Scenic Hiking in Santorini, from Fira to Oia

Hiking is the best way to experience Santorini.

Not only does it offer panoramic caldera views which will be missed in the vehicle road trail, it also passes through the beautiful villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Finikia and Oia which are worth exploring separately on feet.

The actual walking time is around 3 hours, but with so many breathtaking stop points, the total time needed can easily reach 5-6 hours. If you’re planning to visit Skaros Rock (recommended), you’ll need to add another 2-3 hours into your itinerary.

Here’s our complete photographic guide to Santorini’s classic hiking trail.

From Fira to Firostefani

Actual walking time: 20 minutes
Estimated time needed: 2 hours

Start your morning with a breakfast by the caldera—gonna need ’em energy for the rest of the day! Plus, it’s one of those classic Santorini experiences that you just have to check off your bucket list.

Breakfast at Fira, Santorini, Greece

To fully admire Fira from all angles, try to start your trail from the Southern tip of the city center. Nearby to the main tourist bus stop, you’ll find the white-washed churches of Ypapanti Cathedral and Agios Minas.

Agios Minas, Fira, Santorini, Greece

As you head North through the city, don’t forget to look back once in a while. Seeing all those colorful houses perched on the cliff is quite a sight!

Fira, Santorini, Greece

Walks past the cable car station and you’ll see the triad of Catholic Church, Domenican Convent and Megaron Gyzi Museum—which are all open for public visit so you may want to spend some time here.

Catholic Church, Fira, Santorini, Greece

From Firostefani to Imerovigli

Actual walking time: 20 minutes
Estimated time needed: 1 hours

Right at the border between Fira and Firostefani, There’s a long stretch of white balcony offering marvelous, unobstructed views of the Aegean Sea. This is absolutely one of my favorite photo stops in Santorini.

Caldera viewpoint at Firostefani, Santorini, Greece

The famous Three Bells of Fira (Agios Theodori) are common in wedding photo shoots, but they are not as easy to locate in real life. When you see a tavern called Mama Thira, walk up the stairs through a parking lot and there you’ll see it!

Agios Theodori, Firostefani, Santorini, Greece

Where Fira is colorful and full of activities, the quaint town of Firostefani is spectacular in its all-white glory. It’s one of Santorini’s most underrated villages and I think it’s second only to Oia in beauty.

Firostefani, Santorini, Greece

Beautiful swimming pools make this a retreat haven.

Swimming pool at Firostefani, Santorini, Greece

After passing through the small convent of Agios Nikolaos (pictured below, not open to public), continue your way until you reach the higher-situated village right at the opposite of the famous Skaros Rock. You’ve reached Imerovigli!

Agios Nikolaos, Firostefani, Santorini, Greece

From Imerovigli to Skaros Rock and return

Actual walking time: 40 minutes
Estimated time needed: 2 hours

Skaros Rock is not part of the main hiking route from Fira to Oia, and the trail consists of hundreds of stairs which requires extra stamina, hence you can skip it if you prefer to conserve your energy.

However, seeing that it’s located very nearby to Imerovigli and it’s easily one of the most unique attractions in Santorini, I personally think you cannot leave Santorini without visiting it!

Agios Georgios, Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

Starting from the white church of Agios Georgios (above), walk a few meters further as you descend into the small chapel of Agios Ioannis. From there, you’ll see the stairs leading you along red and black rocks which create a beautiful contrast with the blue Aegean Sea.

Flowers at Skaros Rock, Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

There are plenty of bushes, colorful flowers and rocks which is untypical of touristy Santorini. Seeing the Skaros up and close is a very different experience as you sit there alone to appreciate the scale. On your way up you will pass through buildings and cave houses from the past. You can climb up for a scenic viewpoint of the entire island.

Flowers at Skaros Rock, Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

There’s also another path leading further down to Panagia Theoskepasti. We didn’t descend this path as it’s another set of hundred stairs plus there are plenty of blue-domed churches in Santorini. But if you do go down, I suppose you can have a church selfie all to yourself without all the disgusting crowd.

Panagia Theoskepasti, Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

As you return to Imerovigli, don’t forget to look up and admire the gorgeous view of the village from a different perspective.

Imerovigli as seen from Skaros Rock, Santorini, Greece

From Imerovigli to Oia

Actual walking time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Estimated time needed: 2 hours

Imerovigli is the last major village before you hit the wilderness, so you may want to have your lunch and replenish your water supply before continuing.

Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

At the far end of Imerovigli, you’ll pass by a stretch of photogenic, luxury hotels.

Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

Straight from the luxury hotel cluster, you’ll come across what seems like a dead end. But if you continue from the white stone structure at the corner of below photo, you’ll find a dirt road which will lead you all the way to Oia.

From here onward, the hiking difficulty will increase and the sun will likely be at its hottest in the afternoon. Some of you may want to consider taking a bus directly to Oia. But if you do continue, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most amazing views of Santorini’s wilderness.

Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

You’ll walk through the path upwards until you reach Agios Markos, the white building at the top of the hill in below picture. Not long after that, you’ll arrive at the blue-and-white chapel of Profitis Ilias just behind the hill.

