The hike from Fira to Oia is one of the best free experiences in Santorini. Highly recommended by nearly all guides, this walk is like a series of postcards: explore the villages of Oia, Imerovigli, Firostefani, and Fira while enjoying some of the most beautiful views on the island.
Stretching just over 10 km, the trail is a mix of cobblestone pedestrian streets and dirt paths. It is relatively hilly with very little shade, so plan to start early in the day if you do it in the summer.
Along the way, you have the option to detour to Skaros Rock. It’s a rocky peak located below Imerovigli that I recommend.
If you have any doubts about the hike, know right away that it’s definitely worth doing. The hike from Fira to Oia is far from being a tourist trap, and it’s undoubtedly a must-do in Santorini. It just requires a bit of preparation.
From Fira to Oia or from Oia to Fira?
It is possible to hike in both directions. Personally, I did it from Fira to Oia, and I think it was the better option. This way, it feels like there is a bit more downhill than uphill (Fira being at a higher elevation than Oia). The view of Oia and the Caldera is truly magnificent throughout the hike, and you can end the day exploring Oia, its shops, and its restaurants, not to mention the legendary sunset.
As for the return, you can take a taxi. It costs about €30 to go from Oia to Fira, and they are available at any time. Make sure to have cash, as taxis in Santorini (and generally in Greece) do not accept credit cards. (You can also ask them to make a quick stop at an ATM, so don’t worry).
You can also return by bus for €1.60, but be sure to pay attention to the schedules.
Some information about hiking.
- Distance: 10 km
- Duration: 3 to 5 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Best Time to Go: The morning and late afternoon are the best times for this walk to avoid the midday heat, especially during the summer months.
How to dress and what to bring
The hike is about 10 km long and will take you around 4 hours, so there are some essentials not to forget. Apart from the camera, which is essential to capture the incredible panoramas you will discover, you must not forget to bring enough water. The temperature can quickly rise on Santorini, the sun is scorching, and it’s almost impossible to find shade on the trail. Moreover, it’s impossible to buy water on the second half of the hike, so make sure you always have enough water bottles with you. I recommend at least two liters per person.
It’s very important to protect yourself from the sun, especially in the summer. So sunglasses, a hat, a cap, and sunscreen are just as vital as water. Don’t end up with sunstroke or as red as a lobster and don’t spoil your trip for such a little thing.
Finally, I would say it’s better to wear a good pair of shoes. If possible, hiking shoes with good support and a comfortable sole: the path from Fira to Oia is not paved, and at some points, you will find yourself sliding on dirt and stone paths on a hill. Personally, I did it in flip-flops, which wasn’t a good idea, but it’s doable. Be aware of the risks.
For clothing, a pair of shorts and a lightweight top would be perfect, just like a summer dress. Just avoid anything really tight because you’re guaranteed to sweat along the way!
The stages from Fira to Oia.
You’re now ready to begin the hike. The starting point is at the Atlantis Hotel in Fira. However, you can simply start wherever you like in the town of Fira. Exploring the towns and villages along the hike is actually one of the main points of interest, so feel free to leave the official hiking trail if you come across something interesting.
Fira is the capital of Santorini, and you’ll find a maze of cobbled streets, trendy bars and restaurants, and shops there. I enjoyed the vibe, but it’s not my favorite village in Santorini. There’s also a museum where you can see ancient relics from the island, and you’ll find the old port below the village, which is the starting point for boat excursions around Santorini.
Once in Fira, you need to walk north towards Imerovigli. To easily navigate during the hike, just keep the Caldera and the sea on your left. Occasionally, there are markers on the hiking trail, but they are relatively sparse.
Firostefani is the second village you’ll pass through on this hike. In fact, it’s more of an extension of Fira, and you might not even notice that you’ve entered it.
Firostefani is a bit higher than Fira and will be your first uphill climb of the day. But the view from the top is fantastic, and you can see all the way to the Akrotiri lighthouse in the distance.
During your traverse of Firostefani, I recommend stopping at the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary: the three bells of Thira at Agios Theodoros. The viewpoint is from the parking lot to the east of the church and is magnificent.
There are several paths that go through Imerovigli. I recommend having fun exploring the village and choosing your own route. You’ll pass by beautiful hotels, restaurants, and bars that, in my opinion, have some of the best views on the entire island.
The name Imerovigli comes from the word “vigla,” which means viewpoint. As you can imagine, that’s exactly what you’ll find here. With numerous viewpoints, stunning villas with pools overlooking the sea, and breathtaking views of the caldera, I assure you it’s one of the best places to stay in Santorini.
There’s also another beautiful blue-domed church to photograph in Imerovigli. It’s called Anastasi Church, and you can find a small path that allows you to photograph it from above.
If you get a little hungry and are running low on water, I highly recommend stocking up in Imerovigli. After this town, the hike becomes quite dry with only one or two cafes that aren’t open all the time. So, it’s best to avoid the risk and grab some supplies to last you until Oia.
