Things To Do In Oia, Santorini’s Most Famous Town (+ My Take On The Question “Is Oia Worth Visiting?”)

June 11, 2023
oia santorini,things to do in oia,is oia worth visiting

When most people dream of visiting Santorini, in their minds they are almost certainly picturing the town of Oia.  And then, when I started planning my trip, I began reading about how crowded and touristy Oia was, and getting a better mental picture of the whole island of Santorini.

With so many people warning you away from it and telling you to stay elsewhere, it begged the question, is Oia worth visiting?  I know that sounds a bit crazy, but it’s an important question for you to answer for yourself before booking a trip.

My hope here is to share things to do in Oia, and to show you the awesome and the terrible sides, to help you make up your own mind.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini | Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town...what to do in Oia, where to eat, the best Oia cave hotels, helpful tips, & I share the awesome parts & the terrible touristy parts so you can decide if Oia deserves a spot on your Greek islands itinerary. #oia #santorini #greekislands

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Is Oia worth visiting?

It’s definiteliy not a “yes or no” answer, and will be very dependent on you, and what you want out of travel.  Personally, I think you definitely need to visit Oia if you’re in Santorini, but the larger question is whether that’s where you stay.

Oia has a LOT going for it…sitting on the edge of an extinct volcano, the town’s many cliffside buildings all offer gorgeous views of the deep-blue ocean.  This is the Santorini you see on Pinterest.

Among the reasons *not* to choose this part of Santorini are the huge year-round crowds, high prices, and super touristy (much less authentic) feel.  Finding photo opps without waiting in line or people crowding around you is hard, but it’s also not impossible.

But overall it’s the type of touristy that I’m generally allergic to and avoid like the plague.  However, there were parts of my visit that I loved, and ways that I enjoyed myself despite the crowds.

I’ll show both the stunning sides and the not-so-great below, to help you understand what to expect, whether Oia’s the right place for you, and how to have the best experience possible if you do visit.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini | Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town...what to do in Oia, where to eat, the best Oia cave hotels, helpful tips, & I share the awesome parts & the terrible touristy parts so you can decide if Oia deserves a spot on your Greek islands itinerary. #oia #santorini #greekislands

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Where to stay in Oia

The first question is actually probably, should I stay in Oia?  And that answer is going to really depend on your preferences.

I waffled about it, and ended up deciding that since it was my first visit, I wanted to experience Oia and splurge on a gorgeous cave hotel.  But you should definitely research Firostefani, Imerovigli, and even some of the traditional villages as less-insane alternatives.

I’ll talk more in-depth about hotels more below as well, since for me they were a massive part of my Oia itinerary (vs. just being a place to sleep).  But in terms of where to stay in Oia, I spent one night at Aspaki Exclusive Hotel, and two nights at Charisma Suites.  Both were awesome, but I can’t recommend Charisma enough!

Personally, I would not have stayed in Oia any other way.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini | Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town...what to do in Oia, where to eat, the best Oia cave hotels, helpful tips, & I share the awesome parts & the terrible touristy parts so you can decide if Oia deserves a spot on your Greek islands itinerary.

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Super useful tips for staying in Oia

Here are some tips (or just observations) that I found either in my research beforehand…or in a couple cases, learned the hard way while I was in Oia.

