Oia is the iconic town in Santorini—if you've seen photos or postcards of the island, the snaps are likely of Oia. Featuring whitewashed houses carved into the clifftops and blue-domed churches overlooking the caldera, it's absolutely beautiful. Wander through the charming streets during the day and watch the most magical sunset in the evening. Here is the ultimate Oia travel guide to help you plan an unforgettable trip!
What to Expect in Oia
Language: As Oia is quite a touristic place, many shop owners and waiters will speak English, however, Greek is by far the most spoken language in the city.
Currency: The Euro is the currency throughout Greece and in many other European countries.
Credit Cards and Banks: There are several ATMs throughout Oia, and most hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. However, it is wise to carry some cash as small retailers may not take cards.
It’s definitely one of, if not the most expensive Greek Island—up there with Mykonos. While Mykonos has more nightlife and party vibes, Santorini is a bit slower and romantic and caters to honeymooners. As such, it can be quite pricey.
Climate: The weather in Oia is generally pretty mild for most of the year, though it can get quite hot in the summer.
Cold season: Oia is not frequented by tourists during the winter months as it’s cold and windy with the temperature often dipping to the 50s F.
Hot season: It starts to get warm in April and continues to be quite warm through September. The tourist season really heats up from June to August. If you can manage it, September would be the ideal time to go when the weather is still warm but the crowds have thinned out.
Getting Around in Oia
On the outskirts of the town, you can drive, but other than that—Oia is a pedestrian-only town. And that’s part of the charm! Find a pair of comfy sandals and prepare to make your way on foot. Be mindful of steep and slippery steps!
Oia itself is not that big and can be seen in a day. However, during the summer months (particularly June and July) it can be EXTREMELY hot. There is also very limited shade.
When Meyer and I went (July), we would go out early in the morning, go back to the hotel and soak in the pool for a bit, and go back out to explore after the hottest part of the day started to cool off.
If you’re staying out of town or outside of Oia and just coming in for sunset, it’ll be much more difficult to experience the charm and beauty of it. I definitely recommend splurging on a cool cave hotel. We spent a good portion of our time at the hotels, and I’m so glad we stayed at such lovely places.
A VRBO rental in Oia is a great option for those looking to see different parts of the area, or find an alternative to a hotel. From B&Bs to private apartments, villas, and more, there are some gems out there! Just be sure to read reviews and do your research as not all the available accommodations are top-notch.
Andronis Boutique Hotel
The Andronis Boutique Hotel by far the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at in terms of customer service. The staff is unbelievable. Anything you need or want they were on top of it. And the views were insanely beautiful!
The Arcadia is a beautiful property comprised of nothing but suites, unforgettable views, and a fun party atmosphere. The breakfast here is phenomenal! They bring out a platter of local pastries and traditional breakfast goodies and a tray of butter and different preserves along with honey. And there is even a Greek yogurt cart where you get to customize your cup!
Atrina Canava 1894
With stunning views of the caldera, this is a wonderful place to stay with great service, balconies with jacuzzis, and delicious breakfast.
The brand-new Filotera Suites offer a perfect Oia private pool (talk about dreamy!). Sip on a refreshing cocktail at the pool bar as you take in the view of the Caldera cliffs. This family-owned hotel blends traditional architectural elements with modern-day furnishings for a dreamy holiday.
With only nineteen units, Aethrio caters to the more individual traveler. This three-star hotel is a wonderful option for a more budget to mid-range traveler, and it’s won multiple TripAdvisor awards.
Accommodation: Budget – Mid-Range
Mixing value with comfort and convenience, Marcos Rooms offers a budget-friendly option when staying in Oia. Originally built in 1880, the rooms are located in two big traditional houses that have since been restored. The small hotel has a rooftop terrace and is quite close to one of the main sunset spots.
While fine dining in highly touristic locations like Santorini doesn’t always present you with a ton of “local culture,” Lauda is different! It was actually the first restaurant on Santorini—back when only about 300 people inhabited the island. Can you imagine that?
Lauda was built in 1971 and was Oia’s first restaurant. It’s where all of the locals gathered to talk and drink (and use the village’s only phone!).