Agios Markos, Santorini, Greece

Santorini was a site of a major volcanic explosion. And as such, the soil is rich in colors and minerals. From here, it’s harder to identify landmarks. Make sure to always pay attention to the signs pointing towards Oia/Ia so that you do not get lost.

Hiking in Santorini, Greece

Once you get to the asphalt road, follow the path to the left until you reach a path with hiking sign “Ia 60”. The path becomes a staircase and eventually a stretch of gray ash.

Hiking in Santorini, Greece

It may look like you’re deviating away from the main vehicle road, but no worries, it’s the right path. If you walk through the vehicle road, it’ll take you much longer to reach Oia (with a monotonous view). Here, you have a jaw-dropping scenery of the caldera with Skaros Rock in the distance.

Hiking in Santorini, Greece

As you climb further up the grey ash hill to the peak of Santorini, you’ll pass through two white chapels (Psilos Stavros Church and Ekklisia Profitis Ilias) before you descend down with a view of Finikia and vineyards down there.

Finikia, Santorini, Greece

From here onward, always keep to your left. Eventually, you’ll begin to see a big village near the size of Fira getting nearer and nearer.

Welcome to Oia!

Estimated time needed: As long as you wish… but you’ll need at least 3 hours.

Agios Georgios! That’s probably gonna be the first word you utter as soon as you reach Oia and greeted by this yellow-and-blue church (what an apt name).

Agios Georgios, Santorini, Greece

Where to find THE blue-domed church in Santorini, Greece

There are dozens of blue-domed churches in Oia, but if you’re looking for THAT SHOT, I’ve done the dirty research for you.

The exact name of the churches are Agios Spyridonas and Anastaseos, which you can find by walking along the Nikolau Nomikou Street until you reach an alley where many jewelries are sold. Walk down the stairs beside Minerali jewelry store and there you have it.

Agios Spyridonas & Anastaseos, Santorini, Greece

Try explore other alleys around it though, and you’ll discover new vantage points for these iconic blue-domed churches.

Agios Spyridonas & Anastaseos, Santorini, Greece

From there, you’ll also notice these beautiful bells which are shining in beautiful orange pastel just before the sunset.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Where to find THE Oia sunset viewpoint

Follow the Nikolau Nomikou Street toward the huge stairs descending down to Ammoudi Bay. You DO NOT descend. Instead, you’ll notice a ruin called Agios Nikolaos Castle. It’s impossible to miss with tourists waiting there as early as 2 hours before sunset!

Agios Nikolaos Castle, Oia, Santorini, Greece

Go there early, secure a strategic spot and take the money shot!

Sunset at Oia, Santorini, Greece

Should you start the hike from Fira or Oia?

The trail can be attempted from either direction, but I recommend starting from Fira, which helps you to warm up as the difficulty level gradually increases (the trail from Imerovigli towards Oia is especially steep).

There are plenty to explore in the first three villages, so it’s not a very good idea to exhaust yourself early. Most importantly, you get to end the hike with the famous Oia sunset—the one you always see in postcards.

I’ve heard that the views are not as outstanding if you start from Oia—not sure how true this is, but if you do decide to take the reversed route, I suppose just remember to look back a lot!

Final tips before you start hiking from Fira to Oia

– Summer, which is the best time to visit Santorini if you’re looking for beautiful blue sky, can be quite hot. As such, make sure you wear breathable clothes and apply a lot of sun screen.

– You’ll need plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated, but don’t overload your backpack with too much water that it bogs you down. Instead, make stops at several villages to refill your water.

– Wear good hiking shoes. Some of the trails passing through volcanic ashes can be quite slippery.

– When navigating the hiking path, whenever unsure and there’s nobody around to ask, the rule of thumb is simple: Always keep to your left and make sure the sea is on your left side. You’ll eventually reach Oia. The only exception where the sea is on your right is when you first descend down from a lava red ash into the asphalt road on the Imerovigli-Oia trail.

FREEBIES: MAPS! I have soft copies of Fira and Oia maps, in which I have personally marked all key attractions. To receive a copy, simply like Scarlet Scribbles’ Facebook page and leave a comment at the bottom of this page. Indicate your Facebook name so that I can identify you and fill in the confidential email column so that I can send you the maps. Do let me know specifically that you want the maps! =)

If you like what you read, like my Facebook page to receive future updates or read more stories from my Greece travel.

What are your favorite parts of the Santorini hiking trail?

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32 Comments Add yours

  1. Nadeen says:

    WOW! Your pictures are amazing! I cant wait to get back to Santorini! What a magnificent place! I stayed in Fira and took the public bus to Oia but maybe next time I will try the hike. Those blue domes churches are worth the effort to find for those shots! And you just cant beat the sunset in Oia!

    Like

    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Thank you, Nadeen… I’m flattered! Indeed, Oia sunset is just the best in the world. Yes, the hike is certainly worth it… and you have a great blog too!

