When my wife and I visited Santorini, we knew that along with ample beach side lounging and consuming as much feta cheese as possible, we wanted to traverse the famous Fira to Oia Hike (also known as the Oia to Fira Hike, as it can go either way). The route takes hikers along the caldera, that is, the moon-shaped volcanic crater filled by the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Santorini. And we can definitely say it was so worth it. The natural beauty and classic island architecture at every turn were dazzling. So if you’re interested in this Santorini walkabout, here are all of your questions on the excursion answered.
HOW DIFFICULT (AND LONG) IS THE OIA TO FIRA HIKE?
At about ten kilometers (about 6 miles), the hike itself isn’t necessarily difficult, but it’s not a walk through the park—literally, this is not a state or national park, and there is not much park or picnic space along the route. That said, the paths are clear and well-maintained. You’ll ramble along some easier walking paths, winding past luxury hotels with infinity pools and couples eating breakfast. And you’ll trudge up steeper, dustier pathways that, at least for us, required a long water break at the top.
Luckily, plenty of photo stops along the way let you catch your breath and swap iPhones with other hikers for portrait-mode pics. Locals will jog or run the entire path, and some ambitious travelers will hike the trail both ways. One way was enough for us, and took about three hours, with stops, until we could plop down and stuff our faces with Greek yogurt and pastries.
What do I need to bring on the hike?
We were told to bring water, because there wouldn’t be any to replenish our bottles with on the way, which is mostly true, but there was a stand selling glasses (like, literally, glasses) of fresh-pressed juice and other beverages, and at no part of the hike are you that far from civilization that you couldn't run into a hotel for an emergency water break, but still, pack more water than you think you’ll drink.
When should we start the hike?
When my wife and I did this hike in August, we left around 7:30 a.m., as it’s advised to go as close to sunrise as possible to avoid the midday heat. We started from Oia, so the picturesque blue and white buildings were behind us—the perk of starting here in the morning was that the small town, which can pack in over 15,000 tourists on any given summer day, was nearly empty, and we could enjoy the iconic architecture in peace. If you start from Fira, you’ll arrive in Oia once it’s packed, but you’ll be hiking toward the blue-and-white-domed rooftops.
How do you get back?
We knew transportation was waiting for us at the end of the hike (ya know, so we didn’t have to walk back), but you can also can take a bus or taxi early in the morning to the opposite end of the hike and walk back toward where you’re staying, where you can immediately change into your swimsuit and jump in the pool.