Oia, Santorini

GreeceSantorini › Oia Travel Guide
by Santorini Dave • Updated: July 23, 2021

See Also

ois hillside

The postcard-perfect cliffside of Oia, Santorini.

Oia Information

Oia – Video

Lay of the Land
Perched at the northern tip of the island and built into the rocky cliffside, Oia is the most picturesque and romantic village in Santorini. The southern side of Oia overlooks the caldera with views of the Nea Kameni volcano and Thirassia island (which belongs to the municipality of Oia). The northern part of Oia faces away from the caldera, this part of the village is known for its perfect sunset and ocean views. Typically hotels that face the caldera do not have sunset views, and hotels with sunset views do not face the caldera.

Oia has some of the island’s best hotels and restaurants as well as high-end shopping. There are only a few bars in the village – those looking for nightlife should head to Fira. A beautiful, wide, marble pedestrian path runs from one end of Oia to the other, lined with shops, galleries, hotels, restaurants, and cafes. The rest of Oia has traditional narrow alleyways and footpaths with charming white-washed houses, blue-domed churches, restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Sunsets and the Castle Ruins
Gorgeous sunsets are probably Oia’s most popular attraction; in high season, the village becomes packed right before the sun goes down and paths become very crowded with people going to watch the event – viewing spots along the castle ruins and reservations at sunset-view restaurants are particularly prized. The colors of the sun light up the white-washed houses and the caldera, and every evening, crowds applaud as the sun disappears.

The best spot to watch the sunset is at the 15th century Byzantine castle of Agios Nikolaos in the northwest. The castle is one of the 5 fortified settlements on the island (the other four are Pyrgos, Akrotiri, Emporio and Skaros). During Byzantine and Frankish rule, the Aegean coast suffered incessant pirate raids so the islanders were forced to move their settlements to more strategic and inaccessible areas. In 1956, a devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit the island, destroying most of the castle and its surrounding structures. Only part of the watchtower (Goulas) remains.

Maritime History
Like other villages in Santorini, Oia has maritime history. Oia gained economic prosperity from its merchant fleets that traded goods in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly between Alexandria and Russia. The village reached its peak of prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Remnants of this prosperous time can be found in Oia today within the old two-story, Neoclassical captains’ mansions seen scattered throughout the alleyways north of the main pedestrian path. One of these has been restored and converted into the Naval Maritime Museum, which is worth a visit. Mansions along the caldera side have been converted into guest-houses, hotels, and restaurants.

Ammoudi Bay
At the northwestern foot of the village is a picturesque and well-known cove called Ammoudi Bay. Many boat tours and day trips to Thirassia Island arrive and leave from this bay, and this area has been used as a location for many films, incuding Summer Lovers, Laura Croft: Tomb Raider, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. There are a few great traditional tavernas in Ammoudi Bay, sitting right over the water and offering plenty of fresh seafood options. If you follow the path west past the restaurants, you will find a beautiful (and rocky) swimming spot.

To access Ammoudi Bay on foot, there is a trail near the castle ruins with about 200 to 300 steps (depending what you read or who you ask) leading down to the bay. (See photos below.) By car, head north past central Oia on the main road; Ammoudi Bay is about 1.5 km down a very narrow road that’s busy in high season. There is limited parking at the bay and it is almost always full. Many people walk down on the footpath, grab a bite to eat at a taverna, and then ask the wait staff to call taxi to take them back up the hill.

Fira to Oia Hike
Definitely one of the best things to do in Santorini is the Oia to Fira hike. The 10.5 km trail travels along the caldera cliff and through the villages of Oia, Imerovigli, Firostefani and Fira. It takes between 2 and 5 hours depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop. If you do a side trip to Skaros Rock (in Imerovigli) it will add at least an hour. Part of the path is similar to a sidewalk, parts are cobblestone, and parts are a dirt path. There is a good climb in both directions. The climb from Oia to Imerovigli is long and gradual so you don’t notice it as much; the climb from Fira to Imerovigli is short and steep. The trail is not baby-stroller or bike friendly. Most 7 year-olds would have no trouble completing the walk in terms of difficulty because the quality of the path is good, but it is a very long walk for anyone under 10.

