Planning to spend 4 Days in Santorini Greece and wondering how to best spend your time?
This Santorini guide includes all you need to know about where to stay, what to do, and what to avoid. You can pick and choose or do it all! Either way, I can promise you an epic trip.
One of the most common questions among travelers is “How many days in Santorini do I actually need?” My answer is 4 and this guide is built around that, however, you can easily cut off or add a day depending on what suits your schedule.
Santorini is Greece’s most iconic island. I spent several weeks in Greece and did just about everything you can do in Santorini. From my experience, I recommend planning and booking your Santorini trip well in advance!
4 Days in Santorini
Planning a trip to Santorini can be daunting! It’s one of the most iconic islands in the world – where do you start? How do you see it all?
Well, generally speaking, 4 (full) days is a great amount of time to experience Santorini. The island is quite small so you can actually drive from one side of the island to the other (lengthwise) in about 40 minutes. We circled the island in a day and had plenty of time for site seeing!
This itinerary will help you see it all and not feel exhausted at the end of it!
Day 1: Explore Fira, Hike 🚶
With 4 days in Santorini, you have enough time to be leisurely. On your first day spend some time taking it all in. It is stunning after all. I recommend familiarizing yourself with the area first thing, and there is no better way to do that than by walking.
Walk Around Fira
Fira, the island’s capital, is the heart of Santorini. Hundreds of restaurants, hotels, churches, shops, and cafes are nestled into the side of the cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea and the caldera.
I recommend finding your hotel, getting settled, and then getting lost in the alleyways. Every turn has some beautiful view are building to offer. To combat the jetlag, do this with an espresso Freddo in hand – trust me.
Here is a little list of things to see in Fira that are either iconic or helpful – a Fira scavenger hunt if you will:
- The central bus station (the only actual bus station in Santorini)
- Espresso Freddo
- Three Bells of Fira (blue dome church)
- Karavolades Stairs (iconic stairs from Fira down to the old port)
- Donkeys (you’ll see lots of them around the stairs – but if you’re looking for a lift up and down the stairs choose the cable car!)
- Theotokopoulou Square (central square of Fira – near the bus station, bars, lots of restaurants, and little markets).
- Orthodox Cathedral (the biggest church in Santorini)
- Eat fava!! A Santorini specialty
- Enjoy the vibrant nightlife
- Seriously get lost a little!!
Hike Fira to Oia
If you’re feeling adventurous one of the best things to do in Santorini is the hike from Fira to Oia. This is an iconic 6-mile hike that weaves through several small towns as well as up to some of the highest points on the island on less cultivated pathways.
You will discover some of the island’s best views on this hike and see some classic spots… here are some things you will see along the way:
- Skaros Rock (prominent peninsula with conical rock at the ends that extends into the caldera – used to be a lookout for pirates)
- Profitis Ilias Church
- Theoskepasti Church
- Blue domed churches
- Byzantine Castle Ruins
- Incredible 360 views of the Aegean Sea
The hike officially starts from Atlantis Hotel in Fira, and you will wander in and out of towns all the way to Oia (the path includes pavement, dirt paths, and cobblestone). Include time to wander around the towns as you go and take detours to places like Skaros Rock.
When you arrive in Oia you can continue on just a little bit further to Ammoudi Bay – a small picturesque bay with a few restaurants – the perfect spot for lunch or dinner! Or, stop and grab a refreshing beverage and go for a dip at Lioyerma Lounge Cafe & Pool Bar – a great place to be for sunset! When you are ready, hike or take a cab back to Fira.
Alternative Option: If you feel a little more lowkey, you can walk from Fira to Imergoveli. This well-paved path follows the coastline from Fira to the town of Imergoveli. While less of a hike, you will walk past picturesque houses, restaurants, shops, and other beautiful buildings along the edge of the caldera. This walk takes about 40 minutes one way.
Finish the day with dinner on the cliffside. I recommend Nikolas for a family-run traditional restaurant or Argo for a more modern take on the local cuisine. Both restaurants have incredible food and excellent views of the Aegean. *You will need reservations for Argo.
