Three days on Santorini make it possible to really get a feel for the idyllic Greek island’s sights, beaches, culture, and people. Plus you’ll have time left over to do an all-day scenic hike or to get out onto the waters of the Aegean Sea and visit nearby Thirassia. Here are a few ways to fill 72 hours on Santorini.
Day 1: Beaches, Views, and Archaeology
Spend your first day in Santorini hitting up the highlights of the island. One of the most important attractions is the archeological site of Akrotiri, a Minoan town that was covered during a volcanic eruption around 1613 BC and unearthed by archaeologists in the 1960s. While in the area, make sure to check out some of the gorgeous beaches. White Beach (Aspri Paralia) can be quickly accessed by boat from Akrotiri; driving there takes about 20 minutes due to the tall surrounding cliffs. If you are short on time, head straight to Red Beach, which gets its name from the red volcanic sand and stones that pepper its shores. Other points of interest include the Monastery of Profitis Ilias and Kasteli Castle in the ridiculously picturesque village of Pyrgos—both the monastery and the castle offer great views out over the island.
Day 2: Cultural Highlights
Devote day two in Santorini to cultural experiences, but not before sailing out to visit the Santorini caldera, a stretch of leftover erupted volcano that’s now an islet. Most visitors take small-group tours out to the island, and the boat usually waits while travelers hike up to the top of the volcano (which, incidentally, is still steaming after all these years) for photos. Pack a swimsuit, as tours tend to also go to the nearby hot springs where you can hop in for a dip; many include food and drink, too. Other options for your second day include taking a cooking class, in which you savor local dishes and wines, or checking out a local winery for a tour and tasting. Come evening, journey to Oia to catch one of Santorini’s famous sunsets or consider attending a dinner show—most involve live music and folk dancing accompanied by buffet or coursed meals.
Day 3: Hiking or Sailing Adventure
Spend your final day on Santorini exploring a bit with a full-day activity. Options include hiking from the town of Fira all the way up to Oia on a scenic 6.75-mile (11-kilometer) trail that connects the two destinations, passing by attractions such as the 17th-century Byzantine Monastery of St. Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos) along the way. Alternatively, take a day trip to the nearby island of Thirassia, a beautiful little getaway to the west of Santorini with a population of only about 200 people. This lovely island is easiest to get to using private excursions or boat charters, as ferry schedules can be unreliable, though note that many of the trips that come here stop at the Santorini volcano en route.