The mountainous terrain of Greece easily makes it a hiker’s paradise. With scenic trails, picturesque roads, and ancient pathways, the peninsular country is a dream for those who enjoy exploring by foot. Travellers are spoilt with options from climbing the mountain of the gods, Mount Olympus, to walking on shepherd’s trails to trekking in unmarked trails to finding their way in small islands with cobbled paths that date back to the Byzantine times.
The island capital, Santorini, is bursting with mesmerising natural beauty that it may as well be a life-size painting. With a mix of picturesque cliffs, turquoise seas, and charismatic towns, it is a dream destination for travellers all over the world. This is true especially for wanderers with a knack for hiking.
On the western part of Santorini is a cliff that gazes into a partly sunken caldera. Each town on the side of the caldera has something special to offer. Fira is considered the island’s hub as it hosts the most shops, cafes, restaurants and clubs. Firostefani, just a stone’s throw away from Fira, is a quieter town. Imerovigli features the best views in Santorini. And lastly, the dreamy Oia, which is reputed to have the most stunning sunset in the world.
Walking along the caldera can easily make one appreciate how incredibly scenic the island of Santorini is. The hiking path from Fira all the way up to Oia rewards travellers with a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the volcano and the Aegean Sea. For this magical experience, the ten-kilometer hike that could take up to four hours is definitely worth taking.
The journey begins from the capital of the island, Thira. Heading north, travellers will come across the Orthodox Metropolitan Church and the central shopping street of Fira. The beautiful cathedral, built in 1827 and later on renovated in 1956, has a wonderful mosaic and impressive bell tower that can be seen on its exterior. The walk along Fira provides an impressive view of the vast sea. This makes it a great spot for taking photographs or simply enjoying the view.
The next village, Firostefani, almost appears connected to Fira with its houses and hotels seemingly attached. Many hikers stop at this point. But those who push forward reap the rewards of gorgeous spots along the way.
Trudge on the inland road through Firostefani and you will pass by the Monastery of Saint Nicolas. The church, established in the 17th century, serves as home to significant icons from the Byzantine period.
Moving forward, you will reach the picturesque and quiet village of Imerovigli. Adventurers at heart may choose to do a quick detour and hike up the well-known Skaros Rock for a priceless view of the island.
Continuing to the north, there are two churches that are worth stopping by for. The Church of Agios Antonios and the Church of Prophet Elias feature Cycladic architecture style. Both ancient structures offer a magnificent view of the Thirassia Island as well as the caldera cliff.
Not far from these churches is Oia. This enchanting village is arguably the most picture-perfect in Santorini with its traditional whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches, old-fashioned windmills, and verandas bathed in sunshine. Walking its paved pathways, hikers will find quaint art galleries, taverns, souvenir shops, and boutique hotels. They may also spot talented artists busy drawing portraits on street sides that all the more adds to the Oia’s charm. The hike culminates at the old Castle of Oia where one can take in the magical view of Santorini and experience one of the best sunsets in the world.
An ideal time to travel in Santorini for hiking is during the months of March to June and September to October. These months are conducive for hiking as the weather is just right for long hikers—neither too hot nor too cold. If you are taking this scenic, it is best to start early in the afternoon so you can arrive in time for the glorious sunset in Oia.
Charles is a world traveler having lived in 44 states and 11 countries and traveled to dozens more. He and his wife spend time between London, Ireland, Canada, and the Philippines.