Fira to Oia Hike: Walk the Santorini Caldera for Outstanding Views
The Fira to Oia hike in Santorini really is one of the best things to do on the island. It’s a beautiful walk along the caldera cliff that connects the picturesque villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. It’s a great hike that comes with the most amazing views, even in the off season.
For great tips on another good hike you can do during your stay on the island,
see 9 Hiking Trails to Discover Santorini.
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About the Fira Oia Hike
Fira to Oia Walking Path Length
- The hiking trail is 10km and is set out from Fira to Oia but you don’t have to hike from Fira. You can do the same route in reverse.
- I did the walk in just under three hours. I had lots of photo stops, a detour to the Three Bells of Fira Church and an unintentional detour along the path towards Skaros Rock.
- Allegedly you can do the walk in 2 hours (!) but leave up to five hours if you want to stop for food or have more of a wander around the villages.
- If 10k sounds like a long walk, you can split it. Hiking Fira to Imerovigli (the end of the village by Cavo Tagoo Hotel) is about half the route and a popular alternative. You could also hike from Fira to Skaros Rock. Otherwise, you can start from Firostefani, Imerovigli or a number of points on the Fira Oia main road.
- If 10k doesn’t sound long enough then you can add a detour to the church behind Skaros Rock. (The rock/castle ruins are closed for work at the moment so you need to walk around the rock instead of over it.) It’s a short hike that’s easy underfoot but factor in another 40 – 60 minutes if you do that.
Walking Path Condition
- The vast majority of the walk takes you along a car-free route. There’s one small section of walking along the main road. Another section at Imerovigli is actually a road, although it looks like a wide foot path. It’s a section with absolutely stunning views and little traffic.
- Some sections of the walking path are cobbled, paved or concrete. Other parts are dirt tracks, loose stone or loose gravel.
Best Direction to Walk
- The hiking trail undulates so you will be walking up and down in both directions.
- Fira to Oia is the intended route and probably the most instinctive one. But if you’re staying in Fira or Imerovigli then it might make more sense to start in Oia, hike from there and then end up back at your hotel.
Food/Drinks and Toilet Breaks
If you’re coming in the offseason don’t expect to find anywhere along the hiking trail that’s open for food/drinks or a toilet stop / bathroom breaks.
In the summer season, there are lots of cafes along the first part of the route but they won’t necessarily be open if you start early.
At the end of Imerovigli, around the halfway point there’s the No Name Cafe. I’m yet to see it open and the reviews of the refreshments and toilet facilities are terrible. Probably it’s ok for water but there’s no guarantee it’ll be open when you pass.
Just before the last leg to Oia there’s a caravan selling drinks. I’ve passed it on the road many times and sometimes it’s open and sometimes it’s not. They mostly have drinks – no toilet – and a very limited number of snacks.
What Should I Wear / Take?
Workout Kit – maybe not necessary if you’re young and fit, I’ve seen plenty of youngsters walking along wearing their normal summer outfits.
But I came to hike and I was glad of the sweat-wicking fabric. Definitely wear something to protect your thighs from “chub rub” if necessary otherwise you’ll be miserable.
Layers – wear layers. I visited Santorini in February specifically to do the Fira to Oia hike. It was a gloriously sunny 15°C day without a hint of wind and I was grateful for layers as the sun was really warm.
If you’re visiting in warmer months you’ll need to start the hike early so you might want an extra layer at the beginning.
Hat and Sunscreen – even in February I got sunburnt walking the route. There’s no shade so come prepared.
Phone & Battery / Camera – I assume you’ll have your phone with you anyway so make sure you have space for plenty of pictures on there or your camera.
You’ll get some amazing photos of the beautiful sights all the way along the route. My battery ran out as I got to Oia so have a battery pack with you.
Do I Need Hiking Boots?
While you do need to be wearing good shoes for walking, specific boots are not a requirement in my opinion. Definitely don’t attempt the hike in flip flops (you’d probably be ok for the first part to Imerovigli).
I wore trainers/running shoes and that was fine. Some people will say you need to wear hiking boots because there are sections of loose gravel. But something closed-toe would be fine.
