The donkeys of Santorini have been a popular means of transport for the locals for a long of time. Despite the technological development of the modern society and the use of cars and mechanical means of transportation, the donkeys were indispensable in Santorini for the building of hotels and houses at the edge of the caldera cliff because the steep and slope ground was inaccessible to cars! So, the work had to be done by the donkeys! These patient and strong animals transferred the material and the tools needed for the buildings and contributed to the touristic development of Santorini.


Donkey Santorini

Santorini donkey walking in Fira


Apart from the transportation of material in the past, the donkeys or mules of Santorini are in action even nowadays as they carry patiently the tourists who arrive at the old port (Skala) and wish to go riding to Fira (alternatively they can go on foot even though it is a long upwards street consisting of steps or by the cable car). The cute donkeys wait at the donkeys station accompanied by their driver, to welcome newcomers in Santorini and then to transfer them to the top of the cliff, at Fira town.

The riding route can be funny as the experienced animals seem to walk pretty fast making their riders scaring! However, the drivers are always on the alert to control the donkey which in any case is made to walk on the steep cliff without losing its balance. People have the chance to enjoy an exceptional view to the caldera as they direct to the top of it.


Santorini donkey

Santorini donkeys in Fira


Even though some people have expressed their disagreement on the way the donkeys are used nowadays because the animals are considered to have a bad time, the habitants of Santorini have taken care of the old donkeys which are led to a specially designed cottage for the donkeys that cannot work anymore.  There, they rest in companionship with their old fellows!

The donkeys of Santorini are an inseparable part of the locals’ life and both human and animals co-exist in a perfect cooperation. The islanders respect the donkeys for their assiduity and this is proved by the special exhibition organized in Santorini with sculptured donkeys that were painted by several artists. It was a nice idea that adorned idea with various types of donkeys!