The most famous trail on the island is the Fira – Oia trail. It runs along the caldera between the two most famous villages of Santorini. The road along the route was once used to transport goods on mules between Oia and Fira.
Some consider it to be one of the most beautiful trails in the world. The trail leads through traditional Santorinian villages, among the volcanic landscape and characteristic churches with blue domes. All the way we can admire the stunning views of the Aegean Sea, the caldera and the entire archipelago of Santorini islands.
On maps and on signposts it is marked as route number 9. The trail is easy and along the way we can admire a fantastic view of the caldera. The tour is suitable for older children, but in some places the road is impassable for prams.
You can walk the trail yourself or hire a local guide who will help you discover all the secrets of places encountered along the way.
The trail is 10 km long, and crossing it at an average pace takes about 3 to 4 hours, but if you plan stops for taking photos and admiring the views (it’s worth it !!!), you should reserve more time.
For most of the route there is no shade, so on hot days you should remember to take water, a hat, and a sunblock with you. It is also worth remembering about the right footwear, because part of the road is sometimes a steep, rocky path.
And, of course, do not forget to take a camera with you. During the journey you will pass a lot of picturesque, photogenic places that are worth immortalizing in the pictures.
We recommend going on the trail early in the morning, so you can avoid crowds and the worst heat. An alternative solution is to take this trail late in the afternoon and watch the famous sunset in Oia. In this case, however, you should be ready to return at night – take a flashlight with you or use taxi / public transport (the cost of a bus ticket from Oia to Fira is around 1.80 Euro).
You can find signposts here and there, but there are not many of them. However, is not easy to get lost – just go towards Oia, always having the sea on your left.
On the route you must overcome several elevations – the highest point of the route is at an altitude of 336 m, and the lowest – about 130 m above sea level
The trail begins on the main square in Fira (Theotokopoulos Square), next to the Atlantis Hotel. The initial section goes through Fira, neighboring (located slightly higher, north) Firostefani, then Imerovigli, and next the Skaros rock.
Imerovigli is the last point where you can stock up on drinks and snacks for further hiking. On the next section of the trail you will find only one snack bar operating only in strict season.
After leaving the village, you pass about a kilometer long strip of luxury hotels with swimming pools. The buildings are located only on the right side of the trail, so from the left we can admire the caldera.
Along the trail we can admire Terra Theraic – hardened, porous layers of volcanic materials, consisting of ash and shards spattered by the volcano during the eruption. They cover the island of Santorini in a layer of up to several meters thick.
This material, after mixing with concrete, can be cured even in seawater, which is why it is used to create underwater structures such as breakwaters, piers, or banks of canals. It is possible that this material was also used in antiquity as a component of mortar (in combination with lime, water, and sand).
In spring, the slopes of the caldera are covered with tracts of flowers, which makes the landscape even more picturesque.
Further on, the buildings end and the trail rises to the top of Profitis Ilias (317 m a.s.l.). We pass the side trail located on the southern slope, that leads to the built into the caldera wall Church of Agios Antonios (Greek: Αγιος Αντωνιος / Agios Antonios). 250 meters up the road, on the left side, you can see the Church of Agios Markos (Greek: Αγίου Μάρκου).
Near the top of the mountain, at an altitude of 304 m above sea level, there is another church – Church of Profitis Ilias (Greek: Προφήτης Ηλίας). It is a large church located on a square plan covered with pine trees. It has a blue dome and was built in 1750. Right behind the church we can see interesting formations of volcanic rocks.
Next to the church, there are public toilets, but they are not always open.
Further on the trail, the path traverses the west slope of the hill and descends to the main street connecting Fira with Oia This section is quite steep and rocky. There is also an alternative section of the trail, easier, but with no view of the caldera, which starts right in front of the Profitis Ilias church.
Unfortunately, there is no pavement on the asphalt section, so be careful of passing cars and buses.
After about 400 meters of asphalt road, we turn slightly left into a dirt path leading through drifts of volcanic ash. At the turn, during high season, there is a snack bar and a stop for donkeys – the rest of the route can be overcome on their back. However, we recommend you go on foot and not bother poor donkeys in the heat.
After another kilometer we reach the next geological curiosity in this region – volcanoes Mavro Vouno and Kokkino Vouno (More information: Mavro Vouno and Kokkino Vouno). The path to the pass between them and the peak of Mavro Vouno divides to the right from the main trail.
Next, we traverse the slope of the volcano and after about 600 meters we reach the small church of Psilos Stavros (Eng. Church of High Cross, Greek ψηλός σταυρός / Psilos Stavros) located in isolation. The church is located at an altitude of about 305 m above sea level. Behind him the trail goes down.
Following on, we can admire interesting rock formations spewed out by the volcano. After another 700 meters we pass the Profitis Ilias church located on the right side of the road and a crossroad that leads to the town of Finikia.
After that we enter the town of Oia. The next part of the trail leads along the promenade through Oia, up to the car park at its other end.
Access for people with disabilities: the trail is not suitable for people in wheelchairs, most of the route is impassable (this also applies to baby prams).