Oia is one of the most stunningly beautiful villages in Europe. It is one of the clifftop villages of Santorini and overlooks the caldera which is a sea filled extinct volcano crater. As well as the views over the sea and the islands the village itself is very beautiful.
Santorini is one of the Cycladean Islands which are one of the most popular of the Greek Islands groups.
Oia is made up of hundreds of small cube shaped houses built into the cliff face overlooking the sea on Santorini island. Most are painted white though some are attractive pastel colours. They all have either a flat roof or a domed roof and dotted amongst the appartments and hotels are quite a number of pretty churches many with blue-domed roofs.
Quite a number of the buildings were originally cave buildings and they have been converted into luxury hotels and appartments. Many have private small pools or jacuzzis and on this side of Oia they mostly have fabulous views out over the caldera.
A huge volcanic erruption in 1613BC created the caldera, most of which is submerged. Santorini island is visible on one side of the caldera and Therasia and Aspronisi are on the other side. In the middle are the Kameni islands. The views of these islands and the deep blue Agean sea is stunning.
There is a main pedestrian street running the length of the village and at one end is a fort which offers great views back over Oia all along the ridge and in the other direction a group of windmills that can be seen on the skyline.
This is a particularly popular spot to see the sun setting and see Oia in the "blue light" period so loved by photographers. As Oia and all of its tiny swimming pools light up on a night it looks just as fabulous on an evening and in the night as it does in the daytime.
There is a lot of hype about Oia and Santorini but it does live up to its reputation. Sadly this does mean it gets absolutely packed especially in July and August and when the cruise ships bring their passengers in it can be difficult to move at peak season.
If you can - stay for a few nights and then at least you get to enjoy the town without the cruise passengers and even better you get the night time views.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants in Oia and like the hotels the best have caldera views but not all are too expensive. Cheaper restaurants can be found on the other side of the main street away from the views and there is quite a lively area near the bus station with a good range of restaurants.
Along the main street there are lots of attractive shops and boutiques and quite a few souvenir shops too, many selling the iconic blue evil eye beads and bags that you are sure to be tempted by.
The main church about halfway along the main street and not far from the bus station is the church of Panagia. Be sure to take a look inside which has beautiful paintings on the walls. Near to here on the caldera edge is one of the popular blue domed churches and it certainly attracts a lot of attention as everyone tries to get the iconic photo of Santorini with the blue domes and the blue sea as a backdrop.
At the far end of the main street is another large church painted in a pale lemon colour rather than the usual white.
If you are feeling energetic you can walk down the 300 steps to the small port of Ammoudi which is a pretty spot and has a few restaurants where you can enjoy the food and the views over to the islands. There is a rocky beach which is good for snorkling.
How to get to Oia?
From the main port at Athinios where you will arrive from the other islands you can catch a bus to Fira (Thira) and then change at the bus station for Oia. This is easy except that there seems to be no bus information at the port and so most people end up getting in a taxi.
There are taxis and shared taxis (minibuses) at the port. The shared taxis are a bit cheaper than private taxis but tend to have a few dropoffs on the way to Oia.
There is a small airport on Santorini which is also served by both buses and taxis.
You can also hire a car from the port or airport.
Photos of Oia
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