Fira to Oia Hike: Complete Guide

Fira to Oia Hike: Complete Guide

The Fira to OIa hike (or Oia to Fira) is one of the most unforgettable experiences I have had in Santorini and in this complete guide I explain how to take the walk, it’s route, length, and marker posts, and give you all my tips on a brilliant day out.

Where is the Fira to Oia Hike?

Route Map of Fira to Oia Hike, Santorini
Route Map of Fira to Oia Hike, Santorini

Fira to Oia Hike Highlights

The walk can be taken from Fira or from Oia (or any point in between). The least difficult route, in terms of the least amount of uphill hiking, is to begin in Fira.

I am inherently lazy and this way had the most downhill walking and the least uphill walking! Some people jog this route, but they are better human beings than me!

The hike is 6.5 miles long (10.46 km) and takes you along the cliff-edge walking paths of all four of the main cliff-top villages of  Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia.

The hike can be as short as two hours, although we took three and stopped for a picnic along the way.

Path to skaros rock on santorini caldera cliff-top hike
Path to Skaros Rock on Santorini caldera cliff-top hike

It is not a difficult hike, with some of the paths through the villages being paved, cobblestones, wide steps and there are two sections when you are on a road.

The hike is signposted but so long as you stick to the cliff-edge as you walk through the villages, you won’t get lost. Just remember, if in doubt, walk as close to the sea as possible!

Occasionally construction work means a short detour takes you back from the cliff a street or two, but you are never far from the cliff-top path.

There is an optional add-on to the hike out to Skaros Rock. You will be rewarded with amazing views but it will add at least an hour to your itinerary.

This article may contain compensated links. Please read the disclaimer for more info.

The hike has three stages that I detail below. If you find that you’d rather be guided on this tour, I can recommend this 4.5 hour guided walk from Fira to Oia to catch the sunset. It includes a picnic at the Chapel of Profitis Illias. It’s a perfect way to end a perfect day on Santorini!

Read more about the sunset walk here

Stage 1: Fira and Firestefani

The hike conventionally begins at Hotel Atlantis in Fira at the southerly end of the cliff-top walkway. It heads north towards the gift shops, Skaros Rock and Oia.

Following the cliff-edge path along the caldera, you will leave Fira and continue north towards the next village, Firostefani.

When you pass the church in the picture below, you know you are leaving Fira.

Fira church on Santorini caldera Fira to Oia hike
Fira church on Santorini Caldera Fira to Oia hike

A short steep hike and you will be close to Firostefani where you can see signposts that reassure you that you are on the right path!

Signpost on Santorini caldera cliff-top hike from fira to oia
Signpost on Santorini Caldera cliff-top hike from Fira to Oia

You’ll go past (or can enter) Anastasi Church. You can also take the turnoff to Skaros Rock if you wish to add this beautiful section to your hike.

If you are spending a week in Santorini, you might consider making a separate trip to Skaros Rock.

Stage 2: Imerovigli and the Cliff-Edge Path

View to Imerovigli on Santorini caldera Cliff-top hike from fira to oia
View to Imerovigli on Santorini caldera Cliff-top hike from Fira to Oia

Walking through Imerovigli is a truly interesting part of the hike not just because of the views out to the caldera of the volcano, but also the architecture of these exclusive homes and hotels on the landward side of the path.

fira to oia hike around santorini caldera
View to Oia on Santorini caldera Cliff-top hike

The next section is my favorite. The road leaves Imerovigli and its beautiful small resorts behind and slowly climb towards the church of Ekklisia Profitis Ilias.

Wildflowers in a dozen colors sweep down the cliffs towards the boats far below. We stopped amongst these wildflowers for a picnic.

Hiking trail between Fira and Oia along the Santorini caldera, Greece

At the church of Ekklisia Profitis Ilias you have a choice: the more beautiful but more difficult path along the caldera, or the easier route on the eastern side of the church.

If you are unsteady on your feet or are with children then I suggest you take the easier route.

Church of Ekklisia Profitis Illias Santorini hike fira to oia
Church of Ekklisia Profitis Illias Santorini

There are only three places on the hike when you need to walk carefully, and this is one of those times. The views, the beauty, and the wildflowers will astound you.

