Santorini in winter is a growing topic. Since I live here also in the low(est) season, people very often ask how it is to live on this magic island when there are no tourists.
Everyone thinks that there are no things to do, everything is closed, life must be boring and unbearable.
The truth is the winter in Santorini is my favorite season. The island comes back to us, locals, and we can fully enjoy it.
It is indeed a fact that most of the businesses might be closed but you have enough choices for a cafe, restaurant and activities to do.
Many of you also asked me to see how the most famous spots of Santorini look like during winter.
Shall we start with Oia!
Oia is probably the symbol of Santorini, with its white cave houses, the blue domes, one of the most famous sunsets in the world. Here you can see some pictures of Oia at the sunrise because I always go against the current.
It is posh and a bit haughty, the destination of high-end tourism with its very expensive accommodations, on the check-lists of everyone who comes to Santorini. To me, it represents what Santorini has become, an Instagram stage where everyone wants to play the same role.
The village of Oia has a long, fascinating history which deserves a post by itself (soon, I promise!) but very often everyone comes here for a stroll, a picture of the blue domes, the sunset at the Castle and that’s it.
In high season you might queue to walk back to the car or to take the bus, to get in a shop, there are even queues to take pictures at the most famous spots, can you imagine? The parking slots are very few, and when you find a spot you have to make sure that you will have a way out because it happens very often that you cannot get out.
The worst hours are in between 10am and 2pm and around the sunset, that’s why I always suggest to visit very early or to bring a lot of patience with you. This is not to discourage you, it’s just the sad reality.
Oia deserves its fame but I have heard many times people saying: ‘It is indeed beautiful but not enjoyable at all, let’s go somewhere else!’.
This is not something you would think if you come here in winter or in low season (from November to the beginning of April). Santorini becomes beautiful if that is even possible! And Oia turns into a quiet place.
Here you can find some pros and cons of visiting Oia in winter.
1. The village will be almost empty, the only population will be stray cats and dogs, workers and donkey. Watch out for the donkeys because they could accidentally hit you while running carrying building materials. Strolling around the main street and getting lost in the alleys will be a complete pleasure.
2. Almost no tourists around and I know you all quite like this one. You will see the children going to school and people to work. You will experience the real life of this village. Locals will be more relaxed and open to assist or talk to you.
3. You will have the best pictures! No queueing at the Blue Domes, no photo-bombing of tourists (watch out for the cats though!)
4. If you are lucky the weather can be warm and sunny so it will look a bit like early summer, the sky will be clear and of an amazing shade of blue. You could also find a cloudy day which is not always a bad thing, it gives to your picture that mystical look which I adore.
5. These are the restaurants and cafes open in winter in Santorini (at the moment, January):
Cafes: Hungry Donkey, Vitrin, Skiza, Passagio
Restaurants: Blue Sky Taverna, Lotza
Mini Markets: both the one next to Hungry Donkey and the one near the bus station
Bakery: Passaris (on the main street)
1. In Ammoudi Bay everything will be closed so you could not have lunch on the sea but you can still visit the small harbour and see the cliff from below
2. If it is raining, well, in that case, you should do something else instead of visiting Oia (but that makes sense also in the mid or high season). If it is very windy you can still visit but hold your phone when taking a picture, you don’t want it to fall down in the cliffs.
3 It could be a bit noisy because of the building works going on, but I prefer a bit noisy and empty than busy and shouting because of the tourists.
Stay tuned, more winter posts on your way! Subscribe to my newsletter and get the map!
©Nicoletta Barbata/One Quarter Greek