Visiting Santorini has been on my European bucket list ever since I watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as a teenager.

I dreamed of having my own sun-kissed adventures exploring the island, while living in one of those charming little white caves that dot the cliffs of Oia.

It took me a while, but I finally got to live out that dream exploring Santorini last summer, and it didn’t disappoint. 

Oia is definitely the part of the island that’s the most touristy. 

Besides how crowded it was, my only regret was that that I wished I had gone with a boyfriend instead of solo, since Oia is such a romantic part of the island—though, at the end of the day, I’m proud I experienced living there for almost a week.

It’s perfect for a honeymoon, or romantic getaways, but next time I visit Santorini solo, I’ll be staying in Fira and doing a day trip to enjoy all the beautiful spots in Oia.

Below you’ll find the best things to do in Oia, with options you can enjoy on a day trip or longer stay, plus answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Oia.

Is Oia Worth Visiting?

Is Oia Worth Visiting

Absolutely, it’s the perfect spot for a stunning sunset, or romantic getaway. 

What is Oia Known For?

What is Oia Known For

Oia is known for its stunning sunsets, beautiful cave accommodations, and romantic atmosphere.

Does Oia Have Good Nightlife?

best things to do in oia

Oia doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene. They have one true bar, Hassapiko, that’s lots of fun, but the majority of nightlife happens in Fira.

Is Fira or Oia Better?

Is Fira or Oia Better

Fira is better for solo travelers, and young people looking for a solid nightlife scene. Oia is perfect for couples going on a romantic trip or for couples on their honeymoon.

The Best Things to Do in Oia, Santorini

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Watch the Sunset

Watch the Sunset

Oia is the most magical town in Santorini to watch the sunset.

In fact, you’ll want to claim your spot early, because I swear by the time the sunsets it feels like the entire island has migrated to Oia to watch.

Below are some of my favorite places in Oia to watch the sun setting:

Local’s Tip: Book reservations for sunset at least a week or more before dining and request a good view while booking.

Sign Up for a Boat Tour

When the summer heat is sweltering, there’s truly nothing better than being on a boat.

It also helps that Oia is absolutely one of those places that’s gorgeous from the sea.

Plus, you get to explore some pretty cool places like Santorini’s volcanic islands and hot springs while on most of the boat tours.

There are tons of boat tours offered, but these are some of my favorites!

Check Out Oia Castle

Okay, so full disclaimer, this place doesn’t actually look like much of a castle anymore, but it’s got amazing views, especially at sunset.

If you go at sunset, get there at least an hour before the sun goes down to claim a spot. 

Otherwise, just head there anytime of day to get a beautiful view of Amoudi Bay, the whitewashed buildings of Oia dotting the cliffs, as well as a view of the famous Windmill of Oia. 

Fun Fact: This Renaissance-era castle was built as a watchtower to guard against pirates.

Take a Day Trip

Santorini is a big island, so you’ll absolutely want to go explore some of the other less popular towns.

The bus is really easy to use to get around, or you can rent a car, though I’d suggest against it as parking can be tough to find.

I’d take a day or even half a day to explore the following towns:

  • Fira
  • Perissa
  • Kamari
  • Emporio
  • Imerovigli
  • Akrotiri 
  • Pyrgos

Take a Wine Tour 

Did you know Santorini is known for its wine?

I feel like it’s a crime to visit the island and not do at least a small vino tasting while exploring.

Just book your tours early if you’re visiting the island during peak season, as they book up fast.

Check out one of these popular Santorini wine tours!

Sign Up for a Cooking Class

One of my favorite things about Santorini is all the delicious Greek food available on the island.

Oia has tons of restaurants to enjoy it in, but why not take an afternoon and learn how to make some classic Greek dishes?

I can guarantee you’ll be happy you did it when you’re at home after your trip craving authentic Greek food.

Check out one of these popular cooking classes!

Check Out Amoudi Bay

Wandering around Amoudi Bay was one of my favorite things I did while in Santorini.

You’ll find this small port just below Oia, and is home to some beautiful seaside restaurants, cliff diving.

Fair warning though, to get to Amoudi Bay from Oia, be ready to climb down 278 steps unless you’re arriving via boat.

