In this post I write about our whole experience of food and dining on our trip to the Cyclades Greek islands this summer. Since we stayed the longest time in Santorini, I particularly mention all 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.
- Vegan in the Greek Islands
- Vegan in Santorini
Vegan in the Greek Islands
I have to break it to you – vegan food is kinda hard to come by here, if you plan to dine out. We didn’t stay in accommodation with a kitchen, so had to eat out daily. Greek cuisine is very vegan-friendly, they say.. I read this on several travel blogs.
There are 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. Dolmas and gemista may contain meat. Dishes are often served with yoghurt/cheese. Most restaurants don’t stock plant-based cheese. Menus are heavily animal-based, especially seafood on the islands – restaurants mainly offer different type of marine animals, caught, killed and served ‘fresh’ supposedly. Alternatives to animal products (e.g. using tofu or seitan) were virtually non-existent.
This was 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 so 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. It’s convenient for vegetarians here. 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 (split peas), capers and white eggplant. These grow on the volcanic soils and with little rainfall – they are shrunken in size and different. I can tell you that these are delicious! I usually dislike capers and eggplant. And the fava is tasty – we had a LOT of it. Plenty of olive oil and olives 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. Most local wines are natural/unfiltered (check with the producer) and thus vegan-friendly. Natural wines are my favourite type of wine! 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 8 days. It was our arrival and departure point. 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! For other meals, we mostly ate out. Of course, if you stay at the hotel now, you can enjoy lunch at their Garden Café! Non-guests can also dine here with prior reservations. Read the full review of our stay at MOD Santorini:
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. I didn’t visit but J climbed up and down the stairs. 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
Erithrou Stavrou, Santorini, Greece
5 Senses is a place that pops up if you search for vegan restaurants in Santorini. They are a plant-based Mediterranean restaurant. Many dishes are inspired by Greek cuisine but you will find a variety of options on the menu. The restaurant is a bit on the fine end – the space, the service, quality of dishes.. as well as the prices. They have separate lunch and dinner menus, which you can view using a QR code. We dined at 5 Senses three times as it was also near Firostefani, it takes only about 10 minutes to walk there from MOD – a lovely walking route towards Fira!
We were always warmly welcomed – they have the sweetest staff and the manager is always around making sure things are going good. The seating space is on a terrace overlooking the town. They give you welcome shots of corn soup with chili oil. On these 3 occasions we tried out: The traditional Santorini Fava, vine rolls with vegan tzatziki, Chicky Strips for mains; Greek Baklava and Avo Scandal for dessert!
Oh and did I mention vegan shrimps? At first, I was wondering if they are actually vegan but they told us it’s made of rice protein and stuff. I’d never eaten shrimps or any such thing and thought these vegan shrimps were creative and tasty!
The desserts were amazing. They also have a smoothie, yoghurt and ice cream kiosk right below the restaurant. We highly recommend dining at 5 Senses at least once!
This is the place that saves the budget traveller in Santorini! All vegetarian menu with mostly vegan options. I wish we had eaten from here more. It’s located in Fira but not in the main square. FalafeLAND is a kind of kiosk with a small outdoor seating space in front. I had the volcanic wrap (spicy) and J had the falafel box. It all tasted really good and prices affordable (6€ for a filling wrap). They also have refreshing lemonade, ice tea and vegan desserts!
There’s another similar falafel kiosk [Vegetarian Falafel] which we actually ate at once. They made us vegan falafel wrap, but I was a bit suspicious about the mayo. This falafel kiosk is in Fira centre nearby and has wraps and salads:
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 starters and mains e.g 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 – recommended!
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 there one evening to try out their cocktails and signature vegan dishes – Black bean burger and the Beyond meat dog. They came with tasty potato wedges and vegan mayo which was amazing, ohh boy!
The sunset view was pretty nice and was enjoyed along with some fancy cocktails. Prices are $$$. Many restaurants in Santorini close in October for winter so check restaurants official page before you go.
Sadly, OhhBoy seems to be no longer in Santorini in 2023 and only the Athens branch 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
near Firostefani central square, Thera 847 00, Greece
We had a good couple of experiences at Ginger Sushi Lounge – right next to Firostefani square. They didn’t have a ton of vegan options, but I was craving some strong Asian flavours after eating only falafel-hummus, salad type food two days straight. The staff at this place is welcoming and friendly and are ready to help you out with choosing the vegan dishes.
There’s edamame for starters, which we absolutely loved – served warm and salty. For the main food we had a choice of 3 types of sushi rolls and veg noodle bowl, which was vegan. Weirdly, the sushi rolls came with one central ingredient – either cucumber, mango or avocado. We like rolls with several different things in. The portions were measly for the price. Go here for the flavours and ambience.
Παραλία Ακρωτηρίου, Akrotiri 847 00, Greece
You will probably visit Akrotiri and the Red Beach on your stay in Santorini – make sure to dine at Melina’s Tavern! It’s a seafood restaurant but they actually 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 sweet 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.
Restaurants in Oia and other suggestions
We mainly stayed and dined in Fira. This was the best place in terms of vegan options too. We visited Oia on one day but it wasn’t easy to find food there. Tired and hungry after the 3 hour hike from Fira, Google or HappyCow didn’t help us. One review stated a place (3Bs restaurant) had vegan wraps but we went there and found just veggie wrap, with cheese. Got a detox juice and moved on.
We spent some time sightseeing and then stopped by Lotza Greek restaurant. The signboard outside had 2 dishes marked (V). Note that this only meant vegetarian and not vegan. The spinach pie had feta (and probably egg). 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. Moreover, we waited ages for the bill. They also claim to have 7 vegan options, but they don’t (probably confuse it with vegetarian). I wouldn’t really recommend dining at Lotza.
Places we didn’t manage to dine at on this trip:
- Karma Greek lounge Oia – we passed by this place on the way to the bus stop, located on a pretty and peaceful alley.
- Piatsa Souvlaki Grill House Oia – they seem to have several vegan items such as souvlaki and gyros.
- Tranquilo beach bar & restaurant – veggie food spot in Perissa.
- Faros products – a deli serving some local light Greek food, vegan options like fava, tomato balls etc. You can find their shop/café in Akrotiri, at the southern tip of the island.
- Kaliya – fancy restaurant on the highest points of the caldera in Fira has a vegan menu section. Probably the only place on the Greek Islands that has tempeh and tofu on the menu!? We passed by a couple of times and had a look at the menu at the decorated entranceway (where people stopped by just to click their photo). As you can see, prices are $$$. The café near Kaliya has plant milks.
- Veganissimo Fira – fast forward to 2022 and Santorini has a new restaurant with a vegan menu.
- SeaVibe Kamari – beach lounge at Kamari beach with a new vegan menu section!
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!
On this trip we didn’t do much of grocery shopping (yay) and only went to mini-markets for snacks, instant food or beverages. Always came across some vegan products like Alpro milks, Starbucks cold 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) and such. You will 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.
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. Sign up for free with our invite code ‘VEGANHAVEN’. Add your own reviews to raise $ for donation to animal sanctuaries via the app.
- Booking.com* – a great, reliable 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!
- GetYourGuide* – a leading travel platform for booking tours, guided sightseeing and adventure activities at a destination. Search their online marketplace and find one to suit you!
Vegan in Santorini – Map of places
Last updated on September 20th, 2023