Planning to spend three days in Santorini, but not sure what to do? You’ve come to the right place!
In this Santorini 3-day itinerary I have outlined everything you need to know to discover Santorini in three days, including the best things to do, how to get around the island, where to stay, where to eat and more.
With its iconic white houses, blue domed churches, dramatic black cliffs and stunning sunsets, Santorini is one of the most picturesque and popular destinations in the world.
It’s a truly gorgeous island, but it can get very busy. Planning your three days in Santorini properly will ensure you make the most of it, without wasting time in huge tourist crowds.
So what are you waiting for? Read on and discover how to spend three amazing days in Santorini!
- 1 Logistical tips for 3 days in Santorini
- 2 Santorini 3-day itinerary: Day 1
- 3 Santorini itinerary 3-day itinerary – Day 2
- 4 Santorini 3-day itinerary – Day 3
Logistical tips for 3 days in Santorini
Before we dive into the details of how you should spend your three days in Santorini, let’s go over some logistical travel tips, like where to stay, what to pack, how to get around the island and more.
Do you need travel insurance for three days in Santorini?
After my personal experience spending two nights in a private hospital in Tenerife, and having to pay for it out of pocket (it wasn’t cheap), I always recommend getting travel insurance.
You might not end up needing it, but for a small fee you can travel without worries. Personally, I suggest getting your travel insurance with Heymondo.
Heymondo offers tailor made travel insurance, providing the best value for money for your specific trip. You can also buy it once you’re already abroad and have forgotten about it before flying (which, if you’re anything like me, is quite likely).
Besides the usual cancellation, medical expenses, luggage coverage and general travel insurance services, Heymondo also has a 24/7 doctor chat and instant assistance through their app.
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Are 3 days in Santorini enough?
The answer to how many days you need in Santorini ultimately depends on what kind of holiday you want.
Knowing how you want to spend your time in Santorini is the first step towards choosing how many days and nights you should spend on this slice of Cycladic paradise.
For example, if you want to have a beach or island holiday – that is, spending time relaxing on the beaches, embarking on a few hikes, and driving around the island exploring the historic sights – then I would say a week is probably best for that.
A week is a decent amount of time to soak it all up, and check out most of the island’s charming little towns. That said, I wouldn’t really recommend staying that long.
Santorini is very touristy and can be quite expensive. Santorini also doesn’t have the best beaches, as they’re all black sand beaches and the water doesn’t look as clear. Other Greek islands have nicer beaches,
However, there’s no denying that the iconic white houses and views of Santorini are unique.
In my opinion, around three days is enough to get the vibe of Santorini, see the main sights and give you ample time to chill around the pool or on the beach.
You can spend three days in Santorini taking in this iconic Greek destination, whilst if you want a proper Greek beach holiday, I would head to another (cheaper) island instead.
How to get around Santorini
Another good question. Although we hired a rental car for the whole trip, I probably wouldn’t do this again and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.
For one thing, parking is an absolute nightmare – and even worse in high season.
And really, the public transport system is good enough. All the island buses start in Fira and go to pretty much all of the towns on the island.
However, the one thing public transport doesn’t really give you is freedom, or the option to go to smaller and more off-the-beaten-track destinations (i.e. beaches).
With that in mind, you could use the buses on days where you’re not moving much or only visiting key sights, and rent a quad or scooter (which is much more convenient than a car) on days you want to go off-the-beaten-track.
If you don’t fancy driving a quad or scooter, you could also join a guided tour. It works if you just want one or two days exploring the island, without worrying about how to get around it.
Where to stay for this Santorini itinerary
Since you only have three days, choosing where to stay in Santorini is crucial, as it could mean the difference between being strategically positioned, and wasting loads of time travelling across the island.
Personally, I would suggest either Fira and its surroundings, so you’re close to the bus transfers, or Kamari, for a more laid-back and cheaper beach stay.
