Fira to Oia Hike - A Walk To Remember

Santorini is one of the prettiest islands in Greece and offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea. Besides, the island’s towns blend into the natural topography of cliffs and calderas, yet hold their own in terms of whitewashed architecture and local flavors. There are two popular ways to discover the beauty of Santorini. Where one is by cruise, the other is taking the Fira – Oia hike. Those who have undertaken this distinguished hike often swear by it, as being one of the best things they have ever done in life. The views are absolutely brilliant, the walk is relatively simple and the experience is more than satisfying.

So, what is all the fuss about a hike from Fira to Oia? Why is it considered amazing and what can you expect from it? Let’s find out.

Fira to Oia Hike

Fira To Oia
Fira and Oia are two wonderful towns in Santorini. With their white buildings and blue domes, they stand on the cliffs and calderas bordering the coastline. The Fira-Oia hike is also known as the Caldera Walking Tour, and to understand why this hike offers some magnificent views, one needs to understand the route and location of these towns. Santorini is an elongated island. From Fira, one reaches Firostefani, then Imerovigli, and finally Oia. Taking a small detour to explore Skaros Rock is highly recommended, too.

Fira To Oia Or Oia To Fira?

One can start the hike from Fira and walk towards Oia or vice versa. However, walking from Fira to Oia is often preferred because the hike remains downhill for a substantial distance, hence making it relatively easier. The hike ends at Oia so hikers can admire the amazing views of the village in front of them, rather than having to keep looking back if the hike is done from Oia to Fira. Besides, the sunset at Oia is one of the most attractive and beautiful sights ever!

About The Hike

Hiking trail
The total distance of the Fira-Oia hike is about 10km or 6 miles. The road or walking path is a combination of unpaved, paved, cobbled, and pedestrian streets. It takes around 3 to 5 hours to complete the hike. The time, however, largely depends on the hikers. If you can walk really fast, the hike may be done sooner. However, the real fun of the walk is to take it slow, take as many detours, explore unbeaten trails, get lost, stop to enjoy the gorgeous views, and click pictures.

Also, you start around 270m in elevation at Fira. The highest point is at Imerovigli, reaching almost 350m. However, the hike goes downhill again, and at Oia, you are no more than 140m above sea level.

The Route

We now come to the most important aspect of the hike – the route. There are several digital, online, and printed maps that clearly indicate the route and hike path. With landmarks that one can explore, these maps are highly detailed and very useful for hiking. Also, since the hike is along the coast, it's pretty straightforward to follow the coastline. If you are hiking from Fira to Oia then the ocean is on the left-hand side.

Below is the route plan if you are hiking from Fira to Oia. The same map and plan can be used if you chose to do the hike the other way around.

Point 1 – Fira

The hiking or walking path technically begins at the square near Hotel Atlantis. One can use Google Maps to locate the hotel or ask the locals around.

From Fira, you start walking northwards, keeping the sea to the left and moving ahead. There are markers and signs along the path to help as well.

Point 2 – Firostefani

Continuing on the trail from Fira, the first town that you will walk into is Firostefani. Firostefani is an extension of Fira, so don’t be surprised if you don’t know when you enter it. This village is on a slightly higher elevation so once you walk a little uphill, you get better views as well.

From here, you can choose to continue heading north towards Imerovigli or make a detour towards the right to reach Three Bells Of Thira or Virgin Mary Orthodox Church at Agios Theodoros. The parking lot near the church is an excellent viewpoint from which you can also take beautiful pictures of the clear blue sea and surrounding cliffs.

Point 3 – Imerovigli

Hiking at Imerovigli
Continuing on the trail as you keep walking uphill, you now reach the town of Imerovigli. At Imerovigli, the path forks out into two trails. At the Blue Note restaurant, the paths divulge, and most signboards point toward the right-hand-side road. This path passes through the pedestrian streets and lanes of the town. If you want essentials, such as water or snacks, then taking this route is advisable since you cut across the town. Also, you can explore the town and visit some of its attractions, such as the Anastasi Church. Views from the church are also quite great.

However, the left-hand-side path is fraught with far better views of the scenery and landscapes. Resorts stand out on this path and the overall route offers exceptional views of the calderas. Also, taking this path has another advantage – it is much closer and easier to explore another natural structure with a  slight detour, the Skaros Rock.

Skaros Rock

Skaros Rock
The Skaros Rock is strictly not on the trail. But it is worth moving a little away, towards the sea, to visit the natural outcrop. You will have to descend a flight of steps before reaching Skaros Rock. However, the views from here are downright magnificent. Most tourists take this detour, which can add around 40-60 minutes extra to the total hiking time. Yet the walk downhill, the gushing wind, and the views around make it worth it. There is also the Church Of Christ that you will pass while climbing down.

Point 4 – Profitis Ilias Church

From Imerovigli, continue walking north. There are many paths within the town if you choose to take the right-hand side route. No matter which road you take, as long as you are moving north, you won't get lost. At the Avalon Resort and Spa, both the paths that had forked previously now converge. The trail becomes singular once again, and one crosses several resorts, hotels, etc., on the way. The Cavo Tagoo Hotel is roughly estimated to be the mid-point of the Fira-Oia hike trail.

