3 wonderful hikes in Santorini

We spent 3 days doing some long walks across the island of Santorini, while keeping the rest for relaxation, casually strolling from Fira to Imerovigli admiring the views from the rim of the caldera.

The island of Santorini was formed by repeated volcanic eruptions. Around 3600 years ago, a great eruption caused the caldera to collapse, giving the island it’s current shape.

Where to stay in Santorini

Whitewashed villa with caldera view in Fira
Whitewashed villa with caldera view in Fira

After doing some research we decided that the best place to stay in Santorini is Fira, the capital city.

In Fira you will find amazing views over the volcano and caldera, the main bus hub, supermarkets, affordable restaurants and nightclubs.

If you don’t want to spend a small fortune to rent a villa with pool overlooking the caldera, you can rent a room for two for around 50 EUR per night in one of the many guest houses located just 20-30 minutes walking distance from the center of Fira.

Public transportation

Santorini’s local buses are operated by KTEL and run all year round.

The main hub for all buses in Santorini is in Fira from where they connect the other parts of the island. You can consult the bus schedule here.

1. Fira to Oia

  • 10 km (one way) / 3-4 hours
  • easy difficulty
  • equipment: comfortable shoes, water, sun screen, hats
Fira to Oia – Click on the image to open Google Maps
Walking from Fira to Oia
Walking from Fira to Oia

Fira is the capital city of Santorini, located in the midwest of the island and Oia is a town on the northwestern tip of Santorini.

Walking from Fira to Oia on the rim of the caldera is an absolute must if you are in Santorini.

For hours you will enjoy the views of the whitewashed houses carved into the rugged clifftops, the caldera, and the other small islands of Santorini, including the volcano.

It takes about 3-4 hours to walk the 10 km from Fira to Oia. We recommend to leave in time from Fira in order to catch the sunset in Oia.

Walking back to Fira while it gets dark is also a beautiful experience. The villas on the wall of the caldera are nicely lit in the evening making the walk extremely romantic.

Be aware that outside the villages the path is not lit, so make sure to have some headlamps with you.

Nice hotel with pool in Imerovigli
Nice hotel with pool in Imerovigli

Skaros Rock

Skaros Rock

Leaving from Fira, you will first pass through the villages of Firastefani and Imerovigli before getting to Oia.

The village of Imerovigli is built on the highest point of the caldera cliffs, about 300 meters above sea level.

Near Imerovigli, about 3 km away from Fira, you will find the prominent Skaros Rock which definitely is worth the short detour.

Skaros used to be the most important of Santorini’s five castle fortresses, but it was reduced to rubble by the volcanic activity.

It offers some of the most stunning views in Santorini, both towards Fira and Oia and a great place to watch the sunset from.

Climbing on top of Skaros
Climbing on top of Skaros

Oia

Waiting for the sun to set in Oia
Waiting for the sun to set in Oia

Taking a photo of the sunset is a must if you are in Santorini. Everyone agrees that Oia is the place to take that perfect photo so expect the village to get completely packed with people in the evening.

It will be very hard to find a place in any restaurant in Oia in the evening, so it’s best to have something to eat in Firastefani or Imerovigli before arriving to Oia.

There is a supermarket at the entrance of Oia from where you can grab some snacks and a couple of cold ones to enjoy while watching the sunset.

The best place to watch the sunset is at the opposite side of the village, near Oia Castle ruins. Arrive early enough and you will be lucky to find a free spot on top of the castle ruins.

Watching the sunset from the ruins of Oia Castle
Watching the sunset from the ruins of Oia Castle

Getting back to Fira

Walking towards Fira at night

Walking back to Fira from Oia while it gets dark is an equally rewarding experience.

However, if you are tired, you can take the bus from Oia, but do get off at Imerovigli and walk the rest of the way (about 3 km) to Fira. Seeing the caldera at night is completely worth it.

Good to know

Halfway between Fira and Oia
  • This walk is about 10 km one way, easy difficulty
  • There are portions with rough terrain, so you may want to use good hiking shoes, especially if you want to climb on top of Skaros Rock.
  • Get plenty of water with you (at least 2 liters per person)
  • Use sun screen and hats to protect from the sun
  • After the sun sets in Oia, everyone will charge towards the bus station causing long lines to form
Somewhere between Fira and Oia

2. Pyrgos to Ancient Thira, Kamari and Perissa

  • 10 km / 4 hours (one way)
  • rugged terrain
  • equipment: hiking shoes, water, sun screen, hats
View over Kamari near Prophet Elias Monastery

This is a moderate difficulty hike that will take you from Pyrgos to the summit of Santorini (567 meters above sea level) from where it continues on a narrow rocky path towards Ancient Thira (an archaeological site).

