For one of the most popular tourist islands in the world, Santorini is surprisingly small. However, it offers some of the most stunning views even the most frequent of travelers may have never seen.
Now, just spending one day in Santorini isn’t going to do a lot of justice to the beauty of this gorgeous island, but we can still show you how to get the most you can in just a day.
And if you do not have more than a day to explore Santorini, you sure don’t want to spend a lot of time reading this introduction. So let’s jump right in.
Arriving in Santorini
The mesmerizing views start showing up before you even land in Santorini. Most people arrive in Santorini by water, and by the time the island comes into view from your boat, you will find the caldera and volcano offering some breathtaking views.
The volcano that erupted thousands of years ago led to large parts of the island ending up in the ocean and forming the caldera, which is now home to some of the most beautiful towns of Santorini.
Getting Out of Fira
Fira is one of the least attractive places for tourists visiting Santorini, but it’s the place you will have to start your journey. However, as you only have one day in Santorini and a lot to explore, you will want to get out of there as quickly as possible.
Once you do, some of the popular tourist spots that await you include:
- The Red Beach
- Perissa Beach (one of the Black Beaches)
Let’s get to them in a bit more detail.
The Red Beach
It may not be possible for you to spend a lot of time at this beautiful beach if you only have one day in Santorini, but a quick visit to this beach is still more than justified.
The Red Beach gets its name from its red volcanic ash, which also makes for some great views.
However, getting to the Red Beach would be a bit of a hike, so you must take that into account before you decide to visit it.
The hike starts from the town of Akrotiri and ends after you climb down a narrow path littered with red pebbles. The turquoise water perfectly matches the red and black rock cradling, and the stunning sight makes you forget the tiring hike.
Perissa Beach (One of the Black Beaches)
Santorini is home to some unique Black Beaches, but the Perissa beach is easily the most popular. These Black Beaches get their black color from the volcanic ash that mixed up with their sand.
However, the Perissa beach is not only easily accessible, but also offers the most impressive views thanks to the amazing views of the Mount Vouno and the black sand impressive contrasting the pure white houses. The bright blue water of Santorini is also at its finest at the Perissa beach.
Just a bit of a note though. The black sand can feel a little hot, especially if you’re walking barefoot. This usually isn’t much of a problem but something to keep in mind if you’re going there in the hot summer months.
Once you have finally convinced yourself to leave the Perissa beach, you would want to head right to Oia. It’s recommended to not spend a lot of time at the Perissa beach even if you want to, as you will likely quickly regret doing so as soon as you visit Oia, simply because it offers much more than all the other attractions in Santorini but you will be too short on time to explore most of it.
Oia is surprisingly small for the charm it has and is full of stunning views. As tourists on a one-day tour often have to visit it the last, many of them regret spending more time at other places.
Once you start exploring Oia, you will almost want to forget your schedule and spend another day at Oia! We highly recommend the Fira to Oia hike to travel from one town to the other.
If you think the law of gravity was only challenged last year by the scientists in California, you will find yourself proved wrong as you drive up Oia. The entire town of Oia is on the side of the cliff, and there are many buildings there right on the edge on the caldera, making Newton’s law of gravity look like a joke.
You will find architecture at its best in Oia. The unimpressive paths of Oia have some of the most impressive sights on their sides. The volcano, pure white buildings boasting great architecture work, the ocean, and also some churches with half-circle domed structure that take you back into the ancient times.
There are also donkeys running around. But they aren’t a distraction enough to make you take your eyes off the amazing architectural work and natural beauty you will find all around you in Oia.
Oia is the most amazing place in Santorini, hands down, and most people visit the latter only to explore the amazing beauty of Oia. If you only have one day in Santorini, make Oia your base of operations.
The Legendary Sunset
Well, it’s not possible to define the sunset in Oia in words. But let us give it a try.
The sunset makes the small town of Oia come alive, highlighting its beauty and mesmerizing attractions even more. People from across the world visit Santorini to see the sunset and cherish it.
The Oia sunset is one of the best sunset places in the world, and coupled with the amazing architecture of the town that lights up as the sun goes down, it becomes one of the most memorable moments of even the tourists that travel to different parts of the world.
However, the streets get very crowded well before the sunset time. If you want to get a good spot from where you can see the sunset clearly, you will need to get your spot well before the sunset, which is what many people do.
As soon as the sun sets and leaves you amazed, you will find people around you applauding the magnificent sight they just saw.
But if you’re actually going to have less than one day in Santorini, you may need to catch your ferry a bit too soon after the sun sets. While you still may be able to watch the sunset in Oia and catch the ferry, but you would run the risk of missing the ferry especially if you’re relying on public transport.
A safe bet here would be to go back to Fira before the sunset, and watch the sunset from Fira instead. It may not be the same experience as watching the sunset from Oia, but it will be close enough and save you a lot of time.
However, even in Fira you will have to choose or book your spot well in advanced (if you’re going to watch it from a restaurant or hotel) to watch the sunset. If you have one day in Santorini, we highly encourage stretching your travels into the sunset hours.
Not One Day in Santorini?
Well, as we just mentioned above, if you’re not going to spend even one full day in Santorini, you’re not going to be able to visit all the places we discussed above.
In that case, your best bet would be to just visit Oia. This is because when people think of Santorini and all the amazing experiences it offers, they are actually mostly thinking of Oia.
Places to Catch Some Sleep
Some tourists are going to need some sleep to be in a state that allows them to explore everything Santorini offers. Similarly, some tourists would want to spend a night in Santorini too, which means they need to find a good place to sleep to make sure they don’t end up wasting too much time to travel to and from that place to all the attractions of Santorini.
Now, you have two options here if you have more than one day in Santorini. You can find a hotel in Santorini, which is going to allow you to explore more of the amazing picturesque town, as well as get great views right from your hotel room if you choose the right hotel.
The second option is Fira. It doesn’t offer anything that a hotel in Oia does, but it’s a very convenient, and perhaps the only option for those that want to catch a ferry from Fira early in the morning of the following day.
If you choose Oia, Aris Caves Hotel is one of the most popular options. It’s perfectly located right in the center of Oia’s beauty, and offers some amazing sights in the form of the view of the volcano and the sea.
If you have to stay in Fira, the Dream Island Hotel tends to serve the purpose well for getting quickly to the ferry port. Now, the views are nowhere near to what a good hotel in Oia would offer, but there are some sea views if it’s any consolation.
There are also many other hotels to choose from, and you can find almost all of them on Booking.com. You would usually also get a great price with Booking.com, and it allows you to conveniently book your hotel well in advanced which helps if you’re going to visit Oia and Santorini in the busy tourist months.