Il Oia village in Santorini, with the typical white cube houses in pure Cycladic style, the blue domes, the walls full of bougainvillea and the splendid terraces overlooking the sea, it is the ideal destination for a romantic getaway but also for a family vacation.
Oia also has an abundance of large hotels to suit every budget and purpose; Regardless of whether you're planning your honeymoon, or even you're just looking for a simple budget hotel as a base for exploring the island, there's a place for everyone here.
Here is a list of the 10 best things to do in Oia, but not only: in this article you will also find where to sleep, where to eat and how to get there!
- How to get to Oia
- What to see and do in Oia
- Where to sleep: the best hotels
- Where to eat
How to get to Oia
Oia is located approximately 20 km from Santorini Airport. There are taxis waiting for travelers right outside the Terminal, but if you want my dispassionate advice there best thing is to book the taxi in advance, since especially in summer the queues could be very long and you have to wait in the sun.
I always use Welcome Pickups because I find the service exceptional and the cost is the same as taking a taxi directly on the spot. In addition, once the taxi is booked, they send me the driver's card and directions to meet him. In short, for transfers I find it the absolute top.
You can do a check fares here to go to Oia from Santorini airport.
If instead you have to get to Oia from Athinios port (where ferries arrive for example from Athens), you can take the public bus to Fira, change here and take the bus to Oia.
Alternatively, Welcome Pickups also offers here the option to book a taxi to Oia.
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Best Things to Do in Oia
1 - Watch the sunset
By MarinaD_37 /
Well, one of the reasons why you come to Santorini is to see its sunsets so often seen on travel agency brochures, right?
For the best sunsets of Santorini, come to Oia and you will surely not be disappointed: watching the sky above the sea change from a beautiful bright blue to a soft pink hue is truly unforgettable, and will undoubtedly be one of your best memories of your trip.
One of the best places to watch the sunset are the ruins of the castle of Agios Nikolaos, which is not only the most famous of the island of Santorini, but probably also of the whole world.
Bring a bottle of wine (if you are with friends, if you are with your girlfriend maybe a fresh prosecco) and relax as much as you can in front of this wonderful show.
If you go in the summer, however, do not expect an isolated place: the presence of other people still contributes to the atmosphere, making it particularly warm and intimate. After all, we are all together and sitting together in silence marveling at the beauty of nature.
If you are looking for a ristorantino a Oia with an exceptional view of the sunset for a romantic dinner with your sweet half, Elinikon it's the best restaurant you can find.
2 - Visit the Atlantis bookshop
Atlantis Library By MarinaD_37 /
La Atlantis bookcase is a small classic bookstore, one of the most magical bookstores and often named among the best in the world. It is a mine of books of all kinds and in all languages, and is the perfect place to spend a few hours in the cool of a summer afternoon.
Make sure you support the shop and buy something - a great buy (and a great souvenir) is there their map of Santorini (costing € 5) with the best things to do on the island reported directly by the library staff!
3 - Explore Agios Nikolaos Castle
In Milan Gonda /
Another thing not to be missed in Oia is to explore the ruins of the Venetian castle of Agios Nikolaos, which dates back to the XNUMXth century and takes its name from a beautiful church carved into the rock.
Its construction dates back to the end of the XNUMXth century when the incessant pirate raids became a great threat to the inhabitants of the island. The castle served as an observation point and inside there were notable residences, which belonged to the Venetian rulers.
Today, after the devastating earthquake of 1956, when most of the fortified settlements collapsed into the sea, only a part of its Goulas (= watchtower) remains but the remains are really interesting to explore.
The castle is also a great place to watch the sunset as it has unbeatable views of the caldera below.
4 - Visit Ammoudi Bay for the beach and fish taverns
Di Feel good studio /
Santorini is not famous for its beaches, let's face it. If you are looking for white and sandy beaches there are islands much more suitable for you.
- You can also read: The best beaches of Santorini
But the sea of Santorini is clear and crystalline (one of the most crystalline I have ever seen), perfect for diving and snorkeling.
One of the best places to swim is the beach of Katharos which can be reached by descending from Oia towards the port of Ammoudi along the driveway and then following the signs (you can't go wrong).
Ammoudi is also one of the best places in Santorini to tryauthentic local cuisine: the fish taverns here are top, you couldn't find better. Try (if you find a place) the Katina Tavern (cannot be booked)
To go back to Oia, small donkeys are proposed as "means of locomotion uphill" and despite the protests and concerns of many animal welfare associations, the owners continue undisturbed to offer it as a business.
Please be responsible and go on foot: it's a great way to keep fit!
(especially after all you've eaten)
5 - Take a sailing tour around the caldera
By Lucian BOLCA /
One of the most impressive sights in Santorini is the immense Caldera, which is essentially a volcanic depression and is one of the things to see.
From the small port of Ammoudi sailboats and catamarans depart every day (in summer several times a day) to make beautiful excursions.
Sailing is perfect for a romantic excursion as a couple, but it is also fun and you will experience the best that Santorini has to offer: the volcano, the thermal baths, the lighthouse, the beaches and much more.
Le sunset cruises with dinner they are the best-selling and in my opinion the best for which I recommend this sunset cruise with BBQ included or this cruise with volcano hike and dinner.
I also suggest you take a look at the Cruise that also includes the thermal springs of Palea Kameni.
Da Oia a quantity of wonderful tours and you are spoiled for choice: HERE you can find the complete list
6 - Buy local crafts
By MarinaD_37 /
Oia is full of independent souvenir shops selling handmade pottery and others cute typical items to buy as a souvenir or as a gift to take home.
