Donkey riding in Santorini is quite a popular tourist experience for many visiting Santorini and these erratic but wonderful animals can be seen in Fira, as they take tourists up and down the steep cliffs of Santorini. For many arriving in Santorini via cruise ship, they have only got three options; 1. Take the cable car 2. Walk the zig zagged long and steep paths uphill or 3. Ride a donkey to the top. While the cable car seems to be the most popular form of transport to reach the top, the lines can be ridicoiulsy long and lengthy, which make the donkeys a unique Sanotrini experience for many travelling tourists. There is usually no line so you can hop straight on and in as little as 10 minutes be at the very top!
Although there is a small degree of care that needs to considered before hopping on any of the donkeys, below are some considerations and things to expect before you hop on (if you are thinking about it).
What to expect:
It might be an idea to make sure you put on some sunscreen before you hop on as it can get VERY hot. Even a hat and sunnies. In the warmers months, the sun is blazing hot and can make it very uncomfortable to be out in the sun for too long without any sun protection. It will be a beautiful and scenic ride so you want to make sure you enjoy the most of it.
Each way expect to pay about 3- 5 euro to take a ride on the donkeys. The guides will take a photo as you go up or down at some point , in which case is approx. 10 or so euro if you’d like that optional to purchase and take home.
There don’t seem to be many guides that go with you, and if they do they are either at the very front or back of the pack. So, if you require any help and assistance while on the donkeys, don’t expect too much! You are pretty much just led by the donkey you are on!
As soon as the guides put you on a donkey, they just charge off right away with no hesitation.. and with no instruction on how to steer, make them stop or even control them, they are in there own little world. The donkeys know their way though and follow other donkeys heading in the same direction, so you will never be alone. The donkeys will sometimes randomly stop, run or cut across other donkeys, it’s almost like a race to who can reach the top first!
It’s not uncommon to see a herd of donkeys coming in the opposite direction – some with or without people. It can feel almost like a mini stampede of animals as the pathways aren’t overly wide, so the donkeys will rub and knock against each other to get past. Make sure you hold onto your donkey tight and your legs aren’t in the way of any havoc!
Where the donkeys trot up and down is still a walking path, so you will see fellow travellers using this. Needless to say, it’s an interesting (and smelly!) walk, constantly avoiding the donkeys ‘piles’ while avoiding the donkeys themselves as they walk by.
The donkeys aren’t treated the best and are left in poor conditions. They walk up and down these steep cliffs all day every day for the enjoyment of tourists and when they aren’t carrying tourists they are either standing in the hot sun or made to walk up and down. So if you are riding one, be nice to your donkey, and if he needs a rest, let him rest!