      Like

  2. Wow your photos are amazing, wonderfully fresh if that is the right word… Great to come across your blog and I’ve followed you on FB too…

    Like

  3. Diana Fu says:

    Your pictures are amazing and I was inspired to check out the places! I am a solo traveller, so your maps on Fira and Oia will be very helpful for me.

    Cheers
    Diana Fu

    Like

    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Diana. I have emailed them to you. Check it out. =)

      Like

  4. Heather says:

    Thanks for all the tips. Planning on visiting this spring. Would love a copy of your maps as I like to be prepared and have not been able to find anything yet. Plan on checking your other walks for ideas.

    Like

    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Check out your inbox, I have sent them to you. Greece is a wonderful place, I’m sure you’ll love it. Feel free to check out other posts for more ideas. 🙂

      Like

  5. ELEANOR SHIM says:

    Hi! I have just liked your FB page. Would appreciate copies of your maps!

    Like

  6. Daphne Debby Menezes says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for all the info along with the pictures. Will help me with my hike in June. Would love to receive the maps 🙂 Thank you~

    Like

  7. Nina Milovanovic says:

    Hi! Your blog was wonderful, and your suggestions and pictures are very helpful! I will be staying in Santorini for 2.5 days with my boyfriend in August and we wanted to get as much out of the experience as possible. I was wondering, since we love love love walking and hiking, is it possible to simply do the island by foot? We’re not that interested in beaches since we will be staying on Milos island for 9 days before that, and our apartments in Santorini are located right on Baxeda beach, but we are planning go to santos winery, the hike from Fira to Oia, and to do a self-guided tour of Oia (get those blue domed pictures)! Any suggestions or advice would be more than welcome! Thanks again! Oh and please send the maps 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you Nina. Santorini is really huge, so while you enjoy hiking and a few occasional trails can be done fully on foot such as from Fira to Oia, be careful not to underestimate its size esp. since you only have a relatively short 2.5 days there. There are plenty of cheap buses running to the main tourist attractions, so I’d suggest to combine walking with buses. Check out your email for the maps. 🙂

      Like

  8. Jolene says:

    Very beautiful pictures! Can’t wait to try the hike. But me and my hudsband will be starting from Oia and with our two year old, can I just stop at Agios Theodori? Do you think it will be challenging to do the hike with the two year old? Can you please send me the map 🙂

    Like

    1. Hello Jolene, the hardest part of the hike is the route between Oia and Imerovigli, which I think will be challenging for children because you’ll go through relatively steep dirt road and some of the soil can get slippery. Skaros Rock will also need to be skipped; it drains energy even for adults. Exploring the Oia village itself is easy though, so perhaps you may want to consider exploring Oia first, then take a bus to Imerovigli and hike backwards towards Fira. From Fira, then you can take a bus to return to wherever you’re staying.

      Like

      1. Jolene says:

        Hi Andrew, Thank you so much and can’t wait to explore the area!

        Like

  9. Great content. I will care alveolar at this blog thereafter the regular.

    Like

  10. Wendy says:

    Great tips! Looking forward more than ever to my trip to Santorini. Would love a copy of your maps for the hike from Fira to Oia. Thanks!

    Like

  11. Victor says:

    Great tips. I will be travelling to Santorini in next week. Would love to hike from Fira to Oia. It would be great if you can share with me the maps for the hike 🙂 Thanks!!

    Like

  12. Kimberly Lee says:

    Thanks for all your tips! Looking forward to using them and hoping to use your maps! 🙂

    Like

  13. Nicola Calistri (Nicola Towns Calistri onFB) says:

    Hi, I loved reading about your walk from Fira to Oia and would really appreciated a copy of your maps. My family will be there on July 4th and are very excited. Thank you. I liked your FB page :)-

    Like

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    Big website. A good amount of helpful tips here. I’m sending information technology to
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  15. jaime townsend connor says:

    Great pictures and advice. I will like your facebook page. Please send me maps. Thank you!

    Like

  16. Elain Tan says:

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic guide! Would greatly appreciate if you could share the maps, thanks in advance! 🙂

    Like

  17. Simon Tünde says:

    Hi Andrew! Thanks for the tips! Could you send me the maps of Santorini?

    Like

  18. Neko Andrea says:

    Hello, I am interested in your marked-up maps of Santorini. I liked your FB page.

    Like

  19. Cindy says:

    Would love a copy of your maps as I’m travelling to Greece soon. Thanks!

    Like

  20. Stephanie and Josh Rubel says:

    We would love a copy of your maps as we will be following your recommendations on our hike from Fira to Oia. Thank you, in advance! We cannot wait!

    Like

  21. JOSEPH UNGER says:

    Great article. I’m visiting Santorini for four days starting on Saturday. I’d love to get the soft copies of your maps of Thira and Oia! Can you please send to me? I’m the “Joseph” that just liked your facebook page.

    Like

  22. jac says:

    hi, interested to get the map you mentioned. Kindly send it to me via my email – xxxx@gmail.com. Facebook name is jaclyn tan

    Like

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