That said, I know staying in one of those iconic cave hotels with infinity pools and epic caldera views is a bucket list item for many, so I listed below a few accommodation options in all the best towns and for all budgets.
Budget – Porto Castello: This place is the ideal base for your budget travel needs. Centrally located, it’s a family-run property with an outdoor pool and free breakfast every morning.
Mid-range – Caldera View Apartment: The name says it all: the views across the caldera from this old-world villa are completely mesmerising.
Luxury – Kalisti Hotel and Suites: Perfectly located very close to the main street of Fira, this hotel has rooms with private plunge pools, while the staff are professional and super friendly.
Budget – Vrachia Studios & Apartments: Oia isn’t famous for its budget options, but this apartment is one of the few. The accommodation itself may be on the modest side, but the views are still great.
Mid-range – White Cave Villas: Here you’ll find a selection of guest rooms in a cave-style setting. Think white-washed walls and curving ceilings, glistening turquoise pools and incredible views.
Luxury – The Way of Bliss: It’s considered one of the best Airbnbs in Santorini, and it’s easy to see why. With its hot tub and caldera view, paired with chic interior design, it ticks all the boxes for a dream Santorini trip!
Budget – Alexandra Hotel: This charming hotel is located just a five-minute walk from Kamari Beach itself, offers rooms with a private balcony or garden, and a daily breakfast buffet.
Mid-range – Smy Mediterranean White: If you want to treat yourself without breaking the bank, here you can do so. From double rooms with private balconies to suites with private pools, there’s something for everyone.
Luxury – Santorini Kastelli Resort: Tucked away down a secluded street, but still only two minutes from the beach, this five-star resort boasts two swimming pools, a spa and a poolside bar and restaurant.
What to pack for three days in Santorini
Besides the usual travel essentials, there are a few things you should make sure to pack for your Santorini itinerary.
Water bottle – Save on money and plastic by bringing your own reusable water bottle! I like the stainless steel ones because they keep my water cool throughout the day.
Sunblock – The Greek sun can get pretty intense, especially if you’re visiting in summer, so make sure you protect yourself!
Hat – Like above, bring a hat to shade your head and face, which will also help to see better at sea.
Camera – Santorini is an iconic and magical destination, you want to make sure you capture it in all its beauty!
Fast drying towel – I love these because they take up very little space and dry really quickly. Whether it’s for your boat tour or to take with you when you go beach exploring, you’ll be glad to have this.
Santorini 3-day itinerary: Day 1
You’ll start your first day in Santorini with discovering some of the most iconic sights of the island; the towns of Fira and Oia!
Fira to Oia hike in the morning
Hiking in Santorini is surprisingly beautiful, and the hike from Fira to Oia is arguably the most beautiful ones on the island. It’s around 10.5 kilometers (approximately 6.5 miles) between the two towns.
It’s not overly long, but the climbs involved can be pretty tough if you’re not used to hiking, and even more so in the heat. If you’re doing this in summer, then I recommend starting early as by midday it won’t be fun at all.
It can take anywhere between two and five hours, depending how fast you are, and how many photos you stop to take along the way.
The route goes along different types of terrain, including pavements, cobblestones and just dirt paths, and most importantly, takes some panoramic scenery along the way; you’ll have the caldera on your left as you go.
The route also passes through Imerovigli, which is your first climb (350 metres, and the highest part of the hike). Take it easy, wear sunscreen, a hat and shades, and remember to keep hydrated.
It’s not a long hike, but it can get challenging due to the heat.
It can also take a while to do as the views are genuinely jaw-dropping, especially as you walk through the towns, and it’s only normal you’ll want to stop for photos along the way.
Traditional lunch in Oia
For a well deserved lunch in Oia after that hike, head to Alkiona (established in 1998). Considering it’s located in Oia, it’s actually a pretty affordable spot.
Here you can fill up on tasty local food, with a backdrop of sea views. You can’t go wrong!
