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renting car or van in Oia

We are spending three nights in Oia in May (May 27, 28, & 30). We are thinking of renting a vehicle for Tuesday May 29, We want to go to Akrotiri and Pyrgos at least. I was going to take the bus but seems like have to go back to Fira to make connections to see both so I started thinking about renting a vehicle.

Questions:

  1. I have read different accounts of the roads on Santorini. Some accounts are that they are easy to drive while others say they are nerve wrecking. Are there roads or places to avoid if we aren't into difficult/frightening driving (no guard rails and a cliff) for example. Can we get to Akrotiri and Pyrgos from Oia without too much adventure?

  2. Other villages or places you would recommend visiting ? .

  3. We have six people. Vazeos in Oia has vans which would accommodate us. My husband drives a van at home. But I was wondering if the roads are too narrow to easily maneuver a van. A van is cheaper than two small cars and would allow us to travel together but would not want to have a van if it would be difficult to drive.

  4. I had wondered about stopping in Firostefani or Fira for dinner. Would we find parking in late May?

Beth

Posted by
2934 posts
  1. The roads are all decent although some are narrow in spots. The lower road that runs between Oia and Fira has now been improved and is a much easier route if you're nervous. From Fira to Akrotiri there shouldn't be any issues.

  2. Add Pyrgos to your list and if you are hikers be sure to visit Ancient Thera up on the mountain above Kamari Beach.

  3. I took a van from Vazeos once. It was a bit cumbersome in some spots, but I made do. If there are 6 of you there's really not much else available.

  4. Parking in May will be a challenge, especially for a large van. You may have to walk a fair distance to the restaurants.

Be sure to bring an International Driving Permit.

Posted by
2875 posts

Lee knows his stuff about rental places. My add-ons:
• ANCIENT THIRA is way at the top of a bluff on Eastern side... awesome views. You can drive (slowly) up a winding paved road to a parking area with room for about 8 cars. Then you take a path the rest of the way.
• in FIROSTEPHANI - I highly recommend Taverna AKTAION ... it's the Oldest continuously operating Taverna on Santorini -- for a good reason! Very Authentic food, great prices, and its (small) front "porch" (3 tables) is just 30 feet from the rim-path & view. THere's parking space, you drive right off that main road heading to OIA. BTW, it's Wise to stop by ahead of time on your way to Fira town, to Reserve the bigger porch table (for 6) for about 7:15 (and u might leave a €5 as a sweetener), also be on time, because the outdoor tables are in demand. As for FIRA, go down that Main road, and as soon as you get near to the Main Square, Park wherever y ou can find a legal spot. for Dinner there, hands down, my fave is STANI -- http://www.stani.gr/ it's about 2 lanes back from the rim path, but its canopied rooftop has a splendid view of caldera & sunset. Again, I've stopped by to reserve (althugh you can phone), and they WILL hold a table... ask for a 6 with best view. SUCH a comfortable uncrowded way to enjoy sunset + dinner without crowds! Plus, again, authentic Greek cuisine. In both places, it's hard to spend more than about €16 each for ALL you can eat and more, plus house wine. Nice staff too.

Posted by
1730 posts

Thanks so much for the great information.

Lee- we could rent two cars instead of the van but from your description, a van doesn't sound unmanageable. I am glad to know that the road between Fira and Oia has been improved.

Janet--both restaurants sound wonderful and just the price point I was hoping for! If we were to choose one, which would it be?
Is the parking easier in Firostefani?

We are staying in Oia and while I like the air bnb we are staying at a lot, the restaurants in general seem more upscale than I want. So very glad to have some other options.

To both--Thira might be a good addition. Our group is into hiking.

Is there a village you would recommend in addition to Pyrgos? And have you been to the wine museum? I thought it might be an interesting way to learn about Santorini before mass tourism. We have been to wineries before but it seemed a bit novel. For the same reason, I want to visit the folk museum in Fira.

Beth

Posted by
2875 posts

Since u only have the 3 nights and want to enjoy sunset dinners... I'd choose STANI, because it has enough roof terrace tables to assure you'd be able to reserve one & have it saved. Website has phone #. here's a GREAT online map of Fira town; print & take, you won't find as good a one in Greece -- https://dessylovetravelling.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/map-of-fira-santorini-greece.jpg The Orange road is the main one, You'd be coming from Left (from OIA) ... Park at one of the two Blue P signs (public parking near the road, STANI's is on a green "lane" I think somewhere between the Koo Club and Naoussa restaurant, on the westwrd side of the lane. You can ask any Store owner (Not a restaurant of course) to point the way.

Yes the parking is easy in Firostephani, because it's in the "goldilocks" position ... between OIA & FIRA, and no bus tours or cruise group busses stop there, they just go on through. It's OIA that gets the huge crush of cruisers between 9:30 - 4, so you'll want to do your own sightseeing there from 8 - 9:30am, and then scram until mid-afternoon. After a short spell of quiet, Crowds then come flooding into OIA again about 6 - 6:30, like lemmings to a cliff, because they saw some video about THE sunset in Oia, (whereas the sun goes down in the West all over the island) so they'll jam every inch of the rim path, elbowing each other for camera angles, and clap at sunset as if it's a performance, and then all want to leave on the same bus!! So strategize with this in mind.

Posted by
1730 posts

Janet--thanks for the map!

I thought after I wrote that we can stop and look Taverna Aktaion on way hiking from Oia to Fira on Monday. If the one table outside for 6 is already reserved for Tuesday evening (or they don't want to reserve it), we can do the same at STANI when we arrive in Fira later. If we reserve Taverna Aktaion for Tuesday and think we want to stay in Fira until dinner, we can reserve STANI for Monday and do both!

Beth