  • One of the best Oia tips I got beforehand was this website, where you can see how many cruise ships (with how many people) will be in port each day!  This let me decide when to spend time in Oia, and when to get out to other parts of the island to avoid the cruise ship crowds.
  • The afternoons are SO HOT.  The sun is unforgiving (and multiplies by bouncing off the tiles and whitewash), there is little shade to be had, and it’s too harsh to get good photos.  I recommend having a mid-afternoon strategy to get out of the sun and rest (for me, that was my amazing hotels).
  • Don’t drink the tap water.  It’s okay for brushing your teeth with, but make sure to drink bottled water (most hotels provide a couple complementary bottles a day.
  • You will be attacked by cigarette smoke everywhere (even more than other parts of Europe), and especially sitting on all those amazing rooftop patios enjoying a drink.  Blech.  Just be prepared.
  • All the ATMs are at the bus terminal, if you need one (and I recommend using a bank one vs. generic, for fewer fees).
  • Cell signal was generally good except when I’d turn down into the warren of little alleys (e.g. to get to Roka, Karma, etc.) and then I completely lost signal.
  • Oia is a pedestrian-only town, with narrow streets that are often quite steep.  And the streets around sunset (including before and after) are insanely crowded.  Keep a firm grasp on your purse or any other valuables.
  • In my hotel room, at the restaurants, and in stores, there was a commitment to a kind of chill jazz fusion funky music playing that I deeply appreciate (vs. the uh-chuh Euro dance music you find in many tourist spots).
  • In most places, tipping is not a big part of the culture except in the fancy tourist restaurants (that’s the only place you’ll be asked if you want to leave a tip if paying with credit card.  Elsewhere, it’s not expected and is only a gesture vs. a means to support the server’s family.  I usually rounded up, leaving 1-4 euros depending.

Late sunset in Oia, from the castle | Things to do in Oia, Santorini | Is Oia worth visiting?

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Getting around Oia

Getting around Oia requires…your feet.  It is an entirely pedestrian town, with narrow, crowded, winding, steep paths.  I saw people wearing absolutely crazy shoes around Oia (stilettos, athletic slides, etc.), and I definitely don’t recommend that.  Be smart!

Oia’s main thoroughfares are tile-lined streets (vs. the more authentic cobblestoned streets of Fira and Firostefani), but some of the side streets are cobblestone.  I definitely recommend good shoes with a thick sole (for cushioning, and due to unevenness) and grip (the tile can be slick).  These are my go-to shoes for “cute but functional”.

One of the biggest things you should know about Oia is that it is NOT great for the mobility-challenged.  While a few of the main thoroughfares are a bit more straight and flat, the majority of your walking will entail staircases—and very steep staircases, much of the time!

You can see a couple examples below of the staircases.  The first is one of my hotels, which is common if you’re staying at a cliff/cave hotel, the second is one of the main thoroughfares.

And because of all these reasons, one of my biggest tips for visiting Oia is to PACK LIGHT!  Thankfully both my hotels sent someone to the edge of town to meet my taxi and that person carried my luggage (yes, I tipped well).  I traveled carry-on only, and you could see their relief and surprise at my small amount of luggage.

But you would not believe the number of people I saw desperately hauling their giant suitcases through the crowds, up the stairs, over the rough cobblestones.  So trust me, pack light!

Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town - it is not a good spot for the mobility-challenged

Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town - it is not a good spot for the mobility-challenged

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What to pack for Oia

For the most part, you’re packing for HOT…I was there in mid-September and it still felt boiling during the day (particularly as there isn’t really much shade).  I would bring a light cardigan or jacket for evenings, in case you feel cool in the breeze.

Overall from a clothing standpoint, you want something breathable and loose.  Personally, I’m a dress girl so went that route.  I’ve had excellent luck with StitchFix in the past few years (the dress below is from them), though prefer to pick my own out vs. use the personal shopper option.

Amazon is where I get a lot of my dresses these days.  Some good styles would be a t-shirt dress, a tank dress, or something flowy with fluttery cap sleeves (I wore this all over Oia).  You can get away with flowy skirts (like this) or long flowy dresses (like thisthis and this) as well, but you might trip on them on the staircases.

Shoe-wise, I mostly wore these sandals, my travel life companion, because they balance comfort/cushioning and cuteness (party in the front, biz in the back).  For dressing up a bit for dinner, I had brought a pair of Aerosoles (Naturalizers, Vionics & Aerothotics are also really good and affordable options).  I also spent quite a bit of time in these cute white sneakers.

I did bring lightweight, breathable pants (from both Athleta and Eddie Bauer), which I wore when touring wineries, and I brought along my trusty cross-body purse and plenty of sunscreen (here are my favorites).  I’d also recommend a sun hat if you burn easily, and always having polarized sunglasses!

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - I found plenty of beautiful photo opps without crowds

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A quick orientation to Oia (map-wise)

Before diving in, it’s helpful to understand Oia in relation to the rest of Santorini, and then how Oia is laid out as well.  First, here’s the island of Santorini.

