Oia, Santorini: Things To Do
Oia, which is pronounced Ia, is by far the most famous village in Santorini. It is mainly famous for its sunset, white washed buildings and blue domed churches. Oia is really a place you would call “picture perfect” and thus attracts many visitors around the world, especially photographers, artists and.. selfie lovers.
Do not be surprised if you have to queue to get a picture in the most popular spots. Like this one for example.
Oia is situated on the north west edge of Santorini, 11 km away from Fira at a height of approximately 150 meters (492 feet) above sea level. It was previously known as Apano Meria, that stands for "upper side”. Significant part of the town was destroyed by the 1956 earthquake and had to be rebuilt.
THINGS TO DO IN OIA
The heart of Oia is the main marble-paved pedestrian street. You will find all the shops, restaurants, art galleries and anything else you might be looking for here along your way.
I have designed a map to help you out. You can follow the walking route starting from point A, where "Passaggio" is and make your way to the other end of Oia (Point B). There you will find the ruins of the castle and the steps to Ammoudi Port. The route is the blue line.
Along the way I have noted all the points of interest with things to do, which I will describe in detail below.
Things to do are divided into four categories:
- Places Worth Visiting
- Art Galleries
- Places to Eat and Drink
Sightseeing IN OIA
Churches in Oia: That Postcard Shot and the Church of Panagia
While you are in Oia, there are at least two churches you want to be visiting. You are looking for them- Even if you don’t know it.
First up is this place with two blue domed churches that you have probably seen somewhere on the internet or on a postcard (on the left) and next is the church of Panagia in the main square (on the right).
The Church of Panagia is open to the public so you can go inside and have a look if you want. You will be impressed.
This church used to be part of the castle, but was destroyed in the earthquake in 1956. During the reconstruction of the town, the church was moved to the place it is today, mainly because of the solid foundation there.
Please do keep in mind that pictures are not allowed inside the church.
The Castle of Oia
The Castle of Oia is also known as Kasteli of Agios Nikolaos. Kasteli in Greek stands for “small castle” so this is basically a castle dedicated to Saint Nicolas.
The castle was built around 1450 and was one of the five Venetian Castles of Santorini. The other ones are in the villages of Akrotiri, Pyrgos, Emporio and Imerovigli. This castle was also destroyed during the earthquake of 1956. What remains of it today, used to be the Goulas. Goulas was the fort of the castle but also a type of warehouse to store the harvest.
Nowadays, the ruins of that castle are considered the top spot for sunset watching. Imagine that where you are standing today enjoying the view, many many years ago Santorinians were standing to keep watch and prevent pirate attacks.
Once you walk up to the castle, it is worth taking the steps down to Ammoudi or walking a bit further to discover the windmills at the end of the path.
Ammoudi Bay, Oia
Oia has a small port, Ammoudi, which can be reached by a set of 300 steps leading down. If you don’t feel like exercising in the heat of the summer, you can also drive around or hop on a donkey. Although I would not recommend the last one. Read why.
Ammoudi is a small harbour with fishing boats, waterfront taverns and restaurants. A popular destination for foodies seeking fresh fish and any kind of seafood. From here you can also take small boats across to the island of Thirassia.
Windmills in Oia
The windmills in Oia are nowadays converted into hotels and restaurants, but imagine they were initially used to grind wheat and even fava sometimes.
Places Worth Visiting in oia
Atlantis Books opened in 2004. They have had a good few food and film festivals ever since. There is a lovely terrace overlooking the caldera, where you can enjoy your book . As a bonus, you can also rent a cat! For 5 euros!
The book store is really impressive on the inside. Notice the walls above your head if you want to know more about the history of this place.
Atlantis Books was voted best book store in the world by national geographic. For real. You can read all about it here.
Close to Atlantis Bookstore, you will find the Maritime museum. The museum is housed in a 19th century mansion. It first opened its doors in 1956, with a personal collection by Captain Antonis Dakoronias .
The museum now houses a small book collection and items from the maritime life of Santorini, such as figureheads, naval equipment, ship models and photographs. The museum portraits the evolution of maritime industry from 1951 to today and the contribution of Santorini to Greek maritime history.
Art Galleries in oia
If you fancy getting a piece of Greek Art to decorate your house, then Oia will offer many many choices- always depending on your budget as well. Along the path you will find a few art galleries.The ones I recommend are these three.
In Mnemossyne you will find fine art photography and handmade jewellery. The shop is a traditional cave house and offers very unique designs. If you are looking for something special, this place will not disappoint you.
