Greek olives, feta cheese, baklava, spanakopita, moussaka, tzatziki – I love Greek food – and I especially love Greek food when I’m consuming it on the Greek island of Santorini overlooking the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
This past summer, I went with my sister and daughter on my first trip to Greece. We spent a weekend in Athens and then rented an Airbnb villa, Loukia Cave House, for a week’s stay in Oia, one of the most beautiful and popular towns in Santorini.
As travel writer Rick Steves says, “Strolling through Oia is like spinning a postcard rack – it’s tempting to see the town entirely through your camera’s viewfinder.”
When not walking, hiking, or sailing around Santorini, we did a good amount of eating in Oia. We found restaurants in every nook and cranny around the town center, down cobblestone steps and in-between narrow alleys.
Rise and shine for breakfast
While sunsets are the hot ticket in Oia, it’s nice to get up early and eat breakfast before the cruise ship tourists arrive. Our favorite breakfast spot was Passaggio, located on the edge of Oia’s town center. Passaggio is a small bistro where you can take out or eat in.
Even though it still took a while to get a table on the terrace, it was worth the wait for a beautiful island view. We each ordered coffee and yogurt-and-fruit bowls. They also make homemade smoothies, which looked yummy. Passaggio’s breakfast bowl was the creamiest Greek yogurt I’ve ever eaten and the honey on the bottom was thin and light with just the right sweetness. It was so good, so good, so good.
Το Φουρνί Bakery and Pastry shop (Oia 847 02, Greece) is a quick place to stop for morning coffee and a koulouri (a Greek bagel). The shop offers a variety of hot and cold brews, espresso and cappuccino for take-out. Once inside, you’ll definitely be tempted to buy more of their savory and sweet biscuits, croissants, breads and cakes for later in the day.
Lunch under the sun
Early in the week we ate at Lotza, close to the entrance to the village. The bistro is very busy because of its location, as thousands of cruise ship passengers pass by this spot if they want to go shopping in Oia’s jewelry stores, art galleries and souvenir shops. Lotza is perched on the hill and has a gorgeous caldera view. We shared Greek salad, spanokopita, and shrimp saganaki (named for the pan its made in) along with a spicy feta spread and crusty bread.
Another lunch place we liked was Café Flora. We sat on the terrace here too and enjoyed more Greek salad, fried zucchini and tzatziki for dipping.
Dinner by sunset
My daughter had made a few dinner reservations in advance of our arrival. “We’re going to Laokasti,” she said, the first night we arrived. “It has a very good rating on TripAdvisor.” The restaurant is attached to the Laokasti Villas and is within a 10-minute walk from the Oia town center.
We were one of only a few diners eating before the sunset. It seems that most of Oia’s visitors plan for dinner during or after the sun goes down and eat into the wee hours. We enjoyed grilled octopus to start and I ordered a traditional roasted lamb shank and potato dish for my entree. Yum, yum, yum!
As the week went on, our group made sure to catch the sunset either during or before dinner.
One night we ate on the rooftop at Oia Gefsis, a lovely spot from which to watch the breathtaking view as the sun goes down over the Aegean sea. I highly recommend making reservations in advance at this restaurant as it is packed during the evening hours. I liked their tasty mussels and Greek salad.
Another night we went to Karma. Being a yogini, I liked the name of this restaurant and felt the positive vibes while we were eating. Karma has a nice outdoor seating area.
It was interesting to see all the different styles of Greek salad at each meal.
Unlike Greek salads served in an American restaurant, none of the authentic salads we consumed included any lettuce.
Most are made with cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, feta, olives and capers. We also ordered tomato fritters, which are on many menus in Oia, and I had veggie kabobs for my main course.
To top off our meal, we walked over to the nearby gelateria Lolitas Gelato, Oia’s popular place to get gelato.
For our farewell dinner on Saturday evening, my daughter booked a reservation in advance at Floga, one of the more expensive restaurants in Oia. Floga also has the biggest terrace from which to view the breathtaking views of the caldera.
We decided to splurge since it was our last night. We dined on tomato fritters and Greek salad to start. I ordered sea bass fillet with fennel and ginger sauce for my entree. Our dessert was a best-ever baklava. We each took turns scrapping up the last bits of phyllo, honey and nuts.
It was a sweet way to end a perfect picturesque week in Santorini.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- Oia is a breathtaking Greek island town with incredible views of the Santorini caldera and Aegean Sea.
- There are many good restaurants and lots of shopping with jewelry stores, art galleries and fine clothing stores all in the town center.
- Oia is the most touristy town in Santorini. Most of the big cruise ships dock nearby during the day (and sometimes evenings) to bring passengers for a visit. If you have a specific restaurant you want to go to for dinner, I highly recommend making reservations in advance.
- The streets are cobblestones and can be slippery. Also watch the uneven steps around the town, especially at night, as it can be very dark in the narrow alleys.
- If traveling from Athens, I suggest flying to Santorini and arranging a car service to Oia. It’s only a 45-minute flight and easier than taking a long (and maybe rocky) ferry ride.
IF YOU GO
*All photo credits: Judy Freedman (except lead photo and where noted)
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