As you can see, it forms a sort of backwards “C” that curves around the caldera (the water, which is actually a sunken volcano), and faces the tiny island of Thirasia.  Oia is at the northern tip of the “C”.

A map for planning your visit to Oia, Santorini

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So if we then look at Oia specifically, it includes the southern coast (mostly in green, and on the left half) and southern tip of the peninsula.  This is where you’ll find many of the famous cave hotels, and the main tourist thoroughfare of the town.

At the southern tip (bottom left) you’ll see Ammoudi Bay and that’s also where Oia Castle is.  Right above that is where my hotel, Charisma Suites, was (at the windmill).  Just to the right (east) but still before you hit the Armeni green umbrella) would be the blue domes and Aspaki Exclusive Hotel.

It’s all clustered much more tightly than you’d imagine from looking at the map.  All easily walkable in anywhere from a few minutes to maybe 15 tops.

A map for planning your visit to Oia, Santorini

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Things to do in Oia, Santorini

Oia offers gorgeous sweeping views of the ocean, no question.  But Oia is also filled with boutique high-dollar tourist shops and restaurants that serve overpriced, subpar food with a great view.

It’s more about being there, walking around, and experiencing the town, vs. a ton of activities.  The rest of the island has a lot of fun stuff to do, and I do recommend getting out and exploring (whether on your own, or through a tour).  That said, below I’ll outline some of the best things to do in Oia.

Stay at an amazing cliffside hotel

I’m going to start with a probably-controversial one…in my opinion, if you’re going to STAY in Oia, you need to splurge on an amazing cliffside hotel.

Not only did it offer gorgeous ocean views over the caldera, great service, and a lovely comfortable room, but it gave me a base for *enjoying* said view and, in particular, sunsets…WITHOUT having to elbow my way through the crowds.

It also gave me a base to come back to in the heat of the afternoon, where I could enjoy the sun in a bathing suit (or, sit in the shade if that’s more your thing) with a glass of wine…mid-afternoon heat is brutal in Santorini, even in mid-September when I was there.

The pics below are from my room at Charisma Suites, which was amazing.  This hotel is the big windmill you often see in Santorini, and directly faces out at the island of Thirasia and the sunset right at the tip of the peninsula, so has a perfect view.

Read more about my stay at Charisma Suites here!

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - sunset from my hotel balcony, Charisma Suites

I also spent a night at Aspaki Exclusive Hotel, which was completely lovely (though I didn’t like the layout of my balcony quite as much).

The pics below are from Aspaki.  It is on the south side of Oia, facing into the caldera, and my room had a view of the famous blue domes (my reason for choosing it).

Read more about my stay at Aspaki Exclusive here!

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - if you're going to stay in Oia (vs. just visiting), I strongly recommend splurging on an amazing hotel

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Get familiar with the layout of the town

Okay, so let’s leave our hotel for a bit and keep orienting ourselves.  Looking west from my first hotel (Aspaki Exclusive), you’ll find the blue domes of Santorini, one of the island’s more famous sights.

These domes are immortalized on Instagram and Pinterest, but there are actually a few to choose from if you’re trying to take photos.  In the first pic below you can also see the Byzantine castle of Oia, right on the edge of the cliff and on the southern tip of Oia (we’ll get to that in a minute).

The second pic below is looking the opposite direction, down the southern coast to the east…this is where the island curves around the caldera.  The famous hike along the caldera follows this path around and then south toward Imerovigli and Fira.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - view of the famous blue domes

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - get familiar with the town's layout

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Consider visiting Ammoudi Bay

These photos are taken from the Oia Castle ruins on the southwest tip of the peninsula, looking north a bit toward the windmills.  The second pic is looking straight down at Ammoudi Bay.

You can visit it by following the 300-step staircase down from Oia.  Because there are sharp rocks, the bay isn’t suitable for lounging around and sunbathing, but you an have a nice lunch and watch the rock jumpers instead (Ammoudi Fish Tavern & Dmitiri’s are supposed to be great).

