CREATE THE BEST SANTORINI ITINERARY FOR 3 DAYS
Planning a perfect 3-day Santorini itinerary can be overwhelming as there is more to do and see than you might initially think. But 3 days in Santorini is a good amount of time to experience this exceptionally beautiful island and visit the main sights.
I was skeptical that Santorini could actually live up to its hype – the pictures seemed too appealing and Oia just appeared unrealistically gorgeous. But after finally visiting, I don’t think my wildest dreams would have prepared me for how beautiful it is in real life! The island of Santorini truly feels like a dream come true… absolute perfection!
SANTORINI TRAVEL TIPS FOR 3 DAYS
If you are here to find out about the best activities if you visit Santorini in 3 days, read on as I will share my tips for your itinerary: what to do and see plus travel tips.
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How to Get Around Santorini
Here are my thoughts on the best ways to get around Santorini.
- If you want absolute independence, you will need to rent a (small) car or ATV (quad bike), both of which are pretty popular among visitors.
- If you want to rent a car, then check out this site – it finds the best deal for your rental car in Santorini.
- I, however, solely used public transportation and was absolutely fine with it.
- I used the bus every day. Tickets start from less than 2€ and provide excellent value for money. You buy the ticket once you are on the bus. Cash only.
- From Santorini Airport, a bus gets you to the main town/village centers (which, in my case, was in Fira). There is a central stop in each village, which means you might have to walk for a few minutes to your accommodation (for me, this was a 5-minute walk). But personally, I would rather walk than worry about finding a parking space.
- Besides that, I walked a lot. I spent 5 days in/on Santorini and probably walked around 10-20 kilometers (6-12 miles) each day. If you want to explore Santorini on foot, wear comfy shoes because there is a lot of uphill and downhill walking, and there are some cobblestone streets.
Where to Stay in Santorini
If you’re looking for something luxurious and indulgent, there are several 5-star resorts located on the island with stunning views of the ocean and caldera. Some of these resorts even have access to private beaches, infinity pools, and private hot tubs.
Oia is quite remarkable, but accommodations here are pretty expensive. For luxury accommodation, Oia is the perfect place to stay. Charisma Suites seems like the perfect choice for anyone who wants to splurge. Check out prices here.
For those on a tighter budget, there are plenty of mid-range hotels located throughout Santorini. Many of these hotels offer great amenities like swimming pools and breakfast included in the room rate. If you are looking for a quieter place, consider staying in Pyrgos. It is a beautiful gem that is getting more popular but is less crowded yet a charming village. Boutique Hotel Anagennisis is a 4-star hotel that seems a good place to stay if you look for a decent boutique hotel that is quite unique. Check out the rates here.
For those looking for something even more affordable, there are plenty of hostels, guesthouses, and apartments located throughout the island. These accommodations offer basic amenities like free Wi-Fi and housekeeping services.
Fira is a good place to stay as it is the busiest village and it is very easy to get around from there. If you plan to use public transportation, it is the best place to stay as there are many bus connections. You can find budget hotels in Fira, like the Bedspot Hostel in Fira, which is close to the main bus station and the city center. It is not the cheapest hostel but probably the best. Check out this unique hostel.
THINGS TO DO – 3-DAY SANTORINI ITINERARY
Of course, it really depends on the time of your arrival and on the village you choose to stay in. I stayed in Fira and had 5 days in Santorini. You can use this Santorini itinerary regardless of where you stay, but you might have to tweak it so that it is perfect for you, too.
DAY 1 – HIKE FROM FIRA TO OIA
If you stay in Fira, perfect. If you stay in another village (even Oia), I recommend taking a bus early in the morning to Fira and then following this itinerary for the first day. If you arrive during the day, feel free to swap the days.
Hiking From Fira to Oia
This day is dedicated to the most famous hike on the island – from Fira to Oia. The hiking trail from Fira to Oia is under 11 km (6.5 miles) and you will pass several other cute villages before arriving in the most beautiful village of Oia.
These will be the main stops along the way:
FIRA – FIROSTANI – IMMEROVIGLI – SKAROS ROCK – OIA
The hike took me almost a full day as I stopped many times, had lunch along the way, enjoyed the cute villages I came across, and took trillions of pictures. I walked more than 20 km that day because I did a few detours. However, it could be done in 2-3 hours if you wanted and just rush.
- Along your hike, you might come across people offering donkey rides. Please, do not support this. You directly support animal abuse.
- Security: Santorini felt super safe but I had one very unpleasant encounter. On my hike, a guy who offered donkey rides left his work and followed me for some time. He would not leave me alone until I started screaming loudly. If you are a solo female traveler, be aware! It was after passing the villages and before the uphill hike close to Oia – keep that in mind.
Fira & Firostefan
Fira will be your starting point today but not the main stop today. It is best to start the hike here – you will get an idea and see some of the main places of Fira already on this day. With 3 days in Santorini, you can spend an afternoon/evening here on day 2 or 3.
