It’s no secret that the Greek island of Santorini is one of the more beautiful places in the known universe. The whites, the blues, the cliffs, the caldera! It’s almost too much. At the top of Santorini’s curated gorgeousness spectrum is the village of Oia, nestled into the island’s northwestern coast. On the upside, this place is profoundly beautiful. On the downside, everybody knows it — so you’ll basically be tripping over brides and aspiring models and selfie sticks with every step. (Although I guess if you’re not a 39-year-old married mom, these could be features, too.)
I’ve divided this post into sections since there are a lot of photos. You can explore Oia Village immediately below, as well as Oia Town (the more “real” part of Oia, where people live). You can check out family vacation photos of us messing around at the beautiful villa we rented. Or you can skip straight to the short list of resources at the end of the post. Have fun!
Strolling through Oia Village
Oia village cascades down a steep set of cliffs that end in a caldera (formed when a volcanic magma chamber collapses — whoa). The stunning white and blue buildings include cathedrals, hotels, shops and residences, many of which were rebuilt after a massive earthquake in 1956. These days it’s tourist heaven during the summer, with no real upper limit on the fanciness you can find in restaurants, shops and photo ops.
We found a couple of nice casual eating spots with delicious food and great views, and mostly just strolled along the main drag otherwise.
Dinner at Skala Restaurant
We had two dinners at Skala Restaurant, a very relaxed place with friendly service, a beautiful view and a wide variety of Greek food standards done well. Nothing fancy or super-inventive, but that’s exactly the point. We feasted on big salads, hummus and tzatziki, pasta with calamari and shrimp, stewed beans and plenty of house wine. And hey, Skala is the donkey route, which somehow Santorini makes into a good thing.
Dessert as Skiza Cafe
For gelato, lots of people recommend Lolita’s. We never made it there, but we happened upon the cute, seemingly popular, centrally located Skiza Cafe. They have lots to offer, including a small gelato counter right at the entrance, so of course we gelatoed up there a couple of times during the week. Two thumbs up.
A Chill Hike through Oia Town (Outside the Village)
We also loved walking (it’s steep, so can we call it hiking?) through the town of Oia outside the village. It’s beautiful in a much less curated way than the village, which at times is a bit of a relief. We headed down toward the water and eventually back up on what we thought was the same trail but turned out not to be. A resident caught us looking confused and offered us a shortcut OVER HIS ROOF. We took it. (Many of the homes have steps carved into them, and I’d wondered why but no longer have to.) Traveling is the best, right?
Oh hey, pomegranate tree. Nice to see you.
Santorinimou Restaurant, Oia Town
Directly across from our villa — and right at the top of the hike — we found Santorinimou Restaurant which, as you can see, positively bursts with personality. They take a photo of every customer with their nation’s flag (we couldn’t resist adding the Union Jack since we visited Santorini during our move back to the States from London). I’d forgotten about the photo until I started putting this post together, and lo and behold, there we were on the July 2015 page of their website. I wasn’t drunk, but you’ll have to take my word for it. If I had been, I would’ve fit in just fine with the vibe there, and I mean that in the best possible way.
The Many Doorways of Oia
So many beautiful doorways of so many kinds. I thought they deserved their own section. Ta-da.
Oia Suites Villa
We rented a villa in a tiny development called Oia Suites, and I’d like to think we made the most of it. Lots of time swimming, reading, soaking in the view and the sun and the sunsets, and cooking up family-style meals with ingredients bought at a convenience store with a handful of fresh ingredients and a very nice proprietor who got a kick out of us.
The insanity above ended up being our holiday card this year, because why have matching clothes or even matching head sizes when you can have this?
I MEAN. That view. Right?
Some light reading, because I totally do vacation the way other people do vacation. Also, this hat.
Watching the Sunset from the Villa
Oia, Santorini Travel Recommendations
- Skala Restaurant, Oia Village: casual, traditional Greek menu, great view
- Santorinimou Restaurant, Oia Town: casual and full of personality, live music, traditional Greek menu
- Skiza Cafe for Gelato, Oia Village: coffee shop with good gelato
- Private Villa with Pool via Airbnb
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