Santorini Shore Excursion: Visiting Oia, Fira, Vinsanto & Cable Car

Dois cruzeiros atracados ao largo da Caldeira de Santorini, Grécia.
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Planning a Santorini shore excursion during your Greek island cruise? Discover tips on tours and excursions for an unforgettable experience.

Then don’t leave just yet as I’ll tell you about the MSC tour we took on the island of Santorini, including what went well and what could have gone better.

I believe that most of these excursions are very similar, so even if you take a tour with another cruise company, the experience should be very similar.

So, in a nutshell, the excursion in Santorini included a visit to the Santo Winery in Pyrgos, then a visit to Oia, followed by Fira, the capital of Santorini, and finally, a descent to the cruise port by cable car.

I think it was a very comprehensive tour, and despite the short time I spent in Santorini, I consider it well worth it.

What are the highlights included in the Santorini Shore Excursion?

Porto em Fira (Santorini - Grécia).
Port in Fira (Santorini – Greece).
Mapa da Ilha de Santorini, Grécia.
Map of Santorini Island, Greece.
Visitar Santorini num cruzeiro.
Visiting Santorini on a cruise.
Dois cruzeiros atracados ao largo da Caldeira de Santorini, Grécia.
Two cruise ships anchored off the Santorini Caldera, Greece.

As I mentioned earlier, the Santorini Shore Excursion included a visit and wine tasting at Santo Winery in Pyrgos, followed by a visit to Oia, and finally exploring Fira, the capital of Santorini, where the cable car took us to the cruise port.

We disembarked the ship and were directed to a bus that transported us across the island.

The road from the Santorini port is narrow and winding, which made us a bit apprehensive as the bus seemed too large for it. Fortunately, nothing went wrong.

As we ascended the slope, the guide shared some insights about Santorini and taught us some Greek words: “kaliméra” meaning “good morning,” “kalispéra” for “good evening”… and, in this way, we got distracted by the scenery and didn’t dwell on how narrow the road was.

At one point, the guide pointed to an island and told us it was the volcano responsible for the catastrophe that destroyed part of the island. Moreover, this volcano is still active, which immediately captured our attention again!

Let’s get to what happened during the Santorini Shore Excursion!

Santorini Shore Excursion: Wine Tasting in Pyrgos

Wine tour Vino Santo.
Visit to Santo Winery, with tasting of Vinsanto.

In Pyrgos, we visited Santo Winery. It seemed a bit early for a wine tasting, but we didn’t want to miss the chance to try the famous Vinsanto.

The wine tasting included bread, cheese, and olives, but one of the highlights was the view over the Santorini caldera. The view is truly magnificent!

We returned to the bus, and a few minutes later, we arrived in Oia.

Santorini Shore Excursion: Visiting Oia

Oia em Santorini (Grécia).
Oia in Santorini (Greece).
Oia em Santorini (Igrejas com cúpulas azuis).
Church in Oia.
Igreja com cúpula azul em Santorini.
Church with a blue dome in Santorini.

You know those photos of white houses and churches with blue roofs that everyone talks about in Santorini? Well, those houses are located in Oia.

When we arrived in Oia, we got off the bus and took a walk around the area. The guide told us about the history of the place, and we had some free time to explore the region on our own. This was very important because the group dispersed, and everyone went to the place they wanted to go!

Santorini Shore Excursion: Exploring Fira

Casas brancas em Fira.
White houses in Fira.
Animação de rua em Fira.
Street entertainment in Fira.
Igreja em Fira, Santorini.
Church in Fira, Santorini.

The visit to Fira was very similar to the visit to Oia, meaning we got off the bus, took a walking tour with the guide, and then had free time to explore on our own.

The difference is that this was the last stop in Santorini, so the guide gave us tickets to take the cable car down to the place where a smaller boat would take us back to the MSC ship.

Santorini Shore Excursion: Cable Car Descent

Descida de teleférico de Fira até ao porto de cruzeiros.
Cable car descent from Fira to the cruise port.
Teleférico de Santorini.
Santorini cable car.

To descend from Fira to the cruise port, we had two options: either take the cable car or walk.

As I mentioned before, I suffer from vertigo, so I quickly ruled out the idea of walking downhill for about 45 minutes.

That’s the time it takes to walk from Fira to the port!

So, I gathered up my courage and got into the Santorini cable car. I must say it wasn’t as bad as I imagined, as the journey is quick and since it’s downhill, the worst part is only at the beginning.

Everything you need to know about the shore excursion in Santorini

Pôr do sol em Santorini (Grécia).
Sunset in Santorini (Greece) from the cruise.
Cruzeiro MSC atracado na Caldeira de Santorini, Grécia.
MSC cruise ship docked in the Santorini Caldera, Greece.

Does the tour itinerary allow enough time to explore each location?

Igreja com sino na torre, em Santorini.
Church with a bell tower, in Santorini.

Despite being a bit rushed, there was enough time to see Santorini’s main tourist attractions.

Of course, I would stay a few days on the island to visit everything calmly, but the time we had at each site was sufficient.

Additionally, since there is still much more to explore, I have extra reasons to return to Santorini, Greece.

Does the tour have local guides to provide information about the history and culture of Santorini?

Casas à beira-mar em Santorini.
Houses by the seaside in Santorini.

Yes, the tour includes the assistance of a specialized guide, and that was actually one of the reasons why we chose a cruise tour and didn’t venture out on our own.

Is it worth doing this tour/shore excursion independently?

Pequena ilhota ao lago da Caldeira de Santorini.
Small islet within the Caldera of Santorini.

When we left the port, there were taxis ready to pick up passengers and take them wherever they wanted.

So, it’s possible to take a taxi tour of Oia and Fira, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Because if you’re in a taxi, you don’t get the information from the guide, which is a big advantage for me, as I prefer to learn about the history of places rather than just seeing them.

Is there free time for shopping or independent visits during the tour?

Yes, during the tour, we had time to wander around on our own, go shopping, and even visit a restaurant.

Is this type of tour/excursion in Santorini suitable for all ages?

Vista para a Caldeira de Santorini e com os cruzeiros ao fundo.
View of the Santorini Caldera with cruise ships in the background.

I believe this tour is suitable for anyone, although there are some precautions to consider. For instance, the descent from Fira to the cruise port can be done on foot or by cable car.

Therefore, if you have difficulty walking, you can choose to take the cable car instead of walking.

We did the tour with our two children and it was smooth.

The fact that the tour included both bus and walking time helped manage fatigue, and they loved exploring the island of Santorini.

Does the tour offer options for tasting local food or culinary experiences?

Yes, at the beginning of the tour, we visited a winery for wine tasting and local snacks, which, although still early for me, was well-received by everyone in the group.

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