Food,  Greece

Vegan in Santorini – dining on the Greek islands

In this post I write about our whole experience of food and dining on our trip to the Cyclades Greek islands. We stayed the longest time in Santorini, so I particularly mention the Santorini spots where we found good food – find out what’s vegan in Santorini! In addition, I also write about some ethical issues that came up.

This post was first published in September 2021 and now updated, as we visited Santorini again in April 2024 : )

vegan greek islands

Vegan in the Greek Islands

I have to break it to you – finding vegan food on the islands can be challenging if you plan to dine out. In Santorini, we stayed at MOD Vegan Boutique Hotel, so we had no issues! If you visit the island, I highly recommend MOD for a luxurious stay and unbeatable dining experience.

Dinner in room at MOD Santorini.

Greek cuisine is vegan-friendly they say.. I read this on several blogs too. There are several Greek dishes that are traditionally plant-based: Greek salad (minus the feta), dolmas (vine leaf rolls stuffed with herbed rice), fava, Gigantes (bean stew), Gemista, fried potatoes etc. But dolmas and gemista may contain meat and dishes are often served with yoghurt or cheese.

Most restaurants don’t stock plant-based cheese. Menus are heavily animal-based, especially seafood on the islands – restaurants mainly offer different marine animals, ”freshly” caught and killed : ( Alternatives to animal products (e.g. tofu or seitan) are virtually non-existent.

Our experience..

On a couple of occasions we requested a dish without the cheese/yoghurt but they forgot to do so or couldn’t. Restaurants are busy here and may simply say it’s not available. They won’t make you the spinach pies without cheese, don’t bother asking. The cheese addiction is real. Feta, made from sheep and goat milk is widely used here. Even if something doesn’t have cheese, it might have eggs – convenient for vegetarians. But exploiting female animals for their milk and eggs shouldn’t be an option. Is feta even vegetarian? Some cheeses use enzymes (look up ‘rennet’) extracted from the stomach of slaughtered young calves.

The good stuff..

All this aside. What’s good to eat – the fresh veggies and fruits! They do taste unique and in Santorini, for example, they cultivate their special tomatoes, fava bean, capers and white eggplant. These grow on the volcanic soils, with little rainfall and are shrunken in size. I usually dislike capers and eggplant – can tell you that these are delicious here!

vegan in Santorini - Fava dish
Santorini Fava – must have!

The fava (yellow split peas puree) is tasty – we had a LOT. Plenty of olive oil and olives used as well. Most of the other produce is from Crete, where more stuff grows. Traditional Mediterranean diets are high in veggies and I believe meat consumption was lower compared to modern day consumption. Check out this blog by Olivetomato.

Oh and the wine is amazing. Many local wines are natural/unfiltered (check with the producer) and thus vegan-friendly. Below we cover our experience in Santorini.

For Ios island, head to this post: Vegan in Ios

Vegan in Santorini

In Santorini, we spent a whole week. We had the privilege to stay at MOD Santorini – the very first vegan boutique hotel on the island. Breakfast was included – chickpea omelettes, pancakes, waffles, fruit salad, loaded avo toast, smoothie bowls – we had it all! Guests can also enjoy lunch or dinner here! Read our review of MOD:

MOD Santorini – Vegan Boutique Hotel

On another note, I’d like to point out an ethical issue regarding the donkeys on the islands. There seem to be places where animal rides are still given. Read the reviews on donkey tours on Google maps – it amazes me how people come together on these kind of issues and speak out against animal abuse. This they see happening in front of their eyes, the animals beaten and suffering in the heat. What happens to other farm animals is all hidden away – atrocities are happening in factory farms and slaughterhouses too.

I saw donkeys as they were taken to the stairs that go down to the old harbour of Santorini. The animal rides are losing popularity now and there’s a cable car that you can take up for the same price, if you can’t walk up.

Restaurants in Santorini

note that many restaurants in Santorini operate seasonally, so check their social pages for info on opening times before you go!

5 Senses (closed)

We dined at 5 Senses 3 times, it was only a 10-minute walk from MOD, on a lovely route towards Fira – always warmly welcomed to their lovely terrace space. We tried: Santorini fava, dolmas, Chicky Strips, Baklava and Avo Scandal cake. Oh and vegan shrimps – I’ve never eaten shrimps and thought these made of rice protein were creative and tasty.

They no longer operate in 2024, which is extremely sad, as this was one of the best restaurants we’ve dined at! Leaving this here for the memory, and to note that it’s tough for (esp. vegan) restaurant businesses on the island.

FalafeLAND

Δανεζη Μιχαηλ, Santorini 847 00, Greece

This is the place that saves the budget traveller (if any) in Santorini! Vegetarian menu with mostly vegan options. It’s located in Fira, on a street corner behind the main square. FalafeLAND is a kiosk with a small outdoor seating space. I had the volcanic wrap (very spicy) and J had the falafel box. It tasted alright and prices affordable (7€ for a filling wrap). They also have refreshing lemonade, ice tea and vegan desserts!

