6 Dos And Don’ts For Traveling to Santorini

Unveiling the magic in the breathtaking paradise of Santorini left us enchanted and yearning for more. 

Now, let me be your travel companion as we embark on a journey through the azure waters, whitewashed villages, and awe-inspiring sunsets of this Greek gem. Here are 6 invaluable do’s and don’ts to ensure your trip to Santorini is nothing short of extraordinary.

To help you make the most of your visit as you explore, here is my list of the 6 Dos and 6 Don’ts of Santorini for first-time visitors.

1. Do Research on Hostels, Hotels and Accomodations

Selecting the ideal crash pad for your Santorini vacation depends greatly on the type of experience you’re seeking. It’s crucial to recognize that Greek amenities often differ from those commonly found in American abodes. 

Luxuries like air conditioning, queen-sized beds, breakfast, and WiFi are not always guaranteed in European hostels, hotels, or Airbnb rentals. Carefully review the amenities list when making your decision to avoid any surprises.

Location and proximity play a pivotal role. Consider the areas you wish to explore and enjoy during your Santorini getaway. 

Are you longing for breathtaking sunsets in Oia or vibrant nightlife in Fira? Choosing accommodation that is conveniently located near your desired hangout spots can make your experience more enjoyable. 

Luckily for you I’ve put together a Santorini Travel Guide to find what you’re looking for rather quickly

Read More: A Quick Guide to Santorini’s Villages

Staying in the southern region of Santorini can save you a ton of money. Hotels along the caldera in towns like the popular Fira & Oia tend to attract the most travelers, especially honeymooners. You’ll find much more reasonably priced rooms in southeastern towns like Kamari and Perissa.

If you still want a caldera view, this hotel in Akrotiri is a great value! 

Boasting a unique location atop of Akrotiri Hill, Kalestesia Suites overlooks the volcano, the Caldera and almost the whole of Santorini. Features include a pool bar-restaurant and a swimming pool with sunbeds and sunshades for adults and children.


2. Do Eat Local

Hungry? Head inland. While the thought of munching on fresh Greek fare beachfront or cliffside is no doubt tempting, these restaurants charge higher prices solely for the location and view.

A gyro and fries can be found for just a few euros inland. An easy, quick and cheap lunch!

There are several local tavernas and small restaurants that offer delicious and affordable meals. Here are a few recommendations:

1. Lucky’s Souvlakis (Fira): This family-owned establishment in Fira serves mouthwatering souvlaki wraps and gyros at reasonable prices. Their generous portions and flavorful ingredients make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

2. To Psaraki (Vlychada): Located near the marina of Vlychada, To Psaraki is a charming fish taverna known for its fresh seafood dishes. Enjoy grilled fish, calamari, and shrimp at affordable prices while soaking in the relaxed atmosphere and stunning sea views.

3. Nick the Grill (Perissa): Situated in the heart of Perissa, Nick the Grill is a popular spot for budget-friendly dining. Indulge in Greek specialties like moussaka, stuffed tomatoes, and traditional grilled meats. Their generous portions and reasonable prices make it a great choice for a satisfying meal.

4. Gyro Gyro (Oia and Fira): For a quick and tasty bite, Gyro Gyro is a go-to place. They offer a variety of gyros and souvlaki options filled with flavorful ingredients and served with crispy fries. Grab a gyro to enjoy as you explore the streets of Oia or Fira.

5. Melina’s Tavern (Akrotiri): Melina’s Tavern is a charming, family-run restaurant in Akrotiri known for its homemade Greek dishes. The cozy atmosphere, friendly service, and reasonable prices make it a popular choice among both locals and tourists.

6. Lucky’s Souvlakis (Kamari): Another branch of Lucky’s Souvlakis can be found in Kamari, offering the same delicious souvlaki wraps and gyros at affordable prices. It’s a great option for a quick and satisfying meal by the beach.

7. The Good Heart (Akrotiri): Family Tavern with Homemade Traditional Dishes of Santorini (picture above). Delicious dining options and good selection of wine and beer, combined with low prices.

These are just a few examples of the local tavernas and small restaurants in Santorini that provide budget-friendly dining options without compromising on flavor. Don’t hesitate to explore the streets and discover more hidden gems as you venture around the island.

3. Do Rent a Car, ATV or Moped

If you are trying to see the places off the beaten tourist path, consider renting a mode of transportation.

Yes, you can take the bus. Yes, you can walk a lot of places. Yes, you can hire a taxi…

But renting your own ATV gives you FREEDOM!

Renting an ATV or moped is not for everybody though. It can be dangerous and scary if you are not familiar with riding one. 

Another thing to note for all of those renting a car, atv or moped. Plan to know the local laws before you arrive to feel more comfortable on the road and always keep your head on a swivel. You don’t have the cage of a car to protect you!

