Updated on September 13th, 2021
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.”
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 don’t fancy doing the hike by yourself then why not join a tour? Here are a couple of suggestions from Get Your Guide:
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.
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!”
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.
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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