Cruise passengers always face a challenge with independent shore excursions due to time constraints. This is all the more true when it comes to the port of Santorini because the cruise always tenders and not docks, at the port! When it tenders, the passengers often lose time (as long as 1 hour or more after the cruise has halted) because they need to queue in for their specified tender boats. As frequent cruisers already know that those who purchase the shore excursion from the cruise ship, always ensure to get preference with the first few tenders.
Just to site an example, we were on Celebrity Reflection (19th to the 29th September 2017) and we had planned our independent shore excursions at all ports. At Santorini, we got the 23rd tender boat which was about more than an hour after the ship reached the destination.
Yes, that is long when you are short of time!
So what are the important things to do in Santorini, especially for a cruise passenger with a strict time frame to be back on time?
Santorini is a stunning place and is less comparable to anywhere else. Although it is a tiny island, you will soon realize that there are ample things to do!
Below are a list of things to do in Santorini.
Tip – Few cruise-ship passengers who are apprehensive of doing an excursion on their own – Please don’t be! It is not difficult to explore the island from the tender port. Plus it will save you a few bucks and time by only doing what you would enjoy the most!
Going to Oia
Ideally,you should be seeing the sunset from Oia! That may however not be possible if your cruise ship leaves before 6PM (esp. after summers). In any case, going to Oia often is the highlight of coming to Santorini as that is where you will get all the postcard perfect pictures!
That is also a place you might want to get lost by walking in those medieval fairy tale lanes or maybe pick up a drink and some mezze in one of the many bars overlooking the sea.
Oia’s Fort, nearby, can also be an area of interest for many if they have extra time in hand. You might also find that exclusive souvenir to carry back home from Oia. If you are a first-timer to Santorini, Oia shouldn’t be missed!
Do read my post on how to reach Oia in this post –
Lazing in Fira
Spending time in Fira can be eliminated if Oia has taken care of your needs! Fira is less picturesque, but certain things are cheaper in Fira than in Oia. Also, if you are one of those lazy cruisers who just want to get out of the cruise for a short while, you might want to hang around at the Fira square and maybe do some shopping after a drink! Do read on getting to Fira from your cruise-ship –
Wine Tasting at Santo Wines, Pyrgos
You cannot go wrong with some Greek wines! Well okay, they are not as great the French or the Chianti wines but they are definitely something to try out while in Santorini.
There are many vineyards in the island and of course they are all good; however, you should try Santo Wines more for that brilliant view that you get alongside your tasting. I managed to get the best pictures of the island from Santo Winery.
This location is just about 5-10 minute bus ride from Fira. Sunset from this location is at par with Oia.
It is spectacular!
Hire a Quad Bike
Several of them just ride around the island in a quad bike that can be rented in Fira. This is a very good alternative for cruise ship passengers as they sometimes want to see things on the fly in a much relaxed manner.
Additionally, you may feel good about riding a Quad bike in the narrow picturesque streets of Santorini.
Go to the Perissa Beach
This could be another area of interest for beach lovers. Perissa Beach is a black sand beach and is supposedly the longest in Santorini.
It is not only beautiful but also has some historic importance citing the existence of the ancient Egyptian deities, the Temple of Apollo and some ruins.
Visit the Ancient Akrotiri
If this is not your first visit to Santorini, then you would have evidently done things like going to Oia and maybe even the wine tastings.
If that is the case, and if history is your area of interest, then you can take a tour to Akrotiri. This historical site is also called as the “Pompeii of the Aegean.”
Go to Kamari Beach
Cruise-ship passengers need to make a choice due to limited time at the port. Oia is an absolute must for the first timers. If you have done Oia earlier, then you could spend some time at the black pebble Kamari beach designing the Aegean Sea.
Several dining options in the area will complement this visit well!
Suggestion – Cruise Tourists who are visiting Santorini for the first time can try two of the above activities. I would suggest spending a while at Oia and then going to Santo Wines for some tasting. Trust me you will fall in love with Santorini with this agenda! Read on how we spent our day with our DIY excursion –
You can also try the Buses in Santorini. They are an excellent mode to travel around. Do read my inputs on Buses in Santorini –