The island of Santorini is world renowned for its stunning sunsets, caldera views and unique landscapes. The island attracts vast amounts of tourists each year who are also attracted to its beautiful high end cave hotels and award winning wineries and restaurants. Hiking in Santorini is one of the most popular activities and is a great way to really absorb what this island is all about.
Santorini itself is relatively small, spanning 18km in length and 12km in width. Despite its size, its rugged landscape offers several hikes that embrace its unique beach and mountain scenery.
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When to visit Santorini
July and August is Peak period in Greece and sees the highest number of visitors. Outside of these months, visiting in the autumn or in spring means lower prices for accommodation and still mild weather.
Wind can pick up between August and October, but it isn’t so bad that it will ruin your vacation. If it’s a windy day in the Cyclades we head to a protected beach, usually south facing. Every island has them!
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best hiking weather: APRIL, MAY, SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
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Popular Hiking routes on Santorini
Oia To Fira Hike
The stretch between the towns of Oia and Fira is perfect for all levels of hiking experience. Due to its accessibility, incredible views and easy terrain it is considered one of the best things to do in Santorini.
It is approximately 10km in length and has some sections of cobblestone, some of paved foothpath and other sections of dirt track.
The hike itself scales the steep cliff tops along the coastline, offering several spots for unbeatable photos.
Many people do this hike from one end or the other and then catch a taxi or bus back. Some do both ways which of course takes twice as long!
There are places to stop and buy water, and food, along the way but be sure to pack plenty just in case, as well as sunscreen and a hat.
Length: 10.5 km
Duration: 3.2 hours
Oia to Imerovigli
If 10.5kms sounds like a bit much you can also do half the Oia to Fira hike by ending(or beginning) in Imerovigli, the popular resort town in between the two others.
This hike has plenty of amazing stops and views along the way but bypasses the last section to Fira which is the most built-up and therefore slower. You will not see Skaros Rock or the village of Firostani.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Skaros Rock/Panagia Theoskepasti Hike
The short hike to Skaros Rock, which passes by the church of Panagia Theoskepasti can only be accessed from Imerovigli. The path itself leads you down a narrow path to an isolated viewpoint on the edge of a cliff face.
From Imerovigli, there are approximately 10 minutes of stairs going downhill to reach the official entry point next to the Church Agios Georgios. There are signs forbidding entrance to Skaros Rock on the other side of the church Panagia Theoskepasti but these are commonly ignored by everyone who visits.
However, the path itself is still considered to be dangerous and should be taken with caution. Not only will you have exquisite views of the surrounding islands from this point but be able to take stunning photos of Church Panagia Theoskepasti.
Duration: 30 minutes
Rating: Easy – Moderate
Mouzakia – Mavro Vouno Hill – Oia
To the east of Oia there are two dormant volcanoes, Mavro (Black) Vouno and Kokkino (Red) Vouno.
You can explore the area around these volcanoes by turning off the main Oia-Fira hiking trail at the village of Mouzakia. The views over the entire Caldera from here are amazing.
Duration: 3 hours
Kamari to Ancient Thera
The Kamari to Ancient Thera (Fira) hike is a back trail offering hikers unique scenery and viewpoints not commonly witnessed by general tourists to the island. The path follows a cobblestoned road from the town of Kamari and ascends along the northeastern slope of Mesa Vouno Mountain and through the Mesa Vouno Pass.
Ancient Thera is the remains of a settlement dating back to the 9th century. This is the second most important archeological site on Santorini and was built by the Spartans due to the natural protection it offered from two small mountains and a ridge. At one point it was an Egyptian Naval Base. The site opens at 8:30 so try and time your hike early before the sun becomes too brutal.
The hike itself is 7.24km long and weaves through the ancient cemetery of Sellada with views of the settlements of Kamari and Perissa from both sides. The hike is openly exposed with little shade making it more moderate in difficulty. It is well signed and open year round.
You can also extend this hike by starting in Perissa, the neighbouring beach town to the south of Kamari. This adds an extra hour.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Pyrgos to Ancient Thira
Hike from the charming medieval village of Prygos, in the interior of the island, to Kamari.
This trail start on the cobblestoned streets of Pyrgos and then on to a tarmac road and more cobblestones. It passes by the Ancient Cemetery of Thira which was once a refuge for Thireans during pirate attacks, and the Monastery of Profitis Ilias, built in 1711. At Ancient Thira you can also see the remains of the Temple of Apollo Karneios.
The hike ends at Kamari beach where you can be rewarded by a swim in the sea!
Duration: 1 hours
Rating: Easy – Moderate
Other hikes on Santorini
There are numerous other hikes and walks you can do on this incredible island. In fact, the entire place is really a criss-cross of trails and tracks that lead to both modern towns and villages as well as ancient ruins and sites. Incredible views and extraordinary landscapes guaranteed!
Other popular routes include:
Akrotiri to Red Beach
Megalochori to Pyrgos
Emborio to Pyrgos
Faros to Akrotiri
Oia to Amoudi
Exploring Nea Kameni island (Volcano)
Where to stay in Santorini
There are 18 towns and villages in Santorini. Most visitors stay in 8 of them but particularly the Capital, Fira or the much-photographed Oia or Imerovigli. All of these are perched on the Caldera and look out over the volcano.
Some people also like to stay in the beachside towns of Kamari or Perissa which are a more affordable alternative.
We love Pyrgos which is an authentic medieval town in the middle of the island as well.
For solo travellers and couples, it’s hard to beat Meraki for luxury, privacy and gob-smacking views from the private pool. Sweet Peony is also gorgeous and quite good value compared to other villas of its standard.
For something a bit different look at Pyrgos 1870 winery.
In Oia, we have had a great stay with our family at Armeni Village which have loft-style rooms with daybeds and big terraces as well.
Other things to do in Santorini
If you love hiking then you likely love the outdoors and Santorini is all about that with an archipelago of 5 islands including an active ( but very dormant) volcano.
The Greek Islands are all about the water too of course and there are numerous activities you can do that involve the sea including a caldera cruise, either a day cruise with swim stops and a visit to the volcano or a sunset cruise.
The beaches on Santorini are not the best in Greece but they are certainly interesting. Swim at Black Beach, Red Beach and Kamari or Perissa Beaches and/or if time is short do a half day tour of the island and a tour of the world renowned wineries with a sommelier.