Before leaving for our short trip to Greece this past October, people suggested we take a day to walk the 10 kilometers from Fira to Oia when we visited the island of Santorini. Yes, the bus ride from one city to the other would have only cost a couple bucks, but we are not sit-on-the-bus people when we have the opportunity to be put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other people.
And so, we walked.
Both Fira and Oia are located on the western side of the crescent-shaped Santorini, which is where the cliff drops off into the caldera (unlike the other side of the island, which is more typical of coastlines with sand beaches). Due to the island’s shape, it’s easy to look at the whole cliff-side coastline when walking from Fira, which is located in the middle, to Oia, which balances on the very northern tip of the island.
Obviously being treated to an awesome view the entire walk from Fira to Oia was one of the most compelling reasons to make the trip on foot. But we had other reasons, too: It had been way too long since we took a long, healthy hike, and we were itching to stretch our legs. Plus, the weather was incredible – in the high 70s and low 80s Fahrenheit – and we wanted to suck up every ounce of sunshine before retreating back to Kyiv, which is now officially in the throes of winter.
Initially, this journey seems straightforward: For the first mile or so, the cobblestone path winds in and out of alleys as it passes through small tiered resorts, each of which have rooms with individual balconies, many with small, private pools. It’s cute, picturesque and simple.
But then the trail becomes more strenuous, and the casual walkers realize that flip-flops and a small bottle of water aren’t going to cut it on this journey. For much of the second half of the walk, it was just us, the trail and the hot sun on our shoulders as we hiked up and down hills (some of which were littered with scree).
We stopped often to take photos and simply enjoy the view, which stretched well beyond the edges of the island to the water shimmering on the horizon. At one point, the trail dropped off onto a rocky outcropping, which we followed around only to discover a small church tucked on the other side.
What a strange and enchanting place for a church. Imagine how peaceful the sunsets must be from there.
After a healthy hike, we finally arrived in Oia in early afternoon. Because our trip landed on the cusp of shoulder season, we encountered only one small stand selling water once we left the resorts outside of Fira, and no options for grabbing food on the way. Luckily, we carried snacks and plenty of water with us, but we were definitely ready for a legitimate meal before spending the afternoon exploring Oia.
And, though we had harbored thoughts of making the walk back, when the day drew to a close, we were ready to grab a bus back and enjoy the ride instead of hoofing it back across the island.
If you want to walk from Fira to Oia, here are our top tips:
- Leave in the morning. You’ll beat at least a little bit of the mid-day heat.
- Carry lots of water and snacks. We saw too many people without the appropriate fuel and hydration.
- Use the bathroom before leaving Fira. In the off-season, you won’t come upon another one until Oia.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Flip-flops and sandals are a no-go. Hiking boots aren’t necessary.
- Keep your shoulders covered, and apply sunscreen. The sun was brutal, and we were there in October.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t try to cram this in with other activities you might have planned on Santorini. This is a hike best enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
- Take time to pet the kitties, and get lost in the alleys.