Map of Oia

oia village map of things to do, hotels, restaurants, and bars.

Orientation to Oia – Video

Attractions

  • Church of Panagia of Platsani: The most iconic church in Santorini, beautiful inside and out. Map.
  • Museum of Ancient, Byzantine Musical Instruments: Faithful replicas of Greek instruments dating from the prehistoric through Byzantine eras. Map.
  • Maritime Museum: Small museum focused on Greek naval and Santorinian seafaring history. Only €3 to enter. Map.
  • Castle of Agios Nikolaos (aka Oia Castle aka Byzantine Castle Ruins): The medieval castle ruins are the most popular sunset viewpoint on the island. Map.
  • Ammoudi Bay: Best known for its fresh fish restaurants, Ammoudi is the rocky port of Oia; boats sail to Thirassia and cruise the caldera from here. It’s an incredibly popular spot for cliff diving, and is one of the best places to swim on the island.
  • Domaine Sigalas: Santorini’s best winery, with options for tours, tastings and tapas.

Oia

Oia caldera side

The caldera-facing side of Oia.

Canaves oia hotel room

An iconic Oia view from a room at Canaves Oia Suites.

oia pathway

Along the main pathway, with Skaros Rock in Imerovigli visible in the distance.

kirini hotel pool

The gorgeous pool at Katikies Kirini Suites.

ammoudi bay

Ammoudi Bay below Oia as seen from a departing boat tour.

Ambrosia restaurant

Ambrosia Restaurant with gorgeous caldera views is one of the most romantic places to dine in Oia.

ammoudi bay meal wine

Lunch at Ammoudi Bay.

Elinikon restaurant

Elinikon near the windmills has some of the best sunset dining views (from the rooftop patio).

coloring book oia village page

Oia Village from our Santorini Coloring Page series.

roka restaurant

Roka Restaurant has a quaint patio with sunset views.

karma restaurant

The charming garden courtyard at Karma Restaurant.

ammoudi bay

Gorgeous Ammoudi Bay.

Sunset cruises aligned in the waters just off Ammoudi Bay.

ammoudi bay

The waterfront path of Ammoudi Bay.

Swimming hole just around the corner from Ammoudi Bay.

catamaran at Ammoudi Bay

Enjoying a meal or drinks while watching the various boat tours come and go at Ammoudi is a highlight.

oia sunset at the castle

Sunset at the castle.

anchored catamarans off oia

Early morning view of the overnight anchorage for Santorini’s catamarans, just below Oia.

Santorini is for lovers – and lots and lots of wedding photos.

andronis boutique hotel

At night, the poolside deck at Andronis Boutique Hotel transforms into a romantic dining patio.

oia Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church at the entrance to the pedestrian only zone of Oia.

caldera facing Oia

Another view of the caldera-facing part of Oia.

oia shopping

Oia is full of shopping from small souvenirs to upscale fashion and jewelry boutiques.

walkway at sunset

One of the narrower parts along the main pedestrian thoroughfare through Oia.

oia blue down church

One of Oia’s more iconic churches.

sunset crowd

Sunset crowd near the castle.

Busy shopping lane in Oia interior.

Ammoudi bay steps

Steps down to Ammoudi Bay.

ammoudi steps

Walking down the wide steps to Ammoudi Bay.

oia sunset crowds

The approach to the castle.

bus stop

Waiting for the bus to Fira at the entrance to Oia.

oia shopping

Oia is full of higher end boutique shopping.

oia hillside

Oia hillside nook.

parking lot

A public parking lot in Oia.

Read More

Get All New Content

My Travel Newsletter