I read mixed reviews on whether visiting the bay was worth it, and ultimately didn’t prioritize it on my short trip…I’d have liked to, but instead prioritized chill time on my hotel balconies.

Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town - the intense afternoon sun looking out at the windmills

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - looking down at Ammoudi Bay

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Go on a boat trip

Of course, with a limited time in Oia and also wanting to explore other parts of Santorini, I couldn’t get to everything that I wanted to do.  The biggest thing I missed out on was actually getting *out* on the water.

A boat trip across the caldera is one of the must-do things, and I was really sad to miss it.  There are a number of different types of trips that leave from Ammoudi Bay, including sunset sails, hiking in the volcano, hot springs, visiting other parts of the island, and more.

Check out some of the different types of tours available on Viator or Get Your Guide.  I believe the volcano boat tour is the most popular (but sunset sails are a close second).

Find the famous blue domes

These are maybe the most photographed part of Oia, and located right next to each other.  Despite that, though, there are a number of different angles and spots for photographing the blue domes of the churches of Agios Spyridonas (Saint Spyridon) and Anasteseos (the Church of the Resurrection).

You’ll see lines forming at basically any time of day, but I encourage you to wander up and down the little streets to find a less-crowded shot.  I promise they exist.

I found that my favorite time to capture Agios Nikolaos (the one below) was just after sunrise, framed by those beautiful flowers.  It was the easiest to get close to, by far.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - one view of the famous blue domes (Agios Nikolaos)

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - one view of the famous blue domes (Agios Nikolaos)

Sunrise is a great time to enjoy Oia without as many crowds - things to do in Oia, & is Oia worth visiting?Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - Agios Nikolaos

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My photos of the other two blue domed churches in Oia I mostly took from my suite at Aspaki Exclusive, as well as from a random little walkway (Agios Anasteseos, below).  These ones are a bit tricker to get to, as they’re surrounded by private property.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - one view of the famous blue domes

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The #1 thing you can do is just wander

Exploring Oia is less about things to do, and more about just meandering (okay, elbowing past people!) up and down the streets and tiny winding footpaths.

I didn’t spend a ton of time walking up and down the main streets, as I found them super crowded and they’re lined with lots of shops that I had no interest in.  I did do a full (quick) walks along the main streets at different times of day, though, to get a feel for the town.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you hit the big main square is the Church of Panagia Platsani.  This is a great example of Santorini’s striking architecture, following the traditional style of whitewashed walls, blue dome, and six-piece bell tower, but a bit less plain than others.  I didn’t go inside, but the inside of the church is supposed to be stunning, worth a quick visit!

For me, I ignored all the fancy stores and instead found pretty little details and nice viewpoints in my wanderings.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - visit the Church of Panagia Platsani

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - pink flowers

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - view from Oia Castle

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I didn’t have specific destinations in mind, but was on the lookout for cool views, neat buildings, or the gorgeous fuschia flowers (which coincidentally matched my dress).

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - I loved all the fuschia flowers

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - one of the best things to do is just wander the streets & explore

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - one of the best things to do is just wander the streets & explore

And, of course, CHONKY CATS!

a chunky cat in Oia, Santorini

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This is what the main thoroughfare is like, for reference.  On days with lots of cruise ships in port, it is honestly unbearably crowded.

If you’re looking for an authentic experience of Santorini, this definitely isn’t it.  But this is why I chose to have my fancy hotels to go back to, vs. needing to spend a lot of time out on the streets.

Also, you can see the smooth tile walkways that are found in the main parts of Oia here.

Is Oia worth visiting? - crowded walkways & expensive stores

Is Oia worth visiting? The town is very crowded & over-touristy

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - sunrise is a great time to enjoy it

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And here’s an example of the cobblestone walkways in other parts of the town, mostly side streets and the outer edges.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - cobblestone streets

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - a charming tiny cobblestone street

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Soak in the absolutely stunning Santorini sunsets

This is the most popular thing to do in Santorini, as Santorini is famous around the world for its sunsetsorld.  But that means that Oia looks like *this* before and after sunset, with people desperately trying to find a spot to watch it.

