9 Hiking Trails to Discover Santorini
Santorini island might not be the first to come to mind when you think about hiking on the Greek islands. But apart from the famous walking path along the caldera from Fira to Oia there are a number of other hiking trails on Santorini.
In fact, there are 19 trails in Santorini that the municipality has identified. Some of them aren’t too interesting and others are strolls you can do in a pair of flip-flops. But nature lovers will find crowd-free hiking trails even on this most touristy of islands.
If you’re up for a beautiful walk during your trip to the island then read on.
Santorini Hiking Map
Although I don’t think you’ll find a Santorini Hiking Map PDF version you can get a paper copy in some of the tourist shops. I picked mine up at the Books and More shop in Kamari.
Anavasi also has a Santorini hiking map on their app but I haven’t used that.
Hike Thirasia Too
As well as hiking trails in Santorini, the Santorini hiking map also has six trails in Thirassia for you to explore. Thirasia is the inhabited island you can see behind the caldera. It’s Santorini of yesteryear and a place where you can find solitude.
They’re not really signed though so you need to be able to use the map. If you’d prefer to walk the path with a guide I recommend a walking tour with Nicole at Explore Thirasia.
Walk 9 – Caldera Brow (Oia Hike)
Let’s start with the Santorini walking route 9. It’s one of the best hikes Santorini has to offer and the one you’ve probably heard about.
This is the Fira to Oia walk – with the detour to Skaros Rock – that takes you along the west of the island and treats you with the most stunning caldera views.
I have a separate post about the Oia hike so check that for route details. I’ll recap here but if you’re doing the Oia Fira hike then look at that before you go. You can’t get desperately lost if you continue north from Fira. But I made a mistake or two you could avoid.
How to Walk the Route
The 10km hiking route runs from Fira to Oia but it can be done in the opposite direction too. If you don’t want to do the whole hike, or can’t fit in a 3 – 5 hour walk, then you can just do part of it.
The trail starts at Fira and goes through Firosfani and Imerovigli before ending in Oia. Fira to Imerovigli is about a 30 minutes walk. You could just do that section and back if you’re based in Fira. You’ll get some amazing views and it’s lovely to walk past all the luxury hotels.
Alternatively, you could pick up the trail in Imerovigli near Skaros Rock and shave off the first half an hour of the walk.
If you’re coming from Oia then you could walk as far as Prophet Elias and back. That’s almost halfway.
(Profitis Ilias is always the name given to the church on the highest point on the islands so I’m a bit confused as to why Santorini seems to have three churches with this name! Two along here and then the monastery.)
But if you can take the time to do the entire walk I’d really recommend it. It truly is a magnificent walk with spellbinding views of the caldera cliffs the whole way.
Is It Best to Walk Fira to Oia or Does it Not Matter?
Officially the trail runs from Fira but like I said above, it’s fine to do it in the opposite direction too.
For more detailed information on this route see Fantastic Santorini Day Trip: Hike The Caldera for Outstanding Views
What’s the Fira to Oia Path Like Underfoot?
You’re going to be walking on a variety of surfaces: cobblestones, cement, dirt road, tarmac road and loose scree.
After the San Antonio hotel, you’ll walk a little bit on the main road before going uphill on a dirt/rocky path. That turns into a gravel hill before turning back into a track and then into cobbles and cement.
Choice of path here – caldera side is harder underfoot but prettier
Wear decent shoes or walking sandals. I’d recommend closed-toe shoes because the stones are annoying if you step on them. Since they’re volcanic rocks they’re also hot.
What You Need to Know About Walking Fira to Oia or Oia to Fira
Fira to Oia Starting Point
If you’re walking from Fira to Oia the trail starts on the path by Atlantis Hotel in Fira. If you’re starting in Oia walk out of the village along the pedestrian street the opposite way from Oia castle.
Hotel Atlantis, the starting point if you’re walking from Fira to Oia
After that, it’s best to use my full post on the Fira to Oia caldera walk to find your way. Definitely don’t use Google Maps. I did that the first time I visited Santorini to walk the caldera and it was trying to send me on the main road. Basically head towards Oia and keep going uphill!
