The Fira to Oia hike is, without a doubt, the most popular hiking trail in Santorini. It’s not just the most popular hike, but also one of the top activities to do on the island. Now, if your time on the island is limited and you can only do one hike, this is the hike to do! But if you have time to spare, definitely check out the other hiking trails.
Walking from Fira to Oia is such a fun activity! The hiking trail is beautiful and you’ll get some incredible photo opportunities along the way. These are my favourite, and in my opinion, the best spots that you will find on the Fira to Oia hike.
Quick overview of the Fira to Oia hike
The hiking trail is approximately 10.5 km long and depending on various factors (your fitness level, pace, or how many times you stop to take photos), it should take you 3 to 5 hours to complete. The ‘official’ starting point of the hiking trail is the square beside the Atlantis Hotel in Fira. Finding your way is simple as there are route markers everywhere along the trail. Just remember that the sea should always be on your left-hand side. The hike isn’t difficult at all, quite the opposite actually. It’s relatively easy, but you’ll definitely be tired because it’s a long distance. I highly recommend planning your hike so that you end in Oia in the late afternoon in time to watch the sunset.
As I mentioned above, the hiking trail starts in Fira. Fira, the capital of Santorini, is a beautiful town and there are many great photo spots, but I’m only highlighting two here. One is close to the start of the hike and the other at the end as you’re leaving Fira.
Church of St. John the Theologian
Okay, so, strictly speaking, this church isn’t on the hiking trail. You have to take a slight detour and walk down a flight of stairs. But I absolutely love this view with the church dome in the foreground and the rest of the island in the background! Also, Oia is visible in the distance so you can see where the hiking trail ends.
Volkan on the Rocks
Volkan on the Rocks is a restaurant right on the corner as you’re leaving Fira behind and walking towards Firostefani. You don’t have to go inside the restaurant. Rather, the photo spot is just before you reach the restaurant and you look back at Fira. It’s a wonderful view!
Imerovigli is a pretty town (I’d say on par with Fira) but with much fewer people. There are two photo spots here that you simply cannot miss.
If you take a few minutes to browse through the town, you’ll come across a viewing platform. This is a great spot for taking photos of Imerovigli.
Skaros Rock & Theoskepasti Church
If it’s great photos you’re after, you have to take the Skaros Rock detour. You’ll clearly see the route markers and you really cannot miss Skaros Rock. Keep in mind that if you do this detour, you have to add an extra hour to your hiking time.
The walk down to Skaros Rock is filled with natural beauty and lots of opportunities to take great photos. If you’re adventurous, you can even climb Skaros Rock at your own risk, of course. I climbed it and I’m not gonna lie, it was terrifying! And the view from the top of the rock (pun intended) wasn’t that spectacular.
If you keep on walking past Skaros Rock towards the sea until you reach the edge of the cliffs and look down, you’ll see Theoskepasti Church. This is a unique spot to photograph the church from above.
The long stretch from Imerovigli to Oia
The first part of the hiking trail you walk through a cluster of small towns (Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli). It’s busy, there are people everywhere, and then you hit this part of the hiking trail…And suddenly, it’s quiet and you find yourself in the midst of the natural beauty of the island. Although this stretch of the hike is long, and perhaps some people might say it’s boring, I loved it because this is where you get all the nature shots. Plus there are two churches not to miss.
Ekklisia Profitis Ilias
The church with its beautiful architecture is great to photograph and the views from the church grounds are terrific.
Church Of Panagia
I love this photo spot for two reasons. Firstly, because of the great view. Duh! And secondly, it’s towards the end of the hike, just as you’re about to start your descent into Oia. So, yay, the end of the trail is in sight!
Oia, for me, is just one big picture perfect postcard. It’s one of those destinations where it’s practically impossible to take a bad photo. Every corner you turn is just another WOW moment. It was difficult, but I narrowed my top photo spots in Oia down to four.
The blue domed churches of Oia
If you were to Google ‘Oia’ and look at the images, the first shots that will pop up in the search results are of the blue domed churches. Needless to say, this is a great photo spot. It gets very crowded around sunset and nearly impossible to get a decent shot. Come back during the day for the best photos minus the crowds.
Byzantine Castle Ruins
The Byzantine Castle Ruins is a great photography spot and the most popular place to watch the sunset in Oia. It’s extremely crowded and people show up hours before sunset to secure the best spots. My advice would be to avoid the ruins during sunset. But definitely wait until the crowds have gone or come back during the day to take photos.
Steps down to Amoudi Bay
I recommend watching the sunset in Oia from the steps down to Amoudi Bay. You get an unobstructed view of the sunset and there’s heaps of space to enjoy the moment. And you can get some pretty decent shots, of course.
The famous windmills in Oia
There are two windmills in Oia and they are hard to miss. Definitely go up close to get shots of them during the day or at dusk. Although they aren’t completely lit up at night, they’re still pretty cool to photograph as the sun is setting (during the blue hour). You can also take beautiful photos of the windmills as part of the Oia skyline from the Byzantine Castle Ruins.
Tips for the Fira to Oia hike
- Start your hike in Fira and end in Oia. Trust me, it’s better that way! My host suggested that I start in Oia and end in Fira, but I can’t imagine doing the hike in this direction.
- Don’t visit Oia before you do the hike (unless your accommodation is there). It’s so rewarding (or I should say extra rewarding) to see Oia for the first time after such a long hike.
- During the hike, keep as close to the caldera (cliffs) as you can. Along the hiking trail, the road splits a couple of times with the option to keep to the caldera or to hike more inland. If it’s great views and photo spots you want, always keep close to the caldera.
- The hiking trail is exposed, so don’t expect to walk in cool shade along the trail. Remember to take sunscreen, water and a hat or scarf with you.
Over to you
I want to know: did you do the Fira to Oia hike and what did you think about it? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Let me know. Also, what did you think about Santorini? Did it live up to your expectations, or was it a little bit too touristy? If you are looking for affordable accommodation in Santorini, read my review of the guest house I stayed at during my time on the island.