Walking from Fira to Oia, Santorini
Santorini is a pretty amazing place. A volcanic eruption over 3000 years ago morphed this tiny island in Greece into something you’d expect to see on Star Trek. You also have tiny towns full of buildings dressed in white, adding to the otherworldly utopia feeling. Two of the more interesting towns on Santorini are Fira and Oia, and while you can take a short bus ride between the two, you’d be missing out on some of the best views in Europe if you didn’t walk the caldera-top path at least once. Here’s a guide on what to expect when walking from Fira to Oia.
If you’re staying in Fira, this is where you’ll start, but you can obviously do this walk in reverse and start in Oia. We visited Santorini in low season and it was pretty quiet in Fira and Oia was almost completely deserted. They are both nice towns and I’m sure there’s more going on in both during the summer.
The first part of the walk is probably the hardest, Fira is fairly steep, but you’ll be walking through some of the coolest streets I’ve seen in Europe so that’ll take your mind off it. Well, they aren’t really streets; the only traffic you’ll see is the occasional walking tourist and maybe a donkey. It’s really peaceful, and you’ll end up stopping at one of the many viewpoints looking out over the caldera for longer than you’d planned. Apparently the walk takes 3 hours, but I’d probably revise that and leave a bit more time; there are so many places to just sit and admire the view.
The night before in Fira
Getting out of town
After Fira you’ll reach the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli, which are basically just smaller and quieter versions of the capital. Most hotels there seemed to be closed for winter, but they looked like great places to stay and had the same stunning views you find in Fira. After that, things get a bit more rural, and the views get even better. This section is pretty easy as it’s mostly flat (although you’ll still be stopping every 5 minutes to take another photo). The path is easy to navigate as it follows the jagged cliffs, if you wander on to a road at this point you’ve gone too far.
The last section of the Fira to Oia walk is probably the toughest. There’s a hard uphill section and the downhill parts are quite steep – it’s easy to slip over. From here you’ll get to see a different side of Santorini – rolling fields dotted with white domed houses, and the other, more “normal” coastline.
Sunset in Oia
Rated by many as one of the best sunset spots in the world, Oia is also home to more of those exotic white buildings -I’m pretty sure no one could get sick of these postcard towns, no matter how many they’ve been to. There are some bars with great views (and steep prices) but not many were open when we were there. If you don’t want to blow your daily travel budget on a drink, you can just buy some at a supermarket and sit somewhere in town and watch the sunset, most places have the same view.
Walking from Fira to Oia: The details
We finished the walk in around 3 hours, which included a lot of stops. You could definitely do it quicker, but I can’t imagine not pausing every few minutes on this walk; the views really are that good. If you’re walking from Fira to Oia and want to get the bus back, there is one just after sunset, even in low season. The timetables posted at the bus stops weren’t accurate at all, so ask someone at a shop in town and they should be able to tell you when the next bus is. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in Oia and have to take a taxi back, I’m pretty sure that’d be expensive!
Further reading: Check out this post on Santorini over at Mismatchedpassports.com
Have I sold you on walking from Fira to Oia instead of taking the bus? What is your favourite short walk in Europe? Let me know!