This Town on Santorini Offers a Quintessential Greece Vacation — Whitewashed Houses and Sunset Views Included
Here's what you need to know to visit the famous town of Oia on Santorini.
Whitewashed walls, blazing blue-domed roofs, and azure waters all around: This must be Oia, Greece.
Sure, visitors can find scenes like this all over the Greek Islands, but none may be as picture-perfect as those found in Oia, the famed village on the island of Santorini. Located on a craggy cliffside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the centuries-old town has become the star of the show thanks to an idyllic look that made it ultra popular on social media. However, this quaint community is more than just a backdrop to your snaps. Here’s everything you need to know about Oia for your next trip to Greece.
Related: 15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Greece
What to Know
Oia is the most-visited village on the island of Santorini, so you'll definitely run into other tourists here. Like other Greek villages, it comes with tiny, winding, and steep streets, so be prepared to lose your breath just a little on a walkabout. But the walks are worth it, especially around sunset. Get to a higher vantage point to watch the sun go down in a blaze of glory each evening (and keep reading to find out the best places to see the sunset in Oia). A quick tip: The town is simply pronounced “ia.”
Related: Basic Greek Words, Phrases, and Slang to Learn Before You Go to Greece
Best Time to Visit Oia
The high season on Santorini, like its neighboring islands, is always the summer from about June to early September. This is when the temperatures hit their peak, with average daily highs above 80°F, according to WeatherSpark. But, again, be warned: This is the high season. That means there will be lots of other travelers attempting to navigate those small streets, vying for the perfect sunset view, and trying to find their own patch of sand on its glamorous beaches. If you can, try to plan a trip during the shoulder seasons in late September or late May to early June. This is when the temperatures are still lovely (usually in the high 70s), but there are far fewer tourists to compete with for space.
Things to Do in Oia
The waters off the coast of Oia (and all of Santorini) are nothing short of spectacular. They are a shade of blue that's hard to even capture in a photograph. Thus, they’re best experienced in person by booking a sailing or motorboat excursion for the day. Book a private or group catamaran cruise, which takes guests around the coast to experience the island's hot springs, the famed Red Beach, and even a few places to snorkel.
Explore Oia Castle.
Get to know a bit about Santorini’s rich history by visiting the Oia Castle, also known as St. Nicolas Castle. Though there’s little left of the actual castle, you can still spot the rubble left over from the 15th-century watchtower that once kept the island safe from invaders.
See the Panagia Platsani Church.
Panagia Platsani Church, located in the village’s main square, is relatively new to Santorini. The church you see today was built following the earthquake of 1956 to replace the church that once stood in its place. Here, visitors can gaze upon the icon of the Virgin Mary, which sits surrounded by gifts from those who come to pray. And, if you happen to visit in August, you can celebrate the church’s name day on Aug. 15, which comes with a religious procession the night before.
Hit the beach.
You’re on a Greek Island, so, of course, you’re going to visit a beach. There are several to choose from all within walking distance from town, including Katharos Beach, arguably the most popular sandy spot. The beach is tucked within the rugged cliffs, giving it a gorgeous contrast to the sea. Those looking for a bit more of an adrenaline rush can always visit Armonio Beach for a little cliff jumping, too.
Watch the sunset.
Watching the stunning sunsets is a requisite activity in Oia. And though you could really stop just about anywhere to see it, the most popular place to watch the sun go down is at the castle. It provides a sweeping view of the ocean, speckled with other Greek Islands. This is a popular spot, so expect to observe the sunset among throngs of other tourists (but don't worry, watching the sunset with fellow travelers can actually be quite fun).
Where to Stay in Oia
The Saint Hotel
Find yourself surrounded by modern luxury at The Saint Hotel. The 16 suites are made up of old homes, barns, and cellars that have been lovingly restored to create this glamorous accommodation. Find rooms with private terraces, pools, and even caves, all with gorgeous caldera views.
La Perla Villas and Suites
Have a luxurious getaway when you book a few nights at La Perla Villas and Suites. The adults-only hotel offers classic Greek styling with white-washed walls and pops of blue, as well as terraces that come with private hot tubs overlooking the water. Guests can also socialize around its pool and pool bar, which makes for another glorious sunset viewing location.
Andronis Luxury Suites
Have a unique, high-end stay at the Andronis Luxury Suites. The hotel offers cave-style rooms with panoramic views to make you feel like you’re a part of Greek history. The suites are located just a short walk from the main square, making it an ideal jumping-off point for your Oia adventures.
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