week, a month.
In practice, however, you will most likely be limited by budget, time off work, and numerous other factors. Realistically speaking, most people will only have a few days on Santorini before they move on to another destination.
This can lead to people thinking they may be missing out on something by just visiting Santorini for a day or two. But is that the case?
How many days in Santorini?
In our opinion, how many days in Santorini depends on what you want to see and do. If you just want to tick off the volcano views and the famous Oia sunset photo, even a half day can be enough.
If you want to get a better feel of the island, visit the wineries, swim on the beach and hike from Fira to Oia, you will definitely want to spend a few days.
Add on top of that the archaeological sites and museums in Santorini, and you will realize that there are plenty of options on this small island.
As such, we’ve put together several different examples of a Santorini itinerary you could use. These include:
- One week in Santorini itinerary
- 4 days in Santorini itinerary
- 3 Days in Santorini itinerary
- 2 Days in Santorini itinerary
- One day Santorini itinerary
But first, let’s look into how you can get around Santorini.
Getting around Santorini
If you feel confident about driving in Greece, the best way to see Santorini is to rent a car. This way you won’t be limited by bus itineraries or taxis, and you will get to see Santorini at your own pace.
You can rent your car for all your time there, or just for a few days. For example, if you decide to hike from Fira to Oia, you probably won’t need your car that day.
Some people prefer to rent an ATV. If you do, pay extra attention. These vehicles are famously easy to capsize, and you will find that cars and other vehicles will often overtake you on the road. On the plus side, they are much easier to park, which is a real bonus in busy places like Oia.
Other ways to get around Santorini include the local buses, operating on a first come first served basis, or the numerous private transfers and tours around the island.
Now you know how to get around, here’s the Santorini itineraries.
A week in Santorini – A relaxed itinerary in Santorini
Very few people choose to stay in Santorini for a whole week, as they often prefer to do some Greek island hopping. There is nothing wrong with staying in Santorini for a week though, and you can easily explore the whole island in this time frame.
There are many options for accommodation all around the island. Most people prefer to stay in Fira, Oia or perhaps Perissa. If you are relying on buses to get around, the best option might be to stay in Fira, as this is where all buses depart from.
If you have a week in Santorini, your itinerary could look like the following. You could swap days around to suit your mood, and to visit the museums in Fira.
A week in Santorini Day 1 – Arrival
On your first day in Santorini, you can take it easy. Take your time to get to your hotel, and arrange your logistics for the next few days. You can explore the town you are staying at, and have a nice meal.
A week in Santorini Day 2 – Hike from Fira to Oia
Hiking from Fira to Oia was our number one favourite activity in Santorini. Some people won’t be keen on walking the 10 km / 6 mile path, especially on a hot day, and we get it. As for us, we absolutely loved it and would definitely do it again when we go back to Santorini.
On the way from Fira to Oia you will pass by Firostefani and Imerovigli villages before you step out in the wilderness. The caldera views are simply magnificent, and if you are visiting during the off-season you might have the whole path to yourself. If you want to appreciate the views, the hike is hands down the best activity!
Allow plenty of time for breaks, and don’t forget to take lots of photos. In fact, make sure you take a second battery or power bank with you, just in case! You can do the hike in 2.5-3 hours, but it took us a lot longer as we stopped to take so many photos. We found the path quite easy, there are just a couple of steep sections but they are very short.
If you start at Fira late in the day, you can finish off with the famous Oia sunset. Be prepared for crowds, especially if you are in Santorini in summer. Then you can take the bus back to Fira, or wherever you are staying.
Alternatively, you can have dinner in Oia and take a bus or transfer back to your hotel. Reservations for Oia restaurants are recommended, especially if you want a table with a view to the caldera.
A week in Santorini Day 3 – Sailing trip to the volcano
A trip to Santorini wouldn’t be complete without a sailing trip to the volcano. We loved visiting this quiet, eerie, otherworldly place.
There are numerous companies running volcano trips, departing from the Old Fira port at different times of the day.
Most of the volcano tours include a swim in the thermal springs. You can take it or leave it, but if you go for it wear a dark-coloured swimsuit to avoid staining!