There are also some small shops of local artists who hand-paint Santorini pictures, they are cute, they don't cost much and are a nice reminder of your vacation.
7 - Discover the numerous churches
One of the iconic images of the island of Santorini is a true blue dome? Here is this dome is located right in Oia: one of the characteristics of this village are its churches that convey a sense of crazy peace.
With their splendid blue domes and white walls, they are the symbol of Santorini. There is also a popular photo spot where you can take a nice photograph of the three-domed church.
8 - Explore the alleys and stairs
By MarinaD_37 /
However, the best way to get to know Oia is one of the best things to do, it is undoubtedly getting lost in the winding alleys and its stairways, which offer glimpses and panoramas that extend into infinity and that seem to take you everywhere: every time you discover something new so focus on the details!
Make sure you spend time just wandering aimlessly, as you'll undoubtedly stumble upon amazing hidden gems that are just a little off the beaten path.
If you want something you can't miss, a good place to start is to find the Lotza restaurant and then take the path down the cliff directly to the right of the restaurant.
A hidden gem ...
During your wanderings you may come across the small but cute one Naval Museum, where geographical maps, tools and objects are collected, bearing witness to the ancient past of Santorini as an island of sailors.
9 - Taste a glass of wine and learn how to cook real traditional cuisine
If you are a wine lover or want to try a bit of a special and certainly different experience during your trip to Oia, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
For example, in the vicinity of Oia vineria Sigalas which continues to produce wines of the highest quality even today since 1991.
There are plenty of tour offers that include both wine tasting and cooking classes. One of the best sellers and with the best reviews is this tour which is worth a look.
If, on the other hand, you just like to drink (like me, I understand you very well) you must not miss the half day tour with tasting of 12 wines in the 3 most renowned wineries of the island (prosit!).
I've never seen, I swear, a tour with all those reviews and an average of 5 out of 5 stars, it must be truly exceptional!
10 - Trekking from Oia to Fira
At Patrick Golf /
About 7 kilometers from Oia is the capital of Santorini, Fira which from Oia can be reached by a fantastic 2 or 3 hour trek, through villages and breathtaking views. Of course, it could take even longer if you like to photograph.
However, it is quite a strenuous hike, then it is not suitable for everyone!
The trek starts at Fira (but you can also do it in reverse) and continues north through Firostefani and then Imerovigli and continues from Imerovigli to Oia largely through nature with few shops or restaurants.
The path is not fully marked but it is quite intuitive: stay on the path that follows the edge of the caldera and walk north.
I wrote you that you can do the same path in reverse, but the truth it is best to start from Fira because one of the best parts of the whole trek is the arrival from the hills above Oia.
To go from Fira to Oia or vice versa there are public buses, the bus goes along a scenic coastal road and reaches Oia in about 30 minutes.
If it's July or August, I highly recommend starting before 8:00 because the heat of the central hours of the day is really deadly.
Where to sleep in Oia: the best hotels
Canaves Oia Suites & Spa, one of the best luxury hotels in Oia
Oia is definitely among the best areas to stay in Santorini: even if on average the prices are higher than elsewhere, thanks to the huge offer of apartments and hotels some lovely little place not too expensive can be found.
Below are some ideas about where to sleep in Oia, from cheap to unbridled luxury!
Cheap hotels and apartments
Georgis Apartments: located in the hamlet of Finikia, about 2 km from the center of Oia, the Georgis Apartments are an excellent economic choice: some rooms have a balcony overlooking the sunset and inside the structure there is a beautiful swimming pool available to guests.
Villa Agnadi: Also located in Finikia, this great little hotel with a good sized pool and views to the east side of the island is perfect for families.
Vrachia Studios & Apartments: further away from the center of Oia than the previous ones, these apartments have a truly exceptional quality / price ratio. They have free parking for guests (in case you rent the car), a pool terrace with beautiful sea views and direct access to the beach.
Maria’s Place – Adults Only: Nice pool overlooking the sea (not the caldera). Very nice rooms and apartments a stone's throw from the bus stop.
Canaves Oia Suites & Spa: for luxury hotels in Oia you will be spoiled for choice but if you want a truly unique hotel, you should come here. Canaves Oia Suites & Spa is anyone's dream. It offers maximum services, exceptional location with caldera views, SPA center, a private yacht and some rooms have a private pool. In short, at least once in your life you should go there.
Katikies Hotel: perfect for a romantic getaway; like many luxury hotels in Oia, it has cave-style rooms that are super cozy and a little quirky. It also offers incredible sea views from its restaurant, pool and bar, the perfect place to spend a romantic evening.
Where to eat in Oia
By Dmitry Morgan /
In addition to the two already mentioned in the article, the Katina Tavern ed Elinikon, these are my favorite restaurants in Oia.
Lauda restaurant: an incredible swimming pool, international and Greek chefs, live music and fantastic views of the caldera are just the side dishes offered by the Lauda Restaurant. Located inside the Andronis Boutique Hotel if you want to taste Greek cuisine at its best, this is where you must come. Undoubtedly one of the best, most beautiful and most impressive restaurants not only in Santorini and Greece, but in the whole world. An experience that you don't have very often.
Rocket: my favorite restaurant in Oia. The owner's favorite tagline is: "Horrible view, bad service, amazing food". It is located in an early XNUMXth century building and offers a very special and unique atmosphere. Better to book in advance.
Katharos Lounge: a restaurant located right on the beach of Khataros, with a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere and serves some of the best vegetarian and vegan dishes in all of Santorini.