One Day In Santorini – Docking At Santorini Cruise Port

Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Are you going to be visiting Santorini by cruise ship? If so, when you dock at Santorini Cruise Port, what do you do? Here we show you how to enjoy one day in Santorini, Greece.

Greece Travel Blog_How To Spend One Day In Santorini

Santorini, the whitewashed heaven of the Cyclades Islands, is one of the major tourist destinations on the Aegean Sea. The island is famous for its picturesque settlements and magnificent beaches; with its rich history and natural wonders, Santorini offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to its visitors.

If you are tired of the hustle of urban life, visiting this extraordinary island might give you the energy to recharge yourself. It might be time to look for a cruise to the Cyclades – particularly Santorini.

If you have limited time to explore the island, you need not worry; we have the perfect guide to spending 1 day in Santorini!

Keep reading to learn more about everything you can do on a single day in Santorini.

Is 1 Day In Santorini Enough

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Like every place on earth, Santorini has its own unique culture, profound history, and rich cuisine. That’s why it’s impossible to discover the entirety of the island in a single day. Nevertheless, you can explore the major highlights of Santorini and experiment with local dishes during a one-day trip. Who knows, this short trip might give you a reason to come back to the island in the future.

Also, it’s worth noting that Santorini is a small island with relatively few things to do; that’s why you’ll be able to see the major tourist attractions on the island during a one-day trip. Santorini promises you an unforgettable adventure as long as you know where to look. From the fascinating town of Oia to the stunning Red Beach, each corner of this cute little island has much to offer.

SANTORINI CRUISE PORT

Santorini Cruise Port is a popular cruise destination in the Aegean Sea, in the Cyclades island group of Greece. When cruise ships arrive at Santorini, they anchor in the deep Caldera Bay, and passengers are tendered to The Old Port of Santorini, which takes around 10 minutes.

Don’t get confused between The Old Port and Athinios Port in Santorini.

Athinios Port is the main port of Santorini and serves as the primary entry point for visitors arriving by ferry, not cruise ships.

The Old Port is located in the town of Fira, which is the capital of Santorini. As you approach the island, the views from the tender boats are genuinely awe-inspiring, with the iconic whitewashed buildings perched on the cliffs against the backdrop of the deep blue sea.

Once you are on land after your tender ride – how should you spend the day in Santorini? First, how do you get to the top where all the attractions are?

When Is The Best Time To Go To Santorini 

The best time to visit Santorini depends on your preferences and priorities. Santorini enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and mild winters.

  • Summer (June to August): this is the peak tourist season in Santorini when the temperatures range from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F). The island gets crowded during this period, and prices for accommodation and flights tend to be higher
  • Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to October): these shoulder seasons offer pleasant weather with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). The crowds are smaller in Santorini in September compared to summer, the prices are relatively lower, and you still have many sunny, swim-worthy days
  • Winter (November to March): Santorini experiences mild winters, with temperatures averaging around 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F). While it’s the off-peak season, some hotels, restaurants, and tourist facilities will be closed
TRAVEL COMPANIES WE USE AND TRUST

Getting From The Port To Fira (Thira)

Ports in Greece - Amazing evening view of Fira, caldera, volcano of Santorini

To travel from the Old Port to Fira (also known as Thira) in Santorini, you have a few options:

Walk

If you’re up for some exercise, you can walk from the Old Port to Fira. The route involves climbing a series of stairs carved into the cliffs. It can be a steep and challenging ascent, but it offers a chance to experience the island’s scenic views and charming architecture. Remember that it may take around 30-45 minutes to reach Fira on foot, depending on your pace. And once you start, there is no changing your mind!

Cable Car

Santorini Island Cable CarThe most popular and fastest option is to take the cable car from the Old Port to Fira. The cable car offers stunning views of the Caldera and the Aegean Sea. The cable car station is located at the Old Port, and it will transport you up the steep cliffs to Fira in just a few minutes.

Donkey Ride

 

We do not condone these. Although a traditional and unique way to ascend from the Old Port to Fira, riding a donkey is just plain cruel.

Donkeys have been used as a means of transportation on Santorini for many years, but the use of donkeys has been a subject of debate due to animal welfare concerns. 

Now that is all out of the way, let us show you ways to spend a day in Santorini. 

Morning Itinerary Ideas In Santorini

In the morning, try to hit the cultural and historical sites. From taking in local life to digging into past civilizations, there’s something for everyone to explore Santorini’s unique culture. Depending on how long you want to linger, you will probably only choose one of these options.

The Town Of Oia

Winter in Greece - Small town Oia on Santorini
Oia on Santorini

Greek towns are famous for their rich cuisines, warm cultures, and picturesque scenery. And one of Greece’s most scenic and fascinating towns, Oia, is located on the tiny island of Santorini. If you happen to visit Santorini and have only one day to discover the island, Oia must be on your itinerary.

Lying on the northwestern tip of Santorini, Oia is famous for its stunning sunset views and whitewashed Greek houses with blue details. The vine-adorned narrow streets of Oia are full of colorful flowers and Mediterranean plants, creating a romantic atmosphere with a touch of exoticism.

Most buildings on Oia have blue details, like domes and window frames. Although this is a common feature of Greek townhouses, Oia’s je ne sais quoi turns it into something unique.

Besides these, Oia also boasts many restaurants and cafés, where visitors can enjoy local dishes on terraces and balconies facing the Aegean.

