One of the best ways to explore the beautiful island of Santorini is to hike along its coastal ridge from Oia to Fira (or Fira to Oia). You will get unique views of the island that are constantly changing. It’s a great option for photographers, adventurers, and for those who enjoy hiking. It’s also a great way to get in some exercise and work off all those saganakis and baklavas. This option isn’t for everyone, but if you are looking for a little exercise in the sun while seeing some of the best views of the island, this is a great activity in Santorini.
When to Go
This hike is completely exposed to the sun the entire way, which in the summer time can be pretty brutal. I would highly suggest starting this trek as early in the morning as you can to beat the heat. The morning sun light will also make for better photos. If you leave in the morning you will experience far less crowds and be able to land in Oia or Fira in time for a relaxing lunch.
If you aren’t an early riser, I would try to time this by doing it later in the afternoon / early evening so you can arrive in Oia, or Fira, right around sunset time. The heat of the lower sun will be more forgiving and will make for more dynamic photos than the midday sun. You will also be arriving in Oia or Fira right in time for sunset which is a treat in itself.
How Long Does the Hike Take?
The time of this hike can vary of course, depending on how fast you walk, what physical condition you are in, how often you stop, and how many photos you take.
Your route will also affect the timing a bit, and I will discuss your route options below. But the average for most people seems to be between 3 and 5 hours. My girlfriend and I hiked from Oia to Fira and it took us about 3 hours to get to Fira. We didn’t stop too much on the hike, but did take a lot of photos. Read more about how we added this into our Ultimate 3 Day Santorini Itinerary.
Oia to Fira vs Fira to Oia
You can do the hike from either Oia to Fira, or from Fira to Oia. I would suggest the route from Fira to Oia for a few reasons.
First, the hike from Fira is mostly downhill to Oia. This makes it less strenuous, which will make a big difference if you are hiking during the midday heat. It is not all downhill however, so you will still have a few hills to climb going to Oia.
Another reason to hike from Fira to Oia would be that the walk leading to Oia has a more picturesque approach. The town of Oia is so beautiful and iconic, and keeping your eye on it while you continue hiking towards it makes for a nice end goal.
If you aren’t staying in Oia, it makes sense to end your hike in Oia so you can spend the rest of your day exploring the unique town. Check out the incredible view from the Oia Castle, wander through the white streets, and enjoy dinner for a mesmerizing sunset.
Which leads me to the final reason I would suggest hiking to Oia instead of Fira, which would be to arrive in Oia for a magical sunset. Few places on planet earth get as much hype as the perfect sunset spot as Oia, Santorini. Unwind from your trek by having dinner and drinks with a view of the sunset behind Oia.
The main reason to hike from Oia to Fira would be if you are staying in Oia. We stayed in Amoudi Bay, just under Oia, so we began our hike there and ended in Fira.
We also didn’t leave Oia until around noon so we not only faced an uphill challenge, but hiked through intense sun for the entire hike. By the time we made it to Imerovigli we were covered in sweat and needed a rest from the sun. We made our way into a nice cafe for some amazing views and a drink, before continuing the last stretch to Fira.
Much of the hike is rocky, volcanic dirt. The terrain is mostly barren, with small shrubs and vegetation. For most of the hike you will have views of the Aegean sea and the volcanic caldera. At some points you can see the Aegean on both sides of the island.
Wildlife is pretty rare outside of the occasional lizard. Cats, dogs, and donkeys are other common sightings.
You’ll pass dozens of tiny white churches built into the rocks along the way that you can explore. Take your time and enjoy the views. There’s a little cafe with an amazing view near Oia where you can grab a water, coffee, or alcoholic beverage. Note that it is cash only.
Stop in the town of Imerovigli on the way to Oia, or before arriving in Fira. It’s about 20 minutes walk from Fira, and offers amazing caldera views. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Imerovigli.
If you have the time and want some more exercise, you can hike out to Skaros Rock from Imerovigli for some amazing views of the island.
After arriving in Oia (or Fira), spend some time soaking up the views of the coastline and allow yourself time to explore the town, as both Oia and Fira are amazing destinations. After a long day of hiking, you’ll probably want to take the bus or a taxi back to your destination that night.
If you leave from Oia and make it to Fira in the early afternoon, and have the energy, you can use this as a base to explore more of Santorini on that side of the island. A trip to the ancient ruins of Akrotiri, an outing to one of the black sand beaches, or a visit to one of Santorini’s best wineries is possible with a short taxi ride from Fira. For more options of things to do in Santorini, read my Top 10 Things to Do in Santorini.
If you are looking for a Santorini “in a nutshell” type of experience, and are down to get sweaty, I highly suggest hiking the path from Fira to Oia.
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