Beyond the postcard-perfect views of Santorini and small villages perched on its cliff sides, I’d always heard tales of a captivating hike that stretches from Fira to Oia.
A journey of approximately 10.5 km (6.5 miles) that promises to immerse you in the island’s beauty. To be completely honest, I did have my reservations. Could a hike that’s so popular still offer a sense of solitude and wonder?
And so, in our typical adventurous spirit, me and my partner Natalie decided to embark on this hike together.
It did not disappoint.
Fira is Santorini’s capital and also the hub for getting by bus to many of the main locations on the island, such as the historic Akrotiri Archaeological Site, the beach resort of Kamari and today’s destination, the iconic sunset village of Oia.
Need to Know
Length: 10.5 km
Time: 3.5 hrs
Grade: Moderate (partly well paved, some sections which are rocky or loose gravel)
Path Taken: Fira – Firostefani – Imerovigli – Oia.
Further Info: Fira is commonly reached by bus, with connections from all of the main parts of the island.
Eventually, we made our way up to what is considered the official starting point of the hike, the “Atlantis Hotel”. The morning air was warm but not yet overwhelmingly hot, and although Fira was already busy, we were confident that the trail itself would still be fairly quiet.
With the vast expanse of the caldera to our left, it was a simple guide: keep the water in sight, and you’re on track.
As Fira’s bustling streets began to fade, the ascent to Firostefani began.
It felt like an extension of Fira, the transition so seamless that you’d barely notice entering a new village. Elevated and offering a vantage point, the views at Firostefani were unparalleled.
A short detour led us to one of Santorini’s best Instagram spots, the ‘Three Bells of Thira’ at Agios Theodoros. Framed perfectly from a nearby parking lot, it was a magnificent sight, but it was time to keep hiking onward to Imerovigli.
The town, with its multiple pedestrian paths, felt like a maze. Every turn held a wonderful new surprise, and when the view looking back towards Fira and Firostefani would come into sight, it was a reminder of the journey so far.
Upon reaching Imirovigli, we decided to stop off at ‘Blue Note Cafe’ for a cold drink and toilet break. Although it’s not exactly cheap here, the view from the upstairs restaurant was well worth the price!
After a well-deserved break, it was time to continue on. We quickly met a fork in the path near Agios Georgios Church, which hinted at the adventure towards Skaros Rock. This much-photographed rock, which juts out from the caldera, is an enticing detour to take (especially so early in the hike when you’re still feeling fresh).
Although it looks close, It’s worth noting that the walk to Skaros Rock will add 40 – 50 minutes to your hike. On this occasion, we decided to simply admire it from Imerovigli, opting to do it on another day.
Emerging from the maze of Imerovigli, the path took on a more defined shape. We began to leave the well-paved village life for the first time on the hike. The luxury accommodation which lined the way began to give way to a more rocky environment.
We began a long climb up to the hike’s second high point, which led us up to Profitis Ilias Church. On your way up here, be sure not to go left, which will take you into a car park – although very scenic for a car park, you will need to go back on yourself.
After passing Profitis Ilias Church, we took the trail to the left, which takes you around the cliffside. A second trail to the right takes you inland for this section.
Although the trail we took was still well laid out, it had become much narrower, and we were walking quite close to the cliff’s edge.
We then descended to the main road, which goes directly to Oia. We were only on this for approximately 200 meters before reaching a roadside Cafe. Directly behind this, the trail resumed, taking us off the road and back into the rocky hills.
There was another ascent, which was probably the most arduous of the hike so far, passing donkeys and more captivating views on the way up, but soon, we reached the peak of this final ascent for a fantastic view of the village of Oia ahead.
This viewpoint also doubled as a stopping point for many other hikers as they enjoyed the shade from the church here.
It was then time to make the final descent down towards Oia. This final section took about half an hour, and as we got closer, the landscape transformed once again.
The iconic structures of Oia, its blue domes, and windmills began to emerge. The official end of the hike is found as you reach the main road leading into the centre of Oia.
Obviously, we had walked all this way, so we wanted to experience the village itself, so it was a further 15 minutes walking into the centre of Oia, where we reached the main bus terminal.
Then we worked our way through the narrow winding streets up onto the most touristic section of Oia.
Partly due to its unspoilt sunsets, Oia has become the most iconic town on Santorini, with its luxury and tradition.
Due to this, the main pathway is very busy with tourists enjoying the many stylish clothing and jewellery shops, and enticing restaurants offering views over the caldera.
We decided to stop at one of the restaurants here for lunch, and despite its exclusive views, the food prices were actually quite reasonable. Something that we also noticed in Fira!
If you’re feeling brave, it’s worth continuing to the end of this main pathway. The crowds thin out considerably, and you will find picturesque windmills and even a public pool where you can cool off.
Then, it was time for us to return to the bus station to catch the bus back to Fira.
Have you visited the Sontorini? Hiked from Fira to Oia (or Oia to Fira)? Or got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.