Sitting on our hotel balcony in Oia

27 Best Things To Do in Oia, Santorini


We spent about a week in Oia (pronounced EE-YUH) and loved every second. I can’t wait for you to experience the magic.

Oia is breathtaking and unlike any other place. If you are going to Greece it should definitely be on your must-see list. To fill out your itinerary, here are the most amazing, iconic, and unique things to do in Oia.

In a hurry? This is my number one thing to do in Oia:

Best Things To Do in Oia

1. Catamaran Cruise

Catamaran Cruise in Oia

Personally, I think this is the NUMBER ONE thing to do when visiting Oia. We had the BEST TIME on our catamaran cruise. This tour specifically gives you the option of finishing in Ammoudi Bay, just below Oia. Select “luxury sunset cruise with Oia”.

A 15-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi and you’re back in Oia. This way you will be on the water for sunset, and then finish in Ammoudi Bay. A truly dreamy day!

Or, you can choose to do their daytime cruise which starts and ends in another port. But don’t worry, they pick you up and drop you off at your hotel 🙂

2. Swim, Cliff Jump, or Lay on the Rocks at Ammoudi Bay

Ammoudi Bay is a small picturesque bay and port that sits at the base of Oia. You can walk down the iconic steps to reach it or take a taxi.

Once you arrive you will find several seaside restaurants, a busy little port, and the prettiest place to swim on all of Santorini. Note that I said *swim* and not lay out – this is not a beach.

If you are facing the water, turn left and walk about 5 minutes past the last restaurant. The dirt path will lead you to the swimming spot. The water is crystal clear and very inviting. There is a small island you can swim to and this is where you will find the popular jumping rocks!

Psst… in case you don’t know, Santorini doesn’t have the best beaches. If you are looking for an island with great beaches check out the island of Ios!

3. Stay in a Cave Hotel

Aside from going on a catamaran, I think this is my second top thing to do in Oia. The cave hotels are iconic. We got the best sleep of our entire trip in this cave hotel!

Aris Caves not only has the most stunning views, but it is also the sweetest place. We were greeted by the owner, bags carried to our room, and fresh bread and wine left in our room. I love this place.

4. Take an Off-Road Jeep Tour!

Okay, this is one of the more unique things to do in Oia and so much fun!!! On this tour, you will really get to go off the beaten path and see amazing views, drive on dirt roads to hidden beaches, and get a traditional Greek dinner at the end while watching the sunset!

Like what!? The tour guide and lead driver will lead the way in the first jeep but everyone else will follow in their own jeep wrangler! Driver’s license required. They will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel in Oia.

5. Watch the Sunset

It’s what Oia is famous for! Honestly, Oia is supposedly one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset. But beware – the streets, alleyways, and restaurants become extremely crowded around this time of day.

To get a good spot, arrive at least a couple of hours early to your desired location, or make a dinner reservation at a restaurant with a view, or if you are staying in a cliffside hotel with an unobstructed, watch it from there!

6. Blue Domes of Oia

Blue domed churches can be found all over Greece, but Oia is particularly famous for them because they are on all of the iconic photos and postcards of Oia, among packed stunning whitewashed buildings.

You can look up how to get to some of them or good vantage points, but my advice is to just wander the quaint streets. you are sure to run into them and discover so much more along the way.

7. Get Lost in the Streets

Building off that last one, getting lost in the streets is so much fun in Oia because it’s not that big. So no matter how lost you get, you’ll find your way back. And there is so much beauty around every corner – from a new view to gorgeous buildings.

This is one of my favorite ways to find food too – just stumble into somewhere random.

8. Go Scuba Diving with Atlantis Oia

Are you a certified diver? Then you can’t miss the opportunity to dive in and around the Caldera. Santorini waters are perfect for diving with little current and great visibility.

On this tour, you will dive among reefs, cliffs, wrecks, drop-offs, volcanic formations, and more. You will meet at the office right in the center of Oia. All equipment provided.

9. Kastro House

You know that one pastel terracotta building in every amazing photo of Oia? This is it. You can swing by for your own epic photos, or you can even stay there because it’s a hotel – a wonderful one at that! OFTEN BOOKED UP!

10. Atlantis Books

Love a good bookstore? I’ve got a great one for you. Atlantis Books is located on the main marble street of Oia, Santorini (there are no street names in Santorini…).