I will also note that there are many more amazing (and less crowded) places in Santorini to watch the sunset, including the Akrotiri Lighthouse area, the traditional villages in the south, etc.  But this is why, if you’re going to stay in Oia and watch the sunset, you need a STRATEGY.

The insane crowds in Oia, Santorini, after sunset

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And this is where my amazing hotel splurge really comes into play.  Because it meant that I could enjoy a peaceful, gorgeous sunset view, with a glass or two of wine, and not have to fight the crowds.

The two pics below are sunset from my two hotels in Oia.  The first is from my suite at Charisma, and it has the most amazing TRUE sunset view.

The second is of the blue domes from my suite at Aspaki Exclusive.  As you can see, the actual sunset happens “around the corner” of the peninsula but you still get the beautiful colors against the blue domes.  Plus, I was able to head out to Oia Castle and catch the tail-end of the sunset on my way to dinner.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - sunset from my balcony at Charisma Suites

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - sunset from my balcony at Aspaki Exclusive

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But if you don’t have an awesome hotel balcony view, what do you do??  I’ll outline some additional choices here and in the next section.  First, you can avoid the famous “viewpoints” and just wander around until you find little pockets that aren’t as crowded but still offer great views.

The first and second pics below were taken just outside (above) the Aspaki Exclusive Hotel, but where the public can (and does) congregate.  I absolutely love this overall framing, wtih the little belltower at the front of the picture.

The third pic is down near where you’d walk down to Ammoudi Bay, so kind of underneath the castle and windmills.  But the flowers really pop.  There are so many beautiful views throughout Oia, don’t feel constrained by the “famous” ones.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - a not crowded sunset view

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - sunset near Aspaki Exclusive hotel

sunset view with flowers in Oia, Santorini

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Second, you can make a dinner reservation somewhere with awesome patio views to watch the sunset.  There are loads to choose from (though quality of food and service vary).

One night I made a reservation at Thalami at an early enough time that I could watch the sunset from their beautiful patio.  I had a good seat against the wall, and you can see that view in the first pic below.  I didn’t love it as much as being at my hotel, but it was nice to experience something different.

Sunsets Restaurant and Vitrin Cafe are two others to consider, that came up in my research.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - sunset from the patio at Thalami restaurant

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And lastly, go with the classics—the spots everyone wants are popular for a reason.

The Byzantine ruins of Oia Castle (a.k.a. the Castle of St. Nicholas) are one of the best places to watch the sunset in Oia.  It’s free, so gets really crowded…get there early for a good view (or at the tail-end of sunset, like I did, see second pic below).

A few other very popular spots are Ammoudi Bay, Sunset Serenade Point, and “Panoramic Viewpoint” (which has the blue domes in it).  These are all super packed.

As are the streets…you can see in the pics below how everyone just lines both sides of the walkways and carves out their own spot.  But honestly, you can just look at this as getting the real Oia experience 🙂

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - crowds lining the street for sunset

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - the end of sunset at Oia Castle

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Even though sunset gets all the hype, don’t forget the beautiful “blue hour” after sunset…Oia shines at this time!

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - the gorgeous blue hour at the windmill

Things to do in Oia, Santorini - the gorgeous blue hour

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Again, I don’t want to dwell on the downsides to visiting Oia, but do want to be honest about them.  Beyond just the crowds themselves, it’s the kind of tourist place where people are just not respectful of either other people or the locals.  And you see a ton of Instagram photo shoots, or the famous “flying dress” shoots all over Santorini.

So I saw a lot of stuff like people climbing on places that had clear signs not to, or that it was private property.  People flying drones when it’s clearly sign-posted all over Santorini that drones are prohibited (and that terrible drone buzz sound ruining an otherwise-peaceful sunrise).  Lots of litter.  Guys walking around with T-shirt’s that say “my junk is gluten free”.

