Santorini is dotted with scenic hiking trails, many of which provide an uncrowded view of this picture-worthy Cycladic isle. Stroll along cobblestone streets past quaint towns, through lush vineyards, or atop an active volcano. The following trails will take you step by step through the island's breathtaking landscapes and rich history, whether you prefer a strenuous or more leisurely stroll.
1. Fira to Oia
The section of trail between Oia and Fira is ideal for hikers of all skill levels. This is the most well-known trail in Santorini. You can explore the traditional villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli while strolling along the caldera rim in Fira town, starting at the old port and admiring the vast Aegean. Admire Imerovigli's fortress-topped Skaros Rock, the blue-crowned Church of Saint Gerasimos in Firostefani, and the opulent beauty of Fira. Continue north through paved alleyways, white-blue chapels, and views of the caldera until you see the delightful village of Oia.
This trail leads up to the Prophet Elias Monastery, which sits at the highest point on the island at the height of 567 metres, from the ancient town of Pyrgos, which served as the island's previous capital. The trail begins close to the Agios Apostolous church, and behind the church is a path that ascends. Follow that path, which can be quite rocky in spots and ultimately connect with a dirt road that climbs the mountain. That road can now be followed, and it will lead you right to the monastery. From the monastery, you can enjoy stunning views of the entire island of Santorini. This serene spot offers panoramic views of the entire island and delicious dishes prepared by the monks.
Difficulty: Easy Time: 1.5-2 hours Length: 1.6kms
3. Megalochori to the Thermal Baths of Plaka
Megalochori is one of Santorini's most authentic villages, with breathtaking volcano views and a long history in the production of Vinsanto wine. It is home to lush vineyards, neoclassical mansions, and cave houses that once served as cover from pirates. Follow the downhill path on the caldera side past the elaborate chapels to reach the former Plaka thermal baths. Along with the thermal baths, there are still some cave homes and a few buildings down there. A pleasant and serene route with stunning caldera views that is away from the crowds. This really is a one-of-a-kind sight because there aren't many beaches on this side of the island.
Difficulty: Easy Time: 1.5-2 hours Length: 3.2kms
4. Akrotiri to Balos Cove
Discover a prehistoric town known as the Greek Pompeii that was buried beneath volcanic ash in the 17th century BCE by beginning this hike from the Bronze Age archaeological site at Akrotiri. The majority of it was eventually uncovered during the excavations that were conducted in the late 1960s. The Minoans, a Cycladic Bronze Age civilization, once resided in the prehistoric town before it was destroyed by a catastrophic volcanic eruption. The path to Balos Beach is a little difficult, but the spectacular rocky landscape is well worth the effort. Don't forget to explore the village's tiny churches before heading to Balos Beach.
Nea Kameni, one of the two rocky islets in the caldera's centre, is rich in volcanic details. On this semi-circular route, you'll walk through craters left over from eruptions and through a landscape largely devoid of vegetation. To get to Nea Kameni, the islet formed by a volcanic eruption in 1573, board a boat at Fira's old port. When you get there, hike all the way to the volcano's rim. The destination is the island's highest point, the crater, which is about 300 feet above sea level. The crater gives off a sulphurous heat that you can feel. Wear appropriate footwear rather than flip-flops because the hike is tough and the ground is warm.
The well-preserved ruins of Ancient Thera, which were inhabited from the ninth century BCE until the year 726 CE, can be found on top of Mesa Vouno mountain. These include a theatre, cemeteries, markets, pagan temples, Christian churches, and baths. Enjoy the history before making your way to Perissa Beach, which will reward you with views over the cliff as you descend. Perissa's dramatic black sand and pebbles are perfect for relaxing after a hike or engaging in water sports in crystal-clear waters.
Difficulty: Easy Time: 1-2 hours Length: 3.2kms
7. Perissa Beach to Agios Georgios Beach
Santorini's three most popular beaches are Perissa, Perivolos, and Agios Georgios, making this wonderful seaside stroll literally enjoyable for the whole family. The promenade initially follows the southeast coast in an almost perfectly straight diagonal. Long stretches of trees that offer much-needed shade during the day's heat can be found along the path, mostly made of stones of the local colour. Wear your swimsuit and cool off whenever the mood strikes in the crystal-clear waters. Numerous cafes, tavernas, and beach clubs line the shore, so you could easily make this walk an all-day event by stopping for refreshing breaks along the way. When your gaze leaves the deep blue water, the eroded brown cliffs and hills offer a beautiful contrast.
