Updated on March 19th, 2023
The hike from Fira to Oia is a must do on any Santorini itinerary. This 10km walk along the edge of the caldera is one of the most spectacular short hikes anywhere in the world. The views will take your breath away every step of the way & it is one of the few places that you can feel alone on this stunning island. Here is everything you need to know before tackling this iconic Santorini hike.”
Santorini, Cyclades Islands, Greece
Santorini is breathtakingly beautiful! If you have never visited, then it needs to be on your bucket list, or at least your itinerary for any Greek island-hopping trip. As a result, it is also an incredibly popular destination for cruise ships, wannabe Instagram influencers & anyone else who just wants to wonder at its beauty.
I have been island hopping in Greece 6 times now & 5 of those have included Santorini. However, it was only on the last visit that I did the hike from Fira to Oia. I can now categorically say that this is THE best thing to do on Santorini.
It is one of the few places on the island you can feel completely alone & enables you to admire its beauty at your own pace from all different angles.”
If you are planning an island-hopping trip, then my First-Timers Guide is not to be missed, along with my in-depth itineraries for Paros, Naxos, Milos & of course, Santorini.
If you add Milos to your island-hopping itinerary, then don’t miss the chance of taking a boat tour. For more hiking, check out my guide to Mam Tor in the Peak District, UK.
How long is the hike from Fira to Oia?
In total, the Fira to Oia walk is 10.5 km or 6.5 miles long. It will take anything from 2 hours to a whole day to complete. This is not a walk you will want to rush as there are spectacular views every step of the way. Take your time, appreciate the experience & don’t forget your camera!
Which direction should I do the hike?
The hike from Fira to Oia can be undertaken in either direction. From Fira to Oia the gradient is steeper but for a shorter time. From Oia to Fira, there is a longer & more gradual climb. However, some of the section from Imerovigli to Oia is rocky & gravelly. Although you need to try your best not to slip, taking it downhill is probably easier. Uphill would be a case of one step forwards, 2 steps back! If you are staying in Oia, get the bus (or taxi if you’re feeling rich!) to Fira & walk back.
Be aware that the buses back from Oia to Fira may be busy in the afternoons, especially after sunset & at peak times of the year. More on transport options later.”
- You don’t need to worry about having a particular level of fitness to do the walk although the Fira to Oia direction will definitely be easier.
- Start early to avoid the searing heat of the day. I left at around 7.15am. Starting early also prevents you from walking all the way with the sun in your eyes.
- Check the weather reports & aim for the cloudiest day of your stay, it will still be beautiful, but also a little more bearable. When I arrived in Oia on a cloudy day, we had angry skies which made the view even more spectacular.
- If you need to buy water for the hike (& you will definitely need water), make sure you have it the night before. There are limited shops along the way & they may not all be open when you pass, especially with an early start.
- There is no shade along the route so make sure you also pack a hat & sunblock, even in winter. And of course, DO NOT leave without your camera!
- Wear sensible shoes. In some parts, the path is just rocks & shingle so I would not recommend attempting to do it in flip flops! I did it in Birkenstocks which were OK…if a little dusty by the end. Ideally, wear hiking boots or trainers.
Don’t use Google maps to direct you. It will take you on the most direct but also less picturesque route. You are taking the path which hugs the edge of the caldera, it is not easy to get lost.”
If you would rather join a tour in Santorini, Greece, then see some of the popular choices below:
Hike from Fira to Oia – The Best Thing to do on Santorini
Fira to Firostefani
The Fira to Oia walk officially starts at the Hotel Atlantis. As you face the water, turn right. From the start you will see Oia in the distance & this will not change for the whole of your walk. As you begin the hike, when you are given an option, choose to go up the hill.
Walking out of Fira, the first section to Firostefani is the steepest. The good news is it is also quite a short uphill climb. It is hard to determine where each village starts & finishes as the white sugar cube houses just seem to run into each other. Firostefani is the perfect stop for breakfast. Try Galini Café, for fantastic eggs & juices with a view.
Firostefani to Imerovigli
Again the 2 villages run into each other. Imerovigli has a few distractions for you as you progress along the path. At the Blue Note Restaurant, you will see your first proper fork on the route. Here you can make a choice & the direction painted on the concrete will instruct you to go right. Following this will take you into the village where you will be able to find supplies & water if you need it. However, it will also take you away from the better views.
