Oia Village Information
- Location: Northern tip of Santorini.
- Parking: Parking in Oia can be a challenge. There are a handful of public parking lots (shown on the map below), as well as smaller private lots where you can pay to park. Free parking along the roadside is possible but limited.
- Bus: The bus terminal is near the center of the village, with frequent buses heading toward Fira. There is also a bus stop at the entrance to Fira at Finikia. General bus information and public bus schedule.
- Dining: Many great restaurants and cafes. Our favorites are Candouni, Ambrosia, Roka, Elinikon, Karma, and Lotza
- Shopping: The full range from small souvenirs to elegant boutiques. Atlantis Books is a gem.
- Best Hotels: Katikies, Canaves Oia Suites, Katikies Kirini Suites, Perivolas, Andronis Arcadia, Canaves Eptiome, Andronis Boutique, Mystique,
• All Oia Hotels
Oia Village – Video
Lay of the Land
Perched at the northern tip of the island and built into the cliffside of the caldera, Oia is the most picturesque and romantic village in Santorini. The southern side of Oia looks into the caldera with a view of the volcano (Nea Kameni) and Thirassia island which belongs to the municipality of Oia. The northern part is on the opposite side of the caldera, so no views of that, but perfect sunset and ocean views. The gorgeous sunsets are probably the most popular attraction in Oia. In high season, the village becomes packed during this time and paths become very crowded with people going to watch the event. The colors of the sun light up the white-washed houses and the caldera, definitely a must see. Every evening, crowds applaud as the sun disappears.
Sunsets and the Caldera
The best spot to watch the sunset is at the 15th century Byzantine castle of Agios Nikolaos to the northwest. The castle is one of the 5 fortified settlements on the island (the other four are Pyrgos, Akrotiri, Emporio and Skaros). During the Byzantine and Frankish rule, the Aegean coast suffered incessant pirate raids so the islanders were forced to move their settlements to more inaccessible and strategic areas. A devastating earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.7, hit the island in 1956 destroying most of the castle and its surrounding structures. Only part of the watchtower (Goulas) remains.
Oia has some of the island’s best hotels and restaurants as well as high-end shopping. Typically hotels that face the caldera do not have sunset views, and hotels with sunset views do not face the caldera. There are only a few bars in the village, those looking for nightlife should head to Fira. The beautiful and wide main pedestrian path (part of which is marble) runs from one end of Oia to the other. Its lined with shops, galleries, hotels, restaurants and cafes. The rest of Oia has the traditional narrow alleyways and footpaths with charming white-washed houses, blue-domed curches, more restaurants, cafes and shops.
Much like the other villages in Santorini, it has maritime history. Oia gained economic prosperity from its merchant fleets which traded goods in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly between Alexandria to Russia. It reached its peak of prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Reminders of this time still exist in Oia today with the two-story old captains’ neoclassical mansions that you will mostly see 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 also worth a visit. Mansions on the caldera side became guest-houses, hotels and restaurants.
At the bottom of the village, on the western side is the well known Ammoudi Bay. 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 good traditional tavernas with plenty of fresh seafood options. You can also take a dip in the water here. Many boat trips arrive and leave from this bay. Boats for day trips to Thirassia island also leave from here. There is a trail with about 200 or 300 (depending what you read or who you ask) steps leading you to the bay (see photos below). If you continue heading north on the main road coming into Oia, its about 1.5 km down on a very busy (in high season) narrow road. There is limited parking at the bay and almost always full.
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 takes you 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 babystroller 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.
Orientation to Oia – Video
- Church of Panagia of Platsani: The most iconic church in Santorini, beautiful inside and out. 8-minute walk.
- Museum of Ancient, Byzantine Musical Instruments: Faithful replicas of Greek instruments dating from the prehistoric through Byzantine eras. 10-minute walk.
- Maritime Museum: Small museum focused on Greek naval and Santorinian seafaring history. Only €3 to enter. 11-minute walk.
- Castle of Agios Nikolaos (aka Oia Castle aka Byzantine Castle Ruins): The medieval castle ruins are the most popular sunset viewpoint on the island. 14-minute walk.
- 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. 20-minute walk.
- Domaine Sigalas: Santorini’s best winery, with options for tours, tastings and tapas. 26-minute walk.
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