Detour for Summer 2019: There is currently some construction on the path near Firostefani. This creates a detour inland (away from the calder). It’s a little confusing but the construction area is very small so go inland a little bit and weave your away around it and get back on the caldera path as soon as possible. The detour is between Art of the Loom (in Fira) and Mama Thira Taverna in Firostefani. (Map below.)
I recently had someone tell me (and this person was a passionate hiker) that the Fira to Oia hike wasn’t just the best hike on Santorini. It was the best hike they’d ever done in their life. Be prepared for awesome.
The hike between Fira and Oia follows the rim of the caldera. The views are stunning.
Caldera Walking Tour – The walk from Fira to Oia is incredible and this tour makes it even better. (3 to 5 hours)
Santorini Food & Walking Tour – Start in Firostefani and walk downhill to Fira with at least 7 stops for street food, local beer, wine, raki, Santorini cheeses, cold cuts, olive oil, bakery treats and traditional sweets. (4 hours)
Customized Walking Tours – Arrange private walking tours of Oia, small traditional villages, or the south coast beaches. (Expensive)
Update: Detour Map Between Fira and Firostefani
There is currently construction on the path just north of Fira. You’ll need to walk inland for a short stretch to get around the obstruction. Walking north (from Fira) you need to turn right (away from the caldera) at the Art of the Loom Gallery, then left when you see signs for Ceramic Art Studio, then follow the path to the right of the Ceramic Art Studio, then a left and a right, and eventually, through a gate. Then through the parking lot of the Santorini Palace hotel and a left towards Mama Thira Taverna just after the hotel to get you back on the caldera path. Coming form Oia is the opposite: left at Mama Thira, right towards Santorini Palace Hotel, through a gate in the parking lot and eventually past the Ceramic Art Studio. Take a right back towards the caldera path once you can see water again. Yes, it’s confusing and this is far from a great explanation. But with a little patience you’ll figure it out.
The Fira to Oia Hike
The Fira-Oia Hike is a highlight of visiting Santorini. It takes you along the caldera cliff and through the villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia.
The hike takes between 2 and 5 hours depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop. If you do a side trip to Skaros Rock it will add at least an hour.
The hiking trail from Fira to Oia is just under 10.5km (6.5 miles). Part of the path is similar to a sidewalk, parts are cobblestone, and parts are a dirt path. There is a good climb in both directions.
Elevation along the route: Oia 130 meters; Imerovigli 350 meters (the highest point on the hike); Fira 270 meters. These elevations are a little deceiving. The climb from Oia to Imerovigli is long and gradual so you don’t notice it as much. The climb from Fira to Imerovigli is short and steep.
Best Fira-Oia Walking Tour: Fira to Oia: Caldera Walking Tour – Starts from Fira and takes you on the most scenic route to Oia. They do hotel pickup and drop off. You don’t have to do a tour (it’s fairly easy to figure out the route on your own) but doing one will likely make it more rewarding, interesting, and memorable.
In summer, start early. It gets hot by 11am.
Buy water the day before as there won’t be much open if you start early in the morning. There are places to buy drinks along the way but it’s much easier to begin the trip with water and not have to worry about finding an open market.
Most 7 year-olds would have no trouble completing the walk in terms of difficulty (i.e. the quality of the path) but it is a very long walk for anyone under 10.
Do not take a baby stroller on the hike.
A very strong mountain biker could do the route on bike but it’s not meant for cyclists, there are few bike rentals on Santorini, and it would be disruptive to those on foot even if you had your own bike. Basically, no you can’t do the trail on a bike.
It’s easy to get a little lost on the walk. But it’s hard to get really lost. Most of the time you can see the next town or landmark up ahead on the caldera cliff and if you’re walking in that direction you’re going to get there (eventually).
There are small shops to buy water and snacks in Firostefani and Imerovigli (assuming they’ve opened for the day).
Between Imerovigli and Oia there are two shops/cafes but they aren’t always open.
From June to September return buses between Oia and Fira will be busy in the afternoon and taxis difficult to find. A good option is to grab a taxi or take a bus in the morning (before your walk starts) and then walk back to your starting point.
If you enter “Fira to Oia” into Google Maps and then click the walk icon, the route you get will take the most direct route that misses some of the best views. If you’re walking on the road (with cars) you’re doing it wrong. You should be on a footpath almost all of the way. The main exception is between Oia and Imerovigli when you need to walk along the road for a short stretch.
If you’re on a cruise and want to do the Fira-Oia hike: You’ll be tendered ashore at the old port below Fira and then you’ll either walk up or cable car up to Fira. From there you can just start walking as you’re already on the main path. When you get to Oia you can either bus or taxi back to Fira, and then back down by foot or cable car to the port to return to your ship. You’ll need at least 5 hours on shore to do the hike.
Good restaurants to stop at on the Fira to Oia walk are Avocado in Imerovigli (open lunch and dinner) and Cafe Galini in Firostefani (open breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
Map of Fira-Oia Hike
Fira To Oia Walk – Tips
The “start” of the path begins in the square beside Hotel Atlantis in Fira.
Then start walking north. You might make a few wrong turns as you try to get out of Fira. But there are a couple of signs and you’ll figure it out. (In general, go up, not down, as you’re starting out from Fira.) Keep moving north towards Skaros Rock (the big hump of rock you see there to the left).
This is the main square/main street of Fira. If you use Google Maps it might start you from this spot and send you walking north along the main road. But you don’t want to be here. You want to be on the caldera footpath 100 meters to the west.
