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10 Things to Do in Santorini in January

Beautiful views and picturesque white houses with blue roofs is part of the attraction of Santorini. In January it is winter, but you can still enjoy fun activities.

Andressa García

Andressa García

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Santorini in January

Santorini | Pedro Szekely

January is the rainiest and one of the coldest months in Santorini, so it is an unpopular time to visit. However, this also means that if you travel to the island in this month, you will have the opportunity to enjoy its state of tranquility and peace, which you will hardly find at other times of the year.

Although many restaurants and hotels close at this time, you can always sign up for some of the best things to see and do in Santorini. Without a doubt, visiting Santorini in January is a different and interesting experience, which you can enjoy to the fullest as long as you take into account the particularities of the weather.

1. Enjoying the St. Basil's Feasts

New Year's cake| ©M.Peinado
New Year's cake| ©M.Peinado

On the first day of January the Greeks celebrate the Feast of St. Basil, a celebration that is not alien to the island of Santorini. It is a centuries-old tradition in which the so-called New Year's Cake is given as a gift and eaten. This cake is a kind of Greek dessert that resembles the Spanish Roscón de Reyes and contains a hidden coin inside. Tradition dictates that whoever finds this coin will have good luck throughout the year.

As for the celebration of St. Basil, beyond the gastronomic tradition, you can find an island full of joy and enthusiasm that is contagious to all tourists. Locals gather in the main squares and streets to share this delicious tradition with family and friends, making it a good time to share and learn about the local culture.

In addition, you can enjoy different recreational activities such as games and live music. I recommend you to get to know the city through a tour of Santorini, before going to enjoy the vibrant celebration in the streets of the island.

Details of interest

  • Price: You don't have to pay anything to enjoy this sharing.
  • Hours: It usually happens throughout the day, although the sharing usually takes place in the evening hours.
  • Location: This activity usually takes place in different corners throughout the island.

Sign up for a tour of Santorini

2. Enjoy the Blessing of the Waters event

Blessing of the Waters| ©Eleanna Kounoupa
Blessing of the Waters| ©Eleanna Kounoupa

The sixth of January marks another important holiday in Greece and that is the Blessing of the Waters, and on the island of Santorini this tradition is also fully complied with. It basically involves throwing a cross into the sea, while volunteer swimmers also dive into the water to rescue it. It is the priests who throw the cross into the water, while the lucky person who manages to bring it to shore, according to tradition, will have a year full of good luck.

The Blessing of the Waters is a much awaited event by the locals of Santorini and is synonymous with an atmosphere full of excitement, which you will love to experience at least once in a lifetime. You can watch as tables of food and drink are set up on the island's shore, while family and friends gather to share a meal and enjoy the spectacle of the blessing of the waters together.

After the cross is rescued, those present celebrate and applaud the winning swimmer, while everyone toasts to a year filled with good fortune and prosperity. This is an experience not to be missed if you want to at least feel the smell of the sea during the winter when there is little offer of Santorini cruise tours.

Details of interest

  • Price: You don't have to pay anything to enjoy this tradition, so you will be able to see it without any problem.
  • Time: This activity usually takes place in the morning hours, although the exact time usually changes year after year depending on the weather conditions.
  • Location: This takes place in the coastal towns of the island.

Book a cruise in Santorini

3. Participate in the Greek Women's Day celebrations

Celebrating Greek Women's Day| ©Quan Nguyen
Celebrating Greek Women's Day| ©Quan Nguyen

The eighth of January is considered one of the most important days for women in Greece, because it commemorates Women's Day. In Santorini this day is celebrated in style, and as it happens in the rest of Greece, women gather in different places of the city, usually bars, to celebrate their determining role in society, while men and children stay at home.

During these camaraderie meetings between women that take place in local bars and taverns, they also share food and drinks while having fun and enjoying the day. For tourists this tradition is usually very interesting, that's why you might want to get caught up in the celebration of Greek women.

