Pretty whitewashed houses overlooking an azure ocean: This is coastal Greece at its most charming and romantic, especially at sunset.
Oia (pronounced “ee-ah”) is a dreamy sight to behold. Whitewashed dwellings with bright blue doors, church domes and windmills fill the skyline. The village itself is perched on a steep cliff face that looks out over the Aegean Sea. Small vessels bob up and down in the docks below.
Oia is located at the north tip of Santorini. Its dwellings are ramshackle, yet picturesque; as well as whitewashed houses, there are buildings in various pastel shades. Some are two-story kapetanospita houses, which were built for captains. The others are more humble hyposkapha houses. Many buildings are partially built into the rock, creating a constant temperature for inhabitants. There is ample accommodation for tourists, much of it high quality.
While in Oia, you’ll find it difficult to stop taking pictures. Indeed, Oia’s beauty has attracted many professional artists. There are a number of art galleries scattered about the village. For a souvenir to truly cherish, purchase an artwork from the Stavros Galanopoulos gallery.
Because it is small, yet labyrinthine, perhaps the best way to explore Oia is by wandering. Make sure to stop by the Church of Panagia of Platsani, which has a wonderful exposed bell tower. Learn about Santorini’s role in Greece’s seafaring past at the Naval Maritime Museum. Housed in an old mansion, the museum’s collection includes seamen’s chests, old equipment and rare photographs. Also make time to head down the steep path that leads to the small port of Ammoudi. Eat fresh seafood outside one of the taverns here.
Oia is often at its prettiest during sunset. The sky becomes infused with purples, oranges and reds. Find a spot on a balcony, pour a glass of the local wine and take in the otherworldly landscape.
You can reach Oia by bus from Firá, or otherwise take a taxi or rental car.