Greece Bans Anyone Over 220 Pounds From Riding Santorini’s Donkeys

The Greek government now has a strict set of guidelines to protect the animals.

Greece Bans Anyone Over 220 Pounds From Riding Santorini’s Donkeys

Animal rights activists successfully lobbied to make living conditions better for Santorini’s donkeys.

Photo by The Picture Studio/

After the donkey rides some travelers choose to take up the steep cliffs of the island of Santorini came under fire from animal welfare groups this summer, Greece has officially banned people over a certain weight from riding the animals.

According to the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food, anyone who wishes to ride the donkeys must weight less than 100 kilograms (or 220 pounds), CNN reports. The new guidelines accommodate for one-fifth of the animal’s body weight, which is the recommended amount that a donkey can carry. The government has also implemented rules to make sure the donkeys get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and have access to a steady supply of drinking water.

⚡️ An update on #Santorini — The Donkey Sanctuary (@DonkeySanctuary) June 19, 2018

The new legislature comes just a few months after The Donkey Sanctuary and a Facebook group called Help the Santorini Donkeys both condemned the rides this summer, stating that the animals are being forced to carry loads that are too heavy for them, without proper shade, food, and water, according to the Telegraph.

However, the 220-pound limit accommodates for the maximum weight of a donkey. Help the Santorini Donkeys suggests that most donkeys should carry no more 112 pounds, typically. Because of this discrepancy, the animal rights group PETA is still not satisfied.

“Donkeys can still be forced to carry a person weighing 15 stone 10 pounds (100 kilograms) up more than 500 steep steps four to five times a day,” Mimi Bekhechi, PETA UK’s director of international programs, told CNN.

Travelers who would like to avoid the donkey rides altogether have two options to reach the top of the volcanic island. While the 30-minute walk to the island’s capital, Fira, at the top of the island is strenuous, there’s also a cable car that makes the journey in two minutes (but be prepared for long lines).

The donkey rides aren’t the only issue Santorini has had to deal with recently. Overtourism has become such an issue that last year mayor Nikos Zorzos capped the number of cruise ship passengers who are allowed to disembark each day to just 8,000 people.

This article originally appeared online in August 3, 2018; it was updated on October 15, 2018, to include current information.

>> Next: The World’s Fastest Growing Tourist Destinations Aren’t Where You Think

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More from AFAR