Difficulty: Easy Time: 1-2 hours Length: 3.2kms
8. Oia to Amoudi Bay via Castle of Oia
From the heart of Oia, you can easily hike down to the picturesque Amoudi Bay at the base of the cliff. You will stop at the ruins of the Castle of Oia (also known as Fort Londsa), constructed in the Renaissance era, to deter pirates. One of the highlights is swimming in the bay itself because it's a great and refreshing place to take a bath. The path to the castle and the bay are well marked. This trail is frequently used by donkeys, so keep an eye out for them and be careful not to slip over any droppings!
Difficulty: Easy Time: 1-1.5 hours Length: 2kms
9. Imerovigli to Skaros Rock
This quick hike leads to the noteworthy Skaros Rock and begins at Agios Giorgios Church in the charming village of Imerovigli. Despite being a short trail, getting to the rock's base requires climbing more than 300 steps, which can be strenuous. But from there, you can see Nea Kameni and the island of Therasia with breathtaking clarity. You can attempt to climb the rock if you're adventurous; the payoff is an amazing 360-degree view of the island. There is a crevice to use and places that can be used as hand and footholds, but climbing it won't be simply because you'll have to scale a rock face several metres high.
Tip: The sunsets at Skaros Rock are the best on the island, so it's worth coming here in the early evening. Difficulty: Easy Time: 1-1.5 hours Length: 1.6kms
10. Kamari to Ancient Thera
The Kamari to Ancient Thera hike is a back trail that offers hikers distinctive scenery and viewpoints that are not frequently seen by other island visitors. From the town of Kamari, the route ascends along Mesa Vouno Mountain's northeastern slope and through the Mesa Vouno Pass. The ruins of Ancient Thera are of a 9th-century settlement. Due to the natural protection, it provided from two small mountains and a ridge, and the Spartans built this, the second-most significant archaeological site in Santorini. It had previously served as an Egyptian naval base. The site opens at 8:30 a.m., so try to go early before the sun gets too hot. With views of Kamari and Perissa from both sides, the hike winds through Sellada, an ancient cemetery. The hike is moderately difficult because it is exposed openly and has little shade. It is well-marked and accessible all year long.
From the interior of the island's charming mediaeval village of Pyrgos, take a hike to Kamari. Starting on Pyrgos' cobblestoned streets, this trail continues onto a tarmac road and then continues with more cobblestones. It passes by the 1711-constructed Profitis Ilias Monastery and the Ancient Cemetery of Thira, which served as a haven for Thireans during pirate attacks. You can also visit the ruins of the Apollo Karneios Temple in Ancient Thira. The hike comes to an end at Kamari Beach, where you can cool off in the water as a reward!
The trail starts to the southwest of Pyrgos. As you go on, the field gets cleaner, and the path winds downhill with a lovely view. The trail meanders between two tall stone walls before descending more fiercely to the upper section of the old Emporio after meeting with a dirt road. Continue downhill after you leave the mediaeval village, passing by the cave homes. Spend a brief moment exploring the stunning structures that are still standing. When the path reaches the Castle of Emporio, it gradually turns into a concrete road. The trail comes to an end in the village square after you turn off the road and travel through the fortified settlement's cobblestone pathways.
Difficulty: Easy Time: 1-2 hours Length: 2.6kms
13. Faros to Akrotiri
There is a short tarmac path leading from Faros lighthouse to Mesa Pigadia beach. A faint path leads up to the dirt road to Kambia at Mesa Pigadia, meandering along a terraced slope. Leave the dirt road on your way and take the old path that descends to the Kambia before you reach the chapel of the Archangel. The path ends close to the beach and crosses over a shepherd's station. The trail then crosses the shoreline beneath the volcanic cliffs, which is where the interesting part of the route starts. The sights are captivating, and the destination is even more breathtaking. After crossing the east part of the Kambia beach, follow a clear path that straddles a cliff and reaches the westernmost end of the Red Beach in Akrotiri.
Difficulty: Easy Time: 2-3 hours Length: 8kms
Tips for Hiking in Santorini
In the summer, it can be difficult to find water if you're not in the major cities, so make sure you carry enough.
Bring protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen because the numerous expanses of Santorini resemble desert isles and are ravaged by the sun all day.
Routes up and down the caldera cliffs can be dangerous, and trails are frequently rocky and unstable. It is essential to wear sturdy footwear.
Sometimes routes and trails are poorly marked, if at all. Take your time, keep track of your location, and keep an eye out for the right path to avoid taking a less pleasurable excursion.