Not interested in driving yourself around the island yourself? Fear for your life driving in another country?

The next best thing is, hiring a private driver and arrive in style!

4. Do Pack Light

When preparing for your Santorini adventure, one essential skill to hone is the art of packing light. With its stunning landscapes and charming towns, Santorini offers endless opportunities for exploration and relaxation. 

I love these packing cubes from Amazon. They keep my clothes organized and tidy in my carry-on. #TeamCarryOn 

Speaking of, try to avoid brining a checked bag all together. For one, it’s going to slow you down at the airport and there is a 50/50 chance your luggage will get lost, stolen, or both (ask me how I know!). Secondly, Santorini is hilly and the streets and sidewalks are not luggage friendly. You may think I’m crazy, but hear me out!

To make the most of your experience without the burden of heavy luggage, it’s crucial to streamline your packing strategy.

  • Start by selecting versatile clothing pieces that can be mixed and matched effortlessly. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics to combat the Mediterranean heat. Pack a few neutral-colored essentials that can be dressed up or down for various occasions. Don’t forget to include a swimsuit, as the island’s crystal-clear waters beckon.
  • Toiletries and cosmetics should be minimized to the essentials. Many accommodations provide basic amenities, so there’s no need to bring bulky bottles or excessive beauty products. Remember, Santorini is a place to embrace simplicity and natural beauty.
  • When it comes to footwear, pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sandals for exploring the cobbled streets, along with a pair of stylish shoes for evening outings. A compact day bag will come in handy for carrying your essentials while you’re out and about.

By packing light, you’ll have the freedom to navigate Santorini’s enchanting villages, picturesque beaches, and breathtaking viewpoints with ease. Embrace the minimalist approach and let the beauty of the island take center stage during your unforgettable Santorini escape.

Last but not least, do not forget your travel adapters!

5. Do Be Flexable, Curious and Spontaneous

Don’t create a tight itinerary that is too restrictive and leads to stress. Allow time to explore take in those amazing views or sit near Amoudi Bay and watch the sailboats come in. Or how about booking a winery tour with the best views on the entire island (pictured above!)

You can view itinerary ideas in the back of The Santorini Guide.

Flexibility is key when traveling abroad, which is why I advocate for a “loose” itinerary. By all means though, book those bucket-list items weeks or months in advanced but the rest…

Allowing some free time in your travel schedule provides the opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation, ultimately enhancing your overall vacation experience. It’s beneficial to have a few spontaneous activities in mind that you can pursue during these moments.

Take a leisurely stroll up to the breathtaking caldera in Thira, enjoying the mesmerizing view of the ships gliding across the azure waters. We also embarked on a delightful quest to find the best gyro in the city, spending a couple of hours savoring the flavors and exploring local eateries.

These activities are not bound by strict timelines, granting you the freedom to embark on them whenever you have the time and energy.


6. Do Take Advantage of the Free Hikes

Many villages have pedestrian-only streets and you can freely explore the beautiful alleys on foot! Needless to say, but this is a free activity!

Hike to Skaros Rock

Embark on an unforgettable hiking adventure to Skaros Rock in Santorini. Your hike to the Skaros rock starts in Imerovigli and the church of Agios Georgios (Saint George). The church is the perfect place for preparation and relaxation before the hiking. The Skaros Rock Hike is definitely one of the top 10 things do in Santorini. And, it’s also FREE.

This iconic landmark perched atop a dramatic cliff offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Aegean Sea and the island’s picturesque caldera. As you navigate the winding path (see picture below), you’ll be immersed in the island’s natural beauty, passing by charming villages and vineyards along the way.

The reward at the end of the trail is truly awe-inspiring, with the opportunity to witness a magical sunset or simply soak in the awe-inspiring vistas.

1. Don't Hike Fira to Oia in the Middle of the Day

Matter of fact, do not hike anything in the middle of the day. Stay at the beach!

I learned this the hard way and it was awful. It was so awfully hot that we didn’t make it to Oia. But I digress…
If you do attempt this hike, as you traverse the scenic path, you’ll witness the island’s rugged cliffs, charming villages, and the azure expanse of the Aegean Sea. But the true magic begins as the golden hour approaches and the sun begins its descent.

With every step, anticipation builds, and your heart races in sync with the fiery hues painting the sky.

As you reach the final stretch, Oia’s iconic blue-domed churches come into view, setting the stage for a sunset spectacle that will leave you in awe. 

Just make sure to leave Fira in plenty of time to stop and catch your breath, take photos and enjoy the walk… it’s farther than you think!

Best of all, this activity is FREE. HECK YES!

2. Don't Miss Akrotiri Archaeological Site

The Akrotiri Archaeological Site in Santorini is a captivating destination that offers a glimpse into the ancient past of the island. Known as the “Minoan Pompeii,” this site preserves the remains of an ancient Minoan settlement buried under volcanic ash for centuries.

