Oia is by far the most picturesque town of Santorini (and probably Greece). It has always been considered a tranquil and serene place, where the main attraction is basically the sunset, but there is definitely more things to do in Oia.
BEST THING TO DO IN OIA: All-Inclusive Luxury Catamaran Small Group Cruise
Not surprisingly, watching the famous sunset among with a few other thousands of people is definitely a must in Oia but there are a few other things you can do and a few other attractions to visit that are definitely worth your time.
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THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OIA
- Oia is a small picturesque village 25 mins drive from the capital of Santorini Fira
- Oia is the place with the best views to the famous Santorini sunset with uninterrupted views to the volcano and the caldera
- Oia gets extremey busy and packed between (and including) May-October between 5pm-9pm as it’s the sunset time and people are trying to get a good spot to watch the sunset with a beer or glass of wine in their hands.
- The famous Ammoudi bay is literally the bay under Oia and there is a path that can take you there. DO NOT TAKE ANY DONKEY THAT MAY BE OFFERED THERE! These animals get abused by their owners.
- If you hop on a private Santorini Boat Tour then you could end up in Ammoudi Bay (ask for the detailed route before boarding the boat).Most of the Santorini Boat tours operate between mid April and end of October.
- The famous Spiridakos Boat Tour is this one that you can book instantly. Spiridakos and his crew have decades of experience on Santorini boat tours and they are famous for their tours.
- Oia ia famous for its artistic vibes and there is a ton of galleries and private boutiques that add to that vibe. My advice though: don’t just visit the shops, but try to buy something if you like it as this is supporting the locals and the artists.
- There are no wineries in Oia. The famous Santo Wines winery is outside of Pyrgos and Fira towns. The winery that is closest to Oia is Sigalas Domaine.
- There is no nightlife in Oia and it’s like this for a reason, as locals (and probably the nearby hotels)do not want to disturb the vibes.
- The best website to book a tour is Get Your Guide with hundreds of available tours that you can actually book online
RECOMMENDED WEBSITES FOR GREECE:
Booking.com is the website with the most available rooms and Private Villas in Athens, Santorini , Mykonos & Crete (more than Airbnb!)
Ferryhopper is the best website to book your ferry tickets or check the timetables for Santorini, Mykonos , Crete & all greek islands
Get Your Guide has the best and largest variety of Tours in Athens and the greek islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Crete etc)
Rentalcars is the easiest way to rent a car or a quad for Greece with thousands of available options
Expedia has all the available flights to and from the greek islands
So, without further ado, let’s see the best things to do in Oia:
Watch the Sunset from Oia Castle
You have read it and see it all over Instagram or Tiktok, so it is no surprise that watching the sunset from Οia Castle or from Oia in general is on the top of my list of the best things to do in Oia. Since, it is probably the most viral thing to do in Greece, it should come as no surprise that you won’t be alone there. Depending on the season you will be around lots of people trying to take pictures and videos of the most famous sunset in the world. But even under those circumstances it is a magical experience. However, if you tick that box then I would highly suggest you watch the sunset from Francos Cafe at Pyrgos Village or the Prophet Elias hill.
Yes, this is not really a 100% thing to do in Oia, as it’s a…cruise but believe me when I am saying this is going to be the highlight of your trip. Most of the boat tours in Santorini finish their route at Ammoudi bay which is literally the small bay/port under Oia, so you will get the opportunity to finish your day (especially if you take the afternoon cruise) with a meal or wine in Oia. There are cheap cruises as well but they usually depart from Athinios port and they are on a bigger boats. My personal preference has always been the cruises that the awesome team at Spiridakos Cruises are doing with decades of experience on Santorini.
Visit the famous Blue Domes Church of Oia
At this stage, you would have probably seen a picture of these magnificent blue domes everywhere. So, to make your life easier click on this link below to see their exact location on Google Maps.
It is not difficult to find the blue domes, there is no ticket to anything, and you are free to take as many pictures as you want. If you are lucky you may even find the church open and visit it as well, but that is not guaranteed. Obviously, if you try to find them around sunset time, the area would probably be packed of people but the area will be pretty much empty if you visit it in the morning or any other time.
Visit the Santorini Maritime Museum
I am not going to lie to you: this is not the most impressive museum in the world, but if you want to spend some time in Oia and you are interested in learning a bit more about the history of the place and its former glory as a maritime centre of the Mediterranean sea then you should visit it. The museum itself was founded back in 1956 by Captain Antonis Dakoronias, who started collecting lots of souvenirs and maritime artefacts that are now the museum’s exhibits. There are lots of compasses, anchors, ship models, sailing equipment and sailor uniforms, along with ropes, crates and lots of drawings of historical ships.
If you are into hiking or you want to get moving while on the island, then hiking the path between Oia and Fira is the best way to explore the island in a different way while enjoying some of the most stunning views of the island. The path itself is quite easy and it will take you 4.5-5 hours to reach the end of it, but you need to be prepared for high temperatures in the summer (between May-October), so my advice would be to do it as early morning as possible. This link provides all the information about the hike itself but if you prefer to do it with a local guide who knows exactly where the good spots are, then this Caldera Trail Guided Hike Private Tour is the best one on the island.
Visit the famous Atlantis Bookstore
Atlantis Books has been an institution of passion, love and craziness for books, literature and poetry in Oia since 2002. Make no mistake: this is one of the cutest bookshops in the world and it has become one of the top tourist attractions in Oia. This is a booklover’s paradise with writings all over the walls and thousands of interesting and handpicked books to choose from. This little gem has been named one of the best bookstores in the world by National Geographic and its terrace has hosted readings, film festivals and story times for kids. However, its future is doubtful as Covid-19 hit financially the shop and it now opens on an irregular basis in the summer only.
Visit an Oia Art Gallery or Jewellery Shop
Oia is home to some of the best art galleries and jewellery shops in Greece. There is a certain vibe to all of them, and even though they are quite expensive (don’t forget where you are…) you may eventually find some little gems like Mnemossyne or Ak Galleries or Mati Art Gallery that have some stunning exhibitions or items to buy.