One of my favorite things about this place is to honor their history and the tradition of the island, they use local, fully-organic ingredients to serve up an insanely delicious tasting menu.
I tried the Discovery Menu, aka the 9-course dinner, and was truly blown away.
Some of my favorites included the sea urchin and the yellowtail with seaweed. I substituted the lamb for fish (which they so gracefully allowed) and it hit the spot. I would definitely recommend eating here even if you aren’t staying at Andronis Boutique Hotel. It is quite the experience!
Looking for a quick, easy, and cheap bite to eat? We loved Pitogyros! This famous gyro shop is right in the heart of everything and next to a bus stop. If you’ve never had a gyro, it’s basically pita filled with various things: a protein like beef, lamb, or halloumi, veggies, French fries, tzatziki, tomato, and cucumber.
If you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive meal but dishes up all the local flavors—go here!
Across from Pitogyro, you’ll find Catch. While we didn’t eat here, it was always crowded and seemed to have a good vibe. As it’s not located on a cliff face, I would imagine it’s easier to get reservations.
Andronis Arcadia for Breakfast
We stayed at Andronis Acardia, and they had one of the coolest breakfasts of any hotel! They bring out a platter of local pastries and traditional breakfast goodies and a tray of butter and different preserves along with honey.
Not only did they have an amazing breakfast menu, but they had a Greek yogurt cart where you could create your own from their 20 toppings. Yep! A waitress comes around with a Greek yogurt cart and you have the option of a chia seed yogurt or full cream Greek yogurt and an array of toppings—fresh fruit, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts—you name it!
I checked with Andronis Arcadia and even if you’re not staying with them, you can go and dine for breakfast—I would recommend emailing ahead of time!
Watch the Sunset
Oia at sunset is one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced. While it gets extremely crowded, this is something you don’t want to miss. While there are many vistas to watch from, one particular favorite is from the Oia castle.
Alternatively, if you’re wanting to beat the crowds and you’re an early riser, sunrise is just as beautiful! The colors might be a bit softer, but you won’t melt from the heat or have to make your way through throngs of tourists to find a good vantage point. Remember that the sun won’t rise from the same spot where it set—so you may need to locate other prime spots for viewing.
We didn’t do a catamaran tour while we were in Oia, but it seemed like it would be a pretty spectacular thing to do! Some companies offer full day tours that end in the harbor around sunset, which sounds quite magical to me.
Explore the Nooks and Crannies
The true charm of Oia is found when exploring it on foot! Wander around and discover all the nooks and crannies of the cute little town. You’ll find lovely whitewashed alleys, picturesque staircases, and gorgeous bougainvillea framing doorways.
Visit the Atlantis Bookshop
In 2002, several college students who were visiting Greece had a fantastic wine-fueled idea…they wanted to open a bookstore. The bookstore is quite enchanting with its painted decorative mural of books out front, and a staircase that descends down into the shop. The store, which resembles a cave stacked with books (mostly in English, but they also have Greek, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Chinese on offer). If you’ve ever been to Paris, it may remind you a bit of Shakespeare and Co.
Enjoy Local Wines
Does tasting local wines sound like the perfect activity to you? You can find wine tasting tours around the island or make a stop at one of the many wineries. Santo Wines is a pretty well-known stopping point, and if wineries with epic views are your calling — don’t miss this one!
Visit Amoudi Bay
Known for being an excellent place to go for a swim and to fill up on the freshest of fish, spend the day at Amoudi Bay. The seafood is incredibly good and you’ll have your pick of fish taverns. I’m particularly fond of grilled octopus!
Hike from Oia to Fira
Put on your hiking shoes and trek from Oia to Fira. The hike is roughly two and a half hours and you’ll have stunning views of the ocean as far as the eye can see. Once in Fira, you can find the Three Bells and Skaros Rock.
Shop for Local Crafts
In both Oia and Fira, you’ll find a bunch of small artisan shops and boutiques featuring local crafts. Take the time to peruse and admire all the skilled handiwork!
Discover the Many Churches
Oia (and Santorini as a whole) has churches in spades. From ones carved into the cliffs to blue-domed churches overlooking the caldera, you could spend hours (and likely days) in awe of these gorgeous architectural delights.
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