Although most people come to Santorini for its spectacular whitewashed buildings, dramatic clifftops, and gorgeous sea views, we will let you into a secret – this Greek paradise is actually a fantastic walking and hiking destination.
With great weather, and many achievable paths, undertaking the trails here will truly allow you to experience this island at its fullest.
Here we share our favourite hikes in Santorini. Each has something that makes it special – be that spectacular views, remote beaches or ancient cities.
So pull yourself away from the swimming pool for a morning and strap on your walking boots, as we share with you some of Santorini’s best hikes!
Walking and hiking in Santorini: The best trails
Fira to Oia Trail
We had to start with the most popular trail on the island, because it’s popular for a reason!
This 6.5 mile clifftop trek will take you from Fira to Oia – Santorini’s two most iconic towns – and expose you to stunning coastal views throughout. You will essentially be walking on the edge of a volcanic caldera – the remnants of a huge eruption that created this island 3,600 years ago.
This trail has some difficult terrain, so a good level of fitness and proper footwear is required. There’s very little shade on the way either, so you’ll need protection from the sun and lots of water. There’s some good news though – as it’s a popular trek there’s sometimes a vendor selling fresh juice on the way.
Expect the hike to take around 3-4 hours, but it’s worth every minute thanks to the memorable views, different landscapes, pretty churches and quaint Greek villages you’ll come across along the way.
When reaching Oia you can take the bus or water taxi back to Fira so you don’t have to return by foot. See a map of this trail here.
The Active Volcano Hike: Nea Kameni
If you’re staying in Fira or Oia you will be able to see the small island of Nea Kameni sitting just off the coast of Santorini. But did you know this island is actually an active volcano, and you can hike to its crater!
You will have to catch the boat from either Órmos Athiniós or Ormos Firon to reach Nea Kameni. Once you’ve gotten off the boat at the island, near the start of the pier you will see a gravel path that leads upwards to the crater
That trail will see you traverse black lava rock as you ascend 100 meters to the crater’s edge. From there you can walk completely around the volcano’s edge, breathing in air with a very distinctive smell of sulfur!
The path is quite steep in places, but you must stick to it as parts of the volcano have active smoking craters – you will see them as you climb. However all in all this is one of our favourite hiking in Santorini trails.
It’s a unique experience, and the views back towards Santorini are wonderful too. Up and down the volcano should take around 1-1.5 hours, but as the island is uninhabited make sure you have enough water for the whole hike.
Imerovigli to Skaros Rock
This short one mile hike (there and back) starts at Agios Giorgios Church in the pretty village of Imerovigli, and takes you to the prominent Skaros Rock.
It’s an easy trail but can be exhausting as you will scale over 300 steps to get to the base of the rock. However from there you will get fantastic views over to Nea Kameni and the island of Therasia.
If you’re adventurous, you can now attempt to climb the rock itself – the reward for doing so is a fantastic 360 view of the island.
It’s not easy to climb as you will have to scale a rock face of several meters, however there is a crevice to use, as well as areas which can be used as hand and foot holds.
As an insider tip, the sunsets at Skaros Rock are the best on the island so it’s worth coming here in the early evening. You can see a lovely detailed description of this walk, and a map, here.
Pyrgos to Prophet Elias Monastery
This route takes you from the ancient town of Pyrgos, which was the former capital of Santorini, up to the Prophet Elias Monastery which sits at the highest point on the island at an altitude of 567m. From there you can return back to Pyrgos.
The trail starts near the church of Agious Apostolous (Άγιοι Απόστολοι), and behind the church is a path going uphill. Follow that path, which is quite steep in places, and eventually it will intersect with a dirt track that’s going up the mountain. You can now follow that road and it will take you directly to the monastery.
From the monastery you will have fantastic views across Santorini. If the monastery is open then feel free to have a look around – the monks that tend to it are very friendly. There’s also a chapel and little shop here where the monks sell small wares. Any items bought will help with the upkeep of the monastery and chapel.
It should take around one hour to go up, and a little less to go back down. If you’re feeling adventurous though, it is possible to hike down the other side of the mountain to Ancient Thera – the ruins of a mountaintop city founded in the 8th century BC.
You can see that trail, and the one from Pyrgos to the Monastery, here. That map shows the hike starting in the center of Pyrgos, but our preferred starting point is the church mentioned above (there’s a place to park at the church), which lies on the trail.
Kamari to Ancient Thera
This trek is challenging in places as you climb a steep mountainside above the village of Kamari using an old two mile path. The trail eventually takes you to the ruins of Ancient Thera. From Ancient Thera you can either return back the same way, or take a zig-zagging 1.5 mile road back down to Kamari.
The first part of the trek starts on an ancient street that was excavated during the 1960s-80s. You’ll follow that road up the hillside to the little church of Zoodochos Pigi. This is a nice place to have a rest and enjoy the shade under the two carob trees. There’s also a natural spring of drinkable water here, hence the name of the church which actually means “Life-giving Fountain”.
After the little church you will walk 15-20 minutes uphill and the path will join with a road that’s going up the mountain. That road will take you to Ancient Thera after 20 or so minutes.
If you like, from Ancient Thera you can follow the route uphill to go to the highest point in Santorini – Prophet Elias Monastery. Or you can return back to Kamari, either via the road, or the walking route you took up the hill.
This Santorini hike will take around 2-3 hours to complete, but there’s also many little hiking trails around Ancient Thera going up and down the mountainside, so lots of opportunities to explore and extend your hike.
You can see a map of this hike, and detailed photos of the trail, here.
Oia to Amoudi Bay via the Castle of Oia
This 1.2 mile easy hike will take you from the center of Oia down to the lovely Amoudi Bay which lies at the bottom of the cliff. On the way you will visit the Castle of Oia (also known as Fort Londsa) – the ruins of a Renaissance-era castle that was built to guard against pirates.
The path to the castle and the bay are well signposted (but you can see a map of the trail here if you’d like), and one of the highlights is swimming in the bay itself as it’s a great bathing spot. Donkeys often use this trail, so keep an eye out for them and don’t slip on any droppings!
Balos Black Sand Beach
Santorini was formed by volcanic activity, so there’s no surprise that black sand beaches exist on the island.
One of the most remote is Balos Beach, which can be reached by a steep hike down the cliff-face at Akrotiri. The reward is a beach that’s likely to be empty, and a natural cave with a wonderful ‘window’ view out across the ocean.
The hike up and down is quite difficult as you will descend 100m, and the trail isn’t the easiest to find either. You can find it off the main road going through Akrotiri, just before the hotel ‘Blu Rooms’. About 50m before the hotel there’s an area for parking on the right hand side directly after a turn in the road. You’ll find the start of the trail at that parking area.