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Find information on Oia in our Travel Guide covering sights, foods and nightlife plus more...
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Oia lies on the far north western tip of Santorini and, in common with many of the island’s villages, it is perched on the rim of the volcano overlooking the caldera. It claims, with good reason, to be one of the prettiest villages on Santorini. At the end of the nineteenth century the population of Oia was around nine thousand. It was an affluent town inhabited by ship owners, mariners and fishermen. The earthquake in 1956 destroyed much of the town and prosperity dwindled along with the population which now sits at around five hundred permanent residents. Owing to its renowned beauty, Oia has become a very popular tourist destination and almost everyone who travels to Santorini will visit Oia to see its famous sunsets. Oia is a traditional village with narrow cobbled streets, white and ochre houses with blue doors and window frames, and its famed blue-domed churches. There are plenty of tourist shops to keep visitors happy and many restaurants and tavernas serving a variety of cuisine.
An Oia holiday offers stunning visas in all directions, a relaxed friendly atmosphere and sunsets to remember for the rest of your lives.
Oia is a charming and interesting village offering accommodation to suit most budgets and restaurants and tavernas catering for most tastes. Its tourist shops and craft stores provide a more select range of goods than is usually found in the island’s seaside resorts, and there are also small boutiques and jewellery shops. It is a very pretty village famous for its spectacular sunsets and its romantic setting.
Although Oia is a much visited village, it has less appeal as a holiday base. It is mainly popular with older couples as there is no easy access to the beach for families and its nightlife does not appeal to those young singles who like to party.
The Oia holiday season lasts from April until October when the temperature ranges from twenty to thirty degrees. Summer is the most popular time to visit the island.
Oia is justified in its claim that it is the most beautiful village in Santorini. It stands on the edge of the volcano overlooking the startlingly blue sea of the caldera. If you arrive by boat there are over two hundred steps to be climbed, either on foot or by taking a hair-raising ride on the back of a donkey, which slips and slithers on the hard stepped walkway.
The village was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1956 and the population at that time was drastically reduced as people left the area. Now it has been restored and has regained its traditional charm with its whitewashed houses and blue paintwork, its clean, narrow cobbled streets, its pots of brightly coloured flowers and its blue domed churches which all combine to make a feast for the eyes. There are restaurants and tavernas providing a variety of menu, shops with a better standard of souvenirs than elsewhere, and many sightseeing opportunities.
At the foot of the town are two small beaches but, in truth, they are hardly worth the effort of climbing down, and worse still climbing back up, the steps. They are small and composed of rather rough volcanic shingle.
The Maritime Museum is worth a visit. It is housed in an old mansion and is filled with figureheads, chests, maps and charts and models of ships.
Oia nightlife is very low-key where evenings are spent strolling through the streets and dining and wining under the stars. Those wishing for lively entertainment can take a bus or a taxi to Fira where there are many venues where you can drink and dance until the early hours of the morning.
Oia shopping is fairly limited when compared to Fira, only twelve kilometres to the south. Oia does however have some lovely tourist shops where you can browse in air conditioned comfort. There are some fine jewellers and glass and china stores as well as the usual gift shops. If the choice is insufficient take the bus to Fira which is a shopper’s paradise with hundreds of little shops packed into the narrow cobbled lanes.
There are a good number of restaurants and tavernas in Oia serving a wide variety of food and catering for most tastes. Prices are generally higher here than elsewhere on the island. Traditional Greek food relies heavily on fish simply cooked and is quite delicious. Moussaka is another Greek favourite made from minced lamb and aubergines. Fast food stalls such as Souvlatzidiki sell takeaway souvlakis, a type of kebab. For a more substantial snack these are sometimes wrapped in pita bread and called gyros. The Santorini wines are inexpensive and very palatable.
The more expensive restaurants are on the cliff top where your meal will be enhanced by the beauty of the spectacular sunsets.