48 Hours in Santorini

48 Hours in Santorini

Santorini, the Cyclades southernmost island, is a bucket-list travel destination that everyone should experience at least once during their lifetime. Postcard-perfect images of its whitewashed, cave-style homes and blue-domed churches that spill down the rim of the ancient caldera, surrounded by the sapphire blues of the Aegean. It’s truly one of the world’s most breath-taking scenes, but how do you enjoy it all in just 48 hours?

While we’d all probably like to have unlimited time on the island, there are lots of things you can squeeze in over just two days for an unforgettable, if brief trip.

Santorini white washed buildings and ocean view

Wine Tour

Our 8 Day Food and Wine Experience is the perfect trip for wine enthusiasts looking to sample some of the award-winning volcanic vintages Santorini is known. While there are many different wine tours available, sommelier/wine expert guides can bring you to various winemaking estates and vineyards so that you can walk through and learn about the island’s unique grapes grown through volcanic ash. Enjoy private cellars tours, and of course, savor divinely sweet white Vinsantos among other crisp whites and rich reds. There are half-day tours available making it easy for those with a shorter period to fit into a tighter schedule.

Santorini sunset

Sunset Tour

One of the best ways to experience Santorini’s famous sunsets, with the colors of the sun splashed across the sparkling water of the Aegean, is by boat. Perhaps add this magical experience to the end of your first day, gliding out into the sea, sailing around the coast stopping at some of the island’s renowned beaches like Red beach for a refreshing swim. You’ll cruise around Indian rock near ancient Akrotiri, hop into volcanic hot springs for a soothing soak warmed by Mother Nature, and then sail alongside the caldera wall, sipping a cocktail while you enjoy the colorful grand finale.

Athens in the sunset

Explore Akrotiri Archaeological Site

Whether you explore it as part of a tour or visit on your own, don’t miss the Akrotiri Archaeological Site. This lost Minoan city, destroyed in the massive volcanic eruption that shaped the island as you see it today, dates back to around 1700 BC. Similar to Pompeii, it was once a thriving town, and today it’s one of the Aegean’s most important prehistoric settlements. You’ll be able to marvel at lots of ancient pottery, multilevel buildings and even drainage systems. Unlike Pompeii however, you won’t see any sign of the former inhabitants, which is why experts believe they were aware of the pending eruption and managed to flee the island in time.

You can visit the Archaeological Museum on our 10 Day Private Tour of the Cyclades.

Santorini sunset cocktail bar

Sip Cocktails Along the Caldera in Fira

Fira is located in the central part of Santorini, home to a number of excellent cocktail bars, although PK Cocktail Bar is often noted for serving some of the best cocktails in the island. It also boasts three levels of seating right on the edge of the caldera. You’ll get a remarkable view not only of the caldera, but the volcano, neighboring islands and the endless expanse of the Aegean. It’s another fabulous place for a sunset too, attracting many as an ideal place to end the day.

Oia castle sunset

Watch a Sunset from the Castle in Oia

Anther famously stunning sunset can be enjoyed from the village of Oia, an image you’ve probably seen splashed across countless postcards featuring the Greek Isles. Head to the Venetian castle of Agios Nikolaos, named after a magnificent church, carved into the rock. It dates to the late 15th-century, a time when pirate attacks were frequent, standing at the top of the island’s northwest coast to watch for invaders. Today, it offers one of the best views around of the spectacular caldera, the island-dotted Aegean and Santorini’s legendary sunsets.

Vlychada Beach Santorini blue waters

Spend Time on Vlychada Beach

Even if you only have time to capture a few photographs, be sure to visit Vlychada Beach. It’s easily accessed by car or bus, located along the south coast of the island, about eight miles from Fira. Unique in that its dramatic carved cliffs look as if it was created by a skilled sculptor, the impressive lunar-like landscape is actually the result of the sea, winds and volcano. The dark volcanic sands are edged by shallow blue waters and dotted with sunbeds and umbrellas that make it ideal for relaxing while taking in the view.

You can visit Santorini and many more fascinating islands on our 9-day small ship cruise here >

Santorini cuisine

Sample the Local Products and Mouth-watering Cuisine

The island’s rich volcanic soil produces all sorts of delicious local products that are frequently used in dishes served on the island, like Santorini tomatoes, smaller with a sweet flavor and a fragrant aroma. They look like cherry tomatoes, but once you bite in, you’ll know this is something special. You’ll see them in many dishes, including tomato fritters or tomatoes gefthedes, a popular appetizer. They’re fried in olive oil and then combined with peppers, onions, mint and other herbs in a thick batter. Fava, made with just a few simple ingredients: yellow split peas, onions, garlic, olive oil and a little salt, is often served as a creamy side dish – it’s not only healthy, it’s absolutely yummy. Another rare product the Santorini soil produces is white eggplant. It has few seeds and doesn’t absorb much oil when fried, along with an incredibly sweet taste. You’ll find many dishes featuring it on the island – try the melitzanosalata (white eggplant paste).

A guided tour is a great way to delve into Santorini’s very best tastes. Stroll the streets with an expert as you visit favorite local eateries, sampling signature dishes and discovering the secrets of the island’s best cuisine.

Find the perfect food and wine tour here >

Santorini red beach

Swim off the Shores at Red Beach

Santorini is home to some of the world’s most unique beaches, including Red Beach. Located near the town of Akrotiri, the fiery-red colored cliffs disintegrate into scarlet sands at the bottom which are framed by brilliant clear blue waters. This is one of the most recognizable and beautiful beaches on the island, certainly worth making time to enjoy a visit and a swim. Another cool way to experience it is to join a catamaran cruise, with many making stops here so that you can view it from the perspective of the water.

Pyrgos Village in Santorini

Take a Stroll Through Pyrgos Village

Pyrgos is the island’s former capital and its largest preserved village. Located about 4.6 miles south of Fira, it feels like a village from another time. Everything is more relaxed, with cats lazily meandering through alleyways and sitting in windowsills, while the main square serves as the gathering spot for socializing. It’s great for people watching around noon, when you’ll see many sipping a local beer or ouzo while enjoying the outstanding meze. Wear your climbing shoes and explore Pyrgos Kasteli, the most well-preserved of the give Venetian castles on Santorini. Take a walk uphill from the main square to find it and marvel at the dazzling panoramic view.

Ammoudi Bay

Visit Ammoudi Bay

The tiny but visually eye-popping port of Amoudi Bay is tucked into a cove, 300 steps below Oia village. The beauty of it alone is worth the visit, but you’ll find some excellent eateries serving fresh seafood and other delectable dishes for dining with a gorgeous view, while the bay itself is one of the best spots for a swim. If you aren’t up to making the descent down the cliff from town, you can visit on a boat tour or drive around.


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