Day 2: Rent a Car, Visit Akrotiri, & Drive the Coast
Day 2 is an adventure day! Enjoy breakfast (and an espresso Freddo!!) and then make your way to your car rental.
Renting a Car
The main towns in Santorini (Fira and Oia) are very walkable. However, to explore other areas you will need some sort of transportation. With 4 days in Santorini, I recommend having a car for at least 1 day.
If you plan to have a car for your entire stay, the easiest option is to pick your car up at the airport or at the ferry port. However, if you just want a car for a day or two, I recommend booking your car in town.
The caveat to booking in town is that you will be renting from smaller, hyper-local rental companies (larger/more familiar rental companies are only available at the airport). We had no issue doing this and it’s quite a common thing to do, but I understand that some might be more comfortable renting from a large company.
That being said if you want to rent from a large well-known company you’ll have to pick up your car at the airport. You should book ahead of time online, especially during the busy months, and if you want an automatic.
You can still rent online if you are comfortable renting from a small local company. I recommend using rentalcars.com. They will gather all of the information from local companies so you can compare and book in one place from a reputable site.
We ended up renting a car from Cars 4 Rent through rentalcars.com and had a great experience. We booked several months ahead to assure we had an auto2213matic.
Akrotiri, Perissa, and Kamari
Okay, once you have your car, begin your counterclockwise day trip! Head southwest to Akrotiri.
Akrotiri is a village within the Fira (Thera) region of Santorini – it’s about 9 miles (15 km) east of Fira. The Akrotiri peninsula is the island’s southwestern tip and features some of the best views on the island.
One of the biggest landmarks here is the Akrotiri Lighthouse, also known as the Faros Lighthouse, built in 1892. I would head here first.
TIP: The lighthouse is also a great place to watch the sunset. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine!
Next up, the Akrotiri Archaeological site! Akrotiri was actually a Bronze Age settlement that was destroyed during the volcanic eruption. Much of it was preserved by volcanic ash and you can tour the ruins.
Just passed the archaeological site is Red Beach. Park and walk to it but don’t plan on sunbathing – the rocks fall onto the beach and it can be rather dangerous (although you will see people down there).
Instead, hop back in the car and make your way east to Perissa Beach. This is one of Santorni’s most swimmable beaches. It’s also a black sand beach. After hanging out here for a dip during the hottest time of day, continue on to Karmari.
Kamari is a village on the southeastern coast. The promenade is lined with cafes, restaurants, and bars. You can grab something to eat or drink while you lay in one of the MANY lounge chairs lining the beach.
Next, hop back in the car and drive to Galini Tavern – an authentic Greek restaurant near the airport. You will have the best fish of your life here. This was a recommendation from a local and it did not disappoint.
Finally, continue clockwise around the island or head directly back to Fira.
Day 3: Catamaran Cruise, Explore Oia
Have a leisurely morning, maybe get up early (this is the best time in Santorini – quiet), get breakfast, and definitely get an espresso Freddo.
When it’s time, head to your pickup point for your luxury catamaran cruise! Most of the tours include pickup and drop-off anywhere on the island.
Catamaran cruises are THE top thing to do and with 4 days in Santorini, you absolutely cannot skip this. Most companies offer a daytime cruise and a sunset cruise. The sunset slot is a little more popular than the daytime slot (because duh sunsets in Greece…) but I honestly prefer the daytime cruise because it gets chilly at night and if I’m on a boat… I’m swimming!
*I think the daytime cruise is a bit of a hack because there aren’t great beaches in Santorini…so why not be on a boat! Plus there is so much more you can see by boat. Most of the tours stop by Red Beach, White Beach, the Caldera hot springs, Ammoudi Bay, and more.
Going during the day also allows you to explore Oia by night – in its most romantic state. Make reservations for dinner somewhere with a great sunset view, wander the alleyways in search of gelato, and gaze out at the insane views of the white houses on the cliffside with the tiny blue pools and the Aegean Sea in the background.
