When I went to Greece, after taking dozens of exhausting city vacations, I was ready to be on a beach for 10 days doing absolutely nothing. But when we got to Santorini, my friend had planned for us to take a 6-mile hike from Oia to Fira. To her credit, it’s the number one thing to do according to people who visit Santorini, second only to contemplating the blue domes of the island as the sun sets.
So what makes this hike so beautiful and why should you care? Santorini was formed by the remnants of the caldera of a volcano, which gives the island its crescent shape. Fira is Santorini’s modern capital, which is in the middle of the island, and where you’ll find the highest concentration of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Oia is the Santorini you see in postcards. Of course, my three girlfriends and I stayed in the tip of Oia in the hopes of having a beautiful, romantic time together. So our hike was from Oia to Fira, though you can hike in both directions. As I understand it, the way to Oia is a little gentler and more downhill than the one we took.
So what should you expect?
There will be precarious paths.
Though most of the hike is fairly comfortable, there are parts of it that are on steep loose volcanic rocks. Wear comfortable walking shoes. This is not the kind of hike you want to take your cute sandals on. That will not end well for you or your sandals.
It will be really hot.
Part of the walk is moderately strenuous, especially if you’re not used to taking any kind of hikes. There is also absolutely no shade along the way, so if you do it in the middle of the day, you’re going to have the sun beaming down on you as you try not slip to your death over loose rocks. Take water, and either go early or go late.
You might get lost if you’re not careful.
The path is long and not all of it is clearly marked. If you find yourself at an impasse, err on the side of the ocean, even if it looks like you’re walking into an abandoned parking lot. If the ocean is not visible to you at all times, you went the wrong way. That’s how we ended up walking half a mile down the main road before hiking back up the hill to backtrack and get on the right path.
You’ll take longer than you think you will.
How long does it take you to walk 6 miles? About two and a half hours? Okay, now double that. You’re going to want to take your time to begin with because you’ll be stopping to enjoy the view every 5 minutes. And you’re going to be slower than you think because walking up and down volcanic rock is not the same as strolling on the sidewalk. So it’s probably best to avoid scheduling any activities at the other end of your hike, just to be safe. Like the Greeks, you don’t want to be in any rush.
Your reward for letting your friend convince you to walk 6 miles uphill, on what was supposed to be your relaxing vacation, is a stunning view of Santorini. It’s incomparable and worthwhile, so don’t miss it.