Ia

The famous sunset at Ia
View from Ia onto Caldera

Ia (or Oia) is one of the two towns on Santorini island in Greece.

Understand

Ia (Oia spelling in Greek) is a picturesque town beloved by artists and the tourists alike. Being a destination for all those cruise ship passengers the town is very busy in the afternoons. It is far better to arrive in the early evening, allowing plenty of time to meander, shop and take photographs, then have a relaxing meal in a Caldera restaurant while watching one of the most beautiful sunsets. Be sure to occupy your seat in advance, though: the western side becomes heavily crowded in the hour preceding sunset.

The full flavour and spirit of the town (and the island) can be enjoyed only after staying for several days.

Ia overlooks two sides of the sea: western with Ammoudi bay, eastern with Armeni bay; only the western one faces sunset.

Ia is a popular place for shooting local TV series, sometimes at night.

Get in

Easily reachable by bus from the central bus station in Fira. The road to Ia is not for the faint hearted! The bus driver seems to derive great pleasure from scaring the living daylights out of his passengers and a word of warning about the conductor... always have the correct fare or be prepared to face his wrath! The bus fare is very inexpensive--not more than €3 per person.

Taxi from port in Thira costs around €20 per group; €25 if you don't want driver to take people from other groups into the car.

Road between Fira and Ia is meandering -- keep in mind if you choose between taxi and a rented car when you arrive exhausted after a ferry.

Get around

Most parts of the village is reachable by-foot only; even garbage is taken away by donkeys. Donkeys can be rented on the staircase connecting Armeni bay to Ia, a useful tip for those full with fresh seafood from a tavern. In addition, at least six companies offer car and scooter rentals. Sailing is another popular option.

Renting a car

See

Santorini Oia Windmills

Ia is a very picturesque town. Spend at least half a day exploring the town by meandering up and down paths and staircases. Along the way you'll see interesting architecture and breathtaking views of the caldera.

Do

Edge of caldera and Oia

Buy

If Ia and Santorini are but one stop on your journey, you may want to wait to purchase souvenirs. If you will be heading back through Athens on your way home, wait to purchase souvenirs there: they will be less expensive and you will not need to have the extra burden of carrying them around with you.

Eat

Drink

A number of vineyards on Santorini produce great wines. Sample the local wines when possible!

Sleep

The village has a variety of accommodation options. Cave style houses updated with modern features, cliff side houses that form a small hotel, mansions once owned by sea captains converted to luxury suites - are some of the unique features. Points to consider are if the accommodation faces to the sea, caldera and volcano; available terrace for breakfast or lounging, private terrace or shared; windows - as some of the cave houses may have small viewpoints; the location on the cliff as the stairs can be steep and not suited for everyone; and the regular factors: air conditioning, bathroom arrangement, bed style and comfort, services, etc. The protected village architecture and the cliffs restrict the building of swimming pools so there are very few offered on the caldera side. There's a public pool-bar offering views towards the sunset side of the island. If the accommodation has a terrace with the view to the sea, caldera and volcano then you won't miss the pool as gazing over the sea is the point here.

As of Sept 2005, no new hotels have been opened in Ia for a few years (only new rooms / caves etc. are added to existing hotels), so you're unlikely to enjoy the benefits of a newly opened hotel, as described in Finding accommodation.

Western side (sunset view)

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Eastern side

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

If you plan to get around Ia beyond walking from parking lot to your room, please wear travel boots or sandals: most pavements are covered with cobblestone, and there are lots of stairs in the town as you walk around.

Be aware of the stray cats and dogs around town. It is unusual for them to become provoked, but not impossible.

Connect

Go next

Return to Fira/Thira and catch a ferry to your next destination. Crete (Iraklio) is a nice, short trip from Santorini: approximately 2 hours by ferry. From Crete (Souda, near Chania), you could catch an overnight ferry back to Piraeus to continue your trip on the mainland.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.