Stunning wildflowers hiking from Fira to Oia

Hiking From Fira to Oia In Santorini, Greece

Santorini is definitely one of Greece’s most beautiful islands. With its stunning whitewashed buildings nestled along its craggily coast, iconic blue domed churches, winding streets, and breathtaking views, you must visit this island at least once in your life. Beyond its beautiful views, however, there’s not really much else to do on Santorini, so when I learned about its hiking trail along the caldera of from Fira to Oia, I was very excited. This hike really is a stunner. Especially in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite hikes in the world.

How could it not? The trail mostly follows the rugged part of Santorini’s coast that was left after the devastating 16th century BC. It has cliffs, sparkling sapphire blue water, crisp white buildings. It’s gorgeous.

The hike is 6.5 miles (10 km) with a little over 1,000’ of elevation gain. It’s considered moderate, but if you do it slowly, stopping to take photos and have a bite to eat, it becomes easier.

The average time to complete the hike (according to All Trails) is 3 hours and 13 minutes. But trust me, you’ll want to stop to take photos and savor sights, so it will take you much longer.

Stunning wildflowers hiking from Fira to Oia
View Towards Oia

Note: the city Fira is the same as Thira, which it’s called on Santorini. You’ll see them both when researching this trail.

Santorini’s Volcanic History

First, a little about Santorini and how an ancient earthquake severed the island, leaving it the stunning vision it is today.

The 16th century BC eruption that left this part of the island so strikingly beautiful was massive. Possibly even resulting in the downfall of Minaon civilization in the area. It was so powerful, much of the island sank into the sea, creating what’s called a caldera, in addition to tsunamis hitting other Greek islands.

From what I understand, there are actually 4, or more, overlapping caldera are here, from historical volcanic eruptions. Some dating as far back as 180,000 years ago!

Hiking From Fira To Oia

The hike starts in Fira, or Thira, near the center of the island, and mostly follows the caldera along the coast to Oia, on the tip. This is the most beautiful part of the island.

You can hike the trail in either direction. It really depends on your personal preference, where you’re staying, and where you want to end up. My suggestion, and what I did, is to hike the trail from Fira to Oia. This way you end in Oia and can finish the day watching the sun setting over it. One of he most popular sunset spots on the island.

You can mostly discover the trial as you go, but to be the most efficient, you can download the trail on All Trails or Wikiloc in advance. Both require a fee to download the trail, but it’s relatively inexpensive.

You can also use maps.me, which is free, but you need to be a little creative and partly follow the map, and partly follow your gut. This is fine too as it mostly follows the coast. It’s only when the trial turns inland in villages that it gets a little confusing.

Any of these trail options should be downloaded in advance before you start.

Looking back toward Fira when hiking from Fira to Oia
Looking Back Towards Fira on the Footpath

Sometimes the path is just a trail in the dirt (above), sometimes it’s a sidewalk through shopping areas, and sometimes it follows the road. Mostly, however, it follows the stunning coastline.

If you don’t formally follow a trail on an app, you may run into a dead end or two and have to double back, but if you’re open to the process of discovery, it becomes an adventure.

My advice is to plan for the hike to take the 5 hours, as you will want to stop and take pictures, explore stairs down for better views, stop at shops, and stop for beverages or meals. The views are so stunning, the diversions are a part of the process.

Hiking Fira to Oia: Starting Point & Key Landmarks

Atlantis Hotel

The offical start of the hiking trail from Fira to Oia is at the Atlantis Hotel in Fira. It’s a 5-minute walk southwest of Fira Theotokopoulos Main Square.

Candlemas Holy Orthodox Cathedral

Right next to the Atlantis Hotel is Candlemas Cathedral. It’s a beautiful church will stunning views of the sea.

If you have a few minutes stop in the see the beautiful frescoes inside, or just admire the view.

Many churches while hiking from Fira to Oia
Candlemas Cathedral

Stunning Views From Fira

After this, you’ll pass stunning views with luxurious hotels perched along the caldera overlooking the sea. I loved the view!

In the photo below you can see part of the trail to come, with Skaros, the rock with no houses about halfway, and the tiny white buildings that make up Oia at end.

Stellar views Santorini Travel Guide


Fira Cafes

As you move through Fira, you’ll also walk past several cafes and restaurants.

Many lunch spots when hiking from Fira to Oia

If it’s too early for lunch, look for Zotos Ice Cream Shop for a light snack. It’s off the trail a bit…but worth a stop.

Santorini Donkey And The Cable Car

As you come towards the end of Fira, you’ll see Santorini Donkey, the place where the donkeys start their journey up from the port and back down on Old Harbor Trail. A little after this you’ll see the cable car ride down to the port.

Santorini Travel Guide Donkey Rides
Santorini Donkey

I know that riding the donkeys have been a tradition here for a long time, but these poor donkeys climb 600 steps in sweltering heat to carry passengers up from the port.

I did this on my very first trip to Santorini and regret it to this day as I realized they are not treated well. Please don’t ride them. Opt for the cable car ride a little further north if you must go down to the port.

