1. FIRA TO OIA (VIA FIROSTEFANI AND IMEROVIGLI)
Distance: 10 km Time: 3 – 4 hours
There’s a good reason this hike is the most talked about trek in Santorini: it is absolutely incredible, and offers a real taste of the Aegean experience. The trail starts in the picturesque port of Fira, and follows the rim of the caldera to Oia at the tip of Santorini, passing the historic sights of Firostefani and Imerovigli on the way.
The hike includes spectacular, cliff-top walking with the sparkling, azure Aegean sea stretching for miles before your eyes—if you’re going to hike in Santorini, this one is not to be missed.
Start off at the Archeological Centre in Fira and head northwest toward Firostefani and the Church of Saint Gerasimos. While there are often many tourists to start, most stop fairly early and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded only by the splendour of Santorini.
Follow the inland road through the village of Firostefani; you will pass the Covent of Saint Nicholas, a remarkable monument, and continue through Imerovigli, enjoying the astonishing views of the famous Skaros rock (if you’re feeling adventurous, its an exciting climb offering some of the finest views). The Skaros Restaurant in Imerovigli is ideal for a gourmet break.
Continue north past the Chapel of Saint Antony and the Chapel of Prophet Elias (both worth a visit and make for a well-deserved break with mesmerising vistas of Thirasia and the Caldera), along a short stretch of road and the dry stone walls until your reach the picturesque sight of Oia.
2. NEA KAMENI VOLCANO & HOT SPRINGS
This is a hike that combines many of the most exciting elements of Santorini: sailing, the volcano, the hot-springs, the views.
Starting from Fira, take the switch-backing path down the cliff to the Old Port (save taking the cable car for the way back up), a place of beauty and charm where you can hop aboard a boat tour that will take you across the Caldera to the volcano on Nea Kameni.
A spectacular hike up over this dormant mountain is moderately challenging but worth the effort for the breathtaking views. It takes at least 20 mins to get up to the edge of the volcano and feel the sulphurous heat from the underground steam vents. The path is rough and ready, so flipflops are best avoided.
Back on the boat, you will circle around to the other side of the volcano, where you weary legs will relish a chance to soak in the thermal hot-springs at Palia Kameni before looping back to Fira.
The cable car—or, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can ride a donkey—is a great way to look back at the sunset over the twinkling Mediterranean sea.
For a unique and astonishing look at Santorini and a chance to completely escape the tourist bustle, a hike of Thirasia is ideal. Nearly deserted, but for a few locals, Santorini’s island neighbour, Thirasia, has all of Santorini’s natural splendour without the crowd.
A ferry running from Oia to Thirasia three times a day (and costs only €1) makes for an easy island hop. Once on Thirasia, strike out up the hill—the path is hard to miss. It’s steep in places, but every time you turn around, the glorious views of Santorini across the deep blue of the Caldera get more and more astonishing.
From the ancient monastery at the top, the Aegean seascape spreads out around you in a full 360º panorama that will take your breath away. Remember to pack water and and food for this hike though, as this sparsely populated island has none of Santorini’s many restaurants or supermarkets.