One among the most famous means of transport in Santorini is the donkey riding. Indeed, donkeys have a long tradition in history in assisting humankind in everyday life tasks and transportation. Santorini was not an exception to the rule, as donkeys are a must convenience and attraction.


Donkeys in Greece

From a general point of view, mules and donkeys were forming an important part of transportation in Greece. Decades ago, donkeys were commonly used in rural areas as people were loading these animals with various products. Donkeys were also serving as a mean of transportation in taught and off-road terrains.

The development of roads and the technological advances in the transportation industry initiated a change, as donkeys and mules were replaced by cars. However, in rural Greece, donkey riding still continues as a charming folklore tradition.


Donkeys in Santorini

The Island of Santorini has a long tradition in donkey riding. The local people were using these animals in order to transfer goods or as a mean of transportation around the Island. Although this practise has been abandoned a long time ago, donkeys still exist in Santorini as a nostalgic sign of the previous centuries. In addition, donkeys form a popular tourist attraction for those who seek to explore the traditional and authentic lifestyle that local people used to have.

These multi-photographed animals are adding an extra touch of charm in Santorini’s irresistible character. Up until 1979, donkeys and mules were forming the primary mean of transportation. During that year the construction of the cable car took place. However, many of the Island’s visitors prefer this exciting and unique ride as they wish to experience the Island’s culture and tradition.


The routes

Due to the Island’s geological formation, donkeys can follow multiple routes and engage visitors into a never-ending exciting exploration. One of the most common routes for donkey riding is the one from Ormos and Fira, and vice versa. Fira is the capital settlement of Santorini located on the edge of Caldera cliffs. At the bottom of Fira, there is a port called Ormos which can be accessed either through a cable car ride or by donkey riding as the route includes approximately 600 steps.

An additional popular route for donkey riding is the one that takes visitors from Oia towards the nearest port. Oia is one of the most popular and magnificent locations in Santorini. The traditional architecture, the narrow streets and the impeccable views over the Aegean Sea are some of the reasons that constitute this village as a place to be. For those who wish to explore the small port that is located in Oia, the Ammoudi port, donkey rides are available for visitors.


A unique experience

The donkeys of Santorini: Santorini offers you the rare chance to travel around the whole island with a donkey. While to some, the idea may seem absurd, to most it is one of the most beautiful experiences in Santorini. The best place to catch these donkeys is at the old port at Fira, the capital of Santorini.

A donkey ride forms the ideal opportunity to visitors to experience a truly unique and old practise. It is not a coincidence that this particular activity holds a high position in the list of the things one should do when in Santorini. Riding a donkey in narrow streets and down to multiple steps can be an exciting and adventurous experience.

The ride can also be seen as a way for visitors to immerse themselves into the Island’s history, tradition and culture. Experiencing from first-hand the lifestyle that locals used to have in previous decades is a splendid and delighted moment.


Folklore tradition

In Santorini’s folklore tradition, donkeys are an integral part. Donkeys are taking place in a family’s main celebration moments and are treated with care as they are valuable assets for the family. More precisely, during traditional weddings, the bride arrives to the church with a donkey. Right after the ceremony, the newlywed couple returns to their house on a donkey. Although this tradition is not a common practice today, there are several couples who wish to experience a traditional wedding in Santorini and use donkeys to ride them.


Friendly and safe

Donkey ride is broadly accepted as a safe activity for both, adults and children. Although these animals tend to go fast, especially when going down the steps, there is nothing to worry visitors. In fact, they are perfectly trained in following the narrow streets of Santorini and the multiple steps up and down the cliffs. Visitors who chose to experience this characteristic feature of the Island are always accompanied by the owner of the donkey or a well-trained instructor.


Animals’ welfare

It has to be noted that the animals’ welfare is a major concern. The donkeys are by law going through regular veterinary checks. In addition, a rest period is also given to the animals to ensure their excellent condition. Finally, the law requires that the animals should be in the shade and that the owners are responsible to provide adequate quantities of water and food.