Also, I recommend only going down to the port if you need to. The lines to get back up can be very long when a cruise ships lands.

The Three Bells Of Fira

The next highlight along the trail is the Three Bells of Fira. With its classic Greek blue dome and stunning views, the is one of the most iconic and most visited churches in Santorini. Also known as the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, this church is in Fira near Firostefani.

This is a very popular place for photos, especially at sunset.

Three Bells of Fira

Imerovigli And Skarkos Rock

After Firostefani, you’ll enter the village of Imerovigli, which offers breathtaking views of whitewashed balconies hugging the caldera.

Imerovigli is also where you’ll find Skarkos Rock, which is a craggily, rock promontory. You can see Skarkos in the middle of the photo below. It’s the large bare rock with what looks like a small cap on it.

Skarkos Rock was an ideal defense lookout, due to its location along the coast. In the 13th century a fortress was built on Skarkos. There were several homes and other buildings gathered around it for protection.

All that remains are ruins of the castle and Theoskepasti Church, which is on the sea side of Skarkos. It doesn however, offer stunning viewpoints.

Skarkos is not an official part of the hike, but if you have time you can explore it. To get to it, you need to walk down from the trail and then up its many, many steps. Several hundred of them.


Towards Oia

As you continue the hike, the terrain becomes more and more remote, but you’ll still walk past several places to stop and eat or have a drink with stunning views.

I stopped at lovely Steki Tou Nikou, which was about 3/4 of the way through the hike. It’s positioned close to the cliffside and has an outdoor patio, so you can eat overlooking stunning views like the one below.

There are other places as well, like Tasos Tavern and Fly Away Creative Bar and Restaurant.

After this, the are became even more remote, and more stunning with the wildflowers.


Chapel Of The Assumption Of The Virgin

The next highlight along the trail is the Orthodox Church of the Chapel of the Assumption of the Virgin, near the town of Hermoupolis.

Church hiking from Fira to Oia
Chapel of the Assumption

From the top of the hill, you’ll see gorgoeus views of Santorini and Oia in the distance.

After this, you will walk on a charming cobblestone path along the coast to Oia, where you end with amazing views of the town against the sea. This is about when you’ll be wishing the hiking trial from Fira to Oia was just a little bit longer…

View towards Oia when hiking from Fira to Oia


Oia

Finally, you reach Oia, which is the most charming village in Santorini. There are many little alleys and interesting shops, galleries, and cafes, so plan to spend some time exploring here if you haven’t done so already.

Oia Castle

The Fira to Oia hiking trail officially ends at Oia Castle, which are the remains of a fortress once used to protect the island against pirates.

The beauty of ending here is the stunning view of the whitewashed buildings on the hill. This is one of the most popular spots for photos on the island, especially as the sun sets and the sky turns various shades of blue and orange.

As this area gets very crowded near sunset, they say to arrive early to stake a spot. Depending on what time you finish the trail, you can explore Oia or find a place to eat, then come back here if you want a sunset photo.

Stunning Oia in Santorini Travel Guide
Oia

Retuning to Fira

Since the hike takes a good part of the day (depending on how many stops you make), you probably won’t be able to hike back to where you started from (or want to).

Thankfully, there’s a bus that runs regularly from Oia to Fira. Check the schedules in he link here as it does vary by season.

In peak season, the line for the bus can also be long, but it usually runs about twice an hour throughout the day. The journey is about 25 minutes. A taxi is another alternative, but taxis anre quite expensive on Santorini.

Santorini at dusk Travel Guide
Fira at Dusk

Tips For Hiking Fira To Oia

I hope I’ve inspired you to try hiking from Fira to Oia. It truly is a hike you will not forget. Here are few tips to make your hike even better.

  • The trail sometimes follows rocky, dirt paths, so it’s best to wear good footwear.
  • Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat as there’s not much shade along the trail.
  • Bring water for the hike.
  • Download the trail map in advance from All Trails or Wikiloc, or use maps.me.
  • Plan a few of the diversions along the trail listed above.
  • If you don’t have time for the full hike, consider taking a bus from Fira to Imerovigli or a place closer to Oia and start the hike from there. Talk to someone at the central bus station in Fira to learn your options.

Want More of Greece? 

Greece really has so much to offer. I’ve visited several times and still have so many places I want to see. Plus, the people there are so wonderful.

On the mainland, there’s so much amazing history. And with over 200 inhabited islands in Greece, the choices are endless.

Here are a few of my favorite places and favorite stories from along the way.

Mainland Greece

Corfu Island

Crete Island

Ios Island

Kefalonia

Milos Island

Naxos Island

Paros Island

Zakynthos Island

Other

For an overview of all the best places in Greece, as well as how to get around, safety, tips, and more, see my Greece Travel Guide.

Balos Bay, Crete

If you have a favorite spot in Greece, note it in the comments below.

Safe Travels!

Julie

Want to learn more about me? See my About Me page to understand why I love traveling so much and my philosophies on travel.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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