Some trips include a hike to the volcano. Note that temperatures in summer can get uncomfortably high, because the black, volcanic rocks absorb the heat from the sun. In this case, you can choose a trip that takes you around the caldera ending at some lovely swimming spots, such as the White Beach and Red Beach. In our experience, hiking up the volcano in November was ideal.
After your sailing trip, you can finish off your day with a nice stroll in Fira, and go for a meal or drink with a view towards the caldera.
A week in Santorini Day 4 – Visit the Ancient Akrotiri and the quaint villages to the south
The first important civilization in Santorini was already established at around 3,600 BC in the ancient town of Akrotiri, to the south of the island. A massive volcano eruption in 1,500 BC covered everything with lava and volcanic ashes, just like in Pompeii.
You can imagine the surprise and delight of archaeologists when the ancient town was discovered underneath layers of dust in the late 1800s. Due to the lack of oxygen, many of the findings were in great condition. Excavations are ongoing, and researchers have been able to draw conclusions about everyday life in Santorini thousands of years ago.
The Ancient Akrotiri can be visited all year round. You could consider taking a guided tour in order to find out more about the ancient civilization.
After you’ve visited Akrotiri, you could explore the nearby beaches, such as the famous Red Beach. We actually found it rather unimpressive, but that’s just our opinion.
If you have already visited the White Beach and the Black Beach on your sailing trip, your best bet in the area is probably Vlychada beach, another beach with black sand.
Later in the day, you can check out a few pretty inland villages. Emporio is one of the five castles in Santorini, and you can see the traditional way houses were built next to each other, to resist pirate attacks.
Pyrgos is a protected fortress settlement, with fantastic views of the whole island. If you only have time for one village in Santorini, go to Pyrgos. There is also a collection of Icons and Ecclesiastical Artefacts that you can visit.
At the end of your day, you can have a meal at the famous Metaxi Mas taverna in Exo Gonia, which many people consider to be the best on the island. Reservations are recommended.
A week in Santorini Day 5 – Ancient Thira, beach day and winery tour
Start your day early, and head to the archaeological site of Ancient Thera, located close to Kamari. This town was established many centuries after the volcano eruption, in a different area of the island. Remains of this ancient settlement are still present. The site is closed on Tuesdays, so plan your visit accordingly.
Travelling to the Greek islands without spending some time on the beach is unthinkable! Perissa and Perivolos beaches, close to Ancient Thera, are considered to be the best on the island.
In our opinion, there are much better beaches in Greece, but these long stretches of black pebbles and volcanic sand are pretty unique. Make sure you wear your flip-flops, as the rocks can get very hot!
For the second part of your day, you can visit some of the famous Santorini wineries, and find out a few things about the wine-making process. Due to the island’s volcanic soil, the types of wine produced on the island are unique. Athiri, Assyrtiko and Vinsanto are a few of the best known Santorini wines.
Visiting the Santorini wineries is possible to do on your own, though you will need a designated driver! Some of the most important Santorini wineries (Boutari, Gavalas, Antoniou) are in Megalochori, so you can start here and see where the road takes you.
Alternatively, you can take one of the numerous wine tours in Santorini. At peak season this might be best, as you would have everything organized for you, plus you wouldn’t have to worry about who’s driving.
A week in Santorini Day 6 – Visit the museums at Fira and the villages to the north
Since you have now visited the ancient sites, you may want to find out a little more about Santorini’s ancient history. You can visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archaeological Museum of Thera, both located in Fira.
Note that the two museums are closed on Tuesdays and Mondays, respectively, and check the official websites for updated information. A combined ticket is available for the two museums, Ancient Akrotiri, Ancient Thera and the Collection of Icons and Ecclesiastical Artefacts in Pyrgos.
Another museum that has great reviews but hadn’t opened when we last visited Santorini, is the private Museum of Lost Atlantis. Whether the Lost Atlantis was in Santorini or not is unclear, but this museum promises to shed some light onto the mystery!
Later on in the day, drive around the north part of the island, and see some more villages, like Mesaria, Karterados, Vourvoulos and Finikia. Not too many tourists come here, and you may feel you are on another island. If you’ve missed the crowds, though, you can always head back to Oia, for your last sunset in Santorini.