So a bit like Vegas, in some ways…just with better scenery 🙂  And you can avoid some of that (that’s where my lovely hotel balcony came in), but it’s good to know going in.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - you'll see "flying dress" shoots all over the place

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - many people flew drones though they're specifically prohibited in Oia

you should avoid trespassing on private property in Oia

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Don’t forget that sunrise in Oia is pretty great

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I’m an early bird, and that sunrise is one of my favorite travel times.  It’s often equally as gorgeous as sunset, and FAR less crowded no matter where you are.

This is absolutely true in a tourist mecca like Oia, so I enjoyed getting out and having a much quieter experience.  The pearly-pink light was a soft glow on the tile walkways, which were mostly empty.

To get good sunrise views in Oia, you have to go to the tip of the peninsula and look east, so I made my way down to Oia Castle for the best photos.  (The other best sunrise options are outside of Oia, either doing the famous hike or on the other side of the island.)

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - sunrise is beautiful & far less crowded

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - sunrise is beautiful & far less crowded

But even at 7:00am I ran into people waiting in line for some particular shot.  Absolutely crazy.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - sunrise is beautiful & far less crowded...though people still found a way to stand in lines

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Pop into the quirky Atlantis Books

I love visiting bookstores in general, and particularly finding really beautiful and unique ones (see here and here).  So when I heard about Atlantis Books I knew I had to visit.  It’s impossible to miss, right along the main street.

The bookstore is hidden away in the basement of an old captain’s house that was hit hard by an earthquake decades ago.  It’s been transformed into a colorful, graphic shop absolutely bursting with thousands of books.

Every time I passed it, I tried to visit but it was closed.  Then finally, on my last afternoon, it had opened up!  I picked up one of the Harry Potter books in Greek (I collect the series in a multitude of languages) and enjoyed looking around the space.

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - visit the adorable Atlantis Books

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - visit the adorable Atlantis Books

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - visit the adorable Atlantis Books

Things to do in Oia, Santorini (& is Oia worth visiting?) - visit the adorable Atlantis Books

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Where to eat in Oia, Santorini

So now let’s talk about where I ate and drank.  I was super excited for the foodie experience in Greece though found myself a bit underwhelmed across my week-long trip.  Not that it was bad, just that the traditional dishes were a bit less flavorful/amazing than I’d hoped.  But there were certainly bright spots here.

For Oia, I’m going to go in chronological order below of where I ate rather than trying to rank or group them.  When I arrived in Oia after about 24 hours of travel, I got checked in at my hotel and immediately went out in search of food.  I ended up at Apsithia, because I’d heard that their tomatokeftedes were great.

Tomatokeftedes are a traditional type of tomato fritter made from fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, and fresh mint or oregano in a light batter that’s deep-fried.   I love me a fritter!

Apsithia serves theirs with a creamy lemony sauce and tzatziki.  I also got some delicious fried phyllo with feta and honey, and chowed down while enjoying that awesome view.

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - feta in phyllo with honey at Apsithia

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - tomatokeftedes at Apsithia

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - delicious food with a view at Apsithia

Then I promptly stopped in at Patisserie Medevio (or Melenio, I’ve seen it both ways) to try my first Greek frappe (they make their iced coffees with instant coffee, it’s…fascinating) and a piece of galactoboureko (a dessert of semolina custard baked in filo, usually soaked in syrup).

Galactoboureko became one of my favorite treats throughout my trip!  And again, that view…never gets old.

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - Patisserie Medevio

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - galactoboureko at Patisserie Medevio

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - Patisserie Medevio

For dinner on my first night in Oia, I had reservations at Roka.  I started with their beetroot purée (delish!), fava bean purée (theirs is known to be really good) and bread, and sipped a great local white wine.

For my main course I had the ravioli filled with rooster and xinomyzithra cheese, which was also really good.  My dessert (a Greek coffee crème brûlée) was a little weird, but I had a wonderful Vinsanto wine with it that was the perfect end to the evening.  Roka is definitely a great option for lunch or dinner!

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Roka

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Roka

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Roka

The next morning after my sunrise explorations, I swung by Karma for some coffee and  breakfast (LOL, before going back to my hotel for a beautiful balcony breakfast).

It’s a really cute space, with a charming little courtyard, and their menu had good and healthy options.  On my first morning, I sucked down a freddo espresso and enjoyed a bowl of yogurt, fruit, and honey.

