Santorini Itinerary: 4 Days to Explore this Stunning Greek Island
Santorini Greece is an idyllic location in the Aegon Sea that is world-famous for its beautiful sunsets. From the picturesque white houses, blue-domed churches and the unique and beautiful Caldera, you’ll lose yourself in this stunning Greek Island. This Santorini itinerary 4 days will cover all the key locations and things to do so that you don’t miss a thing (except maybe the crowds!).
4 days in Santorini Quick Reference Guide
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Getting around Santorini
It costs approximately 30 euros to get to your hotel from Santorini Airport. Either book a car rental or organise your hotel transfer in advance. It will work out cheaper if not the same price as getting a taxi from the airport but is much more convenient.
Public transport in Santorini is really good, and you can easily get to the main tourist locations by public bus. However, the timetables aren’t that frequent, so the best way is to drive if you can.
It is best to rent a quad bike because of the rocky terrain, particularly when driving to the beaches. Best of all, you will likely only need a standard drivers licence to hire one.
Where to Stay in Santorini
When deciding where to stay, there are a few things to consider such as how many days in Santorini. If you’re in staying 4 days or nights and want to explore, then make sure the location suits your plans.
Factors to consider before choosing where to stay in Santorini:
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on a budget, then avoid Oia. Some of the cheaper locations that still have things to do nearby are near the beaches. Unfortunately, hotels with a view have a hefty price tag, but you can avoid this by staying inland or in places that don’t include a pool.
Are you looking for nightlife and an ample selection of bars, restaurants and evening entertainment? Then look for the best hotels in Fira. There are some Caldera views in Fira, but most hotels are inland, which means there are also affordable options.
Santorini isn’t well-known for its beaches, so purposely base yourself near one typically saves costs. The best beaches in Santorini are Perissa beach and Perivolos (technically the same area), so stay near these if you want quality beach time.
Oia is the epitome of what people see when they envisage Santorini. The sunset and the sunrise are both beautiful from this location, and there are many boutique hotels and places to stay. However, it is the most expensive, and you will have to shuffle past hoards of people trying to take their perfect photos. So, unless you’re dying to stay here, try nearby Imerovigli for amazing Caldera sunset views and cheaper but still luxurious hotels.
My recommendation is to stay in Imerovigli, the highest point in Santorini. I stayed at the Regina Mare Hotel, which provides fantastic Caldera views at an affordable price. The rooms are modern and spacious, the breakfast is plentiful and delicious (even for vegetarians!) and the staff are some of the most hospitable that I’ve ever experienced. I don’t tend to revisit places I’ve stayed before but I would honestly make an exception for this wonderful adult-only hotel!
This area is centrally located which provides a great base for the best things to do in Santorini.
Looking for other areas to stay in Santorini, then check out the map below:
Santorini Itinerary 4 days: Day One
Depending on when you arrive on your first day, you might want to take it easy and explore the local area and pick up supplies from the local mini-marts.
Take a light hike to Skaros rock, a unique rock formation previously used for defensive fortifications if you have the time. If you’re short on time, you can take in the scenic views from the edge of the Imerovigli main square.
If you’re staying in Imerovigli head for dinner at Avocado for Mediterranean cuisine or Anogi for authentic Greek food.
If you want to dine with a perfect view of the Santorini sunset, then book a table at either the White Lounge or Le Moustache. On the other hand, if you want to make an afternoon of it, Le Moustache has a pool and beautiful sunbeds that you can rent.
Santorini Itinerary 4 days: Day Two
The second day of this Santorini Itinerary explores the different beaches of the south coast and the wonderful views from the Akrotiri lighthouse.
As the roads are mountainous and winding, there is no specific order in which to take them. However, I found it easiest to work east from the lighthouse as it is located at Santorini island’s most southern tip.
Akrotiri lighthouse was built in the 19th century, and it’s one of the oldest in Greece. Venture over the rocks to explore it up close and gaze out at the blue waters. Then, grab a smoothie or a coffee at the small cafe nearby and enjoy a seat at the ‘lighthouse’ table, enjoying the stunning views.
White Beach & Black Beach
Misleadingly, these beaches are side by side and look dramatically similar. Both have black sands and white/yellow cliffs. There are also beach bars to grab a drink or food at. This beach is a nice place to swim, but ensure you take water shoes and avoid the waves.
Kampia beach is good for snorkelling and swimming as there are small sea caves that you can get to from the shore. There are sun loungers you can use as well as a small café. Get there by early afternoon before the sun goes behind the rocks.
This beach is famous for its unique red cliffs, but also the danger of landslides. The views are beautiful, but the beach itself is like walking on a carpet of seagrass. If you go in the sea, you will come out dirty, and the only place you can sunbathe comfortably is behind the ropes, which are meant to keep people out. However, you can rent sun loungers in a safe area if you plan to spend the day here.
Read also: Santorini Sunset Kayak tour, a unique and adventurous kayaking activity that provides one of the most fun things to do in Santorini and you will get to see all of these beaches.
Perissa beach is a little further up the southeast coast but one of the most popular beaches on the island. This black sand beach is the sandiest place in Santorini and has an array of sunbeds and breath-taking views. There’s a reason people choose to stay in this location so if you’re not staying here, plan it into your afternoon.