When you find it, take the steps down into the quirky building and marinate in its magic for a while. I love buying a book in a new country – I usually choose a local story (from the small English section).

11. Professional Photoshoot

This isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but it is one of the more popular things to do in Oia. Especially this flying dress photoshoot. Every day you will see people walking around in these beautiful long gowns, cameraman in tow.

If you’d like some professional photos but not the glam, this walking tour with a personal photographer might be of interest. Your photographer will take you to all of the best photo spots and you are sure to leave with some epic photos (no gown required).

12. Windmill of Oia

Windmill of Oia

Santorini is quite windy and you can find many historic windmills around the island. One of the most notable is the windmill of Oia. You can even stay there!

It’s actually called the “sunset windmill” because you have an amazing view of the sunset right from your patio. It also has a hot tub. Honestly one of the most unique and romantic places to say if you can swing it! TIP: It’s half-price in the off-season.

13. Visit the most famous church in Oia: Church of Panagia Platsani

Church of Panagia Platsani in Oia

The Church of Panagia Platsani is the largest and most famous church in Oia. It is located in the center of town and its square is one of the largest open spaces along the main walkway so it does get very busy. I recommend going in the morning!

It features a bell tower and a large blue dome. If you get a chance to go inside, do it! Just check the hours.

14. Eat Fava and Chlorotyri Cheese

Bowl of fava in Oia, Santorini

One of my favorite things when traveling is trying the local food – at least the local vegetarian food. Lucky for me being vegetarian in Greece is pretty easy.

Greek Fava and Chlorotyri cheese are two Santorini specialties. Fava is a puree made of yellow split peas (see photo). Santorini Fava is a bean grown only in Santorini. The volcanic soil gives it a unique and incredible flavor. This is one of my favorite dishes in Santorini, I ate it every opportunity I had.

Chlorityri, or Chloro, is a local cheese made in Santorini from goat’s milk. It’s a fresh cheese that’s recipe has been handed down from generation to generation. This is not as easy to find as Fava, but some traditional restaurants will have it.

15. Wine Tour

Santorini Winery

Santorini has a great wine scene! The volcanic soil produces some fantastic wine. I recommend taking a tour so you don’t have to drive. This tour stops at three wineries and avoids the super touristy ones (like Santo Wines).

If you don’t want to do a tour, I recommend going to Domaine Sigalas – it’s just outside of Oia, is lowkey, and has great wine.

16. Hike Oia to Fira

Another popular and iconic thing to do while you are in Oia is hike the famous 6 miles to Fira (and take a bus or taxi back). You can power through this or take your time and stop in some of the tows you pass for lunch, take detours (like to Skaros Rock), and so on.

If you enjoy hiking and getting out in nature while you travel I highly recommend this hike. The views are beautiful and I always feel more acquainted with a place after a hike.

17. Rent an ATV to Explore the Island

One of the most fun ways to get around the island is on an ATV. If you plan on exploring the rest of the island consider renting an ATV over a car.

To rent, you can ask your hotel to set up a rental for you, or you can walk down the streets and you will see places offering rentals. If you go during high season book a day or two ahead because the quads to sell out.

18. Shop

If you like to collect souvenirs, you can find those at various little shops in Oia. But, you can also find really nice jewelry, designer shops, and nice boutiques.

If you are the type of person who likes to shop on vacation you will enjoy Oia.

19. Make Dinner Reservations

Eat at one (or several) of the great restaurants in Oia. BUT, if you don’t want to wait and especially if you want to go somewhere with a sunset view, make a reservation. The restaurants become packed around sunset time.

20. Take a Greek Cooking Class

This tour also includes wine tasting at two wineries. Following the tastings you will learn how to cook 4 Santorini specialty dishes! This tour will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.

21. Byzantine Castle Ruins

The Castle of St. Nicholas was a 15th-century residence, home to Byzantine aristocracy. It was (mostly) destroyed in the 1956 earthquake, and only a fraction of it remains today. This is a very popular spot for sunset, so go early to get a spot or see it earlier in the day.

22. Take a Dip at the Lioyerma Lounge Cafe Pool Bar

If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, this is a great spot to check out! Lioyerma Lounge Cafe has a large pool, drinks, food, lounging chairs, and tables. It does not cost anything to go swimming, you just have to buy food or a drink.

