OIA, SANTORINI

Santorini

I’ve just returned from coordinating a wedding in Oia, Santorini, Greece.  It might be up there with the most spectacular places in the world to get hitched (or honeymoon for that matter). Views from Oia are picturesque and the hospitality is unmatched.  The wedding day was as close to perfection as it gets!  Here is a wedding I planned in Oia back in May 2014 that was featured on Fly Away Bride.

WHERE

First off, if you are looking for that postcard, picture-perfect Santorini town with the blue domes and killer view (see above photo), Oia is the place to be.  I would suggest Imerovigli for those looking for a quieter, secluded resort type holiday.  Fira is a town that is bigger and cheaper to stay in and has more nightlife options. Then there are the beach towns that are dotted along the east and south side of Santorini that make for great sea level accommodations.  Oia is a quiet town and their restaurants/bars close down pretty early but there are a couple places to grab a cocktail at midnight if you are looking for that.  All three towns are in easy driving distance so taxi is an option for a night out in Fira too. Because I am writing to those who will mostly be traveling to Santorini for the first time, I am keeping my focus on the town of Oia.

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ACCOMMODATIONS

Yes, there are cheaper places to stay than where I am suggesting but if you are going all the way to Santorini and have that post card image in mind, I suggest you do it right and stay somewhere with a view. To save some money, book a less expensive room somewhere and get your day trip excursions out of the way first, then book yourself at a nicer resort when you are ready to sit back and relax.

Virginia’s Traditional Cave Houses €€
Her rates are in the 150€/night range depending on the time of year you go.  You will be treated like family and be well taken care of. All of the rooms are traditional cave rooms with the Caldera view, and they have a small kitchen and terrace for you to enjoy as well. Think of this is more of a vacation rental. No pool or restaurant. If you are looking for just that, this is the place! They stock your fridge with breakfast goodies and it is a great location in Oia. It is off the main pedestrian street but far enough away to where you will enjoy peace and quiet.  Close to the sunset side as well.

Virgina

La Perla Villas €€€
There are not a lot of hotels with a pool that are reasonably priced, but La Perla Villas is. It is a boutique hotel that doesn’t have a restaurant but has all of the amenities of a 4* hotel.  Most of the rooms have their own private plunge pool or hot tub as well this guest pool featured below. The lovely manager, Lindsay will be happy to assist with any booking reservations.
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Fenari Villas €€€
Fenari is a bigger luxury resort  with a big pool and lots of room types.  It is located on the sunset side of Oia so you better be enjoying a glass of wine during every sunset on your terrace if you book here. Most of Oia does not have a direct view of the sunset, so this side is unique.  The pedestrian streets can be VERY busy around sunset time as many people all over Santorini make the trek to post up and catch a glimpse.  No big deal for you, as you will have privacy on your terrace. This resort is a great spot for a bigger guest list weddings as well.

This hotel is also a lovely spot for a sunset dinner. Great salads and staff! Good wedding reception location too.

Fenari Villas

Mystique €€€€
This is a hotel that is on the quieter end of Oia. Easy walking distance to everything but nice for peace and quiet for couples looking to get away.  This resort is top notch. It has a view that is unique to the rest of Oia and their restaurant Charisma and secret wine cave are wonderful.  They have a new restaurant opening this season too, which looks above and beyond! Fantastic for a wedding under 50 people too.

Mystique

Atrina Houses €€€€
Atrina is first class all the way.  I have had many clients stay here with nothing but outstanding reviews. I was on property a lot here for a wedding and I loved it. Great location too…right in the mix of everything but privately tucked away from looming tourists.

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Santorini Secret €€€€

This is a new property that is managed by SLH hotels.  Honeymooners will love this spot for great spa, Michelin rated restaurant and many rooms offer their own private plunge pool.

Santorini Secret

Katikies €€€€
I was welcomed to this hotel on a very hot day to fresh squeezed, ice cold strawberry juice and a cold towel.  That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the level of service you can expect at Katikies. The decor is very clean, fresh and there are plenty of areas and pool grottos on the property for you and your lover to relax and enjoy. It is a larger hotel so they do host small weddings on this property.

