The most spectacular walking trail on one of Greece’s most spectacular islands, the Fira to Oia hiking trail winds northwards past ancient churches, hilly vineyards and through cute, timeless white villages as well as passing along the rim of Santorini’s massive volcanic caldera.
Leaving Fira close to the cable-car station, the trail leads first to the cliff-side village of Firostefani and then on to the 17th-century Byzantine Monastery of St Nicholas, which holds a priceless collection of Orthodox icons. Next stop is the gorgeous, whitewashed Imerovigli, which has many blue-domed chapels and churches as well as plenty of tavernas and cafés with panoramas stretching across the Aegean Sea to the western side of the caldera, which forms the island of Thirassia.
Shortly after Imerovigli, there’s a truly breathtaking view out over the caldera and the azure waters of the Aegean at Skaros Rock. Heading onwards past two more white churches, the settlement of Oia hoves into view, with its sophisticated cafés, bars and restaurants string out along the clifftop.
The 6.75-mile (11-km) hike takes up to four hours and much longer with photo stops — expert photographers lead guided tours to all the best viewing points — and the well-marked route is easy to follow. The path is reasonably maintained but can be uneven and although it is not too taxing, it is steep in parts. Hiking in the middle of the day is manageable in spring and fall, but from June to early September it’s best to set off early in the morning or late afternoon, aiming to arrive in Oia for what is probably the most romantic sunset in the world.
It takes four hours to cover the 6.75-mile (11-km) walking route between the two villages. Wear sturdy shoes. Buses depart Oia for Fira regularly throughout the day.