I’ll admit, I’m in pretty great shape and climbing up them left me out of breath. 

You do have the option of riding a donkey up them, but to be honest, I’m not a fan of supporting that business.

I don’t think it’s fair to the animals who have to be out in the heat all day.

Take a Helicopter Tour

If you really want to go crazy, book a helicopter tour of Santorini to see the island from the ultimate vantage point. 

This is definitely a once in a lifetime activity to splurge on.

I noticed for a bit more money you can just hire a helicopter to bring you from Santorini to Mykonos.

So if you’re planning to explore both islands, I’d opt for that helicopter option to see both islands from the air.

Check out the most popular helicopter tours of Santorini!

Have a Drink with a View

Drinks with a view are pretty much a mandatory vacation activity, especially when you’re on an island as gorgeous as Santorini.

While you’re exploring Oia, head to one of these spots to enjoy drinks with a stunning view:

Try Local Delicacies

Greece has tons of delicious Mediterranean delicacies, like olives, feta, Greek salad, moussaka, fava, and hummus.

If you’re not eating a ton of Mediterranean food on this trip, you’re basically doing it wrong.

While exploring Oia, check out some of my favorite restaurants in the area:

Gaze at the Blue Domes

If you haven’t noticed from the famous IG photos of Oia, there’s a ton of blue domes dotting the skyline of this village.

Lots of people visit this spot just to see the iconic blue domes.

It’s basically like you didn’t visit Oia and don’t take the time to appreciate these iconic bits of architecture.

Wander Around the Maritime Museum

If you love all things nautical, or just need something to occupy your time when the weather is less than ideal, head to the Santorini Maritime Museum.

You’ll get some gorgeous views from this mansion turned museum, including some epic views of the sea.

Plus, see tons or maritime tools, and learn all about the shipping history of Santorini.

Take Photos

Oia is easily the most photogenic spot in all of Santorini, so you better be taking tons of pictures as you explore.

If you’re trying to get some epic IG photos, you better be ready to get up at the crack of dawn to wait in line at the most iconic spots in Oia.

I was up and out the door before the sun was up and still had to fight off aggressive photographers, or wait in long lines to get the perfect shot.

If you’re traveling solo and want to get killer photos, it’s totally worth splurging for a photographer that will help you quickly get the shots you want.

I know it’s cliche, but next time I’m there, I’m going to go all out and do a flying dress photoshoot.

Because let’s be honest, if you’re getting a photographer, you might as well go all out for the most epic shot.

Check out some of these popular photoshoot packages!

See the Church of Panagia Platsani

You’ll absolutely want to take a photo in front of this gorgeous Greek Orthodox church. 

The Church of Panagia Platsani is found in the heart of the village along the main square, and is easily the most famous church on the island. 

It’s a really beautiful little area, as long as the tour ships aren’t docked. If they are ready to fit through a sea of tourists.

The church wasn’t open when I was visiting, but if you can get inside, check out the Icon of the Mother of God (i.e. Mary), and frescoes made by local painters.

Fun Fact: According to the legend of the Icon of the Mother of God, the statue was found in the sea by a bunch of sailors who said they saw a light in the water.

Supposedly, they placed her in the local church, but she kept disappearing and reappearing at the Castle of Oia. 

Take a Hike

If you’re looking for a picturesque workout while in Santorini, hiking the roughly 7 miles of volcanic trail from Oia to Fira is a dreamy experience.

It’s a fairly easy hike that’s appropriate for all ages and skill levels, as long as you’ve brought comfy shoes with you.

The best part is that you’ll walk along the caldera and pass through Imerovigli and Firostefani during the hike, so it’ll really feel like a productive day of sightseeing. 

Depending on how quickly you move, plan on the hike taking around 4 hours to complete. 

Local’s Tip: If you’re into taking photos, you’ll love photographing all the views during the hike. Bring a portable charger if you have one, because I can guarantee you’ll want a recharge before the day is over.

Rent an Iconic Santorini Cave

Okay, so this is a big splurge for most people, myself included, because let’s face it, the iconic cave accommodations dotting the coast of Oia are legendary and in high demand.

