Santorini is not just gob-smacking views from your hotel room, famous hikes, wineries, restaurants, water sports, and sailing experiences. OK, that’s a lot, but this is a pretty special island. The four caldera-edge towns and villages are spectacular but this ancient Aegean trading island is full of picture-perfect traditional villages where everyday life, food and wine, and annual celebrations continue out of the tourist gaze.
Why not spend a few hours walking the narrow laneways of these wonderful Greek villages, making and tasting local foods and wines, and meeting the locals? It makes for a great way to learn about Santorini island and provides interesting conversation by the pool the next day!
So come and experience the whole of the island, not just the tourist areas, and take home some lifetime memories of this perfect Cycladic island! And when you’ve discovered these great villages, perhaps you’d like to find hotels in the villages themselves? You can read a comprehensive guide to where to stay on Santorini here.
Read on for a carefully curated group of eight of the best 2020 tours.
The tours cover two islands – Santorini and Thirassia and 12 Santorini villages:
- Mesa Gonia,
- Manolas, and even the Minoan bronze age village of
- Ancient Akrotiri.
The tours include walking tours, cooking classes, wine tasting, a beach and a whole bunch of Venetian castles!
Perhaps you would like to stay in one of these villages for your Santorini holiday? You can find a complete guide to where to stay in Santorini’s villages here.
The Santorini map below shows the villages you can explore with these tours.
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This is a very popular 5-hour long tour. If you are staying in the caldera-edge villages, this tour shows you the sights of the south and western parts of the island and two of its most charming villages.
It begins with the Ancient Akrotiri archaeological site. This is one of Greece’s must-see sites – a Minoan village built more than 3600 years ago and perfectly preserved by the lava that covered Santorini when its volcano erupted.
The tour then visits Prophet Elias Monastery, the highest point on Santorini. This fortress-like monastery high on the hilltop has existed since 1711 and ran its own trading ship. It is surrounded by four other chapels and churches. To get there you pass through vineyards and can walk down to Pyrgos’s main square.
You then explore the historic Pyrgos Santorini village. Meander its winding streets, peek into its tiny hidden chapels. Climb to its Venetian castle.
Finally, experience the seaside promenade of Kamari village.
Food and wine tasing at Prophet Elias Monastery and wine tasting of Estate Argyros wines. Wines and tapas included.
Admission to Ancient Akrotiri archaeological site included
Pick-up from your accommodation, airport or top of cable car for Cruiseship passengers
The Rolls Royce of Santorini village tours! This is a tour for those wanting to spend a whole day exploring the villages and castles of Santorini. With perfect reviews sells out quickly. The tour is your opportunity to visit more traditional settlements than most people ever visit in Santorini. Beginning with Megalochori village it moves to Emporio, After exploring these two villages you go beachside at Perivolos where you can stroll, swim and have lunch. The tour then explores Akrotiri and then Pyrgos village. Along the way you visit the Venetian castles of the villages and in Pyrgos, you taste local wines. The tour then moves to the village of Firestofani. Oia is the final village to explore and the tour concludes watching the sunset inside the Venetian castle in Oia. What a day!
The 8-hour tour includes return transfers from your accommodation
Small-group tour with a maximum of 15 persons.
Wine tasting is included but lunch is not.
A perfectly-reviewed tour that sells out fast
This wonderful 6-hours long tour begins at the caldera edge and then visits two wineries. The tour then moves to the charming and historic village of Pyrgos. Since 1995, Pyrgos has been a protected UNESCO site. Here you can wander its narrow laneways and discover small churches and squares. On this tour, you also visit the ruins of Kasteli castle in Pyrgos. Local villages, food, and wine – a great tour that is convenient for Cruiseship passengers.
Pick up from any hotel, or cruise ship terminal in Santorini
Includes all admission fees and wine tasting and cheese, cold cuts and olives that accompany the wine tasting
Lunch is not included
Private transfers and tour guide
This well-reviewed tour is a total of six hours. This well-reviewed tour is a total of six hours. The tour explores four villages in Santorini: Megalochori, Emporio, Mesa Gonia and Perivolos.
Mesa Gonia is known as the “ghost village” because it was largely destroyed in the enormous 1956 earthquake. This small village is now inhabited again and much of the stone walls and architecture of the previous era on Santorini can be seen as you walk its narrow streets.
Visit hidden places, chapels, fish taverns, and restaurants. Travel along historic stone laneways between picturesque houses.
At Emporio village, you can explore the Venetian Castle and fortress.