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Armeni Village €€€
A smaller boutique luxury hotel in a great location.  Decor is crisp, refreshing and the rooms are luxurious.  There are plunge pools and lounge chairs as well. Every room is different, offering something for everyone.

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Grand Canava €€€
Traveling as a group? This is a wonderful vacation rental I have rented for clients who are looking for their own private villa with a private pool. 6 bedrooms and plenty of space to move around and cook in the privacy of your own villa. Chef comes to cook breakfast in the morning for everyone as well which is an added bonus.

This is located right next to Atrina and above La Perla Villas, so if you have a larger group that needs to spread across a few hotels, this cluster would all be easily accessible to each other.

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RESTAURANTS

Red Bicycle
Last night on your honeymoon and your lady says, pick a great romantic place…this is an excellent choice.  The views are beyond spectacular and the food is great. It is slightly more expensive than other restaurants on the island but worth it. Make a reservation! Order the grilled octopus or lamb.

Sunset Tavern
Wander down to Amoudi Bay and loose yourself in a great conversation, a crisp glass of white Sigalas wine (also a great winery to check out on the island) and order the Lobster Spaghetti for 2. It is a huge portion so plan on eating light in the evening. Amoudi Bay will be a different view than you are used to as it is actually down on the water. Enjoy this restaurant for lunch after a morning  of cliff jumping around the corner from Amoudi bay, or before/after an excursion to see the volcano.  Most boat excursions leave from this area.  To get back up the Oia you have the option to take a donkey or burn off the carbs you just ate. Over 200 stairs to the top but pretty spectacular views. Most boat trips will shuttle you back up to the top via car if needed as well.

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Amoudi Bay is located on the sunset side of Oia and is at sea level. Below photo is the view from Amoudi Bay looking back up to town and if you walk around the corner you will find a great swimming hole and rocks to jump from.

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Pelekanos
Great location for a sunset dinner. You can make reservations as well if you think ahead. You will feel like you are on top of Oia with 360 degree views and great food.  Great place to grab a great late night post dinner cocktail too.  Drasko the bartender will take good care of you!

Pelekanos

Karma
A restaurant without a “view” but arguably the restaurant in Oia with the most ambiance post sunset. Dinner prices are very reasonable and they have an extensive wine list.  Is located in on a quiet alley just off the main pedestrian path in “old town.”  I have had dinner for 2 here as well as booked this space for a rehearsal dinner for 30+ people.  The staff is beyond fantastic and have had glowing reviews from every person I have sent here. Crowd favorites are the sardine tomato appetizer, Moussaka complete with the chocolate lava cake for dessert. Restaurant is great for a romantic dinner for two, groups and special events.

Karma

Floga
Love this spot for breakfast/brunch/lunch.  Views are awesome and the staff is great. Best Greek yogurt with granola and honey for breakfast in Oia. Wide range of omelets and my favorite item on the lunch menu is the grilled vegetable club sandwich.  Reasonably priced and a great place for a snack.  As I have needed to work on all three occasions I have been to Oia in the last year and a half, and this is a great place for free/good wifi if your hotel doesn’t have it.

Yoghurt

Charisma
This restaurant is located at Mystique (resort). It is a wonderful and romantic place to have dinner. Either outside if dining earlier in the evening and want the view, or in the secret wine cave for a fun after dark experience.  Portions are perfect and the food is incredible. I recommend the Sea Bass for your main course.  Be sure to make a reservation.

Passagio Coffee Shop
This is a great coffee shop for a grab ‘n go coffee or a healthy option for a sit down breakfast or lunch upstairs. This cafe turns into a great sunset/happy hour spot in the afternoon as well. Located at the end of the pedestrian walkway (opposite the sunset side). The lovely staff there remembered our order from the first day which was a nice touch.