If you have all the water you require, then take the left-hand fork. This is the most picturesque route where you can check out all the expensive hotels with views over the caldera. It is also the route you will need if you are planning to take the path out to Skaros Rock.
One of the first places you pass is the Church of Anastasi. Venture onto the veranda here for some stunning views.
If you are looking for an unmissable detour, then head inland where you see the (admittedly low-key) signs to Agios Georgios Chapel (also known as the Three Bells of Fira).
Here is where you find the archetypal blue domed church view of Santorini.”
Once you get to the church you need to climb further up the hill for the best photo spot. There is a small car park above where you can wrestle with your best angles for the church, bells & stunning caldera view.
Skaros Rock sits on a promontory out in the caldera. I chose not to take the detour but if you decide to go for it be aware that it is a lot further than it looks! Expect a number of steps in both directions & for the walk to add an extra hour to your overall hike. Having seen some photos since I wish I had added this to our walk. The direction is well signposted when you get to Agios Georgios Chapel.
Skaros Rock was once the most important settlement in Santorini & unbelievably survived a number of the bigger eruptions. Now it is home to secluded Theoshepasti Church & some magnificent views in every direction!
By this time, if you are needing some lunch then Avocado is highly recommended (it opens at noon).
Imerovigli to Oia
Once you pass Imerovigli on the Fira to Oia hike, the buildings thin out & for a short time, the path becomes more of a road. As you slowly climb, this is the spot where you are able to see both sides of the island.
As you approach Profitis Ilias Church you reach another fork in the path. If you take the right hand one, the footing is better but without the caldera views. If you can handle it a little rough & gravelly, then definitely stick to the left-hand fork. At this point, you will also have a magical experience & feel like you actually have Santorini all to yourself!
Even though I visited in the peak time of August, the fact that we started the walk early meant we hardly saw anyone else after we left Imerovigli.”
When you reach the San Antonio Hotel, there is a short section where you do actually have to walk along the main road. It’s not long & is reasonably safe. You will also find a snack bar by the road but don’t always rely on it to be open. Just after this, you will rejoin the path & head away from the road again.
This is also where the path becomes gravelly & you need to be careful not to lose your footing. Before you start the descent into Oia, you will find the small church of Psilos Stavros with some magnificent views. Finally, as you head down the hill, Oia will get gradually closer until you hit a more defined path & you finally find yourself in this beautiful village.
Once you’re in Oia, if you still have some life left in your legs, then take some time to explore the pretty streets. The evenings get very busy here for the sunset so take advantage of the daylight hours to explore. To treat yourself for all your efforts Melenio Bakery & Café is the perfect stop (the Orange Pie was delicious!).
I have since found out that at the Lioyerma Hotel, you can buy drinks or food & use the pool. It has amazing views at any time of day, but especially for sunset.
If, like me, you just want to rest your weary feet then place yourself somewhere with a view & an option for people watching. I chose Vitrin which fitted the bill perfectly!
However, if you’re looking for something more substantial to eat, then I enjoyed Lotza, which gives you the perfect vista of your full hike. If you still have the energy, Ammoudi Bay sits only 300 steps below Oia with a few traditional buildings & tavernas built into the red rock. It is said to be one of the most picturesque spots on the island. Try the Ammoudi Fish Tavern but you may need to book ahead, especially at busy times.
After all your efforts, you may choose to stay to watch the sunset in Oia. You will hear many people tell you that it is THE best place to view the sunset on Santorini.
It is spectacular but as a result, don’t expect to be alone! It may happen every day but in Oia the sun gets applauded as it disappears over the horizon!”
Where should I stay in Santorini?
For this hike, it makes sense to base yourself in either Fira or Oia. The general rule of thumb in Santorini for both hotels & restaurants is that you pay for the views & can get much more for your money if you choose a location away from the ‘front row’ of the caldera.
In Fira, if you are looking for luxury, location & a price tag to match, then try Cosmopolitan Suites or Katikes Garden. For something more budget & without the view, then check out Costa Marina Villas. Alternatively, browse the search boxes below for something that fits your price range, location & requirements.
