The hike from Fira to Oia in Santorini, Greece, is considered amongst the best things to do on the island. But is that really the case?
The Fira to Oia hike takes you through the most iconic towns of Santorini, with their perched white houses, dramatic black cliffs, and sweeping caldera views. There is no denying that the landscape is stunning.
In this article I have outlined everything you need to know about hiking from Fira to Oia, including a map of the route, hike specifications, what the terrain is like, what to expect, what to pack and more.
It’s possibly the most complete guide on hiking from Fira to Oia (or vice versa) that you’ll find online! I also included my personal thoughts about whether it’s worth doing the whole hike or not.
So what are you waiting for, let’s dive in and discover everything you need to know for this famous Santorini hike!
- 1 Essential info about the walk from Fira to Oia
- 2 Fira to Oia hike map and route
- 3 Should you do a guided hike to Oia?
- 4 How long does it take to do the Fira to Oia hike
- 5 Best time to do the Oia to Fira hike
- 6 What you need to hike from Oia to Fira
- 7 Our experience hiking from Fira to Oia
- 8 Is the Fira to Oia hike worth it?
- 9 Where to stay to do the Fira to Oia walk
Essential info about the walk from Fira to Oia
In total, the hike from Fira to Oia stretches for about 10.5 kilometres (around 6.5 miles). It can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours, depending on how fast you’re hiking.
Of course, if you’re stopping off along the way to take pictures, or for a much-needed water break, then it can take up a good portion of the day.
The terrain is varied along the way – pavements, cobbles, and dirt tracks – and passes through four towns in total.
Starting at Fira (around 270 metres in elevation), you’ll then go up via Firostefani to Imerovigli (350 metres, the highest part of the route), before you head on down to Oia (130 metres).
It’s straightforward, but the climb can be moderately challenging especially if the weather is warm. After Imerovigli, the path is a little more difficult, with volcanic rocks and a bit of slipperiness here and there.
However getting lost is really difficult, as the path is easy to follow and there are signs to point you in the right direction.
Also note that, if you wanted to, you could switch the route around and do an Oia to Fira hike instead, but the climb would be more intense that way around.
Fira to Oia hike map and route
Because this is a linear hike, you can start in either Oia or Fira, but the “classic” route goes from Fira to Oia instead. It’s more scenic this way, plus the other way would be more challenging in the summer heat.
Note the official starting point is next to the Atlantis Hotel in Fira, but you can start anywhere along the coast if you decided to.
The route is easy to follow, all you need to do really is follow the road that’s closest to the caldera. Along the way you’ll stumble across various sights, and pass through a couple of towns I’ve already mentioned.
Should you do a guided hike to Oia?
If you don’t fancy hiking alone, you can also join a guided caldera hike in Santorini. This tour lasts around five hours, and will take you to all the most iconic spots along the Fira to Oia hike.
You will have a local guide with you for the whole hike, which besides ensuring you don’t get lost, will share with you interesting facts about the local flora, fauna and history.
Personally, I don’t think it’s essential to do a guided hike, since the trail is pretty easy to follow independently. The trail was also very trafficked when we did it, which feels quite safe even if you’re hiking alone.
That said, if you’re a solo traveller and prefer to have some company on the trail, it’s also a great way to meet other fellow hikers.
How long does it take to do the Fira to Oia hike
Generally speaking, the hike can take anywhere from two hours (if you’re super quick) to around five hours.
Then again, it can take as long as you want it to take. The speed you walk the hike from Fira to Oia depends on your fitness level, how often you stop, and whether or not you’re hiking with children.
It took us 3.5 hours to hike from Fira to Oia, mainly because the views were so good we stopped loads of times to take pictures.
Best time to do the Oia to Fira hike
If you’re hiking Fira to Oia in summer, definitely start early in the morning. It gets super-hot as the day goes on, and by 11AM it’s already extremely hot.
Don’t start mid-morning like I did: we started around 10AM and there’s basically no shade, so by the time we reached Oia (around 1:30PM) it felt as though we were about to get heat stroke!
What you need to hike from Oia to Fira
Trainers – It won’t seem like actual trainers are necessary at first, but trust me, once you get to the gravelly section of the trail (the second half) you’ll be glad you’re wearing them.
Water bottle – Essential. It gets super hot and the risk of dehydration is not worth it.
Hat – There’s almost no shade so having a hat really pays off
Sun block – Again, no shade. Sunburn is not fun (and dangerous)
Camera – It’s such a picturesque walk that you’ll find it hard to not take pictures of almost everything you see!
Basically, take what you’d usually take hiking, depending on the season.
If you do forget something it’s not such a big deal as you’ll be passing through a couple of towns with shops, but it might throw off your rhythm.
Other than that, you can also stop off to buy water and snacks from cafes and local stores.
Our experience hiking from Fira to Oia
The first section of the hike is arguably the most beautiful.
As you walk up from Fira to Firostefani (basically a part of Fira, just slightly higher), you’ll head north, and you’ll have an opportunity to see all these wonderful, picture-perfect spots of Santorini.
Note that this is the busiest part of the hike, so you’ll probably be walking through crowds of other tourists.
If you want to avoid the crowds – and that dreaded heat – then I really recommend starting as early as you feel you can (around 7AM – 8AM would be ok).
Continuing on to Imerovigli, you’ll have the chance to explore the town a bit if you want, finding your own route through the small streets. The view from here back to Fira is pretty spectacular.
