In the caldera of a volcanic island in the middle of the Aegean sea sits the picturesque town of Oia, Santorini. Its whitewashed houses are built right into the side of the hill, rising up like seashells freshly pulled from the sea. Blue domed churches are sprinkled throughout the white landscape, their iconic blue color perfectly matching the cerulean waters below. The reflection of the warm sun across the waves creates a rippling line of orange stretching out to to the horizon. Sitting on a patio, overlooking this magnificent work of nature is simply one of the best things to do in Oia, Santorini. For those looking to do more than just sit and ponder its beauty, below is a list of top activities to do on this beautiful Grecian island.
Trek the Caldera View Hike
The Caldera View Hike in Santorini takes you along the rim of the infamous caldera, making it an awesome thing to do in Oia on a clear, beautiful day. It’s a very easy paced hike with little elevation gain and pretty even surfaces. The most popular and scenic version of this trail begins in Imerovigli and ends in Oia. It’s a 5.3 out and back trail that takes most hikers about 2.5 hours to complete.
Tips for the Caldera View Hike:
- Start this hike in the morning to beat the heat, and to get the best photos before the midday crowds start to appear.
- Take one of the local buses to Imerovigli to start your hike back to Oia.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring a hat to protect against the sun.
- Bring plenty of water.
Walk Down to Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay is located just below Oia. The journey to Amoudi Bay involves about 300 steps down, which is relatively easy to do, but keep in mind that it also involves about 300 steps up, making it one of the more difficult things to do in Oia. However, this trek is absolutely worth it. Amoudi Bay is a stunning rocky cove, lined with restaurants and shops overlooking the ocean. These restaurants are right on the edge of the water, sometimes getting lapping waves hitting the side of the dining patio.
Amoudi Bay is an amazing spot for fresh seafood and gorgeous photo opportunities. During the busier summer months it’s possible to take a taxi down to the restaurants and have your restaurant arrange one to take you back up to Oia. During non-peak travel season, however, there may not be taxis available. So do your research ahead of time, and prepare for a long walk up with comfortable shoes if needed. However long the walk may be, it is a beautiful one, overlooking the water the entire time. We found some great viewpoints along the way, including the view from an old abandoned church.
Do Some Wine Tasting (One of My Favorite Things to Do in Oia)
One of my personally favorite things to do in Oia, Santorini, is to sample the wine. Grown in volcanic soil and vine ripened by the hot Grecian sun, this small section of the world produces some of the most decadent wines. You can set up some wine tastings in person, or there are plenty of tours you can book ahead of time online. Most wine tasting tours online will include a couple of different wineries and vineyards.
Visit the Castle of Agios Nikolaos (One of the Most Historical Things to Do in Oia)
Originally built in the 15th century, the castle of Agios Nikolaos was constructed to protect the island from raiding pirates. Sadly, an earthquake in 1956 destroyed most of what was left of the castle, but the watchtower remains standing. Visitors can walk along the old watchtower, which provides amazing views of the water and of the island behind you. This is also makes for a wonderful spot to watch one of Oia’s famously beautiful sunsets. There is a railing along the side of the tower full of different colored locks placed by couples wanting to leave a symbol of their love in one of the most romantic places in the world.
Watch the Sunset (One of Things You Absolutely Have to Do in Oia)
No matter the length of your stay in Oia, Santorini, be sure to carve out some time to simply watch the sunset. Oia is know for having one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. This little island in the middle of the Aegean has such expansive views of the ocean, that, no matter where you decide to stand, it provides amazing and unobstructed views of the setting sun.
The weather in this part of the world tends to be consistently peaceful as well, providing clear skies and heavenly clouds that gently change colors as day turns into night. I have been lucky enough to catch a couple sunsets in Oia and I found that the legends are true: they were some of the most magical sunsets I have ever seen. Make sure that catching the sunset is at the top of your list of things to do on your vacation in Oia, Santorini.
Take to the Sea on a Catamaran
One of the most popular things to do in Oia during the warm, summer months is to take a catamaran out on the water. Nothing beats lounging on the deck with some wine or champagne, and being able to jump into the water or go snorkeling to cool off. The catamarans in Oia are fun any time of day, but for special occasions, taking one out during sunset can be one of the most romantic things to do in Oia, Santorini. Oia’s famous sunsets can obviously be viewed from the land as well, but something about seeing the changing colors of the sky reflect on the clear, calm water around you makes it extra special.
Dine in Waterfront Restaurants (My Absolute Favorite Thing to Do in Oia)
There are so many restaurants that line the coast in Oia, Santorini, that dining with a waterfront view is an absolute must. Trying local Santorini food and wine while overlooking the massive expanse of blue ocean is something I will never forget. I had great service in every restaurant, and almost every waiter or server I met spoke at least a little English, which was helpful if I had any questions. Some waterfront views can be found at 218 Degrees Restaurant and Black Rock Restaurant.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Oia
For a different view of Santorini, head below the surface. Snorkeling and scuba diving in Oia are especially popular during the summer months. The water is incredibly clear, giving you amazing views of the reef and marine wildlife. Being surrounded by nothing but clear blue water and colorful fish in the middle of the Aegean Sea is an experience of a lifetime. Oia has great snorkeling and scuba diving spots, but there are many others along the coast of the island as well. If planning to do some snorkeling in Oia in the busy summer months, be sure to book ahead of time.
Wander Among the Shops (Best Thing to Do in Oia for Souvenirs)
Some of the best time spent in Oia is simply wandering the zig zag streets and finding cute shops. From clothing shops, to souvenir shops, and jewelry shops, there is so much to buy in this small town. Finding amazing keepsakes from local shops is one of my favorite things to do in Santorini. I love buying souvenirs for family and friends, and it gives you a chance to meet some amazing shop owners as well. Be sure to leave some extra room in your suitcase so you can fill it with all the amazing stuff you’re going to buy. Get space saving tips in my Santorini Packing List.
Unleash Your Inner Photographer
Santorini can be picturesque at every turn. Unleash your inner photographer and allow yourself to take hundreds of photos of this place. Trying to capture the perfect shot of the blue domes, the waterfront restaurants on the bay, or the way the bougainvillea plants frame the whitewashed doorways and alleyways is one of the most fun and creative things to do in Oia. There are endless trails and stairways for wandering and photography.
Summary: Things to Do In Oia
There are so many amazing things to do in Oia, Santorini, but I hope this list gives you a place to start with your vacation planning. Want some help deciding what to pack? Check out my Packing List for Santorini. Coming soon: places to stay in Oia as well as some top Santorini photography spots. Do you have some Oia favorites that you’d like to add to the list? Feel free to leave a comment below.