I read enough Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as an adolescent girl to know Santorini is a big deal. Y.A. novels aside, it’s a place on almost everyone’s bucket list. I didn’t realize there was a Santorini hiking trail, though, let alone one as breathtaking as this.
But I had no clue that one of the coolest Greek islands ever contained one of the coolest day hikes ever! Why is the Caldera Trail (Or Fira–>Oia hike, or whatever you want to call it–not sure that it even has an official name) not more of a thing?? If I had gone to Santorini and missed out on this one, that would’ve been a damn shame. So, I guess I’m writing about it now in the hopes that anyone reading this, who will someday go to Santorini, won’t miss out either!
Here are some highlights of the ~2.5 hours of gorgeous caldera and ocean views, not to mention a bunch of picturesque Greek churches, passing through the villages of Fira–>Firostefáni–>Imerovígli–>Oia!
The hike for most people starts in Fira, because that’s a more common (affordable) place to stay on Santorini than the iconic village of Oia. Everyone is going to Oia, though. People come to Santorini for Oia. When we asked for directions there, our hostel concierge recommended the hike so strongly we decided to go for it, instead of take the bus. Asking at your hotel/hostel in Fira is probably the best way to get started and oriented on the hike. It’s popular enough that they’ll know what you’re talking about.
When you’re backpacking on a student loan budget, any excuse to walk places is a plus.
We were in paradise, seriously. Picturesque little Greek churches dotted the cliffsides and each village we passed through had fun sights and sounds all their own. We didn’t encounter many people, locals nor tourists, on the hike. There were plenty of birds and kitties, though!
It was such a relief to just walk. The hike is partly nature, partly village, but everything feels more tranquil when you’re hiking. Time slows down in a way and you feel more connected to a place. I’m so happy I got to connect with Santorini in this way, as I’d been looking forward to visiting it basically forever.
While you could probably do this hike in a sturdy pair of sandals, I’d recommend proper hiking shoes or sneakers. There are a few spots that are quite gravely or rocky so you could end up slipping around or getting rocks in your shoes. NOT fun.
The hike ended up taking less than 3 hours, which was frankly perfect. You’ll know when you’re at your destination; Oia is quite bustling compared to the other villages you’ve just passed through! We were there in the fall so it wasn’t too hot during the day, but if you’re hiking here during the summer I seriously recommend getting an early start. There wasn’t a ton of shade and I bet it gets HAWT.
After scarfing down gyros and fries, we strolled around the iconic (if slightly touristy, though I’ll save that for another post) Oia for a while before securing a spot to watch sunset. The best spots get taken kind of early, even in the shoulder season, so keep that in mind. After dark we walked around a bit more, enjoying having the previously packed village more to ourselves, before catching one of the last buses back to our hostel.
If I ever return to Santorini (and I hope I will), I would hike this trail again and again. It was only moderately strenuous, so almost anyone can do it. The views are so totally worth it. Time it so you reach Oia in time for a leisurely dinner and in time to secure your sunset watching spot!