Descending the steep slope to the Hotel Cavo Tagoo puts you onto the road for a few minutes before you begin the climb up towards the final peak before Oia.

The view is, of course, wonderful and I hope that knowing this is the last uphill section of your hike makes it possible for you to slow down and take in the truly magnificent scenery.

Stage 3: The Push to Oia

Oh, the relief at cresting the final hill and resting at the tiny church overlooking the descending path to Oia!

Church at peak of Fira to Oia hike overlooking Oia
Church at peak of Fira to Oia hike overlooking Oia

It’s windy up here! Key locks hang in the church on the peak and Thirassia can clearly be seen out to sea to the west but after more than 5 miles, I was ready to stop hiking!

Knowing there was a well-deserved drink waiting for me on a beautiful Oia terrace bar somehow soothed my aching calves and I bounded down the path towards the island’s most exquisite village.

The path of rough-hewn steps becomes a concrete path of wide steps beside the first homes as you enter Oia.

Final hill before descending to Oia on Santorini caldera cliff-top hike between fira and oia
Final hill before descending to Oia on the Santorini Caldera cliff-top hike

You shortly arrive at the market.

The hike ends here, or if you have not been to Oia before, you can continue to take the path along the caldera, through the shop-lined streets, past the cable car, and down the 300 steps to Ammoudi Bay.

This would make your hike a good 7 miles or more.

Of course, ending up in Oia is possibly one of the most magical spots you can imagine a hike ending and I had a second lunch of swordfish and beer to regain my strength for the bus ride back to Fira!

Who can take the Fira to Oia Hike?

Adolescents will likely find this hike a lot easier than adults, but it is not appropriate to bring strollers or pushchairs.

It is unfortunately not a hike that can be undertaken if you have significant mobility issues. Not all of the hike goes through the cliff-edge villages.

There are sections of the gravel paths that have a reasonable gradient and where the dirt scree can become loose and you can slide around a little on a particular downhill section.

The hike can be completed by people who are not reasonably fit – just take your time and enjoy the incredible views! And think how wonderful you are going to feel when you watch the sunset over a drink that evening!

There is a section of the hike that puts you on to the road between Fira and Oia at the Cavo Tagoo Hotel.

This comes after Imerovigli and just after the steepest downhill section of the hike where the gravel is a little loose.

If you’ve had enough at this stage – well, you are standing at a bus stop, so just wait a while and catch a bus into Oia!

Logistics and Essentials

  • The walk is most wonderful in the shoulder seasons and can become very hot and crowded during peak season. Of course, the same logic holds true for all of Santorini’s attractions!
  • The cruise boat passengers are also something to avoid if possible and so concluding your walk by about 10.30 in the morning is optimal in summer.
  • This is a great walk to do if you are arriving in Santorini by cruise ship because you can come ashore at either Fira or Oia and then return to the ship from the other village.
  • You must budget 5 hours to do this though, especially if you plan to take the cable car at Oia.
  • Choose a day without wind if at all possible. A hat will blow off most days! I used sunscreen and sunglasses but I have olive skin. If you are fair, find a way to make sure your hat can stay on your head.
  • I wore running shoes rather than hiking boots. On the sections of loose gravel on the hillsides, I wished I was wearing hiking boots! You can get by without them if you are planning a short trip and this is the most hiking that you will do.
  • You MUST take your camera!
  • Sunscreen – horrendously expensive in Santorini – pack some with you for this trip.
  • Most definitely take a snack and water. A picnic is perfect!
  •  It is important to note that there are NO toilets regularly open on this walk. There are two small cafes (if they are open) where you can buy water or a snack but no toilets.  I am opposed to water bottles as a general rule – the world has too much plastic.
  • However, reusable water bottles made from recycled plastics save us from creating new plastics and from having more plastic floating in the oceans around Santorini.
  • Such water bottles, if they are not too small, are very light-weight and are difficult to break, are important to pack when hiking and in hot climates.

Getting to and from the Fira to Oia Hike

  •  If you are staying in Fira, happy days, just head up to the cliff edge and start walking in the direction of Oia! If you are not staying in Fira, then bus and taxi are the most feasible options.
  • Taxis between the two can often cost as much as €30.
  • The bus system is not always on time but it is easy to navigate and cheap. You can download the current Santorini bus timetable here.