A Guide to Oia, Santorini
Situated in the northwest of the iconic island of Santorini, the coastal town of Oia is an idyllic spot well worth visiting.
31 March 2023
With white-washed buildings cascading down the Santorini cliffside, rooftops as deep blue as the surrounding Aegean Sea, and some of the finest food and wine in all of the Mediterranean, the town of Oia earns its reputation as the crown jewel of the Cyclades. It's no wonder why the picturesque town of Oia has become one of the most popular destinations in all of the Greek Isles.
Is Oia Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Blessed by clear blue skies and near-perfect weather for most of the year, this almost dreamlike town offers visitors a considerable range of things to do and see. For those looking to make this stunning little community the setting to experience their luxury Greek vacation, we’ve created a guide to the very best things to do in Oia, including when to plan your visit, the best places to eat, and the very best hotels in Oia.
Top Things to Do in Oia
While we certainly wouldn’t blame you for wanting to simply sit back and admire the outstanding natural beauty of the area, there are a plethora of things to do in Oia, Santorini. From the best shopping spots in Oia to the most beautiful buildings, our travel experts have rounded up some of the very best experiences to make certain your time in Oia is simply unforgettable.
Greece expert and Travel Specialist Milly Darnell gives us a taster of what Oia has to offer:
“Enjoy an evening catamaran cruise, go wine tasting at any of the many vineyards on the island, and experience the incredible scenic hike from Oia to Fira. Oia provides the best spot for sunsets on the island, so is ideal for those seeking stunning cliffside views.”
So, whether you’d like to embark on a hike spanning the length of the Santorini caldera, set sail across the glistening Aegean Sea, or just lay back and watch the sunset over the Greek Isles, the town of Oia truly offers something for everyone. Keep reading to learn more about what to do in Oia, Santorini.
Go on a Wine-Tasting Tour
A prime destination for wine lovers, Oia is home to some of Santorini’s finest wineries. Many offer private tasting tours allowing visitors to sample and enjoy the unique flavours and terroir of some of the island’s best vintages. One of our favourites is the renowned Domaine Sigalas winery which produces award-winning wines from grapes grown in the region’s rich, volcanic soil. Ideal for couples, an afternoon spent enjoying some of Greece’s finest red and white wines overlooking the idyllic Santorini landscape is truly one of the very best things to do in Oia.
Hike to Fira
For those who’d prefer to explore the island of Santorini with a pair of walking shoes, arguably, there’s no better route to take than the winding trail from Oia to Fira. The historic pathway, offering unbeatable views over the caldera, takes you on a 10km journey through some of the most picturesque spots on the island, like the villages of Imerovigli and Firostefani and the ruins of the ancient city of Thera. After having your fill of the extraordinary landscape and the crisp sea air, the tour ends in Fira - the island's capital. Here you can shop, eat, and drink in some of the island's most vibrant and exciting boutiques and restaurants.
For those visiting in the summer months, we recommend starting your excursion early to avoid the hottest period of the day. With beautiful sights, smells, and surroundings, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better walking route anywhere in the Greek Isles.
Discover Amoundi Bay
While the coastal town of Oia doesn’t have its own beach, the beautiful Amoudi Bay is only a stone’s throw away. The serene harbour rewards visitors with crystal-clear waters lapping over its golden sands, encircled by towering stone cliffs, making Amoudi Bay a truly gorgeous spot to unwind and enjoy the scenery. For seafood lovers, Amoudi’s waterfront is also home to some of the region's best restaurants serving local, freshly caught seafood and other local delights.
Explore the Cobblestoned Streets of Santorini
With its gorgeous, white-washed houses and blue-domed churches, spending a lazy afternoon walking through the streets of Oia is a great way to experience some of the best sights Santorini has to offer. Wandering through the cobbled alleyways can be one of the most fun things to do in Oia as you spot iconic sights like the Four Bells of Oia or the idyllic town’s main square and its stunningly beautiful Church of Panagia Platsani. As Oia can become fairly busy during peak times, we recommend exploring during the early morning so you can appreciate the serenity and outstanding beauty of Oia without distracting crowds.