Splurging on a few nights of living that iconic cave life was totally worth it, though I wasn’t a massive fan of all the tourists walking by and peaking in to check out my digs.

Next time, I’d try to find a setup that wasn’t right next to the walkway. 

Also, make sure you don’t pack too heavily or have a host willing to help you with your bags, because there are a ton of stairs to get to most of the caves, and it’s not fun lugging around a ton of luggage.

Lounge by the Pool

If you didn’t score a cave with a pool, but still want the experience of chilling by the water on a sweltering summer day, head to Lioyerma Lounge Cafe Pool Bar

It’s perched above Ammoudi Bay, so you’re guaranteed a stunning view, especially at sunset.

Plus they’ve got plenty of drinks and snacks to keep you happy all day long.

Even though it’s technically free admission, they have a minimum spend, so plan accordingly.  

Sail Across the Caldera

In case you didn’t know, a caldera is a large cauldron type of volcanic crater.

Santorini’s moon shaped bay is in the center of one of these craters, so it makes for a pretty cool afternoon on the water checking it out.

There’s a bunch of different tours available, and some cave rentals will happily book them for you, but beware of the price. 

The gentleman checking me into my room offered to hook me up with a “special price” for one of these tours.

Turns out, their “special price” being a couple hundred more than what the actual tour price was (thankfully I didn’t take him up on his offer).

Prebook yourself into one of these popular sailing trips!

Wander Around Atlantis Books

Okay, so I know most of us carry around a Kindle giving us unlimited access to books while abroad, but there’s something so satisfying about reading a real solid book while lounging on the beach or by the pool.

Check out Atlantis Books in Oia for your next read. The coolest part is that they carry books written in Greek, French, English, Chinese, and more. 

Even if you aren’t planning on buying a book, this place is still pretty cool to browse around or take a few cheeky photos in. 

Take an ATV Tour

Give your feet a break, and hop on an ATV tour to check out the island.

This is a super fun way to quickly get your bearings of the island, while seeing all the important bits.

Plus, you’ll get to hear locals share their love of the Cyclades as you discover the beauty of Santorini!

Book your ATV tour early, because they fill up quickly during peak season!

Have a Drink with Locals

As a solo traveler, one of my favorite ways to meet others is by chilling at the local bar, so you can imagine how disappointed I was to find out there’s only one actual bar in Oia—the nightlife scene is in Fira.

Sure, there are plenty of restaurants you can grab drinks in around Oia, but it’s not the same as an actual bar where you can chat up locals.

Thankfully, Oia’s single bar, MaryKay’s (also known as Hassapiko) didn’t disappoint.

It almost feels like a secret spot, because it’s an unassuming coffee shop during the day that turns into a pretty happening cocktail bar in the evenings. 

The cocktails are strong; the music is pumping, the only downside in 2021 was that they outlawed dancing because of COVID. 

Wander Around the Streets

One of my favorite things about Oia was how beautiful all the little side streets are. 

I spent hours just wandering around taking photos, and visiting with the many stray cats who hang on the streets.

It’s especially nice in the early morning before the droves of tourists show up to crowd the streets. 

Head to the Beach

Just about a mile from Oia, you’ll find beautiful Baxedes Beach 

You’ll enjoy stunning views, and a beach large enough to accommodate the large number of tourists that visit the island during peak season.

Fair warning, it’s a pebble beach, so wear solid water sandals, or be ready for your feet to hurt. 

The beach also lacks facilities, so be ready to wade out into the water if nature calls.

Wake Up at Sunrise

I hate waking up early. In fact, the only reason I normally force myself to become a morning person is when I need to get the perfect Instagram shot in a busy location.

Waking up at sunrise was incredibly difficult while I was on the island, but boy was it worth it!

I got to enjoy the sunrise and peaceful streets before the hordes of tourists got off the cruise ships and changed the whole vibe of the town.

I highly suggest rolling out of bed and going for a morning stroll, especially if you’re staying in Oia.

Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Wrapping It Up


I hope this has given you the perfect overview of the best things to do in Oia when you visit Santorini.

Let me know in the comments below what you’re most looking forward to exploring while in Greece!


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