Namidi Art Shop
In Namidi, you will find an alternative decoration suggestion. Everything is painted on wood- doors, windows, small wooden surfaces etc. I quite love the idea to be honest. Bought a small window that looks as if you are opening a real window to the caldera and the view of the volcano.
Oia Treasures Art Gallery
A contemporary art gallery housing artists from around the world and the most famous Greek ones. I met Katerina last time I was there. Now I don't know much about art, but I was very impressed with her knowledge. She can surely help you find what you are looking for.
Places to Eat and Drink in oia
Wandering around Oia will surely make you hungry at some point. Or thirsty. Here is a list of places to eat and drink.
For cocktails and sunset views
I don’t think it gets more romantic than this. A pool bar on the edge of the cliff, the sea right in front of you, cocktail in hand, sunset time. You ‘ve got it all. I absolutely love this place. Make sure to call in and reserve if you are planning to watch the sunset. It tends to get very busy.
Melenio has by far the best traditional desserts in Santorini. Do you like Baklava? Well then you will enjoy Melenio- maybe a bit too much.
Besides Baklava, there is a variety of Greek desserts to try from and a lovely terrace to enjoy them on. There is a sign on the terrace that says "No, we don't have Wi-Fi, talk to each other" I like that. The staff is also super friendly. Say hello to Fotis for me please!
Feel free to go downstairs and have a look at the desserts to choose the one you like.
Lately I have been writing a lot about Gyros. When in Oia and looking for a quick bite this is a great solution. Also inexpensive compared to other choices in Oia.
Try it with pork or chicken. I personally prefer chicken. Chicken-potato-sauce is the winning recipe. Ask for it.
If you hear/read that Lolita's Gelato has the best ice cream in Santorini, just know I am fully onboard with that! I know don’t the differences between gelato and ice cream. I call everything ice-cream. Hope that is not insulting to anyone out there.
Anyway, this is really a great place to stop and get some ice cream.
Last time I went, the board said “Dimitris is looking for a wife”. Now, ladies, I don’t know if dimitris found a wife already, just letting you all know.
Bakery: To Fourni
For pastries and light snacks on the go
My favourite stop for a pastry before work. Sweet or savoury, they have them all and they are so tasty. My personal choices would be the pastry with cheese and ham or the one with spinach and feta cheese- we call that “Spanakopita”.
Website: There isn't one yet. I guess you would have to go and see it for yourself then.
As weird as this sound, I don’t drink coffee. I 've only tried it a couple of times and then stayed up all night, so decided it wasn’t my thing. But, from what I hear from my coffee-drinking/addicted friends, this place knows how to make coffee. You should try it and let me know if they are right.
If you are looking to have fresh fish, then you should head down to Amoudi . You can also enjoy the sunset from there. Ammoudi Restaurant and Katina are both very good choices, just a few meters away from each other.
Please keep in mind that Oia is the most expensive part of the island, which means your dinner could be a bit pricey as well. Most restaurants do have their menus online so you can check the prices.
It is also wise to book in advance, because as you know Oia gets crazy busy around Sunset time.
Extra time? You can try the Fish Spa
You know the place where you put your feet into a tank full of water and small fish? This is one of them. If you don’t find that is a bit weird/disgusting, then you are on for a good exfoliation while the fish munch on your feet.
How to get to Oia
To get to Oia, you can catch the local bus from fira. It takes about half an hour.
You can see where the bus stations in Fira and Oia are on the following maps.
Bus Station in Fira
Bus Terminal in Oia
You will be buying your tickets once you get on the bus, so no need to worry about buying them in advance.
You can find the bus timetable here. Please note that the timetable changes every month or so.
To get to Oia by car or ATV, you head to the north and follow the relevant signs. It is very easy.
The taxi station in Fira is close to the bus station, you can find it on the map below. A taxi to Oia should cost you around 25 euros.
Another way to get to Oia is to walk. This hike from Fira to Oia is a popular activity on the island- it should take you about 2-2.5 hours, depending on your starting point as well. You can read more about it on this article.
Here are some more pictures- in case you didn't have enough.
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Do you want More?
There is an amazing website called TripinView. You can use it to visually explore more of Oia, Santorini. There are pictures and videos you can see.
It makes you feel like you are there, even if you are miles away.
Have a look, I think you will enjoy it.
No matter how many pictures or videos you have seen, I can honestly guarantee that Oia is much better in person. Don't think about it. You should really come see it for yourself.
That is all for today! Anything I 've missed in Oia? Let me know!
Have a lovely weekend,