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THINGS TO DO

Volcano, Hot Springs Sea Excursion
Highly recommended by anyone you meet in Santorini.  You can save money and do a group half day trip on a bigger ship or splurge for a semi-private, private catamaran trip or sunset dinner cruise.  The volcano is a great spot they drop you off  to hike to. It is a short hike to the top of this active volcano.  Oh and the 360 degree view are pretty amazing too. Around the corner they will take you to the hot springs.  This was a great place to dive off the boat and swim. The crazy goats will keep you entertained and the hot springs are a lot of fun. Note to self: I wore a lighter colored bikini and it was stained red from the sulfur. Have never been able to get it out. So wear black or a something that you don’t mind getting ruined. Lastly, many daytime cruises will take you over to Thirasia Island where you can eat in the perfectly picturesque fishing town. I recommend a traditional Gyro and a cold beer! There are all kinds of cruises, so just pick one that suits your time frame and budget.

This is the view of where they drop you off to hike the volcano on the semi-private half day tour.

Hot Springs

For something more intimate and higher end, I recommend sailing with Santorini Yachting Club. It is slightly more expensive (at 150€ per person for the sunset cruise) than some of the others, but you will only be with 18 people maximum and are served a very fresh BBQ’d dinner and there are complimentary drinks (beer/wine/soda) on board.  The staff is great and they will take you to the white sand beach, red sand beach, snorkel area, hot springs and finish with watching the beautiful sunset.   Be sure to bring a change of clothes or warmer attire for the evening sail. We have also rented out a catamaran privately for a wedding party as well.

Here are a couple photos of my time on the sunset sail on the catamaran cruise.

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Hike/Run
You can hike from Oia to Fira or vise versa. If you love being active, this is a great hike on the ridgeline of the caldera.  All you runners out there, this is a great canvas for an epic run too. View from my hike:
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Couples Massage
If there is one thing you do on your honeymoon, it is book a massage at Caldera Massage Studio and Spa.  This spa is incredible and the couples massage is nothing like we have had before.  If there is one thing I try to do on every relaxing vacation,  it is get a massage — and this is truly the best massage I have ever had.  Views are spectacular, showers are amazing and you won’t be rushed.  My highest remarks go to the talented and friendly staff. Indoor and outdoor massages available. If you are not staying on the sunset side (most hotels are not located there) then I would book the Couples Sunset Glow massage. After the massage they take you out to your own private terrace and serve you a bottle of champagne as the sun goes down. Pretty much perfection! As there are no addresses in Oia, look for their signs and key lime green terraces. (shown below)

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Wine Tasting
There are a few wineries on the island so for those looking for some great wine tasting, head on over to Sigalas Winery. They also have a lovely space for a larger wedding reception.

Red & Black Sand Beaches
Experience a couple of unique beaches while you are in town. This is a great option for something to do at sea level if you want to put your toes in the sand!

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Heart Pumping Steps: Oia has a lot of steps. If you are choosing a hotel (luxury or otherwise) on the Caldera side, be aware that you my have quite the hike to get in and out of your resort. If you are not good with stairs or have issues with mobility, I would strongly suggest looking into where you will be staying and how far you will need to climb to get in and out of your hotel. Most hotels will carry luggage for you so that part isn’t usually an issue.
  • No Addresses: There are no street signs or house numbers in Oia.  Insane, right? And no, I have no idea how they receive mail. Because of this I would suggest booking an airport transfer through your hotel (or ferry transfer if coming by ferry from another island.)  This way they come to meet you when you get to town and walk you to your hotel.  Trying to find some of these hotels on your own would be nearly impossible if you tried to do it yourself for the first time…especially those who rented a vacation rental. On the same note, try to know where you are going BEFORE you step outside. If you have your heart set on dinner at a certain place, take a look at a map before you go.  It can be a frustrating place if you don’t know where you are going. PLAN AHEAD!
  • Money: Many excursions, hotels and restaurants take credit cards, but some don’t. It would be a good idea to carry cash on you at all times to avoid frustration. There is an ATM by the bus station for all of your cash needs.
  • Stores: There are plenty of little mini markets and pharmacy if you forget anything. Not lots by way of food to cook, but enough to get by for a few days if you have a place with a kitchen.
  • Put down the camera: It is so hard not walking around and taking pictures all day as it is one of the most magnificent places on earth. Just don’t forget who you are there with, why you are there and share in the experience.
  • Please feel free to email me for any questions, hotel or wedding related! Santorini Wedding Planner

Yamas, my friends!