Oia is probably the most famous town in Santorini. Formerly known as Apäno Meria (literally “Upper Side”), the town is known for its blue dome churches, its clifftop location, and its castle.
Sunsets are particularly beautiful from here. It’s easy to explore on foot: just pick one of the many winding streets edged by white-washed buildings.
Don’t miss the pedestrianised Nikos Nomikos Street, the famous Oia Castle and the iconic “Blue Domed Church of Santorini”.
Go for a dip in Ammoudi Bay
Ammoudi Bay is a cute fishing harbour, reached by steps from Oia Castle. The descent is steep (around 300 steps), but you’ll be rewarded with the glistening sea of the bay.
There’s no real beach, but there’s a spot where locals like to dive in the sea. There’s a few tavernas down here too, if you feel like a refreshment.
Watch the sunset in Oia
Sunsets are super famous in Oia, and for good reason. We went back to our hotel to change before sunset, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I think it’s better to just stick around in Oia until sunset – as long as you’re not tired of being out and about all day.
You could go back to your hotel to get ready for sunset but really, once you’ve wasted time figuring out the buses or looking for somewhere to park, you’ll lose a lot of time – and you might even miss the sunset.
One good spot to see the sunset in Oia is from just below the castle, on the street that leads down to Ammoudi Bay.
The view is pretty much the same as the famous one from the castle, but there’s considerably less people here.
Another main tip I’d suggest is to stay after the sun actually goes down. That’s because almost everyone leaves literally just as the sun sets, so you’ll get more time to enjoy the moment without crowds around you.
Once sunset is done, you may as well stick around for dinner. There are plenty of places to choose from. If you didn’t go for lunch at Alkiona earlier, that’s obviously a good spot also for evening meals.
Santorini itinerary 3-day itinerary – Day 2
Full day boat tour to Nea Kameni & surroundings
It’s your second day in Santorini, and what better way to spend it than to join an epic Santorini boat tour, and cruise around on a traditional boat, exploring some amazing sites.
There are many boat tours to choose from, and the right one for you ultimately depends on your travel style and budget. I did this tour, which starts out at the port of Athinios.
It first heads to the uninhabited island of Nea Kameni.It’s actually an active volcano and forms part of the caldera (this itself was created by a volcanic eruption in around 1,650 BC!).
After spending some time hiking around the island, it’s time to head to Palea Kameni. This is another island which boasts its own volcanic hot springs – super relaxing.
Then it’s time to head back to the boat for a sail to the charming island of Therasia; the village here is super cute.
Following this, you’ll cruise back to the harbour, but sailing past Oia and Fira, taking in the amazing views of the white towns perched on top of the black cliffs.
There’s an option to extend this tour to admire the sunset from Oia. I wouldn’t recommend this, as that way you would become one of those people who have to rush off immediately after the sun has set!
It’s much better to do that by yourself.
This tour is one of the more affordable boat tours of Santorini. Admittedly, it’s quite a busy tour with a lot of people on one of the larger tourist boats, but it’s also very complete and takes you to lots of stops.
If you want something that feels a little more exclusive or higher budget, there are obviously other options to choose from.
One such tour option is to head out on a cruise on a catamaran, complete with food and open bar. These tours include snorkelling and a visit to the hot springs of Palea Kemani, too.
You can also opt for a sunset cruise, which is pretty romantic and offers up some panoramic views over waves in a more intimate atmosphere.
For an extra high-end experience, an Ocean Voyager cruise would be a great option. This features wine (and other drinks) as well as full barbecue for dinner.
Taking around five hours in all, the boat first stops off at the Palea Kemani hot springs and then heads to the red beach. Finally, it ends up at the white beach.
At both beaches you’ll have the chance to swim and snorkel, and then wind up the day with a beautiful sunset. What more could you want?
See the sunset from Fira
If your tour doesn’t include a sunset, then head to Fira for sunset (you’ve already seen it at Oia, of course). The view is best from along the promenade near the cliff edge.
