5 Unique Things To Do in Santorini

Santorini is the quintessential Greek island. Formed from volcanic rock it has shear cliffs, white washed homes, and the blue domes everyone associates with Greece. It is home to the most famous sunset in the world. It is the epitome of Greek culture. It is also where I purchased the most expensive beer in my life–€18 for a Mythos! With the beautiful views, and an influx of cruise ships, it’s no wonder they can get away with charging so much for a single beer. But alas, there is hope! There are so many unique things to do in Santorini if you’re willing to step outside of the white washed walls of Oia and explore the island.

Here are my top 5 favorite unique things to do in Santorini

1. Above all else, rent a quad/ATV or scooter

This is the most important thing you can do for a day on Santorini. It will cost about €20 and you will have a story that is a bazillion times cooler than anyone else’s. There are rental places all over the island. Get one at the first place you see since they sell out fast.

Securing your freedom to explore means you wont be lured in by the tourist traps. I’m not suggesting you don’t explore the ruins of Akrotiri, or you skip exploring the village of Oia. I’m suggesting you do those things on your own time, free from the tour bus. You should, however, skip the Wine Museum and visit a winery instead, avoid the hot springs tour so your bathing suit doesn’t turn yellow, and admire the volcano from afar–with a glass of wine in your hand.

A photo posted by Explorenomics (@explorenomics) on

Santorini is about 10 miles long, so it is easy to explore in a single day. Even if not everyone in your group wants to take to the roads, which are pretty exciting to drive on, I highly recommend ignoring the group-think and doing it anyway. They will all be jealous when the day is over.

Just be sure to wear a helmet.

2. Visit the Red Beach near Akrotiri

Santorini is known for it’s unique black and red sand beaches. These beaches are not the typical beaches of Greece. The sand is made from volcanic stone and has a distinct dark red color. If you’re looking unique things to do in Santorini, these beaches are a must! The best beach to visit is the Red Beach, named for the dark red sand and pumice stone, found at the south end of the island.

This beach is worth visiting simply because it is like no other beach I’ve been to. It’s best to go earlier in the day to beat the crowds and very hot red sand. There is a small parking lot at the top of a cliff with a little food stand when you arrive. Grab a few beers for a euro or two (not €18) and head down the path to the beach.

You’ll soon find yourself on what I can only imagine a beach on Mars would look like, sans Martians of course.

3. Stop at the Boutari Vineyard for a wine tasting

What’s a visit to Greece without wine? And the Boutari vineyard on Santorini is a great place to enjoy some.

Most of the tourists that visit the island never make it out to the vineyard. Instead they stop at the Wine Museum in the middle of the island. If you are a connoisseur of wine, you will be disappointed. If you are a connoisseur of animatronic wax figures you will be pleased.

Visiting the Boutari Vineyard will provide a more genuine experience and, frankly, better wine. The vineyard is situated on the top of a hill which provides stunning vistas. Because of the exposure to the elements, the vines are all trimmed down low to the ground and into circular shape to protect the fruit.

This particular Vineyard is home to a unique Vinsanto that has deep orange-yellow color that they say is due to the sun-dried grapes that are only harvested at night. I’m not big on desert wines, but this one was interesting enough for me to take a few bottles home as gifts.

Make sure you bring your Jet Bags with you if think you might bring home a bottle or two. There’s nothing worse than heading home with wine soaked clothes!!

4. See the Cycladic windmills

The Cycladic islands, of which Santorini is one of, are known for their 16th century windmills. The history on these windmills is a bit sparse, as far as I can tell. They were likely built by the Venetians for milling grains into flour. Regardless their origin, they are truly unique and both originals and replicas turned into homes are sprinkled throughout the island.

Cruse along the eastern coast of the island and see how many you can spot!

Windmills on Santorini

5. Grab your dinner and sunset in Thira

The sunset is a big deal on Santorini. It’s almost as if they could sell tickets to it. The sunset deserves your attention each night you are on the island, but it doesn’t need your wallet. Most people plan on watching the show in Oia, but I found it to be just as spectacular in Thira (also spelled Fira).

There are quite a few tavernas along the ridge of the caldera in Thira that provide excellent views, good food, and reasonable prices. So walk through one of the many “doors to heaven” that lead down to an open air restaurant, and enjoy the show:

 

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