Bonus – if you hang out long enough you will find yourself perfectly positioned for sunset! Unobstructed views and it is not super crowded.

23. RELAX or Schedule a Spa Day

Santorini, especially Oia, is so beautiful, so quaint, and feels luxurious. Make sure to schedule time to do nothing! Enjoy your hotel, enjoy the views, and move slowly. Treat yourself to a local spa treatment.

24. Visit the Maritime Museum

The Navel Maritime Museum is located in a renovated 19th-century mansion in Oia. It holds the maritime history of the island. Its merchant fleet was critical to the island’s economic prosperity. Very interesting museum if you like history!

25. Hike to Imerovigli

Okay, so the hike to Fira is a little aggressive for your relaxing vacay, I get that. How about hiking to Imergoveli? Imergoveli is not quite as far as Fira, has slightly less elevation gain, and the path moves along the coast the whole time so the views are stunning.

26. See Santorini from Above….in a helicopter!

Want a unique perspective of the island? Take this 30-minute helicopter tour to see the caldera and volcano from above!

27. Enjoy a Cafe Freddo

Don’t know what a Cafe Freddo is? You will soon! 😉

Where is Oia and How to Get There

Oia is located on the northwestern tip of Santorini. There are two primary transportation options: plane or ferry. You can get to all of the islands via ferry but only some of them have airports. Santorini does have an airport.

By Plane:

  1. Fly to Santorini National Airport (Thira Airport) from Athens. The flight is between 30 and 45 minutes.
  2. When you land you have several transportation options to your hotel:
    • Taxi: Taxis are readily available at the airport. Simply inform the driver that you want to go to Oia.
    • Bus: Santorini has a bus network connecting various parts of the island. You can take a bus from the airport to Oia but you will need to change buses in Fira. This is the most affordable option but not the most convenient.
    • Rent a car: You can book a rental car at the airport.
    • Private transfer – this is my preferred way of getting to Oia. This way you don’t have to worry about finding parking or catching a taxi.

I use Discover Cars to book car rentals in Greece

By Ferry:

  1. Schedule your ferry out of the Athens port of Piraeus, which is the main ferry departure point in Athens. Several ferry companies offer both conventional and high-speed ferries. The journey can take approximately 5-9 hours, depending on the type of ferry you choose.
    • You can also take a ferry from other islands
  2. Arrive at Athinios Port, which is the main port of Santorini
  3. Transfer to Oia from the Port:
    • Taxi: Taxis are available at the port. Inform the driver that you want to go to Oia.
    • Bus: Santorini has a bus network. The buses are called “KTEL”. You can take a bus to Oia but you have. to change buses in Fira and the central bus station in Fira can be a little bit chaotic. Bus schedules may vary, so check in advance.
    • Rent a car: You can schedule a rental car ahead of time and pick it up at the port
    • Private transfer – the most comfortable and convenient way.

Bus schedules are published on this website

Getting Around Oia

Once you get there, Oia itself is extremely walkable. In fact, most of the streets within the village don’t allow cars at all. Here are the most common modes of transportation within Oia:

  1. Walking: Oia is known for its charming narrow streets, and much of the village is pedestrian-friendly. Walking is the best way to explore the picturesque alleyways, admire the stunning views, and visit the various shops, restaurants, and attractions within the village. Keep in mind that Oia has some steep, uneven pathways, so wear comfortable shoes (aka not heels!!).
  2. Bicycles: You can rent bicycles locally if you prefer to explore by bike!
  3. ATVs and Scooters: This is a popular way to get around the whole island, including some areas of Oia that allow them, like down to Ammoudi Bay. They are smaller and easier to maneuver on the smaller streets than cars but get you around quickly!
Sitting on a hotel balcony in Oia

Where to Stay in Oia

If you’re going to splurge at all, this is the place to do it. Staying on the cliffside is an unforgettable experience. It also means you can avoid the crowds and watch the sunset from your private balcony or pool. Here are three of my top picks in Oia.

Andronis Luxury Suites

This hotel is a dream. It’s located centrally along the side of the Caldera cliff and has a large swimming pool as well as room options with private hot tubs and private pools.

The hotel is committed to supporting healthy lifestyles offering an organic Mediterranean restaurant and a luxury spa.