Day 4: Wine Tasting, Site Seeing, and Dinner
On your last day in Oia, indulge! Soak up the sun at your hotel pool, treat yourself to a massage, and maybe do a little shopping. Here are a few ideas for your last day.
Did you know that Santorini has over 20 wineries and dozens of indigenous grapes? The volcanic soil produces more savory wines with complex minerality. Some more popular grapes to try are Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Mandilaria.
Many of the wineries offer tours that you can take on your own or with a group. I recommend this 4-hour tour where you will visit three family-owned vineyards and taste 12-15 wines. The tour includes transport in an air-conditioned van.
Blue Domed Church and Windmills
Oia is famous for its blue-domed churches and windmills. I recommend seeking them out in the early morning for the best light and best atmosphere (aka before all the tourists arrive!).
Depending on when you go on your wine tour, enjoy lunch or dinner at Ammoudi Bay. You can reach the Bay by walking down around 280 steps or taking a taxi. There are about 4 restaurants in the Bay, Ammoudi Fish Tavern is the most popular.
If you go during the day, wear your swimsuit because you can jump off the rocks and swim in the beautiful blue water. Don’t plan on sunbathing though because the sharp rocks are not conducive to laying out.
4 Days in Santorini: How To Get to Santorini From Athens
Santorini has an airport so you can actually fly or take a ferry. Here are the details:
The airport is on the south of the island. You can fly direct (depending on where you are coming from) or (more likely) fly from Athens. I recommend using Skyscanner to find and compare the most flights.
Once you arrive, you have several transportation options to get to your hotel including bus, taxi, private transfer, car rental, or hotel transfer.
The bus is by far the cheapest option and quite simple to figure out – however, it’s not as convenient as the other options as it won’t drive you to your door. This can be annoying with bags. There are so many stairs and tiny cobblestone alleyways – make sure your hotel or your transport will help you get to your door.
Of course, you can also take a ferry! If you are coming from another island a ferry is likely your best bet (often faster and only a few islands have airports).
If you are coming from Athens your ride will be around 5 hours plus – depending on the type of vessel and the company you book with.
To book your tickets, I recommend using Ferryhopper. It is the best ferry booking platform available for the Greek Islands. You can compare routes, prices, and companies to select the option that suits your needs.
Read More: The Perfect Greek Honeymoon Itinerary 🇬🇷
Best Areas To Stay in Santorini with Hotel Recommendations
If you like to be in the action: Fira
As the capital of Santorini, Fira offers a vibrant atmosphere, numerous shops, restaurants, and a bustling nightlife. It provides a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly choices. Fira also offers great views of the caldera and is well-connected to other parts of the island. If you stay in Fira I recommend staying at Athina Luxury Suites.
If you like luxury and romance: Oia
Known for its iconic blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings, and stunning sunsets, Oia is one of the most sought-after areas in Santorini. It offers luxury accommodations, boutique hotels, and beautiful views of the caldera. I you stay in Oia, I recommend staying at Aris Caves.
If you like quieter, off-the-beaten-path: Imergoveli or Kamari and Perissa
Located between Fira and Oia, Imerovigli offers a quieter and more relaxed ambiance. It features luxury resorts and boutique hotels built into the cliffs, providing breathtaking views of the caldera. Imerovigli is an excellent choice for those seeking a serene and romantic atmosphere. If you stay in Imergoveli, I recommend staying at Atoles Retreat.
Kamari and Perissa are on the Southern side of the island and are known for their black-sand beaches. Kamari and Perissa offer a range of accommodations, beachfront restaurants, and water sports activities. They are ideal for those looking for a beach-focused vacation (but again – not great beaches) and have a more relaxed vibe compared to the caldera-side towns. If you stay in Kamari I recommend staying at Epavlis Grace.