As you explore the site, you’ll encounter remarkably preserved ruins, including multi-story buildings, intricate frescoes, and well-preserved artifacts. The level of preservation is astonishing, allowing visitors to imagine what life was like during the height of the Minoan civilization.

Highlights of the Akrotiri Archaeological Site include the well-preserved frescoes depicting vivid scenes of everyday life, such as fishing, agriculture, and ceremonies. These colorful paintings provide valuable insights into the artistic and cultural practices of the time.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the site is the advanced engineering and urban planning evident in the architecture. You can explore the narrow streets, enter the houses, and marvel at the ingenious water drainage and sanitation systems.

To enhance your visit, consider hiring a local guide who can provide insightful commentary and bring the site to life with historical context. It’s recommended to allocate a few hours to fully explore the site and appreciate the archaeological treasures on display.

Visiting the Akrotiri Archaeological Site is like stepping back in time and immersing yourself in the mysteries of an ancient civilization. Whether you’re an archaeology enthusiast or simply curious about the island’s history, this archaeological gem is a must-visit destination in Santorini.

Museum FREE days:

• 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)

• 18 April (International Monuments Day)

• 18 May (International Museums Day)

• The last weekend of September (European Heritage Days)

• National Holidays

• 28 October

• Every first Sunday from November 1 to March 31

3. Don't Miss a Single Santorini Sunset

Experience an unforgettable sunset at the Akrotiri Lighthouse in Akrotiri, Santorini.

Drive, ATV or catch a cab to one of the best places on the southern island for a gorgeous sunset.

The lighthouse was first established in 1892 to guide ships safely through the treacherous waters of the Aegean Sea. Standing tall at 11 meters (36 feet) high, the lighthouse served as a beacon of hope for sailors navigating the challenging coastline of Santorini.

In recent times, the lighthouse has been renovated and restored, preserving its architectural charm and historical significance. Today, it stands as a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors panoramic views of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding volcanic landscape. As you stand by the Akrotiri Lighthouse, you can’t help but feel a connection to the island’s maritime past and the brave sailors who relied on its guiding light.

You will find many locals and tourists here, as this is a popular spot!

So, get there early, grab a spot on the rocks with a blanket and wine and prepare to be amazed!

This is another top 10 things to do in Santorini for FREE.

4. Don't Go Exclusively Off TripAdvisor, Yelp & Social Media Food Critics

While online resources can provide valuable insights into hotels, restaurants, and destinations, it’s important to forge your own path when traveling.

The beauty of travel lies in its uniqueness and spontaneity.

You don’t have to dine at the same restaurant as your favorite online influencer (aka ME).

Some of the most memorable dining experiences were at local gems we spotted while wandering the streets. When in doubt, follow the locals. If a restaurant is bustling with activity, it’s likely because the food is truly exceptional, and snagging a table there would be a stroke of luck. 

Look for menus that are not written in english and don’t have a bunch of pictures.

Pictured above is a dish at “The Good Heart” in Akrotiri.

5. Don't Forget to Pack Comfortable Walking Shoes

Walking over 25,000 steps every single day is not out of the question. And while I am an active adult, this is a lot of walking.

I understand you want to be fashionable and hip (lol -OK mom) but save those for an evening out. 

During the day, sneakers, comfortable sandals and boat shoes are your friends. Your feet and your legs will thank you later.

Anywho, these water shoes from Amazon are actually not a bad idea either. The beaches in Santorini are not the best for your feet, in fact, most of the beaches are volcanic rock! 

6. Don't Stay Less Than Three Days and Three Nights

I’ve found that 3 days and 3 nights is enough time to get a sense of a place and experience enough to feel satisfied.

Anything less than that and you’ll leave a lot to be desired, and likely not experience everything you came to see.

There are so many sights and attractions on Santorini, that you will probably want to stay 3 – 5 days at a minimum.

For those traveling to Santorini via a cruise ship, I have something for you.

In conclusion…

There you have it, the 6 dos and don’ts for traveling to Santorini.

Santorini is a paradise that offers an abundance of unforgettable experiences. From exploring the iconic caldera and basking in the awe-inspiring sunset views of Oia to indulging in the mouthwatering delights of Greek cuisine, Santorini captivates the senses at every turn.

Discover the ancient wonders of Akrotiri, relax on the pristine beaches, and venture into the depths of the island’s volcanic history. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Fira, hike the breathtaking trails, and sip on exquisite wines at renowned wineries.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, Santorini has something for everyone.

For more information, check out this super detailed Santorini travel guide I wrote that includes more things to do, costs, safety tips, transportation advice, and ways to save money.

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For companies, check out my favorite travel companies section that includes even more of my favorite travel companies that will help you value travel!

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