In Oia try Perivolas Hotel for a bit of luxury. If you are on a budget, then you will need to head further out of the centre but check out either Agnadi View Villa or Rimida Villas (for a view).
Transport to the hike from Fira to Oia
On Santorini, the buses are fantastic as they are regular, cheap & reliable (although a little chaotic at times). There is a flat rate per journey (expect €2 or less). My top tip is to photograph the timetables at the bus station in Fira when you arrive. This will be a great help, particularly if you are planning on staying in Oia for sunset or visiting out of season.
When you are taking the bus, leave plenty of time as it can get a little confusing at busy times!”
I have read that taxis in Santorini are plentiful, but this was not my experience when trying to get back to the airport! If you decide to take a taxi, expect to pay around €25 for one journey. They may be easier to come by in Oia or book ahead to be on the safe side.
Ferries are the best way to get between the islands. Check out Ferryscanner for all the details.
So, there is my guide on everything you need to know before starting the breathtaking hike from Fira to Oia. In my opinion, it is not to be missed when visiting stunning Santorini. I’d love to know if you agree…
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Oh you make me crave for this short hike now. Long strenuous hikes are a big no for me. The pictures, video of the sights all around are mind blowing. Thanks for the good list of hotels, I collect such recommendations.
Thank you, Indrani & I’m really pleased I’ve inspired you for your next trip to Santorini! Sue x
When we visited Santorini, we took the boat one way and a bus the other way between Fira and Oia. If we stayed longer, it would be fun to hike that route. The amazing vistas from the high points are truly stunning. Thanks for the things to consider when planning which way to hike! I am sure with picture stops it would take us a long time to do this hike. So we would want to finish up where we were staying and catch the sunset to finish a perfect day.
That sounds like the perfect way to do it, Linda! Thanks for your comment & I’m glad you found the post useful for your next time in Santorini. Sue x
This is awesome – I’m planning on going to Crete and then possibly by ferry to Santorini. I’m not sure if I’ll stay just for the day but if I can stay longer, I most definitely will do this hike. It’s so funny, when I was a young teenager and my parents took me to fantastic places to hike, I just hated it. Now, I’m becoming a devoted hiker – and on a beautiful island like Santorini, it must be just a dream.
Thank you Renata & glad I’ve inspired you! I also used to be the same & did nothing but moan when my family would take me on a long walk. How we change with time…;) Sue x
Oh my, what a lovely way to see the island, by hiking! I would most definitely do this, at either sunrise or sunset to get those beautiful vista views with my camera lens! Greece has been long my travel list, and had it not be for the pandemic, I know I would have already explored it. I’m saving this one for later reference.
Thank you Renee & I’m glad I’ve inspired you to add the hike to your itinerary. I hope you make it to Greece sometime soon & look forward to seeing your amazing photos when you do! Sue x
It looks like a great hike to go on, not too steep or difficult which is great. I love the views you get of the coastline as well. I’ll make sure I add this to my Santorini list!
Thank you Krista & I think that’s why I loved it too…active but not too challenging. I hope you enjoy it when you get there. Sue x
This sounds like heaven to me – exactly the kind of thing I love to do. It reminded me a little of hiking between the 5 towns of Cinque Terre – most people don’t do it so you can have the trails to yourself.
Thank you Alison & I have no doubt you would love the hike. I haven’t been to Cinque Terre but that sounds like my cup of tea too so I’ll definitely do that one when I’m in Italy. Sue x
this hike literally changed my life. I’m not joking. The first time I hiked it in 2007 it was still undeveloped and rural and the six miles from Fira to Oia was the furthest I had ever hiked in my life…I couldn’t believe it did it. I got hooked on hiking and well, the rest is history…we walked the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in 2017. 🙂 We went back to Santorini in 2018 and this hike has changed ALOT. It’s beautiful but not nearly as rugged or rural. I am glad I saw it before Santorini got more developed. Thanks for the memories!
Thank you Laureen & I’m so pleased I was able to spark some special memories. The hike when you did it sounds amazing & even more so hearing about the impact it has had on your life since. Thank you so much for sharing. Sue x
haha Im glad you took the hike and not me. However thank you for sharing it so I dont have to…Stunning place to visit though.
Thank you Bree & I’m happy to help 😉 Sue x