You could opt to eat at one of the many “front row” restaurants for dinner, but be warned: they’re all very touristy, quite over-priced, and also not that great.
Santorini 3-day itinerary – Day 3
The last day of your Santorini itinerary has arrived. Since you’ve already seen all the main sights, you can choose to spend this final day depending on your personal interests.
I recommend renting a quad bike or a scooter, and hitting up a bunch of the island’s less known towns, villages and beaches.
There’s a fair bit of history and nature to explore, but make sure you have these spots on your itinerary:
The former capital of Santorini, it’s something of a hidden gem compared to Oia and Fira, and is a good place to find the real Santorini.
A lot of the restaurants and accommodation in Pyrgos are family-run, and the atmosphere is altogether more tranquil than in other places.
You can spend your time here wandering the pretty streets, complete with its picturesque. whitewashed houses and blue-roofed churches. The bonus is the panoramic, 360-degree view across the island.
Yet another beautiful town in Santorini, the cute Megalochori is quiet and particularly charming.
It has white houses, cobbled streets, picturesque local squares and distinctive churches – all of which makes for a nice stroll – but the major plus of Megalochori is being close to the next stop…
See the amazing Heart of Santorini & Church of Agios Nikolaos
Getting to the Heart of Santorini – an epic viewpoint if ever there was one – is a bit of an adventure. Instagram fans and people who just like a good vista should definitely take the time to get there.
It involves walking down a staircase on the cliffside. Eventually, you get to this spot – a natural window in the cliff shaped like a heart, which looks out over the caldera towards the cliffs and white houses of Fira.
Nearby is the Church of Agios Nikolaos. Carved directly into the cliff, this small church is a simple but very beautiful spot that should not be missed. It’s idyllic.
Enjoy the view at Akrotiri Lighthouse
Head to Akrotiri Lighthouse and you’ll be at the westernmost point on the island. As with all things Santorini, heading here is for the purpose of getting some amazing views.
From the French-built lighthouse, dating to 1892 (one of the oldest in Greece), you’ll get a beautiful vista of the caldera and cliff coastline.
Chill at Red Beach or Kamari Beach
Treat yourself with a trip to the beach after all the sightseeing and driving you’ve been doing! You may not have time for two, so opt for either Red Beach or Kamari Beach.
Red Beach is pretty cool. As the name suggests, the sand is red, and it’s also lined by unique red cliffs. It’s very popular and also conveniently located near Akrotiri Lighthouse.
As for Kamari Beach, it’s nice but less unique; better for its plentiful sunbeds, restaurants and beach bars.
Go for a wine tour & tasting
Drop your scooter or quad bike back at the rental company and round up your day with a wine tour. Why not?
Santorini has vineyards and wineries galore and, though the island doesn’t get a whole lot of rain, the vines are kept watered thanks to sea mist.
You can join a tour like this one, which takes you to three wineries to sample different kinds of wine and learn all about the wine-making process and its history on the island.
It also finishes up with a sunset (you’re in Santorini, what else?), but you get to see it from somewhere that isn’t Fira or Oia.
Thankfully, you get picked up and dropped off on this wine tour, so you don’t have to worry too much about your alcohol intake!
Final thoughts on spending three days in Santorini
There you have it, the ultimate Santorini 3-day itinerary! Have you been to Santorini before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!
It’s true that it can be an incredibly busy and touristy destination, but there’s no denying how beautiful and unique it is.
With its picturesque white houses perched on top of dramatic black cliffs, blue domed churches and stunning sunsets, it creates a fairytale contrast that you don’t see every day.
Given how busy and expensive it can be, I recommend spending three days in Santorini. If you follow this itinerary, it will give you enough time to see all the main sights and get a feel for this island vibe.
I hope you find this Santorini 3-day itinerary useful in planning your own time in Santorini. If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!