When is the Best Time for the Fira to Oia Hike?
What is the Best Time of Year?
The best time of year to enjoy this beautiful hike is April – June and then September to November.
My first time doing the hiking route was in February because during my summer visit to Santorini it was way too hot and humid.
I love hiking so planned a day trip to Santorini from Paros in the winter. And went solely to hike the trail because I could see the weather was going to be perfect.
But much of the winter can be very windy making it less suitable. I was meant to be visiting Santorini for five days in January but I cancelled it because it rained non-stop.
So if you visit between December and March, expect mixed weather and plan changes.
What Time of Day?
In the warmer months, start early in the day (like 8am or even earlier) because it gets very hot. It’s probably not a good idea to do the full hike in July/August.
If you visit in the shoulder months or the weather’s not too warm it’s nice to walk in the late afternoon. That way you’re walking towards the sunset and will end up in Oia for that.
Is the Hike from Fira to Oia / Oia to Fira Safe to Walk Alone?
Hiking alone always has its risks but I do it often and felt no qualms about completing the caldera hike as a solo woman. Even in February, there were a few other people around.
A lot of the hotels along the way had building work going on so there were workers who’d have helped me if I’d needed anything.
Can I Do The Fira to Oia Walk on a Cruise Ship Stop?
Yes, if you’re coming to Santorini on one of the cruise ships then it is possible to do this walk. I wouldn’t do it with less than five hours ashore though.
The cruise ships stop at the old port below Fira so you’ll need to get the cable car up to the street. From the cable car exit turn right and then follow the path around the corner and up the hill.
Start in Oia, Walk Back to Your Cruise Ship in Fira
I was in a similar situation when I came to Santorini by ferry just to do the caldera hike. I arrived on the boat at 11:45am and had to leave on the 7pm ferry. I jumped on the bus from the port to Fira bus station and just started hiking Fira to Oia because I was impatient to get going.
But if you have to get back to your cruise, I’d potentially advise doing it the other way around. Having read in some places that the hike could take seven hours I was worrying a bit at the beginning. I was worried I’d need the full seven hours to complete the hike and wouldn’t make it back in time.
I soon realised that the extra time is if you join a walking tour and stop for a relaxed group lunch. But until I got about halfway I kept checking Google Maps to get a rough idea of distance/time and was a bit worried about spending too much time exploring off the path.
Because it was winter, the buses back to Fira were sparse and I wasn’t sure what the taxi situation in Oia would be like. If I’d got a taxi to Oia at the beginning I think I’d have been more relaxed along the route.
- If you walk from Oia to Fira you can see how you’re doing for time as you progress along the route.
- You only need to factor in getting back down on the cable car which can have queues in the summer season.
- But even then you can do one last push and dart down the steps to the port if you need to.
How to Walk the Fira to Oia hike
First off, use this guide or a paper map because you want to go the most scenic route. The first time I did this route I looked it up on Google Maps and it was sending me via the road.
That’s definitely not the prettiest way. Or the safest either since the road doesn’t have much if anything in the way of pavement.
I’m going to write this as if you’re walking from Fira to Oia. But I’ll also put some pointers if you’re coming the other way too.
Starting Point for the Fira to Oia Hike
The caldera path from Fira to Oia starts at the Atlantis Hotel. You can use that as a reference point to get started. But if you’re staying further along the caldera footpath you can pick it up from wherever you are.
If you have a rental car you can park it all day for free in Fira’s Car Park 1 parking lot. It does get busy but you should get parked up if you’re there early in the day.
Fira to Firostefani
From Hotel Atlantis your Fira to Oia walk starts by taking you through the pedestrian streets of Fira.
Just follow your nose keeping the sea on your left.
As long as you do that and keep going uphill you’ll be heading in the right direction.
Before long you’ll arrive in Firostefani and walk past several bars and restaurants. They may or may not be open depending on the time of day and time of year you walk.
From Firostefani you can see Imerovigli on the hill and Oia beyond Skaros Rock.
When you reach the Three Bells of Fira church you might like to stop and have a look around. There are some stairs to the side that will take you up to the road above.
