Oia is one of the most popular and picturesque towns on the island. An absolute must see during a trip to Santorini. It is located on the north-west edge of the island, at an altitude of 70 to 140 m a.s.l. (230 – 460 feet). Its characteristic white buildings stretch for about 1.5 km (1 mile) along the edge of the cliff over the Armenis Bay.


From the west, Oia is adjacent to fishing village of Amoudi (Greek: Αμμουδίου). On its south there is a port village of Armeni (Greek: Αρμένη), on its east side Finikia (Greek Φοινικιά) and from the north Tholos (Greek: Θόλος). It is 12 km (7.5 miles) from the island’s capital Fira and 17 km (10.5 miles) from the airport.

The peninsula on which Oia is located is limited from the west by the 331 m a.s.l. high volcanic peak of Mavro Vouno (Greek Μαύρο Βουνό) and 293 m a.s.l. high peak of Kokkino Vouno (Greek Κοκκινό Βουνό) (More on this topic: Volcanoes Mavro Vouno and Kokkingo Vouno)

Oia belongs to the administration of the Aegean Islands, South Aegean region, the regional unit of Oia, of which it is the capital. In addition to Oia with its neighboring towns, the Oia regional unit also includes the second inhabited island of the archipelago – Thirassia.



Population and society of Oia

The number of permanent residents of Oia is about 1,500. In its heyday (1890), it was inhabited by 2,500 inhabitants, and in 1977 (two decades after the earthquake) – 306 inhabitants.

In the past, residents dealt mainly with professions related to sailing – they were sailors and ship builders. Currently, most residents work in tourism.

Name of the town

Oia received its current name in 1930.

Oia was formerly called Apano Meria (Απάνω Μεριά or Επάνω Μεριά, which means “upper side”). This name is still common (mainly among older, native inhabitants), usually as Pano Meria, and the inhabitants of Oia are sometimes called Apanomerites (Απανωμερίτες).

Tips and trivia

  • Oia is a city without power lines running above the ground – thanks to this nothing disturbs the beautiful views (as is often the case in other tourist places) and the city is even more photogenic.
  • Take a walk around Oia in the early morning to see it in all its glory, without crowds of tourists passing through it.
  • Most of the town is pedestrianized.