Imerovigli was my personal favourite part of the hike. It felt even more picturesque than Fira, without the huge tourist crowds and shops. The views of the caldera were also more beautiful.
It’s easy to see why many couples choose it as the best area to stay in Santorini. With its tranquil vibe and amazing views, it’s the perfect honeymoon spot.
After this, it’s the gravelly section along the cliffs. It’s dramatic, but not exactly as beautiful as the first section of the hike.
The landscape is kind of barren, but quite impressive, too, with the white towns in the distance. Go in spring and you’ll see flowers blooming along the way, which makes it even more stunning.
There is no shade anywhere along the trail, so don’t forget to pack a hat!
Once you reach the end of the “wild” section of the trail, you will have arrived in Oia! This picturesque white town is amongst the most famous in Greece, if not the world, and it’s easy to see why.
There’s plenty to see and do here. You can spend a bit of time wandering around, discovering the cute streets and iconic viewpoints, like the one over the Blue Dome Church and from Oia Castle.
You’ll probably be a bit tired from the hike when you arrive, so I recommend taking some time to sit in the shade, cool down, and then venture out walking around Oia again, it’s well worth it!
I’d recommend sticking around for sunset if you don’t mind being out all day, as going back to your hotel (for a chill, a shower, etc.) and then coming out again is a bit of a time sink.
After the morning hike, you can spend the afternoon exploring the town, maybe going down to Amoudi Bay, and wait for sunset time to arrive.
Sunset in Oia is one of the most popular things to do on the island, meaning you can expect huge crowds. Grab some drinks, snacks and find yourself a spot to sit and wait for the sun to go down.
Make sure to stick around till well after the sunset in Oia. Not only is it more magical (since all the group tours leave) but it will also be easier to get a bus or taxi back to Fira later, after the crowds have left.
Is the Fira to Oia hike worth it?
If you like hiking, yes. It’s fun and the scenery is beautiful.
If you’re not into hiking, then perhaps not; the scenery isn’t so stunning that hiking from Fira to Oia is a must-do thing, regardless of how many days you have in Santorini.
The highlights of the hike are the towns with their iconic white houses, so it’s perfectly fine to see Fira, Imerovigli and Oia simply by catching the public bus and then walking around.
The long stretch from Imerovigli to Oia is cool to see, but after a while of walking under the sun and seeing the same black cliffs, it can get repetitive.
If you’re not hiking fan and don’t feel like walking in the heat of summer, you can skip the hike and just explore the towns. For those who don’t want to hike alone, you can always join a guided hike.
Where to stay to do the Fira to Oia walk
There isn’t a single best place to stay in Santorini to do the Fira to Oia hike. As you might guess, staying in Fira or Oia simplifies things, but it’s not essential.
You could also stay in one of the other towns on the island, and then travel to Fira with the public bus and start the hike there.
Budget – Porto Castello: This place is the ideal base for your budget travel needs. Centrally located, it’s a family-run property with an outdoor pool and free breakfast every morning.
Mid-range – Caldera View Apartment: The name says it all: the views across the caldera from this old-world villa are completely mesmerising.
Luxury – Kalisti Hotel and Suites: Perfectly located very close to the main street of Fira, this hotel has rooms with private plunge pools, while the staff are professional and super friendly.
Budget – Vrachia Studios & Apartments: Oia isn’t famous for its budget options, but this apartment is one of the few. The accommodation itself may be on the modest side, but the views are still great.
Mid-range – White Cave Villas: Here you’ll find a selection of guest rooms in a cave-style setting. Think white-washed walls and curving ceilings, glistening turquoise pools and incredible views.
Luxury – Abyss Oia: Looking for luxury in Oia? Look no further than Abyss. Each room here has been carefully curated for ultimate luxury, and many have their own private pools.
Budget – Alexandra Hotel: This charming hotel is located just a five-minute walk from Kamari Beach itself, offers rooms with a private balcony or garden, and a daily breakfast buffet.
Mid-range – Smy Mediterranean White: If you want to treat yourself without breaking the bank, here you can do so. From double rooms with private balconies to suites with private pools, there’s something for everyone.
Luxury – Santorini Kastelli Resort: Tucked away down a secluded street, but still only two minutes from the beach, this five-star resort boasts two swimming pools, a spa and a poolside bar and restaurant.
Final thoughts on hiking from Oia to Thira, Santorini
There you have it, the ultimate guide to hiking from Fira to Oia in Santorini, Greece! Have you ever been to Santorini? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!
Santorini is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and on the island Fira and Oia are the two most popular towns. It’s only natural that you’ll want to add them to your Santorini itinerary.
Now, should you be hiking between the two towns? Only you can give that answer.
Before travelling to Santorini I kept seeing the Fira to Oia hike as a “must” on every Santorini blog post, so obviously I felt like I had to do it.
Having done it, I can say that while it’s undeniably beautiful, the stretch from Imerovigli to Oia is very long, repetitive and hot.
Unless you’re a hardcore hiking fan, you don’t really have to do it to enjoy the island, you can go for a caldera boat tour instead.
And when it comes to the hike, just stick to wandering around the towns, which are the prettier sections of the trail anyway, and then take the public bus or hire a car to get from Oia to Fira.
On the other hand, if you love hiking and want to make the most of these iconic black cliffs and the caldera views, you’ll enjoy doing the full hike.
I hope you find this Fira to Oia (or vice versa) hike guide useful in planning your own hike! If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!