There’s even time for a swim at the black sand beach, Perivolos beach.
Pick-up from your accommodation, airport or top of cable car for Cruiseship passengers
The tour includes free time beachside at Perivolos village to swim or eat in a seaside taverna
Includes wine tasting but not meals
This tour spans the length of Santorini, beginning with a walk through Oia where you can see both the cave houses and neoclassical mansions of Oia’s former wealthy sea captains and mariners. It then takes you for a wine and food tasting experience at Prophet Elias Monastery.
The tour then explores either Megalochori or Pyrgos village and then the black and red beaches (and Akrotiri village).
The tour then moves to the Ancient Akrotiri archaeological site. This 3600-year-old Bronze Age Minoan village was perfectly preserved when the Theran volcano erupted and covered the village in lave. One of Greece’s must-see sights!
Along the way, you visit a family winery. If you only have a short time on Santorini, this tour sees the major sites and local culture.
Return transfers to your accommodation included
Entrance fees to Ancient Akrotiri and museum not included
Wine tasting at a family winery and wine and local products tasted at Prophet Elias Monastery
This 4.5 hours-long tour visits two wineries and Andryo farm as well as a walking tour that winds its way along the stone pathways of the historic and charming village of Megalochori. The two wineries visited – Gavalas and Venetsanos are in the top 3 wineries in Santorini. No other tour includes a visit to a farm and you see and taste local Santorini products. A fantastic way of seeing, experiencing and tasting local Santorini village life. This tour has only perfect 5/5 reviews and sells out fast. It is your best chance in Greece to get away from the crowds!
A real highlight of this tour is participating in a cooking class and then eating and drinking what you’ve produced.
Visit two wineries, wander through the vineyards and have wine tastings with local snacks
Explore the stone laneways of Megalochori village
Visit Andryo farm and see local products. Participate in a cooking class. Eat and drink the food you have made before returning to your hotel
A tour with 5/5 perfect reviews that sells out quickly.
Many people come to Santorini and unexpectedly fall in love with Thirasia Island. Thirasia is a mere 7-minute ferry ride away from Oia but it is a glimpse of what life was like on these idyllic Cycladian islands before 1.8 million tourists a year began visiting.
This tour gets rave reviews for its guide who is a Thirasian native. The tour includes hotel pick-up and boards the Thirasia ferry at Ammoundi Bay, below Oia village. There is walking involved on this tour as the tour walks first to the UNESCO-protected villge of Agrilia. The walk then passes through Potamos Island. Finally, the tour arrives in Manolos Village for lunch.
The tour walks to three villages on the island of Thirasia: Agrilia, Potamos, and Manolas.
Includes ferry tickets, “skip the line” tickets and the tour is led by a local Thirasian.
A very interesting tour that shows a lifestyle more traditional than the touristed areas of Santorini.
This tour is unsuitable for pregnant women and people with mobility issues.
This is an economical 7-hour, well-reviewed tour that takes in the sights of three important Santorini villages.
The tour begins in Santorini’s “ghost village” of Mesa Gomia. The village was destroyed in the major earthquake of 1956. It is now inhabited again.
Travel to nearby historic Pyrgos village and discover its beautifully preserved narrow laneways, Byzantine church, and the Venetian castle.
The tour ends with the most iconic of all Santorini activities – watching the sunset from the caldera-edge village of Oia!
If you don’t have time to visit Oia separately or to see the sunset views because your time in Santorini is short, then this tour shows you some of the very best parts of the island quickly and cheaply.
The tour picks-up at specific locations in Fira, Kamari, Perissa and Akrotiri.
A well-reviewed tour of 7 hours duration that is one of the cheapest quality tours available
In August the Imerovigli visit is not possible because the connecting road is closed. The tour instead visits the best Santorini winery, “Santo Winery” near Pyrgos.
Further Links and Information
More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, Athens to Santorini flights and how to get to Santorini more generally, accommodation and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page
There are so many things to do in Santorini, Greece. See all of the best things to do in Santorini, from Get Your Guide here
For the things you need to know before you book your trip to Santorini, including the best time to visit Santorini, see my travel guide here
And for the third absolute must-do activity on Santorini, see my detailed post on the Fira to Oia Caldera Edge Hike here. This is quite possibly the best walk or hike in the world – and that’s a big call!
If you would prefer to spend more time wine tasting, join one of the most popular activities on Santorini – visiting the wineries! See my comprehensive post on Santorini wineries here.
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