From there follow the signs to the viewing area for magnificent views of the volcano and beyond.
When you’re ready, go back to the walking path and continue on the Fira – Oia route. This is the main street through Firostefani in February and then when I did the hike yesterday in May
Keep going, you’re nearly at Imerovigli.
The path can be pretty with meadow flowers as you head towards Saint Nikolaos Holy Convent.
Just before the monastery is Pink Sophia Maria which might be open for breakfast by the time you get there.
Imerovigli and Skaros Rock
Walk up the side of the church and keep going along the path.
You’ll start to come past some luxury hotels on your left. They quickly start to multiply and you’ll see whitewashed buildings all around you. You walk right past private terraces and jacuzzis.
Keep going through straight on through the pedestrianised streets. The whole village feels like a resort.
Looking back at Imerovigli when walking from Fira to Oia
As the path climbs you get some more amazing views of the caldera. I told you this walk is literally just amazing views after amazing view.
While you walk through this area you’ll see you’re getting closer and closer to Skaros Rock.
When you get to the Blue Note Restaurant the path forks.
If you want to stay close to the caldera and/or do the Skaros Rock detour you need to go left here towards the chapel.
If you go straight on and walk to the right of Blue Note you’ll go more into the village.
I’d only go that way if you want to get food or water, otherwise stick to the Skaros Rock side so you can keep to the path. (Have a quick scan of Google reviews here to avoid anywhere awful.)
When you get to this part of the walk when you’re hiking from Fira to Oia make sure you take the path to go in the right direction for what you want.
I took an unintentional hike here the first time. I went down a load of steps that I had to then walk all the way back up!
To me, the path to the right looked like it was just access to houses. But it’s not, it’s part of the Oia walk public footpath and is the correct path to take to continue your walk from Fira to Oia.
If you want to visit Skaros Rock then you do need to take the steps to the left.
Skaros Rock Detour
Going to Skaros Rock means you’ll take the steps and walk downhill past a little church.
The church courtyard is a popular place to get some photos and selfies on your walk.
From there you can take the steps to the corner of the courtyard, by the blue door. Otherwise, just stay on the main steps the go past the church.
Either way, you’ll be on the trail that takes you to the base of the rock.
The trail to Skaros Rock involves a lot of steps
At the time of writing access to Skaros Rock is prohibited. Although the hiking trail isn’t barricaded in any way, there are signs telling you not to enter.
If they’re still there when you’re visiting please respect that.
I’ve included this section because there’s a hike around the rock you can access before the closure signs.
Look for a narrow trail on your left before the ruins.
Then follow that dirt path around the rock. Be mindful of the rocks above you and that, like in other places in Santorini, they can come loose.
As you hike round the curve you’ll come to the little church tucked in behind Skaros Rock.
It’s a lovely spot with a courtyard to stop and have a quick drink while you savour the view.
When you’re ready to get back on the trail, hike back the way you came.
Walk back up the steps to the main path. (Er, did I mention this is a great hike for working your legs?)
To continue your Fira – Oia hike turn left.
Just keep going through the village. Your hike will take you past plenty more photographic spots
At the end of Imerovigli, you’ll pass a cluster of luxury hotels.
Places like East West Hotel, Rocabella Santorini, Santorini Princess and Cavo Tagoo.
It feels very regal along this stretch. These hotels enjoy panoramic and majestic views of the caldera.
When you get to this section you’re around the halfway point of the walk. If you want to start here and walk either to Oia or Fira you could do. There’s parking nearby at the fork in the road, see below.
Imerovigli to Oia
Although the section in front of these hotels feels like a very wide pavement, it’s actually a small road. It’s not really busy but be aware that cars do come along here.
The short stretch of paved road peters out at the end of the hotels and becomes a dirt road.
The trail changes again and there’s a fork in the road. The Oia walk continues along the right-hand fork.
If you only want to walk half of the hike, then you could park here. There’s a dirt car park to the left of the fork. Look for Pantheon Villas Santorini on the map to see where to come.
There’s a church on the hillside through the car park if you want to take a short detour. It’s only five minutes down the path (a few more coming back since it’s uphill).