Interesting details

  • Price: Entrance to the bars and taverns usually do not cost anything, but you will have to consume inside them.
  • Hours: Women's gatherings usually occur during the night.
  • Location: This happens in every village in Santorini because it is a kind of national holiday.

4. Walk from Fira to Oia taking advantage of the winter weather

In fira| ©Daniele Torreggiani
In fira| ©Daniele Torreggiani

It is to remember that January is winter on the island, so it is one of the coldest months of the year and activities are reduced by half. One of the activities that you will surely love to do to start the year on the right foot, is to sign up for a walk along the road that goes from Fira to Oia. This is undoubtedly a good experience because this path is considered the most beautiful of the island, both for its natural beauty and for the panoramic views that you can appreciate throughout the walk.

To go all the way you will have to spend at least three hours, in which you will be walking and seeing each of the picturesque houses that you will find along the way. I recommend you to be prepared with proper shoes and enough water to hydrate yourself along the way. The pictures you will take will surely include the views of the Aegean Sea and the cliffs of the island, as well as the different churches along the way.

Details of interest

  • Price: If you go on your own, you will not have to pay any cost for this activity. If you take a guided tour, you will have to pay a little more than 30 euros per person.
  • Time: This tour I recommend you do it early in the morning.
  • Location: The trail is located on the cliffs of the island, so it is one of the most adventurous routes.

5. Watch the sunsets and sunrises without the crowds

Sunset in Santorini| ©Pedro Szekely
Sunset in Santorini| ©Pedro Szekely

Santorini is a dream tourist destination, and one of the most fascinating experiences you are going to live on the island is to go and watch the sunset from Oia. The sunset will enchant you especially for its combination of orange colors that is typical of when the sun descends behind the volcano. This spectacle attracts thousands of tourists every year, but as you will go in January, when it is winter, you will have the sunset just for you.

Something that adds more importance to see this sunset from Oia is that its cobblestone streets are decorated with colorful houses, which gives the place a cheerful atmosphere as the sun sets. A spectacle not to be missed if you travel to Santorini in winter.

On the other hand, if you have no problem with getting up very early, I recommend going to see the sunrise in Santorini during the winter, mainly because it is a less crowded natural spectacle. No doubt both are different, but equally fascinating experiences, and you will be able to enjoy them much better during the winter season.

Details of interest

  • Price: You will not have to pay anything to see the sunrise or sunset. Although there are some terraces that charge for the seats to see this spectacle. Prices may vary according to the season. As January is low season, you may have to pay less.
  • Time: I recommend you to check at what specific time the sun rises or sets in winter in Santorini.
  • Location: From anywhere on the island you will be able to enjoy a good sunrise or sunset. However, it is true that Oia is one of the best places.

6. Visiting the Prehistoric Museum of Thera

Prehistoric Museum of Thera| ©Klearchos Kapoutsis
Prehistoric Museum of Thera| ©Klearchos Kapoutsis

A visit to the Prehistoric Museum of Thera is one of the most enriching experiences you can have in Santorini. The museum is located in the town of Fira and is open in January, so being a winter month, it is a good option to learn a little more about the island. Inside you can find a variety of ancient objects and pieces dating back to the Bronze Age that were excavated from different archaeological sites on the island.

Among the objects you will be able to see are some funerary urns, pottery of different uses, among which are the decoration of homes or product identification marks. You will also be able to see tools of daily life and jewelry with original and colorful shapes and styles. A visit to this museum is a must especially in January when the crowds drop considerably.

Details of interest

  • Price: Tickets to the museum can cost around 30 euros per person.
  • Hours: The museum's opening hours are usually between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm every day, except Tuesdays when it is closed.
  • Location: It is located in the town of Fira.

7. Sign up to hike the Santorini Caldera

Hiking in Santorini| ©Steve Jurvetson
Hiking in Santorini| ©Steve Jurvetson

If you love nature and adventure, one of the activities you can do during your trip to Santorini in January, is hiking the Caldera. This hiking route is on the rim of the island's volcano crater and is certainly a very exciting outdoor activity to do this time of year.