Take a Catamaran Cruise
Few experiences beat the feeling of freedom and adventure that come with taking part in a catamaran cruise along the island’s winding coastline. As one of our top things to do in Oia, it’s the perfect way to experience the unbeatable views of the island of Santorini, with its stunning caldera and volcanic beaches. Catamaran cruises offer travellers the chance to take in the sights of this gorgeous Mediterranean paradise at their leisure. Travelling with the whole family? With plenty of private catamarans available, the activity is perfect for small and large groups looking to take in the natural beauty of the picturesque town of Oia.
Discover Ancient Ruins at Oia Castle
For those interested in learning more about Santorini’s rich history, the ancient ruins of Oia Castle offer visitors a glimpse into the past. Built during the 15th century by the Venetians to protect the island against invaders, the crumbling, white-washed towers of this fortress offer sweeping, panoramic views over the Aegean Sea, making it an ideal location to watch one of the island’s famous sunsets. While the area can become fairly busy during peak tourist season, a visit to the stunning Oia Castle remains one of the top things to do in Oia.
Watch the Sunset over Santorini
As the sun sinks below the horizon over the Greek Isles, the bright white buildings and deep-blue domed rooftops of Oia practically come alive, throwing back the orange and pink hues of the setting sun with a distinctly beautiful glow. The sheer magnificence of the Oia sunsets has attracted thousands of visitors every year, and taking the time to watch the sun go down is perhaps one of the best things to do in Oia and Santorini. Our favourite way to experience this natural wonder is to enjoy an outstanding meal, paired with a glass of local wine, at one of the town's hilltop restaurants, marvelling at the canvas of colours reflected off the sparkling Aegean Sea as gorgeous, sunkissed days shift into warm, moonlit nights.
Go Shopping in Oia
The coastal paradise of Oia is home to a considerable selection of local boutiques and artisanal stores, ideal for treating yourself to a souvenir or two to remind you of your time on the island. When shopping in Oia (and throughout Santorini and Greece), one of the most popular items to buy is jewellery crafted by locals using natural materials from the island, such as volcanic rock, seashells, and colourful stones pulled from the sea. Other popular items include ceramics adorned with traditional Greek designs or locally made products such as olive oil, honey, and wine. Shopping in Oia is both a great chance to support the local community and to find unique, handcrafted gifts that encapsulate your unforgettable experience in the town.
The Best Places to Eat In Oia
Known for its delicious Mediterranean cuisine, some believe Oia offers the best places to eat in Santorini - and we agree. The town is always abundant with fresh produce, excellent wines, and a wealth of seafood options sourced just a stone's throw from the restaurants and cafes serving them. Whether you want to try all the local dishes or find the best places to eat with a view in Oia, here are just a few of our recommendations:
With one of the most serene dining balconies in Santorini, the Lycabettus restaurant provides visitors with some of the very best local dishes on the island, paired with unbeatable views. The restaurant's award-winning chef, Christos Karagianis, is renowned for preparing delicious, traditional Greek food with the freshest local ingredients, even offering gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, making his food suitable for a range of visitors. Its idyllic setting also means Lycabettus is regarded as one of the best places to eat in Oia with a view.
Serving locals delicious, freshly prepared food before Oia became a hub for international visitors, Lauda, the town’s very first restaurant, is a hotspot for socialising over great food and even better company. The menu is inspired by the simple yet distinct flavours of Greece, with a number of Mediterranean touches, providing options for a range of palates. Growing many of his ingredients in the restaurant's own garden, Michelin-starred chef Emmanuel Renaut delivers some of the finest flavours of Oia while paying homage to the deep, local roots of this picturesque restaurant.
Located in a beautifully restored 19th-century mansion house, the luxurious yet personable 1800 restaurant offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Greek/Mediterranean menu paired with gorgeous views over the glistening Aegean Sea. If you’re looking for the best places to eat seafood in Oia, you’ll find a range of freshly sourced seafood dishes, alongside grill options and salads, making 1800 a prime choice for those looking for an evening to remember long after returning home.
With its panoramic views over the caldera, its refined and minimalist decor, and its locally sourced and expertly cooked Greek menu, the award-winning Black Rock Restaurant takes guests on an authentic taste adventure. This cliffside restaurant pairs its breathtaking backdrop of the crystal-clear waters with its outstanding range of dishes, perfect for spending a romantic evening gazing across the sea.