I came back the next morning before heading on my wineries tour and enjoyed an iced spice latte (YUM) and sourdough toast with cheese, pears, walnuts and honey.

It’s also a great spot to get out of Oia’s heat and sun during the day…their lunch and dinner menus also looked great but I didn’t get a chance to try them.

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - the charming Karma

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - the charming Karma

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - the charming Karma

On my second night I walked over to Fino (near the bus station).  Again, I’d made a reservation, and this one was recommended by my hotel concierge.

It started off a bit rocky, as it took 30 minutes and desperately flagging down waiters a few times before I could even get some water and order a drink (a Fino basil cocktail, delish).  I found out they were down a person, but man I was thirsty!

They finally brought out a little amuse bouche of fried pita with whipped feta and a squid ink thing I couldn’t eat.  Then I ordered the aubergine soufflé (YUM) and the sea bass prepared like a sole meunière.  I think I got the Haulili as my second cocktail.

Overall I’d absolutely recommend Fino, even with the rougher service night they had—the food and cocktails were great!

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Fino

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Fino

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Fino

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner at Fino

Coming back from my afternoon of wineries, I was peckish so my tour guide recommended Ochre, Melitini, and Roka.  I’d already been to Roka, and Melitini was a bit closer walking, so that’s what I went with.

I didn’t want to have a heavy late lunch since dinner was only a few hours away, so I ordered a lentil salad that was refreshing but not my fave (hidden green peppers, blech).  Their tomato fritters we’re fine but a bit bland, and the pasturma I ordered (phyllo with pastrami, tomato sauce, and cheese) was burned and quite salty.

To be honest, I definitely don’t think my ordering strategy did Melitini any favors, and I’d still give this restaurant a spot on your possibilities list.

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - Melitini

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - Melitini

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For my final evening in Oia, I decided to see sunset from a restaurant patio rather than my awesome hotel (a choice I somewhat question now, but glad I tried it).  Thalami was my choice, as I’d read their patio view was great.

I had the traditional dolmas and moussaka, since I hadn’t had as many traditional dishes on my trip at that point.  I also had a couple of great cocktails, and watched the sunset color the sky (while an adorable kitten played on the roof awning next to me).

One thing to note is that Thalami is on the south side of Oia, near my Aspaki Exclusive hotel…so you don’t see the *actual* sunset on the horizon.  Factor that in if that’s important to you.  I have a photo of it in the “sunset” section above.

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner & sunset at Thalami

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner & sunset at Thalami

Where to eat in Oia, Santorini - dinner & sunset at Thalami

So is visiting Oia worth it?  Hopefully this in-depth post on things to do in Oia and what I found (good and bad) will help you figure out if it deserves a spot on your itinerary—and for how long.  Hit me up in the comments with any questions, I’ll do my best to answer!

Other super touristy places that you can still enjoy (with a strategy):

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Things to do in Oia, Santorini | Is Oia worth visiting? A guide to Santorini's most famous town...what to do in Oia, where to eat, the best Oia cave hotels, helpful tips, & I share the awesome parts & the terrible touristy parts so you can decide if Oia deserves a spot on your Greek islands itinerary. #oia #santorini #greekislands

Comments (3)

  • Huibrecht Luykx

    May 29, 2024 at 5:47 am

    Great write up.

    We are visiting Santorini for the first time on 19th July this year and never been to Greece before.

    I will try to book the Aspaki Hotel and the restaurant Roka for our first night.
    We are 3 adults and 2 children 9 + 11 years.
    We are fit and can manage the uphills no problem.

    Any further tips will be welcome

    Best

    Huibrecht
    Dublin
    Ireland

    1. Jessica

      June 2, 2024 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Huibrecht! It sounds like you guys will have a great time. I recommend that you read the other Santorini posts I have, such as doing the hike along the island, visiting wineries, and doing a roadtrip around the island. These provide all the other tips I have for Santorini. Hope you have a wonderful journey!

  • Johnny

    July 30, 2023 at 7:11 am

    thanks for the thorough writeup!

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