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Are You Doing the Santorini Donkey Ride?

Hello there!

We’re the Santorini donkeys.

We live on the Greek island of Santorini. (It’s one of most unique places in Greece – the top was blown off the island by a volcanic explosion around 1628 BC, leaving behind only a crescent-moon curve of land.)

Perhaps you’ve met us?

You can do a Santorini donkey ride on the island. Or not...
You can do a Santorini donkey ride on the island. Or not…

If you visit Greece and our island on a cruise, you’ll see us near where your tender boat docks at Santorini’s old port.

To get up to the top of the island and the capital of Fira, you either have to take the Santorini cable car or walk up a whole swack of zig-zagging stone steps.

How many steps are there? Precisely 588 (just one of many fun facts about Greece).

Or you can take a Santorini donkey ride up on one of our “donkey taxis.”

Here’s looking at you!

Santorini donkey ride

Some people say we’re smelly, and we may nip you. And some say you should avoid riding donkeys because we shouldn’t be used to carry visitors this way.

What do you think?

Most who hop on us find the donkey ride both fun and terrifying (we kinda bump into each other and like veering off to look over the cliff edge). And we don’t want you to ride us if, ahem, you’re overweight, because we get very tired otherwise and can get injured.

Even if you don’t take a Santorini donkey ride, you might like to take our picture!

Now, if you can visit our island for longer than a day, you have to think about where you want to stay.

We love you Oia!

A donkey carries packages up the steps of Oia
A donkey carries packages up the steps of Oia

Many visitors really like Oia high up on the cliff-tops on the northern tip of Santorini.

It’s a little fairy-tale village, with narrow lanes winding up, down and around sugar-cube houses, boutique hotels, shops and restaurants.

You get stupendous views here.

And at sunset, the place is clogged with photographers and sunset lovers celebrating the sun’s fiery descent below the horizon.

Church roofs at sunset on Santorini
Church roofs at sunset

Check out Ikies Traditional Houses in Oia. It’s a cave hotel – but rest assured, these boutique suite digs aren’t hobbit holes.

From Oia, you can hike along one of our old donkey trails to Fira.

At certain sections, the 7.5 mile path snakes along the rim of the caldera (crater) – with those heart-stopping views – and you pass little white chapels. Ideally you’d do this hike in the spring or fall (not in the heat of summer).

The views are mind-blowing on Santorini
The views are mind-blowing on Santorini

Peaceful in Megalochori

Also consider staying in the traditional village of Megalochori. No caldera views.

But the compensation is peace and serenity.

An older gentleman walks slowly up these steps in Megalochori

Vedema (part of the Luxury Collection) is built around a beautiful 15th century winery in the village.

It offers a complimentary shuttle to both Fira and the resort’s beach club on the black sand beach of Perivolos.

And excellent tavernas are just a short walk away from Vedema. (Have you tried Santorini’s famous fava dish?)

We saw a wedding party gathering outside this church on the outskirts of Megalochori in Santorini.
We saw a wedding party gathering outside this church on the outskirts of Megalochori

Well, that’s it for now folks.

If you visit Santorini, make sure you drop by and say hello to us Santorini donkeys!

Have you done the Santorini donkey ride?

Is it okay for visitors to ride the donkeys? You can share your views in the Comments below.

Experience more of Greece!

Athens: Is Athens worth visiting? You bet! From the fabulous Acropolis Museum to the changing of the guards, check out these great reasons to go.

Mykonos: Mykonos is a slice of cool in the hot blue Aegean. See our Mykonos travel guide, including the best Mykonos beach hotels.

Philippi: History whispers around every corner at the ancient ruins of Philippi.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

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Photo credits: 4, 6, 7 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

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Tuesday 9th of January 2024

No way will I ride the donkeys when I visit Santorini. That’s abuse.

Janice and George

Thursday 11th of January 2024

Thanks for reading and sharing :-).

Emily E.

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

I just came back from from Santorini - it was beautiful! I actually took a donkey down the steps. I wanted the experience of riding a donkey but also wanted to get my excersize in by walking up the steps:) I agree the ride is fun and terrifying at the same time.

Janice and George

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Glad you enjoyed Santorini! It's a gorgeous island :-)

bobbie brown

Sunday 29th of July 2018

Don't ride the donkeys! It is cruel. Walk the steps or take the cable car instead. DON'T ADD TO THE DONKEY ABUSE.

Janice and George

Sunday 29th of July 2018

Hi Bobbie, Thank you for reading our post and chiming in with your views :-). Have you been to Santorini? How did you get to the top? Best!


Tuesday 24th of June 2014

What a gorgeous post. We visit Santorini in July and I don't think we will ride the donkeys but we are looking forward to all that lovely scenery! Emma :)

Janice and George

Tuesday 24th of June 2014

Lucky you! July will be hot - so take a hat! And enjoy those views and hopefully a swimming pool too :-).

Jenn Smith Nelson

Monday 19th of May 2014

Great images as usual! As for the donkeys, I have ridden them in another country but immediately felt terrible about it so I think I would pass.