Riding a Donkey in Santorini, Greece

Riding a Donkey in Santorini, Greece was definitely one of the memorable experiences I had while backpacking Europe.

I wouldn’t say it was a safe experience, by any means, but it sure was a fun one! A trip to Santorini wouldn’t be complete without giving it a try. Hopefully, you survive the experience!

If you’re planning on taking a volcanic or “hot springs” tour chances are you’re going to be boarding your boat from the port in Fira, which is the main town in Santorini. The port happens to be about a 980 ft (300 m) drop from the main town, though. So that leaves you with three options:

  1. Take a cable car there (Expect very long lines!)
  2. Ride a donkey
  3. Walk the path filled with people and tons of donkeys

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(Looking down at the port, from the town of Fira)

My sister and I took the cable car on the way down, since we were in a bit of a hurry. There wasn’t much a line in the morning. While on our way down, we saw the donkeys heading up…

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… so we decided to try it on our way up!

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What to Expect on your Donkey Ride:

  • There didn’t seem to be any guides that go up with you. The donkeys just seem to know the path and follow the other donkeys up. If there is a guide who is at the front, there are so many donkeys going up, that you probably wouldn’t be able to see him. So basically, if you need any help while on the way up or the way down, you’re on your own.

 

  • The people who “operate” this basically just throw you on a donkey, and the donkey will just take off going. No instructions on how to steer the donkey, or how to stop. (I attempted to wait for my sister to get on her donkey, but mine just took off going once I got thrown on. I literally could not get my donkey to stop. It took about 5 minutes before my sister caught up!)

 

  • It’s HOT! Seriously, put sunscreen on before you get on your donkey. It’s a long, scenic ride. Although beautiful, it’s also extremely hot during the summer. I stripped down to my bathing suit at some point during the ride. That made it much more enjoyable.

 

  • Occasionally as you’re going up, there will be a herd of donkeys going back down; some with people on them, some without. The path is not that wide, and since the guides are pretty useless, it’s basically like a stampede of donkey’s coming at you! Watch your legs, so they don’t get twisted off. (I’m actually serious!) My sister kind of freaked out a little during one of the “stampedes”. It can be a little frightening. Mainly because no one is really controlling them. One guy did fall off his donkey, so be careful!

 

  • Oh, and did I mention that this is also a walking path?! Yes, it’s a path for donkeys going up, donkeys going down, and for people going up, and people going down. I saw one guy, who was walking the path, fall down when we were coming up on the donkeys. Needless to say, it’s a bit of a mess… and I’m not referring to the donkey’s waste, which also happens to take up parts of the path. It’s definitely an experience, that’s for sure!
  • The donkey’s don’t seem to be treated the best. They’re forced to work all day in the hot sun, going up and down a very steep cliff. So be nice to your donkey. If he needs to stop for a minute, let him rest!

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(Above: That was my donkey! He’s so cute!)

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(Above: The cliff that the donkeys are going up and down, from Fira, at the top, to the port below.)

Although a bit dangerous, it still is rather fun, and something you just HAVE to experience while in Santorini!

Are you planning a trip to Greece? Leave a comment below!

About Devon Nicole

Hey! My name is Devon. I'm a 20-something girl from the sunny state of Florida, USA. In 2012, I made the scary decision to backpack Europe SOLO. Now it's 3 years later and I've traveled to over 30 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia! I created this blog to inspire other young women to travel abroad solo too. There's a whole world out there just waiting to be explored!

12 Comments

  1. This looks so sketchy, and therefore so fun! I am dying to go to Greece, especially Santorini, when I travel Europe this summer, but I’ve heard some not-so-great things about Greece. I think that if you’re in the right areas and are cautious of your actions you’ll probably be fine…would you agree from your experience?

  2. I went to Santorini this last September and I loved it! The donkey ride was exactly as you described! So funney!

  3. Hi, how much does the donkey ride costs though?

  4. Blonde is right! Riding a donkey in Santorini is disgusting. They are badly mistreated and you are fuelling their despair. Please people reading this have some thought for the animals over your indulgence in Santorini

  5. Hi Devon
    This is surabhi from india..I enjoy reading your blog n wish to go backpacking in europe for 2 weeks.. I have never travelled outside india and I dont really know where to start from..

  6. What would the donkeys do if not the trip for the tourists ? Be eaten? The farmers/ donkey owners? I plan on checking the ride out in October . Really don’t offer an opinion unless you have owned or cared for large livestock . They will kill you in a heartbeat and there is no regret!

    • This whole website/blog is my opinion, so I don’t know what to say to that… but the experience is definitively something not to miss. I just love animals and wish they were cared for a little better, but you’re right. I don’t know what they would do if they didn’t take the tourists on the trips.

  7. I recently cruised the Mediterranean which included a visit to Santorini. We walked down the donkey track and I was disgusted and upset to see the donkeys standing on hard surfaces in the heat and with no water. It sounds awful but they would be better off dead than suffering this torture. Look into the beautiful eyes of these donkeys and all you see is sadness. Don’t ride the donkeys – walk the track – that is the experience.

  8. I was just wondering, what hot spring/ volcanic island tour did you go on from the port? Would you recommend it? Thanks!

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