Greece / Santorini

How to Visit Skaros Rock in Santorini – Hiking Guide

Jutting proudly into the Aegean waters, 20 meters above sea level, Skaros Rock was originally a protection against pirates. Today, it’s a must-visit attraction in Santorini that I invite you to discover with us. I’ll provide you with the complete itinerary for a successful hike and exploring this incredible rock on the edge of the Caldera.

The hike to Skaros Rock in Santorini in video

The breathtaking landscape around Imerovigli is adorned with gems like Skaros Rock, a spectacular promontory overlooking the Aegean Sea. It’s easy to understand why it’s such a popular destination for Santorini visitors.

Skaros Rock was once the medieval capital of Santorini and was fortified by the Byzantine Empire in the 13th century. It became the island’s most important and protected village, shielding villagers from pirates who terrorized the surrounding seas for over 600 years. Unfortunately, the fate of Skaros Rock was sealed by the very volcano that shaped the entire island. In the 17th century, volcanic eruptions crumbled parts of the town into the ocean, and devastating earthquakes in the 18th century pushed most of the inhabitants to completely abandon it.

Today, all that remains of the fortress are a few scattered foundations, far removed from its former glory as an impregnable stronghold.

A hike to Skaros Rock is a must

But that doesn’t mean Skaros Rock isn’t worth a visit. The hike to the summit is still one of the best things to do in Santorini, offering breathtaking and dizzying views of the caldera that will leave you speechless. It’s a great addition to the hike from Fira to Oia.

What is Skaros Rock?

Skaros Rock was likely formed during the famous Thera explosion in 1646 BC, which forever transformed the island. As the island unveiled its incredible Caldera as we know it today, Skaros Rock also emerged.

A rocky promontory standing proudly above the Aegean waters at around 200 meters above sea level, Skaros Rock was developed in the 13th century by the Byzantines. The Venetian architect Giacomo Barozzi designed a fortress to fend off attacks from numerous raiders of the time.

Unfortunately, the site is now in ruins due to a series of powerful earthquakes that ravaged the area between the 17th and 19th centuries. However, the remains of the fortification are now a beautiful tourist site and a must-visit in Santorini.

Me, proudly posing at the edge of Skaros Rock

Hiking Route to Skaros Rock in Santorini

Your journey to Skaros Rock begins in the village of Imerovigli (the highest village on the Santorini Caldera), starting from the small church of Agios Georgios.

Note: It’s impossible to reach the small church by transportation (yes, even by quad). You must park in the village center.

It’s from the small church that your walking adventure begins. There are about 300 steps awaiting you to descend the roughly one hundred meters in elevation between the village and Skaros Rock. As you walk towards the promontory with an incredible view of the water and the Santorini Caldera, you can admire the charming town of Oia across the bay as the rock takes shape below.

Once you’ve descended the endless stairs, the rock will finally be within your reach. At this point, you’ll have a choice: either take the straight path that leads to the rock or opt for the slightly more challenging and narrow path that goes around it. In either case, don’t worry – you’re guaranteed to have breathtaking views of the caldera.

Whether you look on one side or the other, the view is like no other.

The Chapel at the End of the World

On the other side of the rock, you can descend a few more stairs to reach the chapel of Panagia Theoskepastis. It’s a small traditional Orthodox church with its blue dome and three bells. It seems lost at the end of the world, isolated from all the hustle and bustle of Santorini. It offers one of the best panoramic viewpoints on the island for admiring sunsets. Absolutely stunning, I can only recommend stopping by.

The Return Under the Sunset

The way back is the same as the way there, so you’ll need to climb the 300 steps you descended earlier. It’s quite manageable regardless of your physical condition, but it’s still several hundred steps.

Stop by the chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis to take a moment to catch your breath, drink water, and breathe in the fresh sea air. Likewise, if you make your ascent during sunset, you’ll have the chance to admire it from one of the best spots on the island. And believe me, it’s a truly magical way to end your day.

How long does it take to hike to Skaros Rock in Santorini?

This scenic hike from the edge of Imerovigli takes about 45 minutes one way or 1.5 hours round trip. But don’t be fooled by the short duration – this hike can be a bit challenging with its mainly uphill and downhill terrain. Make sure to avoid midday when the heat is at its peak, or you may find yourself sweating through your clothes.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make the most of your hike, consider adding the Skaros Rock hike to your longer hike from Fira to Oia. It will add an additional 1 to 1.5 hours to your itinerary, but it’s worth it, if only for the breathtaking views and unique perspectives of the island.

Is the Skaros Rock hike in Santorini difficult?

If you’re planning to hike to Skaros Rock, you might be wondering how fit you need to be. Well, I think a basic to moderate level of fitness is recommended for this hike. Although the trail is not extremely difficult, you will encounter many stairs, which can be a bit strenuous, especially during the heat of the summer months. So make sure to bring plenty of water and take breaks as needed along the way. But don’t worry, the stunning view of the caldera and the Aegean Sea from the top of Skaros Rock will make it all worthwhile!

What equipment do you need for the Skaros Rock hike?

Don’t forget to bring some essential gear to make the most of your hike! Here’s a list of must-have items to ensure a comfortable and safe hike.

  • First and foremost, protect yourself from Santorini’s scorching sun with adequate sunscreen. Trust us, you don’t want to end up looking like a lobster!
  • Bring your own water bottle and plenty of water, as the hike can be tiring, and you’ll need to stay hydrated.
  • Don’t forget to wear a hat to protect your head from the sun. It may seem trivial, but it can make a huge difference in Greece.
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen before hitting the trail. The sun and the reflection off the water can be intense, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Finally, don’t forget your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the blinding reflection of the whitewashed buildings and the sea. You’ll be glad you brought them when you admire the stunning view from Skaros Rock.

So, before you hit the trails, make sure you have these essential items in your backpack to make your Skaros Rock hike a success!

Skaros Rock at Sunset, on Santorini

Things to Know Before Visiting Skaros Rock

Exercise Caution During the Hike

While the hike to Skaros Rock is undoubtedly a breathtaking experience, it’s important to note that the area is somewhat unstable. Rockfalls are not uncommon, and the entire region is quite precarious.

To ensure your safety, avoid getting too close to the edge or lingering for too long under the cliff sides. Remember that the views are incredible at a safe distance, and there’s no need to put yourself in danger to get the perfect photo.

However, don’t let this discourage you from visiting Skaros Rock altogether. With proper precautions and a bit of common sense, you can still enjoy this incredible site and all it has to offer. Be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant at all times.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

Don’t make the same mistake I did by hiking in flip-flops. It’s easy to forget that you can easily twist your ankle when you’re on vacation. Instead, try to wear at least some lightweight sneakers to provide better protection for your feet.

Be Extremely Mindful of the Sun

Avoid the midday sun like the plague when it comes to hiking to Skaros Rock in Santorini! I strongly discourage hiking during the middle of the day. Instead, do it at sunrise for a magical start to your day or traverse the trail in the hours just before sunset.

Conclusion on Skaros Rock in Santorini

I can only recommend visiting Skaros Rock during your visit to the village of Imerovigli. While not an exhausting hike, it offers a superb viewpoint of the island of Santorini. Bonus points if you do it at sunset.

Discover the best of Santorini.

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The 9 Must-Try Activities in Oia – Santorini
How to Rent a Car in Santorini – Everything You Need to Know!
Visit to Akrotiri in Santorini, Greece – Complete Guide
Cruising on a Catamaran in Santorini
Red Beach in Santorini, the complete guide
The 8 Best Restaurants in Oia, Santorini

Article mis à jours le 5 January 2024 par Pierre Bouyer

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