Vegetarian Falafel

There’s another kiosk nearby called ‘Vegetarian Falafel’, which we actually tried once. They made us a vegan falafel wrap, but I was not sure about the mayo. This spot is in Fira centre and has wraps and salads too. It’s good for a build-your-own salad bowl take-away.

Veganissimo

The thing about this place is that it’s actually not a vegan restaurant. Not anymore at least. It started out plant-based, but sadly the owners couldn’t make it work. So now it’s a carni restaurant called Med Food, that has a vegan menu stashed somewhere. It still has a sign outside that says ‘veganissimo’ though.

The staff immediately produced the vegan menu when we asked for vegan options. The ‘Beyond souvlaki’ and ‘Beyond chicken’ were not available, unfortunately. We settled for the Falafel and mushroom souvlaki and it wasn’t too bad.

Bohemia The Journey

A brunch cafe with vegan choices in Fira, also a shisha lounge. While it’s a nice cafe, the vegan options are not much more than an avocado toast and a falafel wrap. We only had coffee here, so cannot comment on the food.

Onar Restaurant & Bar

On the way back from Skaros, along the caldera walking route to Firostefani, we settled down at Onar for some refreshments. They had some vegan food stated on the menu including vegan garlic macaroni. We had the fava spread with a bread basket, and the eggplant salad with Arab pita bread – it was delicious! Amazing views, good service too.

  • vegan in Santorini - Onar restaurant
  • vegan in Santorini - Onar restaurant
  • vegan in Santorini - Onar restaurant

Pearl on the Cliff Bar & Restaurant

Imerovigli 847 00, Greece

Walking down a bit further towards Skaros, you come across Pearl On The Cliff Hotel & Suites Santorini. They have a restaurant/bar area open to public. We came in for a drink and noticed they have a vegan menu section. While we didn’t try any food, we enjoyed a great view of Skaros and sunset – worth a visit!

OhhBoy Santorini (closed)

This is one of those fine resto-bars with a caldera view which people settle into to watch the sunset. We went here one evening to try out their cocktails and signature vegan dishes – Black bean burger and the Beyond meat dog. It came with tasty potato wedges and vegan mayo which was amazing, ohh boy!

Sadly, OhhBoy no longer operates in Santorini and only OhhBoy Athens remains open. I suggest another restaurant in Fira called Panigyri Santorini (Agiou Athanasiou, Thira 847 00) which offers a vegan menu options of Greek style food.

Ginger Sushi Lounge

Firostefani square, Thera 847 00, Greece

We had a good couple of experiences here. They didn’t have a ton of vegan options, but I was craving some Asian flavours after eating only falafel-hummus, salad type food two days straight. The staff is welcoming and ready to help you out with choosing vegan dishes.

Edamame for starters, served warm and salty. For mains, we had a choice of 3 types of sushi rolls and a noodle bowl. The sushi rolls came with only one central ingredient – either cucumber, mango or avocado. The portions were measly. Go here for the flavours and ambience.

vegan in santorini
Ginger sushi lounge, Firostefani

Kaliya

Ipapantis, Thira 847 00, Greece

A fancy restaurant on the highest points of Fira has vegan options (you can ask for a separate vegan menu). We passed by the decorated entranceway where people stop just to click a photo, and decided to drop in. The saffron fava we tried along with sourdough bread was unique, unlike traditional Santorini fava, something else in itself. Good cocktails and beautiful space, but they are big on seafood/meat, unfortunately. Prices $$$

Assyrtico snack & coffee bar

This café right under Kaliya has plant milk beverages (good almond milk cappuccino) and a few vegan snacks. Plenty of seating space in their backyard, as well as free wifi. This time in Santorini, they had a vegan ice cream box with several flavours made from rice milk and olive oil. The Pistachio was yum!

Melina’s Tavern

Παραλία Ακρωτηρίου, Akrotiri 847 00, Greece

You must visit Akrotiri and the Red Beach when in Santorini – and make sure to dine at Melina’s Tavern. It’s a seafood restaurant, but they have a vegan menu. We stopped by here for lunch on our way to the Red Beach. Started to order what we thought were the vegan options from the general menu but then the waiter asked if we were vegan and voilà – produced a vegan menu!

This is a family run restaurant (named after a daughter called Melina, who’s vegan!) and the service is friendly. We did wait a while for a bill in the end since they were busy at lunch hour but they made up with the berry shots.

We had the veggie pasta, zucchini fritters, potato fries and fresh juices to go along. Simple, tasty and homemade style. The fritters were heavy and there was no sauce to go along. The Mousaka would have been worth a try.

Karma Greek Lounge

Nik. Nomikou 11, Oía 847 02, Greece

This spot can be found on the way to the bus stop, located on a pretty and peaceful alley in Oia. The garden style outdoor seating is lovely, and the menu has several veggie dishes that can be made vegan.

At Karma, they use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the food is homemade style. I ordered the tomatokeftedes and a pasta dish. Mention vegan so they know to replace the cheese. I’m not sure what brand of vegan feta they use – I didn’t find it good and could have done without it. The pasta was fresh and simple, we finished with a pot of Greek mountain tea.

When dining out on travels, this will come in handy. A pack of playing cards that translates Vegan – “I do not eat meat, fish, dairy, or any animal products” in the languages of 52 countries, including Greek. Why not gift someone or yourself this pack? Get it here.

