The Greek island of Santorini is a popular vacation spot in the Cyclades island group.
Attracting romance-seeking couples, families, groups of friends, and solo travelers, Santorini offers a wealth of things to see and do.
Relish delicious cuisine, relax in laid-back bars, soak up the sun, and admire postcard-worthy vistas.
Famous for its striking white-washed buildings topped with bright blue domes, lovely beaches, and a sparkling caldera, there are diverse day trips to help you make the most of your time on the island and beyond.
Here are the best day trips from Santorini:
1. Ios Island
The island of Ios boasts similar architecture and beaches to Santorini, but it sees far fewer crowds.
Picturesque and relatively quiet, Ios is just around an hour’s ferry hop away from its more famous neighbor.
Admire the scenic harbor – complete with a 17th Century chapel, cute bars, and charming cafes – as you reach the island and then climb the stairs to reach the capital of Chora.
Small, box-like homes are sprinkled along narrow streets and around attractive courtyards, and the large historic amphitheater of Odysseas Elytis overlooks the town.
Alternatively, enjoy one of the island’s beautiful beaches; Mylopotas is often rated as one of the best beaches in all of Europe.
2. Thirassia Island
The small Thirassia Island was formed during the large volcanic explosion that rocked the area around 3,500 years ago.
Previously, it was part of Santorini.
The relaxed island is fringed with sublime beaches where you can sunbathe, swim, and admire the views.
Delightful Manolas, with its multi-colored homes, bright flowers, and uneven steps is the island capital.
You can easily visit the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin from the town, and elsewhere on the island you’ll find other even smaller villages, where traditional life reigns supreme, and hot springs.
Related tour: Santorini Volcano and Thirassia Sunset Dinner Cruise
3. Nea Kameni
Nea Kameni is a lava and ash island just off the shores of Santorini at the heart of the flooded caldera.
Intrepid visitors can walk up to the crater and skirt the entire rim to marvel at Mother Nature’s handiwork around the still-active volcano.
The uninhabited island is a scientific study zone, with scientists monitoring the island for volcanic activity.
4. Palea Kameni
Another island that was formed in the caldera by a buildup of volcanic ash and lava, Palea Kameni is older than the neighboring Nea Kameni.
It is known for its soothing hot springs, where you can bathe and feel rejuvenated and refreshed in the sulfur-rich bluey-green waters while lapping up the splendid vistas.
Many visitors combine a trip to the small island with Nea Kameni and a boat ride around the picturesque caldera.
Recommended tour: Volcanic Islands Cruise with Palea Kameni Hot Springs
5. Boat Trips
A variety of operators offer boat trips around Santorini and beyond, with a diverse program of sights and activities to suit different tastes and interests.
You can spend the day soaking up the sunshine as you sail around the spectacular caldera and stop at the islands mentioned above.
Depending on the time of day, some boat trips provide lunch and some include dinner.
There are cruises that coincide that with the magnificent sunset, and activities that may be included on an excursion include swimming, relaxing in hot springs, snorkeling, fishing, and an onboard disco.
Recommended cruise: Santorini Gems: Small Group Sailing Cruise on a Catamaran
The scenic village of Megalochori, located in the southwestern part of the island, has a long history that dates back to the 17th Century and a long wine heritage.
Marauding pirates would hide away in the town at times and locals built high walls around their homes for safety.
Quaint buildings line the streets, and many of the elegant mansions and traditional homes have been restored to showcase their former glory.
Enticing eateries and taverns surround the main square, with overhanging trees providing plenty of shade to those who want to drink and dine al fresco.
Go into the countryside to visit farms and vineyards, and sample locally produced wines in one of the wineries or bars.
The well-preserved ancient site of Akrotiri dates back to the Bronze Age.
Built by Minoans, the complex was buried beneath volcanic ash and residue in around 1627 BC. The thick covering played a major part in protecting the site from the elements and the effects of the passage of time, meaning that today’s visitors can still see ancient paintings on the walls of historic homes as they walk in the footsteps of the Minoans along the old streets.
Artifacts also survived beneath the layers of ash and some are kept at the site while others are housed in a nearby museum.
Learn more about the way of life in ancient times and be in awe of the advanced infrastructure and societal organization.
Suggested tour: Full day bus trip to South Santorini and Akrotiri
One of the most popular destinations on the island of Santorini and the island’s present-day capital, a day in Fira is certainly one that you’re unlikely to forget in a hurry.
