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Trekking on Santorini

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Santorini ChapelSantorini is definitely an island that expects you to explore it. The best possible way for the nature lovers is by trekking.
The whole island has a lot of beauties for the visitors, from wild, volcanic landscapes to picturesque villages and lovely churches in the countryside. Trekking is a great way to get to know the island in a more special way.
Because of the fact that the trekking routes on Santorini are generally not long and vary in difficulty, everyone can try to discover Santorini.



You will pleasantly surprised to find several mule-paths, mini-paths and long treks - mostly in good condition - to enjoy your visit on Santorini.
Although there is not an abundance of hiking trails on Santorini, there are a couple of them that are really amzing. This is one of the ideal ways to escape the crowd and feel the aura of the island.


We have selected a few typical trekking routes that you can follow to explore Santorini.

Trekking Route: Fira - Caldera - Oia

Obviously, this is the most obvious hike you can make on the island of Santorini. You will pass through the picturesque Firostefani and Imerovigli villages in order to end up in Oia via a really magnificent path. This hike offers so many changing views on the volcano, the sea and the caldera, that it will take your breath away.


This trekking path takes a bit less than three hours (actual walking time). It is ideal to leave Fira at about 4:30pm and in this way you will arrive in Oia at 8pm (we guess you ll take many stops for taking photographs). You can then eat in Oia in one of the many bars or restaurants and enjoy the majestic sunset. Until late at night there are also buses back to Fira.


Santorini sunset

If you want to go all the way back to Fira on foot, you have to leave the main street of Oia in southern direction until you get to the Minimarket Oia, with its imitation windmill. At this point you take the path off the right back to Fira.


When you reach the monastery of Agios Nikolaos, take a stop and enjoy the great view. Keep also in mind that the little chapel of Agios Georgios in Imerovigli is an ideal spot for taking some photos of the amazing scenery.


One of the highlights of the specific route is the blue-white church of the Profitis Ilias. Unfortunately your trail goes down to the right about 50 metres before this church. You can now take some time to discover the streets of Oia, you can drink or eat something in one of the bars or restaurants, you can descend to the beach of Ammoudi, or you can stay to watch the sunset, which attracts hundreds of tourists each evening in summer time.


Trekking Route: Emporio - Pyrgos - Profitis Ilias - Thera - Perissa

This hike which passes through he 567 m-high summit of the Profitis Ilias, to the ancient Thera and afterwards to the beach of Perissa is a must when hiking on Santorini.

You depart from Emborio, which gives you the opportunity to get to know a nice and old path. Not a lot of people follow this hiking trail and in Pyrgos this trail links up with the path to the Profitis Ilias. The part between the Profitis Ilias and Perissa is magnificent and it runs through a grand and mountainous landscape.



The hike itself takes about 2 hours (actual walking time): 35 minutes from Emborio to Pyrgos, 30 minutes to the top of the Profitis Ilias, 35 minutes descending to the parking lot near the ancient Thera and finally 25 minutes to Perissa.


You can also notice that lots of tomatoes and grapes are still cultivated on Pyrgos, Santorini.


The panoramic view on Pyrgos & Fira is really beautiful. You will pass through the Monastery of Prophet Elias, one of the most beautiful monasteries in Santorini and definitely the one with the most exceptional panoramic view. The monastery, founded in the year 1711, has a very rich history and also today it possesses a marvellous collection of icons and old manuscripts, and a beautiful ethnographic collection. This monastery can be visited every day, but it is closed from 1pm to 5pm. The view to the north, with Oia, Fira and Kamari, is truly fantastic.



The trail to the ancient Thera goes up on the opposite hill Mesa Vouno (366 m). The excavations of the ancient Thera already started in 1816 and they extend over some 800 metres. They show remnants of housing from the 9th century AD until the Roman time. There are remnants of a couple of agora's (market places), plenty of houses, a small theatre, Roman baths, cisterns, a holy road, etc. You definitely have to walk all the way to the end, till the terrace of the Gymnopaidia, supported by large retaining walls.

These Gymnopaidia date from the 6th century AD and it was the place where naked boys danced to celebrate the god Apollo. The view over Perissa is extraordinary!


There are several possibilities to reach the top of the Profitis Ilias: from Kamari (partly) and definitely from Perissa you can follow a nice ancient trail, but you then have to return by following the same route. From Pyrgos as well there is a beautiful and obvious path.