Google Maps can be helpful for a general idea of where you are and where you’re going. But use the pictures and prompts here instead.
There is very little shade along the way so make sure you’re prepared. Bring more than enough water, wear a hat, use sunscreen and cover up.
There are places to get refreshments along the trail but they’re not guaranteed to be open. That’s especially true if you’re starting early or coming in the off-season. Bring some snacks to keep you going.
Skaros Rock Closure
As I’m writing this, Skaros Rock is currently closed for access. You can still physically walk up to it but there are signs saying it’s closed for work. It’s best to respect the signs and stay away since it’s for your safety too.
But don’t worry, you don’t need to miss out. You can still walk around Skaros Rock to the wee church behind it. See walk 19 below.
For More Details on Walking Fira to Oia
See: Fira to Oia Hike – Walk the Santorini Caldera for Outstanding Views
Walk 19 Imerovigli – Skaros
Even if Skaros Rock is still closed for repair works when you visit you can enjoy a hike in the area. Walk 19 takes you around the rock, rather than over it. The trail is well under 1km long but it’s definitely worth a stroll one evening.
Steps down to the prominent Skaros Rock at sunset
As you get to Skaros Rock, take the unmarked trail to your left just before the signs and ruins.
The track is clear and easy to walk but be mindful of the rocks above you that could come loose.
Soon you’ll come to a pretty little church behind Skaros Rock. Although it’s not completely undiscovered, it’s a much quieter sunset spot than you’ll find elsewhere in the area.
Mother of Lord Theoskepasti at sunset
When you’re ready, follow your steps back the way you came.
White houses and hotels of Imerovigli
Santorini Volcano Hike
The Santorini volcano hike isn’t long but it’s really fun to do and you get amazing views of the caldera. You can only access the Nea Kameni volcano as part of an organised boat trip. There’s an extra cost to access the volcano (around 5 euro).
There are plenty of boat trips to choose from. Lots leave from the old port at Fira. (The one with the cable car).
The boats take you to the hot springs as well as some swimming spots. On the trip I did, our guide led the hike and explained about the formation of the island.
Although the volcano is dormant it’s not inactive. But hopefully the only volcanic activity you’ll experience is the hot springs in the water, and the smoke being released from the fumaroles in one of the craters.
The path up Nea Kameni starts as a fairly even cobbled road.
At the end of the cobbles, there’s a shaded viewing area where people can wait.
If you’re up for more hiking then make sure you have suitable hiking shoes (trainers are fine). The path is loose scree and a bit slippy in places. It’s only about 15 minutes to the top but you can wander around the paths to see what you want.
There are a few shaded seating areas but not many in relation to the number of people that might be there. So wear your hat and sunscreen.
Walk 4 Pyrgos – Panaghia Episkopis
I really loved this walk. I totally got away from the touristy aspect of the island and got to explore the hinterland. I went in May when the stunning spring meadow flowers were out.
A highlight along this route was Agios Giorgos church built into the hillside.
The trail is a downhill path from pretty Pyrgos and runs below Prophitis Ilias Monastery. Route 1 to the monastery shares part of the route. And you do need to keep an eye out for the turning otherwise you’ll end up at the monastery like I did.
I forgot my map and thought I’d be ok since the trail was supposedly signed. And parts of it are.
From the end of Pyrgos village, there are trail markers directing you up the hill towards the monastery. But it’s not at all clear where route 4 splits from route 1.
Luckily on my way back down from the monastery, I bumped into a monk. He was picking flowers along the route and was happy to help me. He explained where the path was for route 4 and sent me off in the right direction.
After Aghii Apostoli church…
you need to look out for the small track off to your left and head off that way.
After you’ve gone over the steps you’ll soon be able to see Agios Giorgos nestled in the rock.
Go and have a look around the church when you get there. Once you’re ready to get going you need to go back down to pick up the path again.
Between the steps down (see the picture below) and the ones that take you up to the church you need to look for the track.
