The Must-Do Day Trips in Santorini, Greece

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Konstantina Pyrnokoki

Santorini (also called Thera) is so much more than whitewashed houses overlooking a caldera; it’s also about tradition and history. To truly appreciate this Cycladic island and its surroundings, separate yourself from the sunbed and plan a day trip, ticking off traditional villages, ancient sites and volcanic islets with our what-not-to-miss list.

1. Boat tour of the volcanic isles

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Two excursion boats and tourists at the little haven in Kameni volcanic islet, in Santorini island, Cyclades, Greece
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Just across Santorini’s caldera lie two uninhabited islets, Palea (old) and Nea (new) Kameni, which were gradually formed following the main and subsequent volcanic eruptions that resulted in parts of Strongili being cut off. Take a day to discover the isles, swim in their hot, sulphuric waters and gaze at the crater up close. The many guided boat tours from Fira promise to let you walk to the ridge of the volcano and take a pretty high-risk selfie.

2. Boat trip to Therasia

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Aegean sea from Manolas village on Therasia island, Greece
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Along with Palea and Nea Kameni, the inhabited Therasia island was once part of larger Strongili before being cut off by the eruption. Now Therasia stands proudly opposite Santorini, its raw beauty complementing Thera’s cosmopolitan vibe. To get to the island, travel by boat from Athinios or Ammoudi ports in Oia; once there, explore delightful settlements and quaint churches, with unparalleled views of Santorini from across the sea in Manolas village.

3. Road trip to Akrotiri and other traditional villages

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Bronze Age-Minoan archaeological site of Akrotiri
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Santorini’s charm lies in its villages, some ancient and some just plain adorable. One of them is Akrotiri; in its famous archaeological site, you’ll find a prehistoric town, semi-preserved under the volcanic ash that covered it in the 17th century BCE. It’s worth taking a road trip to explore many more villages, like the picture-perfect Megalochori, vineyard-laced Pyrgos and boutique-studded Emporio (the latter two home to imposing Venetian castles). End the day with wine tasting at a local winery.

4. Swimming, villages and Prophet Elias Monastery

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The volcanic Red Beach on the Greek Island of Santorini.
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Start your day with a swim at Akrotiri’s Red Beach, destined to impress you with its red sand and striking red and black rocks. Alternatively, try Perissa Beach, where you can practise watersports or relax on the black sand. In the afternoon, hitch a ride to the 18th-century Prophet Elias Monastery, located on Santorini’s highest point. Pass by the traditional villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli, before browsing boutiques in photogenic Oia.

5. Private cruise in Santorini

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For a more exclusive experience, book a private cruise on a luxurious yacht; whether tailor-made or with a fixed schedule, the cruise will allow you to swim in idyllic spots while avoiding the crowds. Dive into Palea Kameni’s hot springs, try snorkelling at the White Beach, swim under the Indian Rock in Akrotiri and watch the sunset, submerged in the water. Dinner, drinks and snorkelling equipment are all included in the price.

6. Boat trip to Anafi

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Greece Cyclades Islands Anafi Island Agii Anargyri beach and church
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Escape Santorini’s bustle with a short ferry ride to the serene Cycladic island of Anafi. Its narrow, stone-paved alleys will invite you to take peaceful walks amid the characteristic whitewashed houses, some showcasing large ovens that look like they’re part of a super-filtered Instagram post. The island resembles the picturesque area of Anafiotika in Athens, as construction workers from Anafi who settled in the Greek capital in the 19th century, helped rebuild the capital borrowing elements from Anafi’s unique architecture.

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