Fira, the capital of Santorini, is a picturesque and vibrant town located on the edge of an impressive caldera. With whitewashed buildings stacked atop each other and terracotta roofs dotting the landscape, it’s no wonder Fira has become one of the most popular destinations in Greece.
The central square offers stunning views of the volcano and the surrounding islands, while its cobblestone streets are filled with shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Fira is also home to a number of churches and monasteries, as well as its own Archaeological Museum where travelers can learn more about Santorini’s fascinating history.
Whether strolling through the cobblestone alleyways or enjoying a sunset view from the edge of the caldera, Fira is a great place.
However, even if you do not spend much time in Fira, you will get a glimpse of the village before continuing your walk to Firostefani.
I did not even really realize I was in another village as Firostefani starts right after Fira.
Firostefani is a charming village located just north of Fira. With its picturesque blue-domed churches and traditional white-washed buildings, it’s easy to see why Firostefani is a great stop. The village also offers incredible views of the Aegean Sea and the island of Thirasia. While in Firostefani, you can explore its many shops, cafes, restaurants, and churches.
In addition, visitors should certainly make time to take a walk along Firostefani’s cobblestone streets which are lined with colorful bougainvillea flowers making it an unforgettable experience.
The footpaths between the two towns/villages are paved, and it is an easy walk. While this is also a beautiful place, there is not much to do and see and so I recommend not spending too much time here.
Slowly walk towards one of the most beautiful villages on Santorini – Imergovli.
Imergovli is stunning and one of my favorite places in all of Santorini.
Imerovigli is a picturesque village located on the highest point of Santorini’s caldera. With its traditional white-washed buildings and breathtaking views, it’s no wonder why Imerovigli is a must-see on any Santorini itinerary.
The village also offers several churches and monasteries that are worth exploring. Furthermore, Imerovigli is home to the famous Skaros Rock, a mountain of steep cliffs situated between two bays. From the top of Skaros Rock, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and sea.
Why not take a detour to Skaros Rock from Imergovli? It’ll give your body some exercise – an invigorating 60-90 minute walk. Skaros Rock is a mountain of steep cliffs situated between two bays in the village of Imerovigli on Santorini.
It offers stunning views of the surrounding islands and sea and is a popular destination for many who spend 3 days in Santorini.
Alternatively, if the rock isn’t of particular interest and you want to save up that energy for something else… Continue your hike to Oia instead!
After leaving all the villages and Skaros Rock, it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere.
Take the hike from Fira to Oia and you’ll be in for a treat! Sure, it’s not all sunshine – there are some parts that might seem a bit dull (that might be an unpopular opinion). But persevere on your adventure (you’ve got this!) and experience enchanting villages along the way. This is one voyage you definitely don’t want to miss out on – so lace up those hiking shoes and get trekking!”
After climbing Skaros Rock and soaking up the breathtaking views, it’s time for our final destination: Oia! Get ready to explore this charming village situated just 5 miles (8,5 km) away.
Oia is absolutely breathtaking! This is especially true if you hike and do not arrive at the bus station, because you will see the prettiest buildings if you hike into Oia, in my opinion.
Oia is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Santorini. Located on the northwest tip of the island, Oia offers breathtaking views of the Caldera with its whitewashed homes and churches dotting the cliffside.
The village is well known for its beautiful sunsets which can be viewed from the edge of the caldera or along its cobbled pathways. Oia also boasts a variety of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and shops to explore.
Take your time to admire its iconic blue-domed churches which have become synonymous with Santorini. With its stunning views and romantic atmosphere, Oia is certainly a must-see for any Santorini itinerary.
- For the sunset, I, like most other people, headed to Oia Castle. Unfortunately, this is the place where almost everyone is headed to. It gets very crowded and busy.
- If you want to have dinner with an ocean view, you should hurry as the restaurants fill up quickly.
Ammoudi Bay in Oia
Ammoudi Bay is a small port located 200 steps below Oia. It is an amazing spot for swimming and relaxing on the beach with a stunning view of the Aegean Sea and is popular because of its many seafood restaurants. Though it looks beautiful, I wasn’t the biggest fan for several reasons.
- Please only go down it if you have the energy to go all steps up again.
- You could use donkeys and horses to get up/down. I watched how the people treated their animals. I cannot say something bad – however, those animals are being tied up, not able to move in the hot sun unless they carry around (heavy) people.
- So, if you ride donkeys or horses in Santorini, you support animal abuse!
- If you are tired and know you cannot walk up and down yourself, skip Ammoudi Bay.
Oia is like a hidden gem on the island – so picturesque and charming, you’ll just want to explore every nook and cranny! Even though it’s small in size, you could easily spend hours strolling down cobbled lanes admiring its beauty.
Treat yourself to the perfect end-of-day treat in Oia – indulge in some delectable dinner or get cozy with your snacks on a bench while taking in the breathtaking sunset!
This is how I define a busy but perfect day in Santorini.
