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My winter visit to Oia

Ra'anana, Israel
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94 posts
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My winter visit to Oia

I was asked to post my experience in Oia during my winter visit (16-21 February) so here we go.

I'll start by saying that I decided to go to Oia now because I was looking for a place with incredible views and not many tourists. To inspire me to write (I'm working on a film script) and to relax since I just finished my exams. I'm not a fan of swimming and tanning so lack of sun didn't bother me.

I took the 7+ hours Blue Star ferry from Piraeus to Santorini which arrived in Santorini late afternoon. I enjoyed the ferry, felt a little seasick during but I enjoy long journeys, I liked seeing the island on the way. I paid a little extra to get a seat in business class and the service was great (though all the food and drinks still cost money of course). Don't pay for the wireless internet there since it didn't work for me at all during the journey (not on my laptop nor my phone).

In Oia I chose Alexander Boutique Hotel's because of the reviews I read here. I'm a solo traveler and often fear I won't be treated as well as those travelling in pairs or more, especially in a place that's so romantic. So the reviews I read here were all by solo travelers too.

The hotel arranged a transfer for me from the port.

I can't begin to talk about how much I enjoyed the hotel, I wrote a detailed reviews on it (still pending, will probably be published soon) and I urge anyone looking for an hotel in Oia to read it - tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g482941-d283496…

Oia was everyone I wanted it to be. Visually stunning from every part of the village. I often found myself just walking around aimlessly, sucking in the views. I enjoyed going to Oia castle everyday long before the sunset just to sit there, listen to music and read. Closer to sunset hour plenty of other tourists arrived even though it's winter (I'm guessing in the summer there are many many many more).

95% of the shops in the village were closed. I saw a couple of open restaurants, I ate in Lotza almost every day cos I really enjoyed it (wrote a pending review on it too), didn't try any other places in Oia. Very few shops were open - a couple of memorbilia stores, jewellery stores, the beautiful Atlantis bookshop (where I bought a book for great value) and some supermarkets, where I bought some food to cook in my room when I'm on a writing spree and don't feel like going out.

Despite there not being much to do in Oia, I didn't want to leave for several days. I fell in love with the view and general atmosphere. I enjoyed the quiet and loved walking in the empty streets where you rarely see another tourist or a local, and mostly see cats and dogs (who are all friendly enough to play with).

Eventually I took a bus to Akrotiri. For a history freak like me it was worth it, not as impressive as Pompeii and still, very cheap to see and learn so much about this place. Also walked a little further to see Red Beach. A local tavern (The Dolphins) next to it was open, even though there wasn't a single soul around, so I had lunch there, the people were very friendly.

Also spent a day in Fira, a little more open shops than in Oia. Loved Lucky's gyros that everyone on tripadvisor recommended me but honestly, I just wanted to go back to Oia. I love the atmosphere there and I actually felt that despite Fira being rather empty too, it was "too crowded" for me after Oia. I really enjoyed the bus ride there though, the drive on the mountain was stunning. I was considering renting a car but because I liked Oia so much I didn't see the point. I think for winter travelers renting a car would be much easier though since the bus schedule isn't from Oia to Fira and then Fira to other parts of the island wasn't very often. Renting, at least right now, is also much cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere.

I worried I won't get to see the famous Oia sunset in all its glory since there were a few cloudy days but luckily the day before my flight back was clearer and the view was stunning. Also in one of the cloudy days it was raining and we got an amazing rainbow that went all the way around Oia.. that was another breathtaking view.

Some people I met during the trip went to the volcano so a boat trip there was a possibility but I didn't go for it cos I was dreading getting on a small boat with those waves especially after feeling seasick on the big ferry (it made my first day in Santorini a little difficult).

Basically for people like me, who like quiet, who seek relaxation, inspiration, who want to enjoy the views without the crowds, and don't mind the possibility of no sun (and maybe no sunset, I was lucky..) and no swimming - winter is perfect. If you seek shopping, sea and sun, do summer and brace the crowds.

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Ra'anana, Israel
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94 posts
23 reviews
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21. Re: My winter visit to Oia

greatimes, I can reassure you further that my host at the hotel said April is probably one of the best months to visit, a lot more stuff are open than they were now, and there still aren't that many tourists (though it's a little more crowded than February of course).

Still I think you're getting the best of both worlds. :) have a blast, I'm jealous I can't wait to go back. Just suck in all those beautiful views cos I assure you, you'll miss them so much after.

New York
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22. Re: My winter visit to Oia

WOW! Those pictures are GORGEOUS! Thank you for sharing your pictures and experience. It encourages me to go in April 2014.

Penang
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23. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Hello..Thanks for sharing. Did you leave Santorini by taking the ferry? I"m researching for my trip next Spring and just getting a bit concerned because I think the ferries arrive Piraeus very late at night. Love the photos you took. I'm also seeking inspiration. I paint.

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Seattle, Washington
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24. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Fabulous photos. I would absolutely love to visit Santorini in the winter, unfortunately for my family it's all about the pool. We spent two glorious weeks there in July, and while we did have crowds, they weren't as bad as we thought they'd be. I still cherish those early morning walks through town before everyone woke up and the cruise ships started arriving. I never left without my camera. It was a magical, beautiful place, something out of my dreams that lived up to everything I'd imagined. I didn't want to leave, and cried on the ferry. I can't wait to return. To be able to sit on our balcony, look at that view, and be thankful to be alive. Thank you for sharing, so I could relive it :-)

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Sydney
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25. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Yes, amazing photo's..........Oia looks even more beautiful , out of season!

Thank you for sharing them with us.

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Oregon
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26. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Hello Mychng-

Not all ferries arrive back in Piraeus late at night. It will depend on your travel dates. http://www.gtp.gr

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Georgia
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27. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Great trip report and gorgeous photos. This is helpful in planning a trip.

Ra'anana, Israel
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94 posts
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28. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Thanks everyone again :) I do miss this heavenly place.

Mychng, I arrived with the ferry from Piraeus but left on a plane (to Athens). That way worked best for me with the flying from and back to Israel. Also like you I wanted the ferry trip to take place during the day to see the beauty, so my ferry left Piraeus at about 5-6am and arrived at Santorini around 3-4pm. It was a beautiful journey (though, tiring)

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Los Angeles...
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29. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Thank you for the wonderful review. That's exactly the experience I was looking for. Our family is going to Greece for 5+ days. I am considering 2 days in Athens and the rest in Santorini. Until I read your review, I was afraid Santorini might be the wrong place in February. We are looking for photo opportunities, no crowds, see some beautiful sunsets on the water and just explore an island. Sounds like we should rent a car to maximize our exploration. We would fly from Athens to maximize our time on the island and prevent sea sickness and long time on the ferry.

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30. Re: My winter visit to Oia

Hi lalyil,

I wanted to book the Blue Star Ferry from Athens to Santorini in November and you said that you got the Business ticket. There is not a big money difference but I didn't really get the difference between the Ecomic fare and the Business one. Can you tell me a little bit more?

Thanks!

Lin.

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