From Ancient Thira you can descend to either Kamari or Perissa.

The trail is 10 km long, but wandering the streets of Pyrgos, Kamari and Perissa can easily turn it into a 30 km walk that will take most of your day.

You will walk on trail number 1 until Ancient Thira and then on trail number 3 towards Kamari or Perissa.

Click the image to enlarge

The trail starts right from the bus station in Pyrgos Square. There is a map on the wall behind the bus stop.

Start following trail number 1 towards Profitis Ilias Monastery.

The trail is marked with discreet markers, containing the number of the trail, at every intersection, on the walls or on the light poles. You have to pay attention in order to spot them.

The village of Pyrgos Kallistis

Church in Pyrgos

Pyrgos Kallistis is a beautiful medieval village with narrow streets and white houses, build around a hill with the Kasteli fortress on top.

The village is located 5 km away from Fira and is connected by a bus.

Pyrgos is much quieter than Fira, it’s way less crowded and really deserves a visit.

On top of the hill you will find the Kasteli Fortress from where you have panoramic views of most of the island.

View from the top of Kasteli Fortress in Pyrgos

The summit of Santorini (567 m)

The views from the summit of Santorini (567 meters altitude)

After about 2 km walk from Pyrgos, mostly on cobbled stone, following trail number 1, you will reach the highest point in Santorini, at 567 meters above sea level.

You can see the whole island from the summit. Santorini looks much more arid from up here and it really makes you appreciate the coziness and beauty of the man made houses .

On the summit of Santorini you will find the Monastery of Profitis Ilias that was build in 1711. There is a military base nearby as well.

From here on, the path gets narrower and rockier.

Hiking towads Ancient Thira

Ancient Thira

The rugged terrain near Ancient Thira

The ancient city of Thira is located on Mesa Vouno, 396 meteres above sea level. It was founded in the 9th century BC by Dorian colonists whose leader was Theras, and continued to be inhabited until the Early Byzantine period.

The site is closed on Mondays and the rest of the week it is only open from 8 am until 3 pm, so we didn’t have a chance to visit it.

You will find information about schedule and tickets here.

At the intersection of trail number 1 with trail number 3 there was a small kiosk offering overpriced snacks and drinks. I think it is open only until 3 pm as well.

Kamari and Perissa

Kamari beach

From Ancient Thira you can descend either to Kamari or Perisa following trail number 3.

Kamari and Perissa are separated by the mountain, and there is no shorter way on land that connects the two towns other than trail number 3.

From Ancient Thira we descended to Kamari first, then climbed to Ancient Thira again and descended to Perissa from where we took the bus to Fira.

We visited Santorini in May, which is off season for the beaches, so there wasn’t much going in Perissa and Kamari. The taverns and restaurants however were open and looked pretty nice.

Perissa beach

3. Red Beach to Mesa Pigadia Beach in Akrotiri – cliff walking

  • ~6 km, 2.5 hours round trip
  • rugged terrain
  • equipment: hiking shoes, water, sun screen, hats
Red Beach – Akrotiri

From the bus station near the Prehistoric town of Akrotiri excavation site, we headed towards the Red Beach and walked on the cliffs until we reached Mesa Pigadia – a beach with with dark sand an pebbles.

Before reaching Red Beach, you will pass by some kiosks that sell refreshments. Make sure you take enough water with you because you will not find any until you reach Mesa Pegadia where you will find a restaurant.

It is a nice walk on rugged, rocky terrain that takes around 2.5 hours round trip. The views from the cliffs are great and there is some altitude gain involved.

The path is visible, but we couldn’t see any markings.

The terrain is rocky so you might want to use some good hiking shoes. Take your swimming suit as well.

At some point, from the cliff, we had a nice view over The White Beach, which is only accessible by boat.

From Mesa Pegadia you can rent kayaks and go to the White Beach, which is around 800 meters away, towards South-East.

View over the White Beach from the cliff
View over the White Beach from the cliff
Rugged terrain
Mesa Pigadia black beach