DAY 2 – PYRGOS & BLACK SAND BEACH
Get ready for another gorgeous day of non-traditional Santorini adventures! Don’t miss out on the unique experiences this happily sunny day has to offer. Visit one of the most charming villages on Santorini.
So, this time is for exploring the beautiful yet very underrated village of Pyrgos, which is inland of Santorini. Tiny, yet gorgeous, it makes for a perfect day trip (okay, half a day is great, too).
Pyrgos is another beautiful village you should add to your 3-day Santorini itinerary. Located inland, it’s a peaceful spot with a traditional atmosphere. One of the highlights of Pyrgos is its impressive castle, which was built in the 16th century and offers sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. Wander through its narrow cobblestone streets, take in some local culture at the various museums and churches, and enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes.
- Pyrgos is about 5 km from Fira.
- You can get there by bus or car (or just walking).
- I took the bus and got dropped off at the “main square,“ and from there, I walked around Pyrgos.
- Explore the few streets and their pretty buildings.
- If you have to do some souvenir shopping, do it here.
- There are not many streets, and if you are a “fast walker,“ you will see everything in an hour.
- However, take your time. Walk every street and take it easy for the day.
I feel like Santorini isn’t the best place for a beach vacation in Greece. There are definitely better options. But after 1,5 busy days in Santorini, you will be happy to find somewhere you can relax and maybe even swim in the ocean.
I suggest an afternoon at Perissa Beach.
Perissa Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Santorini, located on the southeastern side of the island. It’s known for its crystal clear waters, dark sand, and stunning views of the nearby cliffs. During the summer months, it’s always packed with locals and tourists enjoying the sunshine, swimming, and soaking up the amazing views.
- It is one of several black beaches on the island with a laid-back atmosphere.
- And though there are better beaches on Greek islands, there are not many black beaches outside of Santorini, so check it out.
- Whether you rent sunbeds or lay on your own towel, this is a great time to rest and swim.
- Besides the black beach, you’ll also find many restaurants, bars, and little shops lined up, as well as a big church – just next to the beach.
DAY 3 – VOLCANO TOUR & FIRA
If you have 3 days in Santorini, I suggest doing a volcano tour.
A popular excursion in Santorini is a tour of the volcanic island. On this tour, you’ll get to explore some of the island’s most amazing attractions and get a close-up view of its volcanic beauty.
I booked a volcano tour at the last minute and then did not receive my confirmation on time, so I was not picked up (but the company refunded me without problems). However, if I could turn back the hands of time, I would have booked earlier in time and made sure I joined a volcano tour.
- Some very affordable volcano tours include a cruise to the volcanic islands. Depending on the tour, you can also swim in hot springs and see an active volcano.
- There are many tours offered, so you can see which one is best for you: Check out this Volcano tour in Santorini here.
- This cruise is more luxurious.
For the afternoon, I suggest spending your time in Fira. It is much bigger than Oia and has a town rather than a village feel.
The main attraction in Fira is the breathtaking views of the caldera, especially from the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. From here, take in the spectacular views of the caldera and the volcano, as well as cruise ships making their way to the island.
It’s the perfect spot for an incredible photo opportunity and one of the best places to watch the sunset.
- It does get busy in the afternoons, so do not expect tranquility, but rather a lively and busy atmosphere.
- There are several beautiful churches to see and many shops, cute streets, bars, and restaurants.
- The prettiest restaurant in Fira is surely Kaliya – though it turned out that the flowers were fake.
After all the walking on Santorini, I also went to a fish spa and got a different kind of pedicure. As someone who is scared of fish, I do admire my own courage whenever I have a fish spa?
So, what is a fish spa, and why have it on Santorini?
A fish spa is a type of spa treatment where tiny fish nibble away at your feet. This experience has become quite popular in recent years. During the spa treatment, you’ll put your feet into a tank of water and the fish will begin to nibble away at your skin.
This process is said to remove dead skin cells from your feet, leaving them feeling soft and smooth. It’s also believed to have a relaxing effect on your body, helping relieve stress and tension.
Well, it is not a must-do Santorini activity, but after all the walking and hiking, you surely deserve it.
- The sunset here is, if you ask me, as beautiful as in Oia.
- I got to watch several sunsets from here, and my favorite spot was at Keti Hotel – away from the crowds.
- Once the sun sets and it gets dark, I suggest enjoying night views close to the cable car station in Fira.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS 3 DAYS IN SANTORINI ITINERARY
Santorini was like a dream come true, and if you do not have the crowds (so avoid the busy summer months), I am sure you will enjoy it, too. I had an amazing time in/at/on Santorini.
I stayed 5 days, and in hindsight, I think 3 days is a good amount of time to spend in Santorini. Many people come and see Santorini in a few hours – you can get an idea of what the island is about. However, to see it without the crowds (and without the stress), you should stay three days in Santorini.
You can see some hidden gems like Pyrgos and also do some tours. This Santorini itinerary for 3 days will allow you to see some of the best the island has to offer.
- Check out more gorgeous places to visit in Greece.
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