Trekking Route: The volcano and Thirasia

This trip is not really a hike, but rather a day-trip but it is a must. The trip brings you to the volcano, the hot springs, the island of Thirasia and the town of Oia.

The path to the crater of the volcano can be very dusty and hot. You should definitely descend on foot to the old harbour of Fira; on Thirasia you can go up the staircase on a donkey and go down on foot.



Back in Fira you can opt for a donkey again to go up, but by going on foot you will have much more opportunity to enjoy the landscape. The boat leaves at 10am, so you should start your descent at about 9.15am.


It is a good idea to get the tickets for the boat a day in advance. Preferably you should take tickets for the Pigasos, a traditional boat, which departs from the ancient harbour of Fira.


You can easily take your time to descend the "skalia", the old staircase with 588 steps - it will take about 20 minutes to get down. Usually, the Pigasos first sails alongside the caldera till Akrotiri; this gives you plenty of time to marvel at the magnificent rock formations. From Akrotiri it will take some 50 minutes to reach the volcano, where the boat usually stays for one hour and a half.


The trail leading up to the craters is usually very hot and dusty, but in the end the 25-minutes-trip is not unbearable. Try not to walk amidst all of the tourists; it is much more enjoyable if you walk a little ahead of them. The most important crater is the Georgios-crater, which came into being in the years 1866-1870 (the highest point is 127 metres high); on the way back you should also pay some attention to the Dafni-crater, dating from the years 1925-1926.


After the hike, the boat sails to the hot springs near the small island of "Palia Kaimeni" – there is an opportunity to have a swim, although the ‘heat’ of this spot is often rather disappointing. The boat continues to the island of Thirasia, a part of Santorini that has not that much been influenced by tourism, compared to the other parts of the islands.

Over here, you can choose to stay in the harbour, in order to swim or to have lunch in one of the restaurants. The active and enthusiastic hiker though, takes the staircase up to the village of Manolas (or Chora): this staircase has 150 large and sloping steps. Going up on foot takes about 20 minutes, but also a donkey ride is quite pleasant.


In Manolas itself you can have a look around, or you can eat something – the panoramic view from the outdoor terrace of restaurant Panorama is absolutely magnificent and the food is very tasty. Usually, the boat stays at Thirasia for about two hours, which means that you have plenty of time to have lunch up there. In about 20 minutes you can then reach the harbour again. The trip continues to Oia, where you have a great view on the reddish-brown rocks of the caldera.


Trekking Route: Vothonas - Pyrgos - Profitis Ilias - Thera - Perissa

Just like the hike from Fira to Oia, also the trip to the 567-metres high summit of the Profitis Ilias, to the ancient Thera and then continuing to the beach of Perissa is a must when hiking on the island of Santorini.

In this hike you depart from Vothonas, a route that brings you to an ancient path that is rarely frequented; in Pyrgos this trail joins the path going to the Profitis Ilias.


The part between the Profitis Ilias and Perissa is magnificent and it leads you through an impressive mountainous landscape.


The hike itself takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes (actual walking time): some 30 minutes from Vothonas to Pyrgos, about 10 minutes to walk through the village of Pyrgos, then another 30 minutes to the summit of the Profitis Ilias, 35 minutes to descend to the parking place at the ancient Thera and 25 minutes to get to Perissa.


This could thus be a possible schedule: hike from Vothonas to the Profitis Ilias from 10am – 11.30am; visit to the monastery and picnic; visit to Thera from 1.30pm to 2.30pm; descent to Perissa from 3pm onwards in order to still have plenty of time at the beach.



This beautiful trail goes up gradually, between walls. Along the way you notice plenty of vineyards on the slopes towards Akrotiri on your right-hand side – used for the famous sweet white wine of Santorini.

Behind you, the panoramic view on Pyrgos & Fira is really beautiful. You will have the chance to visit the picturesque monastery of Prophet Elias which was founded in the year 1712. It has a very rich history and the view to the north, with Oia, Fira and Kamari, is truly mesmerizing.


To sum it up, Santorini offers a lot of amazing paths to do some trekking. All you have to do is grab your sunglasses, put on your favorite pair of sketchers, convince your friends to join you, carry a bottle of water and keep walking. Do not forget your camera as well. The panoramic views & the sunsets make this trip worth while.


PS. For more details about the specific trekking paths, you can have have a look at walking, trekking and hiking on Santorini.

Last modified on Thursday, 15 September 2011 13:35

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