There’s a red spot of paint on one of the rocks to mark it, but it’s hard to see when you’re at it.
Once you’re on it, stay left at the fork.
After that, you can’t really go wrong because it’s easy to make out the track.
Pistachio nuts growing on a tree
It was a tiny bit overgrown in a couple of places on this side but not too bad.
Keep going until you get to a small road.
Follow it down until you get to the end of the walk.
Panaghia Episkopis is to your right. (It’s open 10 – 12pm and 2 – 5pm and there are some toilet facilities outside to the right of the above sign.)
The hike isn’t long. It’s 2.6 km and only takes about 50 minutes. But it was such an escape from other parts of the island I’d really recommend it.
When you get to the end you’re near the wineries of Volcanic Slopes, Canava Roussos and Estate Argyros. It might be nice to do a tour and tasting and then arrange to be collected from the winery.
The local public buses to and from Kamari run along the main road there too. Check the timetables at the bus station in Fira. Alternatively, check the bus schedule online.
Walk 1 Pyrgos – Prophitis Ilias Monastery – Ancient Thera
If you like walking and history then route 1 is one of the best hiking trails for you. It takes in the traditional settlement of Pyrgos which is one of the oldest on the island.
Then the cobbled path goes uphill to Prophitis Ilias Monastery (or Prophet Elias Monastery depending on how it’s been translated into English) at Santorini’s highest point.
The last leg takes you down from the highest point of the island to Ancient Thera perched on top of Mesa Vouno mountain.
Ancient Thira and the Monastery in the background
Santorini’s trail 1 goes through the village from the square where the cafes and donkeys are.
As you get to the end of the village it’s signed to the monastery.
You’ll share the path with trail 4 until you get to the church Aghii Apostoli where you carry on up the cobbles.
Looking back at Aghii Apostoli and Pyrgos village
Walk 1 continues uphill.
When you get to the main road you’ll see a waymarker.
Cross over and continue on the trail until you get to the monastery.
I actually haven’t walked the last part of this route but it continues on past the monastery. You walk downhill on a supposedly good path to Ancient Thera / Ancient Thira.
The panoramic views from Ancient Thera are tremendous. On one side you can see Anafi island, Kamari Beach and the planes taking off and landing at the airport.
On the other you can see Perissa Beach stretching along coast and all the lowlands in between.
Santorini Airport from Ancient Thira
Remains of the ancient city with Anafi in the background.
Black Sand beach at Perissa from Ancient Thira
From Ancient Thira you could carry on to Perissa on trek 3, below. Cool off in the sea (if it’s swimming weather) and get the bus back from there.
Walk 3 Kamari – Ancient Thira – Perissa
You can also hike to Ancient Thera from the beach towns. Trail 3 is designed to go from Kamari to Perissa Beach. Note that the trail from Kamari up is steep but coming down the other side is much more pleasant.
If you’re staying in Perissa you can walk all the way up Mesa Vouno Mountain on that side. There’s a small parking area which you can find online on Maps.
If you don’t fancy trekking as far as the archaeological site just go to the little chapel on the way up.
It takes about 15 – 20 minutes from the bottom of the hill to get to the Chapel of Panagia Katefiani. And you’ll get some lovely views for your effort.
Panagia Katefiani church nestled into the rock of Mesa Vouno hill
Walk 7 Meghalochori – Plaka
This is another great hike that takes you far from the madd(en)ing crowd.
It leads you through a lovely sunset spot at the top of the caldera down to a small church hidden at the sea.
Hot springs mix with the seawater there so remember your swimsuit.
This is probably the best hike to do for a secluded Santorini sunset location. But if you do this trail around sunset get ready to leave as the sun goes down.
The walk isn’t long but it’s quite steep on the way back up. You don’t want to be coming back up in poor light so take care to leave enough time.
The path is clearly marked but slippery underfoot. You don’t need hiking boots but wear decent walking shoes. I.e not sandals or flip flops.