If you’re not feeling well, this is the best place to stop. You’ll find a bus stop that can take you back to Oia or Fira during the hike.
If you wish, you can take a detour to Skaros Rock. This adds an extra 40 to 60 minutes to your hike, and you simply continue on the pedestrian path. I refer you to this article and video for more information about Skaros.
Imerovigli to Oia
Continue your walk through the village of Imerovigli. Sometimes, it’s a real labyrinth, and you’ll have to choose between several paths. But don’t worry, as long as you keep the caldera on your left and head north, you’re heading in the right direction.
This is where the hike gets a little more challenging. The beautifully paved path turns into loose gravel and dirt. This trail from Imerovigli to Oia is the longest part of the hike, but it’s also the most beautiful. Along the way, you’ll have incredibly stunning views of the caldera with Oia in the distance. If you started your hike early in the morning, you should be relatively cool. If, like us, you’re doing it in the middle of the afternoon, be prepared for the heat.
When you reach the Avalon Resort & Spa, the trails converge into a single path that you simply follow, passing by many resorts and hotels. You then arrive at the Profitis Ilias Church at the top of the mountain.
Just before reaching the Profitis Ilias Church, the path splits. Stay to your left to continue to the church and have a breathtaking view of the caldera. Go to the right if you want an easier path. But you’ll miss out on some of what makes this hike so famous.
Then, there’s a little descent waiting for you. It’s probably the trickiest part of the hike because it’s full of small rocks that can easily slip. But don’t worry, it’s still manageable for everyone. Once you get to the bottom of the descent, you’ll join the road for a section of about 200 meters. The trail continues just after the small cafe/snack bar.
Good health insurance
IMPORTANT : It’s always better to travel with good health insurance. For my part, I have trusted Chapka Assurance for several years, with their 24/7 Assistance program. I have had the opportunity to use their services multiple times, and I must say that their efficiency is remarkable.
If you want to stop for a meal at a restaurant, I highly recommend Steki Tou Nikou. It’s a small restaurant about 500 meters from the trail that offers delicious cuisine and a stunning view for a very reasonable price!
The boring part
After getting back on the trail, you’ll tackle the most challenging section of the walk. It’s an ascent on a rocky and dusty trail with no shade. There isn’t any particularly notable view, and this part can feel dull and boring. However, once you reach the summit, you’ll begin the best part of the hike: the descent to Oia.
On the way, you’ll pass by the Panagia Church. The view and panorama are breathtaking at 360 degrees, so make sure to enjoy it!!
As you approach the town of Oia, you’ll notice that the path becomes much busier, and traffic intensifies on the street. This picturesque town is the most visited in Santorini and is a must-see during your stay on the island. In fact, you can find some of the best luxury hotels in Santorini here.
It’s a real living postcard: the backdrop of all postcards with its whitewashed buildings, windmills, and the blue ocean. Sunsets from Oia are known worldwide and are among the most beautiful in Europe.
Here, you’ll find a stunning view of the Palia and Nea Kameni volcano, as well as the distant island of Thirassia, which I find incredible.
Among the must-visit places in Oia, make sure to visit the famous church of Ekklisia Panagia Platsani and some of the magnificent viewpoints of the caldera. (The one from the Saint Nikolas fort is particularly beautiful.)
If you still have the energy, you can also descend the 300 steps to the small port of Ammoudi. There, you can see fishing boats, one of the most beautiful beaches in Santorini, and dine at the restaurants. By the way, I strongly advise against Ammoudi Fish Tavern, as it is really an overpriced tourist trap.
Key points to remember for the hike from Fira to Oia in Santorini
- Start the hike early – Try to begin the walk around 8 am to make the most of the morning coolness. We made the mistake of starting around 11 am and arriving in Oia around 4 pm, and we suffered from the sun and heat.
- Bring water with you – Don’t rely on stands or shops along the way; stock up in advance. Take at least 2 liters of water per person and make sure to drink regularly during the hike, even if you’re not thirsty. Dehydration is easy in Greece, and once you leave Imerovigli, there are no shaded places to rest and recover.
- Bring a light snack – Once again, this is a relatively long hike, so you’ll need a snack to keep you going. We brought cereal bars that were really welcome.
- Bring swimwear – A swim in Ammoudi Bay or Armeni Bay is a must after this hike! Bring swimwear with you because taking a dip in the ocean is amazing after the sweaty hike.
I hope you now feel ready to embark on the hike from Fira to Oia. While the hike is long, it’s not too difficult and can easily be done by anyone in good physical condition. I believe it’s a must-do and a highlight of Santorini, plus it’s free. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer them as soon as possible!
Most frequently asked questions about the hike from Fira to Oia in Santorini
Discover the best of Santorini
Article mis à jours le 26 August 2023 par Pierre Bouyer