If you want the most authentic experience: Pyrgos
Situated inland, Pyrgos is a traditional village with narrow streets, charming architecture, and panoramic views of vineyard-filled valleys out to sea. It offers a more authentic Santorini experience and a tranquil setting. Pyrgos is a good option if you are seeking a quieter stay away from the tourist crowds. If you stay in Pyrgos I recommend staying at Santorini Sky.
Beaches – Which To Go To and Which To Avoid with 4 Days in Santorini
While the Santorini coastline is stunning, its beaches are different from the typical sandy beaches you might think of when you think of a “beach vacation!”.
That being said, they each have unique characteristics due to the island’s volcanic origins. Below are the most notable, and with 4 days in Santorini, you can visit them all!
Red Beach Santorini
Located near the ancient site of Akrotiri, Red Beach is named after its unique red volcanic cliffs and reddish-hued sand. It’s a picturesque spot, but note that it can get crowded due to its popularity. We also heard from locals that you shouldn’t walk or lay on the beach because the rocks fall from the cliff often. However, you will see lots of people doing this (see picture).
Perissa & Perivolos Beach Santorini
Located on the southeastern coast of the island, Perissa Beach is famous for its black volcanic sand. It offers a range of amenities, including beach bars, restaurants, water sports activities, and sunbed rentals.
Adjacent to Perissa Beach, Perivolos is another black sand beach that offers a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. It features beachfront taverns, beach clubs, and water sports options.
White Beach Santorini
White Beach is quite beautiful. The name might be misleading though – the white beach is actually a small cove with black pebbles and grey volcanic sand. The surrounding cliffs are white, and the waters are crystal clear.
While this is a nice place for swimming and snorkeling, it’s only accessible by boat or by foot from Red Beach. I recommend taking a boat cruise that stops by for a quick swim and then moves on – like this one.
Kamari Beach Santorini
Also situated on the eastern coast, Kamari Beach features black sand and pebbles. It is well-developed with beachfront hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. Kamari Beach is known for its lively atmosphere and a wide variety of beach activities.
Vlychada Beach is known for its dramatic landscape with unique rock formations and cliffs. It has a more secluded and peaceful atmosphere compared to some of the more popular beaches.
What Not To Do During 4 Days in Santorini
Don’t count on an epic beach day! (sorry)
The beaches in Santorini leave much to be desired. The volcanic rocks are super sharp and you’ll rarely find sand – and never any soft white sand. That being said – head to the neighboring island Ios for an epic beach day!!
Don’t ride donkeys!
Or at least, consider the welfare of the animal before engaging in any tourist activity involving animals. Donkeys have traditionally been used to transport people and goods up and down the steep cliffside paths in Santorini. More recently it has become not only a way for tourists to get up and down the cliffs in Santorini, but a fun opportunity for a photo.
Any animal that is used for touristic activities/profit may be subjected to heavy workloads, inadequate care, and potentially harmful practices. Regulations have been implemented to ensure that the donkeys are not overloaded, have access to water and rest, and are provided with appropriate veterinary care. That being said, it’s always a good idea to examine the animal before allowing it to carry your weight up a giant hill.
There is also a cable car in Santorini – I recommend taking the cable car over the donkeys.
Don’t flush toilet paper!
Yep, no toilet paper can go in the toilet. The plumbing systems on the island are not able to handle the disposal of toilet paper through flushing. Dispose of toilet paper in the waste bins provided in the restroom. These bins are usually emptied regularly by cleaning staff to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.
Don’t wear heels!
Or, at least not stilettos. The cobblestone streets and steps can be challenging to navigate in heels – lucky you this means you get to wear a more practical shoe! Trust me – I saw many women holding on to the walls as they tried to walk up the cobblestone hills in high heels.
Don’t litter or damage the environment!
Help preserve the beauty of Santorini by disposing of your waste properly and respecting the natural surroundings. Avoid damaging or removing any natural or archaeological artifacts.
Don’t ignore the local customs!
Respect the local culture and traditions. Dress appropriately when visiting churches or monasteries, and be mindful of your behavior in public places.