For those seeking a wider range of dishes, the wonderfully charming Skiza Cafe is a great option, with a reputation as one of the best places to eat in Oia and Santorini. Over its expansive menu, this charming little cafe offers visitors an authentic experience across its two floors. Enjoy delicious pastries on the ground floor and spectacular views on its upstairs terrace.
A top spot for foodies, visitors looking for the best cuisine on the island should certainly visit the renowned Botrini’s. Led by the esteemed Michelin star chef Ettore Botrini, the restaurant is located at the top of the luxury Katikies Santorini hotel. Botrini’s offers guests small yet refined dishes using the very best local ingredients and pairs them with beautiful views over the Greek caldera.
Where to Stay In Oia
Ready to add the finishing touch to your Greek holiday? We’ve asked our travel experts to offer their star recommendations on the best hotels in Oia, Santorini, as well as their advice on where the best area is to stay in Oia, ensuring your luxury holiday is truly unforgettable.
Canaves Oia Epitome
Offering enchanting sea views from each of its 53 luxury suites and villas, the stunning Canaves Oia Epitome is undoubtedly among the best hotels in Oia. With its gorgeous design inspired by traditional Cycladic architecture, its award-winning Elements restaurant, and its unbeatable views over the caldera, the Canaves Oia Epitome gives visitors an opportunity to enjoy Oia in unrivalled comfort.
Canaves Oia Suites
For visitors hoping to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Oia from the balcony of their own private suite, few hotels offer options more exquisite than the breathtaking Canaves Oia Suites. With plunge pools providing views across the sparkling Aegean Sea, delicious food cooked at the on-site private restaurant, and the freedom to enjoy it all however you choose, the Canaves Oia Suites is one of our favourite places to stay in Oia for a truly indulgent break.
Santo Pure Oia Suites & Villas
Situated just a five-minute walk from central Oia, the idyllic cliffside location of Santo Pure is hard to beat. With its award-winning wellness spa, 5 outdoor swimming pools, and exceptional culinary offerings at its Alios Ilios restaurant, the experience of staying at Santo Pure is one of unparalleled luxury. Its white-washed suites and blue-domed villas make the perfect backdrop to your dream Greek holiday.
Meet our Greece Specialists
Feeling inspired by our recommendation of things to do in Oia? There’s truly no better way to appreciate this spectacular corner of the Greek Isles than to see it for yourself. To experience all the charm and character that the vibrant coastal community of Oia has to offer, get in touch with one of our travel experts at Scott Dunn who will help you plan an unforgettable visit.
Grace Santorini, Auberge Resorts Collection
Grace Santorini, Auberge Resorts Collection is a luxurious boutique hotel perched high on the cliffs of this volcanic island, offering spectacular views over the caldera. Located in peaceful Imerovigli, it is one of the most exclusive hotels on Santorini.
With a dramatic cliff-side location overlooking the caldera, Katikies Kirini is just a short stroll from the pretty town of Oia with its winding cobbled streets, white-washed houses and spectacular sunset views.
Canaves Oia Suites
Located in the bustling town of Oia, Canaves Oia Suites is a boutique hotel offering impressive views across Santorini's renowned caldera. With just 30 suites, this is the perfect spot for honeymooners looking for privacy and luxury.
Canaves Oia Epitome
Nestled above the picturesque town of Ammoudi, the retreat is inspired by traditional Cycladic design, combining natural materials with a modern style. Boasting sea and sunset views from every suite, heated infinity pool and Michelin-starred gastronomy.
Santo Pure Oia Suites & Villas
Lose yourself in luxury at this boho chic adults only retreat with a tranquil vibe and stylish clusters of suites centred around their own infinity pool. Cretan inspired cuisine, four large pools, spa and walking distance to the buzzing town of Oia.
Vedema offers a rustic getaway with a secluded location on Santorini’s west coast in the medieval village of Megalohori. This spacious hotel boasts large suites and villas as well as transport to a local beach, making it an ideal choice for families.
Villa Delphinus is a luxurious Santorini delight, nestled in the cliffs with panoramic sea views over the azure blue sea. Newly renovated ‘cave’ villa bursting with a chic contemporary style, offering luxury, comfort, tranquillity and privacy.
A contemporary chic retreat combining absolute privacy and spectacular sea views from the expansive terrace. Inclusive of five-star service, helipad and infinity pool, a slice of paradise hidden away near the beautiful village of Megalohori.
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