There are plenty of things to do in Oia, a Santorini village that entices travellers with a wealth of luxury hotels, a warren of whitewashed laneways, and one of the world’s most iconic sunsets. Set atop an impressive cliff in the northwest of Santorini, the village offers a spectacular view across the caldera and the neighbouring island of Thirassia. Considered one of Europe’s most romantic destinations, there's an undeniable appeal to this charming traditional village.

    Beyond the stony laneways and traditional houses that line the narrow streets is an abundance of sights waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking for blue domed-churches, aquamarine bays for swimming or highlights of the island, Oia has plenty to offer. Sample the flavours of Santorini with an afternoon among vineyards or dive into the cosy ambience of a quirky bookstore. 

    What are the best things to do in Oia?

    1

    See Oia’s famous 3 blue domes

    Maybe the most photographed buildings in Santorini

    The blue domes of the Agios Spyridonas and Anastaseos churches in Oia are perhaps the most photographed roofs on Santorini. The 2 buildings are right next to each other and are iconic examples of the island’s Cycladic architecture. There are a couple of great viewpoints along the alleyways west of the churches, and they often get crowded towards the end of the day as people secure the best spot for the perfect sunset photo. It’s worth taking the time to look around during the day to find the many great angles.

    Location: Oia 847 02, Greece

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    2

    Explore Oia Castle

    Arrive early for a great sunset view

    Combining the island’s long and impressive history with stunning sunset views, Oia Castle is one of the most popular places to visit in Santorini. Also known as Fort Londsa, the castle was built some time around the late 15th century as a deterrent to pirate raiders. It was the home of the Venetian rulers of Santorini – the Argyri family. Sadly, the passing centuries and occasional earthquakes have left little of the once-grand structure. What little there is offers a beautiful view out to the western horizon over Amoudi Bay, making it an extremely popular place to watch the sunset from. You’ll have to come quite early in the afternoon if you want to secure the best views.

    Location: Oia 847 02, Greece

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    3

    Atlantis Books

    Pick up your next read with a view

    Atlantis Books occupies a prime real estate overlooking Santorini’s caldera, making it one of the world’s most alluring bookshops. Set among swanky restaurants and galleries that line the whitewashed streets of Oia, the bookstore is brimming with a carefully curated offering including pre-loved books and a collection of rare first editions. Literary lovers will find themselves swept up in the shop's irresistible charm.

    Atlantis Books was established in the mid-noughties by 2 friends and has become a destination in its own right The store has cosy terraces and low ceilings fringed by books stowed at every corner. It also opens its doors to food and film festivals, live performances and hosts the annual Caldera Arts and Literature Festival. Don’t miss the opportunity to join one of their sunset readings, which take place at their sea-facing terrace.

    Location: Nomikos Street, Oía 847 02, Greece

    Open: Daily from 2 pm to 8 pm

    Phone: +30 2286 072346

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    photo by Alma Ayon (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Cliff jumping at Amoudi Bay

    If you dare!

    Amoudi Bay is a tiny fishing village below Oia, with waterfront cliffs that are a magnet for adrenaline junkies. The water along this rocky shore gets very deep within a very short distance of the cliffs, so it’s a relatively safe spot for testing your mettle (as safe as any 6-metre plunge into the sea can be, anyway). The village itself is a great spot for seafood lunches and sunset drinks. The top cliff-jumping spots are found down the coastal path to the south, around the headland. One of the best (and tallest) cliffs is at the Saint Nicholas Chapel, which is on a tiny off-shore island, just a short swim away.

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    5

    Domaine Sigalas

    Taste the produce at this idyllic vineyard

    Domaine Sigalas is a lush expanse of green vines juxtaposed against the dry and rocky landscape of Santorini. Set on the ancient plain of Oia, the vineyard is known for producing some of the best wine in all of Greece. While it grows mostly white grape varieties, particularly Assyrtiko, it also produces a small batch of red wines.

    The peaceful vineyard feels a world away from the crowded lanes of Oia. Just 40 years ago, the region was not regarded as a major player in wine production, but Domaine Sigalas has been instrumental in changing that view with its award-winning drop. Spend an afternoon sampling some of its finest wines accompanied by gourmet dishes created from locally sourced ingredients. Stay a little longer to enjoy one of Santorini’s iconic sunsets from its terrace. 

    Location: Baxes, Oia, Santorini 847 02, Greece

    Open: April–October: daily from 11 am to 9 pm. November–March: daily from 11 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +30 2286 071644

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    photo by Tjeerd Wiersma (CC BY 2.0) modified

    6

    Armeni Bay

    A charming port with crystalline waters

    Armeni Bay is a quaint cove is just a few metres from its more popular neighbour, Ammoudi Bay. The idyllic seaport is excellent for enjoying some peace and quiet during your holiday. Only a few ships dock here, which means you can avoid the crowds of nearby beaches and coves in Oia.

    Arrive by boat or on foot by descending around 300 steps from the village above. You’ll be rewarded with stunning crystalline waters, a small black-pebble beach, and large red rocks protruding from the sea. Divers will be thrilled to find a a small dive centre that offers great wall dives nearby. There's also a small, traditional taverna serving local dishes, but Armeni Bay remains unspoiled.  

    Location: Oia 847 02, Greece

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    7

    Church of Panagia Platsani

    The centrepiece of Oia’s main square

    The Church of Panagia Platsani is one of the best examples of Santorini's famously picturesque churches. Located in Oia’s main square, the traditional Greek Orthodox church has whitewashed walls, an incredible blue dome, and a 6-piece bell tower. Inside, ornate golden detailing along with religious items and icons typical of a Greek Orthodox church are on display.

    Originally built within the walls of the Castle of Oia, the Church of Panagia Platsan was relocated to the town centre after an earthquake in 1956. The current site offered more stable ground with a lower chance of damage to the architecture. During Greek Easter, lanterns are placed throughout the town with an emphasis around churches – a beautiful sight to see if you're here at the right time.

    Location: Santorini 847 00, Greece

    Phone: +30 2286 022260

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    8

    Maritime Museum

    A quaint museum of nautical significance

    The Naval Maritime Museum occupies a restored mansion in Oia. You'll find an intriguing collection of artefacts from the seafaring history of Santorini (from when it was called Thira). Seamen's chests, models of old and new Thiran ships, rare photographs and drawings, and old maritime equipment dress the whitewashed interior.

    The Naval Maritime Museum was founded by Captain Antonis Dakoronis in 1956, and relocated to a 2-storey captain house, in 1990. The building is a reminder of the prosperity Santorini’s naval contributions afforded the island, particularly in the village of Oia. Spend an afternoon wandering through the displays to uncover the history of the Hellenic Navy.

    Location: 25th March 405, Thira 847 00, Greece

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 10 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 7 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +30 2286 071156

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    Kiri Nowak | Contributing Writer

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