Don’t neglect sunscreen!
The sun in Santorini can be quite intense, especially during the summer months. Make sure to keep sunscreen on your person.
Travel Tips for 4 Days in Santorini
Get Up Early
Santorini is most peaceful in the morning – before 9 and especially before 8. With 4 days in Santorini, I recommend trying to get up early as many mornings as you can. You will not regret it! Find a cafe that is open, and wander the cobblestone streets before anyone is up. Plus, you’ll actually get photos without people in them. And the cats are out!
Make Dinner Reservations
There are lots and lots of restaurants in Santorini it’s not like you won’t be able to eat if you don’t make reservations. But, if you have your heart set on a restaurant or want to eat around sunset I highly recommend making reservations. Most cliffside restaurants fill up around 6.
Romanticize Your Life
You’re in one of the most romantic places in the world. Marinate in it, move slower, and just enjoy.
4 Days in Santorini FAQ
Quite small! The island has a total land area of approximately 29 square miles (76 square kilometers).
The ideal duration of your stay in Santorini depends on your personal preferences and the pace at which you like to travel. However, I believe 4 days in Santorini is perfect to see all that the island has to offer.
No, not if you are a slower traveler. 4 days in Santorini is enough to see it all, but a week would allow you to experience the island more thoroughly and incorporate lots of pool time.
In my experience, Santorini is really safe. However, it is always important to keep your wits about you while traveling and consult official sources such as the travel advisories provided by your country’s government or contact the local authorities or tourism offices in Santorini.
Driving around Santorini is relatively quick due to the island’s small size. The main road that connects the villages of Fira, Oia, and other parts of the island is the Santorini Ring Road, also known as the Thera-Pyrgos Road. The total length of the Santorini Ring Road is approximately 30 kilometers (18.6 miles). Without any stops or traffic, it would take around 40 minutes to drive around the entire island.
I recommend 4 nights in Santorini.
4 Days in Santorini Wrap Up
It can be hard to know how many days to spend in Santorini – it’s one of the most iconic vacation destinations in the world but it’s also quite small. I believe 4 days in Santorini is the perfect amount. However, no matter how many days you plan on staying, this itinerary will help you decide how to spend your time there.
From its stunning landscapes to its rich cultural heritage, Santorini offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, savoring local delicacies, or simply basking in the island’s beauty, you’ll be completely enamored.
Greece Travel Planning Guide
🚑 Should I buy travel insurance?
100% Yes! – Always buy travel insurance when traveling internationally. I recommend SafetyWing. It has great coverage, is affordable, and will just bring you peace of mind.
💧Can you drink the water in Greece?
It is perfectly safe to drink tap water on the mainland, but less so on the islands. To be safe, drink bottled water on the islands (cheap and readily available).
🚙 Is it safe to rent a car in Greece?
Yes — Renting a car is one of the best ways to see Greece! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Greek companies, so you get the best rates.
📲 Will my phone work in Greece?
Maybe – It depends on where you are coming from and what plan you have, so check with your provider. If you won’t have service in Greece, I recommend getting an eSIM card through Airalo. All you do is download the SIM – you don’t have to go anywhere or change out your regular SIM card. I know… how far we’ve come!
⛴️ What is the best site to book Greek ferries?
Ferryhopper and Ferryscanner are both reliable sites to view ferry schedules and book tickets. Some people prefer one over the other for various reasons including loyalty but I have used both and had the same experience. I wouldn’t use anything besides Ferryhopper or Ferryscanner though.
🏩 What’s the best way to book my Greece accommodations?
From my personal experience, Booking.com is the best site to book Greece accommodations.
✈️ What’s the best site to buy Greece flights?
To find and compare flights I recommend Skyscanner.
🎫 Do I need a visa for Greece?
Currently, citizens from the EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, the USA, and the Schengen Zone do not need a visa to travel to Greece. Read the visa policy for Greece and familiarize yourself with the requirements for your nationality here.