How to spend two days in Santorini…and why we probably won’t go back

by Kelly

How to spend two days in Santorini – Santorini is the perfect, romantic Greek Island. It has the classic views of the island with the deep blue ocean stretching out, incredible sunsets and is picture perfect from every angle. It can also be expensive and busy. This is how we spent two days in Santorini.

Where is Santorini and how can I get there?

Santorini is 300km from Athens, you can reach it by ferry or fly into the Santorini (Thira) International Airport. Santorini is in the lower centre of the Cyclades Islands between Ios and Crete.

Where to stay in Santorini?

Santorini has a few different areas that you can choose from. Fira(Thira) and Oia are the two most well known. Fira is the capital of Santorini and has a lot to offer. Oia is the luxurious top end of the island, where you will see the sunset and the prettiest photo spots. Both are pretty busy most of the time. There are also two popular towns, Imerovigli and Megalochori. I would love to check them out and I have also heard of people loving their stays at Perissa, a quieter beachy village and Agios Georgios, more of a beachy resort area.

We stayed at Firostefani which is just on the outskirts of Fira. This was an ok area to stay. The accommodation we chose was the nicest we could find for a reasonable price. It was at the top of quite a hill though so lugging our bags up there wasn’t the most fun. That aside it was relatively close to Fira and we could walk to and from both days to catch buses, eat and enjoy the sights of Fira. Would I recommend it…probably not really. If I was to return I would try a different area to see if it was more enjoyable. If you are only spending two days in Santorini you want your accommodation to be easily reached.

This is one place where if you want to splurge on accommodation and soak it up you can and will really enjoy it. On the other hand there are cheaper options if you spend more time exploring.

Check out the map below for current pricing on It can help you choose where would suit your budget and narrow down the area that suits you best.

Do you need a vehicle for Santorini?

We wanted to check out the beautiful views in Santorini, find some vantage points for photos, see the sunset in Oia and walk Fira. This was definitely possible in two days. If we had longer we would have gone to Imerovigli and Megalochori, there is a hike you can do from Fira through these towns. I would have gone to the beaches and the ancient Thera site as well as Akrotiri.

The biggest reason we didn’t get it all done was using public transport. A big part of how to spend two days in Santorini was based around having a vehicle. We had an action packed two days planned. Due to the changed vehicle hire laws in Greece we were not able to rent the vehicle we booked. We begged and asked for any vehicle but it was to no avail. We weren’t able to rent anything without the International drivers licence or a motorbike licence. This slowed us down dramatically. Yes I would hire a car or scooter for Santorini especially if you are trying to see things in a short space of time. If you are only wanting to see a couple of locations or you have lots of time then buses are ok.

Using the public buses at Santorini

We decided to not waste anymore time trying to hire a vehicle and just use the Santorini public buses. They were great but they were slow, and then you have to work to their timetable.

TIP – One word of warning when using the public bus. They have a cheeky little scam going on. You purchase your ticket from a ticket seller at the bus, another man drives the bus. It is usually pretty busy, so you line up buy your ticket and get on the bus. Then on the way you look at your change and realise that you were overcharged by maybe 20c or a little more. This happened to us once for 20c when I purchased the tickets. After that Mike gave either exact change or counted the change before moving on from the ticket seller.

There were countless people every single bus trip getting upset at the bus driver. As he said, he doesn’t handle the money, you are in a new location and there really isn’t anything you can do. Be prepared with correct change or count the change before you get on the bus! The price is generally between 1.60€ and 2.30€ each way depending on where you are going.

How to spend two days in Santorini?

This is how to spend two days in Santorini We had to choose a few things we really wanted to do and a couple of locations to focus on. As we had already wasted the morning trying to find somewhere to hire a vehicle we chose to focus on:

Oia for its gorgeous photo opportunities and sunset.

Fira for its spectacular views and vibey atmosphere.

What to do in Oia

Oia is well known for its beauty. The town itself is situated on the top tip of the island and it is just truly beautiful. This is what we loved.

Sunset at Oia Castle

Oia gets the most mesmerising sunsets. This is a must! It also gets very very busy. We visited in early June and it was incredibly crowded. Arriving at Oia on the bus just after lunch and the little streets were blocked up with people pushing to get through. It was really overwhelming, and only got worse close to sunset.

Everyone heads to the old Oia castle to watch the sunset. I can’t blame them, it is the perfect place. The only problem is that with so many people it can be hard to find a place to sit or stand. I guess you can look at it two ways, it is too crowded and ruins the vibe…or you are with hundreds of other sunset lovers and you are all experiencing one of the worlds best sunsets together!

We got lucky and as we stood looking behind one of the crumbling walls two people got down to leave. We scrambled up the wall and sat there enjoying the sunset!

Oia castle sunset on Santorini in Two days

Find all the best photo spots in Oia

Oia is beautiful, it has the prettiest streets and buildings. There are so many photo spots. We spent a few hours walking around finding our favourites before the hectic crowds arrived. This would be much easier if you were staying in Oia as you could head out really early!

Ammoudi Bay

Ammoudi Bay is lovely and worth going to but word of warning, the stairs are not as easy as people make them out to be! There are hundreds of them and going down is easy but coming back up in the heat is not fun. If you have been in Greece for a while you will have been to many of these little fishing villages and you could skip it if you don’t fancy the stairs.

They do have donkeys for hire to take you up but I really hope you don’t choose to do this. The poor donkeys work so hard and carrying someone must be awful. They do slip a little on the stairs, we saw a driver riding them down quickly and they were slipping as they went. My thoughts are if you want to go make sure you can get yourself back up.

They bay is nice and it can be shady there closer to the water. There are some cafes and restaurants there and pretty water views.

What to do in Fira (Thera)

Fira is the location of all those white buildings and blue ocean images you immediately think of when you think Greek Islands. We spent time walking the area, these were our favourite places.

Three Bells of Fira

The Catholic Church of the Dormition, is a Greek Catholic church with these beautiful bells on the roof. You can see them up close from the back of the church. There is a sign at the front directing you around to the back of the building where the bells are. This is where the famous photos of the bells and the ocean are taken. It is gorgeous in real life and worth visiting, you can also see a great sunset from here.

The Catholic Church of the Dormition, is a Greek Catholic church

I loved this church, it was so lovely with its aesthetically pleasing colours of blue and cream. Built in 1823 and inside was really peaceful. It was nice to go inside and check it out as many of the churches are rarely open.

Candlemas Holy Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of Thira

This church is in the centre of Fira and has lovely white rolling arches making a serene courtyard in busy Thera.

Spend time in the centre

In the evenings the centre of Fira really gets lively. Everyone heads out for dinner and aperitif. There are tons of bars, gyros, cafes for any budget. You will feel a buzz in the air, the atmosphere is high.

There are tons of things to do on Santorini. If you are looking for ideas check out Get Your Guide. They offer well rated and priced activities. Some of the ones we looked at were:

That’s how to spend two days in Santorini. We did like it and it was great to see the idylic “Greek Island” views that I had been seeing on postcards since I can remember. I have to say though that we are not in a rush to return. While beautiful we found it really busy and crowded, even in the shoulder season. There are so many great Greek Islands and you can experience them in a more relaxed state. Check out our Greek Island blogs to see where we loved!

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