Other suggestions..

We stayed and mainly dined in Fira, and found this was the best place in terms of vegan options too. We visited Oia, but it wasn’t easy to find food there. Tired and hungry after the 3-hour hike from Fira, Google and HappyCow didn’t help us. One review stated a place (3Bs restaurant) had vegan wraps but we went there and found nothing – got a detox juice and moved on.

We spent some time sightseeing and then stopped by Lotza restaurant. The signboard had 2 dishes marked (V). This meant vegetarian, not vegan. We ordered traditional fava and stuffed eggplant. We had a poor experience with the service – the waitress didn’t seem interested in taking our order and seemed offended when we asked if they have a vegan spinach pie (without feta). They also claim to have 7 vegan options, but don’t (confuse it with vegetarian). I don’t really recommend Lotza.

Places we didn’t manage to dine at on this trip:

  • Tranquilo beach bar & restaurant – a veggie food spot in Perissa beach.
  • Piatsa Souvlaki Grill House Oia – they seem to have several vegan items such as souvlaki and gyros.
  • Faros products – a deli serving local Greek plates of fava, tomatokeftedes etc. Find their shop/cafe in Akrotiri, at the southern tip of the island.
  • SeaVibe Kamari – beach lounge at Kamari beach with a new vegan menu section.
  • The Finch – a cafe in Kamari said to offer vegan options for brunch.
  • Zotos – gelato shop in Fira where you can find many vegan sorbet flavours.

All these spots are marked on our map. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to any of these places, and how was the experience!

Groceries

We didn’t do much of grocery shopping and only went to mini-markets for snacks, instant food or beverages – and always came across some vegan products like Alpro, Starbucks coffee and Violife cheese! We didn’t need to buy those but we were happy to find instant noodles (yes, the chicken flavour is actually vegan). You can also find many smoothie kiosks and fruits stalls selling fresh fruit juice. We found some good acai smoothies and it doesn’t usually contain milk.

  • vegan in santorini

Overall, it wasn’t the easiest time finding vegan food – but luckily more options are popping up. Vegan travellers – don’t hesitate to visit Santorini! We can leave quick feedback / reviews to restaurants and create demand for change.

That’s all for our experience of food in Santorini. Stay tuned for more posts related to the Greek islands on Veganhaven!

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Our favourite dining and travel planning resources:

  • Abillion – a vegan app with useful features like finding vegan dishes and products worldwide. Join with our invite code VEGANHAVEN. Add your own reviews to raise $ for donation to animal sanctuaries via the app.
  • Booking.com* – a great resource to find plenty of hotels or apartments and deals worldwide. Book your next stay through links on our pages.
  • SkyScanner – useful for finding the best flight route and flight combinations for travels.
  • Fussy Traveller Club playing cards* – a must-have for vegan travellers, this pack of playing cards translates “I’m Vegan” “I do not eat meat, fish, dairy, or any animal products” in the languages of 52 countries, translated by fluent native speakers,

Get yours: Vegan Playing Cards


Vegan in Santorini – map

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

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Last updated on July 2nd, 2024

10 Comments

  • Keirsten

    Even though it was difficult to find, you sure made it look easy! Those vegan dishes look so tasty! 5 Senses looks so tasty and innovative. I also love how you pointed out the animal exploitation with the Donkeys & even in Feta cheese not necessarily being vegetarian either. ???

      • Anna

        I dined twice at Kaliya Restaurant. Yes, it is a little bit expensive but the food (and the view) is really amazing and the staff is very professional, polite and heart-warmingly friendly. They even remembered me when I went for the second time which is quite remarkable when you see how crowded Fira is.
        The food is really good, they serve sourdough bread and spreads (two of them vegan), salads which can be made vegan upon request and they have four vegan mains on the menu (I had the vegan bowl with eggplant, tempeh, tofu and soba, which was really good and another dish with eggplant, tomatoes, salsa verde and tempeh ragout, maybe one of the most delicious things I ever had). I can really recommend that place.

  • Stephanie

    Greece…*sigh*…someday! The food looks so fantastic. That corn soup was mouth watering. And all the photos – food and scenic – make it look so lovely. Thank you for all the tips. I will get there at some point!

    • Anna

      This island has a lot more to offer. This page is out-dated now. I am here in November and even with the season ended and some restaurants closed there are still cheap vegan eats and vegan options in almost every restaurant. If ever in doubt visit the square or there are supermarkets with even vegan cheese alternatives now for home made deliciousness.

      • Veganhaven

        We’ve listed all the best places we have personally experienced in a week. We found that vegan options in most other restaurants were often limited. Yes, supermarkets do have alternatives available (mentioned in the last paragraph) but this article focuses on dining out and options in restaurants.

    • Erin

      Good Santorini guide! We need to go back and try some of these places. My husband and I went 5 years ago in the winter so there wasn’t a lot of options. We ate a lot of Fava beans!

      • Veganhaven

        Thanks. Yes, I can imagine the options were a lot fewer 5 years ago! I’m sure you will find new vegan restaurants around next time you go 🙂

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