I’m not 100% sure exactly where the starting point is officially. But I parked at the Heart of Santorini car park and headed towards the water. You’ll see the first church at the top and the path is clear. Just keep following it down to the sea.
On Google, it looks like a proper road but it’s not at all.
Look for the Heart and Rabbit of Santorini on the way down
Walk 14 Oia – Amoudi Bay
A popular walk is down to Amoudi / Ammoudi Bay from Oia. Head along the main pedestrian street and then go down the steps below Oia Castle.
Fish taverns at Ammoudi Bay
You can add this to your list of sunset spots. But before having a sunset meal at one of the excellent fish taverns explore the path that hugs the rocks to the left. It goes round to a cliff-jumping spot and you can swim across to a little island with a church.
It’s a bit rocky to lounge about on but if you like swimming it’s a good place.
Walk 13 Akrotiri – Vlychada Beach
If you’re visiting the prehistoric town of Akrotiri and want to stay in the area then there are some hikes you can choose.
This one is approximately 5.5km over dirt roads and takes you to the fascinating Vlychada Beach. The rock formations are rather moon-like behind the beach and in the area round about.
Take your swimming costume and walk all the way along the beach to Theros Wave Bar. It’s a nice beach bar with a spacious seating area and beds and cabanas on the sand.
FAQs About Hiking in Santorini
When is the best time of year to hike in Santorini?
Like the other Cycladic islands, Santorini can get really quite hot in the summer months. Although there’s often a breeze to stop temperatures from becoming extreme it’s not the time to hike a lot.
Some of the trails in Santorini are fairly short so you could probably manage some of them in the heat if you start early in the morning. But it’s best to go in April, May or September – November, especially if you’re combing Santorini with other islands to walk.
Perfect weather on my February day trip and no crowds!
I know some of you will still want to do the famous Santorini Fira to Oia hike even if you visit in the peak season. Be careful if you do. Consider doing part of the route and always start early in the morning when it’s coolest. Take plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.
Are There Organised Walking Tours?
If you’d prefer to join others on a walking tour then check out Santorini Walking Tours. They offer small group tours as well as private ones just for your group.
As well as Santorini hiking tours don’t forget about a walking day trip on Thirasia. Book with Explore Thirasia that I mentioned above.
Are the Walks on Santorini Well Marked?
The walking paths on Santorini aren’t as well waymarked as I’ve experienced on other islands. There are wooden signposts but the paths aren’t consistently signed as you’re going along.
Having said that most of the trails are fairly short. And with a couple of exceptions, the paths are quite easy to make out once you’re on the right track. Having said that, the map is useful to have.
Do I Need Proper Hiking Footwear?
Some people will say you need hiking shoes because of the loose scree on some parts of the trails. I don’t think you need proper walking shoes but you’ll want to wear trainers / running shoes rather than flip flops.
What’s the Best Way to Get to/from the Trails?
There are a few options in terms of transport if you’re not able to walk directly from your accommodation.
See also: Santorini: How To Get Around By Car, Quad, Bus & Taxi
Santorini Public Bus
I think all the walks I’ve mentioned here start somewhere that’s easy to get to by bus from Fira. Since all the buses run in and out of the bus station there it’s quite straightforward if you’re within walking distance of Fira.
For the Oia hike, it can be a good idea to bus to the opposite end from where you’re staying and then walk the caldera back to your hotel. (If applicable.)
If you choose not to do that and walk to Oia for the sunset for example, be aware there can be long lines / queues for the buses out afterwards.
Some of the hotels have minibuses to run their guests around Santorini. They’re usually priced cheaper than the taxis so ask your accommodation if they can help you that way.
There isn’t an abundance of taxis in Santorini so you might have a bit of a wait if you choose this option. For some of the ending positions, it might be hard to describe where you are. So perhaps check the map for something well-known nearby. (Like a hotel or winery.)
If you’re hiring a car for some or all of your trip then that’s potentially the easiest way to get around. Since most of the walks are on the shorter side you could do your walk in both directions to get back to your car.
Some of the options above it’s the only thing you can do. If you go to Plaka, for example.