Aris Caves

If you want to stay on the cliffside but not break your budget, I cannot recommend this hotel enough. It is also centrally located on the cliffside, has a large patio incredibly kind staff, and very clean and sweet rooms that will have bread or wine waiting for you.

Included with your room is a luggage porter who will come and meet you at your car, taxi, or private transfer and carry your luggage. There are several stairs to get down to the hotel so keep that in mind.

Olvos Luxury Suites 

Another incredible option is Olvos Luxury Suites, also centrally located on the cliffside. The rooms at this hotel are just beautiful. There is a large terrace with a large pool. They also offer a bicycle and car rental service.

Best Restaurants in Oia

There are so many great restaurants in Oia. Below are a few that stood out to us when we were there in 2021. I highly recommend making reservations at all of these restaurants.

  • Melitini – traditional Greek meze, very vegetarian-friendly, great food
  • Roka – charming, quiet, hidden away, traditional Greek food, one of three rooms has a sea view
  • Elinikon – Traditional Greek meze, one of the best restaurants for sunset!
  • Ammoudi Fish Tavern – incredibly fresh seafood located right on the water in Ammoudi Bay
  • Dimitris Taverna – another seaside seafood tavern in Ammoudi Bay featuring many Santorini specialties
  • Lefkes – just outside of Oia, a beautiful restaurant in a wine cave, a modern take on traditional Greek food

Things to Do in Oia: FAQ

Is Oia worth visiting?

Oia, Santorini is certainly worth visiting, and it is considered one of the most iconic and picturesque destinations in Greece. A few reasons: sunsets, scenic beauty, historical charm, relaxation, outdoor activities, and shopping and dining.

Which is better Oia or Fira Santorini?

The choice between Oia and Fira in Santorini largely depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking for in your vacation experience. Both are stunning. Oia is more tranquil, romantic, and luxurious, while Fira is more lively, has more transportation options, and more nightlife.

Is Oia prettier than Fira?

Both Oia and Fira are exceptionally beautiful! Oia has a more luxe, clean vibe.

Can you swim in the sea in Oia?

Yes! You can swim at Ammoudi Bay, or you can take a short drive or long walk to Katharos Beach, a small black sand beach (it’s rocky though).

How much is a taxi from Oia to Fira?

This varies depending on time of day, season, etc. but typically between 20 and 30 euros. Alternatively, you can take the bus for less than 2 euros. The buses are very nice!

Wrap-Up: Things to do in Oia

So, whether you’re visiting Oia for your honeymoon (like I did), a girl’s trip, a family trip, or a yoga retreat, the mindblowing sunsets, kind people, and charming streets adorned with iconic blue-domed churches will not disappoint.

Exploring by water, enjoying mouthwatering Greek cuisine, and relishing in the tranquility of this picturebook village are just a few of the best things to do in Oia.

Adventurer, romantic, or art enthusiast, Oia welcomes all with its timeless beauty and rich culture! Have the best time!!

Greece Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance?

100% Yes! – Always buy travel insurance when traveling internationally. I recommend SafetyWing. It has great coverage, is affordable, and will just bring you peace of mind.

💧Can you drink the water in Greece?

It is perfectly safe to drink tap water on the mainland, but less so on the islands. To be safe, drink bottled water on the islands (cheap and readily available).

🚙 Is it safe to rent a car in Greece?

Yes — Renting a car is one of the best ways to see Greece! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Greek companies, so you get the best rates.

📲 Will my phone work in Greece?

Maybe – It depends on where you are coming from and what plan you have, so check with your provider. If you won’t have service in Greece, I recommend getting an eSIM card. Airalo All you do is download the SIM – you don’t have to go anywhere or change out your regular SIM card. I know… how far we’ve come!

⛴️ What is the best site to book Greek ferries?

Ferryhopper and Ferryscanner are both reliable sites to view ferry schedules and book tickets. Some people prefer one over the other for various reasons including loyalty but I have used both and had the same experience. I wouldn’t use anything besides Ferryhopper or Ferryscanner though.

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Greece accommodations?

From my personal experience, is the best site to book Greece accommodations.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Greece flights?

To find and compare flights I recommend Skyscanner

🎫 Do I need a visa for Greece?

Currently, citizens from the EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, the USA, and the Schengen Zone do not need a visa to travel to Greece. Read the visa policy for Greece and familiarize yourself with the requirements for your nationality here.