When it comes to the top destination in Greece, Santorini island would make it to any list. No matter if you choose to come here on a day trip from Crete, stay overnight, or just come from another area of the island to explore Oia, you will definitely want to know what are the best things to do in Oia.
The best destination for honeymoons, romantic vacations, and anything in between, Oia is an absolutely charming place. It will steal your heart from the moment you set foot on its white streets and will keep it forever.
Ever since our first trip to Santorini, I keep dreaming to go back and get lost on these streets once again.
If it’s your first time here, reading this list of the best things to do in Oia, Santorini is a must.
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Best things to do in Oia
Take a picture with the famous blue domes
Maybe the most famous church out there, the one with the 3 blue domes in Santorini makes for the perfect picture over the town.
It is unmissable, and the town is not very big, thus you can walk along the main road and you will bump into it for sure.
In addition, there are 2 other orthodox churches with white walls and pretty tops: Agia Ekaterini and Panagia Platsani.
Shop for souvenirs and local crafts
Once you get to Oia, you’ll notice there are so many small shops selling all kinds of colorful local crafts.
It was hard for me to avoid entering all of them because you’ll find a lot of beautiful pieces of jewelry, dresses, linen shirts, and plenty of stuff that would make perfect souvenirs.
Let’s not forget about the beauty products with local ingredients like volcanic stone, olive oil, or even donkey milk. Along with local fragrances, this stuff always makes for great gifts for the loved ones back home.
Read also: What to wear in Santorini
Watch the sunset in Oia
The ultimate thing to do in Santorini and Oia in particular is to stay for sunset.
As the sun makes its way towards the sea, it sends its light on the unique architecture of this island, something a lot of people are charmed by.
On top of that, the absolutely unmatched caldera view is something that attracts people from all over the world to this island in the Cyclades.
As you plan to end the day in style in Oia, there are some things you might want to know:
Don’t expect to come here and find a table at a restaurant for sunset. Call and book in advance if you want to enjoy a delicious meal with the sunset as your background.
The Byzantine Castle is the perfect place to see the sunset in Oia. However, this place can get really crowded, and even though we came early and found a spot, there were many people who just shoveled and made their way around us.
That’s why you might want to try an alternative spot if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on dinner at one of the restaurants around: the hillside outside of Oia, or by the windmills of Oia are also great places for the sunset.
Bring a bottle of wine to enjoy with such a show!
Of course, no matter where you watch the sunset from on the Westerner side of the island, you’re in for a show. Here are some other stunning locations you will want to consider:
- Skaros Venetian castle in Imerovigli – it is a 10-minute hike to the top so make sure to bring water;
- Akrotiri Lighthouse – one of my favorite villages on the island, with a great natural spot;
- Santo Winery – do a wine tasting and admire the sun going to sleep inside of the caldera. Alternatively, you can go on a sunset wine tour at 3 traditional wineries.
- A sunset caldera cruise with dinner – enjoy a delightful evening on the sea, with a view.
Visit Atlantis Bookstore
A super Instagrammable bookstore on the island, you don’t want to miss Atlantis.
They don’t offer only books in Greek, but also in many other languages, including English, Italian, or French.
I think a good book from Oia would make a perfect souvenir for someone back home, or for yourself – you will always remember the marble streets of Oia as soon as you open this book.
It is open until midnight during summer, and the view from their terrace is what dreams are made of.
As you take on the few hundred stairs towards the sea, you’ll get to a lovely seafront with some traditional local tavernas serving fresh fish.
This is also the place you will need to come to in Oia if you want to go for a swim. Just don’t expect sandy beaches. As a matter of fact, there aren’t sandy beaches on the whole volcanic island.
And when you choose to stay in Oia, you will be better off with your infinity pool at the hotel.
Just one additional thing, please don’t take the donkeys up the hill to get back to Oia. I know many guides encourage you to do that, but you’ll see they don’t look very happy in carrying tourists up a hill under the hot sun.
On top of that, the road is filled with their poop, and at over 30 degrees it can get nauseating to climb the hill in that smell.
A less touristic option to Ammoudi Bay, you’ll still get to climb countless stairs to get to this place by the sea.
Armeni was the old harbor of Santorini, but today it is a more quiet and peaceful place to go to, especially if you want to run from the crowds. There’s also a diving center in the area, you’ll want to check out if you are into water sports.
Allow yourself to get lost
Not everything has to be planed and Oia is, in fact, such a small place that it will be impossible to get lost.
Wander around up and down the marble streets, pet the local friendly cats, admire the beautiful white buildings and pink flowers contrasting so charmingly.
Stop for a coffee at one of the many cafes with a view, and allow yourself to be in the now and enjoy this gem in the Cyclades.
Hike from Oia to Fira
The hike is approximately 10 kilometers long and fairly easy to do.
It will take you anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours to complete it, depending on the pace and on how many times you stop to admire the view or take pictures.
You should avoid doing it during the day and try to go either early in the morning, or in the afternoon. The sun can get really strong around here, and the island is arid, thus you won’t find any shade to hide from the sun.
The path is paved or with cobbler stone, thus it won’t be difficult to take.
Stay in a cave hotel or a room with an infinity pool in Oia
If you’re not familiar with the “cave hotels” let me introduce you to some of the most stunning hotels you’ll ever want to stay in.
Apart from the fantastic view they offer, the design is authentic, and most of them have infinity pools overlooking Oia and the caldera.
Many have been featured in worldwide famous magazines and are on the list of the rich and famous. However, I’ve found some more affordable options as well in my Santorini accommodation guide, if you don’t want to break the bank, but still see the best places.
When you are celebrating something special and you want to have a memory that will last forever, check out one of the following hotels:
- Perivolas Hotel – usually sold out months ahead of time, this hotel offers 22 private houses with magnificent sea view, built-in restored 300-year-old caves. Present on location there’s also a wellness center offering a steam bath, sauna, open-air hot tub, and massage facilities. Check it out here!
- Art Maisons Oia Castle – architectural design inspired by the volcano meets modern amenities and traditional Cycladic style. The best sunset viewpoint in Santorini according to guests of the hotel. Check it out here!
- Aris Caves – this hotel is carved in the volcanic rock and offers apartments only 5 minutes away from Oia’s center. On top of that, they have a free luggage porter service that will make a difference – trust me, you’ll understand once you get there. Check it out here!
- Chroma Suites – on the cheaper range, this hotel offers the same panoramic view and charming location as the ones above. Check it out here!
If you don’t know what to do, book that trip! Life is too short!
And if you prefer staying in an Airbnb, that would be definitely much cheaper, make sure to read my comprehensive guide for the most stunning Airbnbs in Oia.
Go on a wine tasting tour
I might have mentioned this before, but a wine tasting tour is something you don’t want to miss in Santorini.
It’s about the wine and the view, the ultimate combination.
Here are 2 great options I would consider on a future trip because the first time we’ve been to Santo Wineries. However, the tasting was too short for me, thus I would like to try something different:
Eat your heart out!
Disclaimer: we absolutely love Greek food!
But somehow, no matter how hard we try to order less food, we always end up stuffed.
Maybe it’s because we often forget how much we ate because of the stunning view. But really, no matter the time of the day, eating Greek food in Oia is something you shouldn’t skip.
For dinner, you will want to book a table at one of the best restaurants in Oia:
Getting to Oia, Santorini
There are plenty of ways to get to Oia, depending on the place you are coming from.
From the main port in Ammoudi, you’ll have to climb the few hundred stairs to the top of the hill, and center of Oia.
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