The Museum of Prehistoric Thira provides fascinating insights into the island’s long history and you can see a range of artifacts from ancient times.
Ride the cable car to the top of the cliffs for breathtaking panoramic views over the caldera, sea, and island, and take a scenic stroll along the top of the jagged cliffs.
The Old Port is a hive of activity and there are wineries to explore in the locale as well as cute eateries that dish up a range of Greek favorites.
Another of Santorini’s hotspots, a day in picturesque Oia (also sometimes spelled as Ia) is a day well spent.
Narrow pathways and steep steps wind through the village and up and down the hillside, while gleaming white-washed buildings cling to the slopes.
Don’t miss Saint Nikolaos Castle, a stunning Venetian gem.
If the village itself isn’t photogenic enough, you’ll also have the most incredible views of the sea-filled caldera and the small islands that have grown in the waters.
A plethora of bars and restaurants offer top-class views of Santorini’s world-famous stunning sunsets.
Included in: Santorini: Mesa Gonia, Pyrgos and Oia Tour
10. Profitis Ilias
Sitting at some 1,800-plus feet above sea level, Profitis Ilias Monastery can be found at the highest point on Santorini.
The mountain is named after the monastery and the peak offers jaw-dropping views across the island and caldera.
The religious home dates back to the early 1700’s, and in its heyday was an affluent establishment with a ship and school.
A handful of monks still live in the monastery today, many of whom are experts in winemaking.
Although you cannot go inside the main buildings, the small but ornate, colorful stone chapel welcomes visitors.
You can also admire the monastery from the outside.
11. Mesa Gonia
Mesa Gonia is one of Santorini’s charming villages.
Once a prime place on the island for wine tasting, the village suffered huge damages during an earthquake in the 1950’s.
Many residents fled the village and set up home by the coast, leaving Mesa Gonia as something of a ghost village.
Gorgeous churches are spread through the streets – the Byzantine-era Church of Panagia Episkopi with its ancient frescoes is especially worth visiting.
Stop in at one of the intimate taverns to recharge and refuel and to experience a slice of traditional life.
Once the capital of Santorini, Pyrgos is perched up a towering mountain and provides awesome vistas.
Traditional homes and churches, old mansions, vineyards, wineries and art galleries lead up the slopes.
The main square is at the heart of community life.
After wandering the picturesque streets, head to the fortified Venetian castle – one of five such structures across the island.
Pause at the memorial by the entrance to honor those who died in the world war and then explore all the nooks and crannies of the defensive structure.
Stoop to pass through low, narrow passageways, climb hidden staircases, and marvel at the area’s outstanding beauty.
The small village of Vothonas is one of the most unique and bizarre settlements on the island.
Located inland almost at the middle of Santorini, it features intriguing stone-hewn buildings and cave homes cut into the volcanic rocks.
Narrow paths twist and turn up the slopes, leading past interesting architecture.
Descend into the Wine Museum, house in a cave, and discover the island’s wine-producing history and techniques.
You can also taste some of the delicious locally-made wines.
There are also several pretty churches to visit, including the historic Agia Anna and Agios Roussos.
A short way outside the village, the carved Panagia Sergena Church is a top sight.
Close to Vothanas at the heart of Santorini, Messaria is another lovely village to add to your day-trip bucket list.
The intersection provides access to almost all areas of the island.
Once a hive of industrial activity, today the village has graceful restored mansions, a pleasant tree-surrounded square, attractive churches, wineries, inns, and cave dwellings.
The neoclassical Argyros Mansion – with its museum containing 19th Century furnishings and artifacts – and the former knitting factory are top spots to see on a day in Messaria.
The morning market is a great place to source fresh fish.
As with many places on the island, you can also appreciate striking views of the caldera.
15. Anafi Island
The small and peaceful Anafi Island is relatively undeveloped and sees few tourists.
Serene and tranquil, the island offers the rare feeling of having stumbled upon a pure island idyll.
A paradise for nature lovers, history buffs, and sun seekers, the island boasts beautiful sandy beaches and clear waters, regal hills, and interesting architecture.
The mighty monolith of Kalamos attracts adventurous climbers.
Places to see include Dracontospilo Cave, Zoothohos Pigi Monastery, and the Hora of Anafi.
Ferries do operate between Santorini and Anafi Island, though you may need to charter your own vessel depending on the season and crossing times.