Is there a bad view in Santorini? Not on these five hikes, which show off the rugged volcanic landscape, sparkling blue water and impossibly white villages in all their beauty. Your choices range from short, family-friendly jaunts to all-day adventures which span the island's iconic caldera.
Take a shady stroll along some of the island’s best beaches while pausing at a seaside taverna or two or go on a rugged walk up the side of an isolated old volcano. No matter your mood or energy level, Santorini has a great hike for you.
Fira to Oia
Best hike for seeing Santorini
12.5km (7.7 miles) – 3-5 hours – moderate
This spectacular walk takes you along the cusp of the caldera on a winding route linking Santorini’s main town, Fira, with the main village of the north, Oia. Views are sublime, with sweeping Aegean panoramas and views across the island’s rocky landscapes, sheer escarpments, silvery-green olive groves and scattered ruins.
The trail is easy in parts, but more challenging in certain stretches where it’s rocky and uneven underfoot. In all but the lowest of the low season, you’ll see plenty of others enjoying the walk. Islanders hit the trail in the cooler months and in spring they enthusiastically pick wildflowers.
Although the overall route to Oia loses a few hundred meters of elevation, there are a couple of steep climbs and many more mild descents. Families with children 10 and older will enjoy the hike, but the route is not suitable for younger children or strollers. Bring plenty of water as local stores in villages along the way may shut for their afternoon break during the hottest hours.
Perissa Beach to Agios Georgios Beach
Best hike for beaches
3.2km (2 miles) – 1-2 hours – easy
This fabulous seaside walk is literally fun for the whole family as it passes three of Santorini’s most popular beaches: Perissa, Perivolos and Agios Georgios. Starting at the first, the promenade runs along the southeast coast in an almost perfectly straight diagonal.
The path is mostly paved in stones of the local colors and there are long stretches of trees that provide welcome shade at midday. Wear your swimsuit and take a cooling dip in the crystalline waters whenever the mood strikes.
Dozens of cafes, tavernas, and beach clubs dot the shore and you can easily turn this walk into an all-day affair, bouncing from one refreshing break to the next. When your eyes stray from the azure water, the eroded brown cliffs and hills provide contrast.
This walk also works early in the evening when the skies are striated with dusky colors and you’ll happily succumb to the myriad siren songs of happy hour.
Best hike for nature lovers
2.6km (1.6 miles) – 1-2 hours – moderate
One of the two rocky islets in the center of the caldera, Nea Kameni abounds with volcanic details. Black lava rocks litter the largely barren landscape and you’ll traipse through craters left from eruptions on this semi-circular route.
The goal is the crater at the center of the island’s highest point, which takes you a little over 300ft above the sea. The walk begins at a sheltered anchorage on the island’s north side which is popular with daytime excursions. You can either join one that allows plenty of time for this hike or arrange transport on your own boat (caïque).
Besides the stark terrain and grand views around the caldera, the hike offers plenty of chances to spot birds as the uninhabited island is home to many species. Note that there are no services or sources of water.
Profitis Ilias to Perissa
Best hike for hill walking
2 miles (3.2km) – 2 hours – hard
Starting near Santorini’s highest point, this hike follows rugged inland valleys down to the seaside village of Perissa. It features glimpses of starkly carved terrain that stays green long after the rest of the island is baked to an arid brown. For early risers, there are views east to sunrise as burning ribbons of color split the deep blue sea from the dark heavens above.
The walk begins at the end of a road to Moni Profiti Ilia, a classic white monastery complex near Santorini’s summit at Mt Profitis Ilias (1860ft/567m). A rugged trail leads down the island's east flank – look out for a steep section with lots of loose stones. At about the halfway point you can take one of two detours: the first follows switchbacks down to Kamari, the second clings to the hillside and leads to the archeological wonders at Ancient Thira.
You can reach the hike’s start with a taxi. Perissa is well-served by buses.
Oia to Ammoudi Bay
Best hike for sunset
1.8km (1.1 miles) round trip, 1-2 hours, easy
Start this easy walk late in the afternoon from the enticing village of Oia so that you can take in the sunset over the caldera. Shortly after you begin you’ll encounter the popular Agios Nikolaos Castle which dates to the late 15th century when it was built to guard against pirates.
The well-defined path continues to the red cliffs above the tiny fishing port of Ammoudi and then curves around to the south. Bring drinks and snacks and find your own perfect spot for the sunset. In the summer you’ll have plenty of company, but at other times you’ll have these magnificent vistas all to yourself.
Tips for hiking in Santorini
The most important things to remember for hiking in Santorini may seem very obvious, but normally sensible hikers forget their common sense as they get caught up in the island’s carefree holiday vibe.
- It gets very hot in summer and away from the main towns it may be hard to find water. Bring plenty.
- Large swaths of Santorini are like a desert isle and are blasted by the sun all day long; unless you plan to crawl under a rock, bring protective clothing, hats and sunscreen.
- Trails are often unstable and rocky, plus routes up and down the caldera cliffs can be treacherous. Sturdy shoes are a must.
- Routes and trails are poorly marked, if at all. Take your time, keep track of where you are (the treeless expanses make it easy to see your next waypoint), and watch for the correct route lest you end up on a less enjoyable detour.