On the route you will be able to walk very close to the heights while enjoying the incredible panoramic views of the island. You will also admire the landscape of the Caldera, observe the volcanic stone cliffs and appreciate the beauty of the island in winter, when everything is lightly covered with snow. In addition, if you take this guided tour, your guides will tell you curiosities and relevant facts about the geology and history of Santorini.

Details of interest

  • Price: To do this tour you will not have to pay anything, but if you do a guided tour, you will have to pay around 20 euros per person.
  • Time: I recommend you to do this tour during the afternoon.
  • Location: You will do the hiking activity in the Caldera area.

8. Go wine tasting and traditional food in winter

Wine tasting| ©George Spanoudakiss
Wine tasting| ©George Spanoudakiss

One of the most recommended and delicious activities to enjoy in winter in Santorini, and especially during the first month of the year, is to taste the wines and traditional foods of the region. Santorini' s wines are world renowned for their taste and quality, while its gastronomy is characterized by the use of fresh and local products, cooked with techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.

During the month of January you can find a gastronomic offer focused on seasonal foods such as legumes, feta cheese, artichokes, fresh fish and the delicious Santorini cherry tomato that is known for its sweetness. If you stay on the island during this first month of the year, you will have the opportunity to visit several wineries and traditional tavernas to taste local wines and typical dishes.

Details of interest

  • Price: The typical dishes of the region can have prices ranging from 20 to 50 euros per dish.
  • Schedule: You can sign up to learn about traditional foods in the afternoons or evenings, according to your travel planning.
  • Location: All over the island you can find different restaurants where you can taste traditional food and local wines.

9. Excursion to the volcano island

Volcano Island| ©Pedro Szekely
Volcano Island| ©Pedro Szekely

One of the most incredible activities to experience in January in Santorini, is to take an excursion to the volcano island. This is a unique adventure that will take you close to the geological and volcanic history of the island, but you will also enjoy some of the most spectacular views of Santorini and its natural landscape.

The volcano island was formed thanks to the volcanic activity in the region and is one of the most emblematic places of Santorini. During the tour, you will walk along the slopes of the volcano while looking closely at the lava cavities formed in the ground by the volcanic activity. In addition, during the tour your tour guides will tell you curious and relevant facts about the volcanic eruption and the history of Santorini.

It is a good activity to do in January thanks to the low temperatures, so you will not have to worry about the heat. Both on the tour and on the island I recommend wearing appropriate footwear that will allow you to walk long distances on uneven ground.

Details of interest

  • Price: To make these excursions to the volcano you will have to pay a little more than 100 euros per person.
  • Hours: Schedules vary, although generally these experiences start in the morning and end in the early afternoon.
  • Location: The excursion departs from Oia or Fira to the volcano island.

10. Visit the ancient city of Akrotiri also known as the Pompeii of Greece

Akrotiri| ©Curtis Gregory Perry
Akrotiri| ©Curtis Gregory Perry

The ancient city of Akrotiri is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Santorini, and is a good place to visit in January when the influx of visitors drops due to the winter season. This is a prehistoric settlement, which was buried under volcanic ash from an eruption over 3,600 years ago. Since its discovery until today, this place attracts thousands of visitors every year to contemplate the ruins of that settlement.

As you will go in January which is the low season, you will have the opportunity to explore the ancient city of Akrotiri with more space and comfort. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that the weather may vary and present rains, but you should not let this hinder your visit to the ruins of this prehistoric settlement. You can tour Akrotiri at your own pace to admire the ruins that were once buildings and tombs, streets and squares.

Details of interest

  • Price: To enjoy this tour you will have to pay around 120 euros per person.
  • Schedule: Generally these activities take place from the morning, although depending on the tour you choose to do, the activity may start after noon.
  • Location: The ruins of Akrotiri are located on the island of Santorini.