The Akrotiri Archaeological Site

Recovered ancient buildings in prehistoric town of Akrotiri, one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. An archaeological site of Akrotiri in Santorini, Greece

Most Greek islands in the Cyclades feature archaeological sites from ancient civilizations. Most of these sites were founded by the once-thriving Minoan civilization, which ruled over the Aegean islands – most significantly, over Crete. Today, the ruins of these settlements of yore offer visitors a glimpse of the ancient past. And for history enthusiasts, Santorini’s Akrotiri is a must-see gem.

The Akrotiri Archaeological Site is an ancient Minoan city in the southern part of Santorini. The settlement, discovered in the late 1960s, is considered one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites.

Akrotiri was once an advanced Mediterranean settlement; many pieces of pottery and golden figurines were discovered in the city, pointing to an artisan society. One of the city’s most impressive features was its extensive drainage system made up of stone channels and terracotta pipes that carried water and waste away from the city. Unfortunately, this thriving society was shaken and buried by the Theran eruption in the 16th century BC.

Today, visitors can see Minoan-era houses, everyday tools, and ancient pottery at the excavation site. For history fans, a trip to Akrotiri might be an awe-inspiring and exciting experience.

Fira Museums

Easter In Greece - Santorini Church

Visitors interested in the island’s culture and history may prefer to visit some of the museums in Fira. They are great to visit after seeing the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri, but if you only have time to tour the museums, they are interesting to visit on their own.

  • Archaeological Museum of Fira: This museum is home to artifacts from the island dating back to the 3rd millennium BC from the island’s former Minoan civilization
  • Museum of Prehistoric Thira: This museum has objects actually found at the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri, along with island geology information.

Afternoon Itinerary Ideas In Santorini

Santorini is known for incredible beaches and natural beauty, so putting a beach or hike on your to-do list in the afternoon is the perfect way to experience the outdoors.

Perissa Beach

Greece With KIds - What to do in Greece with kids - Perissa beach in Santorini
Perissa Beach

Once you’ve spent the morning visiting cultural and historical attractions, pay a visit to the famous Perissa Beach and embrace the endlessness of the Aegean.

Perissa Beach is famous for its crystal-clear water and unique black sand. The reason behind this unusual color is the very volcanic activity that created the island itself. It’s important to note that the color causes the sand to absorb heat, so make sure you have a towel to rest on and shoes to wear.

Since Perissa Beach is several kilometers long, visitors can take a stroll along the beach and discover various restaurants and beach clubs. Visitors can have a meal or a few drinks, gazing at the magnificent horizon and the Aegean.

Since the island has a small population, the beach is almost never overcrowded, meaning visitors can sunbathe, swim and unwind in tranquillity. The beach is also a favorite destination for families due to its calm and shallow water.

Perissa Beach is also a famous spot for water sports, with several facilities where visitors can rent equipment for snorkeling, windsurfing, and jet skiing.

Red Beach

Best Beaches In The Mediterranean - Beautiful summer landscape with one of the most famous beaches in the world.

Depending on how long you linger, you may only have time for one beach. If Perissa doesn’t strike your fancy, Red Beach is another unique beach to visit. A volcanic sand beach on the southern coast of Santorini, the beach is a unique and stunning destination known for its dramatic red cliffs and red sand.

The surrounding red cliffs provide a dramatic and breathtaking setting for sunbathing, swimming, and taking pictures. The red color of the beach’s pebbles charmingly contrasts the turquoise waters of the Aegean.

Since the beach is only accessible via a narrow path along the edge of the cliffs, it might be challenging for people not used to hiking. Fortunately, the serenity and gorgeous scenery of the beach are really worth the hassle.

Hike The Magnificent Caldera

Sitting in Akrotiri Santorini overlooking the Caldera

A massive, crescent-shaped basin that was formed by a volcanic eruption around 3,600 years ago, the Caldera is a stunning natural wonder located on the beautiful island of Santorini.

With its steep cliffs rising up from the sea and providing panoramic views of the surrounding islands and the blue waters of the Aegean, the Caldera offers a breathtaking sight. Visitors can explore the Caldera on foot via a myriad of hiking trails winding their way along the cliffs.

However, if you don’t have time to wander the trails, two of the island’s most famous towns, Fira and Oia, are perched on the edge of the Caldera, offering stunning views of the natural wonder.

Evening Itinerary Ideas In Santorini

As the day winds down, finding a place to really embrace the cuisine of the island is a great way to spend the evening, especially if you can catch a famous Santorini sunset while you’re at it. These are a few evening options to choose from.

See The Gorgeous Wineries Of Santorini

Wines In Greece - Drinking in Santorini

Like most Greek islands, Santorini also boasts gorgeous wineries where locals make wines with unique flavors. The island’s unique volcanic soil and warm climate produce the ideal growing conditions for the grape varieties.

If you have a limited time and want to visit a place that combines local cuisine and culture, then visiting Santorini’s wineries might be a great idea. During your visit to wineries, you can taste the flavourful samples of local wines and learn about the island’s history of winemaking and the unique techniques to grow and harvest the grapes.

Dine In Fira

Ports in Greece - Amazing evening view of Fira, caldera, volcano of Santorini

The largest town and capital of Santorini, Fira is known for its stunning views of the Caldera, narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.

As the town is located on the edge of the Caldera, most buildings are perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea. And dining in one of the restaurants with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and the Caldera is an unforgettable experience. The town’s restaurants serve wonderful Greek cuisine that is unrivaled anywhere else.

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As you can see, Santorini is a special place full of wonders. If you have only one day, or several hours, to spend in this paradise, you can visit some of the attractions mentioned in this post. Nevertheless, Santorini has many other gems to discover. That is why, before planning your itinerary, you should read our other posts to learn more about Santorini and its attractions.

We hope that you enjoy Santorini in one day so much that you go back again!

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