Otherwise, keep walking along the right-hand fork towards St Mark’s Church.
By the way, between the fork in the road and the church, there’s the No Name Cafe. It’s never been open when I’ve been past and the Google reviews are pretty dire.
But it’s the last place to get proper food before Oia. There is one more snack bar that may be open for drinks but don’t count on it.
As you come up the hill past the church, you’ll see another on the hill in front of you. That’s Prophet Elias and at this point, you have a choice of which trail to take.
You can see by the waymarker there’s a cobbled path that runs next to the wall. This route is much easier underfoot than the other. However, it does take you away from the caldera for a little while.
Taking the Right-Hand Route
It’s still very pretty and you get a great view of the eastern side of the island.
The trails merge as you come down towards the main road and the San Antonio Hotel.
Taking the Left-Hand Route
If you decide to go left at the fork and head up to the church.
It’s another spot with magnificent views on both sides.
Your hike continues along the caldera past the church.
I love this green section of the walk.
Just after this bit the trail gets a bit harder underfoot.
Having said that all the loose stones and landslide from last winter’s snow seemed to have been cleared and compacted.
I did a Santorini day trip and walked the path in February 2022 when there were a lot of loose stones that way. Walking in this section was especially slippy and I was sliding about all over the place trying to get downhill.
When I returned in May it was really different. If you’re walking during the official tourist season it’ll probably be maintained and be more like this for you.
Only the very last part before the San Antonio hotel was big bits of gravel.
Anyway, this is where the paths merge. So whether you walk round, or up and past the church you’ll end up here.
If you’re doing the hike from Oia then this is where the path splits when you come up off the main road. The left arrow takes you round the cobbled path. The right arrow takes you up to Prophet Elias.
After Prophet Elias (heading Oia to Fira) is the only time you have to walk on the main road and it’s only a short section.
As a rule, I’d always advise that you walk into oncoming traffic rather than with it. If you’re walking Fira to Oia then you will automatically be on the correct side of the road.
If you hike Fira as your destination then stay on the right-hand side of the road. You can see there’s much more space at the side for walking.
You’ll soon see where the trail picks back up again. It’s just behind the juice / snack bar (which may or not be open) at the side of the road.
Until the last part from the church the hike has been a fairly easy trail underfoot. Now the hiking path varies a bit more between stony path, dirt road, cobbled road and pure gravel.
Watch your footing in this section and don’t get too close to the edge especially if you’re taking photos. There are some sheer drop-offs and the rocks around the edge of the cliff crumble easily.
Travelling from Fira to Oia this bit is a long steady, uphill.
The path that takes you up to The Assumption of the Virgin Mary chapel, which you can see in the distance, is really gravelly. I found the hill quite steep and it was like trying to walk through sand.
I forgot to take photos as I was finding that bit tough but the view from the top was worth it.
When you get to the chapel there’s space to sit but no shade. Slap on a bit more suncream if you haven’t done so for a while.
Now you’re on the last leg to Finikia and into Oia so continue past the church.
The trail brings you past Profitis Ilias church and back to familiar whitewashed houses and hotels.
Profitis Ilias Church on the hill means you’re not far from Oia now
Continue your hike past the hotels along the dirt road.
Arriving in Oia
Once you get to Oia village you can end the hike there. Well done, you made it all the way from Fira to Oia!
Stop somewhere for a drink and some food. Then have a wander around the shops and take some photos in front of the famous blue domed churches.
If you have some energy left then you could continue hiking through the village. Go to the end of the main pedestrian street and then down the steps below the castle ruins.
They’ll take you down to Ammoudi Bay where you can enjoy cliff jumping and swimming. (Follow the path around the rock, you can’t swim in the little harbour itself). It’s too rocky for sunbathing but you can swim over to the church on the little island opposite.
If you’ve walked later in the day then it’s a great sunset location. You can enjoy it from one of the lovely fish restaurants.
From there I’d recommend getting a taxi back up to Oia or beyond to get home. Perhaps book it when you sit down to eat so there’s time for it to be arranged for when you finish.