We have seen so many photos and reports of the place Oia on Santorini from various bloggers or travelers on Instagram and Facebook in recent years. The pictures of the white village with its blue church domes directly on the steep coast have always delighted us. All the more reason to feel that during our cruise with Celestyal Cruises we had 2 days to explore the island of Santorini and the wonderfully beautiful place Oia.
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The village of Oia on the island of Santorini
The most beautiful village on Santorini is for us Oia (pronounced “Ia”) – high on the northwestern edge of the crater is the picturesque village with its white houses and blue church domes. Oia is about 11 kilometers from the capital Fira and from there either by taxi (our tour guide estimates that the trip one-way costs about 15 euros) or to reach the local bus (price per route about 2 euros). Of course, there is also the possibility to walk along the crater rim.
We were dropped off with our blogger tour group in a small bus directly at the bus station in Oia. Since most of Oia is car-free, everything here is just walking. This is also better, because one has already noticed at the entrance to the village that there are far too many tourists and coaches in one place and that the town is no longer equipped for it: mega-long traffic jams, honking concerts and reckless motorists are the order of the day here.
The alleys in the old town of Oia
From the bus station it is only a short bit until you arrive at the main square of Oia. Here is the white church of Panagia Platsani, which has a distinctive blue dome and a beautiful bell tower. At the end of the main square you can already catch the first wonderful view of the caldera of Santorini and the nearby islands and volcanoes. And this will definitely not be the last, because you actually have great views at almost every corner in Oia.
From the main square we walked along the main path
on the right and walked through the narrow streets of the city. Here, traditional Cycladic houses line up next to bright white churches and cave houses built deep into the volcanic rock. In addition, there are many souvenir shops, restaurants, cafés and art galleries in the narrow streets.
In Oia you will find two different types of apartments or houses:
– Cave housesdug into the volcanic rock and formerly the houses of the ship’s crews.
– Captain’s housesconsisting of two spacious floors and large versans overlooking the sea. The captain’s houses were larger than the cave houses, better built and more beautifully decorated.
Today, many of the former sailor’s houses, which are located directly on the hillside, have been converted into guest houses, hotels and restaurants and restored – also to preserve traditional Greek architecture.
The windmills in Oia
Among the most famous buildings in the city are the two white windmillsthat can be seen in the west of the city. Especially in the sunset light, the two windmills give off a great photo motif.
The famous blue church domes
The city of Oia is known for its white houses and churches with blue dome roofs. The houses are painted with white lime water so that the rainwater falling over it runs down and can be collected. We have researched some what is happening in Greece, where the white houses with their blue roofs or blue doors are so widespread. One explanation is that it was forbidden to hoist the Greek flag during Ottoman rule. In order to be able to show its attachment to Greece, the houses were painted in white and blue.
One of the most photographed motifs in the whole of Oia are certainly the three blue church domes. These are relatively easy to find if you simply turn left from the main path to get closer to the edge of the caldera. Most of the time, a number of other tourists flock to take pictures at this point. So you can’t miss the spot. Since there are of course also hotels and private apartments on every corner, understandably many paths are also blocked off, which one should not walk along in order to protect the privacy of hotel guests or residents. Few, however, adhere to it.
A dreamlike sunset
At the top of Oia is the ruins of Londsa Castle, which today serves as a lookout point with a complete 360-degree view. Since you should have the best view of the magical sunset of Santorini from here, most visitors gather here – just like in the streets facing west or in the many restaurants. The city is short, during and after sunset especially in these places just breaking full. People watch and photograph like wild until the sun reaches the sea. And then there is just applause 🙂
Sundowner Bar and Dinner in Oia
During the sunset we were with our tour group in a beautiful bar, from which my great view of the sunset had – not for nothing was the restaurant called Sunsets Restaurant. Later we went for dinner in the Red Bicycle Restaurant, where we were again allowed to taste delicious Greek specialties. A nice end to a really great day.
Prices for hotels and food in Oia
As far as the prices for the food are concerned, we found that this is actually still okay for such a touristy place. You get main courses for less than 20 euros – incl. the great views of the sea, which almost every restaurant has to offer. But what really goes into the money are the prices for the (luxury) hotels in Oia. Here you have to spend several hundred euros for one night, especially if the hotel has a view of the caldera and the room has a private pool. For fun, we took a look at Tripadvisor to see how deep you have to reach into your wallet… and for the first top 10 hotels alone, prices are always between 800 and 1,400 € per night. So the hype around the city can be paid really expensive lynot only !
A map of Santorini
Finally, we can say that we really liked Oia. The combination of traditional whitewashed houses, narrow streets and blue church domes makes the village unique. We couldn’t stop taking hundreds of photos at every corner – no wonder, because Oia is a single postcard motif 🙂
In this Google Maps map we have mapped all the sights of Santorini that we visited in our 2 days on the island:
All travelogues from our Aegean CruiseOur 7-day cruise with the shipping company Celestyal Cruises took us to the classic but also most interesting Cyclades islands of the Aegean Sea. We have written the following articles about the individual destinations.
Day 1: 7 Days Aegean Cruise with Celestyal Cruises (Greece)
Day 2: Delos Island – The ruins of the ancient city of Delos (Greece)
Day 2: Mykonos Island – The fairytale alleys & famous windmills (Greece)
Day 3: Milos Island – The Moon Beach Sarakiniko (Greece)
Day 4: Island of Santorini – Tourist Attractions in the capital Fira (Greece)
Day 4: Island of Santorini – The archaeological site of Akrotiri (Greece)
Day 5: Island of Santorini – The beautiful village of Oia (Greece)
Day 6: Crete Island – The Palace of Knossos & Archaeological Museum (Greece)
Day 6: Crete Island – Port city of Heraklion & the fortress of Koules (Greece)
Day 7: Ephesus – The Ruins of the Ancient City & the Library of Celsus (Turkey)