The path out of Fira starts with a steep climb before you reach the next village (Firostefani), then it levels out for a bit.
As you turn the corner that marks the divide between Fira and Firostefani, you can now see Skaros Rock clearly, and Oia in the far distance.
There are often a few fruit sellers along the way. This one is in Firostefani.
Direction posts in Firostefani showing the distances south to Fira (10 minutes) and north to Imerovigli (15 minutes) and Oia (2 hours, 45 minutes).
In Imerovigli there is a fork in the path at Blue Note restaurant. The signs will encourage you to go to the right. This is a less scenic route that goes through town. Go this way if you need water or snacks from a market. But go left for caldera views, 5 star hotels, and an (optional) visit to Skaros Rock.
If you go right you’ll come upon some makeshift directions that point you into town. These are probably made by shop owners who want walkers to go through town and spend money.
When you turn left (at Blue Note) you’ll see the Church of Anastasi. Walk onto the patio area for great views then continue to the right to keep going to Skaros Rock and Oia.
Skaros Rock. It’s a beautiful walk out to Skaros Rock but this will add at least an hour to your hike (and lots of steps up and down). Getting out there and back to the path is farther than it looks.
If you do decide to go to Skaros Rock this is where you turn off (down to the left). Stay to the right to continue to Oia. This is the only access path for Skaros Rock so you’d take this one even if walking Oia to Fira.
The walk out to Skaros Rock.
The view of Imerovigli looking back towards the village from Skaros Rock.
The view of Oia from Skaros Rock (looking north).
The view of Fira from Skaros Rock (looking south).
The path as you continue north through Imerovigli (after the turn-off for Skaros Rock). Here you’ll pass some of the top hotels on the island: Grace, Astra, Tholos, Kapari, and Sophia Suites.
If you’re walking from Oia to Fira this is the route that takes you to Skaros Rock (as you enter Imerovigli from the north) and is more scenic. If you want to visit a market (for water, snacks) in Imerovigli take the path to the left of Avaton hotel and not this one that sticks to the caldera.
The same fork in the path (as above) but back a little bit. Go left to enter Imerovigli and find a market or restaurant. Go right to get the best views and/or visit Skaros Rock.
The path as you leave Imerovigli heading north towards Oia.
Oia is visible in the distance but it’s still a good hour’s walk away.
The path passes a handful of hotels as it leaves Imerovigli. This is West East hotel.
The bus stop beside Cavo Tagoo hotel (about 15 minutes walk north of Imerovigli). Get off here if you want to do a shorter walk. This is roughly half-way between Oia and Fira and you can walk south towards Fira (1 hour or more), or north towards Oia (75 minutes or more).
The path in this section is actually a small road as you pass the hotels (West-East, Rocabella, Cavo Tagoo, Santorini Princess) of northern Imerovigli.
Looking back (south) towards Imerovigli and Skaros Rock as we’re moving north.
And a little farther as the road turns to gravel and then to a path.
Cafe Monopati beside Pantheon Villas. Usually open but I wouldn’t count on it.
The route keeps going to Oia. To the left, there is a detour to the small Church of San Antonio down the cliff.
As you approach the church of Ekklisia Profitis Ilias there is a fork in the path. The left side sticks close to the caldera. The path along the caldera is a little trickier while the right side is a better quality path but less scenic. If you have young kids do the less scenic route. There is an unmarked washroom at the church but it’s often locked so don’t count on it.
The route to Oia when you take the caldera-side of the fork.
The caldera side of the fork is much more scenic but the path is tricky with lots of loose gravel.
The view as you descend on the caldera side above San Antonio and Aenaon hotel.
If you’re walking Oia to Fira: This is the fork (in front of San Antonio hotel) between the two paths as you approach from Oia. To the left is the easier, better quality path. To the right is the trickier more-scenic path along the caldera.
There is a 5 minute stretch from San Antonio hotel to the snack shop (below) where there is no path and you’ll need to walk on the road. It feels a little risky but locals know to look out for walkers. Just be quick. In the morning it’s usually very quiet.
There is a snack shop (not always open) as you rejoin the path and leave the road-portion of the walk behind. Oia is up that winding path to the left.
The path goes up again as you get closer to Oia.
To the left of Oia is the island of Thirassia.
Then back down as Oia comes into view. Almost there!
Entering Oia and heading towards town.
If you’re walking from Oia to Fira this is where the path really begins – take the footpath to the right of the market and walk along the caldera. If you’re walking from Fira to Oia this is the first market you’ll come upon as you enter Oia.
There is a small stretch as you enter Oia where there is no path and you’ll need to walk on the road for a minute or two. Traffic moves slowly here, so not a big concern.
Lioyerma pool in Oia. A good place to finish the walk. You can use the pool as long as you buy a drink or some food. Also has great sunset views.
The view of Imerovigli from Oia, with Fira the clump of white buildings to the far right. It’s a good feeling knowing you just walked that entire way.
Meteor Cafe is a good stop for drinks and snacks. Sit here and look out on the caldera. You’ll have a pretty good view of your entire route along the caldera edge.
Keep walking through Oia and descend to Ammoudi Bay where you’ll find 4 or 5 really good seafood restaurants. After you eat, restaurant staff will call a taxi for you that will take you all the way back to Fira.
If you turn to the left (from the Ammoudi Bay restaurants) and walk along the sea path for 5 minutes you’ll arrive at a great swimming spot where you can jump from the ledges. Super refreshing after a long walk. Imerovigli is visible in the distance.