Whenever we think of Santorini, Greece; the first thing that comes to our mind is the famous blue domes. But the Greek island of Santorini is not only limited to its blue domes, beaches, and wineries. Hiking in Santorini is another popular and a must- do activity in Santorini.
Hiking in Santorini is one amongst the top things to do in Santorini in winters. If the weather is not extremely windy and it’s not raining then the best way to explore Santorini is on foot. In winters, with warm sunlight and cool winds, Santorini walks are very pleasant. Personally, I feel that walking/hiking in Santorini is the best way to explore all the beautiful nooks and corners of this beautiful island.
Tips for Hiking in Santorini in winters
- It’s important to stay hydrated while hiking. Always carry sufficient food and water with you for these Santorini walks. When it’s sunny, you will feel really thirsty while walking. Another thing to remember that you might not find many shops on the caldera trail so be prepared accordingly.
- Make it a point to carry a warm jacket with you. Santorini is very windy in winters. And when the winds are too strong it gets really cold. Secondly, you might need those warm jackets after sunset. Post sunset the weather becomes cold really fast as all the heat from the sun is gone.
- It’s important to wear proper walking shoes while hiking on the caldera trails or on other Santorini walks. Sandals or flip-flops are not an ideal option for the uneven and rocky terrains.
- Always carry your sunglasses while hiking. Admiring the caldera views without sunglasses can be difficult in the glistening sun.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen lotion while hiking. If it’s too sunny, your skin will get a really bad tan, even in winters. If the heat is too intense, you might even get sunburns.
- Do check the weather forecast before planning a hiking trip in Santorini. In winters it might not be possible to hike if it’s too windy or if there is a prediction of heavy rains.
- If you are going around Christmas time, on 25th and/or 26th December hiking in Santorini is one of the best things to do in Santorini; as a majority of the attractions will be closed on these dates.
Hiking in Santorini – Four Walks to Do in Santorini
1. Hike from Fira to Oia- The Caledra trail
Distance: 10 km
Ideal Time: 3-4 hours (one way)
Popularly known as the caldera trail, the cliff walk from Fira to Oia should be on every traveler’s list. This hike offers incredible views of the Aegean Sea and the famous Greek Caldera(which was formed because of the volcanic eruptions in the Aegean Sea.)
The walk will take you through the beautiful villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli on the way. All along the trail, the routes are properly marked and there will be no problems in finding your way. This hike from Fira to Oia is a perfect way to explore the interiors on Santorini. In Firostafani and Imerovigli, you will be able to see some beautiful local houses and alleyways which is a nice contrast to the beautiful and vast sea views that you will get all along the cliff. At Imerovigli, you can also take a detour and visit Skaros Rock (only if you have an extremely good stamina)
Even though the distance of this caldera trail is not much but the terrain is highly uneven. Though the suggested time is between 3 and 4 hours, don’t be disheartened if it takes you more time. The entire trail from Fira to Oia is so mesmerizing that it’s easily possible to lose track of time. If you don’t walk or hike regularly, you might find the hike tiresome.
Another important thing to remember is that once you cross Imerovigli, you will not find any shops or restaurants. So pack sufficient water and food for the way. After this trip, I felt that hiking in Santorini was worth every bit of my time 🙂
2. Nea Kameni Volcano and Hot Springs
This walking tour is not only a hike. It’s an experience in itself where you get to visit the top of a volcano, experience the splendor of the beautiful caldera and the Aegean sea and swim in the naturally created hot springs.
From Fira, you need to go to the Old Port. Three options are available for reaching the Old Port of Fira
- Walk down to the Old Port
- Take the famous donkey ride
- Take the cable car
From the Old port, you need to take a boat to the Nea Kameni Volcano. The boat will make a stop at the volcano. The passengers are given one hour to climb to the top of the volcano and come back. The surroundings are so beautiful that you will feel like clicking pictures everywhere. But it’s better to reach the top of the crater first. The views from the crater are spectacular. If you waste too much time at the foot of the volcano, you will not get sufficient time at the top.
And, if you are lucky enough, you will also witness some steam coming out from the mouth of the volcano. You will feel the heat of the steam and the strong smell of Sulphur. There are around 4-5 sites on the volcano. It’s a unique experience, especially for those who have never visited a volcano before. It was my first visit to a volcano and I loved every moment of it.
The hike is all uphill. The terrain is rocky and rough, so it’s better to wear a good pair of walking shoes. It is not difficult, but one needs to be physically active to complete the whole ascent within an hour. On our tour, only 35%-40% of the people could reach the top in time.
After spending an hour at the top of the Nea Kameni Volcano, the boat will take you to the thermal hot springs at Palia Kameni. The boat will halt at a distance and you will have to swim to the hot springs. It takes about 5 minutes to swim to the hot springs. Passengers are given around 20 minutes to come back to the boat. If you are going in winter, it is advisable to swim only if you can endure the cold temperature of the water. The few people who attempted the swim told us that, the swim to the reach the hot springs was cold. Because of winter, even the water at hot spring was not soothing and a few people were shivering in the thermal spring water as well.
During winters Nea Kameni Volcano and Hot springs is a combined tour. But in summers multiple tour options are available
3. Hike to Ancient Thira
Ancient Thira is basically the ruins of an ancient city of Santorini. The city was inhabited till 726 CE. In 726 after an eruption of the Nea Kameni Volcano of Santorini, it was covered in pumice and the inhabitant left the city. The ruins include houses, theatre, a marketplace. The views from the ruins of ancient Thira are amazing. The city is a marvel of how people managed things in the old times.
There are three options for hiking to Ancient Thira
- Hiking from Kamari to Ancient Thira and back to Kamari – through the motorable road
- Hiking from Perissa to Ancient Thira and back to Perissa -through the mountain
- Hiking from Kamari through the road to Ancient Thira and Back to Perissa from the mountain and vice versa
Ancient Thira lies between Kamari and Perissa. Kamari and Perissa are both black beach villages on the Santorini coastline, which are separated by a mountain. The hiking trails on both these places are close to the bus stops. So if you don’t have your own vehicle you can reach these places by bus and begin the hike.
We took a hike from Kamari and after visiting Ancient Thira returned to Perissa
Kamari to Ancient Thira Distance: 3 km
Ideal Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (ascent)
Ancient Thira to Perissa Distance: 2 km
Ideal Time: 50 minutes (downhill)
While hiking, one might not see the caldera, but one can enjoy the views of the Kamari and Perissa coast. Not many people take this hike but its worth if you enjoy walking and like exploring picturesque views.
The Perissa side of the hike is through a mountain and it’s all rocky and slippery. It’s not advisable to attempt the hike from Perissa if you are a first-time hiker.
4. Hike from Fira to Pyrgos Castle
Distance: 5 km
Ideal Time: 1 hr 10 mins (one way)
The hike from Fira to Pyrgos is through the main road. You will find footpaths on the majority of the route but you need to be mindful of the traffic.
The Pyrgos castle is one of the five important castles in Santorini. This Venetian castle has spectacular views and rich history. This castle is particularly famous for its picturesque views of the Island. You will also find beautiful churches and amazing restaurants near the castle. While in Pyrgos, you can also visit the famous Santo Winery.
Enroute Pyrgos, one can find fantastic views of the Aegean Sea and Nea Kameni Volcano. If you want to enjoy the beauty it’s better to go on foot rather than just rushing past such beautiful landscapes.
According to me hiking in Santorini is the best way to explore the island. Santorini walks are not famous without a reason. Be it the small pathways of the villages, the blue dome churches, the caldera view or the Aegean Sea, hiking in Santorini at your own pace will help you enjoy these things in a better way.
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