Also nearby are the ruins of Ancient Thera, which provide an interesting and historical view of the old town.
Day 2 Evening
If you’re heading back to base, another night in Fira would be a good option that doesn’t involve much more travel.
Otherwise, have an evening in Pyrgos which has many different restaurants and bars to enjoy. Although there is still tourism in this area, it feels more traditional and much cheaper than the other places I’ve mentioned.
Finally, walk to Pyrgos Castle and discover some of the great shopping stalls where you can buy gifts and souvenirs at a fraction of the price.
Santorini Itinerary 4 Days: Day Three
This day itinerary is for exploring the incredible views in Oia. However, you have two choices here. First, visit the infamous Oia sunset, when the streets are extremely crowded. Or get up early and explore Oia at sunrise.
I am not a morning person, but I hate crowds (particularly on narrow streets), so I opted for sunrise.
The sky will start turning orange on you’re driving towards Oia, but if you head to Oia castle, you get the moment of the sun peeking above the mountains in the distance. Best of all, it isn’t busy. That being said, there was still a dozen people there at 6:30 am, so can you imagine what it’s like at peak cruise ship time? Crazy!
From the castle, you can explore many tourist hot spots at your leisure and take those amazing photos as the town begins to illuminate with sunlight.
If you want a snap with the famous blue-domed church and bells in the background, then even at sunrise, there will be a queue! It wasn’t long when I visited, but you will need to wait for people to take several (hundred?) photos before your turn, and it’s slow! But it’s much better to do this in the morning than at dusk!
You can easily spend hours discovering quirky alleys, interesting buildings, and just immersing yourself in the beautiful surroundings. Shops and cafes start opening from around 9 am for you to grab breakfast and plan the rest of the morning.
After a busy (and early) morning watching the sunrise in Oia, head to Amoudi bay for some of the best snorkelling in Europe.
At first glance, you might think Amoudi bay is just a place on the harbour with many lovely seafood restaurants. However, if you continue walking along the rocks, you will get to a small cove where you can swim in the ocean.
The water is clear, calm and perfect for swimming. The benefit of getting here early is that it will be quiet, which is great for leaving your belongings. If you’re feeling adventurous, then swim to the rock and climb up to the platform so you can dive into the sea.
You can also book a diving experience nearby, which will take you into the depths of the ocean to explore the hidden shipwreck.
After you’ve done swimming, grab a drink or lunch at one of the nearby taverns.
The north of the island has many other beaches to explore, and as they’ve got impressive rock formations, several of them are good for snorkelling.
Day Three – Evening
This evening is to discover the capital of Fira, which has a great selection of bars, restaurants and clubs, a lot of which are open-air. Head to the main square and start outwards from there. My favourite was the bar in front of Murphey’s Pub; cheap drinks, friendly staff and nice decor.
If you want to add culture and fun to your evening, then book tickets for the Greek Wedding Show, an immersive and entertaining experience that you certainly won’t get at home!
Santorini Itinerary 4 days: Day Four
Hike the Volcano and Immerse yourself in the Sulphur rich hot springs
You can’t visit Santorini without taking a day trip to explore the volcano that created such a magnificent island.
There are two main tours you can take of the volcanic island:
1) Catamaran tour, with the option of shared or private experiences.
2) Traditional wooden ship tour with mast
The benefit of the catamaran tours is that they have smaller groups, and many of them choose from. However, I did the boat tour as I’d never been on a pirate-style boat before.
This tour also included visiting the Nea Kameni, the volcano crater national park (additional 5euro). It takes about 30 minutes to hike to the top, but you will see beautiful panoramic views and even small releases of sulphur gases from the active volcano.
Next, you will take a short swim from the boat to Palia Kameni, the sulphur-rich hot springs. The water turns a clay colour from the volcanic rocks, and it does stain, so wear a dark swimsuit!
Another stop for a swimming break, and it will soon be a buffet dinner. As a vegetarian, this was the part I was most concerned about, but the food was plentiful and good. I even got an extra free glass of wine. However, note that there are no tables, so wherever you first sit on the boat is you will eat. It wasn’t an issue for me, but the marketing photos are very misleading!
The ultimate finale is the sail to Oia to watch the sunset. The mast is released for the journey, and it is truly impressive to sail around the cliffs as the sun sets across the sea.
This boat tour is pitched as a 6-hour experience, but with the transport to and from your hotel, it will take approximately 8 hours. While being a long day, this tour is something you should consider during your 4 days in Santorini.
Day Four Evening:
After a long day exploring, hiking, swimming, and travelling, your final night is to explore your local area or relax in your room.
Day 5 (departure day)
The final day of your 4 days in Santorini is coming to an end, and what you can do on this day will depend on the time of your flight or ferry.
If you haven’t got long, take some much-needed relaxation at the side of the pool or on your balcony or do some last-minute shopping in Fira.
If you have time for lunch, I recommend a drive to Megalochori, another traditional feeling square where you can also enjoy some local wineries.
Santorini 4 Nights Summary
If you only have 4 nights in Santorini and 3 days, then you can cut out some of the beaches and focus on experiencing the different towns and villages. You can also do this itinerary in whatever order works best for you and tailor it to your own experiences.
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I’d love to know how you find this Santorini Itinerary 4 days; let me know how you found it or if there are any other places you’d recommend once you’ve been