A week in Santorini Day 7 – Departure
If you are departing in the evening, have a late checkout and spend your last day near your hotel. Or you can have one last coffee with a view to the caldera!
4 days in Santorini – A full-on itinerary
Many people will allow for four days / three nights in Santorini, before they move on to Mykonos, Naxos, Milos or another island.
With 4 days in Santorini, we would suggest cutting down on beach time, and seeing more of the sights and villages.
As an example, your four day itinerary in Santorini could look like this:
Day 1 – After checking in at your hotel, you can plan for a winery tour in the evening. If you are arriving to Santorini early in the morning, you could visit Ancient Akrotiri, and then go for a winery tour.
Day 2 – This could be a long day where you would visit Ancient Akrotiri, drive around the numerous villages, and maybe finish in Oia for the sunset. Or you can just hike from Fira to Oia!
Day 3 – If you want to pack as much as possible into your day, you could go on a sailing trip to the volcano in the morning, and hike from Fira to Oia later on in the day! Alternatively, you could just do one of the two activities, and spend the rest of your day relaxing with a view of the caldera.
Day 4 – On your departure day, you could visit Fira, and perhaps check out some of the museums. If you are departing late in the day, you can squeeze in any of the other activities you didn’t have time for.
3 days in Santorini – The best of Santorini
If you allow for three days / two nights in Santorini, you will need to make some serious choices! Still, there is enough time to experience the best of Santorini.
Make the most of your time by choosing early arrival and late departure flights or ferries.
This is what you could do in 3 days in Santorini:
Day 1 – You could go for a late winery tour after you have checked in to your hotel. If you are arriving early in the day, you could hike from Fira to Oia – yes, we totally loved this hike and we believe you should do it even with just three days in Santorini! Alternatively, you could just take the bus / a transfer to Oia, unless you are staying there already.
Day 2 – Visit the Ancient Akrotiri in the morning, and take a sunset volcano sailing trip in the afternoon / evening.
Day 3 – You could easily spend the rest of your time in Fira. If you don’t feel like visiting the museums, just wander around the cobbled streets until you leave Santorini.
2 days in Santorini – Highlights of Santorini
If you only have a couple of days in Santorini, you can still see some of the highlights, but you will probably find that it’s not enough time to appreciate the island! You will probably not have the time for a hike from Fira to Oia, but you can still pack a lot in two days in Santorini.
Day 1 – On your day of arrival, you could plan in advance for an evening volcano sailing trip. Finish your day with a dinner at a restaurant with a view to the caldera, and perhaps a late drink in Fira or Oia.
Day 2 – If you are leaving late in the day, you can visit the ancient site of Akrotiri in the early morning, and continue with either a winery tour or a visit to Oia during the daytime.
One day in Santorini – Santorini in a day
This is the norm for people visiting Santorini on a cruise boat or a sailing boat. Passengers will typically have a few hours on the island, which might or might not include the popular sunset hours of the day.
In this case, you really don’t have much choice. You will typically have anything from 6 to 12 hours on the island, so you will want to make the most of it.
It’s probably best to book a private tour of the island, and customize it according to your interests, so that you don’t waste time looking for information and directions!
How many days in Santorini – Our opinion
We have been to Santorini more than once, and during our last trip we were there for four days / three nights.
As we last visited Santorini in November, we weren’t too bothered about spending time on the beach, but we had plenty of time to do the hike, go on a sailing trip, visit Ancient Akrotiri, rent a car and drive around the island, and see the main towns and villages.
In our opinion, four days / three nights in Santorini are enough to get a decent experience of the island. That said, you could easily spend more time if you want to explore the island further and get off the beaten track.
By the way – if we went back to Santorini for just a day or two, we would definitely do the hike again! Just saying…
How many days in Santorini – Your opinion please!
If you haven’t been to Santorini, we hope that this article has been helpful. You may also be interested in our article on five incredible islands near Santorini.
If you have been to Santorini, however, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how many days in Santorini is best! Let us know about your experience in the comments.