The path again forks a little before Profitis Ilias Church. You can take the left route that goes uphill closer to the church and offers fantastic views of the scenic landscapes. The pathway is slightly difficult with loose gravel and stones. On the other hand, the right-hand-side path, though not too uphill, is easier to walk on but doesn’t have the same stunning views. However, if you are walking with kids, then taking the right forked pathway is a better idea.

From the bottom of the hill on which the church is located, one has to walk along the shoulder road for a while until the merged trail reappears along a small snack shop. This tiny stall is perhaps one of the last shops you will find until you reach Oia. From here onwards, the trail gets slightly harder, the climb is uphill, and the dirt path is rocky. For quite a stretch, the scenery may also get monotonous, but once you reach the top of the hill, the views get better, and the last leg of the trail begins.

Point 5 – Oia

The downhill walk toward Oia is one of the best sections of the hike. You will cross the Panagia Church until you reach the Oia caldera. The trail then crosses a parking area and emerges into a pedestrian walkway. This path leads to the town of Oia, where you can explore the hotels and town shops. As you move westwards, you finally spot the iconic Oia windmills and the blue domes of churches.

Oia To Fira

Once in Oia, there are several things to do. Watching the sunset is one of the most popular attractions in Oia. If you time the hike in a way that allows you to catch the sunset at Oia, it would be the perfect way to end the adventure. Besides, one can also go to Ammoudi Bay, located at the tip of Santorini island and further northwest of Oia, for cliff jumping or dining at restaurants serving fresh seafood. Besides, there are various attractions in Oia, such as exploring the Oia Castle and the Blue Dome Church.

From Oia, there are regular buses that can take you back to Fira. These public buses connect Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia and commute between 30-60 minutes. You can also book a private vehicle or check with your hotel to commute back. If you are staying in Oia itself, then starting the walk from Fira is a better plan. You can take the bus or private transport in the afternoon to Fira and walk back in the evening to Oia. If you are staying in any other location, such as Fira or Imerovigli, you will have to plan to get back accordingly. One can also stay over the night at Oia.

The hike can also be done on different days if you have time. You can walk half of it one day, stay overnight, or come back the next day to complete it. This is especially a good idea if you are staying in Imerovigli. 

Best Time for Oia to Fira Hike

Fira, Santorini
July and August are the hottest months in Greece. Besides, summer begins from May to October, and hiking in the heat can get cumbersome. Spring is the best time to hike as the weather is pleasant, and one can also see flowers bloom along the walking path. If you choose to do the hike during summer, then you should try to start early as it gets hot by 11 AM. Besides, there is no shade on the hiking trail as well. Also, since the sunset at the Oia is a wonderful attraction, most people prefer starting out in the afternoon, around 2 PM or so from Fira to watch the sunset at Oia.

Ease Of The Hike

Children hiking
The Fira-Oia hike is relatively easy and manageable. Anyone with a healthy disposition can do the hike without much fuss. With moderate fitness, this hike is perfect for beginners. Children over the age of 7 do not have much trouble since the trail is safe and comfortable to walk on. However, for young children, the time or length of the hike may be an area of concern. Taking regular breaks and resting for short periods of time may work for children.

However, taking a baby stroller or someone in a wheelchair is not recommended. The streets and walkways are cobbled and rocky in some stretches, as well as narrow enough too.


  • Fira -Firostefani is probably the hike's busiest and most crowded section. To avoid crowds, you might consider leaving early in the morning, around 7 AM.
  • During the peak tourist season, the buses from Oia after sunset are usually full. To avoid the crowds, spend some time in Oia, checking out the town, having dinner at one of its many delectable restaurants, and simply hanging around and enjoying the experience. You can then catch a late bus which won’t be too crowded too. The last bus leaves around 10/10:30 PM. Check the bus schedule to be sure.
  • Also, during the peak season, it is a good idea to take a morning bus, travel to the other end, and then walk back to your place of stay.
  • It is best to carry whatever you need on the hike. However, there are shops that you will cross on the way. But during the off-season, some of these shops might be shut. Or if you choose to start early in the morning, the markets are closed.
  • The hike maps are available online; however, if you follow Google Maps, it directs you to the easy paths where the road forks. Following Google Maps strictly will restrict you from discovering some spectacular views.
  • There are professional guides for the hike as well. You can choose to hire a guide for the Caldera Walking Tour and learn interesting details about the architecture, flora, fauna, geography, etc., of the region. Hiring a guide is a good idea for solo travelers who want some company along the way.
  • During the peak season, which is usually from June to September, the buses from Oia and Fira are crowded in the evening. A good idea is to take a morning bus, travel to the other end, and then walk back to your place of stay.
  • Some great restaurants in Imerovigli and Firostefani serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One can definitely make a stop over at these.
  • Make sure to use the restroom wherever you can find one in cafes, restaurants, or shops in exchange for buying something. There is no public restroom on Fira to Oia Hike trail.

This post was published by Tasneem

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