Earlier this month, I took my first trip to the Greek islands, one of which was the beautiful island of Santorini. When looking on blogs and guides before we went, one of the most talked about highlights was walking Fira to Oia. My first reaction was that walking over 10k in 30 degree heat wasn’t quite the island life I had in mind, but with most articles hailing it as the one thing you should do on your visit, we decided to brave the sweat and give it a go.
What is the route
Essentially the route runs along part of the west coast of the island from the capital Fira, to Oia a popular town based right in the North. Along the way you pass through a number of little towns including Imerovigli and Firostefani. The most popular trail hugs the edge of the Caldera cliff so you get breathtaking views all the way round, but there are slightly shorter and slightly less scenic alternatives if you choose. If you want to stick to the traditional path (and you should!) the best guide to follow is this one by blogger Santorini Dave – it’s a super useful breakdown of tips to make sure you go the right way with both written and visual signposts. I would definitely advise using this rather than google maps as that will just take you the most direct route and could mean you miss out on some of the best viewpoints. There is also an optional add on to walk out to Skaros Rock – a fortification built originally to protect the coastline from pirates, this will add around an hour onto your journey, it’s further than it looks!
What’s the terrain like?
For the majority of the route the terrain is very easy – mostly smooth stone all the way round. However, as you get closer to Oia it does get slightly more difficult – at parts being quite gravelly and uneven. Unless you have mobility issues it shouldn’t prove a problem but I would definitely opt for trainers over flip flops or sandals.
Most of the route is also fairly flat however there are a couple of uphill climbs. Right at the start there is an initial ascent as you leave Fira and head towards Firostefani. At the end of the route there is a also a steep climb as you approach Oia so save up a bit of energy!
How long will it take?
How long walking Fira to Oia will take is dependent on a lot of factors such as your own fitness level, how many breaks you take etc. We are mid 20s with average fitness levels and it took us around 3 hours with plenty of photo stops but no big breaks for food or drinks.
When is the best time to do it?
One thing you definitely don’t want to be doing is hiking in the middle of the scorching Greek heat so be sure to do the trail outside of the hottest points of the day. I saw lots of recommendations saying to start really early in the morning but we did ours early evening which I think actually worked better. The ideal thing to aim for is to arrive in Oia in time to catch the sunset – in July/Aug this means leaving Fira at around 5pm. Obviously if you want to build in more time for visiting Skaros Rock or any refreshment stops along the route then you will need to factor that in and leave earlier.
What to wear?
As well as the sensible footwear I mentioned above, the main thing is to stay cool and comfortable on the walk. A loose fitting vest and shorts are perfect and don’t forget to pack sunscreen!
Where’s the best places to stop?
If you want to stop for food or drink your best bet is to stop in either Firostefani or Imerovigli, here there are plenty of places to grab water or stop for a break. After Imerovigli there are very limited options until you get to Oia so make sure you take any rests or toilet breaks before you get that far.
For anyone who is planning a trip to Santorini, the reviews weren’t lying when they said walking Fira to Oia is a must do. It was my favourite thing we did on the island and the views are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
Would you consider walking Fira to Oia? What’s your favourite Santorini highlight?
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