1 Day in Santorini: A Day Trippers Guide

Santorini is one of the most beautiful islands has to offer. The island is only 18km (11.2 miles) long and can be driven from point to point in 40 minutes. Even though the island is small, spending only 1 day in Santorini requires planning. You should have an itinerary before waking up on the island.

1 day in Santorini will be hectic. We highly recommend renting a car, 4 wheeler, or moped. This allows you to tour the island on your own terms. You don’t want to spend your day on the island waiting for a bus.

Here is our guide to seeing as much of Santorini as possible with your 1 day.

Sunrise at Perissa Beach

You don’t want to miss a sunrise at the most beautiful black sand beach on earth.

We went to Santorini in late May and the beach was empty. We found that most people do not like waking up early in Santorini, except for a few workers getting the beach restaurants cleaned up. You will have the beach to yourself if you’re lucky.

Enjoy the sun coming up and around the mountain. You’ll regret not seeing it.

If you hang around Perissa Beach after sunrise, score a coffee and jump in for a swim! When you’re ready, head to the red sand beach.

Black Sand Beach: Must see for 1 day in Santorini
Perissa Beach, Santorini, Greece

Visit the Red Sand Beach

The Red Sand Beach is different from Perissa beach, and we aren’t talking about just the color.

One of the most unique parts of the island. The volcanic eruptions created the rock formations you will find here. This is another great place to snorkel if you brought one.

There is a small “hike” down to the Red Sand Beach. It’s relatively easy. It’s more of a walk than a hike. Just watch your step because there is no handrail and it’s a big drop off on one side.

The free parking is located here.

The Red Sand Beach offers a few umbrellas during peak season, but there is no beach bar or restaurant. We also recommend bringing beach sandals to walk. Where the beach was created by an eruption, it does not feel very good on your bare feet.

Red Sand Beach: Must see for 1 day in Santorini
Red Sand Beach, Santorini, Greece

Explore Akrotiri

Akrotiri is the most historic village on the island of Santorini.

It is known as the “Pompeii of Greece”. The village is famous for its archaeological sites, frescoes, and beautiful lighthouse. It was once covered in ash and lava after the volcano eruption submerged it.

This is a place you do not want to miss. The archaeological site is great for a bit of time indoors. Don’t forget to check out the lighthouse as well. The lighthouse is another great spot for a sunset, but you will want to see the Oia sunset if you only have 1 day in Santorini.

Lunch at a Winery

Santorini is famous for the wineries and wine tours around the island.

The volcano sand bring out the best flavors you will ever have. At least one wine tour is recommended. The 2 wineries on the island with the best views are Santowines and Venetsanos Winery.

Most people say that Santowines is the best on the island, but we did not have time to go there. We are able to “walk-in” the Venetsanos Winery and was seated almost instantly. This may be a longer wait if you go during high season, but we went during May.

Most of the wineries offer tasting tours. These tours will pick you up in a van and transport you across the island to all of the different wineries.

This takes around 4 hours, so you probably don’t have enough time to do this and see all the island has to offer in 1 day.

Visit Fira

Fira is the capitol of Santorini and brings you some of the best restaurants, good shopping, and picturesque streets.

The town square is one of the most crowded places in the capitol village, but don’t worry there is plenty of space and restaurants with shared outdoor seating. There are too many to pick from near the town square.

The shops around here range from souvenir shops, to art galleries, to jewelry.

Ride the Cable Car

Riding the cable car gives you a great view of the island. The cable car takes you from the top of Fira, all the way down to the Old Port of Santorini. Down here you will find some restaurants, bars, and boat tours. If you have a book tour, or wanted to book one, this is where you would more than likely find it starting.

We did a tour to the Volcano of Santorini and it started down here.

The cable car ride is $6 one way, and you cannot book a returning ticket.; You will have to book that at the bottom. We did not have to wait at all for a cable car. Most of the time you won’t have to wait unless there is a ferry coming in.

Sunset & Dinner in Oia

Oia is the most well-known city on the island of Santorini.

Cave houses (and rentals) carved into the cliffs, white-washed buildings, and picturesque views of the Aegean Sea will leave you in awe when you get there. The streets of Oia are very small. You cannot bring a car into the main part of the village. You will have to park in one of the public parking lots outside of the city.

The walk is very short and worth it.

There are tons of restaurants in Oia to choose from. Some will be a little more upscale than others. A good rule-of-thumb is: the more upscale they are, the more likely it will require a reservation. This is especially true during high season.

The village of Oia is most known for it’s sunsets over anything else. They are considered to be the most beautiful in the world.

Some of the restaurants you find will offer a sunset view with them. These will be booked pretty far out, so do your research to see if you can land a spot. It will be the perfect 2-in-1 adventure.

This will help you miss the crowds of an Oia sunset, which are very real. If you don’t care to fight the crowds, find a great spot in Oia looking over the Aegean Sea. Be ready for the most beautiful sunset of your life to close our your day in Santorini!

Oia, Santorini, Greece: Must see for 1 day in Santorini
Oia, Santorini, Greece

1 Day in Santorini FAQs

Is 1 day enough in Santorini?

1 Day in Santorini will be adventure-packed and you will feel like you’re always rushing. It can be done, but you will not see everything the island has to offer. It is better to stay for 2 days, 3 days, or 4 days in Santorini.

Can you do Santorini as a day trip?

Santorini can be done as a day trip, but you will only get to see a few of the main attractions. Especially if you are not waking up on the island.

What should I not miss on Santorini?

The most important parts you should see are:

  • Perissa Beach (Black Sand Beach)
  • Red Sand Beach
  • Akrotiri
  • Oia

These will give you an idea of what the island has to offer along with picturesque views.

Is Santorini a walkable island?

Santorini is not a walk-able island from village to village. You can take the bus, rent a 4-wheeler, or rent a car. Once you get to the different villages, the island is easily walk-able. Some of the villages, like Oia and Fira, walking is required.